The Optimist (Blu-ray)

SKU: KSCOPE532
Label:
KScope Records
Format:
BLU-RAY
Region:
Region 0
Category:
Post Progressive
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Blu-ray edition features 5.1 surround and hi-res stereo (24/96).

"Nothing is more consistent in the world than change. In the realm of music, change either comes with the speed of an arthritic glacier, or so fast the music community is left breathless trying to keep up; there rarely seems to be any middle ground. As far as bands and their evolution go, they fall into two categories: bands who virtually never change their sound, and bands that do so frequently. Fans as a general rule seem hostile to bands changing their sound, “selling out” being the most common accusation. A key factor of successful change is that a band has to be able to do it well, and their new sound must stand up against other albums with such a sound.

With that in mind, few bands have been so consistent, not only in changing but changing well as Liverpool’s Anathema. They started out as a slow and heavy doom metal band, and they were very good at it. Over time they left that far behind – indeed it is now all but a distant memory, with many newer fans being hardly familiar with those early albums. They evolved, adding alternative and progressive rock touches, but always sounding like themselves: dark, melancholy, and deeply emotional. They hit the peak of their progressive sound with 2012’s highly acclaimed ‘Weather Systems’ and followed it up with the stylistically similar ‘Distant Satellites’ in 2014, which I felt was rather underwhelming and derivative of the previous. Anathema, however, have changed themselves again with the upcoming ‘The Optimist.’  While retaining hints of their progressive flavor, it is heavily electronic in nature – one could say moody, dark electric pop. And, unsurprisingly, given their track record, they have delivered another excellent and engaging album.

The genesis of the new album lies in their 2001 album ‘A Fine Day To Exit,’ an album which tells the story of a man and his attempt to escape from his life, its problems, and possibly start anew. The story was unresolved, and his fate unknown, and so the narrative of this new album is meant to answer the question of his fate. The album starts with the brief “32.63n 117.14w” which are the coordinates of Silver Strand beach in San Diego, the character’s last known location and the beach where the cover for ‘Fine Day’ was taken.  The album begins with the sound of crashing waves and a man walking through sand panting for breath before entering his car and flipping through radio stations until a steady electronic beat begins. It flows directly into “Leaving it Behind” where the first guitar picking of Vincent and Daniel Cavanagh begins and the album launches into one of the few true rockers of the album. The track is classic Anathema of recent years; Daniel’s rich voice soars over strongly melodic yet driving prog-tinged rock driven by the crisp drumming and percussion work of Daniel Cardoso and John Douglas. This song will make a perfect opening number for upcoming shows and will leave any fan of the band pleased and looking forward to more.

The album continues with the string and electronic dominant “Endless Waves” which is sung by the band’s other lead singer, the lovely, crystal-voiced Lee Douglas, who officially joined the band in 2010. It has become common over the last few albums for Daniel and Lee to trade off the lead vocal duties on the first and second tracks and then mix it up through the rest of the album, and ‘The Optimist’ follows that pattern. The tracks continue the character’s journey quite literally with the instrumental “San Francisco” and then “Springfield,” which continues his quest to either disappear completely, or find himself and come to grips with his life. The piano and electronic aspects are especially highlighted through here, and the keyboard work of the two brothers is never flashy but just enough to capture the emotion. The rise and fall of the music and is handled with finesse quite beautifully.

As with much of their previous work, the atmosphere of the album is as important as the individual songs. With the addition of so much electronic key work, the result is an almost urban feeling that hovers over the whole album. In that way, it is not dissimilar to Ulver’s excellent ‘Perdition City’ with its overall feeling of isolation in the midst of millions of people. And by often commenting on the electronic feel of the album, I do not mean to imply that it is an electronic album in the way that the previously mentioned Ulver album is. There are plenty of guitars and rock moments along the way, only the electronics hover over the album in a way they have not done on earlier albums. This mix of old and new blends in a manner which makes it familiar while still being unexpected, fresh, and unmistakably, Anathema.

