ProgressoR / Uzbekistan Progressive Rock Pages

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Magellan (USA) - 1993 - "Impending Ascension" ******

This is the second album by Magellan, the best from three they have, and also the best ProGduct ever released by the NY-based label Magna Carta Records. In my opinion, Magellan is the best "local" band, taking into account the band's first two albums and Explorers Club's "Age of Impact" (composed by Trent Gardner, and performed by the members of Magellan along with Terry Bozzio and Billy Sheehan). While "Impending Ascension" contains some episodes inspired by Classic Symphonic Progressive of the seventies, overall, the music is original and is about rather a complex Symphonic Art-Rock with elements of Prog-Metal. There are heavy guitar riffs, but they play mostly a supporting role. The music is centered round the keyboards of Trent Gardner, and you can hear various, often quite innovative and highly virtuosi solos by him throughout. content


Magnolia (USA) - 1993 - "Magnolia" ****
(42 min,
Record Heaven)

MAGNOLIA is a Swedish band. Their eponymous debut CD has little in common with Progressive, but nevertheless most of the nine songs on this recording leave a pleasing impression, evoking the days of my early youth - when I felt myself being in the seventh heaven even while hearing average Hard- and Blues Rock. If the music of Blue Cheer, UFO, Mountain, Slade and the like ensembles still has any significance for you, you might experience a nostalgic wave upon the initial listening to "Magnolia". content


Mahavishnu Orchestra (UK/USA) - 1975 - "Visions of the Emerald Beyond" ******

This album (43 min) contains 13 short compositions, however it is my favourite from the discography of the band, because it really showed prog-fusion a blend of progressive rock with jazz (surprisingly, I've heard that "Visions" is a dearly loved (own) work of John Mahavishnu McLaughlin too). For the first time in his creation there are lots of beautiful acoustic passages and plenty of these pieces were made (it's true!) by the laws of symphonic music. Some songs featured drummer Michael "Narada" Walden on vocals. On the whole, this album is an excellent starting point into Prog-Fusion genre. Released by "CBS"/"Sony". content


Manfred Mann's Earth Band (UK) - Overall View

Have a look into the Classic Art-Rock >Bandlist to see the discography of Manfred Mann's Earth Band, all the albums of which are rated there.

In my honest opinion, the creation of one of the brilliant composers and keyboard players in the history of Prog, Manfred Mann, is extremely underrated. In the middle of the 1970s, his ensemble, Earth Band, shined with a highly original and unique music, filled with the complete set of essential progressive ingredients. Certainly, their weakest album in that period was "Roaring Silence", - the most commercially successful album in the band's history. Closer to the end of the 1970s, when many of the major bands of Symphonic Art-Rock (especially Gentle Giant and ELP, to name a few) turned towards a commercial sound, Earth Band released their most ambitious, complex, and hard-edged album "Watch". It is way progressive than the majority of the Symphonic Art-Rock albums that were released not only the same year, in 1978, but also in 1979. The mid-period masterpieces by Manfred Mann's Earth Band, "Solar Fire" and especially "Nightingales & Bombers", are pure magic. I still listen to all three of the said albums with great pleasure, and I know that I will love them to death. I heartily recommend these albums to all of the 'classic' Prog-lovers, but especially to those who're unfamiliar with this band's creation at all or heard some of the other albums by them. content


La Mansion (Mexico) - 2000 - "Where dreams lie..." *****
(73 min, "Luna Negra")

The relatively new Mexican "Luna Negra" label has already released at least 10 (of 15 in total!) truly remarkable works and here is another one. I am also very glad to let you know that the La Mansion debut album is also the first 'metallic production' from one of the most liberal (in all the progressive senses of the word) contemporary recording companies. The CD is really filled from beginning to end with powerful, heavy-riff Prog-Metal overlaid with strong male vocals (English lyrics). While the CD's standout songs are all those that were written in 1999 and 2000 especially for this album , the few bonus tracks, taken from the band's old repertoire and added to the original material at the very end of the CD, represent just a poor parody on all the album's original material. Fortunately, the present La Mansion sounds more than 50 minutes of this lengthy CD, so I just wonder why those examples of the band's youthful mediocrity were added to such an excellent album. Anyhow, I think any true Prog-Metal lover should certainly get this exotic fruit with an unusual (plus intellectual) metallic flavour for his collection, and then then just use the programming of your CD player properly and enjoy. content


