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  • "It was a blow hearing that Stream of Passion were splitting up earlier in the year. Not only are they one of the best bands in the symphonic metal scene on album, they’re even better live, one of the most energetic and fun bands I’ve ever seen. Alongside the announcement that they were doing some final shows, including the DVD recording in Amsterdam two weeks ago, a UK tour and a final farewell show on 28 December in Utrecht, to help soften the blow singer Marcela Bovio announced she would release a solo album this year. Through crowdfunding, she managed to get to an amazing 448% of her target and the result is the the ten track album Unprecedented.The new album has nothing to do with metal, so one shouldn’t expect any similarities to her work with Stream of Passion, Ayreon or The Gentle Storm. Instead the album is solely recorded with her voice and a string quartet, for which she wrote all the arrangements, and as she played violin live and on album with Stream of Passion its a style she embraces perfectly.Marcela shows a side of her voice that we haven’t seen a lot of before on opening track Hey Amores with operatic styled vocalisations bringing to mind Dead Can Dance legend Lisa Gerrard, albeit tinged with her instantly recognisable accent, over dark and  dramatic strings. The song brightens up, with a Spanish sounding folky melody played on the strings and her singing beautifully in her native tongue. One notices a great range in dynamics in both the strings and her voice, singing softly and prettily at points before bursting forth into powerful crescendos.Throughout Unprecedented the string arrangements are simple but effective, allowing her voice to take centre stage but providing a great backing track that accentuates it in both melody and mood, and there’s always space in the songs for the instrumental melodies to shine. Three of the tracks are in Spanish with the remaining seven sung in English, and any Stream of Passion knows that she sounds beautiful in both languages. Her vocal approach for the most part, other than the operatic styles on Hey Amores and Stars, isn’t much of a departure from the way she sung with Stream of Passion (which is a good thing) but she sounds just as at home singing with her string quartet as she ever did with her old band – where previously calm and crescendos came from having two guitars, keyboards and drums, they now come from the mood and dynamics of the strings instead – you don’t just find yourself waiting for the metal parts to kick in and one falls in love with her new style from the first song.Barring some rather jarring scratchy strings on Dime, there’s not a bad track on the album which flows brilliantly from its start to an end that seems to come too soon. Found! and The Treasure Hunter are quite sweet and upbeat, where Saboteurs and Hay Amores are more moody and dramatic, and The Cartographers has some of her most powerful vocals on the album. The two main highlights though are Powerless and Stars, the soft melodies and vocals on the former are gorgeous, with the most memorable chorus on the album,  while the latter has her singing once more in her operatic style, a style she sounds perfect for, singing both powerfully and expressively, with a great trill to her voice. It’s a shame we get to hear that style so little on the album.Unprecedented is a great album and those mourning the loss of Stream of Passion will find lots to enjoy in Marcela’s new endeavour. Moody and melodic strings match her expressive voice well and it’s bound to be one of favourite releases of 2016 come the end of the year." - Swirl Of Noise
  • Damian Wilson is one of the greatest vocalists in metal - dating back to his work with Threshold and now with Headspace.  Somewhere in the middle he made some great music with Rick Wakeman.  His collaboration with Adam Wakeman began with Headspace (who are about to release their second album).Weir Keeper's Tale is an acoustic based album that features the two musicians in sparse arrangements.  Acoustic guitar and piano are the backdrop for Wilson's voice which is startling in its clarity.  Adam sings as well and he's fine vocalist that complements and harmonizes with Wilson as well.No technicality here - just pure melody and emotion.  Highly recommended.
  • The late Michael Hedges was one of the great visionary guitarists of our lifetimes. He used tapping techniques on acoustic guitar to create a wall of sound. He was influenced by John Fahey and Leo Kottke and made us all rethink what can possibly be done with an acoustic guitar.  Introspective but addictive.  If you have any interest in guitar you need to hear this album.
  • Autographed vinyl edition.Damian Wilson is one of the greatest vocalists in metal - dating back to his work with Threshold and now with Headspace.  Somewhere in the middle he made some great music with Rick Wakeman.  His collaboration with Adam Wakeman began with Headspace (who are about to release their second album).Weir Keeper's Tale is an acoustic based album that features the two musicians in sparse arrangements.  Acoustic guitar and piano are the backdrop for Wilson's voice which is startling in its clarity.  Adam sings as well and he's fine vocalist that complements and harmonizes with Wilson as well.No technicality here - just pure melody and emotion.  Highly recommended.
