Live At R.I.O. Festival 2014

October Equus are one of the more interesting bands on the so-called "avant-prog" scene.  Their music has a dark energy that often evokes the spirit of Present and King Crimson.  A lot of this is due to the angular stylings of guitarist/leader Angel Ontalva.  The clarinet, sax and keys infuse jazz rock elements.  This is their complete live performance at the R.I.O. Festival 2014.  Apparently this was a controversial performance among the attendees.  Not sure why.  Listening to this I hear a band burning with fire.

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  • Second album from this US psychedelic band features Dug Pinnick on bass and vocals.  If you like space rock/psych jams along the lines of Ozric Tentacles, Quantum Fantay, and Gong you need to these guys.  Wicked stuff.
    $16.00
  • "And straight out of left field…One thing you really don’t expect to hear these days is proper gothic/symphonic metal in the classic late 90’s-mid 00’s tradition.While a few bands have recently begun making overtures towards a return to form if not revitalization of a genre that’s been effectively moribund since 2008, many of them are veterans going back to the sound that made them famous in the first place.  Leaves Eyes come immediately to mind, as does a recent surprising move to the operatic frontlines from longstanding (if previously somewhat boring) second stringers Xandria, who proved that sometimes losing a few founding members can be the best thing that ever happened to a band*.*for another glaring example of this principle, see also Theatres des Vampires, who only became a truly notable venture under the ostensible leadership of the lovely Sonya Scarlet…But what happens when we’re not talking classic acts undergoing some measure of renewal?  Moreover, when we’re not only talking a brand spanking new outfit, but one that (get this) doesn’t even hail from European climes.  Say what the hell?But here you go, a self-released gem right out of that busy musical hotspot of Minnesota (of all places…and we’re not even talking a Prince related project here!).  While not as bombastic as, say, Phantom Agony/Consign to Oblivion era Epica, Leaves Eyes or Mother Earth/Silent Force era Within Temptation, keyboardist/guitarist Damien Villarreal and vocalist Chelsea Knaack have come together to make what may be the first actual gothic/symphonic metal offering to come out of the United States.Sure, we’ve had a gothic/death metal crossover act (Echoes of Eternity, though they’re at least part Canadian) and a few lower rung gothic cum pop radio acts (remember that lone album where anyone cared about Evanescence?  Good move breaking up with Ben Moody, there, Amy…), but actual symphonic metal with operatic vocals?  This is total bizarro world stuff over here, in a nation still (sadly) dominated by aggro acts, hip hop and tuneless, emotionless math metal and prog wannabes.So once you manage to get over the shock factor engendered by their domestic origin, how does the music rate?  Well, for one thing, Knaack taps into similar vocal range and dynamics to earlier Simone Simons, albeit with a bit more stiffness that calls Carmen Schaeffer of Coronatus to mind (though I’m betting she was aiming more for earlier Floor Janssen if not Tarja Turunen stylistically).The guitars are somewhere in the middle, managing to keep Villarreal’s fingers a whole hell of a lot busier than the standard chunka-chunka single note stutter rhythms that tend to be a genre standby.  This is a good thing, as is his ability to hold down a reasonably melodic solo or harmony lead fill on occasion; these certainly enhance the sound to an unusual degree and keep the listener more on their toes than fans of the genre are accustomed to.But is he a virtuoso guitar hero on any level?  Not in the least.  Consider him a rather competent, melodically oriented craftsman with light prog leanings (you can pick out the Fates Warning by way of Dream Theater aspirations in a few of the rhythmic choices and modulations, not to mention the mostly inobtrusive but omnipresent keyboards which he also provides).Rounding out the trio is drummer Jordan Ames, who offers equally competent drumming, which appropriately for the style is never very flashy or notable, but filled with enough stuttering polyrhythms, cymbal work and a dash of double bass-inflected kit runs to show the guy to be quietly accomplished (much like what I’m trying to get across about Villarreal).  Coming from the Shrapnel school back in the day, I prefer a lot more flash in my players, but there’s nobody here who’s less than superlative in their musical competencies.The one major failing, and one I find with far too many acts these days, irrespective of genre, age or nation of origin is a noticeable lack of soul.  Like comparing Jimmy Page to Carlos Santana or the guys in Queensryche to Randy Rhoads, while in the right general ballpark, there’s something central and essential that just isn’t there.While more effusive and warm than several likeminded European acts (as befits a trio of blustery, heart on the sleeve wearing Americans), there’s a certain unexpected coldness to the sound and lack of bombast that baffles somewhat.  More of a note of constructive criticism, much akin to chiding a favored student for the mistakes that kept him from getting an A+ instead of a B, but worth noting nonetheless.All told, if you’re a fan of gothic symphonic metal in the days before that scene became overcrowded with no-talents and pop radio leanings and have some measure of respect for progressive leanings in your metal (think Ray Alder-era Fates Warning far more than Jason McMaster-era Watchtower and you’ll get a clearer picture), you really don’t want to miss out on this one.The first US overture into the gothic symphonic revival delivers a very credible and respectable showing, and gets themselves some high marks in the bargain.  Good stuff." - Third Eye Cinema
    $12.00
  • New 2CD mediabook edition features a remixed and remastered version of the album.  The bonus disc includes the Dawn Raids EPs plus a previously unreleased track.Tightly Unwound marks Pineapple Thief's departure from Cyclops, their label of many years. The band's visionary is Bruce Soord. His music is filled with melancholy - there is as much drama and passion as you would find from a Peter Hammill or Roger Waters album. Musically speaking this is modern progressive rock heavily derived from Porcupine Tree with some traces of Pink Floyd. Keyboards pretty much are in the background just providing texture and pads - this is guitar driven music...and it's angry!