The band does go into a very different direction from anything they have done on the Douglas sung “Close Your Eyes,” which can accurately be called a lounge jazz number. Mostly piano driven with moody horn work and light jazzy drumming, one can imagine the character sitting in a dim, smoky jazz club sipping a drink while Lee is on stage singing to a small crowd. It was an unexpected twist, but works very well. Daniel picks up the vocal duties again on the much more familiar sounding and sparsely sung “Wildfires.” It finds the character questioning who he is before a climactic building of pounding drums and crunchy guitars largely overwhelm the floating vocals which end with the repeating line, “it’s too late” before quieting back down and moving into the final song “Back to the Start.”

Fittingly with such a title, the album closes as it began with the sound of crashing and classic-sounding Anathema. The lyrics sum much of the theme of the album (if not their whole career) up as Vincent sings, “They don’t understand ‘cos they don’t talk for me/There ain’t no master plan/ I came in to make peace/ the more we’re made to suffer the more we’re made to care”. The song builds powerfully with both vocalists sharing duties and perhaps being the two characters of the drama which comes back to the start. The band deliberately leaves the fate up to the listener, whether he returns to his old life or escapes and leaves to a new one. Which ending you prefer is likely up to your personality; the romantic (in the classic sense) in me would like to believe he returned and resolved things, but the opposite is just as probable and satisfying in its own way. Regardless, it is a perfect closing to the album.

With ‘The Optimist’, Anathema have crafted an entirely new, yet familiar-sounding album that requires the listener to not only give it multiple spins to come to grips with it, but richly rewards them for doing so. As a sequel to ‘A Fine Day to Exit,’ it succeeds in bringing closure to the story, and the decision to leave the conclusion up to the listener is skillfully and intelligently done. While I wouldn’t recommend this as the first album for a new Anathema listener, anyone who has been following the band in recent years should be very pleased with it. Highly recommended." - Metal Wani

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  • CD/DVD edition in a mediabook.  The CD contains one bonus track.  The DVD has hi-res audio in surround and stereo mixes."Katatonia have, over the past 20 years, achieved the rarest of things: they have evolved without alienating their entire fanbase. From blackened death metal roots with of Dance Of December Souls to darkened, progressive excellence with Dead End Kings, the Swedes have gone from crushing screams to melancholic laments, and entertained our dark hearts for over two decades. They’re now back with their tenth full length The Fall Of Hearts.Katatonia followed the 2012 Dead End Kings album cycle with an acoustic reworking of the record, plus a live release of the band playing cuts from their twenty year career – acoustic and stripped down – at London’s Union Chapel. If we didn’t know better we’d think they were avoiding the studio. Some things have changed in the Katatonia camp since the last full length however: a new drummer and guitarist have joined the fold, and whilst the band haven’t leaped into nu metal or anything, there are obvious changes.Over two decades, Katatonia have honed their sound to an instantly distinguishable one. From the first few seconds of “Takeover“, Jonas Renske’s unique vocal drops in and there can be no doubt. Its slow intro melts into a cascade of swirling guitars and double kicks – a good omen for what is to come. Lead single “Old Heart Falls” hearkens back to Dead End Kings with its melancholic, vocal-driven approach, and it meanders through its duration with palpable ease. The lead guitars and bass, along with the infectious vocal hooks and generally bright guitar playing, complete one another.One of the heavier cuts from the record, the crushing rhythms of ”Serac“ offer a welcome variation from the mid-tempo melancholy. Both Anders Nyström and newbie Roger Öjersson shine, trading guitar lines effortlessly between the heavy riffing and incalculably intricate picking. Elsewhere, hand drums and flutes are teased, but it’s with “Pale Flag” that they truly get to shine; acoustic guitar lines interjected with a wistful bass line act as a lullaby for the world- worn and weary heart.With a band like Katatonia who’ve spent each and every album evolving into something bigger and better, it becomes a herculean task to craft a song that could encapsulate every single nuance that this band ever were. Closing track “Passer” begins with a breakneck pace, that after the sombre affair that is its predecessor, it’s sure to make sure that you’re still paying attention. The ebb and flow between soft and heavy passages is nothing new to this band, or to metal as a whole, but its intention is to create a more intense effect for the listener, and here, with the help of immediate and frantic guitar sweeps, Renske’s vocal soars one final time.The Fall of Hearts is undoubtedly Katatonia; a perfect blend of their legacy with enough space left in the material for growth in both tone and songwriting. This marks their tenth album and what an album it is: Katatonia’s brand of progressive-edged darkness continues unparalleled and unmatched through a combination of depth, character and calculated menace – The Fall of Hearts could well be one of the best records of 2016." - The Monolith
