Friday, 31 May 2019

Ättestupan (Sinkadus, 1997)

This Swedish band belongs to the best Skandinavian prog tradition, picking up some of the musical elements from the '70s masters and adding their own personality to their rich pot. Ättestupan (meaning Precipice) is the closing track from the band's debut album "Aurum Nostrum" released in 1997 and displays a good deal of their highlights. First of all, the fluid sequence of tempos, ranging between calm and introspective moments to frantic rock or jazzy interplays, via a few majestic largos.

"Aurum Nostrum" features  four long tracks. I like all of them.

Electric and acoustic instruments build up an everchanging and solid piece of music, where every bit of sound finds its right place into the great picture. The sung parts (in Swedish) by Linda Johansson and Rickard Bistrom are also good, especially the female ones, which add a folkish touch here and there. And after all, as I said before, variety is the strongest point of Ättestupan (and of Sinkadus best songs), even if such a diverse inspiration requires both control and instrumental skills. Just listen and tell me if these musicians have them or not...

Saturday, 27 April 2019

In The Dark of The Night (Ines, 1994)

Ines Fuchs is a German keyboardist and composer, gathering around her a skilled band of neo-prog influenced musicians, some of them coming from well known German bands, such as Asgard or Anyone's Daughter. This song, a favourite of mine, comes from her first abum, called "Hunting The Fox" and is a fine example of melodic, catching and still intriguing prog song. Ines plays her keys with a beautiful dynamic approach, while the rest of the band provides a liquid groove that perfectly fits the musical theme.

This album was released by "Music Is Intelligence" label.

After a sung section (Ines doesn't sing herself), the second half of "In The Dark of The Night" is a long and enthralling instrumental coda, where the guitars play an essential role. You won't find here too many tempo changes or intricate interplays, but I bet you'll like the way the instruments follow each otheron asolid path leaded by Ines and her rythm section. Enjoyable, that's the word.

Sunday, 31 March 2019

Who Are You Now (Justin Hayward - John Lodge, 1975)

The Moody Blues members Justin Hayward and John Lodge released a beautiful pastoral prog album titled "Blue Jays" in 1975, during the long band's hiatus between  "Seventh Sojourn" (1972) and "Octave" (1978). I do love this record, a stunning collection of folk-based ballads and captivating melodies. "Who Are You Now"perfectly depicts the misty mood of the entire LP and in less than three minutes displays a heartbreaking range of melancholy chords and effective arrangements.

Phil Travers is a true master if you need  melancholy landscapes.

This song was written by Hayward and surely bears his most appreciated trademarks, such as the warm, autumnal sound, based on acoustic instruments and backing calm, friendly vocals. The lyrics perfectly match the music, wondering about someone the singer loved and got out of touch. A moving sketch, really.

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.