  • "Alice in Chains' shadow has grown longer as post-grunge settles into homogeny. Every outfit from Godsmack to Soil claims them as an influence; Staind's Aaron Lewis even wrote "Layne" in tribute to the band's departed frontman. Zakk Wylde throws his own goatee into that ring with Black Label Society's Hangover Music, Vol. 6, a largely acoustic album that recalls both Jar of Flies and Wylde's own Book of Shadows. He handles vocals, piano, and acoustic duties himself, also contributing the occasional display of electric guitar wizardry just to remind listeners of where he came from. Ozzy's influence looms at least as large as Alice in Chains -- he and his family are thanked prominently in the liner notes, and material like the ballad "Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow" sounds like it could have been written for him. (Wylde also offers his own tribute to Staley, also called "Layne.") Hangover Music's restraint is admirable, considering Wylde's fretboard prowess; in fact, the album's pretty damn mellow. "Won't Find It Here" cops the melody from U2's "One," while standouts "Crazy or High" and "Queen of Sorrow" feature wails from Wylde's electric over Southern rock-influenced acoustic licks and a rhythm section that includes Crowbar drummer Craig Nunenmacher. "Takillya (Estyabon)" is a brief burst of acoustic fretboard magic, and the piano-led "Woman Don't Cry" finds Wylde shelving his normally tortured moan in favor of a heartfelt croon comparable to Axl Rose on G N' R Lies. It makes the track one of the album's highlights, since Wylde's vocals on the majority of Hangover Music suggest he's a much better guitar player than he is a singer. Still, fans eager for fiery guitar work will enjoy "House of Doom," which joins the lighter "No Other" as the most obvious Alice in Chains tributes (barring "Layne," of course). Hangover Music, Vol. 6 also includes an earnest, solo piano version of the Procol Harum classic rock radio fave "Whiter Shade of Pale."" - Allmusic
  • "“Appalachian Court is a new, all acoustic album from Odin’s Court, firmly rooted in acoustic rock. It has its own, unique, well blended sound featuring aspects of various genres such as rock, progressive, folk, country, bluegrass, reggae, jazz, and more.” The album contains completely rearranged versions of tracks from three previous Odin's Court albums: Driven by Fate, Deathanity and Human Life In Motion. For the first time, the band is including covers on the release."
  • Remastered edition of Damian Wilson's first solo album.  This is an acoustic affair with Wilson playing most of the instruments but also receiving a fair share of accompaniment with guest musicians.
  • "Aranis, year 2014: a Belgian band that brings something definitely off the beaten tracks! The second installment in their "Made in Belgium" series (aka MIB 2) is now on the road...and it's more captivating than a thriller! In it, a subtle blend of rejuvenated classical influences mix with (aming other things and with no specific order) a touch of drumless/ clarinetless Balkanic Klezmer- punk, a glimpse of 100% Brussels- deserts tango and a few improvised moments that manage to never really sound like "jazz"...No easy label comes to mind when it comes to describe Aranis' sound...and so its should be! A pretty unpredictable sextet...Classical? Jazz? Folk? Rock?...Well, a little bit of all this...That's what you'll taste in the Aranis pizza! So, why wouldn't you treat your ears and get a slice of it? With real chunks of Peter Vermeersch (FES), Koen Van Roy (Cro Magnon), Walter Hus (Maximalist!), Ananta Roosens (La sieste du dromadaire), Aurélie Dorzée (Aurélia) and many others..."Second release in the series from this exciting Belgian chamber rock sextet.  This is more chamber than rock but it has a great kinetic energy that melds different styles - classicial, rock, klezmer, zeuhl - always keeping the listener on his toes.  Never abrasive - always mesmerizing.  Highly recommended.  ARANIS - SKIP 21 from Robbe Maes on Vimeo.
  • Solo piano improvisations inspired by the tragedy of September 11, 2001. A portion of this is from a live benefit concert that Jordan performed for the benefit of the victims' families. Magna Carta and Jordan are donating a portion of the proceeds from the sales of this disc to charitable organizations.
  • "It has been eight years since Steve Tibbetts gave us the fiery electric guitar album “A Man About A Horse”. Now he returns with a different kind of recording: an album of, primarily, acoustic sounds. The making of “Natural Causes” took place in a period when Tibbetts was reconsidering some fundamental aspects of his art and craft - in parallel with daily studies of Bach, Bartók, and music theory. Examining those giants up close made it doubly difficult to go about business-as-usual in his own work. “After some hours, my ears would be wide open...and disinclined to the prospect of blasting electric guitar. So I stuck with my dad’s Martin D-12-20 12-string. I wanted to keep things simple. I thought maybe I could find a voice in well-played single-string lines and say more with less - like Sultan Kahn perhaps. That was the intent, even though the music usually mutated into complex little cathedrals.” The music of Sultan Kahn has been a reference for Tibbetts since the mid-90s and the experience of witnessing a revelatory concert that brought the Indian sarangi master to Saint Paul. “Since then I have taken the singing, voice-like quality of his sarangi as my example. Over months and years of playing the frets were ground down on my 12-string and it began to sound more and more like the sarangi. The frets are nearly flat now. The guitar is about 45 years old and has a mellow, aged sound to it. I set up that guitar so that the strings are in double courses. I set them in unisons. This makes it possible to find (for me) a more “singing” tonality in single string lines."
  • The acoustic trio playing compositions by some old timers: Bach, Beethoven, Barber, Rossini, Vivaldi, Schubert, and Part. Well at least the last guy is still alive...