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Once again the bass is prominent within a very atmospheric composition that benefits from a strong sense of melody and a clever use of shifting dynamics which allows the track to ebb and flow smoothly. ‘Gleaming’ is an instrumental piece that is heavily influenced by recent Katatonia, especially in the tone and delivery of the lead guitar lines courtesy of messrs Guillaume Bernard and Aldrick Guadagnino. However, despite its short length it covers a lot of ground including a brief dabble with ambient sounds.This ambient influence is largely understated within ‘Here Comes the Sun’ but is never far from the surface, meaning that many of the songs are interspersed with gentler, calmer moments to increase the sense of bleak drama that pervades throughout. ‘Come Undone’ is another personal favourite thanks to another gorgeous central melody whilst ‘Grim Dance’ is basically a monster that smoothly blends the best elements of the band and distils it into a single track. 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  • Ambient/prog reworking of Dead End Kings arrives in a limited edition 2 disc digibook.  You get the CD version as well as a DVD featuring a 5.1 and 24 bit hi-resolution stereo mix."After last year’s successful release of their 9th full-length Dead End Kings, Katatonia have returned with a special release entitled Dethroned and Uncrowned. This album is special for two reasons. Firstly, it was brought to life with the help of the so-called ‘Katatoniacs’; that is, the fans were the ones who financed this project through a pledge campaign the band had set up where fans could pledge for various album formats and other items such as drumsticks, lyric sheets, posters, backdrops and even one of Anders’s old guitars. Needless to say, the pledge campaign was highly successful and reached its goal in four days. Secondly, the album is special music-wise, as it contains the same tracks that were found on Dead End Kings, but all of them have undergone a major makeover. As Katatonia wrote on their website: ‘the drums will be dethroned and the distorted rhythm guitars will be uncrowned’. What they have basically done is that they have kept the vocal lines intact but have experimented with the rest of the music, creating stripped-down, semi-acoustic versions of the songs with the focus on ambience and atmosphere, showcasing the band’s progressive song-writing talent. Katatonia have masterfully and rather elegantly transformed the songs into totally different entities and have given themselves as well as the listeners the opportunity to discover different aspects of each track, by adding little interesting details or emphasizing some parts that were not as noticeable as in the previous version, like the Jan Johansson-esque piano touches in ‘Leech’, or the 70s prog vibe in ‘Dead Letters’. All in all, Katatonia have managed yet again to create a beautiful, melancholic and touching piece of work that will certainly fulfill the expectations of the majority of their fans. Those who were not very keen on Dead End Kings (if such people exist), might enjoy some of the songs in their new versions, and, who knows, they might even appreciate that album a bit more after listening to this." - Metal Recusants
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  • Standard edition comes (at the moment) with a slipcase "o" card wrapper."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
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  • "Norwegians Gazpacho never fail to serve up something a little different, and Molok is no exception: apparently, it is an album capable of destroying the universe. How could this possibly be the case? Well, a strange noise at the end of the record will cause the correction software in CD players everywhere to generate a random number every time the CD is played – and if that number corresponds to the actual position of every electron in the universe, theoretically the universe could come to an end. If that sounds far-fetched, you might want to go away and Google the Quantum Zeno effect. Oh, and don’t tell your mum. She’d only worry. Actually, perhaps it might be safer to play the vinyl edition?Theoretical – and potentially universe-threatening – particle physics aside, Molok is another conceptual offering from Gazpacho, who have been making it a habit of this approach for some time now: their previous five albums have also been conceptual in nature. This time around, the story upon which the album is an early twentieth century fable about a man who notices