Review – The Mute Gods – Do Nothing Till You Hear From Me – By Shawn Dudley

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One of the many benefits of living within “the era of Steven Wilson” is in addition to his seemingly bottomless pit of musical projects and his excellent remixing work he also has quite a knack for surrounding himself with top-drawer musicians.

The multi-talented Nick Beggs immediately made his presence felt in Steven’s solo band, not just with his bass and stick playing, but his excellent backing vocals. He provides the harmonic anchor in very much the same way that John Wesley did in Porcupine Tree. When I first heard about The Mute Gods project I was intrigued to hear him take on the main vocal duties himself and the results were even better than I anticipated.

To complete the lineup for The Mute Gods he brought along Marco Minneman, his rhythm section partner from Wilson’s band and also keyboardist/producer Roger King (Steve Hackett) as well as additional contributions from session drummers Nick D’Virgilio and Gary O’Toole.

“Do Nothing Till You Hear From Me” isn’t an actual concept album, but it does have a loose thematic element to it.  The topics include “hacktivists”, government surveillance, religious extremism, Internet trolls, general apathy and many other wonderful elements of life in the 21st century.  But to his credit Beggs mostly wraps these heavy topics in wonderfully accessible, melodic pop/prog confections, allowing the messages to come across without beating you into submission with negativity.

On my first listen to this album I was really surprised by how infectious it was, a very accessible pop/rock sound delivered with the type of sophistication expected from the artists involved. It made me realize that it’s a shame “mainstream rock radio” doesn’t really exist any longer, because I think many of these tracks would sound great while cruising down the highway with the radio blaring.

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The title track Do Nothing Till You Hear From Me sets the stage nicely.  After an extended keyboard intro (that had me temporarily flashing back to the early 80s) the main driving rhythm kicks in, propelled forward by a muscular bass pulse. In an alternate reality I could see an arena full of people jumping up and down to this groove and singing along with the anthemic chorus. This track stuck in my head like glue from the very first listen. Is is prog? Well, I suppose that’s debatable, but I don’t hear very many “mainstream” rock acts that have the subtlety and musical chops displayed here.

Praying To A Mute God keeps the vibe upbeat with an even more pop-oriented approach but veers off for a little display of instrumental dexterity in the proggy mid-section. This approach is repeated elsewhere on the album, short moments of progressive stretching out used to punctuate otherwise fairly straightforward compositions. The song always remains the focus.

My favorite tracks on the album are a couple of progressive rock gems on the second half; the lovely and ethereal Strange Relationship and the exotic-tinged atmosphere of Swimming Horses. Two of the longer cuts they give the band a chance to stretch out both compositionally and instrumentally. Roger King’s tasteful keyboard choices are worth note on these songs; he uses a nice balance of vintage and modern sounds, always providing just the right tone the composition requires.

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For contrast there are a few darker compositions on the album; Feed The Troll, Your Dark Ideas, the instrumental In The Crosshairs and Mavro Capelo. These tracks are a little heavier and a little more menacing, but are scattered throughout the tracklist so the mood never completely dominates. Of these the most successful is the deliciously dark and devious Feed The Troll, it’s menacing but playful at the same time, kind of like a cat toying with a mouse for a while before finishing it off. The only track that doesn’t quite work on the album is Your Dark Ideas; it comes off more silly than intense, but is partially redeemed by the instrumental mid-section and a particularly gonzo guitar solo.

Speaking of playful, there’s a track on here called Nightschool for Idiots (I’m pretty sure I was valedictorian). This song is the very definition of a grower.  When I first heard the album I’ll admit it irritated me to no end, I just found it too sweet, too syrupy, too cute…but with each subsequent listen I liked it more and more and now it’s one of my favorites. This song and Father Daughter stand apart from the rest of the album and feel more self-contained. Father Daughter is exactly what it says it is, a duet between Beggs and his daughter Lula Beggs, the lyrics forming a dialogue. It’s a touching and unique track.

All in all The Mute Gods isn’t quite what I was expecting, but it was a very pleasant surprise nonetheless. I’m hoping we get a follow-up.

Released 22nd January 2016

Buy Do Nothing Till You Hear From me from Inside Out Music

 

 

Review – Osta Love – The Isle of Dogs

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(Featured image of the band courtesy of Chris Noltekuhlmann)

“Next to the Word of God, the noble art of music is the greatest treasure in the world.” – Martin Luther.

I have oft mentioned how I see myself as a modern day treasure hunter, searching the jewels of musical endeavor that would otherwise lay hidden due to the fickle nature of the modern music industry. However, I don’t do this alone, there are a lot of us Indiana Jones-a-likes out there and it is often thanks to these fellow musical pursuants that I will be introduced to another wonderful piece of music from a previously unheralded artist.

One fine and upstanding gentleman who I trade musical discoveries with is the Prog Guru™ himself David Elliott, founder of Bad Elephant Music and the Amazing Wilf of The European Perspective fame.

David pointed me in the direction of Berlin based progressive band Osta Love and their latest release ‘The Isle of Dogs’ and it was, yet another, excellent recommendation!

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A quick visit to their website elicits the following information:

Osta Love unite Rock with Jazz, Pop with Baroque, catchy hooks with complex rhythms and add just the right dose of melancholic dreamscape to form a unique sound that touches hearts and heads.

The band was founded by Tobias Geberth and Leon Ackermann as a studio project, after they left their hometown Heidelberg for Berlin in 2010. The two had met in school and had been playing music together since 2006. Soon the first songs were written, recorded and also performed with a live band. In 2013 they released their debut album ‘Good Morning Dystopia‘ that earned them some attention and many favourable reviews. 

The line-up was completed when Oliver Nickel joined on bass and Marcel Sollorz on keys and vocals. Over the years Osta Love played live in almost every club in Berlin and played support shows for Boy & Bear and The Pineapple Thief.

Osta Love belief in the album as an artform and like to combine memorable songs with musical ambition and complexity, to form a cohesive listening experience that works on an emotional and on a cerebral level.”

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For a progressive album ‘The Isle of Dogs’ is relatively short, coming in, as it does, at 43 minutes but it does have a 16 minute epic on there so that’s definitely heading in the right direction!

Album opener, and title track, The Isle of Dogs opens in a subdued manner before blossoming into a jaunty edged little number. The vocals have a haunting quality to them and the keyboards and drums give a real 70’s psychedelic edge at times. Throw in some rather excellent guitar work and it is a fine bit of nostalgia tinged progressive rock. There is a very finely worked sense of humour running throughout too, especially on the intricate instrumental session that would’nt be amiss on a Caravan album from the 60’s and 70’s. All in all a rather fine opening to the album. Down to the River has a more modern feel to it taking its pointers from Moon Safari, Mew and the like. Upbeat and cheery with cool and classy jazz infused keyboards making an appearance at regular intervals. Marcel’s vocals have a real feel of quality to them with an occasional halting tone and, once again, the guitar work is rather good.

