Harmony Of The Spheres

SKU: ECLEC2096
Label:
Esoteric Recordings
Category:
Fusion/Jazz
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Great follow up to Kaleidescope Of Rainbows. An amazing integration of big band and jazz rock. The core band is actually Ian Carr's Nucleus. Other prominent musicians include John Martyn (RIP) on guitar and Barbara Thompson on flute. I believe this may be the first official release on CD (not 100% sure). This is the 24 bit remastered version wich gets all the usual Esoteric magical touches. Highly recommended.

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  • Monumental album from Ritchie Blackmore/Ronnie James Dio. Worth it just for "Stargazer" alone. Remastered edition. Essential.
    $5.00
  • We've had a hell of a time getting our hands on this album but its finally here and more than worthy of your attention.  In fact this is an album that is going to ride high on many 2014 top 10 album lists.This is the first full length release from this six piece band based out of Bergen, Norway.  The core sound of the band is rooted in classic progressive rock.  Think in terms of the aggressive side of Van Der Graaf Generator and King Crimson.  But there is more at play here.  A strong jazz element is at play as well.  I'm reminded of Jaga Jazzist and perhaps a bit of Frank Zappa and Mr. Bungle.  There is no doubt we are going to hear quite a bit from this band in the future.  BUY OR DIE!"An impressive album of refreshingly unique music that crosses many sub genres, including space-psychedelia, symphonic, heavy prog, avant-jazz and experimental/post metal. Wonderful vocals, very tight interplay among all band members with no one member or instrument really standing above any other--though the presence and performance of the saxophone is highly notable. This is complex music played so tightly. And the astonishing 14- minute epic, "God Left Us for A Black Dressed Woman," must be heard to be believed.1. "Oh My Gravity" (9:49) starts as a jazzy stop-and-start piece that picks up in intensity in the second minute before shifting to a melodic ballad in the vein of the heavier side of FROGG CAFÉ. The male vocalist sounds to me like something between RADIOHEAD's THOM YORKE and TODD RUNDGREN. Around the six minute mark the spiraling, swooning music sounds a lot like some of the louder stuff from MOTORPSYCHO's The Death Defying Unicorn. This feel continues into the seventh minute when organ and horns take turns embellishing the staccato music. The bare-bones, bluesy final 45 seconds is bizarre but so cool! A powerful and surprising opener to this unusual album. Very high marks for compositional prowess and instrumental performance. (9/10)2. "Wind Shears" (6:32) opens in a very psychedelia/spacey 1960s way. Then at the one minute mark it settles into a jazz groove with first sax and then jazzy guitar and Hammond organ filling the lanes over the rhythm section. Clavinet is added for a GentleGiant-like bridge before a polyrhythmic KING CRIMSON "Discipline"-like weave appears to support a brief ghost-like vocal. At 3:20 the sound gets much heavier over the same arpeggiated weave, nearly drowning out the still-soloing sax and organ. This is just like TOBY DRIVER (Kayo Dot/Maudlin of the Well)! At 4:05 things get quiet and sparse again, with the music vacillating from soft and delicate to heavy and abrasive. A very melodic kind of psychedelic big band section plays out for the final minute. Again, bizarre but so cool! (9/10)3. "Eschaton Hero" (8:29) opens with some guitar, keys & sax riffs repeated over latin percussion. At 1:00 everything settles down into another quiet section with a delicate vocal in Stian Økland's upper register. Beautiful chorus/bridge at 1:47 gives way to an unpretentious bass solo before settling back into the delicate vocal music. Same awesome bridge at 2:49 leads into a heavy section into jazzy chaos--all performed over the most simple, calm drum play. At 4:52 it gets even heavier as it plods along for a minute in support of a fuzz guitar solo. Finally the drums start to play--to match the frenzy of the rest of the band--then everything stops so the band can yell "Yay!" Then a variation