Friday, 30 September 2022

Reyes en guerra (Redd, 1978)

Redd were from Tucumán,  Argentina, and they were strongly influenced by King Crtimson and other early English prog bands. That said, they had their own way to approach prog rock, with a beautiful mix of electric and acoustic instruments, calm and evocative sung sections, impressive and sensitive percussions and some dreamy, liquid guitars. During their career they released just one album titled "Tristes noticias del imperio" (Sad news from the Empire), even if a second LP was recorded in 1979 but only released twenty years later by a Brazilian label. 

A black and white, essential cover... but there a colours inside!

This track, "Reyes en guerra" (Kings at war), opens their debut album and perfectly represents their style, epecially their mellow side. When I listen to such bands as Redd I wonder how many hidden treasures prog will uncover to my ears in due time... 

Tuesday, 30 August 2022

In My World (The Moody Blues, 1981)

 Justin Hayword wrote this song for Moody's too underrated album "Long Distance Voyager", a proud progressive flag (with some eighties additions) in the genre's darkest years. This ballad is a pefect blend of a folk rooted theme and brilliant arrangements, a rather long ballad with bluesy and country echoes and an extended, beautiful and fully progressive instrumental coda. Old school music, yes, but also state of the art sounds, never boring solutions and that Moody's magic touch! 

...Always been in love with this cover drawing!

Even if the main theme is always there, you never get tired as the band re-work it through an ever changing sound palette. It's a dreamy experience, a fluid, transparent, refreshig stream getting more and more addictive and reaching its emotional peak during the final instrumental section. Another fine example of what a love song can turn into when Moody Blues are concerned.

Sunday, 31 July 2022

Odisseia para Sirius (Ultranova, 2022)

This track, released in 2022 as a download single, confirms the Brazilian act Ultranova among the finest representatives of instrumental prog in the 21st Century. Their debut album Orion (2019) was a promising effort, but they seem to improve day to day. This "Odyssey to Sirius" is an epic and enjoyable piece of music, full of keybooard / guitar interplays, well found changes and liquid solos. 

A mythical journey, as this beautiful cover art...

Ultranova have their own style, but you'll find some Camel, Jade Warrior and Jethro Tull hints here, and a surprising melting pot including folk jeegs, electronic atmosphere and cinematic moments. Full of colours like their Country, rich in sense of wonder like their favourite music and tasty like their instrumantal skills, Ultranova's sound is the living proof that good prog rock will never die.

Thursday, 30 June 2022

Up to Me (Jethro Tull, 1971)

 When I think of a perfect prog ballad, full of true emotions and a wonderful melody, one of my first choices surely is "Up to Me", the closing track of the first side of Jethro Tull's "Aqualung". Even if the musical theme has a mellow and somehow folk flavour, there's an underlying tension all through the song, provided by Ian Anderson's powerful vocals and Martin Barre's guitar. 

Jethro Tull in the early Seventies.

Mostly acoustic as it is, "Up to Me" is a powerful, biting song, also graced by a beutiful flute riff. If you can put so many things in a three minute song... well, you're great. And of course that's what Jethro Tull are.

Tuesday, 31 May 2022

Space Cowboy (Gazpacho, 2020)

Gazpacho refined their own kind of prog all along their career, mixing atmospheric mood, some majestic arrangements and bits of heavy rock from time to time. They're always enjoyable and highly professional, but you need more to set up a beautiful song. And when they find these bonus ingredients they really are perfect to me. The "bonus" are, of course, good melodies. You'll find at least two in this suite titled Space Cowboy and coming from the 2020 album Fireworker. And that's not all. 

Another beautiful cover art by Antonio Seijas. 

The band master here some interesting (and sometimes dangerous) elements like a powerful choir and a strong diversity between the track's different parts. Both these peculiarities demand a solid sense of proportion, but Gazpacho have the experience and the right taste to succeed in such a task. That's why this suite flows like a beautiful river passing through many different landscapes and growing more and more stimulating each time you listen to it. The lyrics about the hidden animal insinct inside men (the concept of the whole album) and the way this human trait goes through eras and generations adds some more food for thought. What else should we ask?

Monday, 4 April 2022

Standing Still as Stony Trees (Watcher of The Trees, 2017)

The Watcher of The Trees is the brainchild of Italian composer and multi-instrumentalist Dario Marconcini. Based on the banks of Garda Lake, Marconcini was inspired by the spiritual and ancestral beauty of the surrounding forests and after several experiences in local bands (namely The Electric Shields and Moonshiners), he decided to go solo with a new moniker and released "Fireflies in The Wood", an album where the woods - and mostly the trees - act as main charachters along the passing of the seasons. 

Four seasons and four colours in this beautiful cover art.

I especially liked "Standing Still as Stony Trees" not only because I find here so many and welcome prog hints, but especially for its majestic crescendo and the perfect balance of peaceful and up-tempo moments. Unlike many similar projects and despite his patent performing skills, Marconcini's music focuses on emotions and you'll find here all the wonder and the thrill of an inner discovery: instruments, melodies, words and arrangements merge to move the listener. And frankly I'm moved. 

Thursday, 31 March 2022

Friends I + II (Turdetans, 2020)

 Turdetans are a Spanish prog band from Alcalá de Guadaíra, in the Seville area, a very important prog province, I daresay, home of Triana, Guadalquivir, Smash and many more. And after all their name comes from the ancient  inhabitants of their region. This time, don't expect a resurgence of rock andaluz: these musicians like to blend with skill all the faces of prog rock to create a fascinating sound, rich and diversified. Acoustic blue skies, fluid and captivating, are suddenly perturbed by electric and even metal storms, folk rains or symphonic winds. 

The album's cover beautifully refers to the work's main topic of dreams.

A treat, as this little suite called "Friends" will easily prove. You'll be surprised to discover how Turdetans set up a consistent and well balanced track in spite of all the changes in time, volume, mood and instrumentation they play out. Such an achievement comes from the perfect fusion of excellent melodies and genuine energy. "Suite of Dreams" in their only album to date, but we can only hope it will soon be followed by more releases