Lifesigns

SKU: EANTCD1011
Label:
Esoteric Antenna
Category:
Progressive Rock
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Lifesigns is a new band put together by keyboardist journeyman John Young, along with Nick Beggs (Steve Hackett), and Martin Beedle (Cutting Crew).  Featured guests include Steve Hackett, Jakko Jakszyk, Thijs Van Leer, and Robin Boult.  

5 long tracks that have a contemporary prog sound but with nice extended instrumental parts.  Not a technical tour de force - emphasis here is on melody.  I'm reminded a bit of Steve Hackett's recent works.  While John Young has written all the material, bassist/Stickist Nick Beggs quietly steals the show.

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  • Stupidly great third volume (of a projected four) chronicling Magma's four week residence at Le Triton club. The band performed a career retrospective with various members from this illustrious past making guest appearances. This set features the great Benoit Widemann on keyboards. The music includes a complete "Kohntarkosz" as well as "Hhai", "Emehnteht-Re", and many others. Almost two hours of essential Magma - pro shot with superb quality. Highest recommendation.
    $36.00
  • "Once upon a time there was a guitar god who had grown bored with all his fame, riches and glory. He longed for something more than another multi-platinum selling record. He desired not simply acclaim, but respect. He knew to get it he would have to walk away from the distinctive style that made him popular and wealthy. It was a risk to confuse his band and his fans by making a radical change in his musical direction. But he did it anyway and broke up the classic version of his band, alienating much of his audience in the process.It must have seemed worth it at the time to Carlos Santana. Appearing at Woodstock had announced to the world there was a new guitar hero on the scene, a skinny Mexican who fused elements of rock, Latin, jazz and funky R&B in one soul-stirring stew. Santana delivered on the promise with a trilogy of terrific albums.The initial effort in Santana's amazing adventures in fusion, Caravanserai (Columbia, 1972), is the sound of a band uncertain of its music and its leader equally uncertain of the direction he wants to take them. Following Santana III (Columbia, 1971), it must have puzzled executives at Columbia when Santana presented it to them. While it has its definite highs, the low points of Caravanserai are very low.Gregg Rolle was skillful on the organ, acceptable as a vocalist and totally out of his league trying to fake it as a jazz musician. Rolle simply lacked the feel for this dense, hook-free tunes and soon would leave to form Journey, taking guitarist Neal Schon with him.The record is disjointed as Santana can't fully let go of the Latin rock that made him wealthy and famous. Never the strongest vocalist, Rolle sings on three unmemorable songs. The songs aren't strong and neither is the playing. You can almost feel Santana's frustration. If he were going to succeed in this new path he was on he would need something conspicuous in its absence from Caravanserai.He would need better musicians to play the way he wanted and better music for them to play. Carlos took the first step when he joined with guitarist John McLaughlin for Love, Devotion and Surrender (Columbia, 1972). Santana brought along members of his band and teamed with McLaughlin's Mahavishnu Orchestra to produce an eclectic electric guitar summit that perplexed fans, critics and record executives.Welcome solved both problems. David Brown (bass) and Michael Carabello (percussion) were already out by that time and Rollie and Schon were eyeballing the exit sign as well.Santana has always fused the spiritual with the secular and Welcome is as close as the guitarist has ever come to the former with no regard for the latter. Welcome yielded no hit singles and was never conceived as an album rock radio would play. This is Santana's John Coltrane/A Love Supreme moment: creating transcendent, reverent, passionate music conceived and executed by a virtuoso artist without the slightest trace of concern for commercial considerations.The opening drone of the two organs on "Going Home" played by Tom Coster and Richard Kermode build gradually and soar high with grandeur. Santana lays out here and frequently fades into the background entirely. He is finally secure in his own playing and doesn't have to take the lead. His new-found confidence comes from knowing he finally has a band capable of delivering the goods and they do. Welcome is every bit as much of a classic as the first three Santana albums. It sounds great nearly 40 years after its release.The only comparable rock guitarist who altered his sound as drastically as Santana did with Welcome is Jeff Beck, with his career-altering Blow by Blow (Epic, 1975). The critical difference is Beck was taking the next step after a series of unremarkable bands and records that had flopped. Santana was at the peak of his fame when he drastically altered course and followed the path of A Love Supreme in seeking to make music that satisfied his soul, not a record company's ledger sheet.Even Robert Christgau, the noted (and notorious) rock critic/curmudgeon, and former music editor of The Village Voice smiled upon Welcome."More confident and hence more fun than Caravanserai, this proves that a communion of multipercussive rock and transcendentalist jazz can move the unenlightened—me, for instance. Good themes, good