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Review by Sean Trane — A crazy bunch of Québecois that only recorded one album, this sextet were relatively
unrepresentative of the average Québecois band, despite the obvious drug reference about their name
and their album title (first pill). Indeed, released in late 72 on a public-owned label, his is a
product of its time. Lead by singer and wind-player Emile Naud, he's seconded by a sizzling lead
guitar and a dazzling organ, but the rhythm section is quite solid as well. Despite a few notes on
the back cover, not much is discussed of the band itself, and the only photo known (to my knowledge
anyway) is the one taken in front of the mushroom mural painting.
Opening on the rapid-fire instrumental track Dynamite, which features in a drum solo in its middle
section, Naud's sax is giving it a very brassy sound. The 7-mins slow blues Ghetto Noir is up next,
and Maillette's organ rivals with Charette's guitar for the attention, while Naud's vocals (situated
between Dyonisos and Octobre) and his harmonica are definitely giving an old-south feel, despite the
French-sung vocals. The 6-mins Rêve Futur heads in a splendid mid-tempo track where Charette's
fuzzed guitar and Paradis' efficient rhythm guitar are giving an answer to Maud's flute. Excellent
bass and drum parts as well. Best track of side A. The side-closing Train is sonically fairly close
to its predecessor.
The flipside opens on the 11-mins centrepiece Chateau Hanté, a slow creepy tune that features tons
of noises to create its graveyard aura; especially with the nearly cookie-monster-like spoken
vocals. The sinister feel is only half-convincing, and therefore the credibility is ampered, but the
searing guitar and spellbinding beat gives a slight Univers Zero feel. Despite a fairly conventional
start, Folies Du Mercredi is their wildest and most adventurous track, changing constantly climates
and rhythms. Mad is back on the sax, and Maillette's excellent organ solo two-thirds in add much
drama, as does Charette's sizzling fuzz guitar. Great stuff, and it is probably the album's
highlight, along with Rêve Futur. The short almost-goofy afterthought Pop-Pino closes the album one
down note, though.
Wile their Première Capsule album is n almost must-hear Québecois 70's artefact, I can't tell you
that Les Champignons are an essential part of "La Belle Province's" overall musical soundscape, but
it is surely a very enjoyable detour. I just wish it would one day get a fully legit reissue, but
the Radio-Active bootand the more recent Flawed Gem label copies make it unlikely for a fragile
ProgQuebec label to take a financial risk in reissuing it. Anyway, an excellent consolidating block
to your Quebecois prog section.
Review by BORA — Connoisseur's choice in Jazz.
Interesting to see these two albums released on one disc. Common practice is of matching a
better album with a bonus-like weaker one. This is not the case here as both of them - albeit
slightly different - are excellent works on their own, if for various reasons.
SM remains one of my fave bands from the '70s and I deeply appreciate most of their works.
This band is a rare phenomenon where regardless of the diversity of styles, drastic changes in
musical directions/ personnel, 40 odd years on their music remains relevant - and brilliant.
By the time they released "Fourth" in 1971, there was little - if any - trace of their former
Psychedelic approach. This album is pure British Jazz of the most artistic (i.e. difficult) kind.
Deep, dark, meandering pieces, perhaps closer to the ECM label than to standard CBS works.
Admittedly, one must have at least a cursory understanding of Jazz and even then it's probably
the most difficult SM album to get into. One of the finest examples of "heavy" Jazz and to me it's
a masterpiece, but one must be in the mood for it.
"Fifth" came out in 1972 and is a lighter and more accessible effort still in the Jazz vein, but
closer to Jazz-Rock. Side A of the LP has a different rhythm section to side B, yet the album as a
whole retains it's integrity.
Both albums are excellent and highly recommended.
Review by SouthSideoftheSky — "This is no dull rehearsal, this is your only chance. The stage is set for you, come on and dance!"
World Of Wonder was Jump's sophomore album and here they showcase their "wondrous world" of
eclectic Rock better than on the debut. Many of the band's trademarks were already present here (albeit in less than fully developed form) including the excellent vocals of Mr. (John Dexter) Jones, the commanding guitar playing of Steve Hayes and Pete Davies (one of the few guitar duos in Neo-Prog), and the keyboards of Mo (one of the few female keyboard players in Prog).
The album opens with A Northern Man which reminds me a bit of 80's Jethro Tull with its tasteful flute-like
keyboards, clean and sharp, almost "metallic" electric guitar sound, and the nifty acoustic-electric interplay.
