Illusory Blues

SKU: SVR260CD
Label:
Svart Records
Category:
Progressive Rock
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Svart Records can be thought of as the Rise Above Records of Finland.  Both labels covers similar territory.  Somehow Svart signed the British band Messenger right from under the nose of Rise Above.  

Messenger are a superb retro-band that push all the right buttons for a fans of 70s prog and folk.  This isn't a bombastic throw back album like Astra or Diagonal.  Instead Messenger's music is cut more from the cloth that Midlake are exploring.  In other words what you get is a kind of mystical, pastoral folk with strong prog overtones.  Flutes and 'tron fuse with echoey acoustic guitars in a way that transport you to some ancient forest.  At various points through out the album I'm reminded of Pink Floyd, Trespass-era Genesis, early King Crimson and Traffic.  The band started out as a trio with guests and has now expanded into a full fledge touring ensemble.  I expect we will hear quite a bit from this band in the immediate future.  Highly recommended.

 

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  • "In 1972 Jethro Tull were riding high on the crest of a popularity wave. They sold out huge arenas on the back of their critically acclaimed fifth album Thick As A Brick. The question was, how do you follow a concept album comprising a single 44-minute piece of music? The answer was, with a double album of separate songs of course.For the first time in their five year career Tull went into the studio with an unchanged line-up. Founder member and undisputed leader Ian Anderson was still writing songs on flute, acoustic guitar and now saxophone, and he was again joined by guitarist Martin Barre, bassist Jeffrey Hammond-Hammond, drummer Barriemore Barlow and keyboard player John Evans. But which studio to use?The first criterion was that it had to be abroad. The second criterion was that the studio of choice had to have a good reputation. The 18th century Château d'Hérouville near Paris had previously been used by Elton John to record Honky Château and by Pink Floyd for Obscured By Clouds. It contained living accommodation as well as studio facilities, and so seemed the ideal choice. What could possibly go wrong?The choice was a disaster. First up, there were technical problems with the studio itself. Then there was the accommodation... the band all slept in a dormitory, it was very basic which might have been tolerable, had they been the sole occupants of the rooms. Unfortunately, they had unwelcome company, of a bed-bug variety. And then to make matters infinitely worse everybody got food poisoning from the in-house catering.Unsurprisingly the band decided to go home and the decision was made to ditch the hour or so s worth of music recorded in France. They decided to start from scratch and write a whole new album, instead of trying to somehow regenerate everybody s interest and commitment to something that had already struggled.And so to A Passion Play, an album that evolved into a 45-minute piece of quasi-prog rock, with complex time-signatures, complex lyrics and, well, complex everything, really. With a mere nine days left in the studio before the next tour, the pressure was on to produce something quickly. The concept explored the notion that choices might still be faced in the afterlife. It recognizes that age-old conflict between good and bad, God and the Devil.This beautifully packaged 2CD/2DVD case-bound book expanded edition of A Passion Play includes the original album and earlier Château d'Hérouville Sessions both of which have been mixed to 5.1 surround sound and new stereo mixes by Steven Wilson."Disc: 11. Lifebeats /Prelude2. The Silver Cord3. Re-Assuring Tune4. Memory Bank5. Best Friends6. Critique Oblique7. Forest Dance #18. The Story Of The Hare Who Lost His Spectacles9. Forest Dance #210. The Foot Of Our Stairs11. Overseer Overture12. Flight From Lucifer13. 10.08 to Paddington14. Magus Perde15. EpilogueDisc: 21. The Big Top2. Scenario3. Audition4. Skating Away5. Sailor6. No Rehearsal7. Left Right8. Solitaire9. Critique Oblique (Part I)10. Critique Oblique (Part II)11. Animelee (1st Dance) [Instrumental]12. Animelee (2nd Dance) [Instrumental]13. Law Of The Bungle (Part I)14. Tiger15. Law Of The Bungle (Part II)Disc: 31. A Passion Play mixed to 5.1 DTS and AC3 Dolby Digital surround sound and PCM 96/24 PCM stereo.2. A flat transfer from the original master at PCM 96/24 stereo3. Video clips of The Story Of The Hare Who Lost His Spectacles an intro and outro film used in the Passion Play tour of 1973.Disc: 41. The Château d'Hérouville Sessions mixed to 5.1 DTS and AC3 Dolby Digital surround sound
