The Blue Hour

"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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  • "Esoteric Recordings are pleased to announce the next release in the continuing series of reissues of the entire catalogue by the legendary classical rock band SKY. Formed in 1979, Sky brought together the worlds of rock and classical music in a highly successful and inspiring way. Featuring the gifted talents of guitarist JOHN WILLIAMS, percussionist TRISTAN FRY, legendary bass player HERBIE FLOWERS, former Curved Air keyboard player FRANCIS MONKMAN and guitarist KEVIN PEEK, Sky recorded their debut album at Abbey Road studios in the early months of 1979. The band’s self-titled debut reached the UK top ten in May 1979 and went on to achieve Platinum status in the UK and was also a major hit in Europe and Australia. Also a huge live attraction, SKY released their second album in April 1980. "SKY 2” was a fine achievement, featuring the hit single "Toccata”, and topped the UK album charts upon its release. For the band’s third album, STEVE GRAY replaced Francis Monkman on keyboards, but the band continued their run of success as SKY 3 reached the UK top ten upon its release in March 1981. The album’s success followed a highly memorable concert by the band at Westminster Abbey in London on February 24th 1981, which was recorded and broadcast by BBC Television.SKY’s line-up remained the same for this, the band’s fourth album "SKY 4: Forthcoming” released in April 1982. Another successful chart album, "SKY 4: Forthcoming” has now been remastered and includes a companion DVD (NTSC / Region Free) of SKY’s live set for the BBC TV programme "Night Music”, broadcast in July 1982 (the first ever release of this classic television appearance). The original album artwork is fully restored and the booklet features a new essay."
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  • Magenta's latest finds them returning to an overtly progressive rock sound and the music is all the better for it.  The Twenty Seven Club is a concept album based around famous rock stars that died at the age of 27 (Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, Jimi Hedrix, Kurt Cobain, ao).  The core lineup is Rob Reed, Christina Booth, and Chris Fry.  For this album the band is rounded out by guest drummer Andy Edwards of IQ.  Reed's keyboard work is back in the fore and Fry's Howe-isms on guitar always bring a polish to the music (and grin on the face).  Christina Booth's voice is a real gift and she shines as always.  Overall the music makes some overt references to Yes and Genesis so you get that old school flavor that the band hasn't offered in many years.  The album arrives in a special edition with a bonus DVD.  You get the complete album in a 5.1 mix, documentary footage and a promo video for one of the tunes.  Highly recommended.
    $18.00
  • Raccomdata Ricevuto Ritorno refomed and cut a shockingly good album called Il Pittore Volante.  A lot of these Italian bands from the 70s are reforming and offering up mediocre fare.  This wasn't the case with RRR.  They are now billed as La Nuova Raccomandata Ricevuto Ritorno.  This is a live recording from Elba in which they run through material from Per Un Mondo Di Cristallo, Il Pittore Volante, as well as a handful of covers.  I guess sometimes you can catch lightning in a bottle.
    $16.00
  • The Custodian is a new British post-progressive rock band formed by Richard Thomson, vocalist for cinematic death metal band Xerath.  Unlike Xerath, The Custodian is an outlet for the more melodic, rock oriented writing from Thomson.While there are moments in the album that harken back to old school bands like Genesis and Yes, the music of The Custodian is contemporary in sound.  Necessary Wasted Time is an album full of dynamics - light and dark shadings balancing acoustic vs electric, heavy vs pastoral.  While atmospherics and tension are a strong component of the album, the band demonstrates their adept musicianship offering up long instrumental passages to complement the emotion filled vocals.  When needed the band unleashes some complex electric runs.The Custodian's debut should deeply resonate with fans of Steven Wilson, Riverside, Pineapple Thief, and Anathema.Necessary Wasted Time was mixed by noted engineer Jacob Hansen and give the full audiophile mastering treatment from Bob Katz. 
