Drifting Sun - Planet Junkie

1996 saw the birth of a band called Drifting Sun, when they released "Thundering". Including this new album they have released 6 albums sofar. Throughout the years we at TVRDO played several tracks from their previous albums, so it was about time we put the band even more in the spotlight by voting their new release as Album of the Month. The band is Pat Sanders(keys), Mathieu Spaeter(guitars), Manu Michael(bass) and Will Jones(drums). For this album they had some help from a trio of fine vocalists by the likes of Marc Atkinson (Riversea/Moon Halo), Colin Mold (Karnataka) and Joshua Corum (Head With Wings) after losing original lead vocalist Peter Falconer last year to health complications. On the album also guest performances from Ben Bell (Gandalf's Fist/Patchwork Cacophony/Broken Parachute), Eric Bouillette (The Room/Nine Skies), Conrad Cheng and Sarah Skinner (Red Dirt Skinners). Karen Koski has done the amazing album cover.

Again Drifting Sun treats us on this album with high class Neo-Prog. The guest vocalists are given three consecutive tracks whilts Pat doing his vocal play in between.

First up is Marc Atkinson's trio of songs (man, I love his moody, soft and warm voice, listen to any album of Riversea, and you know what I mean). "Within Your Bones", is probably the most, I dare say the word, "commercial", out of the three. For that matter I raised the song to our friends at Glassrock.nl radio as a rising classic for the upcoming month. A very powerful song, a great opener for what is to come. Great lyrics: "Don't give up on us and the future we're dreaming of". The sax by Sarah gives it a Supertramp feeling, but that thought is soon gone when the soaring guitars by Matthieu and the keys by Pat come in, making it an excellent finish to the song and you have to resist not playing it again. Don't hold your breath, the titel song of the album is followed, layered with Marc's astounding vocals and again those guitars. Man that Matthieu sure knows how to grab you attention. Then a moment of reminiscence, "Missing", taking a step back from all that fire in the first two songs. Even further reminising is "Life" a brief instrumental on piano by Pat in memory of his father.

Then a trio of Colin Mold's vocals starting with Night-Time Sorrow. I've read somewhere his voice is a mix between Peter Gabriel and Justin Hayward, I think I must agree. Another "slow down the Mood" song, clocking just over three minutes. A beautiful piece of composing. Stay with Me follows. We're entered the more soft melodic part of the album. It seemed both Pat and Colin seemed to have coalesce as one in creating these pieces, kindred spirits in so many ways, definitely far from being rock stars but most definately dedicated musicians. I love that beautiful acoustic guitar playing in the song. "To Tame a Star" is in my opinion one of the lesser tracks on the album. Haunting but a bit predictable. "I will be King" follows, an instrumental with Ben Bell in the spotlights with his Keith Emerson like organ playing, and exiting solos from the rest of the band. Certainly a song where you cannot sit still.

Certainly on the trio of songs Joshua Corum is featured the mood of the album goes a bit mellow. Mind, nothing wrong with that, it's providing accessible music also for the-non-prog fan. Nothing wrong with that! The more people we can gain into prog the better it is!  Joshua has a higher-pitched voice and a slightly American tone. Certainly "Born of a Dream" fits that description, whilst "Diogenes" is a more complex song and so far I didn't get into it. Ask me again in a couple of months. However the final track of the album is a beauty "Everlasting Creed". The high pitch voice of Joshua and sometimes distorted makes it haunting, and I think that was excactly the idea. Listen to the lyrics and put yourself in your current position at work. "Run Me over", "Fuck me over", "Guilt is written all over your Face". Certainly a song where the lyrics definitely appeals to me, since it pin pointed my thoughts on the way these days the appreciation of the work force in any company is coming about. IT's NEVER ENOUGH!


A very enjoyable album, which addresses the curent situation on our planet to a teeth. Listen to the lyrics and definitely to the display of craftmanship by the musicians.

