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An Douar Bras (France): Le Joueur De Lune (FLVM 3067, 1985)
Roselyne Graindepiece (occasional vocals, guitar, flute, dulcimer, hurdy-gurdy)
One of the best French folk/rock albums of the eighties, this combines delicate acoustic guitar and traditional instrumentation with strong rock elements. With quite a bit of synthesiser and some moments of considerable intensity (notably the almost mantric ‘Incandescence’) the album has rather a distinctive sound, whilst also displaying a definite influence from Malicorne. GRADE: B–.

An Dro (West Germany): Les Jeux Sont Faits (No label RP 10269, with insert, 1982)
Rita Schmidt (joint lead vocals, bodhrán, dulcimer, psaltery)
The French title is no accident: this German band oddly played Breton folk music, with mostly traditional songs but also a few self-penned numbers. Occasionally resembling early Malicorne and sometimes hinting at an eerie, ‘Wicker Man’-like sound, they produced an intricate and beautiful LP with mostly acoustic arrangements and a few well-judged progressive and psychedelic edges. The seven-and-a-half minute title track, on which they add electric guitar and up the prog quotient considerably, is decidedly the best thing on offer but this is an excellent set throughout. GRADE: B–.

Anabis (West Germany): Theatre (WMMS 004, CD, 1988)
Eleonore Wittekindt (keyboards)
This is typical of both the era and the label, being rather unambitious neoprogressive with heavy eighties drums and a thin sound. Extensive use of woodwind gives it a bit of personality, and there are a few nice, unassuming instrumental sections, but the actual songs are rather pedestrian. GRADE: C+.
See also Softeis

Anachronos (Chile): Anachronos (Mylodon MyloCD102, CD, 2013)
Ingrid Contreras (lead vocals)
This is a solid progressive metal album, with a typically understated South American mood and definite similarities to their countrymen Crisálida. The long suite ‘En Busca De Verdad’ is by far the best thing on offer, with the shorter cuts being being quite varied. This was actually the band’s second album: their first was all-instrumental and was recorded by an all-male line-up. GRADE: C+.

Anaconda (UK/Cyprus): Sympathy For The Madman (Emidisc, 10" acetate, UK, 1969)


Kim (percussion, backing vocals), Frances (percussion, backing vocals)

This long-long band's acetate-only album offers 22 minutes mournful, introspective folk with rich harmony vocals, lots of flute and violin and a trippy vibe recalling Shide & Acorn or Courtyard Music Group. The sleeve notes on the reissue (Seelie Court SCLP003, with inner, 2020) compares their sound to Comus, but this has none of that band’s disorienting wildness and is more similar to a gentler Fuchsia, though still impressive in its own right. GRADE: B–.

