Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Take A Pebble (Emerson, Lake & Palmer, 1970)

I don't need to introduce such a masterpiece to my readers. I just like to remember how important "Take A Pebble" was in the powerful trio history. Not only this track is one of their early achievements, but it also features all the highlights they'd be famous for. A gentle ballad, an awesome piano, a diversified and unpredictable structure and, of course, a mix of different genres, from folk to jazz and from the symphonic rock arrangement to the improvisation-like section.

Young and prog... ladies and gentlemen, ELP.

The rythmic pattern is a very original one, including soft percussions and hand clapping, while Greg Lake's beautiful voice tops the cake. This is how prog rock should sound like: gentle and sparkling, flowing and - most of all - open minded. About the lyrics, the metaphor sea = life can be a largely exploited one, but is beautifully written and matches the music perfectly. What else? Just listen to this once more...

Saturday, 18 March 2017

Formas-Pensamento (Violeta de Outono, 2012)

Just a few bands around the world chose the eclectic and winding road to prog this Brazilian band took. From their first psychedelic and Sixties-oriented albums to their latest prog releases, they created their own original and interesting musical world, each record adding some new ingredients to such a spicy recipe. This track opens the album "Espectro" (meaning "Spectre") and fluctuates in and out of space rock, folk ballads, classic prog and fusion with a surprisingly natural and mild mood.

"Espectro" was the sixth studio album by Violeta de Outono.

The soft vocals and the space rock touches provide the atmospheric part, while the instrumental breaks - solos and interplays - add a lively and thrilling side to the track. The psych roots are also there, along with a vague Italian Prog echo. Really, this is a great way to start an album and a brilliant, diversified example of eclectic prog.

Saturday, 4 March 2017

Stories (Eela Craig, 1974)

Eela Craig were one of the first Austrian prog bands ever, as they released their debut album in 1971. These boys from Linz gathered many influences from the English early progressive bands, mainly Pink Floyd and Genesis, and eventually enriched those (very good) roots with an original mellow twist, a strong symphonic pattern, a pinch of jazz and also some Christian lyrics.

The original 7" single b/w "Cheese". Both tracks are available
on the CD version of Eela Craig's debut album.


I especially like their pastoral side, something you'll find in "Stories", a non-album song, released as a single in 1974 and now available as one of the bonus tracks of their debut self-named album's CD re-release. This Mellotron-driven track has a spacey background and a vaguely folk melody, a combination I happen to like. You'll also appreciate the instrumental final section, midway between Trespass-era Genesis and early King Crimson. Relax and listen to them...

Friday, 24 February 2017

Place Called Home (The J Conspiracy, 2015)

New bands are more and more into streaming free distribution and among those I put into my blog a very interesting German act called The J Conspiracy and whose longest track, "Place Called Home", is a fine example of eclectic prog. I like the way these musicians line up different moments and moods to create a diversified and coherent suite divided into six parts. Modern as it can be, this song is also well rooted into the prog history solid ground and offers many interesting soundscapes.

 
The J Conspiracy: Ralf Brand, Chris Buß, Heiko Löb and Karl Schlesinger.

What's more, the band builds up their songs on strong melodies and very well found themes... not a common feature in a musical world where effects and arrangements take the main role. That said, the instrumental performances are first-rate and so is the visual project accompanying this song and available on the band's offical site (see below). Last but not least, the lyrics provide a poignant overview of the daily struggle between our need of a deep truth and the shallow commotion of modern life. Finally, here you are an excellent way to spend your next twenty minutes, if you ask me.
Enjoy the slide-based presentation for this song:  http://thejconspiracy.de/fotoslide/

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Dreaming Light (Anathema, 2010)

Anathema are a very well established band and their musical evolution from metal to atmospheric prog is universally known. I could have chosen more intricated and longer tracks to put here, but I'm fascinated by this plain and dreamy song. It comes from the album titled "We're Here Because We're Here" and features one of the best melodies Anathema found in their career, IMHO.

"We're Here Because We're Here" was th eight CD by Anathema.

Light is an important topic of the entire album, as the cover art proves very well and the video for this song is also based on alternating shadows and lights. Its arrangement highlights are the atmospheric, ethereal keyboards by Les Smith (leaving the band soon after this CD), the dreaming, Gilmour-esque guitar solo (thanks, Mr. Vincent Cavanagh!) and - last but not least - the clear, moving vocals by Lee Douglas. Six minutes of wonder.

Saturday, 11 February 2017

Avskjed (Neograss, 2012)

Prog rock is the land of contamination, as we all know, and this Norwegian band is a perfect specimen of such a musical graft. More than this, Neograss promote an unusual and promising blend including prog, of course, and bluegrass, a specially rich and joyous kind of country music. As you can imagine, their Scandinavian origins also provide a bonus atmospheric element.


"Overtru Fra Yttersia" is the fourth studio album by Neograss.

This track, "Avskjed" (meaning "Goodbye"), opens their 2012 album titled "Overtru Fra Yttersia" (that's "Superstition from the Coast") and is a beautiful example of both traditional and modern prog, with all the good old ingredients we love, plus a chamber orchestra and a fresh, lively rythmic addition of folk instruments, especially willow flute and banjo, both played by Emil Bekkevold. Surprising and enthralling, this is real prog, folks!

Monday, 30 January 2017

Mind over Matter (Us, 2006)

Prog rock ballads are quite rare, so I'm happy to add this "Mind over Matter" to my blog. It's the opening track from the album "The Young and Restless" and has the mellow, pastoral taste of some Golden Era bands (a "Trespass" feeling, if you ask me). The sung melody is simple and effective, while the instrumental breaks are light and redolent. Sure, this is not a musical revolution, but I sometimes indulge to plain and delicate flavours, especially when the musicians know how to write and play their music.

"The Young And Restless" was the fourth studio album by Us.

After all, the Dutch band Us is an experienced one, lining up a rich discography and an indisputable skill when it comes to melodic prog. See how guitars and keyboards melt into a coherent sound in this song and how the vocal harmonies are well found. Six minutes of peace... not a negligible gift nowadays!