2021 THE BEST OF PROG IN PICTURES & WORDS

I am back as years before, struggling to know if I missed any albums on this list, and the answer would be a resounding yes. Every year see thousands of releases just in the prog genre alone. It’s virtually impossible to discover and hear every prog release in any given year, so I did my best to showcase the cream of the crop, but then again I must point out these are one man’s points of view and will vary from publication and reviewer abroad. My taste in music is vast so I hope you all feel I have done justice by showcasing these 21 releases.
The Un-qualified Critic

1) The Blue Door 
First full-length release by Candian Progressive jazz folk-rock act, A Gardening Club Project
CD & Digital
Melodic Revolution Records
http://gardeningclubmusicandart.ca

2) The Uncrowned King (Act 1) 
The third release by US art-rock band, Evership
CD & Digital
Self-released
https://www.evership.com
 
3) We Are The Truth
Sixth studio album by Swedish progressive rock band, Hasse Fröberg & Musical Companion
CD, LP & Digital
Glassville Records
https://www.hfmcband.com

4) Imperial
Fifth album by progressive metal supergroup, Soen
CD, LP & Digital
Silver Lining Music
https://soenmusic.com

5) Altitude
Third album by English progressive rock band, Lifesigns
CD, LP & Digital
Self-released
https://lifesignsmusic.co.uk

6) Vigesimus
Twenty Seventh release since 1994 by Mexican neo-prog band, Cast
CD, & Digital
Progressive Promotion Records
http://www.castofficial.com

7) 5.20
Third studio album by progressive rock band, Nine Skies
CD, & Digital
Anesthetize Productions
https://nineskiesmusic.com

8) Graveyard Star
Fourteenth studio release by progressive rock band Mostly Autumn
CD, & Digital
Self-released
https://www.mostly-autumn.com

9) Common Ground
Fourteenth album by English progressive folk-rock band, Big Big Train
CD & Digital Self released
LP Plane Groovy
https://www.bigbigtrain.com

10) Harvest
The third release from Greek Progressive rock band, Ciccada
CD, LP & Digital
Self-released
https://ciccadabem.bandcamp.com/album/harvest

11) The Absolute Universe Forevermore
Fifth studio album by multinational progressive rock supergroup, Transatlantic
CD, LP & Digital
InsideOut (Europe) Metal Blade/Radiant (US)
https://www.transatlanticweb.com

12) Kites
Third album by English progressive rock band, This Winter Machine
CD & Digital Self released
LP Plane Groovy
https://thiswintermachine.uk/about/

13) Presence Of Life
Seventh album by Norwegian progressive folk group, Kerrs Pink
CD, LP & Digital
Self-released
https://kerrspink.com

14) Forsaken Innocence
Eight studio by UK-based Progressive Rock band, Drifting Sun
CD, LP & Digital
Self-released
https://driftingsun.co.uk

15) Snakes & Angels
The second release by US progessive metal artist, GorMusik
Melodic Revolution Records
CD & Digital
https://gormusik.com

18) Playing House
2nd release by progressive art-rock band, Meer
Karisma Records
CD, LP & Digital
http://meerband.com

19) The Forgotten Earth
Debut solo release by Scarlet Hollow prog band bassist, Jeffrey Erik Mack
Melodic Revolution Records
CD & Digital  
https://www.jeffreyerikmack.com

16) Copeland King Cosmo & Blew, Gizmodrome Live
First, live album and second release by progressive rock supergroup Gizmodrome formed in Italy
Ear Music
CD, LP & Digital
https://www.facebook.com/Gizmodrome

17) A View From The Top Of The World
Fifteenth studio release by US prog metal pioneers, Dream Theater
Inside Out Music
CD, LP & Digital
https://dreamtheater.net

20) One to Zero
Eleventh studio album German progressive rock band, Sylvan
Gentle Art Of Music
CD, LP & Digital
http://www.sylvan.de/home/

21) Aphelion
Eighth studio album by Norwegian progressive/avant-garde metal band, Leprous
Inside Out Music
CD, LP & Digital
https://www.leprous.net

Cruise to the Edge 2022 artist lineup revealed

Sails May 2nd-May 7th out of Port Canaveral, FL.
Marillion, Alan Parsons, Transatlantic, & Al DiMeola headline the biggest prog cruise ever!

