CD Reviews TPA Pick of 2016

Published on 19th December 2016

TPA Pick of 2016

2016 has been another very good year for music at the progressive end of the spectrum, a bumper crop of new releases to digest, and assimilate. On the down side, the genre has lost way too many of its heroes this year so, as ever, a year of highs and lows. There has been another multitude of releases this year so, following the tradition we started last year, here is… a list! It’s not necessarily a best of, although it could be seen as such, more a collection of recommended albums for you to discover. No particular order other than each writer’s top pick so sit back, make yourself comfortable – preferably with a glass of something warming to hand – and start exploring the 46 different albums we have chosen.


MEL ALLEN

Seven Impale - Contrapasso

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Mel’s Album of the Year:-

Seven Impale – Contrapasso
What Seven Impale have created here is daring, varied and complex, including more musical ideas into each song than many can across a whole album.

Iamthemorning - Lighthouse

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Iamthemorning – Lighthouse
A beautifully crafted album which demonstrates this bands growing maturity, a wonderful piece of work that you should really check out if you haven’t done so already.

Matthew Parmenter - All Our Yesterdays

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Matthew Parmenter – All Our Yesterdays
This is a great piece of work from the Discipline singer, excellent writing with polished performances throughout, each song is finely crafted and there is a huge emotional depth here.

Van Der Graaf Generator - Do Not Disturb

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Van Der Graaf Generator – Do Not Disturb
An at times thoughtful and contemplative album that does not lose that trademark VDGG sound. It has been suggested that this could be their last, if so then it is a great curtain closer on a remarkable career.

Bent Knee - Say So

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Bent Knee – Say So
I gave this album a listen after reading a fellow reviewer’s recommendation; it sounds fresh, energetic and full of ideas, a great band performance with Courtney Swain’s amazing voice and excellent song writing. What else could you ask for?

TONY COLVILL

Big Big Train - Folklore

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Tony’s Album of the Year:-

Big Big Train – Folklore
An album that suits all my moods, the Train goes from strength to strength, balancing sadness and joy, history and myth. An album that holds memories. Influenced by the launch, perhaps, but it remains a treasure.

Iamthemorning - Lighthouse

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Iamthemorning – Lighthouse
Music that is like a duvet on those icing mornings, once snuggled inside I have little desire to leave.

Red Bazar - Tales From The Bookcase

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Red Bazar – Tales From The Bookcase
Instrumental band joined by a more serious Peter Jones of Tiger Moth Tales, written around the books that have informed their lives, such as City & The Stars and its memories of teenage years sat in a tree reading Arthur C. Clark. Happy days, and now great music.

The Gift - Why The Sea Is Salt

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The Gift – Why the Sea is Salt
A banquet of prog – starter, entrée, main and dessert. I hear a little of the ingredients as they were loaded to the pantry, the finished repast is a delight, touching emotions and sending thrills. With their third album The Gift have come of age.

The Pineapple Thief  - Your Wilderness

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The Pineapple Thief – Your Wilderness
I have chosen this album because it made me reassess them. Like a tattoo, it gets under your skin and I suspect that it’s permanent. Now on the ‘to been seen live’ list.

Tony’s 2016 Highlights: Some random thoughts; Big Big Train’s Folklore launch, plotting Masquerade, writing a few things (but not enough), iamthemorning, HRH was a lot of fun – followed by a red kite feeding frenzy. A weekend with mad friends at Summer’s End and some great music – the Lively/Jones duo, that was special, had to have a cold shower after that. Two trips to the Robin 2. The final all together version of The Gift’s album, and the culmination of Masquerade. Other albums mentioned in dispatches – and not necessarily prog – Firefly Burning, Lou Rhodes, Agnes Obel and The Anchoress. There were many others, may 2017 be as blessed. So many things in 2016 from sharing with new friends young and old. 2017? let’s do it all again. Happy Christmas!

