Prog Round-up: February 2016

Geoff Barton on new releases from Vly, Ashby, Effa Lente, Reptiel and The Pyramidis Project

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Vly: I/[Time]

Featuring two former members of Crippled Black Phoenix – guitarist Karl Demata and bassist Chris Heilmann – Vly’s dense, immersive debut is very much in the CBF vein. The band’s ace in the hole, however, is charismatic New York-based vocalist Keith Gladysz; he doesn’t so much sing as recite poems and intone prayers, thus intensifying the spectral nature of the music.

The album imparts a veiled, hypnotic listening experience; everyday happenings are made to sound other-worldly and mysterious. Time, a tale of a simple bus journey, seems to be narrated by a serial killer on the verge of a nervous breakdown (‘You’re not the only outlaw on this ride’); Hypnotic doesn’t so much dissect the break-up of a relationship as perform keyhole surgery on it. This is such a challenging record that you relish the occasions when Vly break free of their shackles and rock it up a little (the relentless Out Of The Maze; Dark Days, with its mangled southern-rock riff). By the end you’re glad it’s over but, perversely, can’t wait to play it again. (710)

Ashby: Fragmental

Bands of this ilk are usually called (cue symphonic-metal name generator) Iridescent Delirium or Vengeful Tranquillity, so all credit to these Germans for choosing the endearingly unremarkable moniker of Ashby. Comin’ atcha like a Bavarian Nightwish, big-lunged frontgal Sabina Moser delivers an exquisite performance. No surprise to hear she starred on Deutsch TV’s The Voice in ’14. (710)

Effa Lente: The Effa Lente Configuration Parts 1-4

The brainchild of David Alfred Reilly, former guitarist with Irish doom metallers Graveyard Dirt, this ear-bashing experiment mixes brutally heavy prog with moody Vangelis-style orchestration. By turns it’s remorseless, directionless and self-indulgent. Effa Lente? He’s having a Gir Affe. (410)

Reptiel: Hobbitozz… A Land That Never Was

As the title implies, this is a psychedelic prog-rock fairytale that takes place in a fantasy world somewhere between JRR Tolkien’s Middle Earth and the Land Of Oz. San Francisco-based Reptiel rise above that rather contrived scenario to deliver a quirky, enchanting listening experience in the manner of a toytown Black (Come To The Sabbat) Widow. Recommended. (610)

The Pyramidis Project: Emotional Distances

The Pyramidis Project claim to have invented a pristine new sonic genre: ‘soundscaping’. This Alan Parsons-esque offering may be impeccably produced but the vocals are disastrous and often hilarious (check out the farcical Joe Walsh-style talk-box on Secrets Of Ocean Life). (410)