This is a good opening number that sets the stage for a good album. However, the next couple of tracks
raise warning flags as to the quality and direction of the album (and the band). I wonder how many
prospective fans switched off before reaching the album's much better second half. The title track and (the
autobiographical?) Mr. Jones are rather mundane, conventional Hard Rock numbers, and definitely the
weakest tracks of this album. To continue with the Jethro Tull comparison, these songs can perhaps be
associated with style of the latter's weak Rock Island album. Louder Than Words is a bit better, but it too is not particularly interesting even if I do like the "we counted them in, we counted them out"- section which points towards the more "theatrical" style of the excellent follow-up album ...And All The King's Men.
As I said, the second half of the album is clearly better and more interesting than the first half. The better
songs begin with the excellent Gryphan's Galliard, a rocking medieval-style dance tune. Poison In The Sea is
a bit of a Reggae Rock fusion. Not one my favourite songs here by any means, but it is interesting enough.
Four Winds Blow is a very good progressive Folk Rock number with accordion (or something that sounds
like an accordion) and a nice acoustic guitar solo. Funny is another progressive track that fuses together
Jazz Rock, Funk Rock, and Folk Rock in an interesting way. Like Poison In The Sea, this is probably an
acquired taste, but I like it! At this point the album has recovered from the initial malaise, but some of the
best is yet to come. The final two tracks, Where Silver Calls and Whip-Hand Jack, are both excellent
progressive Folk Rock pieces; the kind of Folk Rock that really rocks.
It is true that World Of Wonder suffers from the inclusion of a couple of weaker numbers, but you shouldn't
let the few mundane rockers give you the wrong impression about the album and the band. World Of
Wonder definitely has enough highlights to be an overall good Jump album that is even up to par with or even
better than some of the band's more recent (rather different) albums. In its best moments it points towards superior subsequent albums like ...And All The King's Men and Living In A Promised Land.
Review by psarros — Nil were found in mid-90's in Annecy, France by guitarist David Maurin and drummer Julien Paget, joined soon by Samuel Maurin on bass and Benjamin Croizy on keyboards.When Paget left, Frank Niebel joined in and the new line-up recorded two very rare self-produced albums, ''Bruismes'' from 98' and the EP ''Nocturnes'' from 99', at a time when the group was searching its own identity.By the start of the millenium they decided to collaborate with female singer Roselyne Berthet and along with several guest musicians and singers they recorded the album ''Quarante jours sur le Sinaï'', released in 2002.
In an act of great confidence and self-belief the French group offered two very long, epic tracks in this album, the 36-min. ''Acte I'' and its following 26-min. ''Acte II''.Both tracks are extremely tight and coherent with no particular dead holes and are great examples of dark, atmospheric Progressive Rock with strong hints from Orchestral and Soundtrack Music next to the standard Classical and jazzy inspirations, with enough complexity but also some very ethereal passages as well.Maybe you should imagine a cross between KING CRIMSON, WOBBLER and SEVEN REIZH to get an idea of how this album sounds, but again some very careful listenings is what is recommended to fully appreciate this style of playing.The album is characterized by some extemely complex guitar parts with a sinister touch, haunting Mellotron waves next to some edgy and nervous electronics and church-styled organs and a very solid rhythm section.This combination delivers very complicated themes, alternating between hypnotic grooves and loose performances, but there are also enough breaks to be found that lead to series of dreamy textures.The later are based on Berthet's superb, crystal-clear voice and the intelligent use of synthesizers, while parts of them even contain some beatiful melodies and delicate orchestrations.This amalgam of diverse themes works very nice and the album flows extremely well with no evident interruptions between the amount of short tracks, of which the two epics are composed.
Nice and recommended example of deeply atmospheric Progressive Rock with a variety of influences and soundscapes, starting from cinematic offerings and ending up in symphonic or jazzy arrangements.Great stuff...3.5 stars.