Rating 5 out of 5

Review © 2019 Frans Verweij

Clepsydra - The Gap

Beautiful illustrated by late Sandor Kwiatkowski, long extended songs, familiar sounding neoprogressive style, characteristic, high-quality vocal of Aluisio Maggini and lots, lots (over 60 minutes in total) of really very successful music. All this (and much more) on the new, released after 18 years of silence, the album "The Gap" by the Swiss band Clepsydra. 

Clepsydra with its four previous albums rightly deserved the status of a legend of Neoprog, so it is not surprising that as soon as the first signals of possible disc return appeared on the network of the band (the concert took place a few years ago. As part of the concert re-union, Clepsydra performed, among others, in May 2014 in Konin, and in spring 2015 released a live album registered at the Rosfest 2014 festival) the expectations of progressive music fans soared quickly mountain, and their patience was put to a great test. And finally, I have good news for them all: on August 30, the album entitled "The Gap" was released with completely premiere material. 

Has anything in the Clepsydro group changed during these long years of absence from the market? When I compare the composition from the new and previous studio album, I notice two changes: bass player Nicola DeVita was replaced by Andy Thommen, which means his return to the band (he played on the first three albums), and Luigi Biamino appeared in the place of guitarist Marco Cerulli. Other musicians are: drummer Pietro Duca, keyboardist Philip Hubert and the already mentioned vocalist Aluisio Maggini, so the original members of Clepsydra who have been active in it from the very beginning and have been heard on all previous albums. So, the only personal novelty is the guitarist Luigi Biamino. But don't worry. In a nutshell, I will say this: Luigi does the trick! It's good. 

The album is dominated by long, multi-threaded and extensive compositions. As many as four of them (of the seven that fill the album) last about ten or more minutes. The longest and probably the most important (and in my opinion definitely the best) is the song Millennium. There is a lot going on in it, and the band catches the attention of the recipient from the very first seconds, consistently building tension and grading it, leading it through all the meanders and complexities of their music. 

As a whole, the album "The Gap" makes a very solid impression. I think a neoprogressive audience really should be happy.

Review: Toon Ladder © 2019

Edison’s Children – The Disturbance Fields

Another appeal by a (prog) band to the human race to take more care of the environment one lives in, the World of you and me. 

Edison’s Children is a British / American band around the duo Pete Trewavas and Eric Blackwood. Pete Trewavas met Eric Blackwood in 2005 as a band member of Marillion. He provided the sound check at an American Marillion concert because Marillion guitarist Steve Rothery had something else to do. The collaboration was born and the two started writing songs in 2006. Initially, the duo called in colleagues to record their albums and performances according to their wishes. For example, band members from Marillion already played along, just like drummer Henry Rogers from DeeExpus Project. 

The first feat of arms of Edison’s Children took a while, since it dates from 2012 with the debut album In The Last Waking Moments. This was followed by The Final Breath Before November in 2013 and Somewhere Between Here And There in 2016. Now, again after three years, Edison’s Children is back with the album The Disturbance Fields. And it now appears to be in a solid formation. A formation with, alongside Pete Trewavas (guitar, bass guitar, vocals, orchestrations), Eric Blackwood (guitar, bass guitar, vocals, orchestrations) and Henry Rogers (drums), with striking names. So we meet Rick Armstrong, son of the Neil Armstrong, on guitar and bass guitar and Lisa Wetton, widow of the John Wetton, on drums. 

The Disturbance Fields is about the anger that mother nature can have against humanity as a result of the poor human treatment of oceans, rainforests and the ever-increasing growth of cities. This has led to the climate changes that we experience daily worldwide. With all its destructive consequences. The album contains only one song, the epic song with the title Washed Away. What you take on a journey of a man who fights against all the forces of the wrath of mother nature. 

