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HIROMI UEHARA Alive (The Trio Project featuring Anthony Jackson and…

Review by DrömmarenAdrian — I am travelling through the world of music. Every day there are new pieces that I achieve and try
to understand. Quite recently did I begin to investigate new produced record and still active
artist, when I before just listened to old bands.

Hiromi Uehara is a japanese jazz musician who has made a lot of praised music since a
young age and now 2014 she and bassist Anthony Jackson and the drummer Simon Philips
made "Alive" which is Hiromi's ninth studio record. Before me five others have rated the record
and given it as many stars as posible.

The record contains nine tracks and everyone is long lasting so the listening time is 75
minutes of music. The music is varied and uses a lot of thoughts that evolves into interesting
pieces. The best song in my opinion, in "Warrior" which is both very jazzy and very rocky and
gives of glimpses of other progressive rock(9/10). Also "Alive" and "Wanderer" do I like with a
lot of craziness and love for melodic streams(8/10). The other songs have parts that I like but I
have hard to realy understand them.

Well, I am quite new to jazz rock I don't think I am a good judge to say this record är related to
other records in the same genre. I can just judge from my own experience and then I most say
taht I liked a lot here,a nd I liked the spirit and craziness here and there. Though are my
experiences still too vague and the music perhaps too jazzy. I credit the record and suppose
that others will like it even more. Three stars!

LOGOS L' enigma della vita (Rock Progressivo Italiano, 2014)

Review by Tarcisio Moura — First class symphonic prog rock from Italy. I was asked to provide a review for this CD and I was
quite pleased with what I heard. I really didn´t know about them and it seems that their first two
albums they had at the beginning of the new millennium saw just limited release for I had not heard
of any in all my years around here at the PA site. Anyway, L´enigma Della Vita was a very strong
work from a very good band. Clearly they are rooted in the tradition of those 70´s giants from and
out of Italy. And still they have enough modern influences in their music to not confound them with
another retro band.

As one has to expect, their musicianship is superb and the the state of art production also helps
their surprisingly strong songwriting skills. There is over 75 minutes of music, but none of the
tracks is of lower quality than the other. In fact, my only gripe with this CD is the fact that they
did not exactly mixed their several musical tendencies into a coherent whole. You know, a case of being too versatile for their own good maybe. You can hear just
about everything here: from melodic neo prog traits complete with Gilmour-like solos of Venivo da
un lungo sonno to a more avant guard instrumental loaded with frippertonic guitar (N.a.s.). From the
classical piano solo of Pioggia in campagna to the acoustic pastoral intro of Il rumore dell'aria.
And so it goes. After repeated spins I still get the feeling is that I´m listening to several good
bands playing on the same CD. However, this same feeling practically disappears on the vocal parts,
where Luca Zerman´s voice gives the group a more distinctive sound. Every time he opens his mouth
we are given the impression of hearing something unique. Familiar, but still unique..

Don´t get me wrong: L´enigma Della Vita is an excellent CD done by an excellent band. But it is also
clear they can go even further when they will balance all their influences into a more personal
style. With their brilliant technique, tasteful arrangements and songwriting capabilities I´m sure
it´s be only a matter of time before they will have their very own, trademark signature. I´m looking
forward to hear their next release.

Rating: four strong stars. If you like Italian prog rock, this is a must have. If you love modern
symphonic prog rock, you should at least give this CD a chance.

SPIRITS BURNING Healthy Music In Large Doses (with Clearlight) (…

Review by Rivertree — All right, I would say that SPIRITS BURNING are stretching the genre boundaries again with this
album. But hey, it's okay - on one hand here we have a distinctive orientation towards jazz,
symphonic and avant to state - however, overall synths and guitars are still representing a strong
spacey vibe. And so, regarding such a stylistical mix, this album comes as another really unusual
attempt. I could only name Bo Hansson, who - but only concerning some parts, to make it clear - had
to offer roughly the same in style and mood. CLEARLIGHT head Cyrille Verdeaux from France is deeply
involved in the production, makes a lasting expression due to his piano and organ input above all.

Again a bunch of musicians have made a contribution to the thirteen songs. Solely mastermind Don
Falcone appears on every track, understandingly enough, as he has assembled the puzzle in the end.
This time Daevid Allen plays a relatively minor role, being present on one song named Bring It
Down - lyrics and vocals are offered by himself, related to environment protection in general.
'If the hurricane don't shake ya, maybe the song can wake ya' - lyrically seen a clear message,
musically this makes it to a proper reggae tune anyhow.

