.......A BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF FEATURED ARTIST AND CD REVIEWS - 2018
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LAST UPDATE 01/31/2018....
. MODERN-ROCK ENSEMBLE - "Touch The Mystery"
Modern-Rock Ensemble is a Progressive Rock project founded by Vladimir Gorashchenko – a composer, poet, producer, and keyboard and guitar player based in Kiev, Ukraine. As a devoted fan of 1970’s Art-Rock, Gorashchenko began a step-by-step compositional practice that evolved with time, culminating on his unique musical style, which fuses Symphonic Progressive Rock, Art-Rock, Jazz-Rock, Cosmic Rock, and Slavic Ethno-Rock. Gorashchenko usually invites many talented musicians from the Ukrainian Rock and Jazz scenes to take part on the Modern-Rock Ensemble, as well as a string quartet. In September 2016, the Modern-Rock Ensemble released a precious album, called “Touch The Mystery”, via independent label Modern Rock Music LLC. The album is available for streaming and download, but the physical CD comes in a deluxe digipack edition that features gorgeous cover artwork. “Touch The Mystery” contains 6 tracks and consists mainly of instrumental pieces. Besides Gorashchenko (keyboards, guitars, sitar and occasional vocals), 17 guest musicians have taken part on the record (see long list below)! The music of Modern-Rock Ensemble combines euphony with variety; classicism with versatility; tradition with modernity. It is totally destined to the fine degustation of the most exigent gourmets of Symphonic Prog-Rock; such is the opulence, complexity, beauty, and profoundness of the arrangements! Celebrating a perfect wedding between Classical Music and Art-Rock, each composition is embellished with ornaments akin to Chamber Music, on which violins, string quartets, and soaring sax abound, sharing space with thrilling sequences of instrumental Progressive Rock filled with soaring electric guitars, dazzling attacks of synths and cosmic keyboards, velvet bass, and orchestral drums; occasionally driven by Ethno-Folk rhythms of Eastern Europe. The whole sonic package evokes images of pompous palaces, royal ambiences, illuminated halls and balls. If you like other Slavic bands such as “Little Tragedies”, “Group 309”, “Karfagen”, and “Roz Vitalis”; the transcendental side of “Yes”, “Eloy”, “Dead Can Dance” and “Nemrud”; and the bombastic symphonic style of “Rick Wakeman”, “Isildurs Bane”, “Rumblin’ Orchestra”, “Clearlight”, “After Crying”, “Tabula Smaragdina” or “Sagrado Coração da Terra”, then you will feel yourself instantly attracted to Gorashchenko’s amazing Modern-Rock Ensemble project! “Touch The Mystery” presents three main pieces that have been recorded in different occasions, two short instrumental keyboards pieces that work as interludes to them, and one bonus track that closes the album. The CD starts with “Meditations” (11:46) – which was partly recorded in Italy in 1988 by “Modern Rock Ensemble Putnik Mk 1” (an early version of the project). This piece is an Ethno-Prog driven by the sitar and the tabla, and contains more acoustic textures than the other tracks (recalling “Dead Can Dance”), being enveloped in ethereal ambiences and soaring sounds that recall the most transcendental works of “Yes” (e.g. “Tales From Topographic Oceans”). Violins are reminiscent of Brazilian “Marcus Viana” (“Sagrado Coração da Terra”) and “Darryl Way” (“Curved Air”). It is the only piece with lyrics (in English) – Gorashchenko’s deep and seasoned voice is haunting, and resounds like “Brendan Perry” (“Dead Can Dance”) and “Leonard Coen”. “Touch The Mystery” (19:53) – the title track – is the album’s central piece. Rather than being just a “20-minute epic”, this long piece represents Gorashchenko’s “musical biography”. Containing few spoken parts extracted from a poem, this piece is the quintessential opus within the Symphonic Progressive Rock style! “Touch …” is based on the alternation of Baroque and Classic passages driven by string quartets interspersed by a trippy Progressive Rock theme propelled by bold electric guitars, underlined by cosmic soaring sax and pulsing bass lines that recall “Eloy”. Thick layers of dazzling synths with “Rick Wakeman’s” panache fill in the cosmic emptiness! The third main track, “Swamp” (9:52), was recorded live on a