Immersive and penetrating. Sometimes threatening. Those are the key words that I remembered while listening to this 68-minute album. Not only the music, but also the vocals of Pete Trewavas and Eric Blackwood. The men are not technically special singers, but their voices and intonation fit perfectly with the statement they want to convey. The music of Edison’s Children is fairly independent. There are vague agreements with Pink Floyd. You hear hints of Marillion and Neal Morse, nothing more. A Random Occurrance, The Confluence, The Tempest and The Surge are dynamic, harmonious and melodic songs that contain a good dose of drama. The harsh weather conditions that this album is all about are palpable. 

Not all songs are complex. Although A Cold Gray Morning is also a long song, the structure is much easier. Indigenous is simply threatening. Propelling guitar work goes together with spoken vocal lines. Resurgence has several intertwined guitar lines, including a roaring bass guitar and solid drums. Epitaph is well chosen as the title of this song. You hear a sort of resignation in both music and singing from Eric Blackwood. 

Edison’s Children remains a special formation with a close fan base. That proves the more than two pages with fans' names in the colorful and really beautiful CD booklet who had signed up in advance. The Disturbance Fields is a true masterpiece that preceded years of preparation. If you do not know the group, this album is the ultimate opportunity to get acquainted.


Review: Toon Ladder © 2019

Freedom to Glide - Seed

After the excellent "Fall" (released  August 2016), this album, “Seed”, completes the trilogy on World War I by Freedom to Glide (f2g) which started with “Rain” in 2013, a trilogy which is devoted to the period of hardship and the fate of soldiers in WWI. The lyrics and the anti-war message Is a very important component on this and both previous albums.

F2g consist of Peter Riley (piano, synthesizers, organ) and Andy Nixon (vocals, guitars, bass, keys) whom played together in the Pink Floyd Tribute band  “The Dark Side of the Wall”. They are joined on this album as on “Fall”  by  Louise Wilson (Kafkadiva) and who was also involded with the two lads In the PF project..

We can safely say that the spirit of Pink Floyd wanders around on all three albums, but f2g has managed to create their own recognizable style on each and every album.     

"Seed" opens the CD, and immediately sets the bar very high, only a piano with crystalline notes accompanies the  hushed song of Andy.

“Holding On” could be released as single and in our opinion would go far in the charts, the same applies to  “No Turning Back”, the track that follows.

The “Undertones of War” is f2g at their best. Symphonic and Eclectic, remeniscent of their work on both previous albums

“The Right Within The Wrong” might be the “loudest” track on the album with soaring guitars but what a message in the lyrics. “I’m not broken, but the cracks are plain to see”.

Another masterpiece “The Space between the Lines, clocks more that 6 minutes and is a very melodic piece with Gilmouresk guitars.                             

An acoustic piece follows “The Only Way”, a song about the brotherhood amongst the soldiers on the front. About guilt, that one makes it out alive whilst the other one was not so lucky.

“One Day”, a beautiful piano piece with atmosperic synth questioning themselves if they ever get out of there one day?

"When That Day Comes something" beautiful song when the band wonders who was to blame, who was watching watches. So many souls left in stone, and who is shifting blame.

“Broken Road” follows and would also be a pick to easily hit the charts, but the song realy goes about the scars the soldiers took back to their homeland. Take me away from where my brother lie and where truth and reason died.

"Dear May" is about a letter the soldier held on him to be send to his wife and was hoping it should never come to that.

“Seeds of Hope” with vocals of Louise Wilson takes us back to the beginning of the album. Stolen Souls the Seeds of Hope that die in endless falling rain.

There is so much to enjoy on the album and when you listen to all the lyrics being send to your brain, one wonders if the human race will ever have the sensibility to stop any kind of war.


Review: Frans Verweij © 2019

Eris Pluvia - Tales From Another Time

Eris Pluvia is an Italian band that produces  excellent progrock, often influenced by folk atmospheres when the band uses flute, sax, violin and acoustic guitars. The band sings in English and it is clear that this is not their native language, but it does bring some elegance to the words.  This Genoese band has matured since their 1991 debut “Rings of Earthly Light” of which many say that album contributed to the rebirth of the Italian Prog Scene. Since then they released another 3 albums, that said, with a hiatus of nearly 20 years before the follow up of their debut saw the light  “Third Eye Light (2010). The band said this was due to a coming and going of bandmates, personal problems etcetera. Between “Third Eye Light” and “Different Earth” was a 6 year gap, due to the untimely death of founding member Paolo Raciti. The band said: “We had to start from scratch since he was the leader and heart of the band.”

