Review by kev rowland — When I went over onto their Bandcamp site to see how they described their music themselves, I
see that Danish group Afenginn call themselves 'world', 'ambient', 'contemporary', 'classical',
'folk' and 'Nordic' while PA list them as RIO/avant-prog. I actually think that there is a great deal
of jazz in what they are doing and if I had to force them into a musical pigeonhole that is where I
would put them. But, as you can see there is a lot going on and they don't really fit anywhere.
The band themselves comprise Rasmus Kr'yer (clarinet, bass clarinet, contra bass clarinet),
Niels Skovmand (violin), Kim Rafael Nyberg (mandolin), Erik Olevik (contrabass) and Rune
Kofoed (drums, percussion) while they also have guests in Bent Clausen (marimba, vibraphone,
waterphone, percussion), Mads Hyhne (trombone) and Nikolaj Busk who provides grand piano
on 'Autumnus Elegia'. Kim Rafael Nyberg composed all of the music, which to my ears is
somewhat strange as the mandolin rarely takes centre stage. I am also a little surprised that Bent
is just a guest, as his marimba playing is key to the overall sound.
In many ways these guys come across as a highly orchestrated jazz group, with everyone
knowing their part and playing it to the full. It is an album that is incredibly hard to describe as in
many ways it is quite different to anything I have heard before, although Robin Taylor and
possibly Frank Zappa did come to mind as potential influences (and give that Robin is also
Danish and has been prolific over quite a long period I would think that this could be quite
possible). Certainly, if you enjoy the more structured Robin Taylor's Universe then this could well
be for you. This is something that one should definitely hear before listening, but luckily it is
possible to do just that at their bandcamp site, so why not visit
afenginn.bandcamp.com/album/lux and see if this is for you. I found it polished and intriguing and
am certainly pleased that it came my way.
Review by aapatsos — I am so glad to see Magnum going on in the year 2014, almost 40 years since their inception. Having
moved to the SPV label for over a decade now, Magnum seem like they can go on forever producing new
albums and touring. In fact, three members of the band that produced the legendary 80's albums are still here - Tony Clarkin, Bob Catley and Mark Stanway. "Escape From The Shadow Garden" is their 17th
studio offering and comes with stunning artwork, yet again designed by Rodney Matthews.
Musically, there is not much that the Magnum fan would not expect: melodic AOR, pompous at times
with a number of ballad-like moments. The sound is pristine, the production flawless, Catley's
vocals and Clarkin's riffs seem they can survive in time. Having stopped tracking the style of the
band since the mid-80's albums, I was not surprised not to find anything remotely related to prog
rock - these days have long gone; in fact, probably as back as in 1983.
The opening solid rockers 'Live 'Til You Die' (Saxon's 747 anyone?) and 'Unwritten Sacrifice'
(probably the best song of the album) raise the stakes and leave promises for a strong follow-up.
Though the next 2-3 tracks remain in the hard rocking AOR vein - the mid-tempo 'Crying in the Rain'
and the rock 'n roll 'Too Many Clowns' - the album sadly gradually declines to cliche melodies and
from halfway on to exceptionally high levels of unneeded balladry. 'Burning River' somehow saves the
day, introducing the 80's AOR sound of the band in a solid hard rocking tempo and a signature
refrain melody by Catley.
Overall, this album will probably not disappoint the fans and can be listened through fairly
pleasantly, with the exception of the uninteresting mellower numbers. If you enjoy melodic AOR, then
you might find some interesting moments; otherwise, make sure you escape the Shadow Garden. Still,
it's got its moments but probably not worth more than 2.5 stars when looked as a whole.
Best moments (in which Stanway also shows his quality): Live 'Til You Die, Unwritten Sacrifice,
Review by Judas Unrepentant — Se here we have Rodrigo San Martín's fourth album in four years. What first drew me to this album
was the weirdness of the concept, something about the cloning of Jesus that I still can't figure out.
Rodrigo's compositional skills are growing and he's surrounded himself with an all-star team to
record this one.
01 A Lullaby for Mankind I (Intro): just like the title implies it's an instrumental intro to the
album, featuring many of the motifs that would appear later. The Hammond Organ solo steals the show
in my opinion!
