Review – Looped Squares – s/t – by John Wenlock-Smith

Was there something in the water last year? There seemed to be a resurgence of progressive fusion arriving at various points of the year, from the utterly exceptional ‘Quadrivium’ album from Nick Fletcher and the extremely promising debut of Tribe3 to the excellent Z Machine and their ‘Merging Worlds’ opus. There was definitely someone going on and when this first album from Looped Squares emerged online then the die was cast as this is a bold, fresh and satisfying first album that mixes progressive elements with jazzy fusion in an utterly immersive manner.

Looped Squares hail from Germany and came to be when four individuals who were working at Thomann (A large German music store) bonded over their shared love of prog and fusion elements and began working together on what would become this very versatile collection of songs. It is all fully instrumental in nature with each musician offering a solid platform where they could all shine in their own right. The music is extremely tight and proficient with a great sense of melody and spacing. A lot of the tracks have lots of keyboards, synths and organ and, to a lesser extent, piano holding it all together and their name comes from a computer shortcut when programming keyboards!

The album reminds me very much of 1990’s GRP Records output from the like of Dave GrusinLarry Carlton and the like, which is not a bad thing by any means, it gives a reference point for the sound of the album really. The band comprise of four members; Dave Mola who plays the guitars, Jan Essantam, who provides keyboards throughout and the rhythm section of Adrian Sardi on bass and Frank Tinge on the drums. Together these four make a formidable sound, very hard hitting but also fully able to handle the intricacies the music requires with grace and style.

The album consists of eight tracks, each running around the five to six minute mark so nothing overstay it’s welcome by any means. There is a fair amount of unison playing with the guitar and keyboards copying each others lines, this is especially so on Aquafied Spheres, which also has a strong bass presence to it, along with some very fluid guitar soloing. Cactus Recovery is a standout for me as it has a great running bass line that echoes and drives the track along most pleasingly, this one sizzles with rhythmic delight. In addition the track features some really atmospheric organ parts along with a fiery guitar break. Add in some fine fretless bass lines and it really makes a strong impression to these ears. It is very satisfying to hear a new group really making a mark and when the heavy riffing guitar section begins you are captivated by the dynamics the group have and use to really commanding effect making it definitely the albums standout track for me. Elfendertigste is another strong track with great piano and synth sound to it, more fretless bass and a thunderous drum beat, again most impressive indeed. Title song Looped Squares is a funky, brisk sliver of virtuosity played extremely proficiently with a great groove and soaring synths amongst the overall sound. The track gains in intensity half way in before a surging guitar line take the track to it conclusion.

New Life is a lot calmer although it still has that stunning fretless bass. Delicate piano lines tinkle before an emotionally laden guitar line plays over everything. It is all rather beautifully delivered and you find it hard to believe this is their debut such is both the strength of the material and also the confidence of the delivery, it’s remarkable really and all very excellent sounding. Rockdown is played in a similar vein with more fine bass and some fiery guitar amidst the strong keyboard performances. Tall Order brings the album to a more restrained close, full of growling bass, great piano and more fiery guitar lines, all carried by the sturdiness of the rhythm section who deliver in real style throughout the whole album. The great funky bass and electric piano make this track another strong showcase for this excellent band who really play with intelligence and a hell of a lot of skill.

That’s it, a wonderful, if short, album that, sadly, is only available as a download at the moment but fusion fans will find much to salivate over here. You must have a listen for yourself and see if you agree with me about this extremely good release that is hopefully just the start of many more great things to come for Looped Squares.

Released 8th December, 2023.

Order from bandcamp here:

Looped Squares | Looped Squares (

Review – Time Shift Accident – Chronosthesia

‘Chronosthesia’ is the debut album by instrumental quartet Time Shift Accident from Nuremberg, Germany.

What began as a loose jam band founded by a couple of friends in late 2013 has over time developed into a prog fusion powerhouse featuring some very experienced musicians.

The rhythm section has been a mainstay of the band since late 2014: Drummer Paul Ettl, a student at the Nürnberg University of Music, combines effortless groove, taste and mastery of odd meters, while Bassist Michael Schetter (Relocator, ex-Seven Steps to the Green Door) provides driving and melodic bass lines as well as a good chunk of the band’s compositions.

