Thursday, 28 February 2019

Fonte perenne (Celeste, 2019)

Celeste released their first album in 1976 (see the post titled "Favole antiche" in this blog), a record that gained increasing reputation after its re-release in CD format, thanks to Mellow Records. The fairy, gentle and mainly acoustic style of Celeste perfectly embodies the melodic side of Italian prog and their long awaited new album, "Il risveglio del Principe" ("The Awakening of the Prince") resumes in 2019 the same charming features. "Fonte perenne" ("Perennial Source") is a good example of the delightful way Ciro Perrino, the mind behind the band, has to paint Celeste's sensitive universe.

Laura Germonio provided this beautiful artwork for Celeste. 

It's a clean musical watercolour, both vivid and delicate, flowing all around the listener's ears, exploiting a good deal of instruments such as sax, violin, cello, piano and flute, carefully arranged and beautifully blended. A very special mention goes to the keyboard sound carpet (oh, that Mellotron again!) and the delicate percussions, providing the common ground for such a diversified instrumental palette. Last but not least, Perrino's very nice voice gently outlines the main theme of the song, giving the final touch to the big picture. Believe me, this is magic. Progressive magic, that's to say.

Thursday, 31 January 2019

La Dame de braise (Magnésis, 2015)

One of the most prolific bands in  the Neo-progressive galaxy and in the everchanging French national scene, Magnésis are fond of dark and Medieval atmospheres, but also of tempo changes and long compositions. This title track comes from their "La Dame de braise" album, released in 2015 and is a melodic ballad, part  of this folk-inspired concept, dealing with phantoms, unlucky love stories, wars and noble families. Nothing new, that's true, but everything here is very well done. 

A somber story of love and fire...

If Magnésis's longest tracks are sometimes a little artificial and even weak in some of their passages, this band is perfect when it comes to gentle and shorter songs. This is the case with "La Dame de braise" (meaning "The Embers Lady"), a lunar, dreamy piece of music, including a beautiful guitar solo and a long coda of burning sound effects linked to the concept story. In short, a pretty, evocative song for your collection.

Monday, 31 December 2018

Bortglömda Gårdar (All Traps on Earth, 2018)

All Traps on Earth are the new musical cresture of bassist Johan Brand from Änglagård, one of the most popular Swedish prog bands ever (see elsewhere in this blog). This side project also includes other members or former members of Änglagård, namely keyboardist Thomas Johnson and drummer Erik Hammarström, along with vocalist Miranda Brand (not featured in this song),a number of guest musicians and even a foursome wind ensemble.

Like for Änglagård, a Nature-based dreamy cover art.

As you'll find listening to this song, All Traps on Earth share some essential points with Änglagård's musical approach: you'll hear the same creative and everchanging sound, and also that special, sensitive sound we all like. But you'll also observe a more experimental taste, midway between King Crimson and early Kaipa. Jazzy moments and melodic passages build up this Bortglömda Gårdar (meaning "forgotten farms") like an enchanted garden, full of delicate flowers and strong trees. A treat.

Friday, 30 November 2018

Zombieroch (Hands, 1977)

Hands are an American band with two dfferent lives. Founded in the mid-seventies, they released an amateur album that was not successful, so that Hands - after an intense touring season - disbanded and were almost forgotten. The re-release of their album in 1996 changed somewhat their destiny and a renewed interest among the progfans community brought these musicians to revive Hands with a slightly different line up and to release some new albums. 

The 1996 reissue of Hand's debut album plus early songs.

This track, however, is the instrumental opener of their reissued early works and features some of the band's highlights: a lively folk rock taste, a recognizable Jethro Tull and Kansas influence, a creative use of many acoustic and electric instruments and - last but not least - an uncommon ironic side. Even if their original production wasn't perfect, the re-release of this track (and of the album, together with more early materials) souds pretty good and brings back to our ears all the colours of its era.  

Monday, 29 October 2018

July Morning (Uriah Heep, 1971)

Uriah Heep surely are one of the most eclectic bands ever, spanning over a wide range of genres and sounds. That's why I can easily put one of their best songs in this prog blog. "July Morning" is a 10 minutes jewel from "Look at Yourself" album, featuring all the musical highlights of Huriah Heep. Let's see: a magical organ, a sweet ballad-like verse, a vocally perfect chorus, the legendary  keyboards / guitar final interplay, a lot of instrumental sections and beautiful changes. 

"Look at Yourself" came with a peculiar mirror cover...

The rock essence of "July Morning" keeps pace with its lyrical, dreamy inspiration, just the way a good prog song should do. Useless to say, all the members of the band are at their best and Manfred Mann appears as a guest adding his minimoog to such a rich palette. This song is just another reason to say how influential and even underrated Huriah Heep are.

Sunday, 30 September 2018

Druga strana mene (Tako, 1978)

By the late '70s just a few prog bands existed in Eastern Europe and Tako were part of this short list. This Belgrade-based band had an eclectic approach to symphonic rock, an original sound and a Jethro Tull flavour too, thanks to keyboardist Đorđe Ilijin's flute incursions. Their first self-named album included this 16 minutes track "Druga strana mene" (meaning "The Other Side of Me"), where atmospheric moments, liquid guitar solos, rock riffs and flute passages follow each other setting up a riveting instrumental prog, full of fantasy and well found melodies.

This album was re-issued on CD in 1993.

I especially like the way Slobodan Felekatović's drums gently stress the keyboard rising themes, and also Miroslav Dukić's dreaming guitar and - most of all - the way these musicians link different musical worlds into a strong and coherent frame. Time has come, IMHO, to re-discover this band, whose short discography (two albums, no more than this) offers a bunch of real treats to the prog ears.

Wednesday, 29 August 2018

Entering The Gallery / The Man on The Hill (Huis, 2016)

All progfans know the flourishing Québec prog-scene during the '70s, but that land still offers tasty treats to our appetites (see Mystery, for example). This is the case with Huis, a Montréal-based band founded by keyboardist Pascal Lapierre and bassist Michel Joncas in 2009. As this mini-suite (taken from the album "Neither in Heaven") will prove, Huis mix good melodies and a dynamic sound to conjure up a captivating, everchanging kind of prog, where full-bodied rock passages and acoustic melodies build up emotionally enthralling songs. 

"Neither in Heaven" is the second album by Huis.

This double sided track displays - among other good things -  the usual amount of keyboards, an energetic guitar and a brilliant vocal performance by Sylvain Descôteaux. I'm also sure my progfriends will like the peculiar way the band have to launch their rockiest moments taking advantage of piano accelerations. In conclusion, a well written, well arranged and perfectly balanced music.