02 A Lullaby for Mankind II: now the music goes into a -kind of- pop terrain, featuring the singing
of Jelena Perisic who sounds like a mother singing to her child to get him to sleep over some
acoustic guitar. The composition reminds me of Neal Morse.
03 The Sky Falls Down I: Osvaldo Mellace, a great male singer, makes his appearance for this one
bringing a lot more energy. If I have to compare it with something I would name the heavy section in
5/8 on Thick as a Brick. Great guitar work!
04 The Masterplan: here we have some lovely melodies sung by Osvaldo over a guitar arpeggio. The
melodic bass lines from Robert Lynch are fantastic. The second part of the track is a crescendo with
beautiful harmonies from the two singers that leads to...
05 Intermission I: something completely unexpected. A jazzy instrumental piece with an amazing piano
solo, this one is nice but feels quite out of place actually.
06 The Dark Ages: this is a heavy piece more familiar with what we have been hearing from Rodrigo on
past albums. The best part is the "hindu" cut where Jelena sings with a sitar, in the middle of
heavy riffing, that was unexpected. Fernando Refay shows some amazing skills with a very long synth
solo at the end of the track.
07 Colonization: and we continue with the surprises. Here we have a flamenco tune sung mostly in
spanish. Great spanish guitar work from Rodrigo and Piano from Fernando. Osvaldo proves he's an
amazing singer once more.
08 Intermission II: nothing like the first Intermission, this one is used to bring the energy back
to the mix. Featuring Hammond and guitar solos over a cool riff.
09 A Lullaby for Mankind III: Jelena comes back with the motif from A Lullaby for Mankind II that
leads straight into the repetition of the crescendo that appeared on The Masterplan, this time with
acoustic guitar and what I guess it's a xylophone that sounds lovely. They don't interfere with the
build up this time and resolve it in an amazing guitar solo that kind of reminds me of the ending of
Con Los Ojos Abiertos (from Rodrigo's Eyes album)
10 Two Children are Born: here we have a piano riff quite resemblant to Tubular Bells playing over
some Pink Floyd-like sound effects. The rest of the band appears briefly to shock you everytime you
feel comfortable enough to relax, be warned!
11 He's Here: Osvaldo and Jelena sing over a clean guitar riff that remids me of Transatlantic's
Evermore. The lyrics start to get weirder here, the chorus (sung by the two of them) being "We have
cloned our lord, he's here!".
12 No One Knew: every single song in here is quite a surprise but I never thought I'd hear something
like this on a Rodrigo San Martín album. The verse is a (kind of)funky bass line over a drum loop
and the chorus features an orchestra, there's quite a contrast between the two. Maybe it owes
something to Blackfield?
13 Mass: things are getting weirder by the minute. This one is a gregorian chant piece in latin,
sung very operatically by Canela Sol. After the vocal section there is a reprise of the Colonization
verse, this time played by a very Wakeman-like moog over a church organ.
14 The Sky Falls Down II: a reprise of the track of the same name, this time sung by Jelena instead
of Osvaldo. Cool heavy guitar solo and, another jazzy section with a great solo by Refay.
15 For Everyone to See: this is an odd little waltz. The music seems very naive but the lyrics are
quite crude actually.
16 We Will Drown in a Sea of Ignorance Until We Evolve Into Something That Can Turn It To Oxygen I:
great hammond riffing reminds us of the late Jon Lord.
17 We Will Drown in a Sea of Ignorance Until We Evolve Into Something That Can Turn It To Oxygen II:
and here comes the Crimson King, at first at least. This track is a duel between Refay's keyboards
and San Martín's guitar, playing over a the great rhythm section of Lynch- Black.
18 Coda: a very melancholic guitar solo playing over the piano theme from "Two Chlidren are Born"
close the album as it fades out.
I rate the album four stars because of it's constant surprised to the listener and amazing
musicianship. It's free on Rodrigo's bandcamp so give it a try!
Review by Windhawk — US trio THE MEDICINE CABINET is a new addition to the progressive rock universe. This Ohio based
threesome consists of Ryan Friebertshauser, Nathan Kunst and Tyler Sellers, and released their debut
album "And the Frenchman Rolls Up His Sleeves..." in 2013.
