Wednesday, 31 May 2023

Esotanc (Yesterdays, 2022)

Yesterdays are a very good prog band from Hungarian speaking minority of West Romania. This song Esotanc (meaning "This Dance") comes from their fourth album titled "Saint-Exupéry álma" and released in 2022. As most of their music, this is a clever mix of different styles, including a Yes-inspired symphonic rock, jazz-rock and folk elements. Multi-instrumentalist Bogáti-Bokor Ákos is the life and soul of Yesterdays, but all the members add their own skills and the final product is a multicoloured, unpredictable 20 minute pure prog song, including both acoustic and electric passages. 

Bogáti-Bokor Ákos is also responsible for this cover art.

Guitar solos and piano  passages, a vast choice of keyboards and Stéphanie Semeniuc's  vibrant vocals, Kecskeméti Gábor's flute and some well found electronic effects are just a few of the reasons to listen to this track (and to the rest of the album, as to that). Yesterdays really provide a rare blend of classic prog and new, original sound. Something prog rock always needs so much.

Sunday, 30 April 2023

Cascate di cristallo (Celeste, 2023)

The few readers I have in this blog, already know Celeste and their master mind Ciro Perrino. If not, feel free to browse my previous reviews. The band's return in the late 2010s confrmed their skills in weaving and perfecting the sweetest and most refined melodies. This song comes from their 2023 release introducing a new and welcome feature: an entire orchestra formed by more than a dozen members and including winds, woods, strings and, of course, a piano. 

The CD cover painting is by Mara Catelani. It is perfect for what'is inside...

...and this is the LP painting by Ciro Carlo Antonio Perrino. Another beauty!

"Cascate di cristallo" (meaning "Crystal Falls") is simply perfect to me. Not only it enhances the suitably called Celestial Symphony Orchestra potential, but it includes some of the best and most inspired compositions by Ciro Perrino. The exquisite intertwinings, the elegant themes and the manifold arrangements are a treat for any musical sweet tooth. This instrumental track is not the only pearl in such a beautiful album, but it surely catched my attention on first hearing and proved itself more and more profound during the subsequent listenings. Don't miss this one, my prog friends!

Friday, 31 March 2023

Funeral (Mice on Stilts, 2016)

 Let's explore something from the dark, even mourning side of prog. "Hope for A Mourning" was the second album by Mice on Stilts, the brainchild of singer, writer and guitarist Ben Morley and one of the most interesting acts from New Zealand in recent years. Sure, the sombre atmosphere of "Funeral" reminds me of some Scandinavian bands from the '90s, but there is a special, thougtful way here, both melancholy and dreamy. 

What a beautiful and inspiring cover art!

Despite the mournful titles of both the song and the album, there is less proper grief than spiritual abandon in this music, like in a  misty dawn over still waters. It's an intimate journey, a dreamlike meditation and still we're far from the minimal approach of ambient music. The melody line and the arrangements are rich and set on a slow paced crescendo that drags the listener's soul through dramatic landscapes and a growing sense of wonder. A beautiful, enriching experience.

Tuesday, 28 February 2023

Time Capsule (Arena, 2022)

 This was one of the first tracks Arena  released from their "The Theory of Molecular Inheritance" album and one of the more diversified ones. The album was based on a tricky concept about a scientist able to riproduce the genius of dead people into living brains. 

Arena publish on their own Verglas label.

This is a surprising song, including both hard and melodic passages, all perfectly melt into a coherent sound. Mitchell vocals are stunning and, of corse, all the band are there to show their skills. Pure prog, folks!

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).