domingo, 25 de setembro de 2016

Kayak - Crossover Prog • Netherlands

KAYAK is a Dutch band, originating from the early seventies. The band began as a symphonic progressive rock act with an emphasis in songwriting, but from 1977 on KAYAK changed direction moving into crossover territories. KAYAK revived in the 21st century, recording new albums and touring again. 

The original line-up of KAYAK was quite strange. Most members were trained musicians at the conservatoriums of Holland. Max WERNER was a professional drummer that had to sing and Pim KOOPMAN was a professional piano-player that had to play the drums (which actually was his true love). Luckily Ton SCHERPZEEL was able to play on the keyboards, which was his profession. Later on, from 1977, Pim KOOPMAN left the band and Max WERNER became the drummer. A long-time fan, Edward REEKERS became the new vocalist. 

Their debut "See See The Sun" (1973) is often seen as their biggest contribution to the symphonic prog genre. Their mix of naïve, but very melodic symphonic songs is attractive and evokes early GENESIS, YES and some have mentioned SUPERTRAMP (which I never fully understood). KAYAK has two main composers, Ton SCHERPENZEEL and Pim KOOPMAN. The typical classical influenced style of SCHERPENZEEL remained recognizable throughout KAYAK's long career. The vocals of Max WERNER ('73-'77) are very distinctive because of his high-pitched voice that has a powerful strength-through-weakness appeal. KAYAK used many of the recognizable symphonic prog key-instruments, such as Moog and Mellotron. KAYAK's second album in 1974 was a good continuation of KAYAK's melodic/symphonic prog style, but it had a bigger focus on long compositions which was profitable for the music. "Royal Bed Bouncer" (1975) continued this course, whilst "The Last Encore" (1976) has a distinctive atmosphere with lots of great progressive songs that were perhaps the most original the band created in their progressive period. The first four albums of KAYAK are recommended to fans of the symphonic progressive rock genre. 

After this the band wanted to have better sales and changed direction in to pop-territories with "Starlight Dancer" (1977), which only had the title track as a progressive song. The 1979 album "Phantom of the Night" became the biggest hit in the charts, but in the beginning of the eighties they disbanded after making their last progressive effort; the 1981 semi-prog/semi-pop "Merlin". Though KAYAK had made seven albums at this point, it's members had never seen a penny earned by it. 

In the new millennium KAYAK was resurrected from a twenty years pause and came back with the strong symphonic crossover album "Into the Fire" (2000) with again Max WERNER on vocals. After the mixed bag "Night Vision" (2001) (with new vocalist Bert HEERINK of VANDENBERG fame) the band re-invented itself with a prestigious mediaeval/symphonic concept album called "Merlin - Bard of the Unseen" with assistance of real orchestrations and female vocals by the amazing Cindy OUDSHOORN. New guitarist Joost VERGOOSSEN also turned out to be a great addition to the already great guitars of Rob VUNDERINK. VUNDERINK was called "the secret weapon" of the band, because of powerful backing vocals - if not his part in lead vocals on KAYAK's rock-operas and live shows. The "Merlin - Bard of the Unseen" album is the most attractive KAYAK album of 21st century for fans of the progressive genre. 

After that "Nostradamus - Fate of Man", their second rock-opera, saw daylight. In 2008 the band again changed direction and recorded the conventional symphonic rock album "Coming Up for Air". This time Edward REEKERS returned for vocal duties (before he had been replacement during the Merlin and Nostradamus theatre tours). He had to share his place as a vocalist with Cindy OUDSHOORN, whose performance on the "Merlin" album and tour was very well-received by fans of the band. After that "Letters from Utopia"(2009) was released with the same line-up. A big tour was planned to celebrate this brand-new 2CD album, but as a total surprise drummer/pianist/composer Pim KOOPMAN died. Since then KAYAK paused, not knowing how to deal with the much missed KAYAK pillar that was KOOPMAN. In the end of 2010 they found a new drummer and the band has decided to continue. 