SHAWN DUDLEY

Katatonia - The Fall of Hearts

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Shawn’s Album of the Year:-

Katatonia – The Fall of Hearts
In my review I described the song Takeover by saying; “There is something very painterly about the feel of this piece; it’s elusive, ethereal, like watercolors in varying shades of gray.” This could just as easily apply to the album as a whole. It’s not often you see a band reach their artistic peak 25 years into their career, but that is exactly what Katatonia has achieved. It’s a gorgeous, subtle album that takes repeated exposure to truly appreciate all the layers and nuance. New drummer Daniel Moilanen’s impressionistic, jazzy approach has added an element of subtle swing to the arrangements, creating a wonderful rhythmic ebb and flow for Jonas Renkse’s melancholic tales.

Opeth - The Sorceress

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Opeth – Sorceress
Continuing to defy expectations, Opeth follow the precisely controlled Pale Communion with the more visceral, rowdier Sorceress, the heavier, more extroverted and playfully deviant sibling of Heritage. Mikael continues to draw inspiration from vintage analogue instruments and his mammoth collection of obscure progressive rock and heavy metal, displaying open homage to his influences whilst weaving those expected sounds seamlessly into his own personal expression. The band responds by delivering some of their most passionate performances yet, whether navigating gentle, jazzy arrangements or trading off fiery guitar and organ solos with gleeful abandon.

Messenger - Threnodies

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Messenger – Threnodies
One of my favorite discoveries of 2016 was this stellar release from U.K.-based Messenger. This album really hit the sweet spot for me; vintage sounds used to power fresh, vibrant compositions. One of the best “guitar albums” of the year, the tandem of Khaled Lowe and Barnaby Maddick effortlessly conjuring a Wishbone Ash vibe, although they are no clones. While the influences are easily discernible, at no point does Messenger sound enslaved to them. Sadly the band has since announced their split, but that shouldn’t dissuade you from investigating this gem.

Seven Impale - Contrapasso

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Seven Impale – Contrapasso
Now this is Prog that reaches out from the speakers and knocks you soundly upside the head! A deliriously enjoyable, fire-breathing ass-kicker of an album that I can’t stop listening to. This sextet from Norway definitely isn’t worried about accessibility; gleefully throwing curveballs at every opportunity. It’s a bewitching concoction of King Crimson heft, psychedelic trip, free jazz skronk, Sabbath heaviness, VDGG theatricality and pure attitude cranked to 11. Easily one of the most inventive and refreshing albums of 2016.

Gong - Rejoice! I'm Dead

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Gong – Rejoice! I’m Dead
Rejoice, indeed! This is jazz-rock heaven. Kavus Torabi has effortlessly picked up the Gong torch from departed founder Daevid Allen and recorded an absolute gem, a beautiful blend of short quirky rockers and extended space-rock/fusion excursions that leave ample room for inspired soloing. The band sounds like they were having a blast recording this and that energy is infectious. The predominance of fusion elements brings to mind a bit of the flavor of their late ’70s album Expresso II while Torabi’s distinctive delivery and attitude keep it anchored firmly in the present.

ROB FISHER

Flux - Shadowlines

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Rob’s Album of the Year:-

Flux – Shadowlines
What an amazing debut album from this four piece London band. The music is fresh, joyful and gently alluring, pulling in and blending eclectic influences from around the world. There is a tangible sense of wonderment, the capturing of spirit and vitality in the breadth and depth of the musical vision being presented. It is a remarkable celebration of life through elegant melodies, graceful vocals and vibrant and energetic rhythms.

Frost* - Falling Satellites

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Frost* – Falling Satellites
This is what happens when prog throws open its doors and begins to absorb contemporary influences and ideas. It is bold and daring in experimenting with sounds and techniques not usually found within traditional prog but the result is a dynamic and fresh inventiveness. You are immersed in glorious walls of sound which sweep you along and enthusiastically caress you with a buzzing sense of energy and passion. Truly wonderful modern prog.

Southern Empire - Southern Empire

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Southern Empire – Southern Empire
It’s prog. It’s rock. It effortlessly conveys serious levels of technical and musical virtuosity, combined with powerful and intelligent lyrical insights. A debut album has no right be this good in creating music which brilliantly crafts intense layers of progressive music which are psychologically perceptive, emotionally insightful and alive with melodic creativity. The album is an inspired achievement of thoughtful and carefully structured song-writing and musicianship.