Fortunately there’s only a 3 year gap with this new album “Tales from another Time”.

 It is no exaggeration to say that Tales From Another Time is a well-conceived piece of work, sometimes really fantastic for both the compositions and the way in which they are presented to us and this also thanks to the capability of an instrumental technique that Eris Pluvia is show casing here. The band has the ability to interact the composition. The amalgamation between the various components  demonstrate their qualities. Certainly they are inspired by the great names of the symphonic progressive scene, but yet they create their peronal touch and that keeps the listener hooked.

 The music of Eris Pluvia is delicate, powerful and visceral at the same time, everything fits perfectly, almost like a score written without the aid of instruments, as if the band had that quality that belongs only to the geniuses, and who was writing the scores without the help of piano or harpsichord if not the great Mozart? Here, Eris Pluvia are one step away from becoming the magnificent of Italian rock, and perhaps they are already that, thanks to this fantastic Tales From Another Time.

A quick review on the tracks on the album:

-When Love Dies, an instrumental, shows off a creepy classicism thanks to the beautiful piano that develops a theme dictated by Canterbury style and perhaps Camel.

-Lost In The Sands Of Time is the first song, sung in English by Roberto Minniti. It give the song an atmosphere of great sinforock, a truly remarkable piece. It  reminds us of Lanzetti of PFM or even  Łukasz "Gall" Gałęziowsk of Polish band Millenium.

-La chanson de Jeanne clocks at about 19 minutes and this is were Eris Pluvia shows you what they’re capable of also thanks to the voice of Ludovica Strizoli. A comparason with Pink Floyd is easy made but they made this timely piece their own. A joy to listen to.

-The call of Cthulhu despite having a Goblinian introduction immediately jumps into a thousand and one night rock opera and clocks at about 12 minutes. It’s a three piece suite (A Stormy Night, The Secrets Of The Sea, The Awakening Of The Gods), Rock Progressivo Italiano at its best and very symphonic.

-Last Train To Atlana brings  us to delicate atmospheres. This entirely instrumental song gives the chills and takes you back in time tot he golden age of Prog, the seventees.

-The Hum, the last song, again divided into different parts (5) is so elegant and well structured, that it could have been made by a very renowned prog band, but this is Eris Pluvia we are talking about and they should be better known in the Prog Scene.

So in short, this a most elegant and structured album with very atmospheric pieces. Fans of Camel and for that matter Pink Floyd will enjoy this very much.

Rating 4,5 out of 5

Review: Jens Bertjens ©2019

United Progressive Fraternity - Planetary Overload Part I - Loss

Led by great singer Mark Trueack (Unitopia), who's voice is in my opinion a cross between Chris Thompson and Guy Garvey, the band further consist of Steve Unruth (violin, guitars, flute, vocals), Mark Franco (bass), Joe Toscano (drums), Marek Arnold (sax), Matthew Atherton (synths), Dan Mash (bass),Christophe Lebled (keys), Cornel Wilczek (orchestration). Again loads of guest appearances on the album by the likes of Michel St-Père (Mystery), Jon Davison (Glass Hammer/Yes), Nick Magnus (Steve Hackett), Michelle Young (Glass Hammer), Hasse Fröberg (Flower Kings), Steve Hackett, Jerry Marotta (Peter Gabriel), Colin Edwin (Porcupine Tree) and many, many others. 

The album comes with a bonus CD, with different mixes and remixes from their previous album "Fall In Love With The World". Total playing time for both album is nearly 2 hours. We stick to the basic album for this review however.