Biography written by Friso and edited by Ian Cownie

(Tankhs Magal!)

sexta-feira, 23 de setembro de 2016

Agusa - Prog Rock (Sweden)

AGUSA is a new prog quartet from Malmö, Sweden, initially comprised of Tobias Pettersson (bass), guitarist Mikael Ödesjö, drummer Dag Strömkvist and finally Jonas Berge on the organ. Some of them are also known from collaborating with bands like Sveriges Kommuner & Landsting, Kama Loka and Hoofoot.

For the first time the musicians came together in early 2013. During the following summer they went out to the countryside in order to celebrate some jam sessions. The place is called Agusa, and that's why the band name finally established. In autumn they entered the studio to record their debut 'Högtid', which was released early 2014 on Transubstans Records and Kommun 2. Five authentic retro 70's progressive tunes are given, featuring dinstinctive organ work and a proper psychedelic fundament in the vein of Moonwagon, Hypnos69 and Astra.

After a handful of gigs during the winter, Dag Strömkvist decided to leave and to travel around India for a while. The band auditioned a number of drummers, and eventually asked Tim Wallander from Magic Jove to join.

quarta-feira, 21 de setembro de 2016

XII Alfonso - Prog Rock (France)

XII ALFONSO's "The Lost Frontier" is a great first album with an ambitious concept. These young musicians from Bordeaux (France) have built a superb work with long instrumental passages, some female vocals, and a Celtic-influenced atmosphere sometimes reminding of Mike OLDFIELD. "Odyssees" is the second album in 1999, presenting the same sort of beautiful and majestuous music that could have been heard three years ago.

"Claude Monet Vol. 1" is the first delivery of a trilogy dedicated to the last years of the french impressionist painter's Claude Monet life, for the French group XII ALFONSO. This first one surrenders it occupies from the years 1883 to 1889. The relative influences to progressive bands that are appreciated in the album, I believe that they would come mainly from French formations as VITAL MINIMUM or Jean Pascal BOFFO, besides others as Mike OLDFIELD and Steve HACKETT. Those that have not been satisfied with XII ALFONSO's first two albums, they can prove with this third that sincerely I believe that it is a great disk.

segunda-feira, 19 de setembro de 2016

Ajalon - Prog Rock

AJALON progressive rock band, a three piece ensemble. The band is from Washington State in the USA. The band members are Randy George, who plays guitars, keyboards, and bass. He has worked with Neal Morse in the studio and on tour for the album "Testimony" and is currently working on a new secret project with him. Wil Henderson, the vocalist and lyricist also plays bass guitar, guitar, and various wind instruments, is the talented wordsmith for the band. Dan Lile, drummer and also various percussion instruments is the driving force with his unique and gifted playing ability. 

The excellent first release from the band in 1996 is entitled "Light at the End of the Tunnel". The freshman debut showed off the bands talents and musicianship. If you heard the album, expect the new music to take you to new heights nearing perfection. If not, I highly recommend getting a copy and adding it to your collection. 

The second release from AJALON called, "On the Threshold of Eternity". Appearing as guests on the album are some of the biggest names in progressive rock. Rick Wakeman, who plays keyboards for with super group, YES along withmany solo projects. Neal Morse, founder of SPOCK'S BEARD and now with a thriving solo career. Phil Keaggy, a brilliant guitarist, outstanding vocalist and songwriter, who formed GLASS HARP in the late 1960's and has many solo albums in his own right.

(Thanks Magal)

sábado, 17 de setembro de 2016

Mandalaband - Prog Rock

Mandalaband is a progressive rock band formed in England in 1974. The band is led by David Rohl who writes, arranges, mixes and produces their material. Rohl is also a somewhat controversial Egyptologist, once featured on the London Sunday Times front page with the caption "the real Indiana Jones".

Rohl left music in the 1980s to pursue his interest in Egyptology. But eventually he felt that he still had ‘unfinished business’ with his music. He moved to Spain in 2003 and built a studio on top of a mountain overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. He then assembled a new Mandalaband consisting of both new and former band members, and began recording new material.