that whenever the human race worships a god, they are worshipping stone, in some form – the god seems to be chased by his followers into stone, never to return, hence explaining why God seems to have become incommunicado. Consumed by this idea, and by the notion that physics provides a means of projecting the movement of everything in the universe into the past or future, the man builds a machine to calculate the past and future, a machine which he christens Molok. As the machine swiftly becomes self-aware, the man realises that his work may expose things that are best left unknown…Molok is perhaps not as bold and uncompromising in its approach as the band’s previous album Demon was; but then, nine albums into their career, this is a band who no longer have anything to prove. In many ways, despite its subject matter and its often unnerving feel, Molok is a more musically forgiving record. Whilst Demon was a much starker record, its powerful progressive rock tendencies framed by introspective solo spots and restrained duets, Molok is less aggressive and more obviously band-oriented, all of the tracks being very much ensemble pieces all the way through. For those familiar with Gazpacho’s previous work, the general effect is of something that sits almost exactly halfway between Night and Missa Atropos, with some of the flavours of Demon, and the more song-based structure of their earlier albums, notably Firebird. Those not familiar with Gazpacho’s music should expect something that sounds like Pink Floyd and Marillion fed on a diet of post-rock, world music and Balkan folk.Like its siblings, Molok reveals its secrets slowly, almost reluctantly. Gazpacho’s albums tend to be slow-burners that overwhelm on first listen, so loaded with imagery that your mind struggles to find something to anchor itself to until it has heard the record several times, and Molok is no exception. It opens with sinister tribal drumming, but it’s not long before the familiar smoky vocals of frontman Jan Henrik Ohme and the lush keyboard work of Thomas Andersen enfold those familiar with Gazpacho’s sonic universe in a warmly familiar embrace. This first track, ‘Park Bench’, builds from simmering unease to grandiose choruses and a thundering, powerful climax with an ease born of a musical telepathy developed over the years. Swells of organ, church bells and who knows what else join the fray; most bands would fumble juggling these seemingly disparate elements, but in Gazpacho’s sure hands the whole never tumbles out of control.‘His Master’s Voice’ is a sinkhole of simmering unease, whilst ‘Bela Kiss’ is positively playful – its jaunty rhythms interspersed with frantic Balkan folk-style breakdowns that really give multi-instrumentalist Mikael Krømer and guest musician, accordionist Stian Carstensen, a workout. Carstensen amply displays the reasons why the band asked him to contribute to the record, whilst Krømer is, as always, Gazpacho’s secret weapon, grounding their modern sound to earth and lending it a timeless, arcane quality. This is music that simultaneously sounds like it was written today, and a century ago: entirely appropriate for the subject matter at hand.‘Know Your Time’ is much more familiar ground: an initially bass-driven progressive rock behemoth that utilises the band’s unerring sense of dynamics to unfurl into a Marillion-esque keyboard-drenched epic that ranks among the very best songs the band have delivered to date. Special mention also has to go to Lars Erik Asp’s drumming, which is particularly powerful here, and Jon Arne Vilbo and Mikael Krømer’s soaring dual-solo spot, that successfully echoes the best work of Marillion’s Steve Rothery, long a touchstone for the band. All this, and the album is barely halfway through.‘Choir Of Ancestors’ returns to a more introspective feel – Ohme’s vocals as intimate and heart-stopping as ever – as the song examines the human ability to keep moving forwards, no matter the odds or the sense of futility. The track acts as an oasis of calm between two more musically ambitious tracks: it is followed by ‘ABC’, which namechecks a number of human endeavours to measure time and man’s place in the universe, showing that Molok’s creator is just the latest in a long line of antecedents.Those listening on CD are given a further treat at this point in the form of the moody instrumental ‘Algorithm’, which possesses a mesmerising groove – it’s a brief but welcome and highly effective interlude between the body of the album and the closing two tracks, which are Gazpacho in excelsis, containing all they do so well. The eerie yet anthemic ‘Alarm’ is positively filmic in its lush storytelling, building to a series of peaks separated by limpid pools of gliding bass and tinkling keys. Once more, Ohme is at his very best here: his highly emotive voice given the space to breathe by the band before lending wings to their musical ambition.Grand finale ‘Molok Rising’ opens with a surprise: a selection of the world’s oldest known instruments, the ‘singing stone’ or Skåra stone and a variety of stone percussion, moose jaws, flutes