AMPHETAMIN – A Flood Of Strange Sensations
There is so much good progressive rock coming out of France at the moment with bands such as Delain, Lazuli, Black Noodle Project and The Last Embrace well worth checking out.
Also well worth checking out is this little gem from Amphetamin – once a full band but now a one man project from main man Sebastian. Sebastian Who – we’re not told.
It matters who Sebastian is only insofar as this is a rather fine piece of work that deserves a wide audience and that audience needs to keep tabs on what Sebastian is going to do in future.
Described as a progressive rock band with a post-rock touch (genres – don’t you just love ‘em?) – I would actually inject the word ‘Goth’ into this description as most of ‘A Flood Of Strange Sensations’ sounds like a glorious amalgam of The Sisters Of Mercy, The Mission and ‘Hymn’ era Ultravox – all condensed through the prism of prog.
Having the added bonus of accentless vocals, the eleven tracks on offer here represent a quite staggering solo effort with Sebastian excelling on everything he touches – the instrumentation, the musicianship (especially the guitar work) the song structures, the mastering and the production.
Back in the day, when so many great rock records were coming out, my mate Terry and I had this phrase we used all the time ‘Terry, you’ve just got to listen to this’.
Well, forty-odd years on – ‘Terry, you’ve just got to listen to this’…
**** Review by Alan Jones
GADI CAPLAN – Morning Sun
If you’re a fan of well played acoustic guitar but are looking for something a little more left-field, something a bit different, then Gadi Caplan could be your man.
Not that ‘Morning Sun’ is exclusively acoustic, far from it, nor is it exculsively guitar music as there’s plenty of other instrumentation here too – keyboards, trombone, violin, trumpet and even Bansuri flute work their way into proceedings – but essentially it’s a vehicle for Caplan’s guitar prowess.
Caplan is an Israeli-born, Brooklyn based composer, who, along with vocalist Danny Abowd has put together a really interesting album that visits world music, jazz fusion, folk and classical music all wrapped up in a distinctly 70’s progressive vibe.
Thus, on a track such as ‘Vivadi Swara’ you have a Steve Howe-like guitar intro seguéing into a piece of CSN&Y strumming and harmonies to stunning effect.
There is much to like here regardless of whether the guitar is your weapon of choice, although it should be pointed out that the final four tracks that form a sequence (‘Lily’s Day, Parts 1-4’) rather let down the rest of the album with experimental over-repetitive riffs, vocoder nonsense and a horribly discordant sax solo.
However, the first seven tracks are so good it would be unfair to judge the album as a whole too harshly – and indeed, there may well be some King Crimson fans out there who would judge the final sequence as the best thing on here.
Horses for courses I suppose.
***1/2 Review by Alan Jones
PREACHER – Aftermath
Preacher are an 8-piece progressive rock band from Scotland who are building up quite a following in their native land thanks to a busy touring schedule and a number of festival appearances.
And it’s easy to see why as their brand of ‘Floyd/Yes/Marillion prog pushes all the right buttons, albeit with a few caveats.
‘Aftermath’ is the band’s second album following 2014’s ‘Signals’ and for the most part is a pretty good effort that, okay, wears its influences on its sleeve (especially the soaring Gilmouresque tones of main man Martin Murphy), but is also unafraid to push the experimental envelope as and when required.
It falls down a little in two respects – the songwriting and the vocals.
Songwriting is a craft that has to be learned as you go along and, to be fair to the band given that this is only their second album, all I would say is that a few of the tracks here are a little too hackneyed at times with rather ‘safe’ lyrics and the occasional clichéed riff.
As regards the vocals, Martin Murphy has an extraordinary Bowie-like intonation (so much so that my wife shouted upstairs “when did you suddenly like David Bowie?”) – the problem here being that Bowie was never prog and it just sounds, to these ears anyway, a little odd.
Having said all that, the musicianship and production throughout are absolutely top notch, which, in most cases, overrides the shortcomings of the songs themselves to produce a generally satisfying listen.
A few rough edges but with definite potential and certainly a band to keep on your radar.
*** Review by Alan Jones
Alan sequences “The Eclectic Mix” on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio, second Sunday of the month at 18:00. Expect some prog.
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Each week David Randall presents ‘New to GRTR!’ on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio, with the emphasis on independent artists and labels. During December he replays favourite tracks including power plays featured during the year. This show covers the period January-March and was first broadcast on 1 December 2019.
Power Plays w/c 25 November (Mon-Fri)
Throughout December we are featuring Best of 2019 selections from the GRTR! Reviewers.
Featured Albums w/c 25 November (Mon-Fri)
09:00-12:00 Melodic Rock Featured Albums of 2019
12:00-13:00 Melodic Hard Rock Featured Albums of 2019
14:00-16:00 Singer Songwriter Featured Albums of 2019
Albums That Time Forgot (Mon-Fri)
A selection of albums featured in 2019
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