Tuesday, 31 January 2023

Il petalo del fiore (Greenwall, 1999)

 "Il petalo del fiore" (meaning "The Flower's Petal") is a na long suite (nearly 34 minutes) split into two tracks and six movements by the Italian act Greenwall, the brainchild of keyboard player Andrea Pavoni. It comes from the band's debut album and proves once more the equation prog = diverse, probably the only mathematics thing I perfectly understand. Keyboards are obviously the main course of this song, but if the piano driven sections are my favourite ones, I also like the way other instruments come in and draw a colourful fresco all around me. 

Mellow Records is responsible for this hidden prog jewel.

Fabio Nani's guitars are simply perfect here in both electric and acoustic moments, even where a dreamy mandolin comes in. I like the wide range of musical writing, spanning from well found (and so Italian) melodies to groovy, nearly spoken lines, not too far from the '70s singers-songwriters way. Furthermore, you'll find complex and symphonic parts along with ethereal, minimal phases. That's the perfect solution to the above equation.

Friday, 30 December 2022

Universal (Anathema, 2010)

 Arguably one of my favourite tracks by Anathema, "Universal" has a very atmospheric mood, a beautiful musical theme, a dreaming guitar, some splendid keyboards and even a shoegaze-like section. No doubt, when it comes to slow paced and majestic sounds this Liverpool band is among the best you can find over there. Not only they know how to write and perform good music, but they also have sort of a Mida's touch and they totally deserve their success. 

"We're Here..." was Anathema's eighth studio album

Take this track (from "We're Here Because We're Here" album), for example: it flows away like springy water and cleverly skips redunancy thanks to a series of slight and effective changes, consistent and surprising at the same time. Building up a song is never easy, but Anathema know how to handle this and how to mix prog rock and mainstreap pop. Brilliant!

Wednesday, 30 November 2022

Bet On Zero (The Aaron Clift Experiment, 2023)

Here's an unusual way to conceive rock, an open-minded, border-free, well thought out way. In a word, the most prog approach to music. The Austin-based Aaron Clift Experiment (you'll find more reviews about them in my blog) are an eclectic and creative ensemble formed by Mr. Clift himself, always attracted to experimentation, but never hermetic or puzzling. They like good music and they like to communicate their emotions via their songs, something I highly appreciate. Last but not least, they're very skilled performers, which one shouldn't take for granted.

Fumihito Sugawara is responsible for this beauticul cover art.

This track is taken by their (forthcoming, when I write this review) 2023 "The Age of Misinformation" album and features the Big Wy's Brass Band, a wonderful addition to the band's line up. It's a jazzy, even soul prog rock, displaying a well written main theme and a beautiful instrumental bridge, including a sax solo followed by an enthralling jazz rock instrumental section, and ending with an excellent drum tour de force. The swinging finale is another highlight of "Bet on Zero" and I bet you'll like the whole song (and the whole album, as a matter of fact).

Monday, 31 October 2022

Vertigo (The Flower Kings, 2019)

The Flower Kings' Waiting for Miracles is one of my favourite albums by Roine Stolt's band and this for its good taste and musical balance. Never too showy, never too trivial, this 2019 release includes some well structured and even better composed songs. Intricated as only prog can be, but also full of melodies and lively rythmic lines.

One of the best cover arts by The Flower Kings, IMHO.

Vertigo is one of those pearls: it features not only a catchy and majestic main theme, but also a very long and charming musical section, where Roine Stolt performs one of his best guitar solos ever. And that's saying something. While the rest of the band weaves a colourful tapestry of sounds, our Swedish guitarist makes us fly on his magical broomstick swinging between stingy accents and pure poetry. Flesh and spirit all at once. 

Friday, 30 September 2022

Reyes en guerra (Redd, 1978)

Redd were from Tucumรกn,  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.