playing, good beat, and let us not forget good singing—Leon Thomas's muscular spirituality grounds each side so firmly that not even Flora Purim can send it out the window."Not everybody completely "got" Welcome in 1973. It wasn't slightly different like Caravanserai, with one foot still in rock and another with a toe dipping lightly into not only jazz fusion, but even free jazz. The signature sizzling guitar solos were there, but more restrained and at times even submerged within the collective of the group.The secret weapon is Michael Shrieve's energetic drumming and the dual keyboard attack of Coster and Kermode. They push and pull Santana to go beyond and stop holding back. Some have called the album disappointingly thin and self-indulgent, but that's a harsh assessment. There are no hit singles or any concessions made to radio here. Maybe an adventuresome jazz station would play "Samba De Sausalito," but even the vocal tracks, "When I Look Into Your Eyes" and "Light of Life" feature Leon Thomas' vocals. Alternating between soulful singing and off-the-wall yodeling, Thomas is perhaps the most polarizing of the many Santana vocalists.The other unique aspect to Welcome band was the band's first female member, Wendy Haas, a vocalist and keyboard player Santana plucked from Azteca, the same band he found a hot-shot 17-yr-old guitarist named Neal Schon, the future guitarist of Journey.If Welcome is the summit of Santana's jazz fusion era, Lotus (Columbia, 1974) and Borboletta (Columbia, 1974) are the sound of that era falling off a cliff. Lotus was a mammoth three-record live set that was only available as a high-priced import, but in 1991 Columbia released it domestically whittling it down to two CDs. It's brilliant, messy and at times, total overkill in overlength and Thomas is inept trying to front Santana standards such as "Black Magic Woman." Borboletta showcases a sullen Santana fronting an equally lethargic band and cursed by the ugliest cover art ever to appear on a Santana record. It's the splat of the band finally hitting the proverbial wall.frustrated by tepid record sales, Santana ditched his dalliance with jazz and returned to Latin rock glory with Amigos (Columbia, 1976). Though he was still billed as "Devadip" Carlos Santana he was drifting away from his guru, Sri Chimoy, and would leave both him and jazz behind for the rest of his career. Blues For Salvador (Columbia, 1987) won a Grammy for Best Instrumental and Santana Brothers (Universal/Polygram, 1994) is good, but these are primarily instrumental recordings and not really jazz.The Swing of Delight (Columbia, 1980) pairs Santana with trumpeter Miles Davis' classic quintet colleagues Herbie Hancock, Tony Williams, Ron Carter and Wayne Shorter, with Santana's blistering guitar leads replacing the lonely fire of Davis' trumpet, but the result isn't as incendiary as might have been hoped for. Most of the songs on The Swing of Delight are merely star-filled jam sessions lacking the structure and passion of Welcome.Santana has continued to release instrumental albums, but they aren't jazz and since the 15 million-selling Supernatural granted him late career superstar status on him in 1999, he has wasted the better part of a decade chasing similar success minus similar results. The bottom of the barrel is Guitar Heaven, which sounds like the name for a video game but is a pandering mess of classic rock covers.At this point in his life, Santana should be financially secure and has married his second wife, jazz drummer Cindy Blackman. In May he released the 22nd Santana album, Shape Shifter (Starfaith, 2012). With the exception of one vocal track it is a recording of instrumentals exclusively, with just the man and his band and no awkward guest stars crow-barred in except his son Salvador playing keyboards.In an interview, Santana explained why he was taking a break from his overly commercial direction of the past decade."In a lot of ways, yes, because I don't need to accommodate lyrics, and I don't need to accommodate artists. I say this in a funny way, but it's more about letting a Mexican play the guitar, you know?""I'm never going to wait so long to brew 'em like this anymore. I'm going to make sure that I do one album like this and then another kind. I remember reading that John Coltrane would do one Pursuance album, and then he'd do a ballads album where he'd hardly play a solo—he'd just play the melody verbatim."Shape Shifter may be a slight retreat for Santana from pop music and a return to pulling power chords from his guitar, but it's not going to be "Welcome: The Sequel." That was a different man making different music in a different time. The Santana of 1973 is not the Santana of 2012, but that man would not be the one he is now had he not chased his inner Coltrane and made a record as bold, brave and eternally beautiful as Welcome."- All About Jazz
    $7.00
  • "Following on from the recent 'Easterfaust' album, and in anticipation of upcoming six week European tour -- we're excited to introduce 'Orbiting Salvation' from our favourite resident psych adventurers, THE COSMIC DEAD.Released exclusively on Paradigms -- this sprawling 79 minute long album showcases the band at their most kosmische. Four vast, shimmering works that float above your consciousness in a haze of enlightened kraut / drone / psyche ambience. A perfect accompaniment to your next sit-in, freak out or astral projection session.Presented as a limited edtion of 500 cds in digi-pak format."
