The Wallet Emptier’s ‘Music You Should Have A Listen To’ Round-Up Pt.4

Welcome to the fourth edition of The Wallet Emptier’s Round-Up and this time we have music from The C:Live Collective, Project Patchwork, Syzygy, Phi, Marygold and Pinski for you to check out…

The C:Live Collective – The Age of Insanity

Twelfth Night alumni Clive Mitten’s first foray into recording new music for 30 years has produced ‘The Age of Insanity’, the first of a series of linked releases from the band in 2018. At its heart is Clive’s new hour long four-part opus, The Fifth Estate, which will reappear in the autumn in its full vocal version. Here it comprises a fully revised vocal version of We Are Sane (Part One) and specially arranged instrumental mixes of Parts Two to Four. The CD is completed by a new version of This City set in London.

A powerful vilification of the internet and social media (The Fifth Estate), Clive has collected some impressive musicians around him and that can be seen in the well crafted tracks on the album. Mark Spencer’s expressive vocals add to the atmospheric appeal of the first song, there’s definitely a feeling of Big Brother is watching you running through this track, almost a feeling of dystopia.

The instrumentals are finely constructed, haunting pieces of music where the musician’s requisite skills are used to very good effect, all the while Clive orchestrating every move. I was very impressed at how the whole album seemed to flow perfectly with each track seguing smoothly into the next. The final song This City Is London closes things out with an almost patriotic feel, its drum and bass origins actually working well with the rest of the album.

All in all, it all bodes well for what is to come next.

Rating – 77/100

Released 1st March 2018

Favourite Track – The very impressive The Fifth Estate Part One.

Order the album from bandcamp here

Project: Patchwork – ReFlection

Project: Patchwork, The studio project of German musicians Gerd Albers and Peter Koll, release their second album ‘ReFlection’ three years after the debut. Dealing with personal experiences and addressing critical questions of currents events in society and politics, it is powerful statement of intent.

A total of 10 singers and 20 musicians share duties on this impressive release but at no time does it feel disjointed or over-ambitious. With artists of the calibre of Marek Arnold, John Mitchell, Markus Steffen and Martin Schnella it was always going to have a good pedigree.

Powerful guitars and yet a strong emphasis on melodies mean this release is chock full of hook lines and impressive, emotive music with new surprises at every turn. This is a fine release that immerses you on an extraordinary musical journey.

Rating – 80/100

Released 16th March 2018

Favourite Track – The inventive brilliance of Yearning For Confraternity.

Order the album here

Syzygy – Misconnected Man

In astronomy, a syzygy is a (usually) straight-line configuration of three or more celestial bodies in a gravitational system.

In music SYZYGY is a progressive rock trio from Gainesville, Florida, consisting of guitarist/vocalist Tom Nelly, bassist KD McClellan, and drummer Dan Landis‘Misconnected Man’ is their debut release and is full of complex and yet memorable compositions that are madder than a badger poked with a stick  but in a very, very good way!

Listening to the album is akin to a musical rollercoaster ride of massive proportions, there literally is no let-up to the rapid fire musical delivery, it isn’t for the faint hearted but, dig in and persevere for what you do get is well worth the effort.

They call it progressive rock but it’s more acid jazz infused art rock with some King Crimson thrown in for good measure, just because they could! Get your wallets ready and lay out for one of the most original and inventive releases you’ll hear in quite a while.

Rating – 77/100

Released 31st October 2018

Favourite Track – The unabridged lunacy of Misconnected Man.

Order the album from bandcamp here

PHI – Cycles

‘Cycles’ is Austrian Prog-Metal outfit PHI’s latest release and sees the band finally attain what they call The Golden Ratio, the perfect proportion between rock power and artistic aspiration and it was an accident, cutting his finger in his role as an amateur chef, that led him in the new direction that finally produced this golden ratio.

A songwriting process straight from head to paper, no filters as main man Markus Bratusa couldn’t play his guitar, has delivered six involving and powerful compositions with maturity and gravitas. Songs that are emotionally bold and honest and yet mightily potent, the guitar sound is as heavy a one as you will hear this side of early Sabbath, the new album has everything.

‘Cycles’ displays a grandiose vision and one that this impressive band carry off with style and aplomb and all on an epic bombastic and flamboyant scale.

Rating – 79/100

Released 23rd March 2018.

Favourite Track – The utter bombast of Blackened Rivers.

Order the album here

Marygold – One Light Year

Immaculately constructed classic progressive rock, ‘One Light Year’ is Italian band Marygold at their absolute best. Formed in Verona in 1994, this collection of virtuoso performers had not released anything since 2005 but had opened the well respected Verona Progfest in 2007.

