Wednesday 28 September 2016

The Cathedral (Pär Lindh Project, 1994)

Pär Lindh is no doubt one of the most gifted keyboardists of the contemporary progressive rock scene and an excellent composer too, that's why his Project has so many admirers worldwide. "The Cathedral" is an epic coming from the band's debut album. Yes, I consider "Gothic Impressions" as a band's brainchild, even if Pär Lindh's influence is everywhere. Actually, the skilled musicians he gathered for such a project deserve it: you'll find Ralf Glasz's unique voice, for example, and also  Björn Johansson's classical guitar, let alone Anna Holmgren's flute.

"Gothic Impressions" also feature a cameo by Roine Stolt.

The magic of "The Cathedral" mainly resides, OMHO, in its going in and out of its classical, medieval mood. Chuurch organ's solos and bombastic symphonic rock sections follow one another lining up a series of stunning changes. Please don't forget the rythm section, providing blazing lava to the explosive big picture. Last but not least, some of the themes and riffs are so well found that they got indelebly carved into the the listener's mind. Listen to this track, my friends, and let me know...

Monday 26 September 2016

Mare Tenebris (Parthenon, 2005)

This is the title track of a rather obscure prog album from Venezuela, released by a band born in the late Seventies. A series of line-up changes and hiatuses prevented the band from starting an official discography until 2005, but when their debut album finally came, it was a very good one. This track will show you how skilled these musicians are and how rich and diversified their ideas were in CD.

Also the CD packaging has a  weird and tempting look...

The texture of this composition surely reminds me of ELP and other powerful prog bands, but also the quietest moments are very good and highly atmospheric, including clever keyboard and guitar interplays and a brilliant drumming. Drummer Juan Carlos Ballesta and keyboardist Robert Santamaria can be considered as the backbone of this reincarnation of Parthenon and the final result is an exciting symphonic rock I actually recommend to you all.

Sunday 25 September 2016

Going Away (SBB, 1977)

This is the first suite from the album "Follow My Dream", released in 1977 by Polish band SBB. It is divided into four parts (Freedom with Us, 3rd Reanimation, Going Away and (Żywiec) Mountain Melody) and spans over 24 minutes of enjoyable, fluid and coherent music. Each part could be considered as a stand alone song and each one's got its own distinctive mood, even if the listener can only get the whole potential of this track by listening it in its entirety.
"Follow My Dream" was the sixth studio album by SBB.

The liquid and poppish Freedom with Us is followed by the experimental, jazzy and instrumental 3rd Reanimation, while Going Away has an ethereal and even spacey atmosphere introducing a majestic and fully symphonic section. The final part, (Żywiec) Mountain Melody begins with jazzy rythms, then goes electronic and somehow krautrock. As you can see, there is something for everyone and still the suite has its own peculiar flavour.

Saturday 24 September 2016

Hallogallo (Neu!, 1972)

Take a walk on the karautrock side, my dear friends, and listen to this "Hallogallo" by Neu!, one of the most uncompromising bands from the German rock scene during the Golden Years. You'll find the industrial sounds of Düsseldorf, but also the moder kind of poetry these musicians were able to create. Rother and Dinger fly high over their pulsing ground and draw an abstract and fascinating picture full of acid patches and fluorescent zigzags. 

"Neu!" was the first album by this seminal German duo.

Unlike many other contemporary acts, however, Neu! never loose the balance between experimental sounds and enjoyable music, so that all listeners will find their own cup of tea in "Hallogallo". Please note that this song is one of the earliest examples of motorik beat, the peculiar 4/4 relentless and mid-tempo beat that many krautrock bands will adopt during the years. Enjoy.

Sunday 18 September 2016

Grand Hotel (Procol Harum, 1973)

I confess I'm always been partial to the majestic melody of this Procol Harum's song and to its classically-sounding arrangements. It opens the 1973 album bearing the same name and it's difficult to imagine a best way to start a collection of good songs. IMHO, this is an underrated and influential song: not only it inspired (as they say) Douglas Adams's SF novel The Restaurant at the End of the Universe, but it opened the decadent and magniloquent way the likes of Queen and Supertramp will soon follow.

Welcome to the Grand Hotel, my friends!

Everything is in tune here, from the brilliant grand piano to the chamber orchestra interlude and from the lyrics about dinners at Hotel Ritz and Hotel Grande to the posh cover art, featuring the band in their most elegant tail-coats in front of a sumptuous building. Aristocratic, that's the word.