The next track is one of my favourites, a really haunting little ditty that evokes so many different images in your mind. The Sea has an almost portentous opening before opening into a brilliant song that keeps you on edge with the eerie feeling harmony of the vocals and the persistent drumming and melancholy note of the keyboards and piano. A somber and wistful track from beginning to end, it has a bleak beauty deep in its heart, quite superb. Velvety smooth and super cool, Black Beacon Sound wouldn’t be out of place on any modern jazz album. It literally floats along with an air of nonchalance and aloofness and the Martin Taylor-esque guitar solo just oozes class. The vocals are subdued and sultry and the keyboards add another layer of sophistication to this elegantly refined and intelligent track.

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A subtly building, haunting introduction heralds the prophetic Green Hills of Home. Marcel’s pensive vocal delivery adds a hushed reverence to the song and the gently undulating piano note gives it a strong gravitas. It grabs you and draws you into its sombre embrace. There is a stark grace that is the core of this humbling track, never more so than on the pleading guitar solo and the austere harmonies. Moonshine at Midnight begins with a low-key introduction before it breaks out into an upbeat track with a note of Franz Ferdinand. Inventive and knowing, it is a clever, complex song with a lively feel running throughout. The vocals are sometimes solemn and restrained and at other times buoyant and optimistic. The gifted keyboard playing is a particular highlight on this track.

Halloween

Perhaps saving the best until last, the final track is the 16 minute majesty of Translucent Engineering. A delicate acoustic guitar introduces Marcel’s soft and fragile vocal, leaving you hanging on every word. There is a dreamlike feel to this opening part of the track, ethereal and rarefied. Gossamer like, it leaves you in hushed contemplation as it continues to play out before you, a ghostly synthesiser taking up the baton. There is a pause before things get a little more exciting and seriously progressive, a repeated note underlying a wandering guitar and laid back keyboards, quite a spaced out atmosphere in fact. The vocals join in again and lend an aura of 90’s neo-prog to proceedings, it’s all getting very interesting as the captivating guitar transfixes you. Onto the third part of the song and a subtle bass takes over, driving things along with an increased urgency before the guitar, once again, shoulders the burden and takes an uplifting route to your inner soul. Osta Love are extremely skilled in the construction of emotive music and they use every trick in the book on this epic track, the hairs on the back of your neck start to rise as it comes to a powerful conclusion with Marcel’s voice and the incredible guitar playing of Tobias Geberth adding that final layer of polish to a very impressive release.

It is discovering or being introduced to little gems of musical brilliance like this that really makes me smile. Music is one of the greatest treasures that our world possesses and, when it is as good as this, it is a treasure that the whole world should know about and have the chance to enjoy.

Released 27th November 2015

Buy Isle of Dogs direct from the band

 

 

 

Review – Profuna Ocean – In Vacuum

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“You can either be a victim of the world or an adventurer in search of treasure. It all depends on how you view your life.”  – Paolo Cuelho

Well, to quote Mr Cuelho once more, “I’m an adventurer, looking for treasure”, and the treasure I seek is music, not any old music but music that can move you and stir your soul, music that can ask questions and then answer them with amazing clarity.

If I can take some liberty with the original quote, maybe you are a victim of the world if you have to listen to the dirge that is anodyne, bubblegum chart music. This is music that is only ever created for commercial gain and not for passion or just because it can be brought to life and it is anathema to me.

It can take a while to unearth a true gem and, on a recent short hospital stay, I had an interesting conversation that became somewhat an analogy of my musical treasure hunts.

While laid on the hospital bed  I struck up a conversation with the gentleman opposite who just happened to be an avid metal detector devotee who would spend hours on a cold and frosty day criss-crossing fields searching for that elusive big find.

While never unearthing anything of large value himself he went on to avail me of the many great finds that his fellow detectorists had come across and, while having the interminable wait of any hospital visit, I came to see how it actually coincided with how I will listen to hundreds of albums to find that one peach of a listen.

Well, my friends, my travails of 2016 haven’t taken long to reveal an early musical gem, Profuna Ocean’s ‘In Vacuum’ and what a jewel it is!

Profuna Ocean Band

“Profuna Ocean is a contemporary progressive rock band from the Netherlands, founded in 2008. With their sequences of thought out compositions, vivacious melodies and powerful rock sounds their music constantly takes the listener on a musical trip and introduces him of her to the musical world of Profuna Ocean.” 

Or so says the PR material that came with the album, the band consists of Fred den Hartog (drums), Raoul Potters (vocals, guitars), Arjan Visser (bass guitar) and René Visser (keyboards) and they self released their first album ‘Watching the Closing Sky’ in 2009. ‘In Vacuum’ was released through Freia Music and sees the band refining and redefining their own unique sound.

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To be fair, I was blown away on first listen as an imposing riff awash with heavy guitar and swirling keyboards introduces Thousand Yard Stare with no unnecessary frippery. This then breaks into a stylish melodic section with nicely harmonised vocals a la Steven Wilson before thundering into a dynamic chorus where the keys and flared out guitar take centre stage again. The music grabs you from the start and Raoul’s dulcet tones are perfectly matched, whether playing the melodious troubadour or hard-edged rocker. Throw in an aggressive, hard rock infused solo and some almost deviantly classy instrumental sub-sections and you are left mightily sated by this excellent album opener. The question is, can the rest of the album keep up the incredibly high standard? I find myself transported back to the grunge days of the early 1990’s with the fuzzy guitar and dynamic drums that open Awakening, a really upbeat and aggressive track where the vocal gives it an edgy feel. The melody is really catchy as it dances across your mind and the staccato riff that underpins the verse has you up on your metaphorical toes. I really enjoyed the nostalgic feel of Nirvana and Pearl Jam that emanates from every note, although this track has more smile and less frown at its core.

