Various Artists — Progfest '95
(Musea FGBG 4180.AR, 1995/1996, 2CD)
by Peter Thelen, 1997-05-01:
Well, it's finally here. This 2CD package was definitely worth the wait, even that two of the featured bands (Solaris and Spock's Beard) have already released their entire Progfest performances on CD, and one band that played at the event (Pendragon) isn't even featured herein (the story is that the sound was so distorted that the tapes couldn't be salvaged — see this writer's Progfest writeup in issue #9 about Pendragon and people running from the theater with their ears covered...) At any rate, the remaining six bands (in case it's been so long that you forgot, they were Ars Nova, White Willow, Deus Ex Machina, and Landberk, as well as the aforementioned two) are all featured herein. The sound quality is nothing short of outstanding, due in part to the engineering efforts of the late Kevin Gilbert, to whom this package is dedicated. Especially noteworthy are the live performances by Ars Nova, Deus Ex Machina (yes, you can really hear the keyboards now!), and Landberk — all of whom sound better now in the final mix than they did in the original live setting. The playing order of the bands on the discs is altered slightly from their original live playing order, with Spocks and Landberk sandwiched between the bands that played on day one. As usual, Musea has done an excellent job on the packaging. In all, this collection definitely captures the spirit of the event, while smoothing some of the rough edges.
by Henry Schneider, 1997-05-01:
For those of you not able to attend the festival in Los Angeles in November 1995, here is your chance to experience the highlights of Progfest ‘95. Opening the festival and this 2CD set is Ars Nova, a female Japanese trio of keyboards, bass, and drums. Progfest was their debut performance in the US and their three crowd-pleasing instrumentals "Morgan," "Jihad," and "Danse Macabre" clearly demonstrate their Goblin influenced music of hard-driving, dark keyboard progressive rock. Next we have three Landberk songs: "Kontiki," "Dream Dance," and "Time." This Swedish band’s music has a dark edge to it very much like Joy Division and Fra Lippi Lippo. Musea rounds out the first disk with four songs from the Italian band Deus Ex Machina: "Exordium," "Respublica II," "Ad Montem," and "Si Tu Bene..." Deus Ex Machina is a six-piece band consisting of drums, bass, guitar, strings, keyboards, and vocals. Their music also has a hard edge to it mixed with driving rock, jazz, and chamber elements.
Disc 2 opens with two songs by Norway’s folk-rock phenomenon band White Willow: "Lord of Night" and "Cryptomenysis." Sara Trondel’s angelic voice propels the band through these 17 minutes of excellent music. Next we have one song by, at the time, the relatively unknown US band Spock’s Beard. "The Light" is 16 minutes of fairly raucous 70s-styled prog rock that intermittently mellows out, reminding me of Wind and Wuthering era Genesis. Then closing this set are four songs by the Hungarian band Solaris: "Apocalypse," "Oz," "Hungarian Danse," and "Solaris." Solaris reformed especially for this festival after not having performed together in over five years. The results are not disappointing. Solaris play a folk influenced symphonic rock that was both the highlight of the festival and this 2CD set.
Musea has done a wonderful service by capturing in crystal clear detail Progfest ‘95. If like me, you have not had the pleasure of attending the festival nor hearing these bands this set is an excellent introduction to their music.
Krautrock Documentary Seeks Funding – The next installment of the Progressive Warriors documentary series will focus on the vast body of music that falls under the banner of "krautrock." As most of our readers will know, previous films have tackled RIO and the Canterbury scene, as well as what we might call "mainstream" prog rock. » Read more
Tomasz Stańko RIP – Tomasz Stańko, one of the greats of Eastern European jazz, has died at the age of 76. Stańko's career started in Krzysztof Komeda's quintet, where he contributed trumpet from 1963-1967, when he formed his own group. He worked extensively with Edward Vesala, Don Cherry, Zbigniew Seifert, Chico Freeman, Howard Johnson, Cecil Taylor, and many others. Many of his recordings have been released by ECM, an association that began in the mid-70s. » Read more
Soft Machine Set to Release New Music – It's been 50 years since The Soft Machine changed the face of music with their first album. Their blend of psychedelic rock and jazz was unique, and while the band went through many changes before disbanding in 1981 — by which time there were no original members remaining — they remained an innovative force with a style all their own. » Read more
7d Surfaces Happy Rhodes Back Catalog – We've covered singer Happy Rhodes before, both for her solo work and recently with The Security Project, but her 11 albums have been hard to track down. Until now. 7d features high-quality downloads of all her releases, and several of them are also available on CD. » Read more
Fred Chalenor RIP – We have news of another sad passing in the world of creative music. Bassist Fred Chalenor, whose creativity featured on albums by Tone Dogs, Caveman Shoestore, and many more, died on June 23, 2018 after a long battle with Alzheimer's. Tributes have poured in from the many musicians and fans whose lives he touched. » Read more
Vander / Top / Blasquiz / Garber - "Sons" Document 1973 - Le Manor – With the relase of AKT I - Les Voix de Magma, Christian Vander launched his new label to release live and unreleased studio material to all the eager Magma fans around the world, following the... (1994) » Read more