stereo deck by a quartet called “Modern Rock Ensemble Putnik Mk 2” during a Jazz-Rock festival in 1989 and re-mastered in 2014. Dedicated to “Andrey Tarkovskiy” (Russian film director opposed to the Soviet ideology), it brings a powerful live vibe to the album’s repertoire. Tending to the Prog-Fusion, “Swamp” is an experiment that frames symphonic patterns into modern Jazz arrangements. Starting up slow and mysterious, it opens way for imposing electric violins, keyboards and church organ, which lead to shocking Jazz-Fusion waves that clash against symphonic craziness, like “Weather Report”! Tracks 2, “What Will Happen To My Country?” (3:52), and 4, “My Angels” (3:45), are two short Neo-Classical keyboard pieces recorded in 2014 that function as instrumental interludes for the three main tracks. Both are melodious and sensitive; and “My Angels”, which Gorashchenko has dedicated to his wife and daughters, is really celestial! The album finishes with a bonus version of “Meditations” (11:46), with lyrics in Russian. Summing all up, Modern-Rock Ensemble is an amazing Symphonic Progressive project that combines superb instrumental work with superior musicianship, being more than highly recommendable for fans of bands like “Little Tragedies”, “Group 309”, “Karfagen”, “Roz Vitalis”, “Rick Wakeman”, “Yes”, “Eloy”, “Isildurs Bane”, “Rumblin’ Orchestra”, “Clearlight”, “After Crying”, “Tabula Smaragdina”, “Sagrado Coração da Terra”, “Dead Can Dance”, “Nemrud”, and so on. Band members and collaborators involved in Modern-Rock Ensemble are: Vladimir Gorashchenko – Vocals, Synths, Electric & 12-String Guitars, Electric Sitar, Producer; Anton Kalugin – Rhythm Guitar, Synth Guitar Solo, Fx; Max Velichko – Lead Guitar (1,3,6); Igor Zakus – Fretted (3) & Fretless (1,2,3,6) Basses; Alex Fantaev – Drums (1,3,6); Bogdan Gumeryuk – Soprano Sax (3); Kostya Ionenko – Fretted Bass (1,6); Sergey Puchkov – Tabla (1,6); Georgiy Cherkasov – Cello; Victor Golubets – Lead Guitar (1,6); Gleb Czapkalov – Piano & Synths (5); Oleg ‘Chelya’ Yaroshchuk – Guitar and Acoustic & Electric Violins (5); Victor ‘Jaco’ – Fretless Bass (5). String Ensemble: Igor Andrievskiy – Violin; Andriy Pavlov – Violin; Aleksandr Pavlov – Viola; Vladimir Babutin – Cello. Robik Finkel – Sound Engineering, Recording & Mixing (“Putnik” Mk 1&2); Anotoliy Soroka – Recording, Sound Engineering, Re-mastering (5) & Mastering. Design Work by Tamara Gorashchenko; Paintings by Sergey Shulyma...(Comments by Marcelo Trotta)
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01/31/2018....Would like to know more about the band and their history, please visit MODERN-ROCK ENSEMBLE HOME PAGE...
. Ph2 - "20 Years After"
Ph2 – the French Progressive Rock project resulted from the partnership settled between Philippe Moati (guitars, keyboards, bass) and Philippe Mercier (drums, percussion) – is back to PR&PM! Ph2’s third album, entitled “Empreintes” (2011, distributed by Musea Records), was reviewed at PR&PM in May 2017. Ph2’s most recent album, titled “20 Years After” (2016, Independent), is being brought into focus now. Ph2 is a project forged by many influences. The music of “Genesis”, “Yes”, “Van der Graff Generator”, “Kansas”, “Mike Oldfield”, and “Peter Gabriel” had a preponderant importance on Ph2’s palette of influences, which incorporated other references along time, coming either from modern Progressive Rock bands (such as “The Flower Kings”, “Kaïpa”, “Ritual”), or from academic musicians and composers (like “Prokofiev”, “Shostakovich” and “Stravinsky”). Ph2’s compositions evolved from mostly instrumental pieces with a Neo-Classical and Contemporary symphonic approach to music influenced by the Electronic trend. Vocals were employed for the first time on the album “Empreintes”. “Empreintes” had a multilayered Electronic rhythmic base, which conveyed sensitive melodies produced with guitars, synths, and other keyboards. The bass played an important role, bringing in moods that recalled “Chris Squire’s” style. Overall, the sound resembled the most soaring music of “Yes”, with some parts approaching the instrumentation of late 70’s “Genesis”; being also reminiscent of “Flower Kings”, “Kaipa”, and “Ritual”, immersed in a strong Electronic ambience; delivered with dynamics and good vibes. “20 Years After”, however, has