A collection of songs to bewitch and beguile lovers of classic and more modern progressive styles, it has that eccentricity that Italian prog music is known for and is an exciting and immersive listen. Excellent melodies and intricate song structures combine across all seven of the inventive tracks.

Let the intricate guitar plying, the expansive rhythm section and the eloquent vocals take you on an enjoyable musical journey, one with a definite Italian flavour and one that is all the better for it.

Rating – 75/100

Released 12th October 2017

Favourite Track – The emotive 15 Years.

Order the album here

Pinski – Sound The Alarm

Cologne based outfit Pinski’s debut album is an intriguing proposition. On the face of it, it appears to be a straightforward hard rock album with some pretty impressive riffing and the power of Insa Reichwein’s (aka. Pinski) soulful vocals but, dig deeper and you will find a record full of complex compositions with intelligent and thoughtful lyrics. Take the reproachful anger of Society and follow it up with the hopeful tone of Light Calling and you will begin to see Insa’s view of the world.

However there’s no getting away from the thunderous guitar work of Ian Alexander Griffiths who adds a real metal/hard rock edge to the songs. The rhythm section of Christopher Streidt (bass) and Stephan Schöpe (drums) lays a really vibrant foundation for Insa’s dynamic voice and distorted acoustic riffs, she really gives her all through every song.

A real discovery for me, ‘Sound The Alarm’ is a collection of tracks that will have you on the edge of your seat from start to finish.

Rating – 81/100

Released 29th April 2018.

Favourite Track – The sonic boom of title track Sound The Alarm.

Order the CD direct from the band at the link below:

The Wallet Emptier’s ‘Music You Should Have A Listen To’ Round-Up Pt3.

Welcome top the third outing for The Wallet Emptier’s Round Up and the music I think you should be listening to this time is from Band of Rain, Lesoir, TNNE (The No Name Experience), Novatia, Starsabout and Laura Cortese & The Dance Cards

I have also added a link to buy the album, if you are so inclined and if I can find one!

Band of Rain – The Dust of Stars

There’s some power behind this album, it may be supposedly ‘haunting, ambient and largely instrumental rock music’ but Band of Rain imbue it with a hard-edged soul epitomised by long-term band leader Chris Gill’s dynamic and strident guitar style. His partner in crime Micha Steinbacher adds the requisite haunting atmosphere and they deliver some pretty intense musical soundscapes.

Ria Parfitt adds her quirky vocals to the title track and the in-your-face Toys (where Chris really lets loose with the six string) and prog stalwart Gordo Bennett contributes a superb ethereal guitar solo to Ancient Electric, this album keeps delivering at every turn. Just check out the eclectic flute work on the ambient beauty of Indian Summer and be mesmerised by the lush musical tapestry that Band of Rain have woven.

Rating – 78/100

Favourite Track – The wistful wonder of Ancient Electric.

Released 5th September 2017 – Buy this album from cdbaby

Lesoir – Latitude

Dutch band Lesoir have lofty ambitions, they want to aim for the bigger picture and deliver something more than your average art-rock album. ‘Latitude’ delivers a fragile beauty, music that inspires and transcends, an album full of soaring soundscapes and one that majors on subtlety rather than blunt rage.

Maartje Meesen’s voice is emotive and passionate, just check out opening track Modern Goddess, to see what I mean. To quote the PR:

‘Lesoir fuse the beauty of melancholy with a rugged maliciousness of an unforgiving wasteland. The Result is music that is as impressive as it is touching.’

I see similarities with German art-rock pioneers Frequency Drift, a cinematic quality to the music that gives the music an expansive feel and the recruitment of Bruce Soord as co-producer seems to have been a masterstroke and gives the music a three-dimensional atmosphere.

Rating – 75/100

Favourite Track – The magical and mysterious In Their Eyes.

Released 17th November 2017 – Buy this album from

TNNE – Wonderland

Neo-prog from Luxembourg? No, I didn’t know there was such a thing either but here I am listening to TNNE’s 2017 release ‘Wonderland’ and a lovely thing it is too. Any album that can call on Chilean guitar legend Claudio Cordero of Cast fame has a lot going for it before even the first note is played. I then hear the great sax playing on opener My Childish Mind and I’m in for the ride.

There’s something a bit extra to this release too though, it’s not Neo-prog by numbers, there is more warmth and emotion, perhaps a product of Patrick Keifer’s sublime vocals, and sheer joy in the way the musicians deliver the powerful rhythms and playful keyboard melodies. Add in Claudio’s famed guitar solos and you have a collection of songs that connect and involve you from the start to the end.