Thence - We Are Left With a Song

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Thence – We Are Left With a Song
A glorious cauldron containing elements of classical music, jazz, blues, rock and metal brought together in blends that explore the struggle to be human in the 21st Century. The music is scintillating, intense, sparkling with energy, the noisy backgrounds of our lives given voice in distorted, menacing and at times overwhelming layers of guitars. Vocals are deliberately submerged within the mix, yet exquisite orchestral arrangements rise above and unify it all. Magnificent.

Karibow – Holophinium

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Karibow – Holophinium

Oliver Rüsing gives us a grand and majestic sweeping vision combining dynamic story telling with broad symphonic vistas that delightfully unfold in a bewildering display of powerful and thoughtful musical creativity. What stands out is the way he gently and carefully engages you intellectually and emotionally, the resulting musical landscapes fashioning a fascinating and riveting voyage through a well planned narrative with songs that are hauntingly textured and beautifully expressed.

Rob’s 2016 Highlights: Two concerts formed the highlight of my year. Listening to music as a studio album is a different kind of experience to hearing it performed live. An evening with Steven Wilson at London’s Eventim Apollo in January was an absolute tour de force in terms of how to conceive, design and then deliver a progressive musical experience like no other. It was powerful, compelling and majestic. Roger Hodgson at The Palladium in April was a complete contrast. A gentle man and superb song writer who infuses his music with a gracious spirit that embraces and totally captivates you. A remarkable evening where music, musician and audience came together as one.

Three albums stood out as being head and shoulders above the rest this year, simply and purely for the way in which they opened my eyes to the future possibilities of prog. Flux (Shadowlines), Frost* (Falling Satellites) and Dec Burke (Book of Secrets) showed what is possible when prog is open to and begins to absorb contemporary influences and modern styles of music. All three albums present a stunning vision of how progressive music will positively thrive in the 21st Century.

My guilty pleasure of the year was seeing AC/DC at the London Olympic Stadium in June. I had vowed not to go because of the way Brian Johnson had been treated in the build up to the tour. In the end the allure of seeing a band I had repeatedly missed since I was a teenager was too much. Axel Rose was a superb front man and the concert itself a pulsating, throbbing and glorious evening – the kind which makes you feel glad to be alive!

PROFESSOR MARK

The Mission - Another Fall From Grace

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Professor Mark’s Album of the Year:-

The Mission – Another Fall from Grace
2016 was horrendous on the world stage. The Mission picked the perfect album title for a frustrating year which took the lives of so many visionaries…and left many of us wondering about the future ahead. The music on this album is the perfect sedative. Santana put together the best come–back album of the year…until I heard The Mission’s revival!

Santana - IV

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Santana – IV
Santana ruled my CD player for most of the year – one of the greatest come–back albums in recent music history. I hope there will be more.

Edensong - Years In The Garden of Years

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Edensong – Years in the Garden of Years
A couple of years ago it was Edenbridge. This year it is Edensong – my favorite find of the year and, for me, the best progressive rock album of 2016. It belongs on the shelf with Genesis, ELP, Yes and the rest of the Masters. Now that I have found Edensong I am a fan who will be impatiently waiting for their next album.

ESP – Invisible Din

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ESP – Invisible Din
Tony Lowe and Mark Brzezicki have put together the second best progressive album of 2016. Absolutely came as a wonderful surprise out of nowhere…as the best always do.

Claypool Lennon Delirium – Monolith of Phobos

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Claypool Lennon Delirium – Monolith of Phobos
A Lennon singing Pink Floyd themed songs. How can you not enjoy this? Two of the best of their generation. Can’t wait for the next album!

PHIL LIVELY

The Rube Goldberg Machine – Fragile Times

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Phil’s Album of the Year:-

The Rube Goldberg Machine – Fragile Times
This album made me happy. It made me want to hear more from the band. The songs are varied. I even liked my least favourite tracks on the album. It made me want to play along. It isn’t whacky, overly clever, laden with flashy, complex licks. It is just talented players, musicians working together as a band.

We Are Kin - ...and I know...