Mansion Maze (USA) - 1999 - "Anderson's Councel" ***

Instrumental progressive rock trio (drums&percussion; winds/keyboards; keyboards/bass/guitars) from Orlando, Florida, and their second long-play CD (see the detailed review on their debut album) that contains in addition all the three compositions from the EP released a year before. Impressed with the band's title, I expected to hear complex, intricate music. But as it turns out, the band performs a very accessible kind of all-instrumental "purely symphonic" Art Rock, with melodic, but a bit monotonous themes, and quite trivial arrangements. The lack of complexity, however, can't be the main indicator of a band's significance if the music played is original. Yes, that's why I can rate works by Mansion Maze as very decent Neo even from the standpoint of a "mature" progressive rock lover. In spite of the obvious simplicity, the music sounds quite refreshing, and it would be useless to look here for any patent comparisons with other bands. Recommended to those who like Ecseption, Sky, etc. Self-release of a good quality. content


Mangala Vallis (Italy) - 2005 - "Lycanthrope" *****+

Running 62+ minutes, "Lycanthrope" is the second album by contemporary Italian Art-Rockers MANGALA VALLIS, although their singer Bernardo Lanzetti began his career more than 30 years ago. (For more info, please read the review of their first CD "The Book of Dream".) Well, the Genesis influence is still obvious in places, but overall, "Lycanthrope" is much more original and, what's central, noticeably more intriguing than its predecessor. The album is made up of eight tracks, and most of them are classic symphonic Art-Rock with a strong sense of the '70s, which is at least partly explained by the predominance of vintage Hammond and Mellotron in the picture. A couple of songs reveal also elements of Jazz-Fusion, due to the contribution of Van Der Graaf Generator's saxophonist / flutist David Jackson. The longest three tracks (from 10 to 13 minutes in length), The Boy That Howls At the Moon, The Mask and The Transparent & the Obscure, conclude the material and are the best. A very good album. Recommended. content


Marco (Italy) - 2002 - "Essere Uomo" ****
(14 min, home recording)

This 14-minute demo mini-album (CD-R) by the young Italian composer and multi-instrumentalist Marco Baroncini (who sings and play electric, acoustic, & bass guitars, and keyboards) consists of two songs that, stylistically, represent an original blend of Prog-Metal and Symphonic Art-Rock. Unfortunately, the sound quality of this CD-R is terrible. Another major drawback here is a drum-machine, which is 'worthy' of the same epithet that I've just used with regard to the overall sound of demo. On the other hand, all these drawbacks are here of a technical character, while Marco, with his very expressive and strong vocals and quite complex (and dark) music, looks as a gifted composer and musician on this mini-album. content


Marillion (UK) - 1994 - "Brave" ******
(71 min, "EMI")

I love all of the first eight Marillion albums (1983-1995), but with "Brave" these (true) Neo Heroes have surpassed even themselves. Unlike all of the band's previous albums and "Afraid of Sunlight" (let alone all of their following music ones), "Brave" needs a dozen of attentive listens to it to comprehend it generally and discover all of the wonderful nuances that are 'hidden' there in particular. In my view, this is not only the most complicated and at the same interesting album by the band, but also one of just a few of the Classic Symphonic Prog masterpieces created in the last ten years. (In fact, "Brave" is the only Classic Art-Rock album by Marillion.) Outstandingly original and intriguing, "Brave" in some ways reminds me of Genesis's "The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway", reincarnated in the form of a new and unique musical entity. content


Marillion (UK) - 1999 - "Marillion.Com" **

Oh my God! Have they no shame to botch, instead of composing music? That's what they have come to... Three albums straight are time wasters. It's not prog, as in the two preceding albums. However, contrary to the above two, here there is at least a kind of spirit of Marillion in the last track. But after listening the whole album, I can hardly recognise it as any "step forward". No, it's the most idiotic stagnation, that began already at the stage of their deterioration (pity that not earlier). Worse and worse... content


Mind Gallery (Canada) - 1991 - "The Lemmings Were Pushed" *****

This debut album by incredibly original all-instrumental Canadian band Mind Gallery contains the same structures as their second work (read the detailed review on "Guilty Until Proven Rich"). This is a unique style, though mostly based on the Classic Symphonic Art Rock laws. As usually for Mind Gallery, there are lots of outstanding diverse arrangements in each composition, and the only difference between this album and the "Guilty Until Proven Rich" is that the main working instruments here are varied keyboards, whereas on the second work it's electric and acoustic guitars. Highly recommended to all those, who are after innovative and complex all-instrumental Progressive Rock. content