Cruise To The Edge, progressive rock’s largest festival at sea is set to return in 2022 with it’s biggest cruise ever! The official artist lineup has been announced and includes the largest number of acts to sail the prog seas. The 5-night cruise sails from Port Canaveral, Florida, May 2nd – 7th, 2022, aboard the Royal Caribbean Mariner of the Seas visiting the Private Isle of Labadee and the Perfect Day at CocoCay. Reservations will reopen next Wednesday, June 9th, at Noon Eastern.

Headlined by prog legends Marillion, Alan Parsons, Transatlantic and Al DiMeola, the event features some of the world’s greatest prog-rock musical artists.  The lineup also includes returning acts Riverside, Saga, The Flower Kings, Adrian Belew, Haken, Pendragon and many more, alongside debuts by Al Stewart, King’s X, McStine and Minnemann, Pattern-Seeking Animals, and more.

Beyond the sun, fun, and exquisite dining, there will be artist/cruiser photo experiencesQ&A sessionsspecial theme nights and other events designed to optimize the artist/fan experience. This year will once again feature the unprecedented CTTE Late Night Live, where fans can sign up to showcase their own musical talents.

The newly amped up Mariner of the Seas is packed with more ways to play on the most maxed-out short getaway ever. When the sun goes down, the night heats up with epic prog performances on stages throughout the vessel. Combined with some of the best food and service afloat, Cruise to the Edge is truly the greatest prog-rock show on earth and is a can’t-miss event for prog enthusiasts throughout the world.

For more info, visit CruiseToTheEdge.com and follow @cruisetotheedge on Facebook and Twitter.

TRANSATLANTIC – launch video for ‘Looking For The Light’; third single from ‘The Absolute Universe’

Third single from ‘The Absolute Universe’

Album out on Feb 5th

TRANSATLANTIC – the Prog Supergroup of Neal Morse, Mike Portnoy, Roine Stolt & Pete Trewavas – are set to release their fifth studio album ‘The Absolute Universe’, on February 5th, 2021. Representing the band’s first new music since 2014’s ‘Kaleidoscope’, with ‘The Absolute Universe’ the band have done something unique and created two versions of the record: ‘The Absolute Universe: The Breath Of Life (Abridged Version)’ & ‘The Absolute Universe: Forevermore (Extended Version)’.

Today they have launched the video for ‘Looking For The Light’, a track which features on both versions of ‘The Absolute Universe’. Watch it now here: 

Mike Portnoy comments: “Looking For The Light is one of the heavier tracks on The Absolute Universe. In the tradition of Transatlantic sharing all lead vocals, this track gave me my showcase to deliver the lead vocals as it called for a bit more of an aggressive approach.

This is one of the few tracks that remains primarily the same and appears on both versions of the album. However not content to keep it simple, the version included on the music video is actually a unique version which combines both “Looking For The Light” and its “Reprise” from later in the album into one combined version available only here in this video.”

Watch the previously released video for ‘The World We Used To Know’ here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xULvfo6rpvE

Watch the previously released video for ‘Overture/Reaching For The Sky’ here: https://youtu.be/SP5HwWbCQvg   

Each album will be available on CD, LP & Digitally. But there will also be what has been called ‘The Absolute Universe: The Ultimate Edition’, which collects both versions together in one lavish package that includes 5LP’s, 3CD’s & a Blu-ray that includes a special mix that combines both versions into a third unique version in 5.1 surround sound with visuals and a behind the scenes documentary. All editions have artwork created by Thomas Ewerhard featuring the airship by Pavel Zhovba.

