PETER GABRIEL Passion - Music from The Last Temptation Of Christ (Crossover Prog, 1989)

Review by SteveG — Even if the music from the album The Passion by Peter Gabriel cannot be labeled as prog, it's so stunningly revolutionary
that it will easily rest among the pillars of prog music. This OST was conceived as a music of ancient times and modern
times. Of far away and somehow near. The secret of how Gabriel accomplished this is as easy as it is complicated. Mr. G
took world rhythms, African and Middle Eastern melodies and combined these with modern ambient drones and
soundscapes using all maner of modern and ancient instruments and voices. Including samples from a Fairlight sampler,
Akai S900 anad an Emulator, as well as his trusty Roland, Prophet and Fairlight synths. Featuring his own hypnotic near
chanting vocals coupled with world music chants from the likes of Youssou N'Dour and the quawwali style vocals of
the great Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, almost by default we have a memorizing musical mix that could only be sublime.

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STRAWBS Laydown With The Strawbs (Prog Folk, 2008)

Review by SteveG — Here's a secret about the Strawbs:

Don't tell anyone, but Dave Cousins, Dave Lambert and Chas Cronk cannot harmonize well with each other and
come off like out of tune drunken sailors on some occasions. Especially when they sing together live. Which is why I've
seen a few negative reviews of this live album titled Lay Down With the Strawbs. Even when the listeners get past the
first three and a quarter songs, where Cousins and Lambert go on to sing magnificently by themselves.

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ACCORDO DEI CONTRARI Violato Intatto (Jazz Rock/Fusion, 2017)

Review by Aussie-Byrd-Brother — Album number four for the frenetic and unpredictable Italian fusion band Accordo dei Contrari, and 2017's `Violato Intatto' is their most varied and volatile work to date! To call AdC a jazz-fusion band would be doing them a bit of a disservice, as they travel much further than that by incorporating everything from Rock-in-Opposition/Avant textures, ambient interludes, brief cinematic Post-Rock flirtations and a touch of Canterbury?styled jazzy waftings. The band have taken the potential trouble of the void left by departing bassist Daniele Piccinini by filling it with sax player Stefano Radaelli (as well as bringing in Deus Ex Machina's violinist Alessandro Bonetti to guest), and this new version of the group attack with more fire, bluster and a determination to impress than ever before...and it's resulted in one of the finest progressive music releases of 2017. Predominantly recorded live in the studio with only the lightest of later overdubs, tightly composed instrumental pieces that blend effortlessly with improvised stretching-out is mostly the order of the day here, and sure enough opener `Folia Saxifraga' twists and turns with plenty of jagged back-and-forth stop-start spasms. Peppered with guest Gabriele di Giulio and Stefano's honking runaway sax, Giovanni Parmeggiani's loopy keyboard runs, Marco Marzo Maracas's tangled guitar grinding and Cristian Franchi's crashing drumming, the group only take a little break for a mysterious electric piano ambient shimmer in the middle. Relentless Hammond organ runs, red-hot electric guitar embers and pumping incessant Soft Machine-like horns cook throughout `Monodia', and `Blue-S' adds some dirty grooving swampy blues. Check out `Shamash' for an prime example of AdC's versatility and melting-pot of styles and sounds ? opening with reverberating electronic slivers and shuffling distortion, it tears into heavy buoyant riffing, falls away into eastern-flecked ambient reflections before tearing through whirling dervish-like violin thrashes. There's noisy Soft Machine sounds aplenty throughout `Idios Cosmos's twinkling electric piano splintering, rumbling percussion builds and blaring sax blasts delivering lurching heavy grooves, and E Verde è l'Ignoto su cui Corri' moves closer to a band like Italian avant-garders Yugen with guest Patrizia Urbani's spoken vocals weaving in and around the dreamy chiming guitars and icy Mellotron veils. There's an eerie air of King Crimson atmosphere gently pervading here, and the low-key sophistication proves that AdC don't need to be high-energy and rowdy all the time. That restraint continues into `Marienkirche', where a treated cacophony of faraway tolling bells and electronic drones seep together to form a pristine ambient break. There's more maddening Crimson-like jangling repetitive chimes, carefully slinking drumming and electric piano tip-toes throughout `Di Eccezione in Variante' that come close to the early A.M hours rainy-night teeming drops of Soft Machine's `Five' LP, before it rages into a storm of ferocious guitar wailing and molten Fender Rhodes eruptions. `Usil' is another jazzy and gutsy horn-pumping groover with addictive reprising themes and plentiful soloing, and `Eros vs Anteros' delivers not only acid-rock guitar histrionics and lengthy proto-prog Hammond heavy battering, but the gurgling electronics and mantra-like guitar spirals almost remind of the Ozric Tentacles...and the closing acoustic passage is just the added gravy - ooh yeah! The closing title track `Il Violato Intatto' blends hypnotic electric piano loops over placid drones, hazy washes of guitar distortion and clipping up-tempo drumming. Frantic, infectious and foot-tapping, it's an exciting way to end the album on as great a high as possible.

Don't be put off by the seventy-three minute running time here, as the wide variety of material always keeps the disc fresh, vibrant and exciting through bring a range of emotions - some attack with a fury, some challenge the mind, others craft immersive atmospheres and then there are just blasts of cool energy aiming to be fun. It all amounts to `Violato Intatto' likely being Accordo dei Contrari's true masterwork...until their next album most likely! Instrumental album freaks, jazz/fusion fans and lovers of challenging and off-kilter progressive music, here's very likely your favourite album of 2017.