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We Are Kin – …and I know…
This is the concept album follow up to Pandora. I played this almost non-stop in my car for two weeks. Even though the personnel of the band have changed somewhat, this is undeniably We Are Kin and in this album you can feel the relentless development of confidence of the band in every aspect. They are also busy establishing themselves as a live act though the full and somewhat epic scope of their concept albums might not be possible just yet.

Rhys Marsh - The Black Sun Shining

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Rhys Marsh – The Black Sun Shining
This album probably slipped under your Radar. I have frequently dipped back into the songs since I reviewed it back at the start of 2016. Some of them are on my driving playlist. This is art-rock, for want of a better term. Rhys is a talented multi-instrumentalist and a great songwriter. He also has a distinctive voice, his crooning tones somewhat reminiscent of, without sounding like, David Sylvian. I don’t think the two videos that accompanied the album release do it justice. My favourite track is In The Sand, you really should check this out.

Geph - Geph

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Geph – Geph
I love these guys. They fuse all kinds of musical styles together and they are astonishingly good musicians. Their music is progressive, jazzy, heavy, funky. They are trying new stuff. They can do it all live, as their videos show. If you haven’t heard the album then waste no more time – just do it.

Stick Men - Prog Noir

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Stick Men – Prog Noir
Stick Man was a solo by Tony Levin and this band has its roots there. This strikes me as a Tony Levin project but it has grown beyond that. This year Levin also collaborated with Marco Minnemann and Jordam Rudess on the second LMR album (which is fantastic), but whereas that trio came up with a technical monster of complex sound, this latest Stick Men release goes for a more subtly accessible vibe – if you can consider Carmina Burana or the 1812 Overture subtle. It opens with “that Stick sound” – if for no other reason that makes it a must for me.

Phil’s 2016 Highlights:
– Steven Wilson at Colston Hall in February.
– The kind response to my solo Stick version of Postcard by Steven Wilson.
– Summer’s End in Chepstow with the TPA Massive.
– Playing Stick in an impromptu mini living room giglet with Peter Jones of Tiger Moth Tales.
– Almost crying [almost, I tells yer!] at The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway gig when ReGenesis performed Supper’s Ready.
– Scaring but not killing many people at The Masquerade in Balham in December.
– Laughing.

BOB MULVEY

Thank You Scientist – Stranger Heads Prevail

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Bob’s Album of the Year:-

Thank You Scientist – Stranger Heads Prevail
I have thoroughly enjoyed this album and it just blew me away, literally. It’s raucous and unforgiving in the main, but boy, do these guys know how to write catchy and imaginative songs. It’s never dull, full of melody and harmony and not averse to pushing the boundaries. Love the intricate and busy arrangements – Stranger Heads Prevail is a breath of fresh air.

Flux –ShadowLines

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Flux –ShadowLines
Another breath of fresh air was the debut album from London based quartet, Flux. One of the most accomplished and enjoyable debut albums I’ve heard in many a year. Primarily an instrumental band, who employ piano, guitar, violin, bansuri and percussion to weave a magical spell to draw you into their cleverly crafted indie tinged, folk infused, world music. The addition of two guest vocalists completes this utterly mesmerising album.

Antoine Fafard – Sphère

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Antoine Fafard – Sphère
No end of year round up would be complete without delving into the world of progressive jazz-fusion. Bassist Antoine Fafard along with drummer extraordinaire Gary Husband and guitarist Jerry De Villiers Jr provided one of the year’s highlights. Sphère not only had great chops, but also great musical awareness that makes the album a cohesive and enjoyable listen.

Griot – Gerald

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Griot – Gerald
Portugal’s Griot were another pleasant find in 2016. A band that combined traditional prog values, which they presented with a modern slant, whilst encompassing a diversity of musical genres and styles. A refreshing and accomplished album which is fleshed out by an impressive cast of guest musicians.

Tony Patterson – Equations of Meaning

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Tony Patterson – Equations of Meaning
Although released at the end of 2014, Tony Patterson and Brendan Eyre’s self-titled Northlands album formed a tranquil backdrop to many an evening during 2015. That tranquil listening experience has been bolstered by Tony’s latest solo album, Equations Of Meaning, released at the beginning of 2016 through the Esoteric Antenna label.