Rating – 78/100

Favourite Track – The funky, energetic opening track My Childish Mind.

Released 26th September 2017 – Buy the album from Progressive Promotion Records here

Novatia – Flow

Novatia’s third E.P. ‘Flow’ is an artfully constructed mix of pop, rock, jazz and funk, along with more than a liberal dose of progressive rock. As the title would suggest, the band have created an album that flows from the first track to the last, each song complimenting the others. This was a deliberate part of the songwriting process where the intention was to create five songs that are both musically and lyrically connected by one theme.

Stylish guitars and a thumping bass are the base on which these tracks are built on and the impressive vocals add a polished sheen to the finished product. That doesn’t mean that they are lacking in emotion though, there’s a piece of each of the band in every track, they come from the heart and soul and that is evident as you listen and partake on this involving, flowing journey.

Rating – 74/100

Favourite Track – The acoustic jazz infused delight of Before Autumn Comes.

Released 5th November 2017 – Buy the album from bandcamp here

Starsabout – Halflights

This is the second outing for Poland’s Starsabout on The Wallet Emptier’s Round Up and, just to confuse the issue, ‘Halflights’ precedes ‘Longing For Home’ which I covered recently. ‘Halflights’ has a much starker feel, the opening track having a feel of early Simple Minds to it. The vocals have a fragility to them and the sparse soundscapes really resonate.

Haunting melodies and an absence of frippery give a genuine feel to the music with its unadorned grace. It’s not particularly cheerful though but it does what it sets out to do extremely well being different in character to the current album. In fact, if you’d only listened to ‘Longing For Home’ you would pigeonhole them squarely in the Riverside bracket, this earlier release shows they have a darker and more personal side to their music and I would love to hear a hybrid of the two styles on their next album.

Rating – 70/100

Favourite Track – The haunting simplicity and bared soul of Bluebird.

Released 6th April 2016 – Order the album from bandcamp here

Laura Cortese & The Dance Cards – California Calling

I never knew I was a fan of roots music until late last year when I got talking to Bloody Great PR main man Loudon Temple and he sent me quite a few CDs to get me going. I’m having some kind of second wind and you’ll see a lot over the next few articles starting with the wonderful Laura Cortese & The Dance Cards.

It’s roots and folk music but not as you’d know it as there are definitine touches of 70’s California around the fringes, think Mamas & Papas, Fleetwood Mac and the ilk and the delightful harmonised vocals brings to mind Wilson Phillips debut release from 1990, especially on the title track. The wonderful, fiddle, cello and bass playing of her fellow Dance Cards imbues this wistful release with a boldness and elegance that is apparent in every perfectly placed note.

These clever and inventive musicians really push the boundaries of what you’d normally consider to be folk music, check out the hip hop pulses of single Pace Myself, maybe not a reinvention of the whole scene but certainly something that refreshes and reinvigorates.

Rating – 82/100

Favourite Track – The breath of fresh air that is California Calling.

Released 6th October 2017 – Order the album from here



The Wallet Emptier’s ‘Music You Should Have A Listen To’ Round-Up Pt2

The second installment in our ‘Round-Up’ series sees me take a look at albums from Vantomme, Fiona Kennedy, Blind Ego, When Mary, Special Providence and Ryan Yard

Vantomme – Vegir

Dominique Vantomme is a multi-talented instrumentalist, composer, band leader, educator and producer as well as being the jazz piano instructor at the Music Conservatory in Kortrijk, Belgium. ‘Vegir’ was born out of his nomadic adventures to see Stick Men and befriending Tony Levin.

What came out of the studio sessions is a spontaneous collection of fresh and vibrant instrumental tracks that defy current convention. The sizzling, electrifying playing shows seasoned musicians at the top of their game. There’s nothing traditional or even normal about these eight pieces of music that strut and stalk their way across the sonic soundscape, in fact some of them are downright evil!

Strap yourself in, press play and get ready for a wild ride into a chaotic realm of vivid and energetic music.

Rating – 70/100

Favourite Track – The sonic powerball that is Playing Chess With Barney Rubble.

Released 5th January 2018.

An Irish woman who married a Yorkshireman and lives in Cork, Fiona Kennedy really knows how to carry a tune and her blues/roots/country rock album ‘The Beach’ is chock full of killer tunes. Take the sizzling, passionate opening song Asking Around For You with its superb guitar and Fiona’s expressive vocal and you will not be disappointed.