The first part Phase One 'Dawning on Us' consist of 4 individual songs with spoken words on the first song, "Loss Anthem", from a.o. Sir David Attenborough, warning us of the imminent Climate Change, with flute by Steve Unruth and the angelic voice of Jon Davidson and is a nice opener for what is to come. After that introduction the band asked themselves "What Happens Now". Strong words: "Look at Nothing We Have Done", in other words "look in the mirror and what have you done?". A strong and heavy song with Mark Trueack at his best. "Cruel Times" is the 3rd song from the first chapter taking on rising water levels in our oceans and seas, stating "We are the ones who can make this right", again beautifully sung by Mark Trueack, backed by Lisa Wetton and Hasse Froberg, with some nice jazzy and folk intervals. Quite an Anthem clocking over 8 minutes. The last song of part one is called "What Are Doing To Ourselves", strong lyrics again "While the first World will find solutions where the third World would have to pay". All set in a marimba setting. "Is there anyway to getting through?", again some words from Sir David Attenborough at the end about public enemy number one: "PLASTIC".

"Stop Time" marks the beginning of the second phase of this album called "Destraction and Destruction" about Global Warming, plastic waste, in general. It has a bit of King Crimson feeling to it. Message clear and understood. "One More" is a ballad with nice guitar and violin and the strong voice of Mark Trueack asking the question "What Happens Now?" (The Economy is more important than the air that we breathe). "Mercanaries" is the most heavy song on the album. Goes to show that we are led to believe that everything is gonna be alright. Is it? Anothe ballad follows "What If" only guitar and sax and vocals, asking the question "If we could live in peace following" when a child asks his father "What are we doing to ourselves". "Forgive Me My Son" starts with guns blazing (literaly). A war song. One cross, one flag, one goal, once choise. Strong lyrics again, reading throught the lines, "what's the point of it all?".

Phase III “Growing”  starts with "Dying to be Reborn", which is probably the most "radio friendly" track on the album. Again strong lyrics "Die just in this world, until the mind is reborn". Can we do and will we be able to do it all over and do a better job, is my interpretation. What follows is the Opus on this album, clocking just under 20 minutes, and UPF is on its finest on this one. "Seeds For Life" includes the full staff on this album (Steve Hackett does a nice acoustic guitar solo) and leads us to the polution of the earth by large scale farming objects leading to agricultural problems. If the other tracks on this album did not get you wondering, this one certainly will. (We will bury our own World, stands out in the lyrics) Some nice brass sections, in this song, layered with synths, guitars and violin. The final song" of Phase III is "Loss To Lost" bears a message "Time to change the way we think, and it's staring us in the face" 

Wonderful artwork by Ed Unitsky by the way!  

Final conclusion: a truly formidable album by these Aussies. Looking forward to Part II.

Rating 4,8 out of 5  

Review: Jens Bertjens © 2019

Super Sister Projekt 2019 - Retsis Repus

With music which has been compaired by many reviewers as Canterbury Scene, Supersister could easily count itself among the best Dutch bands of the time in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Albums like Present from Nancy and Iskander still stand the test of time some 50 years later. So what may SUPERSISTER have sounded like in 2019? According to Robert-Jan Stips in his own words. Well, on this album “Retsis Repus”, released under the name Supersister Projekt 2019,  the recognizable Supersister sound is still here, as can be clearly heard in the opening track Memories Are New IV, with the highly recognizable Supersister organ sound. But on the other hand, a new sound has been added by the addition of violins and trombones. Both styles, for example, come together beautifully in For You And Nobody Else, and makes this Supersister sounds slightly like Big Big Train but with unusual tempo changes and a beautiful violin solo. In Next Door Movie, on the other hand, a vibraphone is being added. I Am You Are Me sounds like the most old-fashioned Supersister. Max Eco and Yellow Days gives a real glimpse into 2019. A serious addition to their oeuvre. Guitars are absent, being somewhat of a trade mark of the band. A large number of guest musicians cooperated with mr. Stips on the album including the rhythm section of the Golden Earring (Rinus Gerritsen: bass, Cesar Zuiderwijk: drums), the Dutch stand-up comedian Freek de Jonge (in Cuckoo), Henk Hofstede,  Rob Kloet, Joke Geraets of the Nits, Peter Calicher (Gruppo Sportivo), Leon Klaasse (Sweet D'Buster, Powerplay, The Pilgrims), Bart Wijtman (Ocobar), Rob Wijtman (Ocobar, Guus Meeuwis) and original Supersister drummer Marco Vrolijk.

