Album Reviews

Issue 2024-016

Here at DPRP towers, we frequently receive some interesting albums that whilst not strictly "prog", would be of interest to many of our readers. We sometimes receive albums that have been released in previous years. Also, with so many albums submitted, it is not always possible to find a writer with the time to give every release our usual in-depth review.

So how best can we still bring you news of such releases?

This is an edition of Prog Bites. Each still has all the usual album information and links to samples and videos (where available), but the reviews are much shorter, and we do not award any score.

We hope you will find some great music that you think deserves further investigation.

Breaths — Melt Away

Breaths - Melt Away
Fade Apart (2:48), Barbarella (Melt Away) (4:10), Waves (5:17), Shaken (4:13)
Calum Gibson

Once again I find myself here with another release from Breaths, the one-man black/doom/gaze/ambience project from Virginia. A prolific writer, this is now the 7th release by Jason Roberts under the Breaths name, since 2021. Consisting of EPs, full lengths and splits, the man is a hard worker. And so we have the first release of 2024, the EP Melt Away

So this time, we begin with Fade Apart, a soft, lamentation to the backdrop of textured and layered atmospherics reminiscent of if Gunship or Perturbator decided to create on the moody side of things. The (almost) title track, Barbarella (Melt Away) is a different beast, but cut from the same cloth. Featuring full instrumentation, here we have a heavier slice of doom, but still with that trademark sense of the ethereal Jason can create.

Waves follows on with an almost happy-go-depressing sort of vibe. A bit more grooving, with a more bouncy set of riffs and leads, but still with the down tuned sound and lyrics lamenting how "we don't belong, we're just hanging on. We can't admit it, we're not made for this". And the closer Shaken then lands to round off the EP. The chugs come back a bit heavier, but the main riff is catchier. Again the track repeats the same sort of motif throughout, just as in Barbarella. But the shorter lengths of these tracks lends itself much better to this repetition than it did on Flourit.

Despite being only 17 minutes in length, this is a strong release and a welcome addition to the catalogue released so far. Elements of sludge, drone, psychedelia and doom are present throughout, all built upon a foundation of unearthly ambience and tones. I'm already looking out for the next release.

For fans of Gunship, Purterbator, Alcest, Sunn O))) or Ahab.

Enigmatic Sound Machines — Telepathic Waves

Enigmatic Sound Machines - Telepathic Waves
Enigmatic Sound Machines (3:27), 1 By 1 (4:45), Blind Folded (4:10), I Will Be Your Fire (4:10), I Don't Know Your Name (4:13), Little Submarines (4:00), It's Not What You Told Me (3:46), Strange Desire (3:59), You Stand Alone (4:30), Dead Can Dance (3:53), All I Have To Say (3:55), Sometimes (4:01), Free at Last (5:14)

Enigmatic Sound Machines are a Montreal based duo featuring Men Without Hats founder Jeremie Arroba (lead vocals, synths, sound machines) and Prog Archives / Prog Rogue writer Thomas Szirmay (vocals, sound machines). As childhood friends in the 70s they shared a common interest in (prog) music and attended many a memorable concert until University called and they slowly drifted apart. Maintaining incidental contact over the years, it was during the Covid pandemic they firmly re-established their friendship. Now resulting in the release of their debut album Telepathic Waves.

Mostly sung in a spoken word fashion by Arroba the concise construed compositions on Telepathic Waves generally exhibit a retro-futuristic sound that sits nicely between electronic music and synth pop with, according to the duo, subtle hints of prog. Minutely small hints of prog then, for aside from a whisper of Pink Floyd in 1 By 1 the compositions predominantly voice Ultravox, Gary Numan, Yello and other 80s electronic new wave outfits to me.

The first that come to mind in All I Have To Say are a mellow-ish Bronski Beat/Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark, followed by Kraftwerk in the era-suggestive Dead Can Dance. In Blindfolded, which initially holds Numan-like synth pop, the Kraftwerk connection becomes more palpable when German lyrics are introduced.

The album showcases plenty of entertainment and diversity with more basic EM and subtly accentuated melodies in I Don't Know Your Name and I Will Be Your Fire, Daniel Crommie-like avant-garde in It's Not What You Told Me, and elegant EM with earthy tribalism in Enigmatic Sound Machines. Highlight amongst all these engaging tracks are Free At Last, a calmly intensifying composition, and Sometimes, with hints of Enigma/Vangelis and a warm jazzy laid-back feel.

Overall this first effort, captured in fine production values and available on all major streaming platforms, offers a delightful variegated collection of well-structured and nicely arranged synth-pop compositions worth investigating for EM-orientated fans.

Fragile Temper — Shapeshifter

Fragile Temper - Shapeshifter
Judge (6:50), Shapeshifter (7:22), Pilots (8:25), Tree (7:40)
Sergey Nikulichev

From 2023 onwards Fragile Temper is not only how we feel ourselves during rush hour in an airport, but also a new quintet, sending their cosmic groove vibes from Siegen, Germany. Shapeshifter makes the band's debut EP and states the credo very firmly: alternative / groove metal / hardcore with space rock “seasoning” to make the sound more refined. Spoiler: it does.

What gives the band extra quality is the rhythmical inventiveness and tight recording, which – unlike in many stoner records – allows to actually hear separate instruments instead of riff “mincemeat”. Generally, the four tracks on this EP draw a square of the band's influences. For instance the opening track gives nods to Gojira and the likes, the title track has Tool vibes. The band share love with Canadians for drifting accents, alternative-styled vocals and shifts from heaviness to atmospheric, slightly atonal passages.

Pilots head off to post-hardcore territory and Tree with the tribal rhythms and throat singing passages drifts towards psychedelic grounds of Can, Amon Duul and Al Cisneros' Om.

Shapeshifter features moments to make some headbanging and moments to drift to otherworldly pastures, making the record both diverse and coherent. A lot of rhythmic figures here are supported with muted chug-chugging, very characteristic to space rock forefathers. Drum parts are tight, heavy and groovy, the vocalist does not sound annoying (which is often my problem with stoner and post-hardcore projects). So all in all, this is a project to follow, in case you are a fan of the above-mentioned bands.

Kerrs Pink — Historical Blunders

Kerrs Pink - Historical Blunders
Historical Blunders (10:36), Resurection (9:10)
Patrick McAfee

This new EP serves as a stop-gap between Kerrs Pink's 2020 studio album, Presence Of Life and the one that they are working on now. It is available via services such as Apple Music anmd Spotify, and as a limited edition vinyl release.

Essentially, this is a review of one song. The B-side of this EP is a live version, albeit a very good one, of the opening track from their last album. The calling card is definitely the new ten-minute title track. It is a very respectable, long form song, with several musical and lyrical turns. Instrumentally, it is quite strong and as a complete piece of music, completely entertaining. It makes for a very nice addition to Kerrs Pink musical history.

This EP is certainly a worthwhile purchase for fans of the band. It would also be a good, quick introduction to those new to this talented group of musicians. Unfortunately there isn't much here in terms of volume. That said, both the title track and the live version of Resurrection are definitely of value. Considering its purpose of providing something new to fans in anticipation of a full studio album, the Historical Blunders EP accomplishes that mission effectively.

Album Reviews