[Live Album · 2013]
1. City Of Habi
2. The Steppes
4. Scenes - Above Poland
5. Scenes - Sunset At The Seaside
6. Steve's Acoustic Set
7. Ace Of Wands
8. Flowers Stillness
9. Rush For Ménes
10. Strange Places
11. Rush For Ménes Reprise
12. Last Train to Istanbul
13. Summer Storms
14. Rocking Rivers (Angklung)
15. Firth Of Fifth
16. In That Quiet Earth
17. Distant Dance
18. Los Endos
[Compilation · 2013]
1. Overture (10:34)
2. School Days (05:37)
3. Alaska (05:04)
4. Leave the Heart That Now I Bear (03:26)
5. Motherfucker (07:12)
6. She's Blonde And She Says Uau A Lot (06:26)
7. Shattered Glass (08:48)
8. The Wind Will Carry Us (06:08)
9. On Rascals (05:58)
10. Western Media Avenue (06:00)
Total Time 63:53
[Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo · 2013]
1. The Cruelest Cut (2:53)
2. Venom Hell (2:31)
3. Deathless (2:41)
4. Black Holes (2:09)
5. A Chorus Of War (1:51)
6. Born In A Blaze (2:54)
Total Time: 14:59
[Studio Album · 2013]
1. Tormented (6:15)
2. Fake Romance (5:15)
3. Scattered Man (5:28)
4. Ironic Distress (6:11)
5. Now & Beyond (4:20)
6. Greed (4:23)
7. Bird of Doom (6:59)
8. Cross The Line (5:47)
Total Time 44:38
[Studio Album · 2013]
1. Palmyra (14:58)
2. Cloudwalker (4:40)
3. Creation: Glimpse of a Dying Sun (8:59)
4. Creation: Everdrifting Particle (8:56)
5. Skinflight (2:34)
6. Time Traveller (8:32)
7. She's a Temple (11:53)
8. Supernova 1604 (16:46)
9. Zenobian Dance (Bonus Track for 2LP-Version) (5:21)
Review by aapatsos — A classic and often hailed as BJH's best work to date, "Once Again" was remastered in 2002 and this
is the version that caught my attention as I looked to familiarise myself with them.
Originally released in 1971, it is no surprise that this album is covered by a general veil of
psychedelia, even if this expressed through the softest of approaches, quite often pop. The closest
act that comes to mind is certainly The Moody Blues, where this album shares the "nostalgic" late
60's feeling to the nth degree.
Eight compositions and another five (although three are simply different takes/versions) comprise
this release, the majority based on very slow tempos - actually many of them can be simply described
as sophisticated pop-rock (and possibly proto-prog) ballads. The one element that stands out is
Holroyd's work on the bass lines, easily the proggiest aspect of "Once Again", that otherwise does
not show any sign of outright innovation. The orchestral work of Robert Godfrey on 'Galadriel' and
'Mocking Bird' is certainly worth of mention, giving these two tracks a more pompous, grandiose
atmosphere with beautiful arrangements. If it wasn't for the latter I pretty much doubt that they
would be remembered and hailed as fan favourites.
'She Said' is possibly the best number here (with the best guitar work), with 'Happy Old World'
being possibly the weakest. Although the vocal melodies are pleasant, I get the impression that the
tracks tend to drag much longer than they should have, and the experimentation/diversity is not
there to sustain the duration, often leading to repetition towards the end.
All and all, a good album with its own character but not in my top list of the early 70's;
nevertheless, this psych/blues feeling of nostalgia I get from "Once Again" will make me spin this a
few more times in the future.
[Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo · 2013]
1. Arábiga Rabiosa (3:57)
2. El Diablo (5:05)
3. La Aldea (2:53)
4. El Lamento Del Tigre (4:12)
5. Viaje A Urantia (5:52)
Total Time 21:59
[Studio Album · 2013]
3 .New way
4 .No Attention
5 - Running
6 .Low Feather
7 .I Am
Review by psarros — In 1992 singer Denis Carnevali parted ways with Eclat de vers and the same year the group came in touch with Musea for the release of the second album.Their name was now reduced to simply Eclat and the vocals were now handled by the band's leader Alain Chiarazzo.The new album was entitled ''Volume 2''.
The significant changes in the line-up and name of the group had nothing to do with the Eclat's style, which remained a passionate and dynamic Neo Prog with symphonic references.The stunning opener ''Le chemin vers les nornes'' gives a good idea of their style: Well-crafted Progressive Rock with excellent guitar moves and breaks, nice synthesizers, theatrical vocals and Classical inspirations in a couple of keyboard themes.The rest of the album contains shorter tracks with a bit more reduced keyboard interludes and more dynamic guitar plays, the instrumental textures are increased, but the inspiration is still there to offer some very nice tracks.The overall style is very close to the approach of compatriots ELIXIR.The guitar work of Chiarazzo is definitely the driving force with some fine lead parts and solos, while the keyboard passages offer delicate background themes and even some fronted solos, although their sound at moments is too plastic.But the more important profit for the group is surely Chiarazzo's great vocals, which are simply delightful with a light theatrical color in a typical French style of singing.
