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|A Sky Full of Ghosts
|Arooj Aftab, Darian Donovan Thomas
|Steve Unruh and Phideaux Xavier
|Candybrain / The Sleepers Wake
|Live @ Monforti Manor
|Big Big Train
|Welcome to the Planet
|Dead Space Chamber Music
|Bryd one Brere (Bird on a Briar)
|The Black Hours
|Would I Be Me
|Out of Control
|Before the Storm
|Unfolded Like Staircase (2020 Terry Brown)
|The Order Of The 12
|The Forest At Night
|Lore Of The Land
A Sky Full of Ghosts
by Sonus Umbra
Right off the bat, clear and clean complexity comes to mind with this release. Undeniably progressive rock, compiled by several multi-instrumentalists with thoughtful lyrics, sure to please discriminating fans of this genre. Every piece is executed masterfully, including a 20-minute epic that keeps one engaged from start to finish, which is no mean feat. Hard to pick a favourite, but certainly the opener, Antidentity, gives one an idea of what lies in wait here.
by Arooj Aftab
This is a gorgeous amalgamation of many styles, world, jazz, minimal and neo-classical. Strings, harp, flugelhorn, as well as piano, synth, drums, and double bass bring the sublimely warm vocals of the composer of these pieces a place to fit snugly into. Dreamy and tranquil are two words that come to mind for the majority of the presentation here.
Valerie Gracious, Steve Unruh, Phideaux Xavier: “71319 Live at Monforti Manor” Similar to the way “Stop Making Sense,” begins, this one is solo acoustic at first, with kalimba (perhaps), violin, guitar, flute and vocals, with the other principals joining in support on bass and vocals, during Set One. Set Two is all three, featuring Phideaux’s music, rearranged for the trio, in this continued acoustic setting.
Big Big Train: “Welcome to the Planet” The Progressive community is quite aware of the sudden, shocking loss of David Longdon. If his career had to end, this is a fitting release for it. Almost prescient, it would seem, with some of the lyrical content, but BBT always has an element of nostalgia to each release. As always, stellar vocals, arrangements and musicianship. Not a mystery why they have been a mainstay of prog for so long. Enjoy your time in the stars, David, until those you love join you. Favourite Track: Capitoline Venus https://bigbigtrain.bandcamp.com/track/capitoline-venus
The Black Hours
by Dead Space Chamber Music
This offers a nod to the Black Plague era, in reference to our own pandemic, utilizing a slight variation of the canonical hours to link the pieces. The music is mostly very dark, reinterpretations of early music, at times reminding me of some of Hildegard Von Bingen’s more experimental and jarring pieces. Sometimes jarring, and sublime, and often a bit disturbing, this is a work that is sonically fascinating. The band reworks some traditional pieces to great effect.
Out of Control
by Marco Mattei
Here, Marco is the primary creator of all of the music and has a stellar supporting guest cast to assist in fulfilling his vision, including Tony Levin, Jerry Marotta, Pat Mastelotto, Chad Wackerman, Clive Deamer and Fabio Trentini. There are folk and world elements along with the progressive streak one would expect from his guests. It’s an intriguing blend of some very different worlds, colliding neatly together.
Unfolded Like Staircase (Terry Brown Mix) 24 bit hi res
Here we have a 25th Anniversary remix, with famed producer Terry Brown behind the board. This is straight-ahead progressive rock, with a dark edge, well-produced and with plenty of the skill one expects to hear from musicians in this vein. If you missed it the first time around, or want to revisit it anew, it is well worth your time to explore this sonic treasure, which includes several epics.
Lore Of The Land
by The Order Of The 12
Richard Norris, primarily an electronic musician has assembled a merry band of folk musicians for a 70s-style psych/folk quest to Sussex and the South Downs. The ethereal voice of Rachel Thomas is perfect for conveying the lysergic feel to the music.
by Nordic Giants
UK Neo-Classical, Ambient, Post rock duo, here joined by some guests on vocals, additional guitars, cello and other strings. Primary instrumentation provided by the mysteriously named Rôka on cymbals, skins and bowed guitar, and Löki serving up piano, synths, trumpet and horns. This is cerebral music that invites mental landscapes in to the listener’s mind as emotional ebbs and flows are ably provided by the duo and their cohorts.