The fresh-faced Eveline’s Dust are straight outta Pisa and offer some tasty, neo-leaning prog on The Painkeeper (Lizard). They draw on Banco del mutuo soccorso, Genesis, and there’s a hefty dose of Steven Wilson in their subtle, intelligent writing (and Nicola Pedreschi’s articulate, mildly depressed vocal delivery). Moments like A Tender Spark Of Unknown, with Crimsonesque sax/woodwind lines, make this a real pleasure.
Saga’s Michael Sadler and Southern Empire’s Sean Timms are just two of the guests on Holophinium (Progressive Promotion), the new double-disc from Germany’s Karibow. Not that they need star power to prove their prog acumen. This beautifully produced, wordy, widescreen neo is fresh yet familiar, singer Oliver Rüsing offers big, warm harmonies, while tough eleven-minuter E.G.O. and Marillion-catchy Connection Refused show their impressive range.
Welsh band Multi Story threatened to take the neo world by storm in the mid 80s but petered out after two albums. Recently singer Paul Ford and keyboardist Rob Wilsher rediscovered their prog mojo and they return, only 30-odd years late, with Crimson Stone (F2). Again, there’s a whiff of Fish to this, and Pallas et al, as Wilsher’s powerful, retro keyboard pads (maybe he kept his original gear?) characterise their wistful, none-more-80s soundworld. Welcome back, gentlemen.
If you enjoyed the Kids With Torches track Cipher on Prog 68’s covermount CD, then the Essex duo’s debut album is well worth exploring (it’s free on their Bandcamp page). Hard to believe This Heart Beats With Home (available from the band’s website) is their first album – it’s full of electronic atmospheres, machine-drum rhythms and exquisite songwriting, from the mesmerising Headlights to Eno-esque Landlocked. Jon Miles Taylor and Matt Royal make sophisticated, catchy art-prog that brings to mind Depeche Mode, So-era Gabriel, even Talk Talk in parts.
Some 13 years into their career, instrumental Manchester three-piece Marconi Union were signed to Eno-friendly label All Saints, and recently joined Mogwai and others in contributing to Max Richter’s Sleep remix album. An arty, refined work of real pedigree, their ninth release Ghost Stations (Just Music) sees them perfecting with their stunning electronic/ambient approach.
Finally, Trondheim duo Shamblemaths open their self-released, self-titled debut album with a 27-minute, 10-movement suite called Conglomeration (Or: The Grand Pathetic Suite) (‘Uproarious rumpus! Bloody Racket! And rumpus!!’). Saxes blare, organs burble, guitars roar and the whole thing burns with ideas, a conflagration of Tusmörke Scandi-jazz/folk, Gong Canterbury, Devin Townsend metal, at once sounding like everything and nothing else. Apparently one of the two, Simen Å Ellingsen, has two PhDs, in quantum physics and political science. Have you ever met someone so bright that they’re almost a bit unsettling? Well, this is that feeling set to music, brilliantly bonkers music.