The musicians and singers who played their part in this new Mandalaband project were: David Rohl (writer, engineer, producer, vocalist and keyboards), Ashley Mulford (guitars and vocals), Troy Donockley (Uilleann pipes, whistles, guitars and bouzouki), Marc Atkinson (acoustic guitar and vocals), Jose Manuel Medina (keyboards, Spanish guitar and backing vocals), Sergio Garcia (acoustic guitar), Kim Turner (drums, percussion and mandolin), David Clements (bass guitar), Craig Fletcher (bass guitar and backing vocals), Morten Vestergaard (bass guitar), Pablo Lato (bass guitar), Alison Carter (backing vocals), Lynda Howard (backing vocals), and Barbara & Briony Macanas (backing vocals). Woolly Wolstenholme (keyboards and vocals) who died during the last stages of recording AD - Sangreal, and that album is dedicated to his memory.

This line-up of Mandalaband released BC – Ancestors in 2009 and a follow-up AD – Sangreal in July 2011. The double CD Resurrection (a completely re-mixed and re-mastered special edition of the two original 1970s albums) was released in November 2010.

quinta-feira, 15 de setembro de 2016

DeeExpus - Prog Rock

DeeExpus is a melodic progressive rock group from Northeast England whose debut album, Half Way Home was released by DXP Productions in 2008, garnering fan buzz and enthusiastic reviews from around the world. In 2009, DeeExpus received the Classic Rock Society's award for "Best New Band" and released their first live CD and DVD Far From Home from their performance at the Progrock 2009 Festival in Katowice, Poland. The band released their follow-up album on 5 December 2011, The King of Number 33, featuring Mark Kelly from Marillion on keyboards with Andy Ditchfield and Nik Kershaw on lead vocal on the track "Memo". Their music is difficult to categorize, but they have been likened to other contemporary melodic progressive and heavy rock bands Marillion, Dream Theater, It Bites, Porcupine Tree, Tinyfish, Spock's Beard, Edison's Children and Frost.

(Thanks Magal)

terça-feira, 13 de setembro de 2016

Abissi Infiniti • Italian Prog Rock

 Abissi Infiniti biography (
ABISSI INFINITI is an early '80s band who made one album of mellow, dreamy Italian prog. They are: Alberto Cazzola on keyboards, Paolo Fin on drums, Enrico Kötterl on Solina strings, Claudio Liotto on piano and vocals, Lucio Negretto on bass and Andrea Zanatta on guitars.

Their album "Tunnel" had a very small pressing back in 1981 and the LP is considered a rarity. Luckily, it was re-issued on cd in 1994. Their calm, melodious symphonic style has the aerial qualities of bands such as Il VOLO, PFM and GENESIS; they have also been compared to some of the spacier French prog acts.

Recommended for those who appreciate dreamy, serene keyboard-based melodies.

: : : Lise (Hibou), CANADA : : :

domingo, 11 de setembro de 2016

Abel James - Blues Rock

 Abel James brings a unique freshness to his fusion of rock, funk and blues, allowing his dynamic sound to dodge conventional classification, transcend genres and exist in its own world. His potent baritone is both beautiful and strong, capturing the rasp and soul of his blues-infused rock as sincerely as the delicate nuances of folk and jazz. Abel James’ heartfelt songwriting has been described as “deeply moving, novel, and creative,” while his reputation as an “exceptional musician” and “captivating performer” attracts a steadily growing fan base.

sexta-feira, 9 de setembro de 2016

Abel Ganz • Neo-Prog

 Abel Ganz biography (
UK act ABEL GANZ was formed in 1980, with keyboardist Hew Montgomery and multi-instrumentalist Hugh Carter as the founding members. Malky McNiven (guitars) and Ken Weir (drums) fleshed out the initial line-up of the band.

Abel Ganz soon became a regular feature in the Glasgow live scene, and after some time they decided that it was time to add a vocalist to their line-up. Cue Alan Reed, formerly of Trance Macabre. He came aboard in time to partake in the recording of their first album "Gratuitous Flash" which was released in 1983. Regular live shows, airplay and an appearance at the Radio Clyde Kelvingrove festival increased their stature. This didn't always have a positive side to it though. Reed's performances had been noticed by UK act Pallas, who were in need of a new vocalist. He was asked to join them and accepted, and stayed on as the vocalist of Pallas until early 2010.

