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Various Artists — Progfest '95
(Musea FGBG 4180.AR, 1995/1996, 2CD)

by Peter Thelen, 1997-05-01:

Progfest '95 Cover art

Well, it's finally here. This 2CD package was definitely worth the wait, even that two of the featured bands (Solaris and Spock's Beard) have already released their entire Progfest performances on CD, and one band that played at the event (Pendragon) isn't even featured herein (the story is that the sound was so distorted that the tapes couldn't be salvaged — see this writer's Progfest writeup in issue #9 about Pendragon and people running from the theater with their ears covered...) At any rate, the remaining six bands (in case it's been so long that you forgot, they were Ars Nova, White Willow, Deus Ex Machina, and Landberk, as well as the aforementioned two) are all featured herein. The sound quality is nothing short of outstanding, due in part to the engineering efforts of the late Kevin Gilbert, to whom this package is dedicated. Especially noteworthy are the live performances by Ars Nova, Deus Ex Machina (yes, you can really hear the keyboards now!), and Landberk — all of whom sound better now in the final mix than they did in the original live setting. The playing order of the bands on the discs is altered slightly from their original live playing order, with Spocks and Landberk sandwiched between the bands that played on day one. As usual, Musea has done an excellent job on the packaging. In all, this collection definitely captures the spirit of the event, while smoothing some of the rough edges.


by Henry Schneider, 1997-05-01:

For those of you not able to attend the festival in Los Angeles in November 1995, here is your chance to experience the highlights of Progfest ‘95. Opening the festival and this 2CD set is Ars Nova, a female Japanese trio of keyboards, bass, and drums. Progfest was their debut performance in the US and their three crowd-pleasing instrumentals "Morgan," "Jihad," and "Danse Macabre" clearly demonstrate their Goblin influenced music of hard-driving, dark keyboard progressive rock. Next we have three Landberk songs: "Kontiki," "Dream Dance," and "Time." This Swedish band’s music has a dark edge to it very much like Joy Division and Fra Lippi Lippo. Musea rounds out the first disk with four songs from the Italian band Deus Ex Machina: "Exordium," "Respublica II," "Ad Montem," and "Si Tu Bene..." Deus Ex Machina is a six-piece band consisting of drums, bass, guitar, strings, keyboards, and vocals. Their music also has a hard edge to it mixed with driving rock, jazz, and chamber elements.

Disc 2 opens with two songs by Norway’s folk-rock phenomenon band White Willow: "Lord of Night" and "Cryptomenysis." Sara Trondel’s angelic voice propels the band through these 17 minutes of excellent music. Next we have one song by, at the time, the relatively unknown US band Spock’s Beard. "The Light" is 16 minutes of fairly raucous 70s-styled prog rock that intermittently mellows out, reminding me of Wind and Wuthering era Genesis. Then closing this set are four songs by the Hungarian band Solaris: "Apocalypse," "Oz," "Hungarian Danse," and "Solaris." Solaris reformed especially for this festival after not having performed together in over five years. The results are not disappointing. Solaris play a folk influenced symphonic rock that was both the highlight of the festival and this 2CD set.

Musea has done a wonderful service by capturing in crystal clear detail Progfest ‘95. If like me, you have not had the pleasure of attending the festival nor hearing these bands this set is an excellent introduction to their music.


Filed under: New releases , Issue 12 , 1996 releases, 1995 releases

Related artist(s): Ars Nova, Spock's Beard, White Willow, Deus Ex Machina, Landberk, Neal Morse, Various Artists, Solaris, Nick D'Virgilio (NDV), Reine Fiske, Jacob Holm-Lupo / Telepath

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Previously in Exposé...

Tabula Rasa - Ekkedien Tanssi – Ekkedien Tanssi was the second album by this Finnish five-piece who created a type of mellow, melodic prog not unlike the music of Camel. Indeed, this album is comparable in both style and quality to...  (1994) » Read more

Zao - Akhenaton – Zao should need no introduction for progressive fusion fans, as they were one of France's best groups of the 70s, releasing five albums, four of them essential listens. While Zao has reformed...  (1995) » Read more

Zao - Osiris – Zao's second album was recorded in 1974, and originally released on Richard Pinhas' startup Disjuncta label. Despite the minimal resources available to Pinhas, Osiris fared well, surpassing sales of...  (1995) » Read more

Moongarden - Brainstorm of Emptiness – Genesis and Van der Graaf Generator were very popular in Italy in the mid-70s. While nowadays you can't sell out a 1,000 seater at Progfest in the USA, bands such as these were hot sellers in...  (1997) » Read more

Marcœur - m,a,r, et cœur comme cœur – One might suspect from the unusual title that this is not your usual fare. Indeed, Albert Marcœur is not your run-of-the-mill progressive rock musician, and while this writer can’t claim...  (1999) » Read more



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