a different musical orientation. It is a very organic album, on which the Electronic textures, abundant on the last album, have been reduced to a minimum. With a line-up consisting of founding members Philippe Moati (keyboards, guitars, bass) and Philippe Mercier (drums, percussion), accompanied by guest singers Jessica Gabrielle, Marianne Hatchuel, Florence Huet, Jeff Meleras, Sam F. Schöpferkraft, and background singers Jacob Meleras and Jerusha Lewis, “20 Years After” has a strong lean to the 70’s to 80’s Progressive styles, including symphonic arrangements, sporadic acoustic guitar plucks, multi-genre singing, and a bit of experimentation. Besides the usual musical influences, Ph2’s recent repertoire brings “Pink Floyd”, “King Crimson”, “Henry Cow”, “Camel”, and “Eclat” to mind; and, because of the female singers, also some works of “Glass Hammer”, “Mr. So & So”, and “Landmarq” (among others). The result is a colorful and eclectic Progressive panorama, in which listeners may expect anything: from traditional to vanguard, from euphonic to instigating, from difficult mind-digesting arrangements to those of instant assimilation. “20 Years After” has 9 tracks, arranged between songs and instrumental pieces. “Twenty Years After” begins with two songs that are sung by female singers: “Voyage” (7:15) and “Magali” (6:56). “Voyage” is a typical Progressive song with a 70’s flavor, and includes acoustic guitar, bass and tunes like “Yes” and some soaring electric guitars like “Genesis”, recalling “Glass Hammer”, “Mr. So & So”, and “Landmarq”. “Magali” starts with a mood immediately reminiscent of “Pink Floyd’s” “The Great Gig in the Sky”, and accelerates later on a vigorous instrumental part. “Paul” (3:45) – the remaining song fronted by a woman – is an emotional and theatrical ballad with lyrics in French. The songs fronted by men are “Hypersleep Funeral Wake” (6:06) – a Heavy Neo-Prog with symphonic and epic verve, driven by powerful guitar chords and adventurous tunes (like a mix of “Eclat”, “Pendragon” and “Pallas”) – and “The Jazzman” (4:55) – an amusing song with a modern Jazz vein and groove, but hybridized with Progressive textures that come from guitars and keyboards! Ph2’s taste for experimentation is also present on the two instrumental pieces, “Very Good Trip” (5:18) and “Happy Birthday” (8:38). The first is an amusing collection of rhythmic structures and percussive sounds with Asiatic influences, akin to Indonesian (possibly inspired by “King Crimson”); the second is a cartoonish piece for piano that blends the R.I.O. Progressive branch with the scholar Contemporary music of the 20th century, in complex arrangements that sound like “Henry Cow”, “Shostakovich”, and “Stravinsky” having fun together! But Ph2’s strongest Neo-Classical vein and sensibility are imprinted on the two remaining instrumental tracks: “Sainte Alvère” (7:34) – a magnificent and mysterious orchestral piece that brings a sensitive guitar solo supported by eerie string arrangements (slightly inspired on “Debussy” and “Ravel”); and “Goodbye Michel, Goodbye Wojtek” (3:19) – a beautiful and poignant farewell piece written for classic Flamenco guitars. Being very different from its predecessor, Ph2’s “20 Years After” is a surprising, sensitive and instigating album that will be greatly appreciated by fans of traditional Progressive Rock in general, being highly recommended for fans of “Genesis”, “Yes”, “Mike Oldfield”, “Eclat”, “Flower Kings”, “Kaipa”, “Ritual”, “Henry Cow”, “Camel”, “Glass Hammer”, “Mr. So & So”, “Landmarq”, and so on. Band members and collaborators involved in Ph2 are: Philippe Moati – Keyboards, Guitars, Bass; Philippe Mercier – Drums, Percussion. Guest Singers: Jessica Gabrielle (vocals and lyrics on “Voyage”); Marianne Hatchuel (on “Paul”; lyrics by “G. Hatchuel”); Florence Huet (on “Magali”); Jeff Meleras (lead vocals and lyrics on “The Jazzman”); Jacob Meleras & Jerusha Lewis (backing vocals on “The Jazzman”); Sam F. Schöpferkraft (vocals and lyrics on “Hypersleep Funeral Wake”). Produced by Ph. Moati & Ph. Mercier... (Comments by Marcelo Trotta)
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01/31/2018.........................................................................,.....Interested to know more about the Band? Visit Ph2 HOME PAGE...