Who would have thought that 50 years later the spirit of this band is still around and people like Robert Jan Stips brings this musical playground back to life. Not for a  moment this is old-fashioned or boring. This is fresh, varied and inspiring.

Let’s hope Robert-Jan Stips does another Supersister Projekt !!!


Review: Frans Verweij ©2019

Still thrilled that we went to the same school.

Oscillazioni Alchemico Kreative - Giordano Bruno

This gem comes from Italy and the driving force behind this project is Jerry Cutillo. The album is, what we can expect from Prog artists, a concept album. Jerry takes on the story of Giordano Bruno, a 16th Century Dominican friar, philosopher, mathematician, poet, cosmological theorist and Hermetic occultist. He had strong views on the Catholic faith and towards Jesus as Christ. For all this (and more) he was imprisoned, trailed and executed under the Roman Inquisition on 17 February 1600 at the Campo de'Fiori, Rome. So that's in brief the story behind it, now back to the album:

Mr. Cutillo is a very talented guy and has delivered a very original album. He personally signs for Guitar, percussion, keyboards, tubular bells, time generator, flutes and all orchestral arrangement. He invited also some guest to come along by the likes of David Jackson (Van der Graaf Generator), Richard Sinclair (Caravan/Hatfield and the North/Camel), Sonja Kristina (Curved Air) and the late Maartin Allcock (Jethro Tull).

The album is a pleasure to listen to. At times bombastic, then sweet, I can hear Focus in there, but when mr. Cutilo plays his keyboards, his rapid moves reminds me of the late Rick van der Linden of Dutch band Ekseption. This is a very very enjoyable album, again this is a concept album so let mr Cutillo take you on a trip to the 16th Century and let his music gently kiss your ears


Artifact: Jerry Cutillo had a big (disco) hit in 1985 under the name Moses with: We Just (Our Revolution)


Review: Frans Verweij © 2019

Steve Hackett: At The Edge Of Light

One can only have a look at the output of music Mr Hackett managed in the last decade to find him a very productive musician. Beside his own studio albums (26), live albums (18) and numerous collaborations with other artists/bands like Hungarian Djabe, Dave Kerzner's Continuum, Squackett (with Chris Squire), GTR (with Steve Howe), his brother John and I'm sure I left numerous out. Given the man being on tour with his Genesis Revisited since 2012 (originated from his 1997 idea to do the Tokyo Tapes, where he played Genesis songs live with the creme the la creme of prog (a.o. John Wetton, Ian McDonald, Chester Thompson) it makes you wonder if he perhaps need a SatNav to direct him to his home. 

Now 2019 brings this new album, which we as TVRDO classed as Album of the Month (AOM), another 160 tour dates (mixing the “Selling England by the Pound” album, his first eponymous album “Spectral Mornings” and of course his new stuff...) 

‘At The Edge Of The Light’ is, like it's predecessor "The Night Siren" under the influence of "new" music, in that respect a comparison with his former band mate Peter Gabriel springs to mind, also the fact that Hackett is still an explorer of "new" sounds. Again on this album he's using the sitar, didgeridoo, tar and duduk. This makes the album again not stuck in a certain genre, sure it's Progressive but he throws in Blues, Gospel, Classical guitar being Hackett to pieces.  

Hackett explains that while this isn’t a concept album, there is a unity of themes throughout the music. 