Hanging in the Balance has a feel of alternative rock to it, the pensive introduction is all guitars and keyboards before a halting vocal takes over, a touch of early Foo Fighters perhaps? Although the chorus seems to come straight from the 80’s with the harmonised vocal and elegant keyboards. There is an undercurrent of intensity running throughout as the drums drive this energetic track along. Raoul Potters shows he has an incredible variety to his vocal delivery, his voice perfectly matched to the individual feel of every song. There is a polished note to the delivery and the mix, mastering and production without it losing any emotion or feeling. The instrumental interlude in the middle of the track builds in intensity, keeping you on the edge of your seat as you await the next step, a trance-like section that evokes the feelsome progressive rock of bands like RiversideVotum and Vly. The skill of these accomplished musicians has to be heard to be appreciated as they take you on a sonorous journey through your mind punctuated by perfect chords and notes. This track then seems to segue into yet another direction and style, one inhabited by the giants of progressive and symphonic metal, punctuated by soaring guitar runs and stuttering riffs before coming back full circle to finish on the sharp guitar and keyboard tones of the introduction. Losing Ground is sassy, sharp and smart from beginning to end with a funky guitar riff and polished drums leading the chase. This then opens up into a harder-edge chorus where the vocals, guitars and keyboards swell up and hit you hard before that snappy verse grabs your attention once again. These guys know how to take influences from all sorts of genres and mould them into a cohesive whole, one that is definitively Profuna Ocean and the surprises come thick and fast as they bounce around like a pinball machine. It never gets dull and always feels fresh and innovative, you need more than one listen to pick up every nuance and snippet that is included and you never stop smiling or nodding in acknowledgement at what the band have created and delivered for our delectation. Thunderous guitars, powerful drumming, swathes of elegant keyboards and the ever present bass combine to knock you over with a sonic boom of immense proportions, you just laugh, pick yourself up and return for another helping….

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Turn down the intensity a few notches and enjoy the lush tones of Ghost. Earnest vocals and a delicate guitar note pluck at your heartstrings as this delightful track soothes your soul and allows a peaceful interlude from the high energy excitement of what has preceded it. I found myself rapt in attention as each note danced across my aural receptors. This track has a grace and tenderness deep at its heart and leaves you in a state of ethereal calm, quite beautiful. This release has impressed me at every turn but the highlight for me is the next track, the magnificent Beautiful Sunrise. It begins with a seriously compelling and dominant riff that rides roughshod over everything in its path, attention grabbing all the way, underscored by a mysterious feeling keyboard tone. Now you have taken notice it pulls back into an absorbing piece of music that wouldn’t be amiss on any of the classic Porcupine Tree albums. Slightly halting vocals on the verse, accompanied by intricate instrumentation, followed by a captivating chorus with lush harmonies and music, all intelligently produced and delivered. This is musical education, you feel that your whole life and being is enriched by every listen, I must have put this track on repeat for 4 or 5 plays deducing every slight insight and gradation as the brilliant keyboards take centre stage before the track graduates into an sophisticated and inventive instrumental section dominated by a dexterous guitar solo. This is where the band’s creativity really takes flight and leaves you slack jawed. I’m sure that Profuna Ocean will admit readily to their influences, as would most bands, but it’s what you do with them that counts. As the song comes to a close it goes a bit psychedelic on you for a minute before it confidently strides off into the distance, satisfied in a job well done.

The title track In Vacuum is a dramatic, cinematic instrumental that holds your attention as this great release moves into its final phase and track Clean Slate which opens with a seriously addictive toe-tapping riff and confident drums, Raoul’s vocals are precise and determinate though the verse before they deliver a heartfelt and compelling tone to the chorus. Grunge, alternative rock, progressive rock, hard rock, you name it, they are all thrown into the crucible and melted down to deliver Profuna Ocean’s signature sound. The influential guitar break and dreamlike synth section, once again, paint a precise picture in your mind as this innovative band continue to inventively mix their musical metaphors to perfection and with superb results.  At times it wanders off into a more relaxed vista but it isn’t long before the hard-riffing guitars come and grab the track by the scruff of the neck and set it back on its obdurate trajectory once again. It’s like having four musical seasons in one song but ones that dovetail perfectly to deliver an experience that leads you to the water to drink time and time again. As the song and album come to a close there is another fantastic piece of guitar work that makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up before everything starts to slow down and a plaintive piano note runs things out to the final note.

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So we are only in January and I have had a proliferation of great music land at Progradar Towers already. There have been some absolutely dazzling releases but, for this music writer, the best of the lot has been Profuna Ocean. A more hard-edged and aggressive take on Progressive Rock but one with a beautiful fragility hidden below. A brilliant start to the year, this is one release that could possibly have been my album of the year if it had surfaced in 2015, as it is, it will take something rather fantastic to top it now!

Released 8th January via Freia Music.

Buy In Vacuum from Freia Music

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Review – Teramaze – Her Halo – by Kevin Thompson

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WARNING!

IF YOU DON’T LIKE YOUR PROG ON THE METAL SIDE, LOOK AWAY NOW.

An endless list: Muse, Queen, Joe Satriani, Pallas, Evergrey, Symphony X, Dream Theater, Anathema, Threshold, and on and on……… I think I have found a new sub-genre, Alloy Prog, as this band combine so many different styles of prog metal and meld it into a melodic whole and it works, it really works, with the emotionally driven lyrics, co-written by Wells and Peachey.

Welcome to ‘Her Halo’, a concept of emotions, recounting the tale of a female trapeze artist embroiled in a love triangle and the fifth album from Australian band Teramaze. I have to say they had not crossed my radar until I heard the title track from this album and what a little belter it is.

I suppose I had best introduce the lads: Dean Wells (prodigious lead/rythm guitar), Dean Kennedy (thundering drums), Luis Eguren (throbbing bass) and Nathan Peachey (soaring vocals).

And so to the album:

Track 1: An Ordinary Dream (Enla Momento) – which I believe translates literally as ‘In the time’.

Ushered in on ethereal winds, with the distant sounds of a carnival, bringing a gentle acoustic guitar and piano intro, leaving us defenceless and unprepared as we are suddenly pinned back in our seats by a barrage of Dean Kennedy’s drum beats peppered with intense guitar fire from Dean Wells and Luis Eguren’s bass battering. It all relents slightly to introduce the melodic vocals of Nathan Peachy before returning to the fray, swooping in and out, this is the longest and most epic of tracks on the album, centred with a heart wrenching guitar solo, licks and hooks abound, leaving you in no doubt what’s to come on the rest of the album. The track ends with a gentle piano run.

Track 2: To Love a Tyrant – Eerie noises and ominous approaching footsteps and it’s into the heavy riffs. This has a sense of foreboding coupled with fear and is more ‘metal’ broken by a short piano interlude. It then returns to the churning guitars and drums, giving you the impression something wicked this way comes, Peachey using his clear, vocal range to a crescendo and good effect. The song ends with an unfinished chord on the piano hanging in the air.

