Sunday, 31 March 2013

Cosmograf - The Man Left in Space

Cosmograf is Robin Armstrong. A very talented instrumentalist, songwriter who has a nice book of friends to put various icings on the cake. Two years ago I discovered him through the previous CD When Age has done it's Duty, which made my top 10 of that year and the follow up is probably heading the same direction.

The Man Left in Space tells the story about.... Nice enough, but the music is great. We get epical prog songs, we get Floydian instrumentals, moody samples and with a little help of friends like Matt Stevens, Luke Machin, Simon Rodgers, Robert Ramsay, Dave Meros, Lee Abraham and Greg Spawton quality is guaranteed. Nicest surpise is Nick D'Virgilio on drums on most songs. This is the second CD I bought this year already where he is appearing. What a wise decison, since in my view a musician so talented should not waste his talents only on the boring (yes, saw them with work once and fell asleep) Cirque du Soleil.

The voice of Robin Armstrong is not specificallty great, but suits the music fine. Even so that might explain why the instrumentals are amongst the best songs, The Good Earth Behind Me is greatly reminding Gilmour/Moore and The Vacuum That I Fly Thorugh is led by Matt Stevens, the man that I once saw doing incredible things on an acoustic guitar.

I expected a lot from this CD after it's great predecessor and got what I hoped for. We are now finishing Q1 and already the year 2013 has surpassed 2012 on great prog rock releases. This CD is just another one I highly recommend for a listen.

Sunday, 24 March 2013

DMJGH 24 - Hangar - Last Time was just the beginning

2013 so far turns out to become the year of shows I intended to see but did not. Only this week I planned but did not see Script for a Jester's Tour, Uriah Heep, Riverside/Jolly, Enslaved and Paul Gilbert. So in order to change the shape of things to come I today booked hotels near festivals I want to see. And athough they can be cancelled still, maybe these bookings get me more active. The interesting point in this is that I aimed high and the hotels are abroad. First I definitely  want to see the NWOBHM day at R-mine festival in June, so Tongeren is booked. Secondly I looked far further away. While complaining on the too many trips for work, I must admit the airmiles are good. So this summer we shall visit family and friends  in Brazil again and with limited extra costs I can travel back from Santiago do Chili. After reading about the headliner of the first ProgPower South America  being Fates Warning the goal is set (helped by Andromeda and Myrath).

So where does this CD in the category ones you should have heard come in? Well Hangar are from Brazil and they play PPSA. Usually in Rio I visit some of the specialised CD shops looking for local  prog and metal bands. Amongst several interesting tips I also picked up Hangar last year. Power Metal has always been fairly popular in Brazil and maybe because of the Italian and German decscendents around the style is similar to those countries. Good instrumental parts, Vocals with some accent and mainly uptempo. No this actually this is not one you absolutely should have heard, since plenty of similar CD's around. On the other hand it sounds nice enough all around and one song stands out. "Angel of the Stereo" is a very fast angel, with a nice shout along chorus. On my CD it is repeated in the end in a 2006 version, which is interesting given the CD is a 2008 release. While still at good songs, the instrumental closer Lost Dream does bring Gary Moore back to mind.

Hangar is defintely a good band and I got in the mood for PPSA where pretty sure some nice surprises from South America can pass. Talking of SA surpises, what happened to Thessara?

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Final Conflict - Return of the Artisan

The progrock year started with this surprise to me. While getting the new Mystery (live later this year and two previous classics) and Lifesigns (great CD) I got this one more or less as an extra to myself. Hardly could I guess that after a few spins this turned out to become my hard to top Neo Prog release for 2013.

Final Conflict a band from over twenty years old, who I discovered with their collection album Simple from 2006. This was a good sounding album which got me interested and picking up two early nineties releases as well. Every now and then I play them like similar bands Credo, Grey Lady Down, Arena, Also Eden or DeeExpus. Solid Neo prog bands with great guitars.

The surprise came by the fact that this seems to be their best album clearly. After short opener the Calling we get into The Mechanic, which grows through several mechanical moods with distorted voices, into a beautiful instrumental break sounding organic with clear vocals in British accent, what was that? Probably one of the better UK prog rock songs for the last years. Passing yet another short instrumental (the not so necessary the Spark) the party goes on with Hopes and Dreams, high level maintained and the bar definitely set higher than heard before from them.  Around About next showing that Ballads, motions, power, all comes by on this varied CD with not one bad or lesser song following. Where were they hiding the past 6 years to come up with this masterwork?

Never mind the questions, this is just a great start for the year, which to me prog rock needed after some less interesting months. With Lifesigns being great and Cosmograf plus Big Big Train coming up we might be in for a great year (Alpha Flood I'm looking forward to most, but that might turn out more progmetal)

Final point of interest can be found in the drummer Henry Rogers who turns into drummers' answer to John Mitchell appearing on at least three different bands within a year (and I did see him with an instrumental trio at Mattfest which thereafter turned under the radar to me). We can only hope that his many bands do not stop Final Conflict from crossing the Noordzee later this year.

Sunday, 3 March 2013

Corsair - Corsair

Retro bands sounding modern, yet obviously inspired by the seventies. We have seen several of them over the past years making it even to co-headliner status at summer festivals all over Europe (Wolfmother, Rival Sons, The Answer). references that are most mentioned  for these bands are Free, Cream and the obvious Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple.

In comes Corsair also digging in the seventies, with this short CD, with one major difference being inspiration number one is Thin Lizzy. This being seventies Thin Lizzy, not the Thunder and Lightning or Cold Sweat one. Listening to the twin guitars and especially the voice of bass player Jordan Brunk and you can almost feel the Black Rose of the Emerald. Unfortunately the vocals are shared between three members and the other six songs are not as spot on back in time.

This does not mean that there are only two good songs on this CD. Due to the voice of Paul Sebring his three songs have some NWOBHM feeling over them and frequent readers of this blog do understand that I do not have the least of a problem with that. Only remark could be that some uptempo would be welcome, since in general we hear midtempo work. Since the main ingredient is twin guitar sounds this is still a good listen. Second guitarist who also sings is Marie Landragin. The fact that she is a woman does not impact the twin guitars, but does make the final song a bit different from the rest (This Mortal Coil vocals over a Cave In/Anekdoten song)

Corsair obviously like their mix of vocals and instrumentals, but to me Jordan Brunk can be promoted to the only vocalist. Yet another band that to me might be just as big as the above mentioned examples. Let's see if luck strikes them and someone influential picks them up and puts them on the right festivals. Very nice CD indeed.