    $16.00
  • "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
    $16.00
  • Special 2CD tour edition comes with a bonus Acoustic Sessions CD featuring 4 new interpretations, plus "Anathema" recorded at Liverpool Cathedral."It’s been quite a past few years for the incredible Anathema. Honors have been bestowed upon them, they’ve released an instant classic album in “Weather Systems”, and last year they released one of the best live concert films I’ve ever seen, “Universal”. Anathema is on top of the world, and they are only getting bigger. With all of this on their shoulders, they approach the world once again with their new album, “Distant Satellites”, a fitting name for a massive album. Again, with all of their recent success creating huge expectations, can this band meet such critical reception? Needless to say, Vincent Cavanagh on vocals, Danny Cavanagh on guitar, Jamie Cavanagh on bass, John Douglas on percussion, Daniel Cardoso on drums, and Lee Douglas with her wonderful vocals were all up to the challenge.“Distant Satellites” is a very different album from “Weather Systems”, or anything else they’ve done, for that matter. It is different, yet somehow instantly familiar. It includes everything that makes them Anathema, but adds new and exciting elements to their already excellent formula. If you’ve never heard Anathema, their formula (in their last few albums, anyways) includes soaring guitars, amazingly catchy melodies, spiritual lyrics, and emotional flow both vocally and structurally. They are the masters of melody, and they remain complex and progressive even while being simple and accessible. They are truly masters of their craft.This new album, then, is no different in those terms. The melodies return in force, such as the serene beauty of “The Lost Song” parts 1-3. And, yet, there is something different here. The melodic lines are somewhat more complex, less in-your-face, and more organic. This especially shows in the song lengths, most of them being over five minutes. This allows for more growth and more progression. Indeed, then, the melodies on “Distant Satellites”, while not being as instantly lovable or recognizable, are certainly more difficult and possibly will have a longer “shelf life” in my mind. Yes, the orchestrations seem to be lower key, as well, allowing the vocalists to express themselves more personally then ever.There are other improvements, too. I feel that the musicianship is more fervent and on a higher plateau of difficulty than Anathema has tried. Drummer John Douglas, especially, plays amazingly well from start to finish, accenting the music with awesome pounding and fills. The rest of the band are at their peak, too, with Vincent and Lee being especially great with emotional and meaningful vocal performances.“Distant Satellites” is different in more meaningful ways, too. Utilizing post-rock/metal structures is nothing new for Anathema, but they really do perfect them here, as on “Dusk”, a dark, climactic song. Yet, there is a sense of continuity between tracks, too. This is obviously the case between the three parts of “The Lost Song”, but it’s also apparent throughout the album, as if Anathema is telling us a story, convincing us of our true selves and our connection with the universe and with each other.This album is wonderful in the first half, but my excitement reached new heights in the second half. Anathema has taken it upon themselves to change things up a bit. They wanted to progress their sound, but make it all seem so natural. So, in the second half, the album climaxes with one of the best songs, simply called “Anathema”. But then, we are thrown for a loop somewhat, as “You’re Not Alone” features a hefty portion of electronic vibe. It’s great, but the best is still to come.Next, “Firelight”, a darkly ethereal instrumental track that is completely electronic, is thrust upon us, and is followed up by what may possibly be the best song Anathema has ever produced, “Distant Satellites”. This track combines everything that has ever made Anathema great: soaring melodies, climactic structure, gentle spirituality, amazing vocals, and now an electronic beat that is both complex and catchy. Vibrant, mesmerizing, and pure, this track elates me every time I hear it. It takes this album, and my heart, to new heights. The album finishes with a gentle ballad that just seems so fitting, yet it still has the strong electronic influence.So, is “Distant Satellites” a winner? In every way! Is it their best album? I don’t know; it has the potential, but it might take time, just like “Weather Systems” did. What I can tell you is that this new album is more mature, more progressive, more interesting and eclectic, and less formulaic then anything Anathema has crafted yet. It does sacrifice some accessibility and some instant likability for these things, but I respect their decision massively, and I fully expect to see “Distant Satellites” at the tops of many lists at the end of 2014." - Progulator
    $14.00
  • "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 this, 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 and later released on home video cassette.This Esoteric Recordings edition has been newly re-mastered and includes a companion DVD (NTSC / Region Free) of SKY AT WESTMINSTER ABBEY,  (the first ever DVD release of this classic concert). The original album artwork is fully restored and the booklet features a new essay."