This was just one of many line-up changes to befall Abel Ganz at that point in time though. McNiven left, to be replaced by Paul Kelly (guitars). He also took over the vacant job as lead vocalist. Carter decided to step down as a band member as well, replaced by Gordon Mackie (bass). The band changed, and so did their level of activity. By the mid 80's Abel ganz was busier than ever before in the live circuit, and a new album saw the light of day in 1985 as well - "Gullibles Travels". They were signed to French label M.S.I. soon after, and with Denis Smith (drums) in as a regular member and guest appearances from former members Reed and Kelly a new album saw the light of day in 1988: "The Dangers of Strangers".

The 90's proved to be a troublesome decade for Abel Ganz. Montgomery left the band, and was replaced by Stuart Clyde (keyboards). This latest line-up started venturing towards more AOR tinged musical waters on the band's fourth effort "The Deafening Silence", and with some less than stellar management at the time as well it was eventually decided that the band was best left in the annals of history.

Cue 2001, and a chance encounter between the founding members Montgomery and Carter. This lead to the resurrection of Abel Ganz, with Denis Smith (drums), Davie Mitchell (guitars) and Steven Donnelly (bass) fleshing out this new version of the band. A vocalist was still missing though, but eventually Mick MacFarlane hooked up with Abel Ganz. This revitalized version of Abel Ganz came up with a new album in 2008, "Shooting Albatross", and are still active. The last known news from them is that they are working on a new studio effort.

(Olav M. Björnsen, March 2010) 

domingo, 28 de agosto de 2016

A História e a Música de Frank Vincent Zappa - This will never end - Capítulo XIV

Desafio aceito!!!! No Valvulado tem que ter tudo do Zappa. Recebi mais dois grandes álbuns de 2016, de meu grande colaborador Peter Hammil. E vamos em frente...

Frank Zappa‘s vaults will reopen in July for a pair of new releases, Frank Zappa for President and The Crux of the Biscuit. Both scheduled to arrive July 15, the new titles explore different sides of Zappa’s many-faceted musical personality. “Frank Zappa for President? You betcha! We know at various times he wanted to run for office,” reads a label press release. “In the spirit of the dramatic 2016 presidential election adventures comes a release that gives us a glimpse into what could have been. This album is comprised of unreleased compositions realized on the Synclavier, along with other relevant tracks mined from the Vault, with a political thread tying it all together. Don’t forget to register and vote!” The Crux of the Biscuit, meanwhile, was put together to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Zappa’s Apostrophe album in 2014. “As part of Zappa Records’ ongoing Frank Zappa Project/Object Audio Documentary Series,” notes the press release, “it contains rare alternate mixes, live performances, and studio session outtakes.” Frank Zappa for President and The Crux of the Biscuit are part of a spate of recent vault projects that includes a handful of titles released in May, and continue the Universal partnership announced by the estate in 2015. Check out the complete track listings for both new albums below.

Archival releases from the Zappa Family Trust are beginning to emerge since the trust partnered with Universal Music Enterprises in July of last year. Frank Zappa For President is one such release. The album centers around an idea Mr. Zappa had on more than one occasion, that of a Presidential bid. All songs on the record are previously unreleased. Frank Zappa For President will be released concurrently with The Crux Of The Biscuit, an album made up of outtakes and alternate-takes from Mr. Zappa’s 1974 album Apostrophe(‘).

The Crux Of The Biscuit was created in conjunction with the 40th anniversary of Frank Zappa's 1974 album Apostrophe('). As part of the ongoing Project/Object Audio Documentary Series, it contains rare alternate mixes, live performances & studio session outtakes. This release celebrates the creation of a truly iconic record that reached the Top Ten in the Billboard Chart and earned FZ an RIAA Gold Record Award.

E aguardem, que muito em breve, deve ter muito mais...

(Thanks to Peter AGAIN!!!!)


terça-feira, 23 de agosto de 2016

Unitopia - Crossover Prog • Australia

Unitopia is the rare case of prog from "down under". The band was formed by Mark Trueack (vocals) and Sean Timms (keyboard, guitar) after they were introduced by a mutual friend who saw that the two had similar tastes in music and the story goes that as soon as Timms heard Trueack sing, he knew they had to do something together. They released their first album, "More Than A Dream" in 2005 after spending 8 years on the albums, and have since been working on material for their second album "The Garden", which was recently released after 3 years of writing, recording and mastering. The band's influences stretch all across the progressive scope and make for a very intriguing sound that has one foot in "retro"-70s style progressive while still being able to sound like other artists in the modern progressive scene. They have a rather large sound to them, which is no doubt helped by their 6-member roster (including Matt Williams (guitar), Monty Ruggiero (drums), Shireen Khemlani (bass) and Tim Irrang (percussion)). They mix a combination of Flower Kings-like symphonic qualities with the soul of Ladder-era Yes and Trueack's unique vocals to make the brunt of their sound.