  • You like The California Guitar Trio?  You need to check out this Chicago based acoustic instrumental quartet.  The lineup consists of three acoustic guitarists plus Luis Nasser (Sonus Umbra) on acoustic bass.  The band has a weird obsession with Nintendo video game music.  Intricate, melodic, progressive music."Might Could has a deep relationship with video game music. For years, they'd turn into the act "Motherbrain!", which featured covers of their favorite 8-bit Nintendo tunes. Inspired by this music, band member Aaron Geller has been writing long and elaborate songs that have made their way onto previous Might Could albums. "Not Every Song Finds a Name" (which the band affectionately calls "NESFAN 1") was first featured on their 2005 album "All Intertwined."A sequel, "Not Every Sequel Finds a Name" ("NESFAN 2") was recorded for their 2007 album "Wood Knot." Another full album was done in 2013 ("Relics from the Wasteland"), and then the band set to work on The N.E.S.F.A.N. Trilogy. For this release, Aaron wrote a 13+ minute epic conclusion to the NESFAN trilogy. The band recorded it as the centerpiece of the new release. They also did rerecordings of the first two installments: NESFAN 1 was completely retracked with a new bass track added, and NESFAN 2 was upgraded significantly as well.In addition to the eponymous trilogy, Might Could recorded some of their favorite songs and medleys from their Motherbrain! days. Those make up the odd-numbered tracks on the album.Though they fight increasing geographic separation, Might Could plans on playing the new material live as much as possible and continuing to acoustically rock its fans."
  • Budget price but nicely slipcased 2CD set from this superb acoustic progressive band from Netherlands.  Set includes "Variaties Op Een Dame" and "Gevecht Meet De Engel""The Year 1978 , one of the most productive years of Progressive music in Europe . Specially in Italy , Netherlands , France , Germany ,Greece & Belgium . During my trips to these countries , i've discovered bands like Sensation's Fix , Machiavel , Parzival , Can , New Trolls , PFM , Banco , le Orme , PLJ band , and so many others . Surely i had also the first album released by Flairck in 1978 by hazard , from amsterdam airport , i really liked the sleeve cover first , THEN , back to Lebanon the same day , had a special flavour in my life . This album was & still the best progressive work i've ever heard in 40 years . I have no words to describe such beauty , except it was the first & the last interresting & excellent work by Flairck . Still i'm not disappointed by some of their works during 30 years . This instrumental album full of harmonies & new musical inspirations is a must for all proggers , it contains maybe the first trips in fusion between Classical / jazz / rock / blues & folk . Varieties is a real complete journey between these genres of music in a perfect globe . Tracks are all amazing , they have the same value , and i can't skip anyone . Erik Vesser was really accurate in selecting these songs , specially Variations on a lady (21 minutes) & Voorspel in Sofia , these two tracks are amazing & adorable , it's a progressive rock music played by essential classical equipments . this album took more than two years in the making , but got a perfect recognition all over Europe , specially in France / Belgium / Italy / , and went Platinium in Netherlands . So , if you haven't discover this magnificient Dutch band yet dear proggers , this is the right place to start with Flairck ( Variations on a lady ) 5 Stars for musicianship , 5 stars for all songs included , 5 stars for the technic used in combining Classical - Folk - blues - jazz & rock , and 5 stars for the sleeve cover . One of my best 10 albums ever , and a Masterpiece of progressive music , suit yourselves and Enjoy this wonderful piece of art . Highly Recommended " - ProgArchives"I'm not too much of a folk fan but this band from Holland has always been at the top of my folk charts. Their ambitious compositions and instrumental craftsmanship have a drive and timeless quality that could charm folkies, lovers of classical music and progrock fans alike. Next to the brothers Visser on acoustic guitars and Peter Weekers on flutes, the band is completed with Sylvia Houtzager on violin. Her name translates to 'Sawyer' in English so playing the violin must have been her born destination. The band would continue to perform in that line-up throughout the 80's.Gevecht Met De Engel is Flairck's strongest studio offering and can successfully claim not to have one wrong or misplaced note for its entire 44 minutes of dazzling virtuosity. Each part radiates with playing pleasure, regardless whether it's melancholic and quiet or fast and cheerful. One of the secrets is the perfect interplay between all members. The leading instrument is the acoustic guitar, complemented by dazzling bass guitar and an array of flutes and violin. The arrangements have plenty of breathing space though and never get overcrowded nor bombastic.While it's difficult to point out any particular standout piece, the main focus of the album is on its 3-part title track, a 23 minute tornado raging through European folk music, ranging from Spanish, Celtic and Eastern European traditions. It's particularly essential as it doesn't feature on any of the official Flairck live albums. If you want to hear it then it will have to be here.Gevecht Met De Engel is probably one of the best acoustic folk albums ever made. Given its impressive compositions it's nothing short of essential in any prog rock collection. So it's particularly distressing having only one other reviewer on this page joining me in my praise for this masterpiece." - ProgArchives[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_large","fid":"12269","attributes":{"alt":"","class":"media-image","height":"200","width":"200"}}]][[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_large","fid":"12270","attributes":{"alt":"","class":"media-image","height":"202","width":"200"}}]]