    $19.00
  • Latest album from this brilliant Swedish band balances all of their previous output into one great work. Simply killer progressive death metal. Highly recommended.
    $12.00
  • "Renaissance of Fools is a Swedish band comprised of former members of some fairly known acts; guitarist Daniel Magdic (Pain of Salvation), drummer Magnus Karlsson (Leech/Machina), bassist Linus Carlsson (Kamchatka), and lead vocalist David Engstrom (Silent Nation). Spring is their sophomore release for Metalville Records, a label that is quickly making a name for themselves with a host of strong recent releases from a variety of new as well as veteran groups.Mixing hard rock, heavy metal, and progressive rock, Renaissance of Fools list bands such as Black Sabbath, King's X, Rush, Tool, King Crimson, Porcupine Tree, and Mars Volta as influences, and while they don't necessarily sound like any of them per se, you can certainly hear little bits of all of them woven into their musical delivery. Engstrom is a very capable vocalist, his expressive, melodic vocal passages soar over the dense, at times atmospheric musical arrangements, giving some of these songs a feel not unlike perhaps a heavier Anathema mixed with a little Fates Warning, especially on the four part title suite, which is not only notable for his alluring vocals, but also the quirky interplay between the guitar & bass, with nimble drum work percolating underneath. Most of the tracks are fairly lengthy, and things never really get too heavy, with "Internal Carousel", complete with symphonic passages and complex rhythms, and the lumbering "Scars", perhaps the most aggressive tunes on the album.Spring is one of those albums where no one thing really stands out, but taken as a whole the results are quite pleasant and satisfying. Strong vocals, dreamy melodies, intelligent musical passages, plenty of atmosphere, and most importantly, memorable songs make up this very fine album, which is a true ensemble accomplishment. Remember the name Renaissance of Fools...you will be hearing a lot about them!" - Sea Of Tranquility
    $14.00
  • New domestic reissue of the band's fifth album.  It comes with 6 of the original Chipping Norton mixes. It has some of their best material but it was always a bit of a strange album.
    $14.00
  • This is the album where I had a hard time telling these guys apart from The Police. A fall off in quality from Moving Pictures - the tunes are shorter and more radio friendly.  Remastered edition.
    $5.00
  • "Dimension is a progressive metal band, based in Denver, CO, USA. It was founded in 1999 by David Quicho (guitars and vocals) & Mane Cabrales (drums) . They play a heavy yet melodic brand of progressive metal, and Revolution is a double disc with over 90 minutes of music.With The Source, it begins with a haunting piano, with Quicho's vocals coming in shortly after. His vocals use an almost phaser like effect, which can sound a little weird to someone not used to it. Though soon afterwards he shows his strong vocal range. Ranging from a John Arch(ex-Fates Warning) Or Charlie Dominici(ex-Dream Theater, Dominici) high to a more aggressive mid range, ala Harry Conklin(ex-Jag Panzer). The next two songs offer something a little bit different, with a huge melodic chorus during Pale Horse that showcases some great drumming from Cabrales and vocals from Quicho. With a little title like The Waltz Of Death you might expect a symphonic intro, and it does, with a waltz to boot! After that intro, the song is a big melodic song with some nice guitar solos, and tempo changes as well. New Day is a haunting slower melodic song, that really highlights Quicho song. This song you will either love or hate his vocals, but the vocal melody matches the song perfectly. Some great instrumentation as well mid song, and an added heaviness heard midway adds a dynamic to the song. Tears of Blood and The Resistance are two mid to faster paced songs, with the latter having a great straight-ahead guitar riff, that easily induces headbanging. The added keyboards in the beginning of The Resistance definitely gives the song a progressive feel to it. Some great drumming, with certain notes being accented more than others, gives the song an aggressive feeling, though the song itself is very melodic. Welcome To America is a song you will want to listen to the lyrics for, especially if you live in America. The last song on disc one is a cover of The Beatles classic, Eleanor Rigby. While this song has been covered numerous times, I really did enjoy this progressive metal take on it. At just barely over two minutes long, it definitely is short and sweet.Angel starts off disc two, and much like what was heard on disc one is a mixture of heavier parts and melodic parts lead by Quicho's unique vocals. The song has a great instrumental section just after the three minute mark. The next song Human Device shares a lot of the same ideas presented in Angel without sounding like the same song. The