Bob’s 2016 Highlights: 2016 will, I fear, be most likely remembered as the year we lost so many heroes from our youth. On a musical note the passing of Greg Lake recently, which followed the tragic death of Keith Emerson earlier in the year, marked the end of an era personally, as it was with ELP that my musical journey started.

So a time to reflect, but also a time to look to the present and the future as we compile our lists of those albums that have caught the imagination during 2016. With so many releases appearing each year, you do worry that you may well miss, or have missed, a future classic, or just a great release, as was the case with Lite’s recent Cubic release. With this is mind the five albums selected above reflects those that got firmly trapped in my radar.

JEZ ROWDEN

Afenginn - OPUS

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Jez’s Album of the Year:-

Afenginn – OPUS
A fantastic acoustic creation that draws from folk, classical and world music, the cinematic scope of OPUS unfolds with the music, sometimes in widescreen but often with a starkly emotional and claustrophobic inwardness that demands your full attention. A piece of art that completely succeeds in achieving what it set out to do.

Holon - The Time Is Always Now

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Holon – The Time Is Always Now
A simply beautiful release from Ronnie Pedersen with the assistance of Rhys Marsh, delicate and acoustic at times but with the dynamic range to rise to epic and full blown electric proportions for maximum effect. There’s melody and tension in the compelling arrangements with rich instrumentation and high quality musicianship. A joyous expression of what can be achieved when true talent is left to its own devices.

Three Trapped Tigers – Silent Earthling

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Three Trapped Tigers – Silent Earthling
Hearing any of the tracks here should make a discerning listener stop mid-stride to enquire who – or what – this is. The results are subtle and beautiful yet bamboozlingly brutal all at the same time. Widescreen and claustrophobic; simple yet complex; punishing but melodic. Rhythmic intensity and a gripping way with a melody.

Mike Keneally - Scambot 2

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Mike Keneally – Scambot 2
The scale of it all – the playing, the writing, the concept – just bends the brain. There is not one moment of Scambot 2 that appears as expected but it all makes sense when it clicks the gears in your mind to the right setting. If you struggle with this might I suggest some WD-40 and a little leverage as it is more than worth the effort. We are fortunate to have artists as singularly talented and with the vision of Mike Keneally – we are truly not worthy.

Half Past Four – Land of the Blind EP

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Half Past Four – Land of the Blind EP
Not a full album but I’m picking it anyway. As a complete listen Land of the Blind is tricksy but not for the sake of it, the endearing quirkiness steadfastly at the heart but with an easy to get into accessibility, and this is what makes it work. Free spirits playing with poise and precision.

Jez’s 2016 Highlights: 2016 may have been a jaw-droppingly awful year in many respects but it was another wonderful year for music with many high quality releases, but tempered by the loss of so many musical heroes.

Although not the most prolific year for gigs I had the pleasure of seeing some wonderful live performances, including ORk, Thumpermonkey, KoMaRa, Magma, Iamthemorning and Tim Bowness in London; Ian Fairholm’s wonderful Eppyfest in Stroud with William D. Drake; Summer’s End with Magic Pie, IQ, Seven Steps to the Green Door, Tiger Moth Tales, Firefly Burning, RPWL and some wonderful company – including the impromptu aftershow duet from Peter Jones and Phil Lively; Yes, Lazuli and Tatsuya Yoshida’s Sax Ruins in Bristol; Walter Trout and Marillion in Cardiff.

Here’s to another great musical year in 2017.

ROGER TRENWITH

David Bowie - Blackstar

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Roger’s Album of the Year:-

David Bowie – Blackstar

Possibly the most emotive sign-off by any musician, ever. No more words necessary.

Bent Knee - Say So

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Bent Knee – Say So
This band ooze confidence from every pore, their brand of art-rock-prog is highly distinctive, full of hooks, and they have the best singer in prog either side of the Pond. What’s not to like?

Dwiki Dharmawan - Pasar Klewer

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Dwiki Dharmawan – Pasar Klewer
Jazz for people who inexplicably don’t like jazz. Indonesian ivory tinkler Dwiki Dharmawan has surrounded himself with the best musicians found in London’s ex-pat muso community, and the result is an outward looking world symphony. Marvellous!