and stringed instruments, all carefully reproduced and played by Norwegian musical archaeologist Gjermund Kolltveit. Kolltveit’s intriguing contributions flow easily into one of Gazpacho’s darkest tracks to date, equal parts The Doors’ ‘The End’ and Floyd’s ‘Yet Another Movie’. A dark cloud of synthesiser hovers over an icy lake of clattering drums, eerie percussion and chiming guitar as Ohme narrates the grand finale, delivering the coup de grace against a background of clocktower chimes and ticking clocks. Is time running out for us all? No spoilers here for those intrigued by the album’s central conceit – it’s far too good a tale to post a spoiler here – but it’s an ending that will definitely leave you pondering the implications of the tale and most likely have you hitting ‘Play’ again whilst you’re about it. But do let the album finish before returning to the beginning – you wouldn’t want to miss your chance to destroy the universe…Molok is, in its own right, a deeply impressive piece of work. Conceptually intriguing, instrumentally beguiling and emotionally powerful, it’s beautifully composed, played and produced – another practically flawless entry in one of the most consistent back catalogues in modern progressive rock. Like all of Gazpacho’s albums, it rewards familiarity but never loses its initial frisson. As with so much of their work, this is definitely an album best heard in the dark, over headphones with no distractions; it may still sound hugely impressive in the light of day, but away from the sunlight it casts its own very specific and potent spell. History will record this band as one of the most relentlessly adventurous and eclectic progressive rock bands of recent years, but for now Gazpacho remain one of the best-kept secrets of modern progressive rock, and Molok numbers among their finest achievements." - Echoes And Dust
    $9.00
  • This version is not getting a US release.  It will only be available as an import (Yes we know its expensive).  Hardbound mediabook with 28 page booklet and a bonus 4 track EP.Killer UK spacerock/post-progressive hybrid."Less than three years after their magnum o(ctop)us, Amplifier return with an altered line-up (former Oceansize guitarist Steve Durose is now a permanent fixture) and another hefty dose of spaced-out space rock. After the longest fade-in history (beyond even the intro to the first Psychedelic Furs album), a heavily chorused guitar starts the gently meandering ‘Matmos’. Then, around seven minutes in, it all explodes with a shredding guitar and you know that Amplifier are once again firing on all cylinders. With just eight tracks and a running time of 61 minutes, they’ve produced a work that’s much more succinct than its predecessor. That isn’t to say ‘Echo Street’ is any less ambitious or epic than the sprawling ‘Octopus’. ‘Between Yesterday’ is the shortest track at 5:18: the 12-minute ‘Extra Vehicular’ is a prog rock monster of monumental proportions and is not so much a song as a journey through time and space. The title track is a high-octane slice of swirling space rock, and as a whole, ‘Echo Street’ is expansive and cinematic and, in short, classic Amplifier." - Shout4Music
    $20.00
  • "Founded in 1999 and evolving into a band that main man Bruce Soord has called “greater than the sum of its parts”, The Pineapple Thief have  never been afraid to challenge the vision that they are a prog band. One which has existed  on the periphery awaiting the real breakthrough moment. Their 11th studio album sees them setting an ‘ever onward’ course.Following the bite sized chunk trials of 2014’s ‘Magnolia’ with its more mainstream orientation, comes the album described as “a joy to make.” Not often you hear that making an album has been effortless.  Perhaps inspired by the drumming contribution of the excellent Gavin Harrison, fresh from his experiences with King Crimson, or the clarinet contributions of Supertramp’s John Helliwell, or even the string quartet and four piece choir, they combine to cast a different hue  on  the The Pineapple Thief canvas.  With Darran Charles from Godsticks adding some guitar, it’s an all star cast that alongside the core unit, have combined  to create  an album which adds to their already inventive catalogue of work.Bruce Soord’s recent collaborations and production duties, particularly with the darker progressive and metal tendencies of Opeth and Katatonia, and in particular the latter’s acoustic adventures, may have also had an influence and played their part in his thinking. Fans may also be encouraged to hear he’s rediscovered his progressive roots which all adds up to what  on paper has the potential to drive TPT into another dimension.  Not only does it sound good, with Soord’s growing reputation as a 5.1 specialist doing wonders with the sonics, but it looks good too. The album concept gets played out in Carl Glover’s expansive artwork which compliments the musical and lyrical journey of a parent and child,  unfolding slowly   to chronicle a  tale of love, fear, estrangement and reconciliation.Soord has called ‘No Man’s Land’, the track assigned as the album teaser, “a tale of two halves.  