Review – Aisles – Hawaii – by Craig E. Bacon


With their new album, ‘Hawaii,” Aisles have released their version of the obligatory conceptual prog double album. As such, it hits many of the prog checklist items: longer tracks, extended instrumental sections, some experimental choices, a loose concept that can be a little hard to follow at times, and gorgeous cover art that tells a story in its own right. However, ‘Hawaii’ never comes across as perfunctory, and the band’s eclectic mix of musical styles–leaning more heavily on jazz-fusion and world rhythms than on ‘classic prog’ or hard rock–brings some fresh air to the project.

The first LP opens with a two part reflection on The Poet whose art and message had gone largely unheard. This pair of tracks serve well as an opener, expressing both the lyrical themes (a warning about the destruction of the earth/loss of uniquely human experiences) and the musical pallette (big band drums and jazzy lead guitar that moves into Welcome to the Machine-esque sinister moodiness, then continues through several stylistic changes). The rest of this first disc continues with premonitions of coming tragedy. Upside Down is a highlight of the album, and one of the more condensed musical and thematic statements here. There are two opposing forces at work in the world–destruction and creation–both with their power to to turn the world upside down in their own ways. “Some only take and some just destroy, and others they create/Some give their hearts and some are so bold/That they can turn any world upside down.”


The second LP focuses more on lament and longing for the good things that have passed away. The album’s many references to sun, rivers, walks, etc. develop the thought that the greatest loss in the earth’s destruction was not cultural or technological–these human inventions seem to have carried on in the settlement of the solar system–but in the destruction of the non-human beauty of the natural world that provides the conditions for fully a human experience. This is expressed in the mournful Terra and on the title track, Club Hawaii, which features a spoken intro explaining that the club’s five floors each contain wonders to tantalize all five senses, every floor more intense than the last. The patron’s question, “what’s on the top floor?” reveals the album’s theme of longing for the deepest, most thorough experience of human sensuality, especially in relation to the beauty of the natural world and humanity’s own natural, physical existence. Thus, we hear the club’s visitor implore “Turn my soul into flesh and soil/And blood, and waves and sand and rocks/And cliffs and sex and dogs/And apes and frogs and dirt and rust/And screams and lava, lava, lava, lava, lava.”

Throughout the album, there are nods to classic progressive music: some of the keys/synths are reminiscent of late 70’s Rush or mid-70’s Pink Floyd, while the jazzier leanings share some commonality with Caravan, but Aisles are clearly not interested in the more nostalgic-leaning approach to prog. The influences are there, but they remain influences rather than templates.


Hawaii’ is a cohesive, moody incorporation of emotional rock vocals, jazz fusion instrumental sections, and jazzy world-music accents, especially in the rhythm section. There are a few shorter songs that act as segues (Nostalgia) or postludes to the preceding track (Year Zero, Falling, which is a nice hint at the kind of mournful ballad that Freddie Mercury sang so masterfully), but the narrative tends to be moved forward by longer, sprawling tracks. These avoid the prog-rock epic approach to composition, instead opening with quieter guitars and slowly unfolding. The album  is, on the whole, much more about the ‘progressive’ rather than the ‘rock’ as it is usually practiced in the contemporary milieu. That’s not to say the album doesn’t get loud or intense, but the mood suits contemplation more than consternation. This is an album for a late night, sitting alone in low lighting, with a favourite and suitably complex beverage in hand. And have some refills at the ready, because ‘Hawaii’ rewards repeated listens. The composition is too sprawling and the theme too subtle (as a nice counterpoint to some overbearing narrative albums) to be grasped immediately. It requires some commitment from the listener up front, before it will reveal the intricacies of its emotional core. With some careful attention, however, its beauty will shine through.

Released 29th July 2016

Buy ‘Hawaii’ direct from the band HERE



AISLES announce new studio album and release online documentary – by Progradar

Aisles Hawaii Album Cover

The Chilean prog rock sextet returns with their new studio effort, “Hawaii”, a two-disc concept album that will be available starting in July.

Chilean prog rockers Aisles have just announced the title and release date of “Hawaii”, their highly anticipated fourth studio album. The LP will be released on July 29, 2016 via Presagio Records on CD and digitally, while the vinyl edition will be available in November.

“Hawaii” is a two-disc concept album about human colonies established in space after the destruction of the Earth. Its twelve tracks explore the dilemmas and challenges that the individual and the human spirit would face in this futuristic scenario. Regarding the theme and sound of the album, guitarist and producer Germán Vergara states: “Without a doubt it’s our most profound work so far. With ‘Hawaii’ we dug deep in search of a concept that could really move us. Our objective was to write music that would emotionally and mentally take us to the place where the events in the album occur: Space”.

 “All the music on the album was written with our hearts and minds set on the idea of these human colonies, a small group of people who are able to preserve some of the heritage of mankind after the Earth is destroyed. Musically speaking we had never taken so many risks, tried so many different approaches and allowed ourselves this level of freedom to improvise and experiment. I am really proud of what we’ve achieved this time”, Vergara adds.

Also, on their YouTube channel Aisles have just released the first of five episodes of an online documentary depicting the recording process of “Hawaii”. Check it out below:


“Hawaii” is available for preorder in various formats and bundles on Aisles official website.