    $14.00
  • Al DiMeola's solo debut from 1976, was released right around the time of RTF's Romantic Warrior. Stellar lineup includes the other three members of Return To Forever, Mingo Lewis, Steve Gadd, Anthony Jackson, Barry Miles, Jaco Pastorius, and Alphonse Mouzon.
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  • Black Jazz was a small jazz label from the 70s who's catalog has been somewhat overlooked. While most of their catalog is outside the purveryance of our interests there are a handful of albums which neatly (and superbly) fit into the "kosmigroov" or spiritual jazz category.  The Awakening were a Chicago based ensemble that recorded two excellent albums in the early 70s.  1972's Hear, Sense, and Feel was the first.Electric piano underpins the proceedings with plenty of soloing on sax, flute, trumpet and trombone.  The music has a real organic flow - you can hear the sound of a tight ensemble listening and playing off of one another.  Not wild and free - this is highly melodic electric jazz with an Afro-centric vibe that is worthy of your attention.  If you are interested in exploring the kosmigroov sound here's one that not too many people know about and should.  Highly recommended.
    $17.00
  • Sezione Frenante are not young guys.  Apparently they've been kicking around since the first half of the 70s but with no recorded output.  They opened for some of the Italian prog bands of the day and then went on hiatus...until now.  This is a concept album based on the life of poet Dante Alighieri and the material was conceived back in the early days of the band.  Sonically it doesn't have the 70s imprint that a lot of the retro bands go for but compositionally it fits squarely in the "Rock Italiano Progressivo" mold.  So we are talking about music composed in the 70s and recorded today.  To my ears the production is quite excellent - it almost has a live in the studio feel.  The closest comparison would be to Le Orme which is not surprising given the band's long friendship with Aldo Tagliapietra.  All of the musicians in the band are quite good and have plenty of room to solo.  The star for me is vocalist Francesco Nardo.  He has good range and fits neatly in with the music.  Nothing operatic - just right.  Highly recommended.
    $18.00
  • "Welcome to Long Beach 1971, the latest album in earMUSIC’s Deep Purple reissue series that, over the last two years, has seen the release of rare live material from the band, including “Paris 1975”, “Copenhagen 1972”, “Stockholm 1970” and “Graz 1975”.Spanning over 70 minutes of music, “Long Beach 1971” has been remastered in 2014 and is going to be released on February 27th, 2015 on earMUSIC.Recorded at Long Beach Arena in Long Beach, California, on July 30, 1971, it was broadcast on radio (KUSC 91.5 FM), a showcase for a support performance to Rod Stewart and The Faces.An official release for a concert that has long been considered a landmark for the band, the set featured tracks (“Speed King” and “Child In Time”) from their fourth studio album, June 1970’s “In Rock”. This was a transitional release for the Mk II version of the band -  guitarist Ritchie Blackmore, frontman Ian Gillan, bassist Roger Glover, organ/keyboard player Jon Lord and drummer Ian Paice –, being their first hard rock affair as well as their commercial breakthrough as the third leading über-rock band of the day along with Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin. Completing the set that day were a considerably extended version of “Mandrake Root” from their July 1968 debut album “Shades Of Deep Purple”, and “Strange Kind Of Woman”.Opening with an 11-minute long “Speed King”, the show actually starts off like a climax, with a frenzy of organ and batter of guitar and drums, before segueing into a fast and furious riff and some classic caterwauls from Ian Gillan. Next up is “Strange Kind Of Woman”. The piledriving central motif is a classic combination of rhythm and riff, the band hitting a bluesy, even funky, groove. Following is an impressive version of the Deep Purple classic “Child in Time”: it is 20 minutes of heavy action from Blackmore. If you’re not too exhausted by that, there is time for one more, and it’s a good - not to mention long - one: “Mandrake Root”, a 27-minute extrapolation of the debut album track and concert standby.All in all, the frenzy, powerful show is leaving the audience staggered, and not a little dazed, as they head towards the exit, into the warm California night, wondering what the hell just happened.Deep Purple live just happened."Tracklist1. Speed King2. Strange Kind Of Woman3. Child In Time4. Mandrake Root 
    $14.00
  • James LaBrie once again that there is life outside of Dream Theater.  His solo band features a stable lineup consisting of Matt Guillory (keyboards), Marco Sfogli (guitars), Ray Riendeau (bass), Peter Wildoer (drums, death vox).  Jens Bogren once again mixed. An interesting twist to the mix is the inclusion of Soilwork's Peter Wichers who contributes some guitarwork and also collaborated on songwriting with LaBrie.While the music is square on prog metal and all in all not too dissimilar to Dream Theater its different enough to have its own vibe.  Wildoer's coarse vocal approach offers an interesting counterbalance to LaBrie's upper midrange clean voice.  The limited digipak edition comes with two bonus tracks.  Highly recommended.