It’s short but progressive and 100% The Pineapple  Thief”  – an apt description  which applies  to much if not all of ‘Your Wilderness’. It’s preceded by ‘In Exile’ which not  only sets the scene but, possibly with the help of the distinctive yet subtle Harrison drumming,  moving TPT into the frame as the band most likely to take up the mantle from oner of Harrison’s old bands – another PT, Porcupine Tree.  The void created by their regrettable  absence in the wake of the Steven Wilson solo career juggernaut  could well be on the way to being filled.A wistful ‘That Shore’   takes a turn towards the delicate and fragile, echoed on ‘Fend For Yourself’ with the Helliwell clarinet floating over the low key choral backing. Intense without being overbearing , it all fits with the album template yet for those who like their progressive music  to run a little longer there’s ten minutes of ‘The Final Thing On My Mind’ to dissect. Easy to say it’s the centrepiece because of the extended format but in all honesty it is an impressive composition. After building for four minutes, it could easily draw to a close to be another ‘short but progressive’ number, but it finds a natural conclusion in an extended arrangement which develops towards a second crescendo involving the sort of dynamic intensity which rarely pays a call, yet  allows for a more significant  impact when it does. The emphasis remains on the unpretentious and creation of atmosphere containing moments of controlled energy; a pattern which is at the core of an absorbing and introspective set which flows gently through  the forty minute playing time.The Pineapple Thief seem to be  making an art form of the short but progressive style, stepping up to the plate for consideration as a band who have slowly developed into genuine contenders." - Louder Than War
    $15.00
  • "It's been sometime since I've had a Long Distance Calling album cross my desk, nearly five years. The German band returns with their fifth album, Trips, and another new vocalist in Norwegian Petter Carlsen (Pil & Bue). Keyboards, piano and electronic sounds are performed by Marsen Fischer. Yet, as usual, Long Distance Calling's music essentially revolves around instrumental collaboration.In some sense, Trips is familiar territory for listeners. LDC continues to juxtapose atmospheric and etheral soundscapes with brisk and often bracing riffage, with light and lilting vocals floating over them, as least when they see fit to add them. Mostly, Long Distance Calling reminds me of progressive rock past and present. You might hear echoes of Pink Floyd or Kraftwerk, Anathama, Tool, and Muse in their sound. At one time they kind sound like pop infused trance music with an Eighties vibe as with Getaway. Then they can bring some of those crushing riffs in guitar-forward arrangements, feeling both heavy and brisk, even anxious as with Reconnect and Trauma. Yet the latter has one of LDC's characteristic wandering melancholy breakdowns in the middle. And even more rapid fire presence and pace come within Lines, with lighter moments given for the vocals.While it seems most everything is guitar and riff driven, a song such as Momentum is carried by the rippling groove of the drums. Everything else, including the guitars, seems to ride upon the crest of each wave, foaming and churning as the drums cascade along. It's just an example of whole good LDC is at making even instrumental prog rock accessible. Mention should be made of the closing number Flux. It also features much of the LDC signature sound, yet there's something more subdued and gentle about the guitar work in the first half, before it yields to something akin jazz rock fusion guitar. It was a subtle thing to my ears. You might describe it differently. Suffice to say, it's another representation of LDC's sublime and deft song composition. The only bump here is the song Rewind, which basically sounded like, well, nothing. Nothing with vocals that is.Nevertheless, the conclusion to all this is simple. With Trips, Long Distance Calling has delivered another enjoyable album of (mostly) instrumental melodic progressive rock, perhaps even more accessible than past works. Recommended." - Dangerdog.com
    $12.00
  • 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
  • CD/DVD in a digibook.  The DVD is the complete show and the CD maxxes out due to the time limitations."In May 2012 Anathema released Weather Systems, the most acclaimed and successful album of a career that has spanned over two decades. The album scored high in numerous critics end of year polls around the world and cemented their reputation as one of the most exciting and progressive bands around. Following the release of the album, the band embarked on a lengthy world tour. The European leg of the tour opened with a triumphant one-off show at the ancient Roman theatre of Philippopolis with the Plovdiv Philharmonic Orchestra in September 2012. Directed by celebrated filmmaker Lasse Hoile, Universal captures the magic of the event ."
    $17.00