With the band's two first releases they have shown that they're an ambitious bunch. While the first album failed to make waves in the progressive community, their second album, The Garden has received critical praise in many prog circles, and as a double album with multiple epics, it certainly isn't one to be taken as "a flash in the pan". From here, one can only wonder what the band will do next.

A promising new entrant into the "retro" scene which should turn the heads of those interested in hearing more modern symphonic prog with various influences.


Thanks PETER!!!!

domingo, 21 de agosto de 2016

Esfera - Crossover Prog (Portugal)

ESFERA é uma banda de Setúbal - Portugal, e lançaram no dia 21 de Março o seu álbum de estreia, All The Colours of Madness, que pode ser ouvido na integra no seu Bandcamp, e pode ser comprado tanto e formato digital como físico.

O disco é bastante conceptual e é realmente uma peça de arte dos tempos modernos. Algo que muitas vezes faz falta, um disco que se ouça num todo como uma peça inteira, onde só faz sentido se ouvirmos tudo. Isto vem colmatar um problema atual, os singles, onde já ninguém interpreta um disco como uma obra, ouvindo apenas o single. Como a banda diz:

“Fruto de um longo trabalho de composição e gravação, este álbum conceptual representa uma variedade de paisagens sonoras e influências da banda e uma afirmação da sua versatilidade. É uma viagem de 8 faixas pelas cores das diferentes emoções, da perspectiva de um cego que entrega a sua esperança numa forma de compreender os conceitos de sanidade e conforto. “

É realmente verdade, All the Colours of Madness tem temas muito distintos mas que se completam, podemos realmente fazer uma comparação pelas cores, e a junção de tudo na faixa final. Temos o vermelho romântico, o branco mais bluesy e claro, até ao preto, mais sombrio e melancólico. É sem dúvida um bom trabalho que todos os que gostam deste género musical devem escutar.

Uma grande indicação de nosso correspondente português, Magal - O Pescador....

sábado, 20 de agosto de 2016

Mystery - Neo-Prog • Canada

A project of French Canadian guitarist/lyricist/producer Michel St-Père, MYSTERY took form in 1986 as a six-member outfit. They released a self-titled album in 1992 that generated quite some interest across Canada. Unfortunately, a year later, their drummer Stéphane Perreault lost the use of both his legs; but his strong determination and passion for his craft inspired him with a new and unique approach to drumming: he became one of the first drummers to play from a wheelchair without the help of any pre-programmed sequences. In 1995, St-Père founded label Unicorn Records under which the band released a second album titled "Theater of the Mind" and which boasted airplay both in North America and Europe. In 1998, they released their last and most progressive album todate titled "Destiny?", which features six guest musicians. In 2000, a compilation CD was released that marked the end of a chapter in the band's history, as it also features their vocalist and long-time buddy Gary Savoie who has now left the band.

Over the years, MYSTERY's style has evolved from AOR (STYX, ASIA) to more adventurous art rock like that of RUSH and SAGA, but featuring delicate acoustic passages not normally heard from these two. Their music is based on St-Père's guitar play, which is well executed yet appropriately restrained, while the keyboards remain in the background. MYSTERY won't dazzle you with technical prowess but you will appreciate their strong melodies, outstanding vocals (Gary Savoie is often compared to JOURNEY's Steve Perry), elegant arrangements and attention to detail. Their compilation CD "At the Dawn of a New Millenium" is made up of remastered tracks of their three albums and is a fairly good sampler of their répertoire for those wanting to get acquainted with the band.

Recommended to fans of SAGA, KANSAS, JOURNEY, RUSH and to fans of melodic rock in general.

: : : Lise (HIBOU), CANADA : : :
Mystery official website


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