And the award for The Most Fun Band Name In This Issue Of Prog goes to Sheffield three-piece AWOOGA. They’ve toured Europe with Amplifier and Knifeworld, but their debut EP Alpha (Rockosmos) is probably heavier than anything either of those bands has shown us. Tam Ali’s post-grunge vocals and James Borrowdale’s way-downtuned guitar hold sway on their doomy, sludgy metal, which has a whiff of Tool and even Kings X about it. Thief and straightahead catchy Where The Others Go are well worth checking out.
Cumbrian trio Bugenhagen originally formed as a Pink Floyd tribute band, and still pepper their live set with covers of tunes by Floyd, Marillion, Genesis et al. Going on their five-tracker Bu:Gen’heigen (Rebel Uke), their original material has only slight traces of those golden-agers, the most obvious being the synthy crescendo of But In This Changing House). In fact there’s an almost 80s AOR orthodoxy to Without You By My Side and conventional ballad The Greatest Of Them All, even if vocalist Johnny Turpin does sound much like Tim Bowness in parts. This plays like a decent demo rather than an album proper, but there’s clearly songwriting skill here – Johnny and co just need to decide what band they really want Bugenhagen to be.
No such quibbles with Nemrud. This bold Turkish band are prog to the core, and their third, self-titled album (Rainbow45) is freighted with 11-minute plus, multi-sectioned epics inspired by the scope of an Opeth and showcasing the intriguingly powerful whispered delivery of singer/songwriter Mert Göçay. Highlights Lion Of Commagene and Forsaken Throne have some really interesting keyboard interludes flavoured with Eastern scales. Atmospheric and different, Nemrud’s worth checking out if you like the more exotic parts of ELP and Rick Wakeman’s solo works, and you’re not deterred by occasional double kick drum action.
Madrid’s Jardín de la Croix have been going since 2007. They’ve supported Obsidian Kingdom and released three well-received records, and are really building a name for themselves on the post-/math-rock scene at home and abroad. Album four, Circadia (Aloud Music) is their most convincing and honed testament to date, with six dazzlingly complex instrumentals showing off their compositional faculty, chugging rhythmic charge and Pablo Rodríguez’s hypnotic, 21st century guitar chops.
But if what you’re really after is an Eno-esque collaboration between an experimental Italian guitarist/producer/sound designer and a Hindustani lap steel guitar player, then could we recommend Eraldo Bernocchi and Prakash Sontakke’s extraordinary hook-up, Invisible Strings (RareNoise). The two share soulful, Eastern/Western licks over shimmering ambient soundscapes (The Last Emperor Walked Alone), essay modern-day raga (Will You Stay) and even map the deepest ridges of the heart (The Unsaid). Beautiful, cerebral and loaded with expressive glissando passages, it’s a sublime voyage.