SPIRITS BURNING are on a relaxed trip predominantly - the rock component takes a backseat in
general. Hence the first two songs appear in a rather jazzy lounge outfit, where Raised On Coal &
Oil is more suitable for background listening. Treasures At The Dawn Of The Century
strongly features electronic elements, although eqipped with a sawing electric guitar too. The
atmospheric ethno and chamber/symphonic flavoured Our Secret Cloud is the first to offer a
vocal presence then, a gripping implementation due to some different stages - excellent - the
album's peak I would say ...

... if not Infinite City works inspired in a quite similiar way, shows - partially distorted
- lyrics in French by Verdeaux, just another tricky exemplar which obviously appears jazz/fusion
laden. Hand Signals & Daily Horoscopes is the very best to remind me of the aforementioned Bo
Hansson, where The Road To Shave Ice otherwise mirrors something like an avant space
attitude. A variety of events is summed up, no wonder, considering that members of Thinking Plague,
The Muffins, Universal Totem Orchestra are also taking part here.

'Healthy Music In Large Dosis' - an aural panacea in other words - this means yet another song
collection where the listener has the opportunity to explore a lot which evolves off the beaten
path. Released on Gonzo Multimedia this is an album with an unpredictable flow and quite a few
compositions of high quality. Wind instruments are very present, just to note another prominent
trademark. I hear a challenging blend of different music styles and instruments, suitable for
moments of reflection basically ... and equipped with a lasting impression, if you decide to stay
tuned to it for a while.

SAGA Sagacity (Crossover Prog, 2014)

Review by 10string — (I've been a Saga fan since their 2nd LP , I was at their legendary gig in San Juan that appears in
the jacket of Worlds Apart- I have the original LPs of their first 6 releases and various CDs, even
Network on DVD Surround-GREAT MIX btw)

yes, Saga , reinvented themselves again...
Very strong material here and , although , extremely compressed, excellent production.
No, you won't find a lot of Saga's "trademark" gtr/synths 32 note harmonies here, but the lyrics are
very strong (funny, cynical...) Lyrically they have left heir "storytelling" phase quite a while ago
and now they are just "normal" lyrics.

Mind you, I have the LP version, 2 LP's at 45 RPM, which give it an incredible sound!
This is the FIRST NEW Saga LP I bought since..."In transit"..CDs are something else...
The first time I actually can HEAR the BASS clearly on a Saga LP.
Ian is VERY present on this mix and Jim is a great counterpoint, maybe on a not too distant 2nd place.

The LP is VERY nice, great photos, with lyrics on the jackets (except that they screwed up the
illustration on the 2nd Lp's jacket , it's upside down)-not a very CLEAN pressing but definitely
worth it...

I was also surprised that 20/20 got such a bad rep being another strong contender, but that's
another story.


MICHAEL BRÜCKNER Ombra - Revisited (Progressive Electronic, 2014)

Review by Aussie-Byrd-Brother — July 2014 sees ambient space composer Michael Brückner release a reworked version of an
earlier album `Ombra' from 2010, and those who like daring and experimental electronic works will
find this one an immersive, challenging yet rewarding hypnotic experience. Initial recordings began
as a request from a family friend of Brückner's wife to compose some incidental music to play
during a wedding ceremony. Soon the arrangements were moving beyond this original idea, and a
surge of inspiration resulted in this collection of lengthy dark drones, low-key slowly unfolding
sound collages, reflective synth-scapes and avant-garde experimentation that brings an extra layer
of depth to this always intelligent artist and his work.

`Threshhold' opens `Ombra - Revisited' like a thunderstorm, raging thick dark synths only revealing
the barest of hope, light and sanctuary. The cacophonous title track is a nightmarish sound collage -
lonely despairing cries, animalistic howls, scattered snatches of voices and dream-like glass
chimes rising up creating a very claustrophobic panic. `Holsoning' thankfully brings a welcome
respite, soothing sighs and placid synth waves caress the listener, droning treated trumpet softly
bringing a reflective tone. Like the season it's named for, `Winter's tip-toeing electric piano and
glassy synth brushes bring the cold, but the first use of percussive elements on the album with
gentle tabla and soft looped beats, not to mention a brief choral mellotron choir deliver approaching
warmth. A mix of hot and cold contrasting drone passages weave in and out of each-other
throughout the ever-evoloving `Excursion', and for `Distance - Part 1', waterdrops, deep bass
groans and booming cavernous programmed beats fight for dominance, with only lilting siren calls
offering reassurance from sensory overload.