on the previous frenzy picks back up until 7:05 when everything settles back down into the soft groove of the initial vocal section for a dirty sax solo before letting Stian finish the song out in his high voice. Well conceived and performed, just not my favorite. (7/10)4. "Extraction" (6:34) begins with another odd intro of two or three parts before settling into the vocal support section--which begins heavily before falling into another RADIOHEAD-like bluesy section. At 2:20 a neat Hammond section leads back into the heavy full band section that opened the vocals, then, again, drops off for the beautiful support of a multi-voice- supported section. At 3:45 a very smooth, stripped down electric guitar solos, until there is a full return to explosiveness at 4:20. A bouncy "O Yo Como Va"-like Hammond section at 4:40 gives way to a kind of Latin weave before falling back into the heavier rock weave from the first vocal section to end. (8/10)5. "God Left Us for A Black Dressed Woman" (14:12) opens with another KC "Discipline"-like weave that morphs and flows, polymorphs and grooves for two and a half minutes before decaying into a simplified form for a bluesy ROBERT PLANT-like vocal section. This song's amazing vocal performance could also be compared to some of the finest MATTHEW PARMENTER/DISCIPLINE works. Some incredibly powerful sections in this song--especially the multi-voice vocals in the eleventh minute and the following heavy full-band part. A very DISCIPLINE-like soft section then ensues with a slow build to an awesome crescendo and frizzed finish. The song evolves, shifts, twists and turns and surprises throughout. Again there are several parts that remind me of MOTORPSYCHO's Unicorn. Without question this is one of the best prog "epics" of the year! (10/10)Aside from the above references to Motorpsycho, King Crimson, Radiohead, Toby Driver, Matthew Parmenter/Discipline, the overall impression this album leaves me with is similar to that of DIAGONAL's eponymously titled debut album from 2008. SEVEN IMPALE's City of the Sun is a wonderful collection of masterfully composed, executed and recorded songs.A 4.5 star album that I can't see giving anything less than five in that it is a treasure for the ages!" - Prog Archives
    $14.00
  • HDCD remaster available for US distribution again.
    $15.00
  • Second album from this incredible fusion trio from North Carolina will blow your skull off.  Trioscapes consists of Between The Buried And Me bassist Dan Briggs and Walter Fancourt (tenor sax/flute), and Matt Lynch (drums).  Don't let the absence of keys or guitar throw you.  This is mild altering, high energy fusion. You get the chops from hell, tripped out soundscapes, and head throttling melodies.  And that's just the first tune!!!  Utterly lethal.  BUY OR DIE!!"Much of what can conceivable be written of Trioscapes‘ most recent album Digital Dream Sequence is exactly what could be written about their previous offering Separate Realities.Musicians, jazz musicians particularly, may spit their coffee all over their keyboards on reading that, apopleptic and petulant – pointing out that where the previous album was underpinned by Ionic mode progressions, that this one is rooted in the Chromatic (or somesuch muso guff). Suffice to say that, as with Separate Realities, Digital Dream Sequence does not cling to homely pentatonic melodies or major chord, 4/4 song structures.It is a surprising and joyful departure from the predictable, which would be easy to describe as mind-expanding if it did not so closely follow its predecessor in structure and feel.As it is, there are a few physical embellishments to the formula worth noting, but not many. Keyboard fills (or what sounds like keyboards – what Dan Briggs can do with a bass guitar and effects pedals can be confusing at times) bring an extra accent to the pieces, as well as atmospheric depth on, say, the opening sequence of ‘From the Earth to the Moon’. On that track, the use of keyboard wash with a glockenspiel voice is foregrounded in something that tips a hat to Pink Floyd’s exploration of moon themes, before it takes off into something more definitely Trioscapes in its saxophone/bass/percussion