2019 Year End Hidden Gems


The Prog Mind (1)

As with every year, I always end with a surplus of albums to review.  There is no way I can review them all, but I can hand out some recommendations on the ones that still perked my interest.  So, what follows is a rundown of five records to hear.  No ratings.  One paragraph each.  I hope you enjoy!

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Aswekeepsearching is a post-rock band hailing from India.   I really enjoyed what I heard of this album back in September when it released, but I just didn’t get the time to explore it fully.  “Rooh” is the name of the record, meaning “soul”, and I think you can hear the spiritual, otherworldly quality in their music.  There’s just something clean, untarnished, and glorious in their sound.  Even though the lyrics are not in English, I can hear the deeply probing emotions and the purity of hope in what they offer.  Definitely check this one out if you like crescendos and beauteous melodies.

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Feather Mountain is a progressive metal band from Denmark.  Their new album “Nidus” also released back in September, and so that month seems to be where I started losing some ground on new releases.  Anyways, the band has some edge to them, and they fall into the alternative side of metal fairly often.  In fact, they really incorporate that post-grunge sound quite a bit, which is not a problem for me.  You’ll also hear some quiet musing interludes and that sort of thing.  “Nidus” is a thoughtful album, one that I need to give more attention moving forward.

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In the Shadow of Being is an instrumental progressive rock/metal project from Russian musician Daniil Gan’kov.  That actually makes sense, as the music has this sense of oneness and unity to it that is often difficult to accomplish in a band.  The music combines plenty of electronica with gorgeous piano and hard-hitting riffs.  “Music Is the Language of Nature” is an album that stays true to its name with beauty, layered textures, and wordless expression.  The opening track “No More Time” is specifically my favorite here, though all the tracks evoke dark, poetic movement that is absolutely arresting.

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Mappe Of is probably the quirkiest and even oddest project in this feature.  This is a solo project for Toronto-based musician Tom Meikle.  He is a folk artist, and delves into the realm of progressive folk here.  “The Isle of Ailynn” released only back on November 1st, so it isn’t that old, but I’m still kicking myself for not spending more time with it.  Tom’s music is folk-based, yes, but you’ll hear a distinctive fantasy element in there, too, plus lots of ambiance, electronic elements, and a crystal clear vocal performance.  It’s a very interesting album, to say the least, and evocatively beautiful in every single layer.  You’ll probably be hearing more about this one next year as I explore it further.

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Paul Kirkpatrick you may recognize from my review for his 2018 album “The Fermi Paradox”.  This time around, he released what I can only call an artistic statement.  “Reconstructed Memories” is not your typical album.  While Paul is no stranger to ambient and electronic sounds, it is the structure of this album that makes it stand out for me.  Most of the tracks are no more than two or three minutes in length, and each one tries to offer a glimpse at scenes, feelings, and textures experienced in memories.  Some of these tracks may have a dark groove or beat, while others might be celestial and orchestral in nature.  They vary as needed.  You will also hear some spoken word to go along with a few of them.  Overall, the album is peaceful, nostalgic, and warm, though I must admit I feel a little apprehension and even regret in there, too.  Paul beautifully expresses human recollection in musical form on this album.

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There you have it!  Those are my recommendations for albums to explore as we end 2019.  The 7th annual TPM awards will be hitting the week of January 6-10, and so you can be sure there will be tons more music to explore.  I’m also getting lots of new music for 2020, so you can look forward to discovering even more next year!  Thank you for reading!

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The Prog Mind (1)

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