PROG MAGAZINE MUSIC SAMPLER
Issue # 55 April 2015 (cover: Andrew Latimer)
Notwithstanding how good the actual magazine is, these bonus/extra CDs that are included every issue are alone worth the price of the subscription.
Track 1: The Tangent/A Spark in the Aether (4:14)
I have already written on this track & album in a full review ( https://fatherwatson.wordpress.com/2015/04/29/a-spark-in-the-aether-album-of-the-year-yes-i-think-so/ ) but must reiterate that this song is a prog classic. On the “gem” Andy’s keys simply soar into the stratosphere of joy while Agren’s drums drive this anthem like a charger (a horse) along a pristine beach. The chorus is infectious and the overall feel-good buoyancy suggest we may have the “song of the year” for 2015
Track 2: Gong/Tried So Hard (4:33)
If you don’t know Gong you don’t know prog. Go buy their back catalog. This tune starts off part psychedelia Beatles and CSN&Y before fully embracing Syd Barrett style Floyd. This is a mellow mood inducer that’ll have you smelling patchouli and weed. Put on your bell bottoms and granny glasses and thank the Lords of Prog for Gong. R.I.P. Daevid Allen, you will be missed.
Track 3: M-Opus/Different Skies (Excerpt) Every Day The Orbit (5:18)
What’s not to like with the opening lush wash of layered sounds mutating into a huge middle section of mid & far Eastern rhythms and sounds. With the sitars and tablas one conjures up the mysterious beauty of back-street markets and sub-Saharan sand-dunes. With the vocals mixed very low only the vocoder space-like spoken ending intrudes on some fine Eastern Prog cum soundtrack worthy instrumental art.
Track 4: Gavin Harrison/Hatesong-Halo (8:11)
Take the best jazz-rock fusion sounds of Chicago I, or Blood, Sweat & Tears (Al Kooper Mk 1 version), mix in some deft synth reeds (bassoon?) and concerto like complexity and you have Gavin Harrison’s delightful all instro mini-epic. Jazzy and symphonic with an almost Return To Forever flavor this is one of my favorite tracks on the sampler.
Track 5: Von Hertzen Brothers/ Love Burns (4:37)
Possibly my favorite track on the disc! This band, a relative new discovery—and fairly new group—explodes like a fireball or comet of Prog brilliance! Great vocals and great singing, are melded into a grand and melodic symphony of power-metal/prog metal that builds to a crescendo of sonorous bliss. The track makes one seek out the Von Hertzen Brothers album for another “fix” of this aural drug!
Track 6: Sanguine Hum/Out of Mind (5:48)
With the outer-space “bleeps” and “burps” coupled with the oscillating electronic gurgles the introduction slides into a gorgeous slow tempo number. The liquidy Mellotron sounds make me smile. “Buttered cats” anyone?
Track 7: Rian Adkinson/Pianoburn (3:35)
I like the heavy reverb in the drum opening. What starts off with a bit of an indie rock vibe goes “hard” at the 2:28 mark to produce an almost post-rock heavier ending. Not bad at all.
Track 8: The Gentle Storm/Shores of India (6:37)
Now THIS is my favorite track on the album! The Dutch musical project/collaboration between composer/guitarist/keyboard wizard Arjen Lucassen and vocal goddess Anneke van Gierbergen has given the world of prog one of the best albums of 2015. This particular tune opens with 45 seconds of flute only to be subsumed in a whirlwind of tablas and sitars. At 1:23 the guitars come in with Anneke’s vocals kissing the production at 1:38. Anneke has a marvelous instrument with her wide-ranging, octave spanning voice which alternates between a mesmerizing almost narcotic gothic delivery and a higher-range pure crystalline soprano so beautiful it cuts glass. Lucassen’s complex composition tethered to Anneke’s delivery, which at times is so warm and nostalgic to hearken back to Annie Haslam (Renaissance) at her peak, turns this symphonic track into “The” show-stopper. This can’t be recommended highly enough. I’m buying the album.
Track 9: Special Providence/ Kiss From A Glacier (4:36)
This in an all-instrumental piece that has touches of the brilliance of both Tangerine Dream and even Radiohead’s “Kid A.” The solid drumming and stellar guitar work morph into some nice jazz fusion in the middle section before rocking out with an almost Dream Theatre level of jamming at the conclusion.
Track 10: The Last Embrace/On My Own (7:33)
Another gothic Angelo Badalamenti-esque opening that is drenched in sultry and smoky vocals. The bleeding guitar and emotional lyric delivery had me thinking both Long Patrol (a great, great indie band) and David Lynch soundtracks. This is like Evanescence with substance and far greater musicianship. This beautiful tone-poem builds in intensity and transports the listener to a Stan Ridgway desert highway populated with sleazy dives, neon signs, and starry vistas.
You can’t buy this album sampler but you can and you should subscribe to Prog magazine today. Editor Jerry Ewing and his crack staff turn out a lavish product that does ALL of music proud. https://subscribe.teamrock.com/prog/ And, it was a double bonus “coup” for me as Andrew Latimer (Camel) is the cover story. Camel is my favorite band of all-time. I am very happy.
Mellotron set to 11