The best new prog albums you can buy this month

Jo Kendall on the latest releases from Rick Wakeman, Rob Reed, Ryley Walker, Thank You Scientist and Karmakanic

Rick Wakeman photograph
(Image: © Kevin Nixon\/TeamRock)

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Rick Wakeman - The Myths And Legends Of King Arthur And The Knights Of The Round Table

Don the cape, strap on the sword and cue the dry ice. Thanks to a PledgeMusic campaign and repackaged with Roger Dean sleeve art, the ultimate Dark Age adventure’s soundtrack is now double the size: 88 minutes across two CDs. That’s a lotta legend.

It reunites the Orion Orchestra, English Chamber Choir and Rick’s pub band (if he still drank), the English Rock Ensemble from Journey 2012, so if you don’t like light classical music – or the 1975 original – you might feel a need for mead to get to the end. Nonetheless it’s a pacy fandango with one new composition, Morgan le Fay, an early showstopper. Wakeman’s inherent court jester remains with the syncopated silliness of Lancelot & The Black Night and the Keystone Cops/Mrs Mills runaround of Merlin The Magician (now lyricised). The Best Knight’s line-dance reggae is still the maddest moment, and a reminder of prog’s Python-esqueroots. (710)

Rob Reed - Sanctuary II

2014’s Tubular Bells tribute continues with a perky three-discer (two CDs, one DVD), the Magenta man flat-out on a million instruments again, flanked by Oldfield’s former allies Simon Phillips, producer Tom Newman and Simon Heyworth. It’s as luminous and twinkly as I, with Phillips’s drumming lending a looser, live feel, and Les Penning’s ossicle-tickling recorder frolics are a joy. (710)

Ryley Walker - Golden Sings That Have Been Sung

There’s familiar heap of Pentangle/Nick Drake/ John Martyn jazz-folk pathos on 26-year-old Ryley Walker’s third album. From the sunny skip of opener The Halfwit In Me, this is a wry, twilit gem, with the minor-chord shuffle of A Choir Apart, the sleepy psych of Sullen Mind and the plangent, Alice Coltrane-inspired harpsong Age Old Tale. His best so far and a beaut. (810)

Thank You Scientist - Stranger Heads Prevail

Under Claudia ‘Coheed And Cambria’ Sanchez’s wing, the second album from this New Jersey seven-piece is all effeverscent youth, semi-show tunes, prog metal mania and, as one title suggests, outright Psychopomp. A slick brass section steers the group into early Chicago territory, like a jazz-fusion Haken, with drum’n’bass spurts. (610)

Karmakanic - DOT

Not every prog LP is an epic. But Flower King Jonas Reingold takes Carl Sagan’s cosmic vision of life on earth as a template for his side-project’s fifth album and shapes his own. Edgily metallic and also melodic, it’s the lavish turns with Tangent keyboard maestro Andy Tillison on the 25-minute opener God - and a children’s choir - that lift DOT beyond the horizon of its competitors. (710)

Prog Quiz: Match the artist to the album title

Prog Round-up: July 2016

Jo Kendall

Jo is a journalist, podcaster, event host and music industry lecturer with 23 years in music magazines since joining Kerrang! as office manager in 1999. But before that Jo had 10 years as a London-based gig promoter and DJ, also working in various vintage record shops and for the UK arm of the Sub Pop label as a warehouse and press assistant. Jo's had tea with Robert Fripp, touched Ian Anderson's favourite flute (!), asked Suzi Quatro what one wears under a leather catsuit, and invented several ridiculous editorial ideas such as the regular celebrity cooking column for Prog, Supper's Ready. After being Deputy Editor for Prog for five years and Managing Editor of Classic Rock for three, Jo is now Associate Editor of Prog, where she's been since its inception in 2009, and a regular contributor to Classic Rock. She continues to spread the experimental and psychedelic music-based word amid unsuspecting students at BIMM Institute London, hoping to inspire the next gen of rock, metal, prog and indie creators and appreciators.