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  • New CD only edition arrives in a digipak.Remember when the latest album we bought was more than just a click of a mouse?Remember when music meant something - the excitement and anticipation as the needle came down...not knowing what we were about to hear...?Nothing else mattered at that moment...Our undivided attention was given to the music - music which would become the soundtrack of our lives...THOSE DAYS ARE NOT OVERBeneath The Waves melds the talents of over two dozen artists and ensembles into an astonishing album of rare depth, emotion and intensity.  Held together by a vocal performance of spine tingling power from Steve Balsamo (Jesus Christ Superstar) and co-ordinated by celebrated producer / composer Rob Reed (Magenta, ChimpanA) , the album features a jaw-dropping array of musical talent including:Steve Hackett (Genesis) - Nylon Guitar; Gavin Harrison (Porcupine Tree) - Drums; Nick Beggs (Steve Hackett Band, Kajagoogoo) – Chapman Stick; Troy Donockley (Nightwish, Bad Shepherds)  Uilleann Pipes, Whistles; Nick Barrett (Pendragon) - Guitar, Neil Taylor (Tears for Fears, Robbie Williams) - Guitar; Jakko Jackzyk (20th Century Schizoid Band) - Guitar; Francis Dunnery (ex It Bites) - Guitar, John Mitchell (It Bites, Frost*) - Guitar, Mel Collins (King Crimson, Camel) - Sax, BJ Cole (Elton John, David Gilmour) - Pedal Steel Guitar, Chris Fry (Magenta) - Guitar and Christina Booth (Magenta) - Backing Vocals  - and introducing the vocal talents of Angharad Bryn in the role of Lily.Adding to the epic quality of the album are celebrated vocal ensemble Synergy, The English Chamber Choir conducted by Guy Protheroe, the London Session Orchestra conducted by Dave Stewart plus renowned opera singers Rhys Meirion and Shan Cothi.The album also features lyrics by Steve Reed (Magenta) and artwork by Geoff Taylor (War of the Worlds).This stunning concept album by Kompendium is in the spirit of all those great albums from the 70s without sounding like any of them. 
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  • "Freaks is the third release from Qoph, a Swedish psychedelic rock band on Transubstans Records. Basically, all I needed to say was Transubstans Records and most of you regular readers of SoT would have assumed this band was from Sweden and played in a retro style, and you of course would have been correct. Qoph are comprised of Filip Norman (guitars), Rustan Geschwind (vocals). Federico de Costa (drums), and Patrik Persson (bass), and together they lay down some interesting sounds here on Freaks.Imagine a cross between The Doors, Led Zeppelin, and early Soundgarden and you have an idea of what to expect with Freaks. Trippy, fuzz toned guitars permeate "Hearts & Sorrows" and "In Your Face", while the crunchy "Ride", with its heavy riffs and squealing saxophone, comes across like a midnight jam session between Soundgarden, Jimmy Page, and John Coltrane. Geschwind's vocals are a cross between Chris Cornell, Robert Plant, and Jim Morrison, very expressive and fitting every aspect of the bands music. Some of the mellower, more haunting songs such as "Seconds & Minutes" and "Feverland" work quite well too, and " The weirdness to come" even has some space rock elements mixed in with the heavy arrangements. The most adventurous track though might be the lengthy closer "Remedy", complete with jam-like guitar patterns and mysterious sax explorations, a must hear for any fan of psychedelic rock.Solid stuff here on Freaks, a very enjoyable album that will certainly appeal to psych lovers of all ages." - Sea Of Tranquilit
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  • "One of the most elegantly complex and fully realized of the "difficult" Italian classics, Melos is for fans of the Osanna, Balletto di Bronzi, RRR, and Semiramis styles. I have a hunch that fans of Crimson, VDGG, and Gentle Giant will also approve. It will probably be less appreciated by fans of the gentler and more accessible bands like Celeste and Locanda delle Fate. The musical approach and the sound are very sophisticated and unique. A combination of primarily guitars, flutes and saxes are tightly woven into a very dense, often dark, unsettling, and just plain eerie feel. Some sources say there are no (or very little) keyboards used to create this sound palette which is certainly unusual. Sometimes I think I hear some but I can't be sure the way the other instruments are employed. It took me many plays to really get past the rather exhausting outer shell and discover the melodies hiding inside and now I just cannot get enough of this excellent material. This band from Naples was related to the Osanna band via the Rustici brothers, the younger one in Cervello was another example of how the very young were leaders in the Italian scene back then. Corrado Rustici was but a teenager when the band recorded Melos in Milan back in 1973. While Osanna's big album "Palepoli" generally gets the most attention my personal view is that "Melos" is a better album. While not as trippy as the wildly freaky "Palepoli" I feel that Melos is more overtly musical and more genuinely satisfying in the long run.Juan at ItalianProg describes the Cervello sound like this: "There is great deal of excellent acoustic guitar work and mellotron-like sounds created by the saxophones. The vocals coupled with the acoustic guitar and flutes hypnotize the listener into a technical yet fluid atmosphere so the music then breaks into a frenzy full of sax and adventurous guitar playing. The tempo and mood change from calm and melodic to violent and bizarre (interweaving between scales). No keyboards present, but they are not needed due to the "cerebral" arrangements these musicians have created for us on this album."