Big Red Dragon

"I can't wait. I should have reviewed other albums before this but it's the first thing that I listen from this artist and I wasn't expecting anything like this. Symphonic orchestral arrangements on melodic bases and a concept behind. I'm not expert in William Blake's poetry but this album has made me curious.
The introduction "William" is a symphonic piece of beauty with a guitar of the "not a misplaced note" kind, like Andy Latimer is used to do, some "mute" vocals and a very nice melody. A stunning surprise.

"Angel Of The Revelation" starts with electronics and piano, then vocals and a proper song starts. The high pitched voice of Sophya joined in a choir by whom? Maybe Sonja Kristina who features in the guests? The guests list is another thing to check. This is a progressive track as I think people usually intends "progressive": sung parts alternated with instrumentals, structured as a suite with different movements and recurring themes. And all in 4 minutes and half.

"Satan" has an obsessive rhythm and has the theathrical flavor of a rock opera. The electronics behind have a vintage sound but is remarkable the dialogue between guitar and piano before the last sung part and the coda. Another great song.

"Love Of Hecate" Is a slow waltz. It's folky and theathrical in the same time, with excellent vocals again. The signature changes in the chorus. It's still a 3/4 (almost) but the tempo is accelerated. Vocals like in Mozart's magic flute are replaced by a cymbal, then piano and vocals. Another very complex and "circular" song.

Percussive piano and bass with water sounds to start "La Porta Dell'Inferno". This is a little mistake: it's taken from Dante's Comedy, but the door should lead to the "anti-inferno". The first lyrics are taken from Dante, then the man talking leaves the Dante's book to give a different view of the hell's entrance. "Here nothing grows because nothing dies". Another great song with the music perfectly fitting with the concept. The violins support the whole track, choirs, a stupendous coda... Great.

After a track like the previous one staying on the same level is very difficult, so the style changes totally. "The Number" is a rock song. Of course the number is 666. It starts hard rock, but with no relations with Iron Maiden, and the rock screamed part is alternated to more quiet and symphonic interludes. The organ is excellent, neither Emerson nor Wakeman, the sound reminds me more to Vitalij Kuprij (Artension).

"Just" is opened by percussion, piano and cello. The theme recalls "La Porta Dell'Inferno" but the vocals take a different direction. The song's intro, before the male singing, makes me think to the Russian Iamthemorning, mainly because of the instruments used. However, after 2 minutes the song changes drastically. The impression is still of a rock opera. Remove the metal element from Ayreon and add more symphonics to have an idea. The vocals here are more operatic. Not enough to think to Zeuhl, but enough to enhance the track. Great guitar solo in a Van Halen style which slows down and closes Floydian before the last sung reprise.

"Cerberus" is the three-headed infernal dog. Keyboard and strings introduce the song which reprises the chords of the main theme. It's on this song that I'm almost sure Sonja Kristina is singing. I don't know it for sure because I have received a download link from Blackwidow records and I haven't seen the notes on the CD. This is a very dark song on which the rock-opera factor is very relevant. I want to add the the most I listen to this album the most I'm surprised. It's surely one of the best albums I've listened to during all the 2013.

"While He's Sleeping" starts in a weird way respect to the symphonic mood of the previous tracks. It's still classically influenced but has a touch of Canterbury, especially in the melody. Not an easy track, but very enjoyable.

Back to full orchestra and theatrical suggestions. "Au Matin Du Premier Jour" (At the morning of the first day) is sung in French by a man who sounds like the chansonniers of the end 50s / early 60s. French and operatic don't mean Magma, but this song has a Zeuhl flavor in the instrumental parts.

"Beatrice" brings us back to Dante's Comedy. To Paradise now. Her character would deserve some words but this would lead us off topic. Of course there's less darkness now. Piano and ethereal voice for a very melodic song. A Sophya's solo performance and let me add that the sequence of chords deserves a mention. There's plenty of good passages. excellent also from the composition point of view.

We are now at the title track. Full orchestra and voice plus some electronics behind. It starts like a symphony and turns into rock. I don't know who's the male singer but his voice is incredible. The mood is still of a rock opera I'm finishing the words...

The album is closed by a cover. "Jerusalem" has been played and recorded by the likes of Vangelis, Emerson Lake and Palmer, Par Lindh Project for what I remember. Well, I must say that it's probably the best version that I've heard up to now. It's a new interpretation when the one from Par Lindh was an ELP clone.