Anacrusa (Argentina): Anacrusa (Redondel L-804, 1973)
Susana Lago (lead vocals, keyboards, pinkullo, charango, tarka)
Fronted by former Cabrakán vocalist Susana Lago, Anacrusa offered a variety of folk and folk/rock styles on their debut. About half instrumental, the album ranges from delicate acoustic pieces to jazzier, more ethnic and progressive moments, with wide-ranging use of local instrumentation. Although not as exploratory as their later work, this is a lovely record containing some fine pieces. GRADE: C+.
Anacrusa (Argentina): Anacrusa II (Redondel L-808, 1974)
Susana Lago (principal vocals, keyboards, pinkullo, charango)
The first side is very similar to their debut, but the second is a considerable step up, being dominated by a twelve-minute instrumental suite with a high level of intricacy. Whilst not outstanding from start to finish, this is in parts a very fine record. GRADE: C+.
Anacrusa (Argentina): Anacrusa (Global GSA-1993, 1976)
Susana Lago (principal vocals, keyboards, pinkullo)
This is perhaps a slight regressive step, concentrating solely on shorter tracks. Once again, the songs (mostly traditional) are less impressive than the instrumentals (mostly self-penned); the highpoint is probably the proggy ‘Los Capiangos’, fronted by synthesiser. GRADE: C+.
Anacrusa (Argentina): El Sacrificio (Philips 9101 177, France, 1978)
Susana Lago (lead vocals, keyboards, pinkullo)
For their first internationally released album, Anacrusa changed direction completely, offering epic progressive rock with lots of woodwind but also plenty of powerful electric guitar leads. Mainly instrumental, the LP draws on both traditional Argentinian music and jazz, with a pastoral feel to much of the material; many of the album’s sections bear more than a passing resemblance to a film soundtrack. Finally playing to their strengths and focusing on compositions rather than songs, Anacrusa achieved a huge step forward and an impressive piece of South American prog. GRADE: B–.
Anacrusa (Argentina): Fuerza (Philips 6091, with inner, 1979)
MOR/World Music/Jazz/Progressive
Susana Lago (lead vocals, keyboards)
This is somewhat different from their earlier albums, featuring five dramatic orchestrated ballads (with occasional neoclassical edges hinting at Opus Avantra without the experimentalism) and three instrumentals. As usual for Anacrusa, the latter are by far the highpoints, offering some really excellent music. However, this is overall quite disappointing after El Sacrificio, and it’s a pity that they didn’t opt for a mostly or wholly instrumental LP. GRADE: C+.
Anacrusa (Argentina): Reencuentro (Redondel CD 45022, CD, 1995)
Susana Lago
This reunion effort, fifteen years down the line, is almost like an overview of their different styles, from ethnic folk (recalling the early albums) to epic soundtrack-like instrumentals similar to El Sacrificio or Fuerza. It’s a consistently good album, but a bit lacking in fire and vitality; for instance, the fifteen-minute opener ‘Tristes Llanos’ is pleasant but never really goes anywhere. This is also a long and unfocused record, with no fewer than sixteen tracks. GRADE: C+.
Anacrusa (Argentina): Encordado (Acqua AQ 069, CD, with digipak and booklet, 2005)
Susana Lago (lead vocals, piano)
Mixing new compositions and re-recordings of older favourites, this second reunion album fully plays to the band’s strengths. As usual, the widescreen instrumentals work better than the folkier songs, but this is a fine album throughout – easily one of their best. Note that the similarly packaged Documentos (Acqua AQ 068, CD, 2005) is merely a compilation of previously issued recordings from the mid-seventies. GRADE: B–.
See also Cuarteto Cabrakán

Anahata (Australia): Aire (EMI Custom Pressing YPRX-1537, 1979)
World Music
Mereka Moss (percussion, flute, ocarina), Kerry Dunn (bells)
With instrumentation including berimbau, cuica, water bells, shekere and kalimba, this is somewhat similar to their countrymen Kanguru, but influenced by African and Oriental rather than Indian music. Comparisons could also be drawn with Extradition, whose album had a similarly minimalist and mystical mood. However, this is far more ponderous than either, largely consisting of extended ethnic percussion workouts, though it’s relaxing, listenable and quite distinctive. GRADE: C+.

Anaïd (France/UK) Anaïd (No label, cassette, France, 1986)
Emmanuelle Lionet (lead vocals), Sophia Domancich (piano)
Side one is elegant, superbly-crafted jazz/rock, as you’d expect from a band including Hugh Hopper on bass and Sophia Domancich on piano. With some fine scat vocals from Emmanuelle Lionet, it sometimes brings to mind Cos, though the music is more rooted in traditional jazz and not as creative. However, things step up a gear on side two, with the energetic ‘Lune De Miel’ and the austere, almost neoclassical ‘Vêtue De Noir’. Whilst most discographies list the album as Vêtue De Noir, it’s actually untitled. GRADE: B–.
Anaïd (France): Belladonna (No label 03 JM, with insert, 1990)
Emmanuelle Lionet (lead vocals)
Domancich has gone and Hopper is reduced to guest status, but this is the more confident and mature of their two releases, building on the zeuhl and RIO elements underpinning their sound. The album was later recompiled as Four Years (No label JMEC 1991, CD, 1991) along with two cuts from its predecessor. The CD runs for less than an hour, making it a pointless release: they could instead have filled the disc, creating a complete document of their recordings. GRADE: B–.

Anaïd (France): Libertad (Muséa Parallèle MP3224, CD, with digipak, 2016)
Emmanuelle Lionet (lead vocals, keyboards)
26 years on, Anaïd don’t appear to have learned any new tricks, but it doesn’t really matter – their stylish zeuhl and RIO blend represents a very welcome return. GRADE: B–.