As Mike Portnoy explains: “We’ve got two versions of this album. There is a two CD presentation, which is 90 minutes long, and a single one – that’s 60 minutes. However, the single CD is NOT merely an edited version of the double CD. They each contain alternate versions and even in some cases, new recordings. We wrote fresh lyrics and have different people singing on the single CD version tracks as compared to those on the double CD. Some of the song titles have also been changed, while others might remain the same, but compositionally what you’ll hear has been altered. You must appreciate that what we have done is unique. We revamped the songs to make the two versions different.” Pete Trewavas adds: “We did write some new music for the single CD, what’s more, there are also differences in the instruments used on some of the tracks across the two records.”

The full list of formats is below, and you can pre-order now here: https://transatlantic.lnk.to/TheAbsoluteUniverse
 

The Absolute Universe: The Breath Of Life (Abridged Version)’
Available as:
Single CD Edition, Gatefold 2LP+CD, or Digital Album

‘The Absolute Universe: The Ultimate Edition’
(pictured above)

Limited Deluxe Clear 5LP+3CD+Blu-Ray Box-set – contained within a foil-finished lift-off box with extended 16-page LP booklet & 60x60cm poster. Includes both versions of the album over 5LP’s and 3CD’s, plus a Blu-Ray with 5.1 mix & documentary.

Blu-Ray Track-listing:

1.     Overture (5.1 Surround Mix)
2.     Reaching For The Sky (5.1 Surround Mix)
3.     Higher Than The Morning (5.1 Surround Mix)
4.     The Darkness In The Light (5.1 Surround Mix)
5.     Take Now My Soul (5.1 Surround Mix)
6.     Bully (5.1 Surround Mix)
7.     Rainbow Sky (5.1 Surround Mix)
8.     Looking For The Light (5.1 Surround Mix)
9.     The World We Used To Know (5.1 Surround Mix)
10.  The Sun Comes Up Today (5.1 Surround Mix)
11.  Love Made A Way (Prelude) (5.1 Surround Mix)
12.  Owl Howl (5.1 Surround Mix)
13.  Solitude (5.1 Surround Mix)
14.  Belong (5.1 Surround Mix)
15.  Lonesome Rebel (5.1 Surround Mix)
16.  Can You Feel It (5.1 Surround Mix)
17.  Looking For The Light (Reprise) (5.1 Surround Mix)
18.  The Greatest Story Never Ends (5.1 Surround Mix)
19.  Love Made A Way (5.1 Surround Mix)
20.  The Making of The Absolute Universe (Documentary)

Initial tracking began in September 2019 when the band met up in Sweden to write and arrange the new material. As Portnoy explains: “Over a period of 10-14 days, we mapped out the songs. Then we all went back to our home studios and did the recording. That’s the way we always do it. At one point, though, it was suggested that instead of doing what was by that time going to be a double album, we should just be content to do a single CD.”

“What happened was that everything kept expanding and expanding,” recalls Stolt. “Therefore we decided it made sense to make it a double album. It was Pete and Neal who then came out and said they felt this would be too long, and we should reduce it to one…But we were already recording, and it didn’t seem feasible to cut it back. There were so many pieces that each of us loved in what we were planning and didn’t want to lose. That’s when we ended up in discussions over the best way forward.”

This album also marks a return to the concept album for Transatlantic. “Well, the idea of Transatlantic deciding to do a concept record this time around won’t shock anyone, right?” laughs Portnoy. “What we have is essentially one giant composition, split into chapters. The storyline is about the struggles facing everyone in society today.” “We didn’t start out with the idea of this being conceptual,” admits Stolt. “The way things work with us is that we have a load of ideas, and these are developed spontaneously when we meet up. Everything happens in the moment.”

So, how does this new ground-breaking album compare to Transatlantic’s previous four albums?