“Fallen Walls and Pedestals” has great examples of Hackett’s signature lead style, both melodic and manic(!) which set the scene for what lies ahead, but it appears not to have been finished. I'm missing somethings and at a little over 2 minutes it's the shortest track on the album. “Beasts of our Time” address the subject of darkness and light in the world today, mixing acoustic and strident sections to illustrate the contrasts, the story told by the lyrics and the sound pictures. The layered vocal harmonies on “Under The Eye Of The Sun” give way to some of atmospheric world music elements mentioned above, combined with some very prog keyboard playing. The McBroom sisters’ (Pink Floyd) performance on “Underground Railroad” is a real highlight and one of the first times Steve has brought a gospel style to his music.

Then nealy 12 minutes of epic prog in “Those Golden Wings”. This is a sumptuous offering, with lush orchestration, choir and 12-string guitar supporting his lead vocals. It also features some of the only classical guitar we find on the album. The rhythm section of Nick D’Virgilio on drums and Reingold’s bass is particularly rewarding while Hackett offers the closing solo. This is certainly one of the highlights on the album.

"Shadow and Flame” has the real deal with Sheema Mukherjee on sitar, also accompanied by tabla. These wonderful, traditional instruments meet Hackett’s and co-writer/arranger Roger King’s standard approach to orchestration and percussion, and might even have a George Harrison feel to it.

The final three tracks should be listed to as a whole drawing everything you have been listening to before to a close. We find dark and militairy rhythm like chords in "Descent" which flows into "Conflict" with speeding and furious rhythms and percussion. The track ends with fading strings and a piano is mixed in to become the final part of this section called “Peace”. Then a voice which echoes into a choir with hopeful lyrics. The band joins in and have the song raised with a perfectly harmonized guitar section which leads to a lyrical closing solo. If the rest of the album did not move you in anyway, these closing tracks must certainly do. 

Mr. Hackett will celebrate his 69th birthday on the 12th of February.

Review: Jens Bertjens © 2019

Rating: 4,35 out of 5

Trevor Horn & Sarm Orchestra-Reimagines The Eighties

Producer Trevor Horn first came to prominence as part of the duo The Buggles and the Number 1 hit, Video Killed The Radio Star, in 1979. After that he was briefly a member of prog rock group Yes. At the time many eye brows were raised at this unusual move.

He found more success as a record producer for acts such as Frankie Goes To Hollywood, Grace Jones, Seal and even Dollar, not forgetting Sheffield's ABC debut iconic album The Lexicon of Love.

On this album Durham born Horn has gone on to record with the Sarm Orchestra versions of 80's hits - with some working better than others.

The Tears for Fears 1985 hit, Everybody Wants To Rule The World sung here by Robbie Williams, works to a degree but the vocal seems to miss the innocence of the original vocal sung by Curt Smith.

Bruce Springsteen's Dancing in the Dark is almost unrecognisable in the version sung by Gabrielle Aplin - this slower version does not sound as bombastic as the original version and is probably one of the tracks on the album that sounds as good as the original.

When Seal performs David Bowie's Ashes To Ashes you think why have they tried to replicate the Bowie song? The original is the definitive version so why even try?

X Factor winner Matt Cardle though does a good job of Frankie Goes To Hollywood's The Power of Love and Marillion lead singer Steve Hogarth gives a soulful version of Joe Jackson's Its Different For Girls.

The Grace Jones hit, Slave To The Rhythm sounds good with Rumer's vocal and has the lushness of the original, but lacks the directness and mystery that Grace Jones gave the track.

Tony Hadley gives a new slant to What's Love Got To Do With It - Hadley gives it his best shot that would even impress Tina Turner. When Yes had their big stateside hit in 1983 Horn had given back the microphone to Yes singer Jon Anderson though Horn did co write the track and produce it. Here he provides a good vocal to the track that even gives the song a slight jazz touch midway through.

Horn takes over the lead vocals on A-Ha's Take On Me which for me doesn't work in this new version, the track now sounds too drab and mournful.