Five stars.

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EMERSON LAKE AND PALMER Live in California 1974 (Symphonic Prog, 2012)

Review by Neu!mann — Another archival concert from the Shout! Factory vaults, this one documenting ELP's now legendary
appearance at the Cal Jam festival in April, 1974. The performance has long been a favorite of
bootleggers, but this official release needs a caveat: it's the same incomplete recording available
elsewhere, apparently representing all the surviving audio tracks from the original ABC-TV broadcast.

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ANAKDOTA Overloading (Eclectic Prog, 2016)

Review by BrufordFreak — An album of refreshing, theatric, acoustic piano-driven, GENTLE GIANT-like songs delivered in a Broadway musical-
like style with a male lead vocalist who sounds and styles like XTC's Andy Partridge (or THE GABRIEL CONSTRUCT's
Gabriel Lucas Riccio) and a female lead that sounds like Amy Darby (THIEVES' KITCHEN) and Amanda Plummer
(AXON-NEURON)! Exceptional songwriting here is met by musicians who are every bit up to the task. The song
constructions are deceptively complex while the sound engineering and production are among the best you will
ever hear. Unfortunately, I thing this one sailed under everyone's radar because it was released so late in 2016
(mid-November by AlrOck Productions).

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THE TANGENT A Place In The Queue (Eclectic Prog, 2006)

Review by Walkscore — Overly earnest at first, but just wait! (er, I mean, queue)...

An uneven and eclectic double album, 'A Place in the Queue' was recorded with an eye on maintaining the momentum and attention
given the first two albums. Roine Stolt and Zoltan Csorsz (guitarist and then-drummer for The Flower Kings) left the band, but were
replaced with other Swedish musicians in Krister Jonsson (who played with Karmakanic, Jonas Reingold's band) and Jamie Salazar (who
was the original drummer for The Flower Kings), so the Swedish connection continued. Theo Travis had already replaced David Jackson
in the last album. With this new line-up, the band began touring extensively in support of 'A Place in the Queue'.

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FRANÇOIS BREANT Sons Optiques (RIO/Avant-Prog, 1978)

Review by Mellotron Storm — Francois Breant was very active in the French music scene in the seventies with various bands and projects, but having a break in the late seventies allowed him to create two studio albums. He's mostly listed under Electronics based on the second album but this his debut is more in the Rio/ Avant style overall but there's more to this than that. Really cool to see Didier Lockwood on violin here having enjoyed his work with MAGMA and ZAO especially. Albert Marcouer adds cymbals and timbales and then there's bassist Guy De Lacroix who had a couple of stints with MAGMA and played on the "Attahk" album. We also get alto and tenor sax while Breant plays a variety of keyboards here.

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SIINAI Sykli (Krautrock, 2017)

Review by DamoXt7942 — "Sykli" has been launched in 2017 as the newest album by a Finnish Krautrock star SIINAI. Their first album "Olympic Games" features
sticky repetitive simple phrases flooded with electronics and sound of depth (my love), and sounds like this "Sykli" might follow in the
similar vein, slightly added with more electronic sound treatment. Just like the appearance of the album sleeve pic, we would feel
ourselves getting absorbed into the centre of the hole, Siinai inner world. Interesting in both visual and auditory manners.

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CHON Homey (Post Rock/Math rock, 2017)

Review by Neu!mann — The Carbon-Hydrogen-Oxygen-Nitrogen kids are back with another mini-album of complex yet accessible
twin-guitar exercises, ostensibly Math Rock but played with disarming bounce and brilliance.

As usual it's a very succinct collection: twelve songs in just over 39-minutes. But the reformed
quartet (a new bassist appears on half the tracks) stuffs every available inch of the limited
performance space with enough music to fill several lesser albums, all of it tightly secured inside
a finely knotted mesh of interlocked guitars and busy pinpoint drumwork.

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BANCO DEL MUTUO SOCCORSO Darwin! (Rock Progressivo Italiano, 1972)

Review by poito — It was a complete transfiguration that of BMS after his debut album the same year. Full length evolution in
just a few months. The first was made of musical influences, a bit of Yes, New Trolls, ELP, etc. Darwin is not
lacking of influences but it is totally different, innovative, exciting, daring. This was a great year for Prog, in
which a good deal of the Prog Heroes released a masterpiece, Foxtrot, Close to the Edge, Three Friends,
Thick as a Brick, Machine Head, among others, waoo, and a great year for Italian Prog as well, with the PFM,
Le Orme, and Il Balletto Di Bronzo releasing some of their best albums. The Prog scene was crowded and
exuberant. It took a blow of genius to stay up there, and this Darwin made the grade and rivaled them all.
The format and members of the band is the same, featuring the Nocenzi brothers at the keyboards and the
conspicuous Di Giacomo adding the human sound, but the ideas developed in this album make them to
appear a different band. Darwin is still dominated by piano and organ, which take most of the composition,
and the tenor singing by Di Giacomo, who keeps it under control and does not sweep it all. The drums
begin to add, while the bass has very little play, same as the guitar. Although there are no anthem themes
in this album, there are no fillers either. You can listen from start to end with no downs. All of it is pure
musical joy. You might need some equalization of the sound, depending on your copy. Better if you find a
remastered version.

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