Guitar duties are handled by Dave Mola (Effloresce), who joined in early 2017 and whose melodic sensibility and funky fusion approach will surprise those who so far associate him mostly with the heavy side of prog metal.

On keyboards, Günter W. Schmuck is the most recent addition, having joined the band in early 2019. After studying jazz piano at the Munich Jazz School, he went on to record with the Fred Drumski Trio and the SHS Trio, as well as lead his own jazz quartet and salsa band (Orquesta Mistica). Günter has also played with various latin, fusion, funk and soul groups (Papa Caliente, Salsa Fever, Soul7even, Jamdeluxe), and is presently the musical director of the Flames of Gospel choir band.

I’m a sucker for a good instrumental album as a lot of you well know, make it a jazz/prog fusion instrumental and all bets are off, as long as it’s a good one.

I think instrumental albums suffer most from the ‘keyboard in the bedroom’ curse of music making on the internet. It seems like anyone can rattle off a few tunes and then upload them for everyone to listen to, whether they should or not is often a moot point because they can…

However, when it is done with the proficiency, care and attention of an album like ‘Chronosthesia’ then it truly doesn’t get any better. You have four obviously highly skilled musicians who cannot only play a tune to an absurdly high level but compose one too!

Time Shift Accident have produced an album of tracks that are complex but joyous to listen to, a wonderful cornucopia of music that does have jazz/prog fusion at its core in a symbiosis of Planet X and Liquid Tension Experiment-esque grooves but also has the flamboyance of pure rock and even the flair of Latin rhythms running through as the four musicians seem to be turning a jam session into something more technically proficient but oh so much fun.

Every track is superb but there are some absolute stand out moments like opener Cold Case with its funky, upbeat groove and a keyboard sound straight out of the 80’s, Ignalina Forest is just a seriously cool piece of music, jazzy as hell and something Herbie Hancock would be proud to have his name against, Wish is emotive, laid back and achingly cool and Pompei rocks like the bastard son of jazz/prog and heavy rock.

The stand out track (on an album of stellar tunes) for me though is the amazing The Hand of God, just over ten minutes of instrumental perfection, layers of perfectly crafted music that just takes your breath away. Every musician is at the height of their game, Dave’s guitar shines brightly, aided and abetted by the ever so elegant keyboard playing of Günter. Michael and Paul’s rhythm section lays down the grooves absolutely note perfectly creating a piece of music that just effortlessly flows along to its wonderful conclusion.

I will say it again, I am a big fan of instrumental music but it has to be really good to hold my attention. “Chronosthesia’ is such a beast, one of the best instrumental albums I have heard in a very long time, in fact and I hope it is just the start of things to come for Time Shift Accident because, if this album is anything to go by, they have an exceedingly bright future ahead of them.

Released 27th September 2019

Order the album from bandcamp here:

Review – TDW – Aphrodisia EP – by Progradar

(Cover picture by  Kelly Thans Photography.)


“Can you expect to cure an itch, when you are wired to the core to revolve ’round it?”

A question that symbolizes the way it sometimes feels if you long for something dearly, but society just blatantly says ‘no’ to your face. This sentiment of frustration, disillusionment, anger and sadness forms the foundation for the brand new TDW songs featured on the ‘Aphrodisia E.P.’

Tom de Wit has helmed his TDW project for 13 years now, starting writing his first music at the age of 16. The proper start was made with 2008’s release of ‘The Haunts’, Tom’s first real albumAfter releasing multiple albums in its wake, 2014’s ‘Music To Stand Around And Feel Awkward To’ was a record that showed the diversity and intent of this musician’s output. Showcasing that the music of TDW could be intense, layered and heavy at one moment and intimate small and fragile at others.

The ‘Aphrodisia E.P.’ is a special release, part of a pre-ordering campaign that started in September of this year. This is a supporting campaign for the upcoming TDW album ‘The Antithetic Affiliation’, slated for an April/May 2017 release.

