Saturday, 31 March 2018

Falling to Pieces (Nine Stones Close, 2010)

A very intense and intimate song from Nine Stones Close, a project leaded by Dutch multi-instrumentalist Adrian Jones. It comes from their second album titled "Traces" and includes some of the band's highlights, namely beautiful melodies and great guitar dreaming solos by Mister Jones. But there's more than this. I especially like Mark Atkinson's vocals, full of inner emotions and perfectly balanced between delicate and tense moments.

Nine Stone Close already have a considerable discography.

A prog ballad isn't an easy thing to do, believe me: Jones and his friends have to mix plain sung sections and instrumental breaks keeping the coherence of their song and they surely succeed there. "Falling to Pieces" has a melancholy, even pessimistic mood, but it also features a strong spiritual perspective, building up a sentimental trip through sorrow and hope, a strong emotional experience that only good prog can add to an apparently simple track.

Monday, 26 February 2018

Pequeño animal (Dry River, 2011)

This Spanish band released their first album titled "El Circo de la Tierra" in 2011 and were a pleasant surprise to me. Sure, some of their tracks are too much on the metal prog side for my mellower tastes, but many songs are plain and very good progressive rock in a vital and colourful mood I like very much. " Pequeño animal" is one of them, full of bombastic and melodic lines, and also featuring well found changes in both rythm and tempo.

This cover art perfectly matches with the band's music, IMHO.

The background keyboard work by Carlos Álvarez Prades is brilliant, and all the musicians know how to play their instruments. Maybe a special mention goes to Ángel Belinchón Calleja's powerful vocals (and after all, Dry River used to perform Queen's covers in their early days...), adding a somewhat operatic pop-rock touch to the great picture, a welcome and original twist. And I also highly recommend to your attention their following albums...

Wednesday, 31 January 2018

The World Is Yours (Caravan, 1972)

Taken from "Waterloo Lily" album, this is undoubtely one of the best prog ballads ever and a blooming flower into Canterbury musical garden. Caravan mix the acoustic set with a soft vocal performance, conjuring up a spring smelling track, a true love song, including all the I love yous one can imagine.

Caravan: all is so Seventies in this picture!

Still, the original way the band wrap up their gift and the never too sweet sound we enjoy is true Canterbury prog, full of warm guitars and also featuring a misty mix and a folk inspiration. True, this is a catchy song, not so far from the best pop songs from the early Seventies, but if all of them were as good as this one, well, I'd listen pop music 24 hours a day!

Tuesday, 30 January 2018

Know Your Time (Gazpacho, 2015)

Since the early 2010s Gazpacho evolved from a mellow and captivating mix of pop and prog to a darker and somehow spiced post-progressive sound, including moments of ethereal beauty and a rich, even ethnic choice of instruments. This song, taken from the album "Molok" is a good example of this phase of the band's career. Arcane sounds and solid guitars surround the vocals by Jan-Henrik Ohme, much in the style of Marillion's Steve Hogarth.

Another fascinating cover. I really like the colours here.

The mood changes are very well done, especially when a tight line gets a wider breath, or when an acoustic passage follows electric ones. That's why I like "Know Your Time" and its unpredictable stream of creative music. I won't even try to explain the tricky theories about God and ancient religions behind this track and the whole album, but I confess I love the way Gazpacho approach such a challenging concept keeping their feet well on the ground.