Track 3: Her Halo – Everybody punch the air, here comes the title track. A pleasant string arrangement intro and a gentle verse from Peachy and you can feel the catchy chorus building. You are there by the ringside, as she floats through the air above you, arms raised and bursting your lungs to sing along. Slight editing could see this as a great single.

Track 4: Out of Subconscious – There is no escaping the fact I keep being reminded of Threshold, the drumming and guitar are straight in on this and pick up the pace from the title track. Another catchy chorus and great harmonising before we are allowed a brief respite before being lined up against the wall and shot to pieces by the drums and guitar work again. Peachey’s vocals fly off the scale and we are left to slide to the floor as the frantic guitar riff slides down to the end of the track.

Track 5: For the Innocent – Continuing apace with a great riff/hook, this starts with intent, easing to allow the verses some space, then pounding along again. Dean Kennedy‘s driving rhythms are nothing short of excellent on this album, of which Mr Johanne James himself would be proud, combined with the dynamic bass from Eguren frantically working away as part of the driving powerhouse that pushes the tunes along. This hammers to a sudden end, daring you to catch your breath before the only instrumental on the album begins.

Track 6: Trapeze – The shortest track but it allows the instruments to do the talking and loses nothing for it, Wells shredding with the best of ’em. The sound of something straining and snapping and a fateful scream precede this cinematic, bouncing tune of technical grandeur, showing the fine musicianship of the band members at their best.

Track 7: Broken – The ballad, on which the band come  closest to AOR. Guitar work reminiscent of Neal Schon weaves throughout this, the plaintive lyrics from Peachey, once again with seamless harmonies, rising to an uplifting finish. Wells is allowed to shine with fabulous runs at both ends of the fret-board.

Track 8: Delusions of Grandeur – Drum roll to the grand finale and no less than you would expect from such accomplished musicians as they throw everything into this glorious end, including background circus noises. Melodic and compelling it builds breathlessly, bringing everything to a climatic and dramatic close, befitting it’s theme, with the sounds of fire and the sirens of emergency vehicles fading into the distance to nothingness.

The quiet is palpable at this stage and I scan the room to check nothing is burning/melting and there is still glass in the windows. All intact, there are no bullet holes in my clothing, furniture is intact and I have a rather large grin on my face. Thank goodness, time to grab a cup of tea and get some more jobs done. Then again, I could just have another listen, close the room door, who will know.

Love it.

Released 30th October 2015

Buy Her Halo from Mascot

 

 

 

 

Review – Malady (self-titled) by Emma Roebuck

Malady cover

I don’t really like to have half the review written for me.However, the guys from Malady kindly translated their website information from the Finnish as their English makes my total absence of Finnish look very embarrassing. So for those of you looking at the website, you can now see what some of the words mean and where these guys are coming from..

Malady was formed in Helsinki in 2010 as a three-piece band (Tony Björkman/Guitar; Juuso Jylhänlehto/Drums and Jonni Tanskanen/Bass) and was initially intended as a one-album project. The album was originally to be released around 2030. The majority of the songs found on the debut album were conceived in the following few years.

Finding the guitar-bass-drums -combination insufficient, Babak Issabeigloo was asked to play the Hammond organ in 2012, which he promptly switched to the guitar and microphone. The role of the organist was filled by Ville Rohiola a few years later. The first album was recorded in summer and fall 2014 and was released by Svart records in late 2015.”

You would not immediately think of Finland as hot bed of talent and prog rock but, thanks to this album being pointed out to me by David Elliot (not of BEM, the other one), I say to you think again if you thought that, and Malady are anything to go by. The sound is retro being Hammond, guitar, bass and drums. The sound the music makes is reminiscent of Floyd (circa Syd up to ‘Meddle’), Camel (‘Rain Dances’/’Snow Goose”) and King Crimson (‘Larks Tongues’ period), with a hefty chunk of Psychedelia thrown in.

This an immensely chilled album, late night candles, you get the idea. Its atmosphere is very unique and conveys the message of the lyrics very well. The band delves into their own culture for some of the inspiration and at global issues for others. Musically these guys know what they are doing and can write very well and never override the music with their skill. The song here is the key and the work they have done shines through every chord sequence and solo. Do not let the language be a barrier here, you do not need to speak Finnish to love this music. The words are minimal and never a problem. I’ve played this album over 10 times and not got bored once, how can you get bored with the huge Hammond and bass combo and the understated but driven rhythm section.

There is nothing new about this album, it’s not earth shattering or ground breaking in its intent but, it is a great vehicle for these guys as writers and musicians.

High points for me are Unessakävelijä and Aarnivalkea, these alone are worth hearing for the money, however, the others are not fillers.

Unessakävelijä is very Floyd and has a sinister under current driving through it that maintains the interest to the very last note. Aarnivalkea Camel fans take heed at this, they produce a fine 10 minute plus epic of variety that Messrs Latimer and Co. would be justly proud of on any of their albums. If any festival in the UK in 2016 is looking for Scandinavian talent look no further for a bit of coup.

Now, I don’t normally list the tracks of the albums but in this case I think it is needed.

Here is a brief explanation of the songs and titles, translated, with much thanks to Jonni:

Kantaa taakan maa – The Earth carries the burden – A pessimistic view about the impending devastation of nature and man’s impact on the environment. Mankind’s greed as a destructive force on planet earth and generations losing their faith in the future. Ultimately, as the title says outright, it’s the Earth that carries the burden.

Loittoneva varjoni – My receding shadow (instrumental)

Pieniin saariin – To small islands – A rather personal lyric by our guitarist. To this day I’m not entirely sure what it’s about. Something about one’s thoughts escaping to small islands, building worlds out of what you hold inside you. It’s pretty cryptic, to be honest.

Unessakävelijä – Sleep walker – A dreamscape of a man walking in a city in the night during Autumn completely alone, with everything around him silent. The lyrics for this one were never sung but they’re still in the liner notes.

Aarnivalkea – Will-o-the-wisp – Will-o-wisps have several explanations in numerous folklore, whether it be guiding people to safety or toward water for baptism. In Finnish folklore, The Aarnivalkea leads one to faerie gold…. or in this case, allegorically to one’s loved one.

Kakarlampi – Name of a pond in Finland. Instrumental song. Kakar can mean either a child or a red-throated diver (a bird).

Released 30th November 2015

Buy Malady from Svart Records

 

 

 

Combination review – Panzerballet – Breaking Brain & Special Providence – Essence of Change by Shawn Dudley

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fusion (noun) – a merging of diverse, distinct, or separate elements into a unified whole.

