And Last But Not Least Prog Reviews Roundup

Grant Moon rounds up some of the other records passing under the portcullis of Prog Towers.

The Samurai of Prog album artwork

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Quirky Italo-Polish trio The Samurai Of Prog return with their curious fourth album Lost And Found. Here – with the writers’ blessing – they record long-lost songs by the likes of Pavlov’s Dog, Odyssey, Cathedral and Quill. Notable among these are the 20-minuter Inception by Lift’s Chip Gremillion, and Quill’s The Demise, a colossal piece that takes up all of disc two. Hammonds warble, Steve Unruh’s violin and flute take us into pastoral territory, and the flavours of prog’s golden era come seeping through. Yes’ Jon Davison, his Glass Hammer comrade Kamran Shikoh and Unitopia’s Mark Trueack are among the guests making a valuable contribution to a warmly rendered album which you might just fall in love with.

Texan duo Marc and Wayne Byers, aka Aloft, purvey a thrilling, cinematic yet tuneful blend of Ebowed guitars and spacey sound textures on Dark Energy. With an Eno-esque approach to production there’s a folk-like simplicity to some of the repetitive melodies here, plus some whacking quasi-industrial metal, and a tip-top blend of analogue and digital sound on tracks such as The Neutral Zone, Glassing Effect and Edge Detection. Imagine Hawkwind, Lemon Jelly and Public Service Broadcasting soundtracking a movie set in Brian Cox’s brain. In IMAX.

Judging by their self-released debut album Citizens Of The Universe, Louisiana post-rockers Guns Of The Seneca pack a hell of a sonic punch for a trio. Citing everyone from The Mars Volta to Miles Davis as influences, their intense and melodic instrumental rock comes in packages called Heterochromatic and The Vanishing Of Isle De Jean Charles. A punky, surf-rock edge cuts the muso fury nicely, and guitarist David Plair’s vocal turn on Largo Parenchyma gives proceedings some slacker cool. A Limelight band in the making, for sure.

An Israeli guitarist living in Boston, Gadi Caplan shows just what he’s made of on his new supercool self-released album. Morning Sun is a smooth, jazzy selection of complex, eclectic tunes ebbing and flowing over strummed acoustics and Caplan’s warm, multitracked vocals. Hemivati’s fusion builds on elegant repeated lines, Island and Vivadi Swara are warm, sunlit songs with some really heady chordal ideas hidden in the strings, and four-part suite Lili’s Day amps up the electronica and orchestra as Caplan’s fingers really get restive.

Finally, if you remember the hip Rhode Island band The Low Anthem, you might wonder what happened to their mesmerising singer Jocie Adams. Well, she now fronts Arc Iris, and their second album Moon Saloon (Bella Union) walks the footpath between Americana, indie and dream-pop pastures (they’ve supported St Vincent, among others), and brass, cello, piano and banjo add organic colour to some whimsical tunes like Kaleidoscope and Paint With The Sun. It’s bedsit-bohemian, deceptively proggy and utterly gorgeous.

Grant Moon

A music journalist for over 20 years, Grant writes regularly for titles including Prog, Classic Rock and Total Guitar, and his CV also includes stints as a radio producer/presenter and podcast host. His first book, 'Big Big Train - Between The Lines', is out now through Kingmaker Publishing.