John Wenlock-Smith’s ‘Best of 2023’

This is a list of the albums that have made a big impression on me this year. They are not in any order although several marked☆ are my favourites and I will nominate one as my album of the year.

Here is the list:

1.OrionThe End Of Suffering – This came out of nowhere and it is a testament to one man’s vision and willingness to create music that he wanted to.

The End of Suffering | Orion (

2. Tribe 3 – Self Titled- This recent release most definitely impresses with its progressive, inspired take on fusion.

CD ‘Tribe3’ | Tribe3

3. John Greenwood  – Dark Blue ☆☆ This arrived, again largely unnoticed, but what a brilliant release, thoughtful, emotional and an utterly captivating listen.

DARK BLUE | John Greenwood (

4. Material Eyes  – Inside Out excellent prog from the North East of England.

Inside Out | Materialeyes (

5. The Michael Dunn ProjectBridge Across The Years ☆ Canadian musicians superb debut release, 40 years in the making.

The Michael Dunn Project

6. The Drinking Club – Really??? ☆ Very Marillion like in places, another great release.

…really?!? | The Drinking Club (

7. Pryzme – Four Inches – Superb French band release excellent album with a fondness for Rush stylings.

Four Inches | Pryzme (

8. Hats Off Gentlemen It’s Adequate – The Light Of Ancient Mistakes ☆ Amazing next adventure for impressive North London duo.

The Light Of Ancient Mistakes | Hats Off Gentlemen It’s Adequate (

9. Downes Braide AssociationCelestial Songs ☆ Excellent new album of epics from the DBA Team.

Downes Braide Association: Celestial Songs, CD Edition – Cherry Red Records

10. Nova Cascade – The Navigator – A musical tribute to Eric Bouilette after his passing, beautifully done.

The Navigator | NOVA CASCADE (

11. Southern Empire – Another World ☆ A strong return for Australian favourites.

Another World CD – GEP

12. Ruby Dawn Beyond Tomorrow ☆☆ A deeply emotional album from Wokingham’s finest.

Beyond Tomorrow | Ruby Dawn (

13. Tiger Moth TalesThe Turning Of The World ☆Deeply Personal album from Peter Jones, largely acoustic but very satisfying.

Tiger Moth Tales (

14. Nick FletcherQuadrivium ☆☆☆ My album of the year. Fusion for today, an album forging forward and beyond while embracing the past.Unbelievably fine music that is beautifully realised.

ONLINE STORE | Nick Fletcher Guitar (

15. Pattern Seeking AnimalsSpooky Action At A Distance – Fourth excursion from some-time Spock’s Beard men along with John Boegehold and a further step forward.

Spooky Action at a Distance (

16. CyanPictures From The Other Side – Second album from Rob Reed’s excellent young project, with Peter Jones and Luke Machin firing on all cylinders.

17. The Emerald Dawn  – In Time ☆ – Beautiful album themed around time and memories and how we perceive them.

In Time | The Emerald Dawn (

18. Dave Foster BandGlimmer ☆ The year’s ‘grower’ album that just gets better with every listen.

Glimmer | The Dave Foster Band (

19. DamanekMaking Shore – A splendidly exciting album from the early part of the year, epic, melodious and really strong.

Damanek – Making Shore – GEP

20. Swan ChorusAchilles and The Difference Engine – My favourite vocal led album of the year, especially the wonderfully poignant track Being There about Peter Sellers, a beautiful song.

Achilles and the Difference Engine | Swan Chorus (

It’s been a tremendously fine year for music. A post-covid boom has inspired some stalwart activities with some excellent and impressive releases, here’s to an even better 2024!

John Wenlock-Smith.

Review – Pryzme – Four Inches – by John Wenlock-Smith

Another new band (to me at least), Pryzme are a French four-piece outfit of two guitarists a bass player and a drummer, who all sing on this album. Their music is intricate and often delicate yet at other times, it thunders along. This breadth of styles gives plenty of room to explore, experiment, develop and enliven the songs. The guitars do not compete but rather they encourage and syncopate to craft the great textures you hear on ‘Four Inches’.

Fusion opens the album and has an interesting riff and sound, both hard and yet melodic with a repeated motif being used to fine effect. The band cite influences like Steven Wilson and Yes, among others. To be fair, some of these influences are fairly obvious and apparent, others less so. Taken together, the band are a highly effective unit, the use of all four musicians singing together is really good and sounds great. The song is enlivened by some great guitar lines and parts, solid bass and the ever excellent drums. Vision is a fairly muscular track with elements of Rush with great bass work holding everything together nicely. This song really impresses, especially the chugging guitar riffs that work really well and the great guitar break at the track’s end, powerful stuff indeed. After Wichita has a majestic and solid bass riff opening the song after the street noises, cars and footsteps set the tone. Another impressive saunter of a track that reminds me of Pat Metheny in places, which is possibly appropriate as he had a track called Wichita Falls earlier in his career.

Nothing To Say has more arpeggio guitar lines and solid bass work. This song has got some real meatiness to it with great guitar lines, it’s really a fine song made better by the gracefully inclined guitars that meld so well together, the lightness of touch and shimmering skills superbly on display. It’s magical and one for guitar nerds to salivate over for sure. Pretty Princess has a very Rush like opening of sustained guitar sounds and the volume swells leading into sweeping cymbal brushes and bass pedals before taking a jazzing turn with an almost danceable rhythm emerging. The vocals sound a little off key in this song though, for some reason. There is a most excellent guitar part on acoustic guitar that really enhances this track and that gives way to a beautifully fluid guitar solo, in a David Gilmour style, that is followed by a faster, funkier part and it all works well together. The Ride Of Your Life takes the album in a harder direction and tone, with crunchy guitars and metal riffs working together to make something pretty special and the multi-part vocals are used again to very fine effect. This is all very impressive really and makes for a fantastic song.

Morning Song opens lightly enough with gentle guitars before some really hard and kicking guitars soon enter the arena, laying down some fierce riffing tones. More excellent guitar solos follow proving just how exciting and excellent this band are. The final, and longest, track, Four Inches brings the album to a close but not before its thirteen minutes and fifty seconds have taken you for a exhilarating ride. Again, this track has pace and elements of Rush abound once again, especially in the bass playing and the arpeggio guitar. There is much to savour here really, gentle but effective guitar playing and plenty of space for the music to percolate well. The guitar playing throughout this album is highly impressive, tasteful and expressive. When the song reaches the middle section there is a brilliant solo section with everyone played along and the bass holding everything together before some solid riffing and bass interaction really grabs your attention. Everything then settles into a more melodic groove thereafter, although this is played against a sustained guitar note and a jazzy guitar line that accompanies the vocals. The song then moves back to a faster tempo and more dynamic parts with bass and guitars interacting once again with the bass notes high in the mix. Aa vocal section draws the song towards its climax and it ends with voices playing out against some fiery guitar tones to conclude the album.

A very different and yet rewarding album and one that bodes well for the future that awaits this extremely impressive and talented French band. An entertaining and rewarding release, Rush fans will love it!

Released 12th September, 2021.

Order from the band here:

Album Four inches – Pryzme

Or digitally from bandcamp:

Four Inches | Pryzme (