Prog Round-up: April 2012

Geoff Barton on new releases from Delusion Squared, Spires, Pearls Before Swine, Tangerine Dream and Touch

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Delusion Squared: II

The first album from Brittany, France-based Delusion Squared emerged in 2010 and impressed immediately on several fronts. It was a deeply involving concept album with a strong sci-fi/ecological theme, pitting the power of Mother Nature against the evils of modern technology. The trio’s music sounded mysterious and ethereal, recalling nothing less than a female-fronted Porcupine Tree. All those key ingredients are back in place for album No.2, which is claimed to be a sequel to their debut. We say ‘claimed’ because the story is so damn convoluted, it’s going to take repeated listens before it begins to unravel. Divided into four distinct parts (Providence, Primordial Sin, Oblation and Atonement), II is endearingly meandering and highly complex. Lorraine Young’s rich vocals are counterbalanced by Steve Francis’s brutal guitar riffs and Emmanuel de Saint Méen’s hynotic keyboard pulses. A mesmerising record. With a decent producer Delusion Squared could become one of prog’s all-time greats. (810)

Spires: Spiral Of Ascension

Mancunian prog-metallers Spires are the brainchild of vocalist, guitarist and producer Paul Sadler (ex-Insilence/Tomb). The band are clearly influenced by the likes of Opeth, Emperor, Mastodon and Cynic, and describe their music as “mesmerising and often transcendental”. Sadly, Spiral Of Ascension doesn’t quite live up to expectations; Spires are outstanding on shorter songs but tend to run out of steam on the longer tracks. (510)

Pearls Before Swine: The Use Of Ashes / These Things Too

A vehicle for singer/songwriter Tom Rapp, PBS formed in Florida in ’65. Grouped together on a single CD …Ashes (’70) and These Things… (’69) showcase Rapp’s highly personal psychedelic folk musings; definitely an acquired taste. His closely mic’d voice has a tremulous tone and his unhinged singing style at times recalls David Surkamp (Pavlov’s Dog). (610)

Tangerine Dream: Sorcerer

Sorcerer was the first of the Tangs’ many movie soundtrack offerings, released in 1977. This is Edgar Froese and co. at their most vibrant and accessible; Search could almost be a track by Vangelis, while Impressions Of Sorcerer sounds like an ethnic Emerson Lake & Palmer. Ideal ‘for those late nights when some foreign chemical has turned your mind into mud,’ as one addled reviewer said at the time. (710)

Touch: Touch

This is a real gem: a remastered edition of the groundbreaking 1969 psychedelic/prog rock masterpiece by Touch. Tracks such as the epic Seventy Five and The Spiritual Death of Howard Greer still sound way ahead of their time! Standout Down at Circe’s Place gained the band a UK following when it was included on the Deram sampler Wowie Zowie – The World Of Progressive Rock. Cosmic! (810)

Geoff Barton

Geoff Barton is a British journalist who founded the heavy metal magazine Kerrang! and was an editor of Sounds music magazine. He specialised in covering rock music and helped popularise the new wave of British heavy metal (NWOBHM) after using the term for the first time (after editor Alan Lewis coined it) in the May 1979 issue of Sounds.