    $15.00
  • Finally! First official CD release of the band's debut for Charisma Records. Originally released in 1975 the lineup featured Dave Brock, Robert Calvert, Nik Turner, Simon House, Simon King, Alan Powell, and Paul Rudolph. The album features "Steppenwolf" - one of the band's signature tracks. This edition comes from Atomhenge - a new offshoot label from Esoteric Records. It gets the full Mark Powell treatment - extensive liner notes and photos, 24 bit mastering and 4 bonus tracks. Essential.
    $17.00
  • Perhaps inspired by the passing of the legendary Jon Lord (who the album is dedicated to) or by the creative infusion from producer Bob Ezrin, Deep Purple's 19th studio album arrives firing on all cylinders.  Sure I miss Ritchie Blackmore.  Steve Morse is Steve Morse.  A legend...but he brings a different element to the band that to my ears was always defined by the neoclassical explorations of Blackmore.  Getting past that this album is a pure smoker.  Don Airey replaced Jon Lord over a decade ago.  He's always played the hell out of the Hammond organ and he doesn't disappoint here.  He's the perfect replacement for Jon Lord and even adds his own imprint in some not so subtle ways.  Oh yeah - Ian Gillan sounds great.  I wasn't a huge fan of the last couple of albums but this one sure does kick some major ass.This is the deluxe digipak edition.  It comes with one bonus track on the CD and a DVD that has interviews and bonus live clips.
    $15.00
  • Stunning reissue of the second album from Jacqueline Thibault aka Laurence Vanay.  To confuse issues more this was actually released under the band name Gate Way.  Perhaps a bit heavier than Galaxies, this treads similar ground.  Spacey prog with a Pink Floyd feel married to gorgeous, soft and wispy dreamlike folk.  Ms. Thibault is a hell of a keyboardist and she displays her wares through out the album.  This deluxe reissue arrives in a mini-lp sleeve, is loaded with bonus tracks, and has a great booklet with an interview with Ms. Thibault.  She's had an interesting life.  It would seem that the time period that Evening Colours was recorded was a bit of a train wreck for her - definitely a good read.  These Laurence Vanay release are clearly two of the best reissues of 2013.  Save yourself hundreds of dollars and hours trying to find an original vinyl copy.  This was transferred from the original master tapes and sounds wonderful.  Highly recommended.
    $15.00
  • One of the all time great psych monsters back in print.  The Dream was a one and one band from Norway.  They recorded this one album in 1967.  One of the primary reasons this album is so desireable is that the lead guitarist is none other than Terje Rypdal!  Its a period sounding piece - you can tell this is the late 60s but damn if it isn't as well done as anything else from this time.  Rypdal displays an obvious influence from Hendrix.  He completely blows it out on this album.  Plenty of Hammond organ grinding away in the background.  Lyrics are pretty stupid - the opening track is actually called 'Green Things (From Outer Space)" but it doesn't matter.  The music is a typical mixture of styles but mostly bluesy stuff with a real hard edge.  Rypdal's guitarwork is purely lethal.  After this album the band split and Rypdal headed off into jazz realms with the Min Bul album, this solo album Bleak House, and then his long running career with ECM.  Highly recommended.