This is a band and an album I guess many will have an interesting time in terms of categorizing
them. They don't really subscribe to any of the more popular brands of progressive rock out there,
and while thy do have an overall sound with a certain lo-fi quality to it I suspect this is more
about recordings that hasn't been the subject of tons of studio magic, as well as a certain desire
to produce a vintage oriented sound in general.
Gentle guitar textures is a key element throughout. Gently resonating licks with psychedelic
qualities, smoothly shifting to a somewhat more jazz-oriented expression with a slight funky
presence as the most solid of those. On the other extreme we're also treated to an occasional
light-toned textured presence that resides somewhere on the border between psychedelic rock and post
rock. There's even some slight touches at times that may invite to associations towards the like of
Robert Fripp. Supplementing the guitar we have careful and delicate bass and drums, frequently with
a frail jazz-tinged quality to them, but also providing harder hitting patterns of a more regular
variety. With alternating spoken and sung vocals, both of them with subtly odd delivery more often
than not, only occasionally delivered in a more intense manner.
These details are assembled in compositions that by and large can be described as multiple themed,
or perhaps consisting of multiple movements. Smooth transitions and developments is a key feature in
this context, in particular how the band wanders between a more psychedelic and a more jazzrock
oriented expression, while rarely if ever exploring any of these in a purebred manner. Opening cut
Intro and the aptly named Interlude are the main exceptions, these compositions showcasing that this
is a band that does know a bit about ambient-tinged, cosmic electronic music as well. Which is a
nice contrast to their somewhat more challenging escapades.
Personally I can't really pull any crystal clear associations out of the hat for this band, but have
seen others make comparisons towards the likes of Peter Hammill. If that one is a good one I can't
really tell, but if fairly mellow but challenging music with a 1970's atmosphere to it that operates
in territories that invites associations to jazzrock and psychedelic rock both sounds enticing, then
this is a band and an album that merits an inspection.
Review by aapatsos — In "Wanted" RPWL borrow a Greek-antiquity concept of the "gift of absolute freedom" and create a new
philosophy on how this might apply to the modern world and especially in the context of how
organised religion and being religious (in the modern sense) may hinder the individual from reaching
this state of "freedom"; regardless of whether Plato had that in mind when talking about
Hippocrates' methods or not, RPWL, "Wanted" by the world religion churches, go on a conceptual
journey (or mission) in this album (and finally succeed) to free the world from the "blindness" and
"intolerance" of religion.
"The RPWL Experience" was my first with the band, from which I remember the music hovering about a
more toned-down Porcupine Tree approach, having little to do with Neo-Prog as such. Almost the same
could be said musically about this release: the album's sound is closer to what we would call
"Crossover Prog", with a strong resemblance to late 70's/80's Pink Floyd and especially the warm
tone of David Gilmour on vocals and guitars (especially on the middle section, see 'Hide And Seek',
'Disbelief', 'Misguided Thought'). When the band decide to add some distortion, they do so by mixing
a heavy-blues sound with Porcupine Tree ('Disbelief', 'The Attack') that certainly adds points in
terms of variety. Disappointingly, there is a large amount of mainstream pop-prog ('Swords and
Guns', 'Wanted', 'Perfect Day'), which certainly curtails the efforts for originality and
innovation, revealing the "Achilles' heel" of this release.
The Hogarth-era Marillion-balladry style of numbers such as 'A New Dawn' left me initially with a
general feeling of disappointment about "Wanted", but on subsequent spins the musicianship got me
convinced of its credentials, with the instrumental interesting opener 'Revelation' and the dark-ish
'Hide and Seek' and 'The Attack' standing a bit above the others. The keyboard passages, when
apparent, certainly give a note of innovation and variety and would certainly have liked to have
more of it in this album.
A good, solid release from RPWL, but not as exciting as it promises to be, "Wanted" would appeal to
fans of "lite", melodic prog.