A masterpiece, amazing because unexpected. How can an artist that I've never heard before have done a thing like this? Symphonic proggers and RPI fans will surely agree with me, but there's so many stuff in this album. It will stay in my portable reader for a very long time, I think." - ProgArchives

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    $17.00
  • "Really superb debut album from this contemporary instrumental progressive rock band who sound completely contemporary but manage to do so while not using the metallic/crunchy overtones that so many contemporary progressive bands use. There's a certain dark, mysterious quality which is probably due to the strings, but it's not particularly avant-garde. It doesn't sound like anyone else and it doesn't sound old. Highly recommended." - Wayside Music Makajodama is the unusual name for this young instrumental quartet from Sweden. The band was formed by Mathias Danielsson, guitarist for the progressive rock band Gösta Berlings Saga. In the course of searching for another avenue to express his own musical ideas he met Mattias Ankarbrandt, the former drummer of The Carpet Knights. Their goal was to blend both written and improvised music. Through the walls of the cellar of Mathias' rehearsal studio, he could hear someone practice violin everyday, and since some of his new ideas included strings he decided to find out who the player was. After a month searching, they located their man Johan Klint who immediately joined Mattias and Mathias. As luck would have it Johan knew a cellist, Karin Larsdotter, who was also interested in improvisation as well and she came onboard, rounding out the quartet. The band invited Anekdoten’s guitarist, Nicklas Barker, to mix the album. Makajodama’s debut is a direct reflection of the quartet’s influences: Third Ear Band, Univers Zero, Swedish psych pioneers Älgarnas Trädgård, the kraut rock spirit of Can and Faust, and Swedish contemporary composers Karl-Birger Blomdahl and Allan Pettersson. The result is a unique collision of progressive and post rock that sounds like the musical offspring of early King Crimson and Godspeed You! Black Emperor. The artwork and design of the digipak was created by noted Swedish artist Johan Björkegren. Get a taste of Makajodama here: Makajodama's MySpace Page
    $14.00
  • In recent times there has been very little new music coming from the Magma camp.  "Slag Tanz" is a new composition that the band has been performing and its finally been recorded in the studio.  Its got the classic Magma sound and if you are a zeuhl fan this is indispensable.Funny that their new label is referring to this as jazz metal.  Perhaps they should try a different marketing ploy."Powerful, hypnotic, unclassifiable, incomparables. MAGMA are in a class of their own. Finally, music to set the cat among the pigeons... Magma are the dynamite that will explode the conventions of a music scene that is becoming rather too self-satisfied with its own beauty... Magma are unlike anything that has gone before...So people were saying in 1970.In 2015, nearly half a century later, this is truer than ever and the new mini-album Slag Tanz (pronounced schlag tanz), this veritable symphony of jazz metal that has erupted from nowhere, radiates with all Magma s singular intensity!"Slünd AImëhntösz - Alerte ! (2:19)Slag (3:03)Dümb (2:57)Vers la nuit (3:30)Slünd BDümblaë - Le silence des mondes (2:58)Zü Zaïn ! (2:16)Slag Tanz (2:29)Wohldünt (1:23)Lyrics & Music : Christian VanderStella VANDER : voiceIsabelle FEUILLEBOIS : voiceHervé AKNIN : voiceBenoît ALZIARY : vibraphoneJames MAC GAW : guitarJérémie TERNOY : pianoPhilippe BUSSONNET : bassChristian VANDER : drums, piano, voice on "Wohldünt"Recorded and mixed between september 2013 and september 2014 at UZ Studio by Francis LINON
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  • Ryo Kawasaki is a legendary jazz/fusion guitarist still going strong. During the late 70s he developed an elaborate guitar synthesizer setup which was unique. It was during this period that he put together The Golden Dragon band which was an incendiary fusion ensemble. Kawasaki would create synthesized landscapes over which he would shred with the best of them. Lots of latin and far eastern influences are prominent. Fantastic stuff.
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  • "This 2CD set collects Papir's two latest albums, previously released on vinyl only. III originally came out in February 2013, IIII in February 2014.Papir from Copenhagen, Denmark have gradually developed their unique vision of instrumental psychedelic rock over the course of four albums. The band manages to transform heavy, psychedelic music into something new and relevant, something truly unique. Sure, Papir knows their kraut- and progrock history, but unlike the majority of bands in the present day psych-rock scene they venture far beyond mere pastiche. Guitarist Nicklas Sørensen and Bassist Christian Becher aren't afraid to explore sounds and styles usually associated with post-rock, minimalism or even shoegaze, and drummer Christoffer Brøchmann plays with a skill, ferocity and richness of ideas that is so rare. By now the bands concerts have become awe-inducing experiences, earning them slots at major European festivals including Roskilde (2012), and Roadburn (2014).It's stunning to witness how Papir pull numerous influences together with natural ease in their, often lengthy, excursions. It sounds inspired. These two albums perfectly encompasses everything the band represents – from explosive, guitar-solo driven peaks through motoric krautrock grooves to peaceful and atmospheric soundscapes.Recorded in two different sessions, one in Copenhagen and another out in the Danish countryside with Causa Sui's Jonas Munk, who also mixed and mastered both albums, producing them with an organic, but powerful, sound maintaining the full dynamic range."