Knifeworld - Bottled Out Of Eden

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Knifeworld – Bottled Out Of Eden
This bar fight in Paradise plays out to a quirky and effusive soundtrack that includes a bassoon. Passionate and reflective, other emotions are available here, too!

The Sea Nymphs - On The Dry Land

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The Sea Nymphs – On The Dry Land
I am informed by someone who knows better than me that some of this is “like Mantovani on drugs”, and that’s only the start of it. Tim Smith’s return to any kind of work has been much anticipated and this fine aquatically obsessed Cardiacs offshoot’s unearthed and hitherto unissued second album from almost 25 years ago does not disappoint.

Roger’s 2016 Highlights: In a year where the prospect of a shitstorm might have been anticipated as light relief, finding highlights to remark upon is like finding a consistent thought process inside the unfathomable mind of the President Elect.

Still, there were a few. None more so than the year’s curtain raiser. Blackstar managed the uncanny trick of being both a defining artistic statement and the sudden, and as it turned out planned full stop on the career of a true visionary.

It took my gigging year a while to get going after several false starts, but a highlight was certainly the two hours of remarkable musical theatre we were treated to in November by Billy Bottle & The Multiple.

Fractious times always provide the best art and our corner was no different, which is why my blog end of year thing will be prog-like in its sheer epicness.

Whatever next year brings, may you all be cosseted in your loveliness.

LEO TRIMMING

Cosmograf - The Unreasonable Silence

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Leo’s Album of the Year:-

Cosmograf – The Unreasonable Silence
This album is simply stunning. Robin Armstrong has imagined a rich narrative of alien incursion (or paranoid breakdown) with sonic brilliance. The imaginative story is unnerving, whilst the music is captivating on a human level but cinematic in scope – ranging from crunching riffs, through atmospheric acoustic passages to sweeping Floydian soundscapes. Undoubtedly a major contender for ‘Album of the Year’ from one of the best Progressive Rock artists of this generation.

Marillion - F.E.A.R.

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Marillion – F.E.A.R.
Full of anger and insight into the state of a world dominated and influenced by the ‘super rich’, this remarkable release has propelled the Prog veterans back to wider prominence. None of these political thoughts or feelings would count for anything without outstanding music, Marillion convey their message with powerful rock passages and also subtle melody. Three ambitious epics, particularly the acerbic The New Kings, are modern and truly ‘Progressive’ without lazily resting on Prog tropes. Who would guess that well over 30 years into their career they would pull off an album that truly has something to say about today’s world with such impact and sensitivity.

The Gift - Why The Sea Is Salt

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The Gift – Why the Sea is Salt
This is a truly exceptional album that deserves to propel The Gift to the higher echelons of current British Prog. Simple as that – it really is outstanding. Very few albums have the potential to attain classic status and live long in the memory, this one appeals to the heart and mind in equal measures, beguiling and stimulating with its beauty and drama. The Gift have skilfully drawn on a variety of influences and inspirations to artfully craft an imaginative and enjoyable musical experience.

Red Bazar - Tales From The Bookcase

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Red Bazar – Tales From The Bookcase
Red Bazar show great musical ability and invention, but they have played a master stroke by recruiting Peter Jones’ to the line-up making for an excellent collaboration that enables Jones to show greater vocal dexterity and express more of his serious, darker side. Red Bazar have gained a highly talented rock vocalist who adds great lyrical skill and vocal feeling to their emotional musical palette. This is an album that has grown on me, rewarding repeated listening. Maybe a bit of a dark horse, but Red Bazar may just have released one of the Prog albums of the year.

Matthew Parmenter - All Our Yesterdays

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Matthew Parmenter – All Our Yesterdays
The charismatic front man of Discipline has released an impressive third solo album, imbued with emotion and narrative skill. He has stepped aside from the magnificent, Gothic group dynamic of Discipline to create a solo work of art suffused with dramatic shades and emotional lyricism, conveying tragedy and hope. Parmenter pours stories and poetry into this work, including one of the most famous soliloquies from the greatest story teller of them all, Wiliam Shakespeare, in All Our Yesterdays… and it works. This album is likely to captivate and beguile with subtlety and delicate emotion. It certainly gave me unexpected comfort.