Saturday 17 September 2016

Treebird (Sky Architect, 2011)

Opening the album "A Dying Man's Hymn", this track is one of the most interesting ones from this Rotterdam based band. After a wall of sound intro (just a minute or so), the song features a liquid and atmospheric guitar solo, reminding me of spacey atmospheres.  The voicals come in on this beautiful background along with vintage keyboards, giving a deeper landscape to the song. And I also recommend the instrumental finale, adding some lively interplays and a lighter mood. 

 This is the second studio album by Sky Architect.

It's a sweet but never sweetish mood, a delicate gateway into a good album and also a clever mix of old and new prog. Of course it isn't a tuning point in the history of rock, but if ever you're looking for 9 minutes of relaxing prog, this is your song.

Friday 16 September 2016

What Love [Suite] (The Collectors, 1968)

Those who love proto-prog bands and tracks will be glad to find here one of the earliest suites featuring a distinctive progressive flavour: "What Love" by Canadian band The Collectors. Coming from the North-American psych scene, these Vancouver-based musicians filled the entire B-side of their debut album with a diversified and colourful 19 minutes suite, featuring ethnic instruments, arcane vocal harmonies, classical influences, folk atmospheres, R & B echoes and pastoral themes.

The Collectors only released two albums, both in the late '60s.

The spiritual side of the Seventies surely inspires some of the moods in this song, but its best virtue is, IMHO, the stong and coherent plot in which so many different ideas are cleverly framed. I rarely listened to such a rich and solid architecture in a '60s long track. In this sense, I rarely listened to a proggest song from that era, no matter what the story and the genre label of The Collectors were. Good, good music this is!

Wednesday 14 September 2016

Elephant (Tame Impala, 2012)

Even if Aussi Tame Impala are considered as part of the 2010s psych wave, their open minded approach to rock and pop music includes many prog elements, ss this "Elephant", taken from the album "Lonerism" will easily prove. The electronic.driven and vintage-sounding keyboard progressions all through the second half of the song are among the proggest music from Oceania in recent years. 
"Elephant" was also released as a 12" single.
Well, vintage sounds do require a vintage format, what else?
There's a proto-prog scent here, and even an Italian prog taste building up a succulent savoury pie. I also like the way these musicians mix catchy tunes, Floydian bluesy moods and lysergic flashes from the Seventies. If progressive rock is mixing and matching musical sources, Tame Impala surely fit into this blog.

Thursday 8 September 2016

Locomotive Breath (Jethro Tull, 1971)

I wonder why this song wasn't in my blog long before this post, but, well, now it is here. "Locomotive Breath" is a Jethro classic and a live favourite of them, including many musical elements linked to their blues side, but also a rich, unpredictable, diversified srtructure that sounds definitely prog. Ian Anderson's flute is of course the most impressive feature of the track, so impressive that one could forget all its other stunning virtues.

"Locomotive Breath" was also the B-side of "Hymn 43" single.
I won't, and I'm glad to remember the rythm section building up a devilish background, inspired by a locomotive's noise, Ian's strong vocal performance, the rough guitar riffs, and - last but not least - the piano, softly introducing the song, then providing its own cadence to the final section. And I won't forget the lyrics, comparing the unstoppable locomotive to human lives. Lives that can't be fully enjoyed, because the train won't stop going, no way to slow down...

Saturday 3 September 2016

Čím je svět můj (Progres 2, 1982)

This is an excellent prog rock track from the '80s, but please note Progres 2 actually were active also during the '70s in the Czech musical scene (they're from Brno, more exactly). This track features a very good mix of mainstream rock, progressive rock and assorted electronic sounds from the '80s. It's the closing track from the double album "Třetí kniha džunglí", also released in English as "The Third Book of The Jungle".

"Třetí kniha džunglí" was the fourth album by Progres 2.

As a matter of fact, Progres 2 love Kipling's literary masterpiece, as they had already written an album titled "Barnodaj – Mauglí" on the same subject. I like the dynamic and everchanging mood of "Čím je svět můj" (titled in Englis "What My World Really Is") and especially the guitars, ruling most of the instrumental parts. As you could expect from a closing epic, the volume is very high and there are some majestic and noisy walls of sound throughout the song. But, well, this is prog rock, baby!