This talented Irish lady has the ability to change mood at at the drop of the hat and that makes for a wonderfully eclectic and emotive selection of songs that you will never tire of but, to my ears, it’s the tracks where she has a musical twinkle in her eye and a cheeky skip in her step where she really excels.

Kick your shoes off and get your dancing feet on for this album that is full of infectious chorus after chorus and more earworms than you can cope with!

Rating – 75/100

Favourite Track – The burning blues of Asking Around For You.

Released May 2017.

Blind Ego’s ‘Liquid’ was one of the stand out releases of 2016 and a live recording of their show at the Loreley Amphitheater is surely going to be something rather fantastic? Well, to cut the suspense, it is! The powerful metal tinged progressive rock that these musical leviathans produce is mercilessly entertaining.

Scott Balaban’s voice dominates the recording and legendary guitar virtuoso Kalle Wallner provides the perfect foil. To hear tracks as dynamic and potent as What If and Never Escape The Storm in a live setting is quite elctric and the interaction with the lively crowd is a pleasure to hear.

This is a live recording of musicians at the height of their abilities but also five guys who are thoroughly enjoying themselves and it really raises the hair on the back of your neck.

Rating – 78/100

Favourite Track – The utter live bombast of What If.

Released 10th November 2017.

When Mary – Tainted

Norway’s dark electro-proggers When Mary are the first artist to have signed to Summers End Festival impresarios Huw Lloyd-Jones and Stephen Lambe’s  new record label Sonicbond Music. ‘Tainted’ is inspired by the classic tale of Faust, the man who drives himself to damnation in his search for true enlightenment.

It’s not an easy ride this album but persevere and dig deep and you will be well rewarded. A lot darker and more electronic than the acclaimed debut album 2013’s ‘7summers7winters’, this new release is quite a deep and emotive musical journey that bestrides many genres to give When Mary a unique appeal. Touches of progressive rock, industrial and ambient electronica and even blues give it a life all of its own.

Dominating proceedings is the enigmatic vocal of Trude Eidtang, former vocalist of the renowned Norwegian art rock band White Willow. ‘Tainted’ is a singular release that will hopefully lead this talented trio onto grater things.

Rating – 77/100

Favourite Track – The dark, serpentine electronic grooves of Wonderful Warning.

Released 10th November 2017.

Special Providence  – Will

Hungarian prog/jazz/metal fusion band Special Providence released their latest album ‘Will’ late in 2017 and it has taken a while to come to my attention and now I’m wondering how I missed it. These guys have toured with Spock’s Beard, Dream Theater, Pain of Salvation and Steve Hackett which just shows the huge potential in their music.

Intricate musicianship combined with baroque, knife-sharp compositions and occasional soaring melodies makes for a very exciting combination where heavy guitar riffs and grooves and pyrotechnical keyboard skills forge a very unique, virtuoso but easily digestible musical style.

A hugely entertaining prospect live, it can sometimes be hard to carry that feel onto record but Special Providence have nailed it with aplomb.

Rating – 80/100

Favourite Track – The Insane musical grooves of A Magnetic Moment.

Released 23rd October 2017.

Ryan Yard – The Nature of Solitude

Ryan plays in Rob Reed’s Sanctuary band and his solo album is mastered by Tom Newman of ‘Tubular Bells’ fame so it comes as no surprise that this two track (plus an edited Rob Reed mix) is an instrumental album that will appeal to fans of Mike Oldfield and Robert Reed himself.

However, to give his album a USP, Ryan created it using just an Ipad and a variety of apps (and a keyboard, of course!). It gives the music an organic and natural feel and was crafted without using click track as well apparently.

It is music that is easy to listen to, without falling into the pit of despair that is easy listening music. Add in Justin Towell’s excellent guitar work and you find yourself comparing it to the master and his apprentice and coming to the conclusion that while it does walk a fine line, the USP makes just enough difference for it to be complimentary and not a pastiche.

Rating – 67/100

Favourite Track – Well it really should be consumed as one piece so, the whole thing!

Released 15th September 2017.









The Wallet Emptier’s ‘Music You Should Have A Listen To’ Round-Up Pt1.

Welcome to yet another new feature here at Progradar. You will get a round-up of albums that have been sent to us at the music blog that we think you should check out but ones that, for many reasons, we haven’t been able to review.

I’m starting you off with albums from Walfad, Kilbey Kennedy, Schizofrantik, Black Noodle Project, Starsabout and Atlantropa Project

Walfad – Momentum

Walfad is a young Polish band that transcends the progressive rock genre. Their third album ‘Momentum’ is an interesting mix of rock, blues and even a touch of soul, all mixed together with more than a hint of prog. The melodies are full of passion and youthful energy, and the insightful  and poetic lyrics invite the listener to think more and get personally involved with the music.