attack. The track goes on to finish with an outro that co-opts much of the main theme from Tubular Bells.Keys, elsewhere on Digital Dream Sequence, play a role more to do with sound dynamics than with song structure – they fill a gap in the lower mids that is left between Walter Fancourt’s flute and alto saxophone moments.To state outright that this album sounds like Separate Realities is misleading though – there is much in the way of progression to note, and a gelling of roles between band members who have, onstage and in the studio, found a way to fit their individual talents into a group dynamic. Although there were moments of more-than-the-sum-of-its-parts alchemy on the earlier album, they were rarer than they are on Digital Dream Sequence. The latter has more raw groove, embeds moments of individual technical dexterity into the compositions less abruptly, and overall displays a more comfortable fusion (arg – that word!) between the funk and metal aesthetics that comprise the Trioscapes recipe.Of that curious mix, the mention of both Pink Floyd and Mike Oldfield above may offer some clue – there is a smattering of prog rock reference on Digital Dream Sequence (the intro to final track ‘The Jungle’ particularly) which opens a world of musical territory to the trio. Particularly the rhythms of Mali, which fascinated prog musicians for much of the 80s. Or perhaps that is too fanciful (jazz and funk have, historically, a more direct conduit to African rhythms than anything channeled through prog, after all).Nevertheless, that final track, once one has re-accustomed the ear to the Trioscapes tag-team approach to rhythm, tension and controlled saxophone madness, throbs with a primal, sweaty and utterly invigorating energy that transcends jazz, funk, metal or rock and is its own glorious creation.Which is something that never quite happened on Separate Realities (and bear in mind that Separate Realities was chosen by this reviewer as the album of 2012). This time Trioscapes have thrown off the anxiety of influence, have coalesced their individual contributions into a smoother whole, and have dug deeply to find an immense gravitronic groove.It’s a throbbing monster of an album." - Trebuchet Magazine
    $14.00
  • How many of you remember Tritonus?  Back in 1995, there was a Norwegian sampler CD called simply "A Gathering of 8 Norwegian Progressive Metal Bands".  Besides Spiral Architect, Trivial Act, and Manitou there were other bands that managed to score record deals.  Most of them disappeared.  Tritonus was on the sampler.  Despite having some of the strongest material on the CD the band never signed with a label, and despite years of trying, never released any material.  Band leader/virtuoso guitarist Carl August Tidemann would time to time mention that Tritonus was working on its debut, but after almost 2 decades everyone pretty much took it with a grain of salt.  Well...better late than never!If you've been listening to prog metal for a long time you know that the sound has changed a bit over the years.  Tritonus' debut turns back the hands of time.  This is a stunning example of prog metal the way we used to know it.  Stunning musicianship with plenty of jolts of technicality.  At this point, the lineup has changed over the years.  In addition to Tidemann, Tritonus now consists of Rolf Kristensen (vocals), Ole Devold (drums) and Thor-Axel Eriksen (guitars).  Lots of guests contribute (my guess is many of these were past members).  Keyboards (courtesy of Circus Maximus' Lasse Finbraten) tend to be put to good use - you hear the occasional solo but mostly its there for texture - the twin guitars weave together with incredible proficiency and dominate.  I have to point out the vocals of Rolf Kristensen.  This guy is amazing!Its a shame that its taken so many years for Tritonus to release this.  Its quite a great album and in a way it makes me a bit sad.  Had it come out 15 years ago, they could have easily risen through the scene.  We are lucky we have it.  Is it closure for Tritonus or the opening of a new era?  Let's hope for the later.  They deserve a better fate and damn I'd want to hear more music from them.  BUY OR DIE!
