ProgressoR / Uzbekistan Progressive Rock Pages


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Saga (Canada) - 1995 - "Generation 13" ******

Hey, Saga-95! Are you the same guys, who always played an original, but quite accessible mixture of Classic and Neo Art-Rock? It's fantasy! This conceptual 70-minute's album is not simply a step forward to more interesting compositions and arrangements. This is a masterpiece of really strong Progressive Rock, undoubtedly one of the best albums in '90s, and of course, the best work ever created by these Canadian veterans. content

Saga - 1997 - "Pleasure and Pain" **

Hey, Saga-97! Are you the same guys, who released "Generation 13" just two years ago? It's fantasy! I felt no Pleasure, when I listened to this one for some reason from the beginning to the end. Only the Pain I felt, constantly remembering of their previous album. Such unexpected transformation... The worst in Saga's discography (IMO). content

Shadow of a Great Name - 2003 - "Lo-Fi Orchestra" **

Shadow of a Great Name is Brian Donohoe, Michael Miller, and John Vincent. The compilation "America's Lo-Fi Orchestra" consists of three parts, each featuring compositions taken from different albums, and the music is indeed by no means of a Hi-Fi quality. Besides, taking into consideration that drummer Brian Donohoe is a former member of French TV, Shadow of a Great Name is the proper name for the project. The first three tracks are from the album "Invisible Side of a Situation" (2003) and are the most interesting listening here (relatively speaking, of course). One of the following two tracks is very short and is exceptionally simple and monotonous. Quite the contrary, another is long and composite and changes its course from time to time. These two are from "Majestic Mystical Effect Sounds that are Suggestive of Outer Space" (2002). The last piece is from the project's eponymous album (2002) and is not interesting in the least. Generally, the music of this outfit is based on varied percussion instruments, the parts of which are sometimes accompanied by those of bass and guitar. The computer-'driven' keyboards are available episodically, while the ambient ambience:-) is evident throughout. In any case, the music presented on this compilation is monotonous and is non-impressive almost at all. content

Sherpa (Italy) - 2000 - "Endless Morning" **** (31 min, 'Shepra')

In spite of the music of these very young Italians being obviously influenced by Jethro Tull (on the whole, it reminds me of one of my favourite Tull albums, "Heavy Horses"-1978), there are also some exceptional innovations you can hear, too. What is more, the fifth song, called Endless Origin, is a real progressive killer-masterpiece, absolutely free of some influences. These guys must carry on exactly in that direction, and then their 'progressive' future will be corresponding to the best examples of the famous 'Italian School', ie will be successful, undoubtedly. So, carry on the right way, guys - I consider you excellent musicians already now, but I still can't consider you excellent composers and arrangers. content

Sicilia, Emiliano - 2006 - "Devotion Materialize" *****
(49 min, Horus)

The heroes of this occasion are Italian guitar virtuoso Emiliano SICILIA and his first solo album "Devotion Materialize". This is a true 'solo pilot' project, as Emiliano plays everything by himself, handling electric and acoustic guitars, bass, lead and backing vocals, plus utilizing a drum machine. The music on the seven tracks has a distinct modern feeling throughout, although ranging from melodic Hard-n-Heavy to extreme Metal (on The New Reality Suite), touching some in-between directions as well, the notorious "guitar hero" style included. On the best pieces, the man resourcefully uses elements of Scottish, Spanish and even American folk music (Country, for sure), but even those can only be regarded as proto-progressive compositions. The musicianship is excellent, the album itself far exceeding the bounds of traditional heavy music, but nevertheless, I would recommend it not to prog-metal lovers, but mainly to those enjoying the work of Steve Vai, Joe Satriani, Steve Stevens, etc. content

Sensitive To Light - 2006 - "Almost Human" *****

Sensitive To Light, a new project by guitarist and keyboardist Vynce Leff (the bandleader of Saens), present their first CD "Almost Human". Not surprisingly, the recording's instrumental canvases are structurally similar to those typical of Saens. On the vocal plane however, the picture is different, because female singer Jenny Lewis tends to folk rock, thus bringing a lot of corresponding intonations to the music. In all, the album is a quite effective combination of neo, ambient and folk rock with occasional digressions to the territories belonging either to classic symphonic progressive or metal. While being beautiful and tasty, this music, however, doesn't shine with any particular profundity or innovation either. content

Sieges Even (Germany) - 1990 - "Steps" ******

Another one very underrated contemporary Progressive Rock "Giants"(!). Sieges Even is a chameleon-band. Each their new album is very, very different from its predecessor (may be, except for "Uneven", 1997), but all these albums show just a new and original Progressive mentality in composing and arrangement by the musicians. Unlike the hard Prog-metallic debut "Life Cycle", the 60-minute-s "Steps" consists of an absolutely different structures. No techno-thrash, no speedy solos and interplays: step by step we're going through the labirints of thoughts, dreams, and mysteries. A musical atmosphere is totally corresponds to the lyrics. It's a magic! Sidelong composition Tangerine Windows of Solace is simply a unique thing with its strange and atonal themes and arrangements, brilliant interplays between acoustic guitars, piano and cello into the accompaniment of very complex bass lines and drums solos (I even can't call this "rhythm-section": there's no rhythms at all!). Two pieces called Anthem 1 & 2, as a gems completed this masterpiece. And I like an accented mysteriuos singing of Franz Herde more than any other (non-accented) vocals for Sieges Even. content

