Prog Round-up: June 2015

Geoff Barton on new releases from Davy O’List, Driftglass, Telesma, SoundDiary and M-Opus

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Davy O’List: Second Thoughts

Renowned prog eccentric Davy O’List is best known for being the founding guitarist of The Nice. But I’ll always remember him as a member of avant-garde glam-rock combo Jet. A very bizarre mid-70s interview with O’List and Jet bandmate Andy Ellison (later of Radio Stars) still haunts me to this day.

Second Thoughts, O’List’s first solo album since 1997’s Flight Of The Eagle, is a topsy-turvy amalgam of rock, pop, funk, jazz, classical music and… oh yes, more than a hint of madness. Key to its appeal is O’List’s guitar tone, surely the best in western civilisation. Crisp, gritty and rending, when his hitherto restrained six-string explodes into life midway through the title track, it’s a full-on batten-down-the-hatches moment.

Elsewhere, The Emperor is a boggling mishmash of Blackmore’s Night and Tarkus; Bonnie K is a raw reimagination of The Nice original; To The Stars is more cracked than a UFO spotter’s binoculars. Epic closing track Halfway To Heaven has backing vocals by a gurgling baby, by which time nothing surprises you. (810)/o:p

Driftglass: All That Remains

Toronto’s Driftglass claim to be a genre-busting mix of Tool, Mastodon, The Tea Party and Rush. As you can imagine, light-hearted moments are at a premium here. Insect In A Jar overflows with angst (geddit?); Devil Of My Dreams is a galumphing System Of A Down/Maiden hybrid; The Unfolding would be better titled The Unravelling. Too po-faced for us. (510)

Telesma: Decade Dance

Baltimore’s Telesma describe themselves as ‘a psychedelic tribal visionary prog band’ and, by golly, their music – think psych, world music, prog, trance – is infectious. They remind us of a shamanic, danceable version of Amon Düül II. There’s a smidgen of Jade Warrior, too. They’ve been going for 10 years, so a delve into their back catalogue is high on the agenda. **(810) **

SoundDiary: A Book In My Hand

Can you get on with those Kindle-type devices? No, us neither. There’s nothing like holding a real book in your hands, with meticulous typesetting, crisp, white pages and everything. Austria’s SoundDiary take a similarly painstaking approach to their music, falling somewhere between Sigur Rós and Porcupine Tree. The wavering vocals are a downside, however. (610)

M-Opus: 1975 Triptych

Irish duo M-Opus have a cunning plan: record and release a series of albums inspired by the music of a certain year. Therefore, if you believe the sub-Yes twiddlings of Starcastle was the sound of 1975, you’ll be delighted by what’s on offer here. Their next one will be dedicated to 1978; let’s hope they bypass 1957, when Lonnie Donegan was king. (610)/o:p

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.