    $15.00
  • "Fifteen years doesn’t seem like that long ago, but at the time I was a 17 year-old who would soon be writing for Al Kikuras at the legendary Unchain the Underground and getting deep into the back end of all the great metal that was coming out of Europe. On the top of my list was my discovery of cheesy power metal. At the time I was swimming in Blind Guardian, Rhapsody, and Symphony X (not Eurometal, I know) records for the first time and really finding my footing. One day while surfing the Internet I stumbled upon a streaming radio station and heard a song called “Letter to Dana.” I was stunned. Shocked. Cheesed out. And totally in love.Within days I actually received the band’s sophomore release Silence from Al to review, but not before I went over to my local CD store and ordered Ecliptica. Upon receiving it, I turned into a total Sonata Arctica monster, singing along (loudly), and giggling every time Kakko missed a preposition (and oh, did he miss prepositions!). I took no end of joy/amusement from what I saw as the perfect driving music: the high-energy, breakneck speed; the lyrical hits-and-misses; and particularly the pop sensibility in metal packaging and the extremely fun music in a scene that I already knew took itself way too seriously.Ecliptica - RevisitedAnd Ecliptica is a record that’s hard to take too seriously even though it’s a total classic1. Iconic tracks like “FullMoon” with the epic “run away, run away, run away” in the chorus, or the lyrical prowess of “Letter to Dana” (“My eyes might have betrayed me, but I have seen your picture on the cover of a filthy magazine”). The extremely poppy “UnOpened” and expansive epic of “Destruction Preventer” also add to a feeling of a band who was making music that was fun to play and fun to listen to and about as far away from the melodramatic black and gothic metal of the day.Despite being silly or maybe a little wonky, it’s surprising to me how well Ecliptica holds up after all these years. While it certainly is the most obviously Stratovarius-influenced of the band’s material, songs like “Blank File” feel relevant in 2014 because of the NSA scandal. “UnOpened” still rocks the punch it once had, and “FullMoon” makes me giggle like an Angry Metal Schoolgirl and headbang simultaneously. “Letter to Dana” is the finest metal ballad ever written (not kidding) and still holds up 15 years later in spite of itself. And that’s all just listening to original release.Ecliptica Revisited, in my opinion, shows what a different band Sonata Arctica is today than they were in 1999. First, with only 2/5 of the original lineup remaining—Tony Kakko and human metronome drummer Tommy Portimo, for those scoring at home—the players on this record are up a notch from the original band. This isn’t to insult them, but it’s a truism: professional bands always replace original members with guys who play better. This, in combination with 15 years of songwriting and arranging experience, means that Ecliptica Revisited drops new and interesting arrangements that in retrospect are straight and, frankly, kind of stale.Sonata ArcticaIn fact, unlike Manowar‘s recent re-interpretations of their records, Sonata Arctica‘s reinterpretations of their original material introduce quite a bit more variation into the game—and improvements. Vocal tracks have been layered, re-arranged and improved, while guitar solos hop out of the mix in ways that they never did on the original. The band uses dynamics and speed in a way that makes the record far less uniform. Particularly the plodding “My Land” and “Replica” both were given facelifts that make them more entertaining listens. Another interesting point is that in comparing them, I noticed they dropped the whole record a step to accommodate a more realistic range for Mr. Kakko, who certainly made the (common) amateur mistake of topping his lungs out in the studio on the first record. Like many before him, he discovered that vocal range in the studio and vocal range on the road are two very, very different things—and Revisited gives him the chance to update this mistake, while downtuning makes the record just a little darker.Still, one wonders how it came to be that Sonata Arctica decided to revisit a record that members largely have distanced themselves from in recent years. Even while they tried to plant an old school flag with Pariah’s Child, they have frequently made comments of being bored with this material since around Unia. But instead of watching the date come and go, they walked into a studio, re-learned the songs and gave them at least one take. While I’m certainly grateful for this—it sure has re-sparked my love of Ecliptica—it does strike me as out of character. Another curiosity is that after all this time, the band did not bother to correct any of the grammatical errors. Really guys? Missing prepositions aren’t any more holy than a song’s uniform time or key signature…Regardless of motive, though, I actually suggest that fans of Sonata Arctica give this a listen and give a thumbs up to the band for doing this. If you have loved this band as long as I have, there’s a definite comfort of slipping back into the old material—but it’s also nice to hear the band play it in ways that speak to great maturity as musicians. It doesn’t make the old one outdated—shit, it’s a DR6 vs. Ecliptica 1999’s DR7 rating—and it doesn’t reek of the lightning-in-a-bottle-excitement that debut records from up-and-coming bands often have, but unless Tony’s vocal performance annoys you, you’ll have trouble arguing with how good Ecliptica Revisited (still) sounds. And the changes actually make it a—surprise—great or even better (or at least different and very enjoyable) listen." - Angry Metal Guy blog
    $15.00
  • "Digitally remastered and expanded edition of this classic Metal album including three bonus tracks recorded with bassist Cliff Burton prior to his joining Metallica. Trauma was founded in the Bay Area in 1980 as one of the first of the New Wave of Bay Area Metal bands. After Cliff Burton's departure to join Metallica, the band changed personnel. In 1984, Trauma recorded the Scratch & Scream album for Shrapnel Records. The album received many excellent reviews from primarily American and European heavy metal magazines such as Kerrang, Circus, and Metal Forces to name a few. This version sounds awesome and is housed in an attractive, limited edition digipak cover."