“I always try not to compare albums as much as possible,” insists Morse. “It’s very difficult when you’re trying to be creative, because your natural instinct is to constantly compare. But in order to create you have to kind of step away from that. Having said that, I would say this would have more in common with ‘The Whirlwind’ album  (the band’s third, from 2009) than others that we’ve created.”

For Trewavas, ‘The Absolute Universe’ is a momentous project.“I think it is right up there with the very finest albums we’ve done. As the others have said, it compares very well to ‘The Whirlwind’, which I believe represents Transatlantic at our best. As on that album, we took our time to write and arrange everything, and that shines through. I am very excited for people to hear it.”

Transatlantic were originally formed in 1999, releasing their debut album ‘SMTPe’ the following year as well as its follow-up ‘Bridge Across Forever’ in 2001. Following a 7-year hiatus, the band reconvened to record and release the much-acclaimed epic 77-minute, single-track album ‘The Whirlwind’ followed by a world tour in 2010 which included an appearance at High Voltage Festival in London where they were joined by legendary Genesis guitarist Steve Hackett. The band’s fourth album ‘Kaleidoscope’ arrived in 2014, going on to win ‘Album Of The Year’ at the Progressive Music Awards

TRANSATLANTIC online:
https://www.transatlanticweb.com/
https://www.facebook.com/TransatlanticMusic/
www.instagram.com/transatlanticofficial
www.twitter.com/transatlantic99

INSIDEOUT MUSIC online:
www.insideoutmusic.com
www.youtube.com/InsideOutMusicTV
www.facebook.com/InsideOutMusic
www.twitter.com/InsideOutUSA
www.insideoutmusic.store
http://spotify.com/progrockessentials

TRANSATLANTIC invite you to enter ‘The Absolute Universe’ on the fifth studio album!

TRANSATLANTIC – the Prog Supergroup of Neal Morse, Mike Portnoy, Roine Stolt & Pete Trewavas – are pleased to announce their fifth studio album ‘The Absolute Universe’, set for release on February 5th, 2021. Representing the band’s first new music since 2014’s ‘Kaleidoscope’, with ‘The Absolute Universe’ the band have done something unique and created two versions of the record: ‘The Absolute Universe: The Breath Of Life (Abridged Version)’ & ‘The Absolute Universe: Forevermore (Extended Version)’.

As Mike Portnoy explains: “We’ve got two versions of this album. There is a two CD presentation, which is 90 minutes long, and a single one – that’s 60 minutes. However, the single CD is NOT merely an edited version of the double CD. They each contain alternate versions and even in some cases, new recordings. We wrote fresh lyrics and have different people singing on the single CD version tracks as compared to those on the double CD. Some of the song titles have also been changed, while others might remain the same, but compositionally what you’ll hear has been altered. You must appreciate that what we have done is unique. We revamped the songs to make the two versions different.” Pete Trewavas adds: “We did write some new music for the single CD,” adds Trewavas. “What’s more, there are also differences in the instruments used on some of the tracks across the two records.”

Each album will be available on CD, LP & Digitally. But there will also be what has been called ‘The Absolute Universe: The Ultimate Edition’, which collects both versions together in one lavish package that includes 5LP’s, 3CD’s & a Blu-ray that contains a 5.1 surround sound mix with visuals & a behind the scenes documentary. All editions have unique artwork created by Thomas Ewerhard. The full list of formats is below, and pre-orders start on the 20th November:

‘The Absolute Universe: The Breath Of Life (Abridged Version)’

Special Edition CD Digipak

Gatefold 2LP+CD

Digital Album

‘The Absolute Universe: Forevermore (Extended Version)’

Special Edition 2CD Digipak

3LP+2CD Boxset

Digital Album

‘The Absolute Universe: The Ultimate Edition’

Limited Deluxe Clear 5LP+3CD+Blu-Ray Box-set – contained within a foil-finished lift-off box with extended 16-page LP booklet & 60x60cm poster

Initial tracking began in September 2019 when the band met up in Sweden to write and arrange the new material. As Portnoy explains: “Over a period of 10-14 days, we mapped out the songs. Then we all went back to our home studios and did the recording. That’s the way we always do it. At one point, though, it was suggested that instead of doing what was by that time going to be a double album, we should just be content to do a single CD.”