The four tracks on this E.P. are completely finished but will also change in their final incarnations on the album. More layers will be added and more nuances will be put into the final versions. Therefore, the songs on this E.P. sound genuinely different to what the final album versions will sound like. This E.P. is a gift for those who support TDW and the musical concept it stands for.

TDW are Tom de Wit (vocals, guitars and synths), Lennert Kemper (guiatrs and vocals), Vincent Reuling (synths and vocals), Hanna van Gorcum (violin, vocals), Peter den Bakker (bass) and Rik Bruineman (drums).

Guests on the E.P. are:

Radina Dimcheva – Vocals on Aphrodisia

Cailyn Erlandsson – Vocals on Dirge

Dave Mola – Guitar Solos on Aphrodisia

Sophie Zaaijer – Violins & Viola on Anthem


(picture by John van der Zee)

The opener on the E.P. is the title track Aphrodisia and it has a very calm and collected introduction with laid back music and delightful, hushed vocals of Tom de Wit and Radina Dimcheva overplaying each other with some lovely harmonised sections. The violin adds a particularly classy touch to the song and you feel that you are drawn along upon a lulling wave of emotion. This is the calm before the storm though as the guitars crash and the keyboards roar and the blue touch paper is lit! Bang!!! off we go on a powerful maelstrom that flings you forward through the sheer forceful power of the music. Excellent riffing and the dynamic voices of Tom and Radina give the song a real energy before we break into a keyboard section that Jordan Rudess would have been proud of. The technical instrumental sections have real virtuosity and skill at their core, proper progressive metal at its best. Trun the volume right up and enjoy the frenetically challenging guitar solo from Dave Mola that follows, this track has it all in spades! I love my mellow pastoral prog but every now and again you need music that just blows the cobwebs into next year and this delivers big style! Then a complete turn around and a beautiful closing to the track as Tom’s vocals deliver a wonderfully winsome ending.

This segues nicely into the melancholy and sombre feel to the opening of Dirge, a song that feels like a lament from the get go. Cailyn Erlandsson’s vocals add a wistful loveliness to the track and, yet, you cannot get away from that feeling of sadness that pervades all. The piano and delicately strummed acoustic guitar add a keen sorrowful edge to the fragile beauty at the heart of this song. A pensive, wistful track that leaves you in a nostalgic mood, looking back at what may have been, the fading glory of the past.

Anthem strides out with a bombastic glee, a thunderous riff and powerful drums powering this enigmatic song right into centre stage. Progressive metal tinged with a bit of power metal, forceful, compelling and dominant, with a guitar sound hewn out of graphite and drums that could fell mountains. The compelling, anthemic chorus adds a nice counter-balance to the mightily potent verse and weighty feel to the music. The guitar solo is mad, manic and, ultimately, a hell of a lot of fun and the way the track closes out is just sublime, I must have put this track on repeat about four or five times with the volume turned up to max, sod the neighbours!

The final track on this excellent E.P. is the electronica tinged Lovesong with its sci-fi sounding keyboards that open proceedings. Tom’s vocals are heartfelt and full of a laid back honesty. I really like the feel of the song as it is completely different to the rest of the tracks on the E.P. It just goes to show the diverse skills that this talented musician and his cohorts have. It is a song that puts you in a thoughtful and pensive mood and the use of Hannah’s soulful violin is perfect as it interchanges with the tender notes of the piano. A real change of pace for TDW that shows a graceful subtlety to their music and one that I hope makes an even bigger contribution to the new album.

So you will have to pre-order TDW‘s new album to get your hands on this little gem of an E.P. and I have to really emphasise the fact that you should. On the strength of these four very varied tracks, the new album is going to be something special indeed and, as a stand alone release in its own right, the ‘Aphrodisia E.P.’ is well worthy of being in your collection, the guest vocals of Radina and Cailyn adding another exciting dimension. Tom de Wit continues to impress me with every new turn in his excellent career.

E.P. released 19th September 2016 only with pre-orders of ‘The Antithetic Affiliation’ which will be released April/May 2017.

Pre-order ‘The Antithetic Affiliation from Layered Reality here and get the ‘Aphrodisia E.P.’