Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Outlines (The Chant, 2012)

The Chant are a Finnish band born during the 1990s, but their debut album was only released in 2008. This track, "Outlines", features some of their best qualities: it begins like many other post-rock compositions, then it unfolds a succession of diversified and fascinating atmospheres. Being a 7 members band, The Chant can put into their melting pot a good deal of instruments, encouraging an open-minded approach and a well assembled songwriting.

"A Healing Place" was the third studio album by The Chant.

I like the way they alternate full-bodied, thick passages and almost bare vocal-piano or vocal-guitar breaks. Sure, some of their moods aren't brand new and follow the contemporary post-rock trend, but The Chant are more than this, and a warm and definitely prog soul springs up when you don't expect it.

Saturday, 29 July 2017

Pareidolia (Haken,2013)

"Pareidolia" is one of the two long epic tracks included in "The Mountain" album and also one of the most interesting songs by Haken, IMHO. I like the way the band mix different moods into a highly coherent composition: hard rock, eclectic prog, Eastern scales, introspective breaks and devilish solos are all gathered here. The atmospheric passages and the high tempo riffs follow each other and create a dynamic and riveting musical plot, where each idea seems to pop up at the right moment.

"The Mountain" was the third studio album by Haken.
The lyrics are about the human effort to find the meaning of life beyond the surrounding chaos and fragility. Pareidolia is the well known phenomenon in which we recognize familiar images where they don't exist, such as the man in the moon or animal shapes among the clouds. Such a challenging subject is very well supported by the band's music, summoning ancient civilizations and suggesting a rather pessimistic mood evolving in a majestic and even dreadful crescendo. A very special song, if you believe me.

Friday, 28 July 2017

Le fantôme de Galashiels (Mona Lisa, 1974)

Mona Lisa surely are one of the best French bands from the Progressive rock golden era and IMHO they deserve prog fans' attention (and gratitude). This track comes from "L'escapade", the band's first album, released in 1974 and features all the best known and most loved elements of their music. The theatrical vocals (in the wake of Ange, but with more acid accents) are there, and also the tempo changes and the well performed union of acoustic and electric instruments, including some psych passages here and there. 

This is the original artwork of Mona Lisa's debut album.

If Dominique Le Guennec's lead vocals immediately attract the listener's attention, a keener listening will show a skilled and well organized group. A special mention goes to Jean-Luc Martin's bass guitar, whose plain and effective lines strongly characterize Mona Lisa's sound. And there's more than sounds in this track, as "Le fantôme de Galashiels" has a strong emotional side, lining up sombre moods and dreamy flashes in a rich and unpredictable pattern that still amazes me. 

Thursday, 29 June 2017

Mystic Queen (Camel, 1973)

Something in this song reminds me of the Hippy festivals and of proto-prog sounds. I know we're in 1973, the very heart of the progressive rock Golden Era, but there is a scent of Woodstock and Summer of Love mixed with proper prog here. Even the song title goes back to the upper class girls wearing long coats and necklaces and searching for another world. That said, "Mystic Queen" is a great ballad, featuring one the best sung themes in Camel's career along with heartwarming instrumental sections.

"Mystic Queen" comes from Camel's self-titled debut album

Bardens actually wrote a masterpiece and the rest of the band added that unique smooth flavour Camel are famous for. Last but not least, it's incredible how this track - bearing all the traits of the early '70s - aged so well... I like it today even more than fourty years ago and I'm delighted to say that I know many millennials that are fond of it.

Sunday, 25 June 2017

Custody of The Knave (Argos, 2010)

Argos are one of the most interesting prog bands from the 21st Century German scene. Certainly influenced by both first and second generation progressive rock groups, they developed their own style, an introspective and challenging mix of symphonic rock, neo-prog and experimental music. This song, taken from the album "Circles", actually dig into the listener's soul and reminds me of VDGG,Hammill solo ballads and also The Flower Kings.

"Circles" was the second studio album by Argos.

It's a moving and well written song, including essential and effective drumming solutions, atmospheric passages, very good vocal harmonies, a beautiful, sad piano, some spiritual keyboard touches and, of course, a stunning vocal performance by Robert Gozon. Please don't hesitate and listen to other songs by Argos: you'll find many different musical worlds and (what's more) you'll appreciate the way this band can touch you giving new life to prog.

Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Divine Attribution (SETI, 2005)

...And now something for those among you loving atmospheric, melodic prog. SETI is an international project aimed to find radio signals coming from intelligent extra-terrestrial forms of life. But since 2005 it is also an interesting chilean prog band. Founded by multi-instrumentalist Claudio Momberg and Others members of Subterra (see elsewhere in this blog). This song comes from their debut album "Life Signs" and has a strong spacey and floydian influence, but also an easy-going melodic pattern in the neo-prog style.

This album also includes an excellent five parts suite.

Some beautiful keyboard and guitar solos perfectly top the cake. The SF theme adds a somehow arcane taste to the song, but it never deviates the band's sound toward math-rock landscapes. There is a warm and dreamy soul behind those radio telescopes...

Monday, 22 May 2017

Distances (The Pyramidis Project, 2015)

The electronic side of prog is too often underrated or even neglected by fan sites and reviewers, and that's too bad if only one remembers the essential contributions to our genre provided by such artists as Tangerine Dream, Jean-Michel Jarre, Kraftwerk and so on. That said, Austrian band The Pyramidis Project is one of the most interesting projects out there when it comes to elecronic prog. This track is the perfect gate into their world for prog fans. "Distances" is taken from the album "Emotional Distances" and actually the CD title says it all, as electronic keyboards and space rock effects perfectly match with genuine (and strong) emotions.

"Emotional Distances" was the second CD by TPP.

If you're convinced that electronic devices are but stiff things, this track will change your mind. Mario Buchinger, the mind behind The Pyramidis Project, knows how to mix different soundscapes and musical influences, so that his tracks are never flat nor hazy. Take "Distances" for example: beautiful melodies flow along with diversified samples and a stingy musical research. Oldest fans (like me) will find echoes of Alan Parsons, Floydian hints and even early Genesis moods. Please note that such a rich blend leads to a highly original atmosphere, and never to a derivative sound. It's challenging and unpredictable... that's why I call it prog!