    $15.00
  • Remastered edition."Straight Between the Eyes undoubtedly has one of the worst album covers in rock history, but the record is an unexpected return to form from the journeyman hard rockers. Just a record before, Rainbow sounded as if they were verging on Billy Squier territory, but here, they reverse course and deliver a solid, no-frills hard rock record. It isn't just that the material is stronger, though it certainly is, it's that Roger Glover abandoned his smoothed-out, radio-ready production that marred Difficult to Cure. That's not to say that Straight Between the Eyes doesn't sound dated -- Rainbow was a band that was forever tied to its era -- but the album does have a harder-hitting, muscular sound that is more appropriate for the band. Similarly, vocalist Joe Lynn Turner sounds more comfortable with the group, and the entire band just seems to gel, turning even the generic numbers on the album into enjoyable, straight-ahead hard rock. There may not be any specific showcases for Ritchie Blackmore, but his playing is better heard in this setting, where he's not only soloing, he's propelling the band with his powerful riffs. As always, he's the driving force behind the band, but this is truly a band effort, which is one of the reasons why Straight Between the Eyes is one of the strongest albums the group ever cut." - All Music Guide
    $5.00
  • Its been some time since Michael Harris' Thought Chamber project made its debut.  The band consists of Michael Harris (guitars), Ted Leonard (vocals), Bill Jenkins (keys), Jeff Plant (bass), and Mike Haid (drums).  Ted Leonard and Bill Jenkins will be familiar to you from their membership in Enchant (Ted is also fronting Spock's Beard now).Psykerion is a sci-fi cybermetal concept album.  Harris plays with a lot of restraint compared to some of his solo albums.  In fact I would classify it as tasteful.  Leonard is one of the best vocalists in prog and he doesn't disappoint.  Lots of solos flying around on guitar and keys but it maintains a melodic integrity through out.  Hopefully we don't have to wait another 7 years for the follow up.  Highly recommended.
    $12.00
  • The late Michael Hedges was one of the great visionary guitarists of our lifetimes. He used tapping techniques on acoustic guitar to create a wall of sound. He was influenced by John Fahey and Leo Kottke and made us all rethink what can possibly be done with an acoustic guitar.  Introspective but addictive.  If you have any interest in guitar you need to hear this album.
    $5.00
  • Chicago prog-metal stalwarts Ion Vein are back but with a new game plan.  The music is now very much in the power metal vein and even has a groove to it.  New vocalist Scott Featherstone is a definite step in the right direction."ION VEIN's self-titled new album shows the band re-tooled, re-focused and re-energized in a way that captures the essence of their song-oriented and technically-skilled metal intensity. Also, a top notch production drives these pounding, meaty canvases to cut into the very core of your soul, while breathing new life into today's world of music. For fans of Metallica, Dio, Iced Earth and more!""The long awaited follow up to 2003's "Reigning Memories" was once again produced, recorded, and mixed by Neil Kernon (Judas Priest, Nevermore, Redemption) and is the first full length album with vocalist, Scott Featherstone, whom the band first debuted on the IV v1.0 and IV v2.0 three song digital EPs released in September 2011 and December 2012 respectively. Additionally, the six songs from those EPs have been re-mixed/re-mastered for inclusion on the full album."