It's not surprising to find a piece called `Turmoil' filled with dread, confusion and a suffocating dark
atmosphere. Like a more surreal, abstract and ambient reinvention of Pink Floyd's `A Saucerful of
Secrets' perhaps crossed with the black isolating madness of Tangerine Dream's `Zeit', ghostly
somber organ phases in and out, maddening imperial synths melt around the speakers, like worlds
being destroyed and reborn over and over. It perfectly transitions into the pristine white fog that
hovers with a stillness around the opening of `Garden', soft washes of synths lap at the listener as
a drum n' bass skittering beat slowly approaches and brings a slinky dark groove, yet never
becomes so loud and obnoxious as to steal all the attention. `Distance - part 2' is a simple low-key
drone interspersed with slightly piercing metallic slices, `A Quick Call' a little twinkling interlude, and
the surreal `Pastoral' a maddening collage, ominous humming keyboards groaning in the
background with only a touching synth cloud at the end to offer anything in line with the title.

`Jeopardy' keeps the pulse raised a little longer with chittering unearthly voices and firing falling
synth blasts, `Separation' is a momentary monolithic-like stony slab of isolation, with both of these
pieces maintaining a fascinating darker atmosphere. `Beneath A Shadow' has a stalking quality,
foot-step piano notes that feel like they're walking directly behind you and spectral choirs.
Eventually pattering soft looped beats and levitating lead synth brings a warmer enveloping quality
that helps the listener put more distance between the unnerving elements. The sparse `Tree and
Path' ends the album on an uplifting and victorious soothing keyboard pool that's like waves
forming around you, as if you're basking in the sand on the beach shore.

`Ombra - Revisited' is now available in two different limited versions, the standard CD of this new
work or a special edition that includes not only the bonus of the original album, but your own
special personalized disk entitled `Your Second Shadow' drawn from hours worth of electronic
music composed by the musician! Who knows what waits to be discovered this way?

Difficult but not impenetrable, with many repeated listens a must to fully grasp and appreciate, this
is the sort of work that seasoned electronic listeners will get the most out of, who will be able to
approach it and listen without being intimidated by the variety of styles and sounds on offer. More
experimental that his more easily melodic `Thirteen Rites of Passage', more demanding than the
hypnotic `Nauro', with moments of heart racing tension, mysterious fascination and impossible
beauty, `Ombra - Revisited' ' is one of Michael Brückner's most meditative, spiritual and varied
works yet.

Four stars.

SKEEM ...Just Suggesting (Neo-Prog, 2013)

Review by Aragon — After i listen the 1st album i was just curious about the 2nd one. Skeem released their 2nd effort
after 12 years, and they release 2 album. So it worth to wait so much? Sometimes yes but even no.
The debut album was a masterpiece to me, excellent composition catchy chorus, and intricate solos
between keys and guitar with a light fusion feelings. In this album they repeat the old formula of
the 1st album: long intro about 1 minute, usually driven by a guitar solo and after this one starts
the song usually is in a slow tempo, but what miss in this album is the energy from the 1st album,
the final solos between guitar and keys are still there but the emotions are fade away. So to
conclude 3 stars

YES Heaven and Earth (Symphonic Prog, 2014)

Review by tbstars1 — I will clearly have to marry AtomicCrimsonRush as soon as I have cleared the legal obstacles.
My opinion matches his/hers exactly. "Believe again", "Light of the Ages" and "Subway walls"
face to the left; the rest face resolutely to the right. To the left lies something akin to prog and
distant memories of a band called Yes; to the right lie Tales of Unadulterated Garbage. Three
out of eight is better than none out of eight but not nearly as good as eight out of eight. Time to
re-shuffle this pack - yes or no? My bags are packed. I await the call from ACR.

GLASS HAMMER Ode to Echo (Symphonic Prog, 2014)

Review by tbstars1 — Mmm...the consensus appears to be that this marks yet another step forward for Glass
Hammer, with a freshness and new-found accessibility that altogether forms a winning
combination. I just don't see this at all, I'm afraid. After the splendid heights attained by "If"
and "Perilous" (with "Cor Cordium" not far beneath them), this is a real let-down. After
persevering over many listens, I conclude that there is not a single track that stands
comparison with any of the true gems that have been delivered by the band in its many guises
over its 20 years' existence. Here we have just a succession of discordant, instantly-
forgettable tunes, with nothing very "tuneful" at all, as I see it , and with no particular melody or
discernible sense of structure - just an aimless succession of tracks travelling under the
generic "prog" label, where "prog" is measured solely by the yardsticks of musical cleverness
and intricacy. We've been down this route before, and we don't need to repeat history. I don't
doubt that what follows is near-sacriligious for the wider prog community to read, but anyone
who saw Gentle Giant in their prime, as I did, will know that, whilst they were absolutely
mesmerising in their versatility and artistry - and this, of course, could only be wildly
appreciated and applauded - their concerts were extremely difficult to "enjoy" because the
sheer complexity of the music was so distracting thta it became overwhelming.