When venturing into conversations about experimental or hard-to-define musical styles I often find it beneficial to go back to the original literal definition of the genre name.

Fusion (the musical style) conjures a particular sound and a particular era, mostly the early 70s and bands like Mahavishnu Orchestra, Weather Report, Tony Williams’ Lifetime, Miles Davis’ electric bands, etc. A briefly exciting marriage of rock rhythms and jazz vocabulary that eventually got watered down through the corporate machine until it came out Smooth Jazz on the other end. Thousands of waiting rooms in dentist’s offices beckoned. But the sound of early 70s fusion is very much defined now, so I believe we’ve lost the focus on the diverse elements that went into creating that sound in the first place.

That 70s fusion sound can be heard on both of these albums, but it’s now just one ingredient among many again, it has returned to being an element of a larger whole.

Panzerballett and Special Providence have tackled a similar range of variables; combine various jazz styles and arrangements with highly technical, complex progressive metal. However, they’ve chosen their own individual approaches to attaining that merger.

Panzerballett

(Picture by Uzziel van Baalson)

Panzerballett from Munich formed in 2004 and instantly made an impression with their insanely complex and often humorous cover versions of famous jazz and rock standards. Songs as diverse as Smoke On The Water, Giant Steps and Birdland (Weather Report) were dissected and reassembled in all kinds of imaginatively quirky ways. Classically trained bandleader Jan Zehrfeld (guitar) assembled a lineup of similarly schooled musicians including a full-time sax player and set out to play “jazz metal”. ‘Breaking Brain’ is their fourth full-length album and while the humorous elements still come into play, as a whole this is a more focused affair and features primarily original compositions.

Yes, their music is insanely complex and the music nerds have plenty to dissect and study here. But, they are so much fun at the same time, such an infectious spirit permeates these instrumental pieces that even non-musicians should find plenty to enjoy on ‘Breaking Brain’.

My attention is constantly drawn to the saxophone in their arrangements, an instrument that is still a rarity in the prog metal arena. The coloration offered by paring the saxophone with the tightly controlled prog metal arrangements really gives Panzerballett a unique sonic signature. Saxophonist Alexander von Hagke (who has toured with Asia) is an excellent player in the post-bop mold; I hear a lot of Joe Henderson and Michael Brecker influence in his playing. In fact, the music of the Brecker Brothers looms large in Panzerballet’s fusion bag; ‘Heavy Metal Bebop’ for the 21st century.

Highlights include the ferociously complex opener Euroblast, the excellent saxophone feature Der Saxdiktator and the “funk turned inside out and backwards” opus Smoochy Borg Funk.

The comical tendencies come through in the infectious Typewriter II where the rhythm of the piece is stated by the clicking and carriage returns of a manual typewriter.   The album also feature a couple interesting cover choices; Mahna Mahna from the late 70s TV series The Muppet Show and an insane reading of Henry Mancini’s Pink Panther theme.

As a whole ‘Breaking Brain’ is the most exhilarating and entertaining instrumental album I’ve heard in 2015 and I highly recommend it to the more adventurous leaning progressive rock and jazz fans.

Special Providence

Special Providence from Hungary released their first album ‘Space Café’ in 2007 and it was primarily a jazz fusion album with elements of funk and rock mixed in. It was on their follow-up record ‘Labyrinth’ from 2008 where they really started integrating progressive rock, instrumental rock, electronics and progressive metal elements into their arrangements.

‘Essence Of Change’ is their most streamlined release to date with a more defined approach to the overall sound. The whiplash-inducing shifts from rock to jazz on their prior album ‘Soul Alert’ were undeniably thrilling but it was probably a hindrance for the non-jazz initiated to warm up to. The jazz elements and compositional complexity are still definitely in place on ‘Essence of Change’, but they’ve now been more subtly integrated, which could be partially attributed to the addition of new keyboardist Zsolt Kaltenecker.

The album flows beautifully through a variety of moods and styles, every piece melodically engaging while also revealing further complexity on repeated listens.   The tracks work individually but I think the album is best experienced as a whole.

Guitarist Márton Kertész has to be mentioned here, because his assured playing permeates all these songs. A very tasteful player who possesses the chops for shredding and the restraint to only use them when absolutely necessary (which is a rarity in my experience).   That description also really works for the band itself; they never allow their obvious technical skills to take precedence over their compositions.

The highlights are many, with Kiss From A Glacier and first single Northern Lights being the standouts on the first half and the song cycle of Atlas Of You, I.R.P. and the lovely Darkness on the second half.

As a jazz fan for many years I tip my hat to both Panzerballett and Special Providence for showing that fusion is alive and well in the 21st century. It warms my heart to hear young musicians still exploring that vocabulary and finding new and interesting way to apply it to modern progressive music.

‘Breaking Brain’ was released on 30th October 2015 and can be purchased from:

www.gentleartofmusic.com

‘Essence of Change’ was released on 30th March 2015 and can be purchased from:

www.specialprovidence.eu

 

 

 

 

 

Review – Marquette – Human Reparation – by Terry DeLien

Marquette Human Reparation

WHAT’S UP PROG-NATION?!?!   It’s your boy, Terry DeLien, sometimes guest-host of PROG-WATCH and I am out to strain the shows relationship with Progradar even further by expecting Martin to publish my half-baked reviews!!!!

Marquette (Markus Roth and Achim Wierschem) have just blown my mind!  An unwritten axiom of prog rock is that instrumentals are either the exception or the rule. When a prog group does a lot of quality instrumentals then their vocal pieces are almost always lower quality. (Anglagard, Tangerine Dream, lyrical Focus… etc.) A lot of times an otherwise vocal band will start off instrumental for the first track and then do nothing but vocal tracks afterwards (I am looking at you Ciccada and Druckfarben, et. Al.)

So ‘Human Reparation’ came as a bit of a surprise. It looks like it’s going to follow a fairly standard prog formula when it begins, starting off with the rocking instrumental, Mystery Train, and then moving into a strong vocal track, Awaken in a New World, with good lyrics and vocals by Roth. It then takes a turn for the unique by giving us THREE MORE exceptional instrumental tracks before Markus sings again. Track 3 is Adam und Eva, a slow, solo, piano piece,followed by The Mirror, a mostly up tempo suite that clocks in over 9 minutes and is one of my favorite bits on the album. Next we get a piece that, down to its name, says “Hi, we are from Germany and we like Tangerine Dream!!!” Syncope of Obscure Nature is a title that could have fallen off of almost ANY of Dreams “Pink Year’s” albums, indeed, most of their 70’s albums.  The music on ‘Syncope’ tends to represent bits of TD style from the 80’s on into the 2000’s distilled into a cohesive 4 minute piece.