Leo’s 2016 Highlights:
– Summer’s End weekend – a great event full of fantastic music, great camaraderie and such fun – never stopped laughing all weekend. Tiger Moth Tales were truly magnificent and played a wonderful set, Magic Pie, IQ and RPWL were all great headliners.
– HRH Prog in North Wales, Focus, Caravan and Ian Anderson showing that classic acts can still do it – The Fierce and The Dead, Purson and Messenger showing that younger bands can too.
– Big Big Train’s Folklore album launch event at Real World Studios had a wonderful friendly atmosphere and lovely music in the Mecca of Prog.. and a legendary night out meeting old and new friends afterwards.
– Steven Wilson live in Bristol – just staggeringly good.
– Yes live in Bristol – despite all the band changes, etc., they still pulled off a great gig – hats off to Sir Billy of Sherwood!
– Frost* live – such musical dexterity and power, delivered with some great humour.
Sanctuary Live – a totally unexpected pleasure seeing Robert Reed and friends play an enchanting and beautiful set of Oldfield inspired music, again in the iconic setting of Real World Studios. A truly special night shared with my son.
– Anathema live in Cardiff – sheer class and skill, touching the emotions in all sorts of ways.
– Bad Elephant Music Night in February – The Gift, We Are Kin and JH all putting on an entertaining evening… followed by a few pints and rather surprisingly a chat with the charming and amusing Anthony Phillips of Genesis fame!
– Masquerade in London in December – a really great end to the year with friends old and new in various garb – Red Bazar and The Gift in fine form, followed by the glory that is Franck Carducci live. Oh, and my gorgeous Red Top Hat… and Phil Lively’s frankly disturbing mask and costume. A never to be forgotten evening.
I could go on and on.. it’s been quite a year!

JOHN WENLOCK-SMITH

Marillion - F.E.A.R.

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John’s Album of the Year:-

Marillion – F.E.A.R.

The perfect soundtrack to address those post-Brexit blues and Trump shenanigans. Very bold, brave and mature, not afraid to tackle the difficult questions that the U.K. faces at the present time.

Anderson/Stolt - The Invention of Knowledge

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Anderson/Stolt – The Invention of Knowledge
This one came from nowhere to prove to be a truly wondrous, complex and spiritual reinventation of the classic YES sound. Hard to believe that it was created transatlantically via the World Wide Web but it is a marvellously consuming disc with many hidden depths to it.

Kansas - The Prelude Implicit

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Kansas – The Prelude Implicit
Another surprise but a very welcome arrival indeed – 16 years since their last release this sees the remaining members of Kansas forging ahead with new singer Ronnie Platts and recapturing their energy, showing the world afresh that Kansas are a band with fire in their bellies for creating further music to add to their legacy as one of prog’s greatest bands.

Tony Patterson – Equations of Meaning

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Tony Patterson – Equations of Being
This is a truly beautiful and introspective album with an expansive sound that carries on from the magnificent Northlands album of a year or so back. Melodic and memorable in equal measure, this is a significant release.

The Mute Gods - Do nothing till you hear from me

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The Mute Gods – Do nothing till you hear from me
Debut solo release from fleet-fingered Nick Beggs of Steven Wilson/Steve Hackett fame, with Roger King and Marco Minneman in tandem, creating a fine and questioning progressive album with lots of Stick bass on show. Moody and magnificent in spades, a great album – here’s to the follow up.


And that’s it, another fine year for prog draws to a close.

It just remains to say Season’s Greetings to all our readers and everyone who has supported TPA in 2016 – we thank you very much.

Here’s to 2017 and more fantastic music from often unexpected sources! A Very Merry Christmas from TPA!

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  • Big BIg Train – Victorian Brickwork

  • The Mute Gods – We Can’t Carry On

  • Tim Bowness – Distant Summers

  • Maschine – Megacyma

  • Stick Men – Prog Noir

  • Progression – Noxologic

  • Lite – D

  • Zhaoze – Intoxicatingly Lost

  • Thence – It Is Truth That Liberates