Anaïd (France): I Have A Dream (No label JMEC2019/1/1, CDR, with digipak, 2019)
Emmanuelle Lionet (lead vocals)
The music here is elegant and beautifully crafted and soars in all the right places; in particular, the abrupt end to ‘Ikebana’ is truly starting. Emanuelle Lionet is in superb voice throughout, sometimes channelling Kate Bush and sometimes adopting an almost classical soprano approach. The recording is genuinely impressive, with superb sound quality for such a low-profile release. If you’re expecting a ‘but’ at this stage, there isn’t one: this is consistently excellent and a fine addition to the band’s slim discography. GRADE: B–.
Anaïd (France): Lïve Ïn Parïs (No label JMEC2020/2/2, double CD, with digipak and booklet, 2020)
Emmanuelle Lionet (lead vocals)
Emmanuelle Lionet once again reminds me of Kate Bush here, but this time Bush from The Dreaming and more specifically songs like ‘Pull Out The Pin’ and ‘Get Out Of My House’. Or to put it another way, what this live set loses in subtlety compared to studio Anaïd it makes up in sheer wildness, energy and abandon. GRADE: B–.

See also Sophia Domancich Trio, Equip’out, Hatfield & The North

Anakdota (Israel): Overloading (Fading FAD024, CD, with digipak and booklet, Italy, 2016
Ayala Fossfeld (joint lead vocals)
This project was very much the brainchild of keyboardist Erez Aviram, who writes, arranges and produces everything, and for better or worse his eloquent piano dominates the songs. The music here is firmly in a Canterbury vein – they resemble Anekdoten in name only – but has none of the craziness of, say, Hatfield & The North: at heart there’s a whimsical singer/songwriter aesthetic underpinning the material. Thus, whilst this is lively and elegant, it’s only occasionally fiery and exciting, falling on the wrong side of the divide between C+ and B–. GRADE: C+.

Analogy (West Germany/Italy): Analogy (Ventotto PRV 2204, with poster, Italy, 1972)
Jutta Nienhaus (lead vocals)
Although the band was principally German, this was recorded and released in Italy. With a guitar and organ-driven sound, it takes many of its influences from West Coast rock, but still sounds distinctly European, occasionally resembling a harder-edged Earth & Fire with a few Pink Floyd touches. The material is self-penned throughout and is of a consistently high standard. GRADE: B–.
Analogy (Germany/UK/Romania): The Suite (Orwaschl OW 19, CD, Germany, 1993, recorded 1980)
Jutta Nienhaus (lead vocals)
This half-hour suite, blending progressive rock and Renaissance elements, was often played live by Analogy in 1972, but they didn’t get round to recording it until eight years later, after they had spent several years working as the more new wave-influenced Earthbound. As far from new wave as one can imagine, this is a wonderful tapestry of folky rock sounds, with lots of tempo changes and complexity. Of course, it was completely adrift of musical trends in 1980, and hence was not released for well over a decade until Ohrwaschl issued it as a CD and subsequently as a 10" LP with different artwork. GRADE: B.
Analogy (Italy/Germany): 25 Years Later (Ohrwaschl OWR07, CD, Germany, 1996)
Jutta Nienhaus (principal vocals)
This reunion effort, not entirely surprisingly, is a mixture of soft rock and neoprog. Whilst I can’t see anyone preferring it to their previous incarnations, it’s a pleasant album, and the opening remake of ‘God’s Own Land’ (their very first release, issued as a single in 1971 under the name of the Yoice) is outstanding. Both sides of that early 45 are included as bonus tracks (dubbed from crackly vinyl). All the band’s recordings as the Yoice, Analogy and Earthbound were later compiled into the excellent boxed set The Complete Works along with sixteen unreleased demos and live tracks. GRADE: C+.
Analogy & Earthbound (Germany/UK/Italy): The Video Collection (Ams AMS DVD 11, DVD, Italy, 2010, recorded 1978 & 2010)
Jutta Nienhaus (principal vocals, tambourine), Julia Cameron (occasional vocals, guitar, tambourine)
This interesting DVD retrospective couples a short set from 2010, mixing Analogy and Earthbound members and numbers, with eleven Earthbound performances from Italian TV from 1978 (with very amateurish sound and picture quality, including several songs in black-and-white – presumably these were taped off-air using a home VCR). The disc also features a studio recording of ‘Il Viaggio Dei Grandi Spirito’ coupled with rehearsal footage, plus an interview (in Italian) from 2010. GRADE: C+.
Analogy (Germany/Italy/UK): Konzert (AMS AMS 226 CD, CD, with minisleeve and booklet, 2013)
Jutta Nienhaus (lead vocals)
With good sound quality but occasionally amateurish performances, this excellent live set offers a fine cross-section of Analogy and Earthbound material. The result is a fine set and an excellent addition to their sporadic discography. GRADE: B–.