Hold up, It’s time to rock’n’roll again with another vocal piece called Mass Hysteria.  Don’t misunderstand, though!  Marquette expertly set the stage between the slow, mellow and the hard rocking pieces to keep the mood throughout the album, and they PROG HARD with the tempo and time signature changes. Cancer, another well-put-together instrumental suite, follows before we head into the slightly more ‘vocal heavy’ last half.

My Green Garden is not a bad track, there are none on the album, but it is my least favorite. It’s the one I would probably not play outside the context of the album. Sandwiched between Cancer and the amazing The Last Kiss, however, it fits perfectly. One last instrumental La Grande Vallee where Achim rocks out on the guitar to mellow keyboard support, and then it’s on to (BRING ON THE EPIC!!!) the epic of the album.

Marquette Tracks

Here is the part where I would like to talk about the “five listens” rule. It is a belief of mine that music of any artistic merit cannot be judged on the strength of one hearing. I think you need at least five listens to a piece or album to judge and I have seen many opinions, including my own, revised over the course of five listens. (Sometimes, for the worse… I favorably reviewed one band’s 2015 prog effort after listening twice only to have it fail in my own personal playlist.)

That said, I think sometimes epics and concept albums require more than that.  As I listen to Lost At Sea, the 18-minute penultimate track from ‘Human Reparation’, I can hear that it has everything a great prog concept piece needs in the music and the lyrics, but I am not at the point yet where it is making the same kind of connections in the brain as All of the Above or Echoes… Of course, neither did those, at first. I feel like, in this case, it will get there! Finally, we mellow out with a shorter vocal piece called Grandmother’s Music Box…The spell complete, Marquette fades out the magical trance and returns us to the real world.

This is my favorite prog album of this year, so far! Beautifully written, performed, produced and with no way to pigeonhole their sound. You can hear hints of influences (Porcupine Tree for example on Awaken in a New World) but the music is overwhelmingly original. Marquette have made an original,  modern prog album, and that is so important because there are just too many bands with debut albums that are a total pastiche (RPWL, The Watch and I.Q. et. Al,  not that they haven’t moved on to wonderful things). ‘Human Reparation’ also features a lot of good energy and can keep your attention for the full 78 minutes, which is also rare.

‘Human Reparation’ has been out since July of 2015 and currently holds the top spot on my list of 2015 new releases.  (Sorry, ‘Skyline’…  I love you, too but there it is!)

Nice job Markus and Achim…  can’t wait to see what you do with Marquette #2!!!!!

Released 1st July 2015.

Buy download from Amazon

CD is available as an import from the usual suspects!

Terry DeLien

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Terry DeLien is the sometimes co-host of Prog-Watch on Progzilla.com.  Terry has been an aficionado of Progressive rock since he bought his first Prog Album, RUSH-“Exit Stage Left” in 1981.  From Pennsylvania, USA, Terry has been a dj, karaoke show host and taxi driver.  Currently he manages a restaurant.

 

Progradar’s ‘Best of 2015’ review – by Progradar

David

A scary picture to get things started, it’s that time of year again when everyone puts out their ‘Best of 2015’ album list and I’m no different to every other music journalist, budding or otherwise.

Lists like these are very subjective, after all, one man’s poison is another man’s wine but they’re fun to do and give a real retrospective of some of the great music that has been released over the past 12 months or so.

BEM logo

First off, the usual disclaimer, I won’t include any Bad Elephant Music releases as some people might say I’d be slightly biased. However, once again, this tiny independent label has given us some mighty impressive music from the likes of The Room, Tom Slatter, Simon Godfrey, The Fierce and the Dead and Twice Bitten, among others, all of which can be sampled at the link below:

Bad Elephant Music

I tried to get it down to a top 15, never mind a top ten, but that proved too difficult so, here it is, Progradar’s top 20 albums of 2015. Don’t see the position as being too indicative as, really, albums 20-6 could be in any given order on any given day, the quality is that close. The top 5, however, are my definitive top 5 albums for 2015.

Enough pre-amble, here we go……

20 – Transport Aerian – Dark Blue

A deeply dark, disturbing and highly original work of art from this talented, serious musician. Well worth a listen but, be afraid, very afraid!

19 – Steve Rothery – The Ghosts of Pripyat

Marillion’s guitarist is venturing further afield with his solo work and it’s simple, faraway beauty is quite inspiring. Put your feet up, get your headphones on, lay back and relax.

18 – Barock Project – Skyline

An unexpected highlight of the year, hopefully the fourth album by this extremely talented and still relatively young band will see them break into the mainstream of the progressive rock market. I for one think that, with music as deeply enjoyable and illuminating as this, that they definitely deserve it!

17 – The Aaron Clift Experiment – Outer Light, Inner Darkness

A new release full of sophistication and depth and powerful, thoughtful songs that resonate deeply with you. An album about duality, darkness and light and imbued with intricate compositions, complex arrangements and virtuosic performances, you will want this delight in your collection, trust me…..

16 – Mystery – Delusion Rain

2015 saw Canadian prog-rockers Mystery return with  a new album and a new lead singer and it was as if they’d never been away. Jean Pageau has a voice that fits perfectly with the melodic progressive rock that the band deliver with aplomb. The epic track The Willow Tree is a superb, intricate and emotional hit of passion and takes the album from merely good to very good indeed.

15 – Hibernal – After the Winter

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SdPh-mbJh0c

Mark Healy’s cinematic and evocative soundscapes waft over a post-apocalyptic spoken word storyline to deliver an immensely visceral listening experience.

14 – Built for the Future – Chasing Light

‘Chasing Light’ is one of those rare albums that grabs you immediately AND keeps on getting better with every listen. Built for the Future’s debut release is a thing of rare wonder that resonates with me on a personal level, their commitment to delivering music that connects deeply with the listener has produced a record that shines brightly.

13 – Sylvium – Waiting for the Noise

Superb progressive rock with tones of Porcupine Tree and Riverside. A musical experience that emphasizes emotions rather than the eternal quest for a perfect pop song.

12 – The Wynntown Marshalls – The End of the Golden Age

Scottish tinged Americana with powerful and haunting songwriting and outstanding musicianship.

11 – Echolyn – I Heard You Listening

Storytelling by music, getting to the heart of the matter and opening up small town America. A band I have heard little of in the past, this new album will definitely change that, a melting pot of sweet melodies and delicious harmonies.

