Various Artists — Progfest '95
(Musea FGBG 4180.AR, 1995/1996, 2CD)
by Peter Thelen, 1997-05-01:
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.
Bill Rieflin RIP – The sad news reaches us today of Bill Rieflin's death. Rieflin was best known as a drummer in bands ranging from post-punk to industrial to indie-rock to progressive rock, including work with The Blackouts, Ministry, Nine Inch Nails, Swans, Land, and King Crimson. Rieflin had been battling cancer for several years, and succumbed to it on March 24. He was 59. » Read more
Cruise to the Edge and Seaprog 2020 Festivals Postponed – The worldwide outbreak of the novel coronavirus has started to produce casualties in the music festival world, and music festivals are not immune. We've had word that both the Cruise to the Edge (originally slated for March 27 - April 1) and Seaprog (originally June 5-7) have been postponed to later dates, with those dates to be announced. » Read more
McCoy Typer RIP – Word reaches us today of the passing of one of the most influential pianists in the history of jazz, McCoy Tyner. His tenure with John Coltrane in the early 60s includes some of the most treasured recordings of the era, including My Favorite Things and A Love Supreme. After leaving Coltrane's group, he had a long and successful solo career. He was 81. » Read more
Jon Christensen RIP – Word reaches us today of the passing of Norwegian drummer Jon Christensen, a musician whose sensitive playing did much to help define the atmospheric sound of ECM jazz recordings. His work with Jan Garbarek, Bobo Stenson, Terje Rypdal, and many more was sensitive and varied, adapting to a wide variety of styles while maintaining a distinct identity of its own. Christensen was 76. » Read more
Gong Announces UK Tour for 2020 – Having spent the last few years touring the world, including dates in Japan with psych legend Steve Hillage, multiple headline European tours and festivals, America’s Cruise to the Edge festival, a South America headline tour, and a headline performance at Tomorrow Festival in China, the band have won the hearts of both traditional and modern Gong fanbases. During this live journey, Gong has delved further into the truly psychedelic, exploratory, and mind-expanding side of the music. » Read more