In recent years they have shared the stage with leading homegrown bands playing ambitious rock and also with Procol Harum, Marillion and Ray Wilson, rapidly becoming a force to be reckoned with on the live Polish music scene.

Rating – 80/100

Favourite Track – Our Gods, Your Gods.

Released 31st October 2016

Kilbey Kennedy – Glow and Fade

Are you a fan of dream-like, Pink Floyd inspired music that transcends day to day life? If so, the fifth album from Steve Kilbey and Martin Kennedy is definitely for you. An immersive and ethereal listening experience that nevertheless has something of a darkside, ‘Glow and Fade’ is an enthralling listening experience.

With tracks that verge from the thoughtful to the intensely serious and a wonderful vocal appearance from Selena Cross on certain songs, this release rewards repeated listens and is a deeply engaging and quite highbrow musical venture.

Rating – 77/100

Favourite Track – The sixteen minute epic The Game Never Changes.

Released 24th November 2017

Schizofrantik – Ripping Heartaches

Put a  King Crimson vinyl album on at 45rpm instead of 33 and then bleed in some Frank Zappa and you might have some inkling of what this actually quite mad album from Germany’s Schizofrantik sounds like. Some of the music is exquisite and some will make your ears bleed but one thing it never is is boring.

After 30 years on stage mastermind (and vivid guitarist) Martin Mayrhofer’s compositions have reached a degree of precision that is as fascinating as it is uncompromising. Ambitious, experimental and just way out there, ‘Ripping Heartaches’ is not an album for the faint-hearted but take the time to immerse yourself and you will be richly rewarded.

Rating – 73/100

Favourite Track – The absolutely bonkers Satan And Death Seperated By Sin.

Released 27th October 2017

The Black Noodle Project – Divided We Fall

In early December 2017 France’s The Black Noodle Project returned with a deliciously dark and melancholic collection of songs that further their already impressive reputation. Originally a solo project of Jeremie Grima, he found a like minded spirit in Sebastien Bourdeix with whom he formed the ‘real’ band.

‘Divided We Fall’ is an emotional post-progressive journey full of melancholic melodies and powerful riffs where stark beauty combines with deeply pensive and sombre emotions to deliver a wistful and mournfully emotional listening experience.

Like 2013’s ‘Ghosts & Memories’, it is influenced by the movie soundtracks of such luminaries as John Carpenter, Ennio Morricone and Angelo Badalamenti and this adds a thoughtful and introspective feel.

Rating – 78/100

Favourite Track – The powerful, driving Absolom.

Released 4th December 2017

Starsabout – Longing For Home

Poland is becoming a hotbed for the nurturing of Neo-progressive rock and post-rock acts. There isn’t a week goes by without another submission for review of a band from the country that gave us the legendary Riverside. An alternative band with progressive and post-rock influences, Starsabout were formed in 2012 and, after having released an EP in 2014 and their first full-length album, ‘Halflights’, in 2016, late 2017 saw the release of ‘Longing For Home’.

An album containing tracks full of dreamlike, laid back vocals and shimmering, vibrant guitars, the band’s music is sincere and powerful while at the same time tender and sublime. Starsabout are perfectly capable of holding their own in today’s prog and artrock music scene and, despite their short-lived presence so far, they are mature and self-assured enough that we should see them going far.

Rating – 74/100

Favourite Track – The sublime Longing For Home.

Released 4th December 2017.

Atlantropa Project – s/t

The ambitious concept album can be hit or miss and the misses can often sink without a trace. It’s a risk because what is your passion may not necessarily be someone else’s.

Atlantropa Project is the sophisticated, creative outcome of a group of ambitious and experienced musicians to musically explore and honour a great, almost forgotten idea of humanity. German engineer Hermann Sörgel’s plan was to build a huge dam, dry the Mediterranean, obtain new land, unite Africa and Europe and create peace.

To be fair, his plan is no more difficult than the idea of this concept piece but this brilliantly creative group of like minded artists have just about pulled it off. It is a richly rewarding and immersive concept album with a dynamism rarely found these days. The songs have a creativeness and virtuosity that just about overcomes the bloated length of this release.

You cannot listen to this in any other way than in one sitting where the whole story and soundtrack comes together like those great adventure films that graced the silver screen, King Solomon’s Mines and the like, but, ultimately, for this listener, the ambition just outstrips the reality.

Rating – 70/100

Favourite Track – Consume it in one piece or it just won’t make sense at all!

Released 17th November 2017