10 – Tiger Moth Tales – Storytellers Part One

An album that is even better than the delights of ‘Cocoon’. My inner child is brought to the fore by the magic, charm and allure of ‘Story Tellers Part 1′, it takes me away to an inner nirvana where nothing can touch me or spoil my mood.

9 – Comedy of Errors – Spirit

Do you believe music has soul? I do and, when it is as deeply involving and emotionally uplifting (and draining to be honest!) as this, it becomes life affirming in many ways. All the songs were written by Jim Johnston but I’m sure even he would agree that they are given life by the whole of Comedy of Errors.

8 – Glass Hammer – The Breaking of the World

It could have been this studio album or the equally impressive ‘Glass Hammer – Live’, recorded at this year’s RosFest but, first, let’s get the Yes comparison out of the way, these guys do traditional progressive rock so well they have transcended that to stand in their own circle of praise. A highly impressive effort once again.

7 – Karnataka – Secrets of Angels

The first album written specifically for vocalist Hayley Griffith’s voice, a symphonic prog- rock masterpiece with towering anthems and delicate ballads concluding with the epic twenty-minute plus title track.

6 – The Tangent – A Spark in the Aether

A return to traditional progressive rock, incredibly addictive, flippant and irreverent and, well, just darn good fun!

5 – Big Big Train – Wassail (yes, I know it’s only an E.P. but I like it!!)

You can put your heroes on a pedestal to be knocked off when they don’t reach your lofty expectations but, with ‘Wassail’, Big Big Train have just enhanced their reputation as purveyors of unique and sublime progressive rock which is founded on the elemental history of this blessed isle. A history that is fundamental to the everlasting allure of this captivating group of musicians.

4 – Arcade Messiah – Arcade Messiah II

‘Arcade Messiah II’ takes all that was good with the first album and enhances by taking the raw, coruscating energy of the first release and developing it into a superb sound that, while holding nothing back, is full of nuances and intelligence. A ‘Wall of Sound’ that makes Phil Spector’s look like a diminutive picket fence and it is quite possibly the best thing this highly talented musician has ever produced.

3 – Maddison’s Thread – Maddison’s Thread

Folk is rooted at the core of Maddison’s Way but this album is all about the music and the way Lee can diversify with aplomb is very impressive. A contender for album of the year for me and one that will stay with me for a very long time.

2- Subsignal – The Beacons of Somewhere Sometime

See, this is why these bloody lists are only subjective. I had mine all worked out and then I listened to the fourth album from German band Subsignal and it was blown out of the water. Arisen from the ashes of the great Sieges Even, the first three albums by the band failed to really hit the heights for me. Well, all is most definitely forgiven as ‘The Beacons of Somewhere Sometime’ has just hit me right on the correct spot and elevated them to a higher level. It has a real emotional depth to it and is one that is highly, highly recommended, nearly making it to the top spot…..

1 – Riverside – Love, fear and the Time Machine

So, after a tough fight it is Polish band Riverside that take the crown this year. I have always been a fan of this band without actually loving their work. All that changed with this years beautiful release. There is a depth and maturity to this release that resonates deep to the core. The fragile, breaking vocals and signature sound have taken the band to the forefront of the progressive rock genre and, in this album, they have left behind a musical legacy of which anyone can be proud.

 

 

 

Hasse Fröberg and Musical Companion – HFMC – by Rob Fisher

Cover

As the sound of the sonorous ticking of a clock fills the room, I am transported once more to a murky Sunday night in London. Downstairs in The Underworld, the lights go down, Hasse Fröberg and Musical Companion take to the stage, and those of us who are fortunate enough to be gathered there are treated to an experience of such exquisite virtuosity, passionate commitment and joyful dedication to musical expression that I doubt (and most sincerely hope) that it will ever be forgotten.

The ticking of the clock belongs to Seconds, the opening track of Fröberg’s third studio album ‘HMFC’ and signals a beguiling, measured beginning to what quickly turns out to be a frenetic, dramatic and occasionally theatrical romp through a variety of diverse styles, tempos, sounds and even genres. No less than on stage, the album is a shining testament to music which bristles with life, with energy, with a creative vitality which is utterly infectious and happily uplifting.

After a brief flirtation with a simple, airy yet enticing melodic keyboard intro, the music suddenly explodes into life as it abruptly segues into Can’t Stop the Clock (Track 2) which not only serves as a microcosm of the sheer diversity and variety which is to follow but also sets the theme which unfolds throughout the album and is reflected in or hinted at by the track titles. Time. Life time, a life lived in and through time. Though it is not a concept album per se, the theme which acts as a common thread throughout is our perceptions of time and our experiences of time.

The clock may tick a steady measured beat but the music uses this as a point of departure. Across 7.24 minutes, Can’t Stop the Clock sports numerous changes to tempo, shifting and unexpected chord progressions, grand changes in keys accompanied by stylistic flourishes and symphonic arrangements. These are magnified and explored further with no less than 3 gloriously epic tracks lasting in excess of 10 minutes each: Pages (Track 4, 15.22), In the Warmth of the Evening (Track 6, 10.42) and the magnificent Someone Else’s Fault (Track 8, 10.13) which push the boundaries of experimentation further, stutter stepping from various incarnations of melodic and symphonic rock, to jazz, to blues, to a harder rock, to almost heavy pop – effortlessly playing, literally, with time and shifting between time signatures.

Band2

Yet, despite what can almost feel like a breathless and relentless pace, the album never overwhelms. There are delicate moments of gentle subtlety and simple beauty which clearly speak of personal reflection, of pausing for thought, of the hindsight which comes with the passing of time and maybe even a hint or two of personal biography. Genius (Track 5), in particular, is profoundly moving, tributed to the life and memory of Freddie Mercury and laden with poignant sadness, fondness and appreciation. If you enjoy Queen, check out the wonderfully clever patchwork of lyrics; thoughtful, intelligent and full of care.

The band are uncompromising in what they bring to the music. Formed in 2008 with Fröberg on a break from his duties with The Flower Kings, they are impeccably tight, blending some of the highest technical precision I have ever heard with delightful touches and expressive flourishes that are at times jaw-dropping. They are a superbly tight unit who work so very well together.

Kjell Haraldsson on keyboards is an ever creative presence who provides the perfect backdrop and foil for the exceptional and inspirational lead guitar work of Anton Lindsjö. Both are indebted to the often spell-binding lines provided by Thomas Thomsson on bass who brings a delicious complexity and depth which is a delight to discern among the many musical layers. The foundations are supplied by the outstanding work of Ola Strandberg on drums, immaculate in being so aware of the mood and tone of what the others are doing and bringing just the right combination of touch and power to proceedings.