The time is ripe for Glass Hammer to re-examine the way ahead. They have proved over many
years that they can do so much better than this. This is, IMO, by far their poorest offering to
date, worse even than either "Lex Rex" or "Culture of Ascent", which is really saying something.

VINTERSORG Naturbål (Tech/Extreme Prog Metal, 2014)

Review by lucas — 20 years ago, Black Metal was still confined to its established codes and any attempt to merge it with
other musical styles was rare because often not well perceived by its afficionados. Time passing, it
was noticed that this extreme form of music, by breaking its chains, was able to give birth to many
interesting things, and Vintersorg, with his last album entitled 'Naturbål', is a good example of this
opening to other musical genres. We are indeed invited to dive in an unexpected blend of pop in the
vein of Ultra Bra (Finnish band who used to craft catchy music with many prominent choruses), the
most extreme Black Metal (martial-like as the band Axis of Advance), and elements of folk (the lyrics
in swedish and instruments of traditional folk), Renaissance music and dynamics borrowed to
progressive rock. Magical orchestrations, very creative and ubiquitous drums, upbeat choruses, male
and female voices, blast beats with tortured "black"-oriented or more bestial "death"-oriented chant,
harpsichord and instruments of a bygone age, we attend a festival of cathartic sounds within a music
full of enthusiasm.
The transition between upbeat and gloomy sections, or even their amalgamation, is astonishingly
mastered, both worlds overlapping perfectly in a bazaar of ideas in all kinds. This was made possible
not only thanks to a strong knowledge of the ranges, with vocals as convincing when they are "bestial"
as when they are clean, but also thanks to unparalleled sense of tempo and musicality. One can only
greet with respect so many passion spread all along the album by the artist (Vintersorg is driving
almost alone his whirling merry-go-round) to share his love of musical universes that may seem
unrelated to one another at first sight.
The music, both dynamic and full of contrasts, could be compared to a journey full of hazards, like
Orpheus in greek mythology facing sirens' chant with his enchanting voice and his lyre or leaving the
world of the living to brave Hades and bring back Eurydice to his world. Fantastic landscapes alternate
indeed with Hades fires in our mind. In a nutshell, a wonderful work by an artist who never ceases to
delight our ears.

HENRY FOOL Men Singing (Crossover Prog, 2013)

Review by admireArt — Far less modest than the previous 12 years ago, first release!

This album "Men Singing" by HENRY FOOL, their second release, has all kind of ratings, with their respective reviews, bashing it or loving it. So, it all comes down to what kind of MUSIC you like in this Prog universe.

To measure it up to expectations, is kind of selling it unwisely. Therefore just to point out where this big "All Star Band" (with guest stars included!) heads on music wise, I will point out some referentials.

For starters no vocalist! (no Tim Bowness' singing, he just plays guitar). The sound flows between Post/Math Rock and (Post?) Space/Psychedelia. It is tainted all the way with very colorful electronics. The structures (songs) are creative and dynamic. The added touches of a Mel Collins (no, he is not on this one!) kind of like wind player, sets it sometimes close to modern Prog/Jazz/Rock moments, therefore also near the King's territories. But the effectiveness of the song writing never stays too much in one single place or style, thereby it is no big deal!

The electric guitar is also the great thrill on this album, it is the setting tone to the four songs. It ranges from wild fuzz distortion to creative and "sparkling" electric arpeggios! The synths cover the whole environments with I repeat, highly ctreative electronics and symphonic strings (simmultaneously sometimes), therefore it is also matches with the Symphonic prog tagging.

Its highlights have to do more with music composition, than with "arena" band strategies of grandeure, although it does not lack that kind of intensity ("My Favourite Zombie Dream", track 3, is a good example of this).

It all comes to what kind of Prog music you like!

I myself, having no complaints (besides the Mel Collins sound alike), have had a really delightful time listening to it. It is so well written and diverse, that it never stops showing some new colors in each playing! And I will surely repeat the experience again. In addition it is completely "instrumental" which always adds up points in my account!

****4 "creative, colorful, hypnotic, unpretentious" PA stars.