Review by SouthSideoftheSky — Pilgrim's progress
Recorded in 1975 but not released until 2013, this archival release features Greenslade performing live in
Stockholm, Sweden. At the time of this concert performance, the band were touring in support of the
album Time And Tide which had been released the same year, and four tracks from that 1975 album are
featured here in Newsworth, The Flattery Stakes, Waltz For A Fallen Idol, and The Ass's Ears. From
1974's Spyglass Guest comes Joie de Vivre and the excellent Spirit Of The Dance both of which also
appeared on Live 1973-75 (an archival live release from 2000). Bedside Manners Are Extra is represented
by three tracks including the title track, which was also on Live 1973-75, and Pilgrim's Progress and Drum
Folk, which were not on Live 1973-75. The band's self-titled debut album is not represented at all on Live In
The sound quality is not perfect, but also not too shabby. The art work by the great Roger Dean is very
nice and I would guess it is something that they dug up in the archives. It is a similar style to the early
Greenslade covers, though it features a long-legged lady instead of the trademark many-armed man.
If you liked Live 1973-75 then Live In Stockholm will constitute a good companion piece for your collection.
But essential it is not unless you are a Greenslade fan and collector.
Review by ProgShine — To be honest I wasn't expecting anything good from Big Red Dragon (2013), latest Sophya
I knew here from her bands Presence, especially from their latest album Evil Rose (2008) and
that album wasn't that great so I was expecting something simillar to that. I lost Sophya's first
solo album Arad́a (2009) so I really didn't know what to expect.
Big Red Dragon (2013), released by Black Widow Records last year, is based on William
Blake's paintings. Each song represent an image very beautifully represented in the booklet of
The sound on Big Red Dragon (2013) still has a bit og the Gothic influence of her previous
band, but this is just a small percent, in its majority the album is Symphonic and full of great
Not just that, the album is filled with guests including Christian Decamps (Ange) Sonja
Kristina (Curved Air) Elisa Montaldo (Il Tempio Delle Clessidre) Steve Sylvester (Death SS),
Lino Vairetti and Irwin Vairetti (Osanna), Enrico Iglio (her old mate in Presence) and Roberto
Tiranti (Mangala Vallis). This make the album has a certain epic feeling.
This is a great album, especially for people who like some Opera kinda of Symphonic prog.
Review by Matti — I recently got this CD, having never heard of the Italian group before. But the music is naturally very
familiar: they have adapted CAMEL's most succesful album and added an Italian language narrative
(translated from Paul Gallico's novella from 1941) into it. Fabio Fantin who seems to be relatively
young man acts as both the narrator and Rhayader, and occasionally there are dialogues. Fantin is
quite a sugary and empathetic narrator, giving it a bit childish feel.
One should have some basic understanding of Italian, so that one could take it as a language course
simultaneously, otherwise it gets quite frustrating to have these long narrative sequences on almost
each track, boosting the total length to over 69 minutes. But frankly I don't think I'd enjoy English-
language narration much better. Maybe even less, since Italian is such a beautiful language actually.
But it can't be helped: that goddamn narration always spoils the musical enjoyment to some degree; I
have never really enjoyed e.g. Rick Wakeman's or Jeff Wayne's works with narration either.
Musically speaking, this version is very fresh, airy and clean, giving a big role to the guesting player
Anna Angelone's flute. I can't tell if I would enjoy it (imagining of course that the narration wasn't
there!) more than the original Camel album - by the way, I haven't yet heard their remake version -,
instead it makes me think how excellent the work itself is, how fine melodies and atmospheres. Also it
makes me think that if I was a musician the Snow Goose album would be a pleasure to perform.
Music is absolutely great, and whatever differences there are to the original (others than the inevitable
extensions to back up the narration) they mostly just increase the freshness. But I can't rate this more
than three stars... A pity. But if the very idea of having The Snow Goose with Italian narration sounds
good to you, this is surely worth having.
Review by Kati — If anyone would have told me before that I would love a sea shanty inspired folk prog album, I
probably would have told them that they must have been smoking their socks. With that said, this
album has indeed emotionally grabbed me.