instrumental, The End Of All Things is next, and it takes its time building up into one massive piece of precise musicianship. Unlike a lot of their contemporaries, Dimension does not over do it with the instrumentation. Yes there is definite technical skill from all three members, but they don't stray too far away into wankery-land where the song ends up sounding like one long jam section. There is definitely a well thought out song structure here. The epic not only in length, but in melodies, time signatures, and everything else you would expect from a solid progressive metal band, can be found in the nineteen minute plus, War Dream. A heavily melodic song with great instrumental passages, weaves back and forth between melody, technical prowess, and heavier parts of the song. I could write a review about this one song. Much like Eleanor Rigby ended the first disc, the classic Led Zeppelin, Immigrant Song ends disc two. Maintaining the Page riff, and the Plant vocal melodies, the song does not stray too far from its source material, but has a personal and welcomed Dimension touch to it.Reviewing a double disc from a band I don't know, has been daunting, but definitely a welcomed challenge. I researched the band's previous releases to find that Marty on this site had reviewed their 2007 disc, Ego. From the samples of Ego I have heard, I honestly believe the band has taken the next step in their evolution. Dimension is definitely a solid band, and one that should be on the radar for fans of the genre. Most songs have complex song structures, yet are accessible to those who enjoy melodic music as well." - Metal Reviews
    $14.00
  • Second release from this superb progressive metal band from France - and their debut release for Sensory. Everything about the sophomore effort is an improvement - from the production to the performances (and there was nothing wrong with Mental Torments). If you are fan of mega-tight ensemble work, chops from hell and real songs then you have to hear Anima. We are very proud to have SUE as part of the Sensory roster."The early beginnings of Spheric Universe Experience dates back to 1999, when guitarist Vince Benaim decided to create a progressive metal band together with his friends Sam (on drums) and John Drai (on bass). The band did some local gigs in and around the southern parts of France, going by the name of Gates of Delirium.They knew that they limited their own repertoire by not incorportating vocals and keyboards, so by 2001 keyboardist Fred Colombo entered the band together with vocalist Alex. Now going by the band name of Amnesya, the guys did lots of liveshows and one demo CD.In August 2002, the band split because of musical disagreements leaving Vince, John and Fred to continue under the name of Spheric Universe Experience.During the next 8 months their passion for composing led them to write a complete album, which they recorded at home as a demo in April 2003 with session vocalist Franck Garcia, who came in just a few days before the recordings began. The vocals were recorded in a professional studio, and although Franck didn't have much time with the band prior to recording it, the result is very convincing, which is why he joined the band fulltime.The 2003 demo, "The Burning Box", was sent to Intromental Management in Denmark, who immediately fell in love with the bands sound, and decided to offer them a management-deal.Helped by session-drummer Volodia Brice, the band began recording the debut album, “Mental Torments”, in August 2003.In summer of 2004 Spheric Universe signed a worldwide record deal with French label Replica Records. An American license was also inked with Nightmare Records.Nico "Ranko" Muller joined the band in fall 2004 as their new drummer, and with him on-board the line-up was complete. The debut album, Mental Torments" was finalized by the great mix of Tommy Hansen (Jailhouse Studios, Denmark - a.o. Helloween, TNT, Pretty Maids). The cover artwork was created by famous Swedish artist Mattias Norén at ProgArt Media (www.progart.com).2005 was spent writing new material plus playing various live shows, opening for acts such as Scorpions and Uli Jon Roth in France.Now, the band has finalized their 2nd effort, “Anima”, which is a strong follow up to the debut, showcasing S.U.E. from their finest side. The album was recorded by Charles Massabo during the summer of 2006 in Coxinhell Studio Studio and Kallaghan Studio in France and was mastered at Jailhouse Studios in Denmark by Tommy Hansen, giving the music of S.U.E. the extra powerful touch that is needed in today’s music market. Artwork was this time around handled by Björn at Killustrations Media in Germany (www.killustrations.com).The music of Spheric Universe Experience is technical, melodic and possesses a top-notch progressiveness, that can be compared to bands such as Dream Theater, Pain Of Salvation and Fates Warning, but filled with an incredible intensity and an original identity of their own."