Band 3 Calle Lind

(Photo by Calle Lind)

Fröberg’s majestic guitar work binds them all together, enables the others to be so expansive whilst firmly remaining the shining light which permeates every moment of the album. His distinctive vocals are the icing on the cake, a perfect fit for the diverse array of lyrical sentiments which are in turn matched by the character and sound of the band.

Yet, even at the end, when the band have blown themselves out, when the force and energy of the music are expended, the ticking of the clock emerges again from the background and is the last thing we hear in the final track, Minutes. The implication seems to be it has been there all along. We cannot escape it; we cannot change it. We can play with and within it, but we can never step outside of it nor hope to escape it. It will always be there as the constant horizon against which life is lived.

‘HFMC’ is, to my mind at least, a stunning exemple of musical excellence and showcases how it is possible to have serious levels of fun creating progressive music which pulsates with ideas, flows with passion and demonstrates astounding levels of musicianship. Possibly one of the top releases of 2015, it quickly becomes one those albums with which you positively look forward to becoming immersed again and again. Highly recommended.

Released 13th February 2015

Buy HFMC from Glassville Records at Burning Shed

 

 

Review – Djam Karet – Swamp of Dreams – by Progradar

swamp_of_dreams

“We pass through the present with our eyes blindfolded. We are permitted merely to sense and guess at what we are actually experiencing. Only later when the cloth is untied can we glance at the past and find out what we have experienced and what meaning it has.” – Milan Kundera

When you have accomplished a lot of things in your life, it is sometimes worth stepping back and taking a retrospective view of what you have achieved. Not to say that what you did in the past was better but, perhaps, to say, “That was where I started, this is where I am now….”

Yes, always looking back can actually be self-defeating but only if you do not progress and use those memories to become bigger and better than what you were originally.

For musicians especially, I think it is great to re-visit some of your earlier music and remember what it was that influenced you originally and how you took those influences to improve on your sound and songwriting.

I am not advocating dragging out the old hits to produce a cash cow for retirement and the new release from Djam Karet is a perfect example. ‘Swamp of Dreams’ is a collection of older tunes that were originally only available as individual tracks on different compilation CDs and fund raiser albums, released between 1990 and 2006.

With this album, their 18th full-length release, Djam Karet are making this long-lost music available again to a much wider audience. The six tracks are sequenced chronologically with each song taking you further back in time. Re-mastered with greater clarity and increased dynamic range, it retains all that is good about the music of Djam Karet, a band who have been making music since 1984.

Djam Karet 2

The first track on this release, Voodoo Chases The Muse is a funky, psychedelic fun-fest that is a musical acid trip for the mind. The driving rhythm section warps your psyche while the excellent, sharp-edged guitar work really strikes a chord. The weird 70’s edge is kept together by some distinctly freaky keyboards and you are left feeling like you are caught in someone’s feverish imagined version of what 70’s music is all about. Stoner Rock? No….. Totally Stoned Rock would be more like it….

The next step back in time is The Shattering Sky, now the band openly state that they make their music with no regard to potential radio play or commercial success and this track is a true testament to that ideal. It starts quite interesting, like a sci-fi soundtrack before some fuzzy guitar blurs the edges. Urgent and edgy, as if it is just about to flee, it gets right into the little nooks and crannys of the deepest parts of your mind. A musical mind control drug maybe as it looms ominously in your consciousness. The second part of the track sees some incredibly flexible bass playing, backed energetic drums which all adds to the psychological drama.

Using our musical TARDIS, we edge back through the years with the equally creepy Pentimento, a track with an utterly otherworldy feel to it. If you told me that this was a song that was intended for use on the soundtrack for 2001 : A Space Odussey, I wouldn’t be surprised. It sits in the back of your mind, influencing your thoughts with tribal-like percussion and convoluted guitars. You never quite feel comfortable with the music, it is like something darkly dangerous, like a fix you know you shouldn’t take but need nonetheless. Let’s just say it is very ‘out there’, the undulating beat and heavy, portentous rhythm are quite hypnotic and trance-like in their execution.

Heading further back through the eons we arrive at New Light On The Dark Age, which begins with a slight note of alien dissonance. Another mysterious journey to the deepest recesses of your inner soul. This is a slow burning, deliberate voyage with sequencer driven rhythms and leaves you holding your breath, your heart hammering in your chest as you wonder what awaits around the next corner. With an atmosphere vaguely reminiscent of Krautrock and Stoner Rock, it opens up into a much more composed mind-set, as if the destination is more paradise than hell-hole.

With the musical treadmill still in reverse Inventions of the Monsters begins with a feel of being lost in a prehistoric jungle, surrounded by fabulous, incredible creatures that you only thought existed in your mind. It is a hesitant, ominous atmosphere, as if you are the alien and your surroundings are foreign to you. You feel at a disadvantage, uncertain as the brooding music washes over you. As you step cautiously through the menacing synthesised sounds, a huge sense of foreboding descends upon you. I let out a nervous laugh when the sound of cat emerges from the speakers and it doesn’t sound like a happy feline either. This song is spine chillingly spooky in deliciously eerie manner, don’t turn the lights out whatever you do, I did warn you…..

Our travails in the H.G Wells time machine reach their end with the title track Swamp of Dreams and it feels like a nostalgic track, mysterious, supernatural and uncanny. I’m sure this so-called ‘Time Machine’ has dropped us bang in the middle of an episode of Patrick McGoohan’s ‘The Prisoner’, are we now Number 6 ? Unique and quite single minded, it really does have a feel of something totally experimental before it opens up into a funky 80’s style instrumental with jangling guitars, spaced-out synths and one of the best basslines you’ll hear in many a year. It has a more sparse, natural feel to it than the previous tracks, perhaps due to it being the earliest track on the album and yet it is still distinctly Djam Karet with the wailing guitar solo and analog synthesisers and is a fine way to close this retrospective.

Djam Karet

I have been a fan of Djam Karet for a while now, their deeply felt commitment and uncompromising vision do not make for music that will appeal to everyone and, to be honest, they don’t care. Their critical acclaim and long time cult following prefer this ‘in your face’ attitude and I’d include myself in that. What they do is make brilliant, spaced-out, psychedelic music that could only come from Djam Karet and ‘Swamp of Dreams’ is a perfect example of their skill and flair. Take the inflexible and obstinate route and you may find that you’ll love it too!

Released 9th October 2015

Buy Swamp of Dreams direct from Djam Karet