Oceans 5 Return to Mingulay
The Mingulay Boat Song - a famous Scottish a sea shanty which is almost 100 years old, this
band managed to dismantle the whole song and turned into an epic prog folk song, beautiful and
touching. If I best could describe it in short, I would say as Amazing Grace turned Prog with
crescendos reminiscent of Floyd Welcome to the Machine however in a more romantic weird kind
of version. I personally love the lead and response between the vocals and guitar, the guitars
emphasise the vocals even more. This song lifts you up and carries you away. The guitars even
sound like bagpipes at the beginning (right at the start) of the song.
Whitby Smugglers Song
I hear Popeye tune here hahaha this is such a likable track, I cannot stop bouncing, I would call
this a trigger happy track, drums going tum te ti tum tack almost constantly while guitar whistles
away and the vocalists singing along while my head keeps bouncing from side to side, highlights
here are the guitar and drum solos and bass guitar every now and then having his say. Again the
Vocals and Guitar play lead and respond while the drums make you bounce happily.
Ah this is more a upbeat rock track, so many guitar layers inc. whistling like sounds, with the
distinctive feel as above vocals and guitar do play lead and response however here the guitar in
contrast to the rest plays quite sensitive tunes added with rhythmic spot on farting notes. An upbeat
song with clever guitar tapping, whistling and levels that seem to lift you up and continuing to lift
you a little further up and even more up.
Invictus Captain of My Soul
This is such great rhythmic song. This reminds me very much of Johnny Clegg and also of Paul
Simon with Graceland album.
I really enjoy the constant drum clicking/galloping sound and again the guitar stands out here.
Sails of the Bay
Ah the acoustic guitar is brought out here added to the electric guitar, it feels a cross between Bon
Jovi ' Blaze of Glory with added naughty Al DiMeola guitar tapping. And it builds up into a most
stunning crescendo that keeps going up a level and another plus yet another one.
Dancing with the Rhythm of the Shores
Hahaha this is a happy track! The start somehow reminded me of Come on Eileen by Dexy's
6000 Friends starts with great guitars whistling and when vocals start both vocals and guitar play
lead and response, I love the pauses here. I tend to focus more on instrumentals than lyrics,
however this song is quite simplified and I personally can relate to the lyrics about having so many
friends on social network yet at home feeling alone.
Lorelei McBroom vocals (from Pink Floyd and Great Gig in the Sky performance) seals this song.
This is one of my ultimate favourite songs of the album. I will not go into more details as I too have
had enough of my briefing and opinion. Stunning, great build up (crescendo) I would describe it
with having the most sensitive touches and great build ups..
Anyway, I sincerely think this album as diverse it may seem, it certainly is deserving of 5 stars, I
cannot fault this, I have enjoyed replaying it constantly yet nothing makes me feel bored nor
annoyed, quite the contrary, I listen to every single note on this album and each time love it more,
giving me the most wonderful feeling listening to this bouncy, dreamy bedlam prog while some
none prog yet this mix is the best of all, makes me feel so happy, really warm happy bubbly feeling
from within. This album also seems to be a big favourite among my party guests, prog and none
Many thanks and friendly regards,
Review by admireArt — Univers Zero and beyond....
Univers Zero's, 2014, " Phosphorescent Dreams", makes it quiet clear, from start to finish, how well this band has aged for good. This release will even challenge the band's close followers, by striking some brushes of a somewhat, not very Univers Zero's commonly known musical language. But as all true owners of an own musical idiom, this "new" approaches never, not even by chance, lose their "trademark" dark intentions.
So, to cut things short, expect a very strange and hypnotic tour, through a bombastic deep bitter-sweet obscure beauty. Tainted with "free-Jazz", some "happy melodic lines" here and there, splashes of very "heavy" electrics and subtle solos, "medieval-like intros and passages", a couple of piano based songs, marvelous instrumental arrangements and intelligent compositions full of extraordinary and daring ideas. All matched up with highly inspired performances by each member of this re-modeled version of the, somewhat movable, musicians involved under this band/name, to bring everything into perfection.
I myself, have been listening to it intensely for the past weeks and it only gets better, and more difficult to turn down, each time I play it. I know myself, and what really turns me on. This Univers Zero, 2014 realease, is one of those things. And of course a very good recommendation for ANY prog-audiophile.
Easy, *****5 PA stars. No less! Enjoy!