Another winner for this French band, great and recommended item for any fan fond of 90's Prog's resurrection.As the running time of the first two Eclat/Eclat de vers albums is less than 80 minutes, a nice package with both releases was released a few years later in a nice move by the group.
Review by psarros — I Santoni came from Florence, Italy, originally formed in 1967 as a quartet with Bruno Mosti on keyboards/vocals, Franco Bettazzi on sax/flute, Wilson Lupi on drums and Marco Puggelli on bass.Lupi was soon replaced by Fabrizio Prussi and another addition followed, Giorgio Gorini on sax/flute.By the time of their first single in 1971 Puggelli had left his place to Giovanni Rondelli and the next year the only album of the group ''Noi: I Santoni'' came out on Car Juke Box label.
While not actually a prog album, ''Noi: I Santoni'' shows the clear tendency of this obscure band towards elaborate and artistic compositions, despite they are all delivered in very short forms.The sound of the group is led by the constant use of Hammond organ and the discreet presence of flutes and saxes.The work is characterized by a strong melodic content, somewhat close to the more accesible tracks of BLOCCO MENTALE, DELIRIUM and DALTON with a vintage-styled organ leading the way, while guitars are used carefully.Some light interplays with flute, sax and piano in evidence can also be detected.But the overall result is in fact an album full of song-structured pieces, having some minor yet delicate instrumental themes with a slight Proto-Prog color.The vocals of Mosti are certainly good, a typical Italian voice with an instant expression, and the vocal harmonies belong among the highlights of the album.
The sole release of I Santoni was not particularly succesful, still it was good enough to give the band the opportunity to tour Italy and even play abroad.Sadly they disbanded a couple of years after the release of the album.
This is some Italian Art Rock, not at its best but definitely at a very decent deegree.Melodic, emotional and sophisticated with 60's psych and proggy touches all the way.Recommended for fans of the easier side of Prog music.
Review by psarros — Marc Ceccotti is mostly known as the leader of Edhels.Born in Monaco, he started his career actually in early-70's with the group Legende, where he met future Edhels' bandmates Jean-Louis Suzzoni and Noel Damon.Legende split up in 1976 and his next stop was the short-lived act Royal Flush in the beginning of the 80's, followed by the formation of Edhels in 1981.During his main band's hiatus in early-90's Ceccotti found time to write and release his debut solo album ''M.A.S.C.'' on Mellow Recorrds with the help of Mauro Moroni and Ciro Perrino in the production section.Future Edhels' keyboardist Jean-Marc Bastianelli appears in a few tracks along with Mike Sabre, playing electric mandolin in another one.
This first solo work by Ceccotti is somewhat different compared to his offerings with EDHELS, although some resemblances, especially in his guitar work, are more than evident.Following the abscence of a back up group of musicians, Ceccotti relies heavily on the work of his guitar talent and synthesizers, thus ''M.A.S.C.'' can be fairly considered as a Guitar/Electronic Rock album as a whole.However his obvious talent cannot save alone this work from bland mediocrity.Basically ''M.A.S.C.'' could have been a nice Electronic/Fusion album if it wasn't of all these programmed sound parts making it completely unnatural and cold mechanic.The electronic drums are just awful and inhuman with not even the slightest sense of the physical presence of a fake man behind the kit, the electronic loops and synthesizers sound very plastic and thin like coming from the cheapest equipment on earth, while some sampled instruments like the sporadic flutes sound completely fake, moreover these factors are strengthened by the length of the album (a full hour).Under these circumstances the album cannot pass the thin line between a good and a mediocre release.Pitty, because some of Ceccotti's ideas are interesting, even if the music flirts with New Age at moments.The amalgam between some good guitar moves and solos and the constant presence of synths and pianos result a few nice ideas with both a jazzy and Electronic edge, but things go in fact even beyond these simplistic references, as one can find also elements from KING CRIMSON-esque complex Prog, Avant Garde and Classical Music in this effort.However the lack of natural instruments holds the whole thing down and makes it more of an average home production than a professional recording.
For fans of Edhels and anyone familiar with Ceccotti's work with them, ''M.A.S.C.'' will propably hold some interest.For the rest I would only recommend this album to fans of more experimental forms of music with a strong Electronic edge.
