Wednesday, 31 March 2021

Lies in The Sand (Raven Sad, 2011)

 Another Italian good band, but not what one usually labals as "Italan Prog". Raven Sad are an eclectic act, mostly into atmospheric sounds with beautiful guitar and keyboard solos. Space-rock, Psych Rock, yes, but with a strong emotional twist. They like down tempo songs, but they know how to rivet their listeners, even in long songs like this one, taken from their third album "Layers of Stratosphere". 

You won't find a more spacey cover art!

Raven Sad master mood changes, something they usually achieve by alternating the  foreground instruments, especially Samuele Santanna's guitars and Fabrizio Trinci's keyboards. Each musical shift opens new perspectives and deeper landscapes, like turning stages. It's kind of discovering new worlds and the sci-fi inspiration of "Lies in The Sand" adds a space-opera dimension to the big picture. 

Sunday, 28 February 2021

Control (Butler's Experiment, 2021)

Even for a little prog rock blog like this one, it is essential to keep an eye to new bands and young musicians around the net. Butler's Experiment are e Scottish act from Glasgow and I do like their original musical mix of neo-prog, 80s new wave and evergreen pop-rock. After their debut album titled "Torchlight Splinters", here you are a new single, "Control", corroborating the skills and good tastes of these musicians. 

Please find Butler's Experiment on their Soundcloud page:

You'll find a cleverly built track, a sparkling mood and even a welcome rough side (à la Rush, I daresay), matching with their modern and eclectic approach to prog rock. These five proggers also have the clear, captivating sounds and the unaffected songwriting I often appreciate in Scottish  musicians... they're somewhere between Abel Ganz's refinement and Belle & Sebastian's introspection. I'm sure this promising band will soon be back on my blog and - above all - on my playlist. 

Sunday, 31 January 2021

L'ultimo viaggio del Principe (Celeste, 2021)

This 24 minute suite is a perfect treat for any Italian prog fan. More than this, it's one of the most beautiful tracks ever written and performed by Celeste's creative mind Ciro Perrino. If the band's 2021 album titled "Il Principe del Regno Perduto" (meaning "Lost Kingdom's Prince") explores many different ways and styles considerably expanding Celeste's musical world, this epic surely refers to the band's core mood and traditional inspiration. And they never did it so well. How many beautiful changes, fairy atmospheres and magical landscapes you'll find here! 

Larry Camarda is responsible for this celestial cover art.

Perrino knows how to blend  Vero's acoustic and electric guitars,his own  keyboards (including, of course, piano and Mellotron), Moro's wind instruments and Caputo's violin in a shiny, relieving musical pot. Bertone (bass guitar) and Cioffi (drums) farly provide a discreet and breezy rythmic background to Celeste's graceful tale. Last but not least, "L'ultimo viaggio del Principe" includes some of the best musical themes Perrino ever penned for his progressive act. Sensitive and dainty, these melodies also have a nearly spiritual aftertaste reverberating on the fanciful  lyrics of this track, sung by three different and well assorted voices. A prog gem I highly recommend to you all, an emotional trip on a higher dimension or maybe inside yourself.

With the kind permission of the band, please find here an e-mail for any infos on how to purchase their CDs:

Thursday, 31 December 2020

Real (Ephrat, 2008)

Ephrat are a very interesting Israeli band, also known for their opening act to Dream Theater's 2009 show in Israel, and they play a dinamic and varied prog rock, melting classic prog, well found melodies, electronic music and hard rock elements. They take their name from their leader Omer Ephrat's surname, but they're more than Omer's brainchild. This song, taken fron their debut album "No One's Words", is a 18 minutes epic, full of changes in both mood and tempo. You'll find in it all,the above elements and much more. 

This album was released by InsideOut label and featured guest musicians as
 Petronella Nettermalm (Paatos) and Daniel Gildenglow (Pain of Salvation).

Ephrat's eclectic approach to prog is highly enjoyable as composition is always the central part of the band's musical blend. "Real" includes welcome references to the sound of such iconic bands as Pink Floyd and Beatles, but also a touch of world music and even horns. Rich as it can be, this song keeps its own coherence and each musician knows how to enrich the plot and never get too showy. Last but not least, Steven Wilson's mix adds a special brilliance to the sound I surely appreciate.

Monday, 30 November 2020

Merry Macabre (Wobbler, 2020)

Wobbler surely are one of the most interesting bands worldwide when it comes to classic prog and vintage sounds. Their 2020 release titled "Dwellers of The Deep" is worth its promising title and includes this 19 minutes song, an amazing journey through different progressive references and styles. Not only this track is full of good musical themes, mood changes and irregular tempos, but it's also a technical tour de force, thanks to the band's instrumental skills and the song's daring architecture. 

                                                        As usual, a wonderful cover!

Even if Wobbler follow well known musical tracks, they mix them up in their own original way and - what's more - seem to enjoy what they're doing. That's why the listener is fully involved in their devilish rythms, intricate vocal harmonies and atmospheric breaks. I especially like the piano driven sections, actng as respite and launching the following sections. Wobbler really dwell in the deepest rooms of music and there's a yellow brick road leading to their beautiful house somewhere in the centre of Progtown. 

Saturday, 31 October 2020

Syracuse The Elephant (Stackridge, 1972)

Stackridge are such a perfectly British-sounding band that their name and music are always been next to a National secret for UK prog lovers. This band came from the west England (around Bristol and Bath) and developed a beautiful folk-rooted kind of prog with a Beatles hint and a good deal of humour. This track comes from the band's second album titled "Friendliness" and is a splendid example of their musical approach to prog. A beautiful sung theme, some acoustic solos, mainly violin and flute flowing on a Mellotron and piano carpet ar but a few of its charms.

"Friendliness" was re-issued in 2006 with four bonus tracks.

The somewhat surprising tempo and mood changes are another essential feature of "Syracuse The Elephant", ranging from English folk to exotic dances. These disparate musical elements are strictly linked to the Beatles-oriented sung sections about a homesick elephant captured and dressed to perform in live shows and movies. We follow his successful career from Bristol to Hollywood and are reminded of the animal's nostalgy for his homeland's veldt. A real jewel, IMHO.

Wednesday, 30 September 2020

Utopia (Todd Rundgren's Utopia, 1974)

Todd Rundgren is a highly underrated composer, IMHO. His eclectic approach to music surely didn't help him, but allowed his songs to keep their charm intact during many decades. This track - a virtual three movements suite - is the most known piece de resistance of Utopia, the band Rundgren founded in 1973 to empower a pop oriented solo career he had begun in 1970. However essential for the band's history, "Utopia" (also known as "Utopia Theme") was never recorded in studio and its live version - at the Fox Theater in Atlant, November 8th 1973 - filled the first side of Utopia's debut album. 

...And I even like this puzzling cover art!

As I said before, we can (very) roughly divide this epic into three parts, the first one offering a highly dynamic jazzy prog, the second one exploring the operatic and pompous side of pop-rock with a beautiful, catching sung theme and finally the third one stromgly rooted into the symphonic rock ground. Manifold and unpredictable as it it, "Utopia" still is a coherent piece of music, as if the same scene was described from three different points of view. I know many critics dislike this track and label it as pretentious and showy, but I hope you'll forgive me if I say I'm always moved by it. And all in all, this is why I like prog.