    $18.00
  • 2CD special edition arrives with a bonus CD featuring live tracks taken from the "It Happened One Night" DVD - a live gig from Carlisle, England 2/12/10. "‘Map of the Past‘, the fifth studio album from Cumbrian prog rockers It Bites, will most likely inhabit a strange, disturbing place in your heart. It’s a release that is obscurely beautiful and tender, but also one that can occasionally sound incongruous and lost in time. Very often, when it comes to progressive music, people will often justify anything odd by defending it with its genre. In the case of It Bites, there is a temptation to lean on a sound from their 80s heyday, which occasionally makes ‘Map of the Past’ seem staid and not just a little cheesy. In places this album is a wonderful, soaring retrospect vision of a forgotten generation, built around the ‘discovery of an old family photograph’. Although not a concept album per se, ‘Map of the Past’ explores the idea of lives captured within photographs, and reflects these contemplative visions with equally thoughtful music; album opener, ‘Man In the Photograph’ opens with the fuzz of radio static and soon leads into sound of organs and John Mitchell’s recollections borne from this one picture. The song blends into the more progressive sounding fare of ‘Wallflower‘ and its indulgent synth solo. The title track is more engaging, with soaring chorus vocals and disorientating time signatures, showcasing the tight musicianship and richly mature songwriting ability that has grown from their 30 years of existence. The strength of this album falters with ‘Flag’ and its irrepressibly outdated smattering of 80s memorabilia and Sting powered vocal lines, although the lyrics are undoubtedly more engaging than any Police offshoot. The album does have a tendency to wander into these unpalatable territories, but more than often than not redeems itself; as the grandiose, irresistible flounce of ‘Send No Flowers‘ resurrects its orchestral bombast and moves into ‘Meadow and the Stream’s artistically detailed backdrop, it’s clear that this album is more rollercoaster than record. The album finishes, as it started, relying on simply constructed songs and that radio static to bookmark the end; ‘The Last Escape’ is honestly beautiful, and seems even more so in contrast to the tumult of the remainder of the record. ‘Map of the Past’ shifts between temporal paradigms rather than changing between tracks; it’s a scintillating album that is honest to itself, and stays true to It Bites’ form, even if it does rely on sounds from their back backcatalogue occasionally. Despite this, the depth of the album is phenomenal and is genuinely rich in its storyline, with music that peaks and troughs fittingly. Well worth a listen if you find yourself pointed at the progosphere." - Bring The Noise
    $17.00
  • I stumbled on this band's debut, Cowboy Music, and they blew me away. It's a wild free for all guitar/bass/drums power trio that runs the gamut of free playing to metal skronk. The band has moved over to Rune Grammofon - expect more of the same! "This is the second full-length release by Norway's Bushman's Revenge (Even Helte Hermansen, Gard Nilssen, Rune Nergaard). You Lost Me At Hello shows a distinct development from their debut Cowboy Music (Jazzaway, 2007). Founded by Hermansen and Nilssen in 2003 in their hometown of Skien, a couple of hours from Oslo, the trio aim to combine the jazz/improv background of the rhythm section with the rock/metal background of leader, composer and guitarist Hermansen to create their own expressive music inspired by names like Black Sabbath and Jimi Hendrix as well as Ornette Coleman and Albert Ayler. Hermansen is also a member of such diverse groups as Shining and Solveig Slettahjell's Slow Motion Quintet. Nergaard is from the northern town of Bodø and also plays in Humvee and the Eirik Hegdal Quartet, while Nilssen can be found in Puma, Humvee and Lord Kelvin. Both have a background at the Jazz Academy in Trondheim, breeding ground for musicians such as Arve Henriksen, Ståle Storløkken, Nils Petter Molvær, and many more. Musically, You Lost Me At Hello has an untamed energy, showing a looser and rougher side than the debut, yet with a more focused road-map towards free exploration. The production is quite heavy with a dark and dirty side to it, and within the Rune Grammofon catalog, this record is probably most comparable to Scorch Trio and Motorpsycho. Metal crunch, bass meanderings, free jazz space-drums, anthemic riffs, and bursts of scrawl and fire, Bushman's Revenge will lay to waste all other contenders."
    $18.00
  • Superb new collaborative effort between noted Israeli musician Aviv Geffen and Porcupine Tree's Steven Wilson. Chris Maitland and Gavin Harrison play drums and there is also some orchestration. The music bears a strong resemblence to "In Absentia". It has an emotional inner space driven feel....mostly emphasizing serenity and melody but the occassional hard edge comes along to bite you in the butt. Easily recommended to fans of Porcupine Tree.