[Juan Carlos Lopez] In another great review Warren Nelson sums up the sound perfectly: ".with soaring and complex melodies, compelling and angular instrumental passages culminating in some aggressive individual performances, all weaved together in a tapestry of beautiful and emotional musical syncopation. One of the few Italian prog releases without a prominent keyboard arsenal, the rich sound of this band is achieved with powerful drumming, multiple woodwinds, and intelligent scaler runs on guitar. But not least of all are the typically emotionally powerful vocals. Dynamic change-ups and exquisite group interaction complete another example of one of the finest Italian progressive albums you will ever hear."[Warren Nelson]My own take on the specific tracks: "Canto Del Capro" begins with layers of flutes over what sounds like a foghorn and cymbal splashes moving left to right in the stereo spectrum. Soon an acoustic guitar precedes delightfully freaky operatic style vocals like only the Italians can do. A thrilling opening. Suddenly the drums kick in and you think it might be "normal" for a bit but soon these ungodly compressed vocals rattle your eardrums. Strange acoustic and electric guitar flares round out the rest of this unsettling start. "Trittico" is an enchanting initially with sentimental flute melody, acoustic and vocal. Eventually a crazy sax and percussion crash the party for a bit before the soft opening style returns with additional guitar noodlings. After a brief fade the end section is a bizarre cacophony of choral voices. My one complaint is wishing the bass were a bit more clear and upfront, sometimes it is distant and muddy but it's a minor nitpick. "Euterpe" begins with acoustic and flutes again in a warm and inviting mood. This eventually leads into the full band jamming with a real e-guitar and saxophone workout. "Scinsicne" begins with guitar that sounds like it came from an outtake of "Astronomy Domine!" In comes great flute and bass interplay and then vocals which are another strong point on this album. As the band comes on full the saxes jump into the fray and the sound gets brutal. At 3:48 is one of my favorite parts of the album, these mutant bizarre sounds and drums that mimic some sinister funeral dirge. This is followed by a maniacal e-guitar solo. "Melos" features great flute and sax workouts again with another Rustici axe thrashing at the end. "Galassia" is a feast of inventive vocal interludes over beautifully played acoustic guitars. Dabbles of flute precede a full blown e-guitar freakout challenged by pursuing sax and percussion attacks. You'll need a shower after this track. "Affresco" is a rather traditional sounding closer piece, very short and there just to bring you gently back to Earth after your cerebral pummeling.I guess the reason I light up the magic star 5 would be this: Even when listening to most good albums it is evident that I am doing just that. I'm listening to a collection of songs that are just too structured and I know what is coming. They might light up my pleasure center and my brain says "oh that's a good song, let me listen to more of the same!" Melos does not allow me to stagnate. It's more like eavesdropping on someone's thoughts (presented musically) than listening to the next "killer song, dude." Their thoughts or perhaps their nightmares in this case with everything being so strange, the album starts and it's like this bizarre trip occurs. Even some of my favorite albums are relatively predictable but not Melos. With each play I still wonder what the hell is going on. It still pushes my buttons and challenges me, my definition of a genuinely progressive album. That's not the only way an album can get 5 stars from me but it is one way.This is one of the Italian albums you hear people describe as "harsh" and you might hate it the first several times you listen. Don't get discouraged. Put it away and spin it every other month..like many of the best prog albums you may end up loving it a year from now. That's how it was for me-a real grower. But while many of us are thrilled by this album it is not universally loved in the way that PFM is. It's rather confrontational sonic style does have its detractors so read plenty of reviews before you take the plunge. In my book this is essential for Italian fans and recommended for fans of stuff like "Red" era Crimson. Try to find the Japanese mini-lp sleeve edition which features decent sound and a high quality reproduction of the cool artwork. I love the cover of this album..fantastic stuff!" - ProgArchives
    $11.00
