Review – Osta Love – The Isle of Dogs


(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!


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.”

Potsdamer Platz

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.


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.


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




Progradar’s New Year Wallet Emptier – 12th January 2016

Happy New Year my friends, after the bumper musical cornucopia of 2015, it is quite difficult to see how 2016 could top it but, you never know!

To get this year started with a bang, here’s a super-duper edition of Wallet Emptier featuring some great albums from last year that didn’t get to feature due to being released at the end of the year and some belters that are kicking off 2016 in fine fashion. Buckle up, it’s going to be an exciting ride…….


M!NDGAMES – Paradox of Choice

Belgian proggers M!NDGAMES returned in 2015 with this new release, which was my first exposure to their classy brand of Neo-Prog. Bombastic bursts of symphonic tinged rock combine with delicate moments of reflection and sadness to give a feel of early Marillion, all underscored by swooping keyboards. An album that definitely gets better as it it progresses and one that is worthy of your attention.

Released 1st November 2015

Stand out track  – The Whistle Blower

Buy Paradox of Choice from CD Baby

Listen to The Whistle Blower on Soundcloud


Treasure House

Jack Arthurs – Treasure House

With ‘Treasure House’, Jack draws from a deep well of poignant and reflective experiences to deliver a delightful collection of acoustic tracks that come straight from his heart and are like a breath of fresh air. He is tremendously excited to bring these stripped back, uplifting songs to life. Just one man and his guitar, Jack has written ten insightful and moving tracks that, together with his haunting vocals, lead you on a captivating musical journey into the depths of his soul.
Released 5th February 2016 through Bad Elephant Music
Stand out track – North Star

Profuna Ocean – In Vacuum

I opened my email inbox this morning to find two new promotional releases, the first was for Profuna Ocean, a Dutch band I profess to having passed under my radar. Always open to new experiences I launched into ‘In Vacuum’ to be utterly stunned by what I was hearing. A more hard-edged, aggressive prog with intelligent lyrics, excellent vocals and excellent production. At 62 minutes long it never outstays its welcome and I found myself immediately pressing repeat play to be absorbed in its stylish aura once again, just WOW!

Released 8th January 2016 through Freia Music

Stand out track – Thousand Yard Stare

Buy In Vacuum through Freia Music



N.y.X – The News

From the first note it was apparent that there is nothing quite like the highly original sound of N.y.X.They are at the forefront of avant-garde, experimental progressive rock, a real musical breath of fresh air. The multi-instrumental trio is joined by a number of impressive guest artists to build on the signature sound of a power trio enhanced by electronic percussions, synthesizers and effects.

Released 26th February 2016

Stand out track – The Daily Dark Delirium

Pre-order The News through Burning Shed



Osta Love – Isle of Dogs

Berlin based Osta Love are one of the bands to watch for 2015 and their follow up the dark concepts of ‘Good Morning Dystopia’ is a complete breath of fresh air. ‘Isle of Dogs’ is full of their signature sound that unites Rock with Jazz, Pop with Baroque and adds a dose of melancholic dreamscape to form a unique sound that touches hearts and heads. Even though it was released at the end of 2015, I have only just heard this jewel and it is rapidly becoming a highlight for me.

Released 27th November 2015

Stand out track – Translucent Engineering

Buy The Isle of Dogs direct from the band



Toxic Smile – Farewell

Another German band, this time hailing from Dresden, Toxic Smile have thrown out the rule book and produced an album that consists of just one 42 minute track and, guess what, it works! A soaring progressive rock and metal epic that takes you through a multitude of emotions in its relatively short running time. The distinctive vocals and superb musicianship are key elements to its instant attraction, a record that will surprise and delight on many levels. Another great release from Progressive Promotion Records.

Released 6th December 2015

Stand out track – well there’s only the one anyway…..

Buy Farewell from Progressive Promotion Records



David Bowie – Blackstar

I had already decided to include this release before news of David Bowie’s death started to cross the web, while I have never been as big a fan as many, I have always recognised him as a great musical innovator and a true legend. ‘Blackstar’ was his 27th album and one of his recent best. Exploring new avenues using a jazz band he has produced a deep and sometimes dark release that, obviously, touched on his own mortality as he came to the end of his life. It now seems a brilliant, if poignant, testimony to his musical legacy.

Released 8th January 2016

Stand out track – Lazarus

Buy Blackstar direct from the artist



The Mute Gods – Do Nothing Till You Here From me

Another ‘Prog Supergroup’, this time featuring Nick BeggsRoger King and Marco Minnemann, rears its head to deliver engaging, expansive rock for the thinking person, apparently. While not perhaps living up to those lofty expectations entirely, it is an enjoyable listen and, when not sounding generically like a lot of the so called supergroups, has a real depth and intelligence all of its own. Don’t take it on face value and give it more than one coat of listening to and you will find an album that is worthy of your collection, just not quite a contender for album of the year yet.

Released 22nd January 2016

Stand out track – Swimming Horses

Buy Do Nothing Till You Hear From Me from Inside Out



Casualties of Cool – Casualties of Cool

Originally released in 2014, this year sees the re-release of Devin Townsend’s rootsy country and North American folk music project as a 2CD and 1DVD package. Featuring the delightful vocals of Ché Aimee Dorval it is winsome and wistful in equal measure, evocative memories are brought to life on a battered old telecaster and fender amp in what is a complete change from the Canadian artist’s metal roots. Lay back on your lounger on the porch, sipping iced lemon tea in the sun, life’s easy really. Worth it for the 8 minute brilliance of ‘The Bridge’ alone….

Released 15th January 2016

Stand out track – The Bridge

Buy Casualties of Cool from Inside Out



Ut New Trolls – e

Italian progressive rock that is incredibly intricate and engrossing. Lock yourself in a darkened room and let the endless combination of notes and distant rhythms create an amazing union of classical and rock music. A record where the language doesn’t matter, it is the intent of the words that is obvious and draws you deep into this incredible album.

Released 24th November 2015

Stand out track – Oggi Non Sono Spento

Buy ‘e’ from self


When The Kill Code Fails cover

Hats Off Gentlemen It’s Adequate – When The Kill Code Fails

The second promotional release that I found in my email inbox, ‘When The Kill Code Fails’ sounded very intriguing. A science fiction/artificial intelligence themed concept album, it is the second release from the London based rock band with a great name Hats Off Gentlemen It’s Adequate and is described as proggy, funky and sometimes poignant. Expressive vocals and a pared back sound give it a real intensive feeling that immediately draws you in. Electronica, prog, bluesy rock and metal all get a look in during its very enjoyable and inventive 56 minute running time.

Released as a download on 15th October 2015

Stand out track – I Still Remember You

Buy on CD and download at CD Baby



Martigan – Distant Monsters

German band Martigan were formed in 1994 and deliver an almost pastoral brand of progressive rock with lilting vocals and a sunny aspect, think Lifesigns meets United Progressive Fraternity and you won’t be far wrong. An engrossing 75 minutes of easy listening progressive rock that just flies past leaving you in quite a relaxed state of mind.
Released 18th December 2015
Stand out track – The Lake