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  • "The Netherlands are a fertile ground for bands that are strongly influenced from the heavy sounds of the early 1970's, and Orange Sunshine and Wallrus may serve as good examples here. New to that bands is DEWOLFF, founded in 2007 in a Southern part of the Netherlands (Limburg) called Geleen. The band consists of three very young guys between the ages of 14 and 18, but they sound as if they were playing music since twenty years. Here, we have their debut album, released at the end of 2009 by REMusic Records and I'm surprised in a positive sense about the quality of their music. Even though the riffage, harmonies, guitar leads are reminiscent of all well-known classic rock bands - Deep Purple, Atomic Rooster, Groundhogs, Cream - this album distills it all and still manages to sound totally different. It's all there with smokin' guitars and bellowing organs that summon the gods back to the days of 1970's hardrock. Despite this, the production is modern which makes sure that the band isn't on a complete musical retro trip. What also strikes me is the variety of 'Strange Fruits And Undiscovered Plants'. You can find heavy organ-based songs such as the opener 'Mountain' or 'Don't You Go Up In The Sky' which convinces with powerful rippin' leads that are guaranteed to rock your ass.In contrast to the aforementioned tracks, 'Birth Of The Ninth Sun' is a soulful ballad with additional piano. In the middle section is a sinister psychedelic segement which reminds me to The Doors. But not only there are strong doses of psychedelia. 'Parloscope' awakens the spirit of 1960's psych with the help of intense melodies - interspersed with heavy organ. With 'Red Sparks Of The Morning Dusk' DEWOLFF displays their talent to combine psychedelic pop with organ-based hardrock and jazz. Especially the saxophon in the last quarter is simply excellent. What I also like very much are the clear vocals of organist Robin Piso that fits in beautifully with their sound. Moreover, he also takes on the function of a bass player with his organ just as Ray Manzarek (The Doors) had done years before. Well, to put it simple: all songs are packed with great memorable riffs, cool arrangements and superb musicianship. I can assure that 'Strange Fruits And Undiscovered Plants' will please every fan of classic/retro hardrock. Oh yes, not to forget, that the LP has a different cover artwork, but the packaging of the CD is also very tasteful." - Cosmic Lava
    $15.00
  • "Progressive rock and boy-band pop seem like natural enemies at first. The former's fascination with ornate, elongated passages of finger-exhausting musicianship is in almost every way the opposite of the latter's emphasis on catchiness first; it's hard to imagine turn-of-the-millennium hits like "Bye Bye Bye" with extended guitar and keyboard solos. Yet ever since A Doorway to Summer, their 2005 debut, Moon Safari has put to rest the notion that progressive-minded songwriters can't make pop that's as hook-driven as it is ostentatious. Grandiloquent epics like "Other Half of the Sky," from the 2008 double album Blomljud, weave together widescreen arrangements with the band's signature five-part vocal harmony, a feature unmatched by few groups in any genre, anywhere. It's easy to isolate the audience with solipsistic soloing and obtuse orchestrations, but from day one Moon Safari has made prog that—assuming the layperson were more amenable to songs that run upwards of thirty minutes—could lead them to something like a pop crossover hit.But while the union of hook-heavy vocal interplay and '70's prog stylistics gives Moon Safari an unmistakable, unique sound, it also handicapped them in a significant way for their first two LPs. The group's accessibility on A Doorway to Summer and Blomljud, along with its technical prowess, is unassailable, but the high-fructose sweetness of its style leads to a diabetic rush when stretched out onto songs that span ten to thirty minutes. For example, "Other Half of the Sky," the titanic thirty minute showstopper off of Blomljud, has so many memorable hooks that by the time it's run its time out, it's hard to remember all of them. The classic problem of "too many voices leads to a noisy room" was the defining problem of Moon Safari's otherwise enjoyable sound for some time. All that changed, however, in 2010 with the release of Lover's End.It is no exaggeration—even as the decade remains young—to say that Lover's