Mind Gate (Poland) - 2003 - "Willow Whispers" ******

Mind Gate is a quintet (vocals - guitars - organ & synthesizer - bass - drums) from Poland, and "Willow Whispers" is their second album. Keeping in mind the status of Rainbow's 33-minute "Rising" (and not only), I think that any musical production, the duration of which exceeds 32 minutes, can be regarded as a full-length album. In any case, I perceive "Willow Whispers" exactly so, especially since the music on each of the songs here is so eventful and contains so many different themes that it would be enough for some Neo band to construct a double CD album from its contents. High originality and complexity, genuine inspiration, mystery, and magic are the key aspects of this amazing piece of art. On the whole, all four of the songs on the album are about a unique blend of Gothic Prog-Metal and Classic Symphonic Art-Rock with elements of Classical Music. The arrangements here are almost always in the state of constant development, and solos and passages of all of the instruments on the album cross each other by trajectories that are typical for Avant-garde Academic Music rather than Classic Progressive. Being excellently acquainted with Polish Progressive Rock and Metal, I can assert that "Willow Whispers" is the best album to come out from Poland in the new millennium, at least. What's especially surprising is that the price of this masterpiece is only 4 Euro, which includes postal expenses. The CD can be ordered via e-mail to the band. content


Mind's Eye (Sweden) - 2006 - "Walking on H2O" ****+

Sweden's MIND'S EYE is a trio of quite atypical configuration (lead vocals - bass/guitars - drums/keyboards/vocals). Their "Walking on H2O" is a brainchild of the drummer, who penned almost the entire album. Well, there is not much to talk about. The music is influenced by Threshold and is quite tasty keyboard-laden Cathedral Metal, at times with nice orchestral arrangements. However, there are few guitar solos, mainly just riffs, and too many vocals and choruses to my taste. A nice album, but I'll have to be very daring to call it a true Prog-Metal. content


Mirage (France) - 2001 - "A Secret Place" ****
("Musea")

"A Secret Place" is the debut album by Mirage, which is kind of a family band. The brothers Stephan and Cyrille Forners along with their sister Agnes are the leaders of this quintet. You can get an idea of what their music should be about already before you listen to the album. The band's name, the title of the fourth track (For Andy), the notes like "Untold Stories (track 3) is inspired by Camel's song Lunar Sea" etc.: all of this sounds like a declaration of love to the UK's band Camel and their music. In fact, however, Mirage have projected the stylistics of early Camel through a prism of a decent Neo Jazz-Fusion. The only major drawback here is a female vocal, which, in my opinion, doesn't fit this music. content


Mongol (Japan) - 1997 - "Doppler 444" ******(!)

It's a fantasy! I'm even not sure in the necessity of writing a detailed review on this album. 6 long tracks, 50 minutes of mind-blowing music! No, I can't be quiet and dispassionate when I talk about this work from an absolutely unknown (I haven't seen this name on the web!) Japanese band. Because passion is burning inside me like a volcano! Seems like these guys are not after any kind of popularity at all. They compose and play not the Earthly music, this is the music for a selected circle! The laws are broken, and the majority of Gods of Progressive Rock are dethroned (I'm not afraid to say this) in the presence of a unique Entity (yeah!) "Doppler 444"! Really, words fail me to describe it as usual! It's MAGICAL, it's HYPNOTIC, it's... ORGASMIC!.. Fantastically outstanding Celestial Progressive Rock! Oh, my God, Heaven (and personally Hiroyuki Kitada for recording a CD-R of this album for me!), thank you SO MUCH for this MIRACLE! Who was it who said that real Prog died in the middle of the 70s? The real Prog is just born by an Entity called MONGOL in the Land of the Rising Sun! This "rattling" blend of all main Progressive Genres (Art Rock, Prog Metal, and Jazz Fusion) is making me CrazeE (in a good meaning)! I have hard times defining what style that is! And now, with THIS music, I'm standing somewhere on the line between Timelesness and Eternity, Flesh and Divine, Life and Death!.. So, where am I? I'm in Love! (Have you ever heard from me this? Can you believe me? But it even DOESN'T matter!). content


View From The Rating Room:
Francis Monkman (UK) - 1999 - "Urdance" ******

Genre: Classic (Symphonic) Art-Rock
Manifestations include: Classical Music, RIO
Playing Time: 36 min
Label: "AFKM"/?

Themes: original and interesting, dramatic and enigmatic
******
Arrangements: innovative and complex, varied and rich
******
Performance: striking and masterly
******
Vocals: all instrumental album
Producing: unique
******
Sound: satisfactory; sometimes a bit noisy
***

Overall Rating: ******
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ProgressoR / Uzbekistan Progressive Rock Pages


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