The New Order hit Blue Monday done here with the Rev Jimmie Wood sounds like it could become a favourite at Last Night of the Proms, this rousing and bouncy version comes out shining here.

The main thing though that pulls all these tracks together is the orchestration and the new arrangements. And why no Video Killed The Radio Star you might ask, that was 1979, though if you really want to be picky he could have done a new version of The Buggles 1980 hit, Living In The Plastic Age. Now that would have been unexpected. 

Review: Graham Clark © 2019

Antimatter-Black Market Enlightenment


The Liverpool based Antimatter has been the long time project of Mick Moss who took the reins after fellow founder Duncan Patterson parted ways in 2005 leaving Moss as the sole director of the project's destiny. While the earlier albums were a quirky mix of dark electronica with Goth rock-tinged trip hop graced with feminine goddess vocals, the newer releases since 2012's "Fear Of A Unique Identity," has found Moss going more into the alternative rock arena with the complexities getting more sophisticated leading him into the progressive rock world. It's been three years since "The Judas Table" and Antimatter is back with “Black Market Enlightenment”  which continues the trend of mixing borderline heavy alternative rock / Goth metal with progressive almost neo-prog symphonic splendor.
While the previous album had a more stripped down effect this album expands the dimensions of the elements set forth once Moss essentially went solo. This album's theme is that of drug addiction and tackles the extremely heavy subject matter in the lyrical department while creating a dark and lugubrious musical backdrop to push it forward. The material is some of the most complex that the band has done with a sense of melancholy that hangs over the album like a lingering black cloud but very effective indeed as the impeccably produced mix and excellent compositions create one of the rare instances where Gothic rock and progressive rock work so well together. This is surely one of the most tense listens of the year as it walks a tightrope between complete emotional breakdown and a sense of suppressed rage waiting to explode but somehow keeps its cool throughout its run.
While Mick Moss is the sole member who plays acoustic and electric guitars, keyboards, bass and provides vocals, the album also adds four extra musicians providing flute, saxophone, drums and a traditional Iranian bowed string instrument called the kamancheh (also kamanche, kamancha or qamancha.) There are also two female vocalists that provide a feminine touch on backing vocals. While the creepy mid-tempo music adds an almost shoegazy sort of guitar distortion with Moss' Gothic vocal style leading the way, the Middle Eastern percussive drives and the kamancheh take the music to an eerie new world where various strains of reality intersect in an unfamiliar way. The synthesizer rich darkwave atmospheric overcast keeps this one in the clouds like a perpetual brain fog that is tuned into some foreign radio station that is set to sadness.
Like most Gothic related music whether it exist in the extremities of metal or the more sensual touches of the Nick Cave camp, this music is eerily romantic and fragile. While the music generally creeps along, the Middle Eastern drumming can become energetic especially on tracks like "Essential," and while the guitar heft is mostly reserved as an atmospheric generator with echoey distortion, it is also implemented to create some metal riffs that chug along to add a sense of crescendo to the mostly stoic and detached emotional tug of war. Moss' vocal style is very limited as he sings in a low register but has mastered the art of eking out emotional responses with subtle vocal vibrato and tantalizing trills. While this album has been accused of moving more to the world that Anathema (which ironically ex-founder Duncan Patterson played in) has carved out and there is some truth to that, the mood remains more reserved and much more dependent on the darkwave synthesizer dominated atmospheric touches to convey its overall plan.
With utterly addictive composiitons that are instantly catchy and a nice interplay between the sensual acoustic, heavy electric and atmospheric elements, this album qualitatively connects the listener to the subject matter and draws you into the bleakness of the grimy world of substance abuse. The instantly catch tracks will hook you immediately but the sophisticated and subtle mix of the swirling storm of sonic interplay will keep you coming back for more. This album is considered heavier than previous ones and offers just enough bombast to create the perfect corrivalry of musical elements. Antimatter is not only back but seems to be getting better with each new album.

Review: Jens Bertjens © 2019
Rating: 4.13 out of 5