“Hawaii” tracklisting

 Disc 1:

  1. The Poet Part I – Dusk
  2. The Poet Part II – New World
  3. Year Zero
  4. Upside Down
  5. CH-7

Disc 2

  1. Terra
  2. Pale Blue Dot
  3. Still Alive
  4. Nostalgia
  5. Club Hawaii
  6. Falling
  7. In the Probe

Wallet Emptier – Sunday 18th October 2015

Welcome to a serious bumper edition of The Wallet Emptier, no less than nine albums in this latest round up of new releases and music that I feel may be of interest to you lot out there.

Keep your eyes peeled for forthcoming full sized reviews of some of these albums here at Progradar!


Vanden Plas – Chronicles of the Immortals : Netherworld II

I still have a bit of  a soft spot for some tasty, classy progressive metal and Vanden Plas certainly fulfill that brief. The follow up to 2013’s ‘Chronicles of the Immortals : Netherworld carries on the concept  with aplomb. Excellent songwriting combines with some superb riffing and symphonic metal music. Having one of the best vocalists around in Andy Kuntz doesn’t hurt either. Pure theatre from start to finish, a brilliant release.

Releases 6th November 2015

Stand out track – Vision 11even – In My Universe

Pre-order from Amazon



Vly – 1 / Time

A remote international collaboration between musicians from different backgrounds crystallized into a new band. A real conglomerate of musical might that throws in touches of progressive rock, classic rock, folk, post rock and epic riffs to deliver something quite uniquely brilliant. I expected nothing and the band delivered an exquisite release, really well worth buying, it should be in your collection.

Released 18th September 2015

Stand out track – Perfect Place

Buy the album from Amazon



Yuka and Chronoship – The 3rd Planetary Chronicles

Trust the Japanese to come up with something out of the ordinary and downright extraordinary. Formed in 2009, a progressive band that majors on technical brilliance, thoughtful lyrics and a philosophical bent. There are lots of 70’s cues throughout the music but Yuka and Chronoship live in their own micro-climate and there isn’t anything else quite like it.

Released 25th September 2015

Stand out track – Age of Steam

Buy Yuka and Chronoship from Cherry Red Records



IO Earth – New World

My first outing with this band and I didn’t know what I would be getting. The album cover screams symphonic progressive rock and the first couple of tracks on this double album did nothing to change my thoughts but, give this very long player time to work on you and you find some seriously intelligent and compelling music that knows no genre-defining bounds. The second disc is the best of the two but, overall, it is a very good listen.

Released 20th may 2015

Stand out track – The Rising

Buy New World direct from the band



Thieves Kitchen – The Clockwork Universe

I was surprised to find that this great band have actually been around since 2000 and I’m only hearing about them now. One of the most intelligent and compelling groups to be part of the current progressive scene, they innovate and create dazzling music that seems to come alive before you. They call themselves ‘A Canterbury tinged Scandi/Brit progressive rock group with classical and folk influences’ and, even though it is a bit of a mouthful, it is a just about perfect description of their imaginative sound.

Released 23rd September 2015

Stand out track – The Scientists Wife

Buy The Clockwork Universe from The Merch Desk



Gazpacho – Molok

Coming from the darkness of Scandinavia, it is no surprise that Norway’s Gazpacho release some of most intense and complicated music that inhabits this world. Their latest offering ‘Molok’ is no different, continuing their exploration of different concepts. The fact that they are as mad as a badger poked with a stick helps, I suppose and, this time,there are religious themes going head to head with modern day new science ideas and theories. Whatever the dense, macabre background, it is bloody good!

Released 23rd October 2015.

Stand out track – Know Your Time

Buy Molok from kscope



Anderson Ponty Band – Better Late Than Never

After 30 years of talking about it these two musicians have finally got together. Not an album of totally new material, it presents some new musical compositions, rearrangements of classic Yes hits like Owner of a Lonely Heart and Wonderous Stories, as well as some of Jean-Luc Ponty’s compositions with lyrics penned by Jon Anderson. In parts it is very good, in others (especially the limp rearrangements of the Yes material) it flatters to deceive but, have a listen and see what you think?

Released 25th September 2015

Stand out track – One in the Rhythm of Hope

Buy Better Late Than Never from Amazon


CoE Spirit

Comedy of Errors – Spirit

The eagerly awaited new album from the well respected Scottish proggers Comedy of Errors sees the band progressing on their signature sound. Stylish music backed by Joe Cairney’s emotive vocals grabs your attention. Always a band who major on expressive and intelligent songwriting, this new release embellishes that even further. An intensive and reflective musical journey that sees each song crafted individually and lovingly. I think they might just have delivered another great piece of musical drama.

Released 20th October 2015

Stand out track – Spirit

Buy direct from the band’s shop


A look back to the recent past……

Album cover

Aisles – 4.45 A.M.

There is an emotional intensity to 4.45 AM that is delivered with aplomb, I feel drained of emotion after listening to this album and it touches you to the depths of your soul. Like a fine wine, you will not want to experience this album every day but, keep it in someplace special so that, when the mood arises, you can bring it out and enjoy it all over again. I applaud Aisles for producing something that is as unique as they are, long may it continue.s far beyond that while creating a very powerful and unique type of music and sound.

Released 29th October 2013

Stand out track – Melancholia

Buy direct from the band