    $10.00
  • Its been four years since this British ensemble's debut album.  Been a long time coming but there have been a number of personnel changes in the band.  Founding members Alex Crispin (vox/keys) and bassist Dan Pomlett left the band, while guitarist Nicholas Richards switched over to bass.  While the band went through a state of flux their core sound didn't really change a hell of a lot.  Yeah maybe its pared down a bit but it is still steeped in the sounds of the early 70s.  Mellotron, organ and reeds abound.  Guitar is a bit more dominant but still with that retro Vertigo vibe.  Vocals only appear on one track and they are OK.  Think in terms of an instrumental VDGG in a massive jam session with members of Soft Machine and Eloy.  As if!  I will be hard pressed to come across a better progressive rock album released in 2012.  BUY OR DIE!
    $13.00
  • "This is not a new Lost Horizon record.There, we got that sorted out. The good news is that Daniel Heiman is finally back where he belongs: in metal. For its third outing, Harmony tapped this fan-favorite singer, but unlike recent, however successful, hijack jobs (think Michele Luppi with Secret Sphere, or further back, Urban Breed with Bloodbound), this is still one hundred percent a Swedish, religious power metal experience.After a promising start with Dreaming Awake, and a superior sophomore effort in Chapter II: The Aftermath, Chapter III at last gives us the Harmony record that I always knew the Swedes had in them. Retaining the band’s signature solemn style and subtle sense of melody, Theatre Of Redemption is bigger, better, and an overall top contender for 2014’s album of the year.Just how much has this to do with Heiman himself? Of course, hiring a man of his not inconsiderable talent is certain to lend your work that extra flavor. This isn’t to say that Henrik Båth held the band back (about as much as Mikael Dahl did/does in Crystal Eyes), but that Heiman touch is fan-favorite for a reason. The superhuman wails, the natural emotion, the unrivaled raw power, all of that bigger and better than before as well. In whatever dark corner of the music industry this man has been lurking in for all these years, he’s picked up a thing or two. A tender and soulful performance like the one on “What If” could simply not have come from him in his Lost Horizon-days. Goosebumps, ladies and gentlemen, entire flocks of geese.Logically, even Daniel freakin’ Heiman can only thrive when the songwriting is there to support him. Harmony stepped up its game considerably in this department, opting for shorter, tighter material here. Theatre Of Redemption is trademarked by sharp and poignant riffs, simple but gripping melodies, and an overdose of class. “Son Of The Morning” and the title track sound like the basic but effective kind of songs that Kamelot used to churn out in its heyday, boasting oriental effects, a mystic atmosphere, and an ominous chorus. “I gave it aaall – for – NOTHING!” More geese and whatnot.Not all of it is down and plodding, though. Introspective opener “Window Of My Soul”, the celebratory “Crown Me King”, and self-referencing closer “In Search Of” root Harmony firmly in the national style. Anyone attempting to chronicle the rich history of Swedish power metal should do well to include them. For filler tracks, to conclude, look further, because Harmony wastes no time making every single song one worthy of remembrance and appreciation.This is not a Lost Horizon record. Instead it’s the best album Harmony has ever released, and one of the best this year has seen so far. Daniel Heiman returns gloriously to be crowned as king (only to disappear, as he’s only a guest on this album), and aids Harmony in releasing its full potential. Fans of Heiman, Harmony, and (Swedish) power metal in general should purchase this blindly." - Black Wind Metal
    $15.00