“What happened was that everything kept expanding and expanding,” recalls Stolt. “Therefore we decided it made sense to make it a double album. It was Pete and Neal who then came out and said they felt this would be too long, and we should reduce it to one…But we were already recording, and it didn’t seem feasible to cut it back. There were so many pieces that each of us loved in what we were planning and didn’t want to lose. That’s when we ended up in discussions over the best way forward.”

 This album also marks a return to the concept album for Transatlantic. “Well, the idea of Transatlantic deciding to do a concept record this time around won’t shock anyone, right?” laughs Portnoy. “What we have is essentially one giant composition, split into chapters. The storyline is about the struggles facing everyone in society today.” “We didn’t start out with the idea of this being conceptual,” admits Stolt. “The way things work with us is that we have a load of ideas, and these are developed spontaneously when we meet up. Everything happens in the moment.”

So, how does this new ground-breaking album compare to Transatlantic’s previous four albums?

“I always try not to compare albums as much as possible,” insists Morse. “It’s very difficult when you’re trying to be creative, because your natural instinct is to constantly compare. But in order to create you have to kind of step away from that. Having said that, I would say this would have more in common with ‘The Whirlwind’ album (the band’s third, from 2009) than others that we’ve created.” For Trewavas, ‘The Absolute Universe’ is a momentous project.

“I think it is right up there with the very finest albums we’ve done. As the others have said, it compares very well to ‘The Whirlwind’, which I believe represents Transatlantic at our best. As on that album, we took our time to write and arrange everything, and that shines through. I am very excited for people to hear it.”

Transatlantic were originally formed in 1999, releasing their debut album ‘SMTPe’ the following year as well as its follow-up ‘Bridge Across Forever’ in 2001. Following a 7-year hiatus, the band reconvened to record and release the much-acclaimed epic 77-minute, single-track album ‘The Whirlwind’ followed by a world tour in 2010 which included an appearance at High Voltage Festival in London where they were joined by legendary Genesis guitarist Steve Hackett. The band’s fourth album ‘Kaleidoscope’ arrived in 2014, going on to win ‘Album Of The Year’ at the Progressive Music Awards.

TRANSATLANTIC online:
https://www.transatlanticweb.com/
https://www.facebook.com/TransatlanticMusic/
www.instagram.com/transatlanticofficial
www.twitter.com/transatlantic99

INSIDEOUT MUSIC online:
www.insideoutmusic.com
www.youtube.com/InsideOutMusicTV
www.facebook.com/InsideOutMusic
www.twitter.com/InsideOutUSA
www.insideoutmusic.store
http://spotify.com/progrockessentials

Kinetic Element – The Face of Life Revealed

Martin Kornick at Man In The Mountain known for his work for such acts as PINNACLE, KEITH EMERSON BAND, TRANSATLANTIC is back in the saddle again working on the new Kinetic Element album art for “The Face of Life“. We have been given permission to release the front cover art.

Martin Kornick also created the album art for the two previous Kinetic Element albums Travelog (2015) and Powered by Light (2009)

Fred Schendel and Steve Babb are also back in the saddle and best known as members with US prog band Glass Hammer, Fred and Steve will be handling the mix and mastering for The Face of Life at SOUND RESOURCES in Chattanooga TN (USA) Fred and Steve were responsible for the mix and mastering of Travelog (2015)

The Face of Life” will be released on CD and High-Resolution Digital and for the first time in the band’s history on Vinyl and will feature the following songs
– Face of Life
– All Open Eyes
– Epistle
– Last Words

Kinetic Element
St. John Coleman: Vocals
Mike Visaggio: Keyboards & Vocals
Mark Tupko: Bass
Michael Murray: Drums & Backing Vocals
Peter Matuchniak: Guitar

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