End is one of the finest progressive rock records of the '00's. Hell, it's not even crazy to say that it's one of the finest pop albums of the '00s; anyone, even those turned off by prog's eccentricities, can find something to love on this mellifluous collection of songs. From the a cappella charm of "Southern Belle" to the hook-loaded "New York City Summergirl," Lover's End is chock full of goodness from beginning to end. What explains its genius is that in contrast to A Doorway to Summer and Blomljud, the songs are given exactly the amount of space they need, and not a second more. Some songwriters may feel hamstrung by the verse/chorus structure, but it's a perfect fit for Moon Safari's joyous approach to music.With their newest studio outing, Himlabacken, Vol. 1, Moon Safari continue the refining of their sound, and while this isn't the breakthrough that Lover's End was, it nonetheless attests to the brilliance of this group. Whereas the latter was bound by a loose concept (love and heartbreak), Himlabacken Vol. 1 is less a lyrics album than its predecessor. The cost of this is that the music is less distinct in its cohesiveness, but there are no shortage of catchy passages and amped-up solos. "Mega Moon" comes off as a tribute to musical theatre, with "The Very Model of A Modern Major General" vocal delivery interweaving with Queen-esque bombast to an impressive effect. "Too Young to Say Goodbye" sees and matches the polyharmonic beauty of "Lover's End (Part One)." By sticking to concise song formats—the longest cut here runs nine and a half minutes—Moon Safari ensures that things never run out of steam, an essential quality to any good progressive rock band.If nothing else, Himlabacken, Vol. 1 proves that there's one thing Moon Safari can't be accused of: being unaware of themselves. Grand finale "Sugar Band" is as much a statement of identity as it is a slice of epic pop: "Sweet and saccharine are we," they declare, followed by "syrup's the blood in our veins." (Less successful is the clumsy Katy Perry innuendo of, "suck our big candy canes," which is thematically consistent but tonally off.) Both "Sugar Band" and "Little Man," one of the few Moon Safari songs to feature a solo vocal, are emblematic of the mushiness that might turn some prog fans away from their music. The latter, while obviously a touching document of a father's love for his son, does feel a bit out of place in how deeply personal it is; part of the strength of this group's sonic is the universality of its pop appeal, and the intimacy behind "My Little Man" makes listening to it an almost voyeuristic experience. "Mega Moon" and "Sugar Band" are better at capturing the convivial spirit of the band that's accessible to all.As with past outings, even those drawn to vocal harmonies might find it hard to stomach all of the sweetness of Himlabacken, Vol. 1. But what ultimately makes this LP successful is its unpretentious commitment to fun. Moon Safari are a rare collective that prove daunting musical chops aren't anathema to accessibility, and with Himlabacken, Vol. 1 they've made a recording that, while not the magnum opus that Lover's End was, is as true a capturing of their ethos as there could ever be. Sating a sweet tooth brings to mind the phrase "guilty pleasure," but there's no guilt involved with music as first-class as this. Who knew being in a boy band could sound so classy? " - Sea Of Tranquility
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  • Setna is a superb French ensemble whose style of progressive rock firmly falls within the zeuhl framework.  Their 2007 debut was a bit controversial.  There was quite a bit of anticipation for the release as fans of the genre were anticipating a full on Magma assault.  What they got was something that smoldered and didn't explode but it did so consistently.  So for some fans their expectations fell short.  For more wide eared listeners they recognized a band that was influenced by Magma but didn't slavishly imitate them.Guerison is the follow up and finds them stretching out a little bit more.  Magma is still the prime influence but there are equal influences from the Canterbury sphere.  The band employs a dual keyboardist configuration.  Florent Gac's overdriven organ will definitely remind you of David Sinclair.  There are some Mellotron bits scattered about and among the many guest musicians you will find Magma alumnus Benoit Widemann on Mini-Moog.Outstanding stuff.  Highly recommended.