Review by psarros — UK band Mermaid Kiss emerged in early-00's in Kington out of the collaboration between female singer/flutist Evelyn Downing and guitarist Jamie Field, when the two begun writing songs for their own amusement.All these until they entered Andrew Garman's (bass, keyboards, drums) The Goat Shed Studio to record a couple of soundtracks for local projects.The collaboration with Garman was so entertaining the three musicians decided to work together unter the Mermaid Kiss name.This would led to the first independent production of the group in 2003, ''The Mermaid Kiss album''.
In fact Mermaid Kiss are like no other band you've met in the Progressive Rock field and basically ''The Mermaid Kiss album'' is an Art Pop album with minor prog sensibilities.The songs are strongly based on the beautiful and ethereal vocals of Downing and the rather minimilastic background instrumental music, which stylistically differs from track to track.However there is a light Neo Prog atmosphere throughout the release, much in the vein of TRACY HITCHINGS or KARNATAKA, but the major influence here seems to be KATE BUSH and here intense, lyrical style.The short pieces on this album have a very deep atmosphere with a strong emotional and melodic content.Guitars and bass are used sporadically and most of the music is driven by soaring synths and light piano passages along with the (rather programmed) drums.Very mellow and relaxing stuff indeed, but the incredible vocals of Downing are a unique experience alone.Additionally most of these pieces have a slightly orchestral mood and a ballad-esque atmosphere, but more in an artistic way, very far from syrupy and dull approaches.
For the die-hard Classic Prog fan, who starves for some technical performances, ''The Mermaid Kiss Album'' is propably not a great choice.However, if your heart still beats for some emotional, sensitive and rewarding Art Pop/Rock, this album is definitely a winner.Recommended.
Review by kev rowland — There may have been a slight line-up change since 2011's 'Epoch' with drummer Theutus
having been replaced by Derwydd (the trio are completed by The Watcher vocals/guitar and
Grungyn bass/vocals) but this is very much a continuation of where they were before as
opposed to a new direction. Like many others I was incredibly impressed by 'Epoch' which
brought in a desolation and bleakness not normally heard outside of Norway, and here the
guys are back again with Black Metal that is being taken to a whole new level. Remember,
these guys are from the fens in England not an isolated fjord yet they manage to bring in a real
sense of loss and despair.
This is the first release of a new three album deal with Code666 and I bet the label are well-
pleased with his outing. From atmospheric gentle keyboards and riffs to something far more
hellish this really is an album that shows that British BM can be just as unforgiving and dynamic
as that from the European mainland. The more one listens to this the more there is to hear, with
a simple complexity that is going to gain this band a lot of praise. Evil comes to those who wait
and there is a foreboding and presence in this music that contains plenty of that.
[Live Album · 2013]
1. One-Armed Bandit (15:24)
2. Kitty Wu (6:24)
3. Prungen (7:16)
4. For All You Happy People (6:33)
5. Toccata (8:31)
6. Bananfluer Overalt (10:57)
7. Music! Dance! Drama! (6:25)
8. Oslo Skyline (6:12)
Total time 67:42
Review by Second Life Syndrome — *I originally wrote this for powerofmetal.dk*
Hexvessel. The name implies much, and I have to admit that they deliver pretty much what I
expected. This Finnish band plays what they call "psychedelic neo-folk" or "psychedelic forest
folk". Either way, it is meant to be straight-up weird. This certainly is the case.
Yet, I cannot help but like their new EP, "Iron Marsh". As a companion piece to their latest
album, "No Holier Temple", it definitely has a sort of addicting quality to it. I'll be honest: I heard
it once, and I disliked it. I heard it twice, and I was somewhat impressed. I heard it again, and I
was singing along with the choruses. "Iron Marsh" has a way of doing this to you.
As a fairly short EP, "Iron Marsh" just works. The creepy atmospheres are combined with
jingles and jangles, tribal beats, and melancholy soundscapes. Sure, they break into a 70s-
style rock beat sometimes, but this band usually stays in their own little world. The vox are quite
good, and feature both male and female vocalists. I must say, though, that I prefer the female
vocalist that is prevalent throughout the last half of the EP. Either way, they both have good
voices and harmonize beautifully.
Hexvessel is really weird. Their lyrical content is downright depressing and creepy, but the
music grows on you and gets a kind of nostalgic quality to it. I think my favorite song is "Women
of Salem", and I'll let you guess what the topic is. Weird lyrics aside, this band is definitely
enjoyable. Strange. .
[Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo · 2013]
01. Masks of the Universe (12:55)
02. Superstitious Currents (3:14)
03. Tunnel at the End of the Light (5:37)
04. Women of Salem (5:04)
05. Don't Break the Curse (7:08)
Total Time: 33:54