    $13.00
  • "There’s a certain irony to a band naming its debut album A Long Time Listening and then waiting five years to release its follow-up – but whether by accident or design, this is exactly what Agent Fresco have done. In the interim, however, with only occasional ventures outside of their native Iceland, the quartet have managed to build something of a cult following with music that is both electrifying and emotional in equal measure. Amongst their fanbase, anticipation levels for second album Destrier are several orders of magnitude beyond stratospheric. So how can they possibly be met?So let’s put everyone who may have clicked on this review with a sense of trepidation at ease as soon as possible, because not only have Agent Fresco met those expectations, they have surpassed them with almost astonishing ease. Destrier is, bluntly, a fucking masterpiece. Whether you read what follows this paragraph or not, you need to hear Destrier as soon as you can. You have been told.For those of you that are still with us, let’s delve a bit deeper into exactly what makes Destrier (pronounced DE-streer, linguistics fans) so very special. Like its predecessor, the contextual nucleus of the album is an extensive exploration of the complex web of emotions surrounding a pivotal event in the life of singer Arnor Dan Arnarson. Whereas the theme of A Long Time Listening was the grief following the death of his father, Destrier deals with the aftermath of a particularly violent attack that left some significant physical and mental injuries. As one might expect, Destrier is a considerably more burly – at times even angry – affair.A significant proportion of what makes Agent Fresco’s music so special is how cohesively the band operate together. Throughout Destrier, they pulse, flex, twitch and turn together like the sinews of a single, well-honed muscle. There is layer upon layer of complexity in the sound they create, yet it coalesces into something so immediately accessible that it reaches out to hug the listener like a long-lost friend even during that first, glorious, play through the record.What’s more, whilst each individual track stands firmly on its own two feet, they are given an extra lease of life in the context of the album as a whole. This is particularly apparent with lead single “Dark Water“, whose eruption out of the ominous, brooding, Massive Attack-esque tones of opening track “Let Them See Us” pushes it into a practically euphoric release. The album ebbs and flows as a single, continuous work of art that makes pushing the stop button tremendously difficult, so it’s best to make sure you have a free hour for that first listen. What’s more, as my colleague and our resident Icelander Jon Þor pointed out to me, final track “Mono No Aware” fades down to the same delicate note that opens the album after reprising the title track. This effectively means that the album loops almost seamlessly, which is a magical thing.The titular Destrier itself is a type of medieval war horse, whose use was reserved for battle alone. It is metaphorically deployed here by Arnor as a kind of spirit animal, giving him the fortitude to confront the anger and vulnerability he felt in the aftermath of the attack. This shows neatly the cryptic yet vivid imagery that Arnor is capable of conjuring through his lyrics, placing him in the same league as Maynard James Keenan, perhaps coupled with Muse‘s Matt Bellamy in both his sense of theatre and his achingly beautiful falsetto. However, without access to a full lyric sheet as I write, I’ll refrain from any hamfisted analysis of half-heard lines; I think it deserves more than that.Destrier also shows that whilst their music is almost immediately identifiable as Agent Fresco, they are not bound by any restrictions of genre, making the album as much of a musical voyage of adventure and exploration as a lyrical one. Perhaps the most surprising moment lies in the title track itself, which suddenly drops into dense, practically atonal shards of syncopated noise. Elsewhere, elements of greasy garage rock, slinky lounge music and soft, bubbling electronica can be found alongside more familiar choruses (which are often big enough to be visible from space), delicate piano-led sections and ebullient math-rock riffing.With more dynamic surprises like the vulnerability of “Bemoan” dropping into the brash savagery of “Angst” to be discovered, Destrier is a near-perfect artistic expression that stimulates mind, body and spirit in equal measure. Listeners may well find themselves immediately besotted, then even more deeply gratified through repeated listens.As you can probably tell, Destrier is a most uncommon delight. It will almost certainly prove to be one of the most essential listens of 2015, and maybe an even longer timescale than that. We can only hope that it won’t take another five years for Agent Fresco to release their next album, but even if that does happen, we will probably not have tired of this one by then. Destrier is a masterpiece; a glorious, life-affirming masterpiece that, once heard, will make you wonder how you managed without it. Go seek." - The Monolith
    $15.00