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  • "As the spring of 2012 fades, Rhys Marsh And The Autumn Ghost return with their third full-length record, 'The Blue Hour', in which Marsh leads them into another bold sonic-territory.The trademark combination of dynamics & melancholy remains, though this time the strings & Mellotrons have stepped aside for brass & woodwind ensembles. There is also a noticeable change in the vocal presentation — the thickly-layered harmonies have now been stripped back to a more monophonic point of focus. All of these elements come together beautifully, giving the album an incredibly warm & intimate atmosphere.From the outset — the hypnotic rhythms & longing woodwind arrangement of 'And I Wait', which slowly unfurls over seven minutes, after which heading straight into the sixties-tinged 'Read The Cards', with its heavily-staccatoed horn section & old-school double drums — it's clear that Marsh is pushing further forward.From here, the album twists and turns even further, from the dulcet tones & enticing polyrhythms of 'The Movements Of Our Last Farewell', to the frantically-paced 'Wooden Heart' — which, even with several intense dynamic-shifts & irregular time-signature changes, still manages to swing — before coming to an end with elegantly-psychedelic 'One More Moment'.For 'The Blue Hour', Marsh has once again assembled a new Autumn Ghost, this time featuring the cream of the crop of the contemporary Norwegian music scene. In fact,this is the first album on which Marsh has chosen to feature an entirely Norwegian line-up, borrowing from bands such as Jaga Jazzist, The National Bank, Emmerhoff And The Melancholy Babies & Pelbo, along with collaborators of Susanne Sundfør, Kaizers Orchestra & Magnet. This also marks the first occasion that an Autumn Ghost album has been written & recorded entirely in Norway."
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  • " Once audiences got a chance to hear Primus' instantly recognizable sound, driven by Les Claypool's bizarrely virtuosic bass riffs, their audience grew by leaps and bounds. It was enough to make their second major-label album, Pork Soda, one of the strangest records ever to debut in the Top Ten. Stylistically, it isn't much different from Sailing the Seas of Cheese, though the band does stretch out and jam more often. This can result in some overly repetitive sections, since Claypool's riffs are the basis for most of the compositions, but it also showcases the band's ever-increasing level of musicianship. Their ensemble interplay continues to grow in complexity and musicality, and that's really what fans want from a Primus record anyway. The material isn't quite as consistent as Seas of Cheese, though there are numerous high points; among them are "My Name Is Mud," on which Claypool plays his instrument like percussion, and "Mr. Krinkle," where he switches to a bowed upright bass. There are hints of lyrical darkness stripped of the band's usual goofiness (especially in the suicide lament "Bob"), but for the most part, the humor is again split between eccentric character sketches, cheery paranoia, and annoying novelties (with a slightly higher percentage of the latter than before). Still, despite occasional flaws, what makes Pork Soda a success is that the band keeps finding novel variations on their signature sound, even if they never step out of it." - All Music Guide
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  • Second album from this early Italian band with close ties to New Trolls.  This one is a bit more refined and progressive sounding than In The Beginning."NUOVA IDEA came from Genova and their roots lie in a 60's band called ''Plep'' (from its members names).By 1970 they were renamed to NUOVA IDEA and even participated at the Viareggio Pop festival the next year,having a grea success.The same year they release their debut ''In the beginning'',a decent proto-prog/psychedelic album,but not of particular interest for prog fans.After the album guitarist Marco Zoccheddu leaves to form ''Osage tribe'',replaced by Antonello Gabelli for the recordings of their second work ''Mr. E Jones'', released in 1972 on Ariston (as their debut), re-released on CD by the Italian Mellow Records.Far from the familiar symphonic sound of most of the Italian prog bands of the time,NUOVA IDEA developed their early melodic style in a more intricate form,mixing their music with elaborate vocal harmonies.The closest comparisons might be early NEW TROLLS with a more demanding musicianship, 70's DELIRIUM, even BLOCCO MENTALE on their lighter side.The songs in this album differ so much,twisting from beautiful ballads (containing nice percussions and symphonic keys) and rockin' attacks with dated guitars (fuzzy-sounding at moments) to demanding instrumental passages,featuring complicated organ,delicate piano,sudden breaks and even some jazzy lines.What is of great notice is the vocal work in here,as all members contribute,resulting tons of attacks by melodic harmonies, recalling NEW TROLLS.Despite the mixed sounds,the album grows in you with each listening and all compositions are nicely executed with good melodies and a fair amount of complexity.''Mr. E Jones'' won't ever be among my favourites listenings out of Italy,but certainly I will return to it from time to time,as it's definitely one of the most balanced Italian releases I have ever heard.Recommended for lovers of rock music with an artistic flavor." - ProgArchives