    $16.00
  • Second album from this Swiss band draws very heavily from the Katatonia musical gene pool.  Melancholy metal that actually has a groove.  Some of the proggier bits remind of Tool.   
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  • "Swedish band, Brighteye Brison's roots date back to 2000. The band includes founding member, keyboardist, saxophonist, percussion and vocalist Linus Kåse and bassist, vocalist and fellow Stockholm Royal College of Music alum Kristofer Eng. Erik Hammarstrom provides drums. Guitarist Johan Öijen helped to complete the original band line-up. Following the release of their debut album, sound engineer, keyboardist and vocalist Per Hallman joined the band to add Hammond B3 and mellotron to the soundscape. Fioge Norling provides narration, and Daniel Kase adds marimba and tubular bells. In addition, the band's sound also includes the use of trumpet, mandolin, theremin, and xylophone to provide a rich and captivating soundscape which showcases their virtuoso talent.Brighteye Brison actually has a sound which originates more from a Flower Kings background, than any direct interpretation of Yes. Many fans of the TFK's have been yearning for a reunion and this album may provide some relief until that event culminates…if ever.I've added this band to my 'watch list'. Excellent music played by talented musicians with a sound that is full of orchestration and diverse instrumentation.1. The Rise of Brighteye Brison opens this spectacular symphonic, space, epic with full on keyboards that take me right back to a melody similar to the opening of Jethro Tull's "Black Sunday" on the "A" album. Then some cool mellotron accents coupled with drums adding to the advertised similarities to Yes' and other prog classics. A great foundation for a splendid twenty three minute epic. Harmony vocals are added to provide even more reminders of the Yes sound without sounding anything like a cover band. The vocals and keyboards are definitely the "bread and butter" for this band's sound and if you like both, this band will not disappoint. The guitar and bass work which enters later provides nuance and adds to the melody, but it's the keys that truly dazzle throughout. The drums are solid and the story and melody move along on a well-planned arc of consciousness. This twenty three minute journey of the mind is full of good lyrics and wonderful harmonies and music.The drum solo section provides a great showcase for Hammarstrom's talents. The sax solos teamed with mellotron add to the ambiance within this lush epic. The Conclusion section of the song brings back memories of the early "Phil Collins Era" of the band Genesis.Off to a fantastic start.2. The Magician's Cave opens with jazzy piano and drums accented with keyboard highlights, followed well with guitar, before lead vocals from the "Brave Knight", "Have you heard the tale of wonder? There's magic in the hills, that's why I'm going". The track then proceeds off on a "Middle Earth" – like journey, with narration, surrounded by piano that sounds inspired by some of the work on Genesis' famous "Lamb" album. The narration and musical theater which ensues is a great tip of the hat to the legendary writers of the past.The guitar solo which follows with bass support is one of the best guitar sections on the album. The addition of the percussion and sax provides mystery as this second, over twelve minute epic story weaves its tale.The choral singing and chanting surrounded by keys, mellotron, guitar and drums adds to the haunting sound that fills this track.3. Mind Fire Menace opens with keyboards, drums, bass and lead guitar before the singing begins. This is the shortest of the tracks but it is full of excellent keyboards, guitar, surrounding orchestration and drums." - Sea Of Tranquility
    $10.00