Signal To Noise Ratio (Poland) - 2004 - "Demo" ****
(4 tracks, 48 min CD-R)

This band is essentially a quartet of guitar, bass, synthesizer, and drums with two 'session' women on pan-flute and vocals, who appear on the 'boundary' tracks and the second one respectively. The recording presents three different directions, and with the exception of the first track, which is a blend of symphonic Art-Rock and heavy Blues much in the vein of early Jethro Tull, the music is free of any direct influences. Once these young musicians performed a decent Jazz-Fusion, but they're in their best form on the longer compositions (2 & 4), so in the future they definitely must keep the style laid here. Unlike the other tracks, there are no powerful drums on these, and are delicate solos of congas in ever changing interaction with those of electric guitar, bass, synthesizer, and flute. The music here is mostly slow and atmospheric and is filled with flavors of the music of the Middle East, so a unique Oriental Space Rock would probably be the best definition of it. Unfortunately, the musicianship is on an amateur, and at best, semi-professional level. But making allowance for the youthful age of the musicians, this recording can easily be rated with four stars, especially from a compositional standpoint. Anyway, the band's performance mastery might grow with years, if they won't leave their music occupations, of course. I hope not, as all they need is to cultivate their talent. content

Skurk - 2006 - "666 Personligheter" **

Skurk is a contemporary Swedish band playing a primitively-aggressive death metal with strong punk intonations, which are especially obvious in the vocals (lyrics in Swedish). Their first CD, "666 Personligheter", has nothing to do with progressive rock. Besides, there is nothing interesting in this stuff in general, and even the die-hard fans of this style will hardly find anything new among the short 13 tracks that are included in this disc. These youngsters have stepped a path paved by the likes of Pestilence, Death, Celtic Frost and Sepultura, but they are unable even to hold a candle to their idols and can be compared only with Kreator or Destruction, at best. Well, the ballad Dott Kott and the piano-laden Den Trettonde Nyckeln are more or less acceptable, but anyway, it was a real sheer hell for me to listen to this recording to the end. content

Skyclad (UK) - 1996 - "Irrational Anthems" ******

I've heard all the albums of Skyclad, and only one of them turned unsuccessful - "Oui le Avantgarde a Chance" ("our little experiment" called so by the band members). It's quite a difficulty for me to choose the best work from Skyclad. I like the majority of their albums, but this one musically is the most diverse: from fast typical Prog-Metal songs to mellow Prog-ballads, but almost always with the elements of Scottish folk music (though, these guys are not from Scotland, but they live near, in Northern England). On "Irrational Anthems" you also can hear another "metal-version" of Khachaturiantz's "Dance With the Sabres" (earlier, I've heard that "metal"-cover of classics on Mekong Delta's "Kaleidoscope"). With the excellent compositions and arrangements, good singing and playing, plenty of beautiful violin, and not only, solos, Skyclad deserves to be called the best British Prog-Metal band of this decade, and yet the most underrated by Prog-Metal reviewers and even by the fans of the genre. Released by Prog-metal oriented (but by no means in conformity with the title) independent German lable "Massacre Records". content

Skyron Orchestra - 2006 - "Situations" ***

"Situations" is the first CD by Skyron Orchestra from Sweden. This is a set of fourteen songs in a garage style with elements of '70s punk rock, '80s new wave and '60s big beat. The music is not devoid of melody, but is very straightforward and highly derivative alike - now resembling Sex Pistols, now REM, now sounding not unlike the Kinks. There is almost nothing here that would be of interest to progressive rock lovers. content

Solaris (Hungary) - 1990 - "1990" (2CD) *****+

Earlier, in my After Crying review, I wrote that I have not listened to their famous natives Solaris. Well, I'm already familiar with the Solaris-1990 album. So, unlike the same After Crying, Solaris use typically "classic" symphonic structures to create their own Progressive Rock music, without any elements of Jazz-Fusion. Their compositions contain a lot of varied themes and arrangements, as well as many beautiful solos and interplays between guitars, keyboards and flute. Excellent all instrumental album, full of inspiration and originality. Highly recommended to all the mature Prog-lovers. Please be sure: the more you listen to it, the more you like it. And finally: this CD-version contains 2 nice bonus tracks. content

