Thursday, March 27, 2008

Thieves Kitchen ~ The Water Road

The last few weeks have been very good for British prog. First we had the sensational new album by The Tangent and then just this week I received the new one by Magenta. This is another very strong release. Rob Reed is back to writing long form pieces and these are the best he has done. This is a very powerful album. Christina Booth’s vocals are as impressive as ever and guitarist Chris Fry is excellent.

Now, we have the first new album in over 4 years by Thieves’ Kitchen. This band may not be as well known within prog circles as The Tangent and Magenta, but their new album is just as impressive. Their previous “Shibboleth” was the first to feature new vocalist Amy Darby and was a nice mixture of symphonic prog with a Bruford/National Health fusion feel. This new one has that same NH groove, but with the added bonus of keyboardist Thomas Johnson. Now, he was keyboardist with the legendary Swedish band Anglagard, so this album sees some of those same pastoral textures introduced into the sound with lots of mellotron throughout. In fact the mellotron parts were recorded in Sweden by ex-Anglagard drummer Mattias Olsson. If that wasn’t enough there are some flute parts on the album played by Anna Holmgren who was also a member of…. yes you guessed it Anglagard.

“The Water Road” is a very good album. Mixed and mastered by Rob Aubrey of IQ fame the sound on this is exceptional. Highly recommended. Another great British prog album!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Dead Can Dance Remasters

It has been a while. Again! But the usual delaying tactics of illness, personal stuff, work etc. has put this blog in the bottom of priorities.

Anyway, the first bit of stuff is not really prog. Well, actually it’s not prog at all! One my favourite 90’s bands was Dead Can Dance. On of 4AD’s most commercially successful acts, even more than the Cocteau Twins I believe. Seems like their back catalogue has been remastered as one of those hybrid CD/SACD thingies. Due sometime June here, though I haven’t seen any official word on it and info is scarce. Seems like they are being released in Japan in April as mini-LP sleeves (they like those) and then here later. Not sure if they will be the Japanese versions or not. But DCD always sounded good so these should sound great.

On to prog. Well, I have just listened to the new VdGG album “Trisector” and that sounds pretty good. More relaxed than “Presence” and with Banton well to the fore, filling in the space once occupied by David Jaxon. Other recent stuff has been the newby by RPWL, “The RPWL Experience”. Now this is very good. Not too proggy, but modern, edgy rock with prog undercurrents. The opening track “Silenced” is particularly good. Took a few listens as did their previous, but I do like this. Another heartily recommended release is the second outing for Sensitive To Light “From The Ancient World”. This is the project by Vynce Leff, who was a member of the excellent Saens. This keep sup the standards of the previous album, mixing complex, off-kilter melodies with some beautiful singing by Jenny Lewis. I hope to do a fuller review once I have listened to this a bit more. But the highlight of the past few weeks is easily The Tangents fourth album, “Not As Good As The Book”. This is simply a stunning double album. Andy Tillison and band are on absolutely top form. Just listen to the epic “Four Egos, One War”, this is what prog is all about; thoughtful lyrics, great melodies, beautiful arrangements. Simply wonderful!!

Coming up is the new one by Magenta “Metamorphosis” and by the little known Thieves Kitchen “The Water Road”. I hope this one will push TK into the limelight a bit more. They have been away for far too long!
Lastly just got the next batch of Alan Parsons remasters. If anything like the first lot these should be quite impressive.
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