    $15.00
  • "A 5-track mini-album ‘little brother’ to the splendid Not The Weapon But The Hand, Arc Light features 4 new tracks and a new version of Intergalactic featuring Aziz Ibrahim (Stone Roses, Ian Brown) on guitar.Not The Weapon But The Hand was the 2012 debut album from the cult hero collaborative. It featured appearances from Danny Thompson on double bass, Chris Maitland (ex Porcupine Tree) on drums and Dave Gregory (XTC) on guitar, bass and string arrangementSteve Hogarth is best known as the frontman of Marillion, the progressive rock legends that he joined in 1989, following spells in The Europeans and How We Live. In addition to the 12 albums Marillion have released in this time he has also recorded and toured as a solo artist, under the name ‘h’.In recent years Richard Barbieri has been a core member of Porcupine Tree playing keyboards on all the band’s albums since 1993 as well as releasing two solo albums, Things Buried and Stranger Inside. Prior to this, it was in the new-wave pioneers Japan that he originally came to prominence, helping to create the ground-breaking synthesiser sound that defined the band and influenced the likes of The Human League, Duran Duran, Gary Numan, Talk Talk and a whole raft of artists to follow."
    $14.00
  • "March 9th is Robin Trower’s 70th birthday and we are the ones who get a present that day with the release of Something’s About to Change. You do not keep recording at that age unless you have a real passion for music. Robin has been quoted as saying “I still enjoy making music. I practically live for playing the guitar.” and just like his last critically acclaimed Roots and Branches his passion for the guitar shows.One of the first things that will stand out to you as you listen is of course Robin’s world-class guitar work. This album is filled with a whole lot of groove packed slow blues that allow Robin to occupy the space between lyric lines with little short guitar fills which morph into beautiful solos. I will be honest, though, I threw this disc on without doing any reading on who the musicians were. By the third track, the funky “Riff No. 7 (Still Alive),” I was intrigued to find out whom the bass player was – turns out that it’s Robin laying down that powerful groove on the bass for the whole album along with Chris Taggart on the drums and Luke Smith on organ.“Dreams That Shone like Diamonds” is slow cathartic blues where Robin sings, “I had dreams that shown like diamonds run through my hands like so much dust.” For the solo Robin rings a seriously full atmospheric tone from his Fender as he laments the lost dreams thorough his guitar. Other standout tracks include the title track “Something’s About to Change” along with “Gold to Grey” and the relatively up-tempo “The One Saving Grace.”Robin’s recording history speaks for itself. How many artists have an album like his 1974’s Bridge of Sighs that many of today’s great guitar players will point at when they are asked to list albums that influenced them. After all this time Robin can still deliver an album packed with slow bluesy jams that true guitar lovers will enjoy." - Blues Rock Review
    $16.00
  • Of all the Yes albums that needed a remix this is the one that needed it the most!"Relayer (1974) is the third in a series of remixed and expanded Yes albums.Presented as a double digi-pack format in a slipcase with booklet featuring new sleeve notes by Sid Smith, along with rare photos and archive material, the album has been remixed into stereo and 5.1 Surround Sound from the original studio masters by Steven Wilson and is fully approved by Yes.The DVDA also contains the original album mix in high-resolution, and a complete alternate album running order drawn from demos/studio run-throughsRestored artwork approved by Roger Dean, the release of which coincides with the 40th anniversary of the album’s original late 1974 appearance."
    $20.00
  • The MPS Project is a trio led by keyboardist Michael Pelz-Sherman. He's a very gifted musician who has clearly been influenced by Chick Corea and Jan Hammer.  He concentrates on electric keyboards but piano figures prominently.  The music is easily categorized as fusion in the tradition of Return To Forever and Mahavishnu Orchestra but probably leans ever so slightly towards the jazz side of the spectrum.  My understanding is the band tore it up at Progday 2014.  Highly recommended."The MPS Project is a group of veteran professional musicians living in the Triangle region of North Carolina and dedicated to creating original, progressive Jazz. Our music explores the intersections of jazz, progressive rock, and 70's-style fusion in the tradition of Return to Forever and Weather Report. Informed by contemporary chamber music, collective free improvisation, and modern "jam-band" sensibilities, the MPS Project boldly and expertly covers a wide swath of musical territory, ranging from heartfelt lyrical ballads to ethereal sonic textures to complex rhythmic structures to blistering electronic funk. Their debut CD, "Goes Without Saying," features six compositions by leader Michael Pelz-Sherman, two extended free improvisations, and a unique arrangement of Steve Swallow's jazz standard, "Falling Grace"."
    $10.00