. THE MUSIC THERAPY EXPERIMENT - "Genus Equus"
The Music Therapy Experiment is a Progressive-Fusion duo from Mobile, Alabama, U.S.A. The duo consists of the multi-instrumentalists Dr. John Kline (project founder, guitar, most keyboards and bass, vocals, compositions, engineering and production) and Mark Christianson (drums, bass, keyboards). Christianson is endorsed by Hornets Drumsticks, Axis pedals, Turk Masters Cymbals, and FBB basses. He also operates his own Xush Studio in Mobile, and has recorded award-winning music with Art/Progressive Rock band “Analog Missionary”. The Music Therapy Experiment has released two CDs so far: “Make It Home”  (2015, CD, Album) and “Egg Salad Surgery” (2015, CD), both via Kline’s independent label, Wet Present Records. The Music Therapy Experiment has just released a third album: “Genus Equus” (May 2017, Wet Present Records). “Genus Equus” has 13 tracks – 12 instrumentals and only one with vocals. The album is outstanding, regarding the old Progressive-Fusion style. The music is strongly melodic, including elements inspired on Jazz, Neo-Classical, Blues and Rock. Dr. Kline’s clean and neat guitar playing is inspired on names such as: “John Abercrombie”, “Steve Lukather”, “Allan Holdsworth”, “Al Di Meola”, “Frank Gambale”, “Pat Metheny”, “Brett Garsed”, “Jan Akkerman”, “Jeff Beck”, “Vinnie Moore”, “Tony MacAlpine”, “Steve Vai”, and their likes. As Kline showcases his amazing musicianship on emotional improvisations, he receives the professional and precise rhythmic background from Christianson on drums. By adding sophisticated bass lines, multi-layered keyboard embellishments, and a few passages for classical piano, The Musical Therapy Experiment comes up with solid and eclectic compositions that float on the air with lightness and softness, exuding beauty and sensibility; covering moods from “manic to mellow, futuristic to retro”. Following the moto, “music therapy for mental health maintenance, relaxation, and fun”, The Musical Therapy Experiment offers on “Genus Equus” a significant selection of magnificent pieces containing memorable melodies that will speak to your mind, heart, and soul! With the exception of the exotic opening track, “Akhal-Teke” (2:53), and the adventurous Fusion-Rock, “Copper Goblins” (5:09), which diverge from the relaxing mood that predominates on “Genus Equus” for being rhythmically powerful (although not devoid of superior musicianship), the listener will experiment sublime musical moments, either by listening to the gentle guitar plucking on the smooth “Apology” (4:45), or by feeling the peaceful vibes that emanate from the guitars that embellish the twin tracks “Tibetian Sky, 1st Movement” (4:32) and “Tibetian Sky, 2nd Movement” (7:03). The Neo-Classical style (akin to “Vinnie Moore” and “Tony MacAlpine”) will be appreciated on the baroque arrangements and guitar arpeggios that adorn the royal “Arbitrary Confidence” (3:35); on the festive joy of “Mozart's Earworm” (3:40) – which unveils Dr. Kline’s proficiency in “Mozart’s” compositional method; and on the majestic romanticism of “Wedding Dance” (3:01) – a balanced duo for guitar and piano. As for the piano, this instrument is the reference on the harmonic progressions of “City of Apples” (4:37); and on “Hypnagogia” (4:29) – on which it shares space with clean guitars and electronic synths to create a remarkable track, which rivals in beauty and sensitivity to “Liars Lament” (6:48) – this one, carefully constructed over a guitar theme that blends bluesy melancholy with classical-inspired passages – gaining in drama as it unfolds! Capturing all the essence of this album, the lengthy instrumental track, “Deep Space Crossover” (11:50) is an impressive piece written for a single continuous solo of guitar – a trippy journey that alternates different Fusion modes with energetic Progressive parts! At last, “Running on Borderline” (6:46) – the only track with vocals – is an outstanding Blues-ballad that combines a nice tune with weeping guitars and bouncing piano notes. In sum, The Music Therapy Experiment’s new album, “Genus Equus”, offers some of the best Prog-Fusion music around, uniting a strong melodic vein with truly sensitive performances, consisting in a “must-have” item for fans of “John Abercrombie”, “Steve Lukather”, “Allan Holdsworth”, “Al Di Meola”, “Frank Gambale”, “Pat Metheny”, “Brett Garsed”, “Jan Akkerman”, “Jeff Beck”, “Vinnie Moore”, “Tony MacAlpine”, “Steve Vai”, and so on. Band members and collaborators involved in The Music Therapy Experiment are: Dr. John Kline – All Guitars, Most Keyboards and Bass, Vocals on “Running on Borderline”, Writer of 11 Tracks, Co-writer of 2; Mark Christianson – All Drums; Bass and Keyboards on “Akhal-Teke”, Co-writer of "Akhal-Teke" and "Deep Space Crossover". Album mostly recorded at John Kline’s guiTARDIS Studio; Drums, Bass, and Keyboards on "Akhal-Teke" Recorded at Mark Christianson’s Xush Studios in Mobile AL. Engineered and Produced by John Kline. Also you must visit The Music Therapy Experiment's SoundCloud Site...  (Comments by Marcelo Trotta)
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01/31/2018.............................Interested to know more about the Band? Visit THE MUSIC THERAPY EXPERIMENT HOME PAGE...