    $15.00
  • The Swedes seem to love their retro 70s music and Three Seasons serves it up hot and heavy.  This guitar/bass/drums trio harken back to the early days of the British psychedelic scene.  You will be reminded of Cream, Incredible Hog,and Leafhound.  When the organ kicks in you'll harken back to days of yore when the mighty Heep, Purple, and Lucifer's Friend prowled the countryside looking for victims.  You could be next!
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  • "Annysia is a Symphonic Power Metal band from Spain, led by lead vocalist, Rose Mack. The obligatory instrumental, The Essence Of A New Born Star is a well written one, that builds up tension in the beginning of the disc much like a movie soundtrack to an epic battle movie. The operatic stylings of Mack can be heard immediately over a harpischord-laden keyboard effect before the rest of the band kicks in. She definitely has a style of her own, and the music behind her is well played. The highest range of her vocals on this song, show her range, though I think an octave lower is more in her power range. The guitar solo on the other hand sounds out of place, but it may be the production of the song,. Nephilim starts out much in the same vein, though the vocals during the verses are a little more subdued and similar to Liv Kristine in Leave's Eyes. The growly/black metal vocals on this particular song don't do much for me here. The brief but arppegio-laden guitar solo is again well played, and a better fit here. Battle of Mystics is the first track I heard from the band, and honestly the vocal gymnastics in the beginning and during parts of the song, show Mack's talent, but they are done a little too much for my taste, though the song itself is very good. Actually musically this is probably my favorite track on the disc Demontia is a track I could not get into, but musically is not a bad song. Fairysins though, features Mack and a soft piano. Her vocals on this song shows her unique tone, and her wheelhouse when it comes to her range. This song is actually quite beautiful. The epic-ness of Valkyrie is not just in its almost nine minute length, but the music as well. Mack commands her range throughout the entire song, and the twin guitar lead melody is well played. I am not sure if I like the lead tone of the guitar that much, its a little fuzzy for my taste, but the musicianship is definitely there. The previously mentioned death/black metal vocals make an appearance here, and again does nothing for me except take away from Mack's solid performance.Again the fuzzy guitar tone comes back on the beginning of Redemption though when it meshes with the symphonic parts it does not sound as bad. Straying from her operatic range for most the song, Mack shows that she can again, subdue her range, even on a much faster song. The ability for her to sing like this, without her sounding like she is singing in a monotone is a compliment to her abilities. Lost Soul is another piano song, showing the sweeping vocals of Mack. The expression “Less is more,” best explains her vocals on this song, and it was definitely the right call. The instrumental of Captain's Song shows her bandmates definitely have talent themselves, and it is a pretty damn good instrumental. Another standout song is the mid paced, Pirates Of The Sea. The male operatic vocals are too low in the mix to be heard clear enough, though they are much better than the “Blackened” ones of earlier. Nivek is next, and is another epic song in its song structure. For the seven minutes it runs, it pretty much hits all the right marks. With headphones on though, Mack's vocals could have been produced a little better,and be heard a little louder. Much like the disc begins, it ends with an instrumental track, an outro.While the imperfections do come to head when you hear the disc as a whole, Annysia's debut is actually a well written, if only inconsistently produced disc. The disc does have its highs, with strong songwriting and Mack's powerhouse vocals. I do believe in some songs, the band is trying to be as epic as possibly when possibly a little more restrain could have been used. Again most of this criticism is personal opinion, and every listener will have their own opinion. As a whole, this is a great start for a new band, who is obviously full of talented musicians. Let us hope for a label to find the band, and for stronger production values next time." - Metal Review
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  • One of the great Swiss prog rarities of the 70s.  Kedama were an instrumental three piece.  Focusing on keyboards, guitars, and drums, they bore a bit of an influence from Yes.  When the keyboards are emphasizied (insert Mellotron gasps and groans here) I'm reminded a bit of Schicke Fuhrs Frohling.  The proper album consisted of 4 tracks - it wasn't a long album.  It was recorded live in the studio and the production is pretty miserable.  At least the music compensates for it.  This CD comes with seven bonus tracks!  Highly recommended.
    $15.00