Solution Science Systems (USA) - 1990 - "SSS" (mini-CD) ****

The members of the US progressive trio Solution Science System claim that they are not a Rock band. Which, judging by the contents of their debut eponymous 15-minute CD, sounds like absolute nonsense. Overall, the music on "SSS" represents nothing else but a traditional, yet, quite complex progressive Hard Rock with elements of Symphonic Art-Rock. Officially, there are four tracks on "SSS": two songs and two instrumentals. In my view however, one of these instrumentals, which is very short, can't be regarded differently than as a narrative intro to the second and the best song here. While there are complex stop-to-play movements, done with the use of the odd meters, on both of the other tracks on "SSS", one which is a song and another an instrumental composition, both of them feature too many repetitions to be called the works of Classic Progressive Rock / Metal. Finally, it must be said that Solution Science Systems and Naked Elf are *the same* band. I earnestly recommend you to read the review of Naked Elf's album > "Yi". There is a huge difference between it and "SSS". In my honest opinion, Naked Elf should immediately be renamed to Solution Science Systems and vice versa. Which, according to the music that the band released under the name of Naked Elf, would be a really wise decision. Meantime, the full-fledged SSS CD, "Daemon ex Machina", will be released pretty soon, if not already, as the musicians have already begun working on the second Naked Elf album. content

SPGulliver (Estonia) - 1999 - "Coasts of Endlessness" ****

A solo project by a talented Estonian keyboardist Slava Petchnikov. Not a bad work that stands up even to the worldwide standards. This 54-minute album contains two long compositions, each strangely consisting of a set of separate pieces, and the first thing that I felt - there's no concept in this conceptual (according to the songtitles) programme. I hear good, virtuostic playing, I hear quite interesting arrangements with very unexpected keyboard effects, the majority of which are really original. However, all the tracks are short, and there is little room to "create a witty musical painting". Awful programmed drums... Can be compared to an Andreas Wollenweider's product, only recorded without any "live" instruments. So, not bad, though not good either. content

Stereo Kimono (Italy) - 2004 - "Prismosphera" ******
(7 tracks, 54 min CD)

Italy's Stereo Kimono is a classic guitar trio, though there is also a MIDI-guitar in their repertoire. The independently released "Prismosphera" is the follow-up to the band's debut output "Ki", which saw the light of day in 2000. They play a fantastically impressive and absolutely unique music, which only structurally or, rather, by intensity and eclecticism, can be compared to, say, Neurotica from King Crimson's "Beat". The album is 54 minute in length and contains seven instrumental compositions. All of them are of a unified stylistic concept, which is a very effectual combination of guitar-based Art-Rock and Space Fusion with symphonic and even some RIO-like tendencies. Thanks to the active use of MIDI-guitar and overdubs, the trio often sounds like a quartet, as if being complemented by a keyboardist handling a few modern synthesizers. On the first half of the third track, which is stylistically most diverse, there also are very convincingly sounding solos and pizzicatos of violoncello. The composition is perfect, the arrangements are well thought out, and the musicianship of each of the band members is just top-notch, as well as their joint performance. The promo copy they sent me for my review is on an ordinary CD-R, while according to its press kit, the album was released as a full-fledged CD with the 16-page booklet. Please note this, as you would have certainly wanted to have an original CD copy of "Prismosphera" if you have heard it. content

Supper's Ready (Luxembourg) - 2001 - "Listen to the Pictures" ***
(54 min, "Musea")

When I've learned about the release of this album on Musea, I've asked the people at the promo department to not include it in the promo package. What could I expect from the band, the name of which is so specific? However, it turned out to be that the music of this band has nothing to do with the creation of Genesis. Last year, I read several reviews of this album in various Prog magazines, including the most established ones. What is interesting is that all of those reviews were more than just positive. I think the majority of the reviewers (if not all) were confused with the discrepancy between that which they expected to hear from the band, which is called Supper's Ready, and what they actually heard. In other words, the band's trick of a name did work well. I am talking about it now because recently I discovered this disc in one of the recent promo packages from Musea. To my surprise, the music of Supper's Ready turned out to be not only rather mellow and boring, but also highly derivative. Really, there are no Genesis's influences to speak of on "Listen to the Pictures". A hint to what the band's music is about lies in the strange title of this album. The cows that 'pasture' on a cover of this CD's booklet are not unlike those on a cover of "Atom, Heart, Mother" by Pink Floyd. Furthermore, in fact, these guys are heavily influenced by the UK's Neo band Pendragon, which, in its turn, most of all reminds me (not only me, though) of an unsuccessful imitation of Pink Floyd. What can I add here? The words of my antipathy to Supper's Ready? Nah: just the next sentence. Most, if not all, of the Neo-headed, and especially fans of Pendragon, will love that double plagiarism to death. I hope the connoisseurs of Pink Floyd haven't lost their ears, unlike some respectable reviewers. content

Synkopy (Czech) - 1985 - "Flying Time" ****** (45 min, "Panton")

Led by vocalist/keyboard wizard Oldrjikh Vesely this Czech (or better to say Moravian - they're from Ostrava) Symphonic Art Rock band released a pure masterpiece of the genre in the middle of the 'dark' decade. There are no pauses in this epic conceptual work consisted of incredibly original, innovative and complex structures, typical rather for the first part of the '70s years. Excellent dramatic vocals (in English), lots of complex, diverse arrangements, wonderful virtuostic solos from each musician create a unique mosaic, a real kaleidoscope of musical ideas. In my opinion, "Flying Time" from the obscure East European band Synkopy is one of the three (at most five) best albums released in the '80s years. content

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