  • "Originally released in 2002 on Hammerheart Records, Storm Before Calm marked Primordial’s fourth full-length release. Their mix of Celtic tradition and Nordic bleakness was fairly unique, with only Cruachan really even attempting to cover similar ground (with some success too, I highly recommend seeking their records out!).This reissue (on Metal Blade Records) is of the original version of the album, so we don’t get the UK edition’s extra track, The Burning Season, but that omission aside Storm Before Calm remains the essential, vital experience that it was back in 2002. Seamlessly welding elements of Irish folk music and Celtic lore to a spine of purest black metal, Primordial’s 11-year history as a band up to this point makes its presence felt throughout – songs of this length (4.57 and up, discounting the short instrumental piece “What Sleeps Within”) require a degree of skill in their crafting to hold the listener’s interest, something that the band had in spades by then.Although “The Heretic’s Age” is a fine opener, all blastbeats and shuddering melodic riffing relaxing into almost a swing feel, it’s when that track gives way to the sweeping dissonant doom of “Fallen To Ruin” and its spoken-word breakdown that the album truly reveals its intent and scope. From here on out, from “Cast To The Pyre” and its mournful yet spite-filled lyrical bent, to the scathing, full-bore assault of “Suns First Rays” and on through the folky paean to the Irish tri-goddess of battle “Sons Of The Morrigan”, to the closing salvo of “Hosting Of The Sidhe”, this is a most individual take on pagan metal, steeped in Irish legends and musical tradition.Epic in the truest meaning of the word, Storm Before Calm was Primordial’s last release strictly in this style, with 2005’s The Gathering Wilderness showcasing a bleaker, blacker feel which would become their calling-card from then onwards. If you don’t already have this, it’s more than worth your while to grab a copy of this reissue." - Alternative Matter
    $15.00
  • Beautiful second CD from this Greek band formerly known as Will-o The Wisp.  The band continues their with their retro hard rock sound.  Heavy organ and guitar runs with a sombre, doomy vibe lends some comparisons to Black Sabbath and Deep Purple.  The band still makes a prog move here and there for good measure.  Highly recommended.Manticore's Breath continue to torture retailers worldwide with their packaging.  The CD packaging is a rather fragile affair and quite gorgeous.  Its an embossed textured cover with beautiful artwork by Harry Clarke that will remind you a bit of Arthur Rackham.  Oh yeah - a limited number edition of 400 tops it all off. 
    $23.00
  • When progressive rock icon Neal Morse was preparing to tour his highly acclaimed 2012 studio release, “Momentum,” he turned to YouTube to audition touring players to support his faithful duo of Mike Portnoy (drums) and Randy George (bass).He had high hopes, but the final players selected from more than 70 applicants dramatically surpassed his expectations. They hit the road for an 8-stop North American tour. And now that band’s epic New York performance is captured on the new “Live Momentum” 2DVD/3CD Box Set.Fortified by the energetic live contributions of Eric Gillette (keyboards, guitars, vocals), Bill Hubauer (keyboards, violin, sax, vocals) and Adson Sodré (guitar and vocals), Morse, Portnoy and George blazed through two lengthy sets that spanned Morse’s entire, highly-heralded catalog, with the exception of material from “Testimony 2,” which was previously captured in 2011’s “Testimony 2: Live in Los Angeles” box set.The setlist is mammoth. The players are virtuosic. Their performances are jaw-dropping. And this dynamic box set documents it all—including a special one-hour behind the scenes look at the tour.It’s a Morse tradition to go big, and this new release unquestionably extends his powerful legacy of merging musical madness with addictive melodies in epic compositions that showcase the masterful musicianship of every member on stage.“Live Momentum” reveals the exceptionally inspired nature of this unique band and leaves listeners andviewers mimicking those in the audience on this tour—shaking their heads and wondering, “How could they possibly top that?”This ENORMOUS 3 cd / 2 dvd set includes 4 hours of video, including and exclusive Tour Documentary and over 3 hours of audio.DVD 11) Momentum2) Weathering Sky3) Author Of Confusion4) The Distance To The Sun5) Testimony Suite (Sleeping Jesus, Prince Of The Power Of The Air, The Promise, Wasted Life)6) Thoughts Part 57) The Conflict (From Sola Scriptura)DVD 21) Question Mark Suite (The Temple Of The Living God, Another World, Entrance, Inside His Presence)2) Fly High3) World Without End4) Crazy Horses5) Sing It High6) King JesusBonus Feature: A Long Strange Journey – Tour Documentary (Edited By Randy George)CD 11) Momentum2) Weathering Sky3) Author Of Confusion4) The Distance To The Sun5) Testimony Suite (Sleeping Jesus, Prince Of The Power Of The Air, The Promise, Wasted Life)CD 21) Thoughts Part 52) The Conflict (From Sola Scriptura)3) Question Mark Suite (The Temple Of The Living God, Another World, Entrance, Inside His Presence)4) Fly High CD31) World Without End2) Crazy Horses3) Sing It High4) King Jesus   
    $15.00