. FRENCH TV - "Pardon Our French!"
French TV’s “Pardon our French!" is the 8th album of this amazing and amusing North American band, which has been already commented in this page (see above). As it predecessors, this album was released by the independent label Pretentious Dinosaur Records (2004). There are no guest musicians playing on this record, given that the band preferred to work as a quartet this time, gathered around the main trio of components. Besides the Three Musketeers - Mike Sary (super-bass and compositions), Warren Dale (keyboards and sax) and Chris Smith (guitars, violin, and banjo) - the record counted with participation of d’Artagnan Jeff Gard (drums). Different from the previous album (“The Case Against Art"), which sometimes came closer to a “Classic Progressive" sonority, “Pardon Our French!" remains loyal to the most typical traits of Avant-garde Progressive subgenre, bringing long instrumental compositions that sound like a discrepant fusion of Jazz Rock, Spanish and Latin Music, R.I.O., and French Progressive Rock. As a whole, it sounds like a reunion of bands like “Soft Machine", “Weather Report", “Mahavishnu Orchestra", “The Dixie Dregs", “Santana", “Samla Mammas Manna", “Zappa", “Henry Cow", “Univers Zero", “Gargantua", “Etron Fou Leloublan", “Jean Luc Ponty", “Priam", “Ange", “Atoll" and so on. As it is characteristic of French TV, the compositions are really unconventional, but easy to assimilate – being neither too much cacophonic, nor too much experimental - avoiding the peril of being rejected by the regular enthusiasts of both Progressive Rock and Jazz-Fusion. The highlights of this album are clearly “Everything Works in Mexico" and “The “Pardon Our French" Medley“. The first of them is a lively Jazz Rock piece that has enclosed within it large doses of Spanish, Tango and Latin Music, being well influenced by “Weather Report", “Mahavishnu Orchestra", “Santana", “Jean Luc Ponty", “Gentle Giant" and “Yes". “The “Pardon Our French" Medley"is an almost 17-minute long piece that includes covers of some of the most prominent bands of the French Progressive Rock scene, namely “Ange" (“La Bastille du Sucre"), “Pulsar" (“Tired Answers"), “Shylock" (“Laocksetal"), “Carpe Diem" (“Publiphobie"excerpts), “Atoll" (“Tunnel Pt.2“) and “Etron Fou Lelouban" (“Yvetts’s Blouse“). Inserted between those two is “Sekala Dan Niskala"– an Experimental piece that researches deep into the field of ethnical rhythms and urban sounds, also evoking icons of the Krautrock scene, like “Popol Vuh"and “Amon Düül II". The two last tracks - “Tears of a Velvet Clown" and “When the Ruff Tuff Creampuffs Take Over" are also largely influenced by both the French Progressive School and by R.I.O. bands. “Tears of a Velvet Clown" is dominated by a kind of “Cirque Du Soleil" pace and a mockery humor, being highly influenced by “Etron Fou Leloublan", “Ange", “Univers Zero", and “Samla Mammas Manna". “When the Ruff Tuff…" follows the same influences, but contrast with the previous by being richer in spooky and fairy-tale sounds that create a mysterious atmosphere, and by a vigorous Jazz-Rock base that reminds me also of “Gentle Giant". “Pardon Our French!" is another brilliant work of French TV, which, although leaning a bit more to the Avant-garde and R.I.O., will compensate any fan that is willing to hear something that sounds different, unconventional and yet pleasant and technically superior. Highly recommendable. Band members and collaborators involved in French TV are: Mike Sary – bass; Warren Dale – keyboards, baritone sax; Chris Smith – electric guitars, electric violin, banjo; Jeff Gard – drums... (Comments by Marcelo Trotta)
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01/31/2018............................................................,.....Interested to know more about the Band? Visit FRENCH TV HOME PAGE...
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