See also Curva Di Lesmo

Anamor (Poland): Imaginacje (No label, CD, 2002)
Marta Głowacka (lead vocals)
Anamor are of that typically mellow Polish neoprogressive style: they were almost certainly influenced by Albion and in turn almost certainly influenced Loonypark. Those two bands provide a pretty accurate reference point for their sound, although Anamor are marginally more ambitious (note the word “marginally”) than the latter, with a 10-minute instrumental the highpoint of a pleasant album filled with lush keyboards and eloquent guitar solos. GRADE: C+.
Anamor (Poland): Za Witrażem (Lynx Music LM143CD-DG, CD, 2018)
Marta Głowacka (lead vocals)
Sixteen years may have elapsed in the real world, but in the Anamor universe nothing has changed: this has virtually the same line-up and exactly the same sound as their debut. As such, the music here is mellow, stately and Floydian without being adventurous, surprising or inventive, so how much you like it will depend on your taste in prog. GRADE: C+.

Anathema (UK): Were You There? (Music For Nations DVDMFN24, DVD, with booklet, 2004)
Lee Douglas (occasional vocals)
I wish I had been there, as this is an excellent gig, showcasing powerful, majestic performances blending elements of Pink Floyd, alternative rock and progressive metal – and it’s very well filmed to boot. Bonuses include a short acoustic gig with a string quartet, a promo video and a final live track from a further gig. GRADE: B–.
Anathema (UK): A Moment In Time (Metal Mind Productions MMP DVD 0076, DVD plus CD, with digipak and booklet, 2006)
Lee Douglas (occasional vocals)
Combining the approaches of the two sets on Were You There? – electric rock with a string quartet – this is a far heavier and more dynamic gig, making the band’s metal roots much more obvious. The closing cover of ‘Comfortably Numb’ gives a clear pointer to another of their major influences, and overall this is impressive stuff, even if Anathema are more about atmosphere and texture than hooks or melodies. Bonus material includes four songs from an earlier Polish gig (including a cover of Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Albatross’), an interesting interview and a photo gallery. As a footnote, as on the previous DVD, Lee Douglas is credited as a full band member but only appears on stage very briefly. GRADE: B–.
Anathema (UK): Hindsight (KScope KSCOPE106, CD, with digibook, Germany, 2008)
Lee Douglas
This set of re-recordings of old Anathema numbers is high on atmosphere and craft, and beautifully recorded to boot. It scores rather less for originality and vitality, much less variety – this is of that modern ilk of indie-meets-borderline-prog, akin to Radiohead or the direction Anekdoten took on Gravity. Many people might describe it as Pink Floyd-like, but it isn’t really – it has none of their ambition or scale, and they were always perversely varied whilst always sounding like themselves. As such, this is excellent late-night mood music – with the caveat that you’ll need to be in the mood for it. GRADE: C+.
Anathema (UK): We’re Here Because We’re Here (The End TE205-2, CD plus DVD plus 7", with download card and gatefold minisleeve, USA, 2010)
Lee Douglas
Anathema’s first set of new material with Lee Douglas – not that she appears to do much here – is a considerable step up from Hindsight. With the benefit of electric backing, the band offer that kind of modern prog that’s all widescreen swelling textures and evocative atmospheres rather than focusing on knotty riffs, spidery solos or tempo changes. How much you’ll like this depends on whether you like that style ­– and I do, if it’s rendered well. It’s rendered extremely well here. GRADE: B–.
Anathema (UK): Falling Deeper (KScope KSCOPE187, CD, with digibook, Germany, 2011)
Lee Douglas, Anneke van Giersbergen
Like Hindsight, this is a collection of orchestral re-recordings of older pieces rather than a new album per se. Unlike Hindsight, it’s very varied and dramatic, with a widescreen feel and considerable intensity, particularly on the closing ‘Sunset Of Age’, so it’s a clear cut above. Anneke van Giersbergen provides the lead vocal on ‘Everwake’, so this could be of interest to fans of the Gathering. GRADE: B–.
Anathema (UK): Weather Systems (KScope KSCOPE206, CD plus DVD, with digibook, Germany, 2012)
Lee Douglas (joint lead vocals)
Anathema are a distinctive band visually as well as musically – the digibook (a format they seem to love) is filled with moody photographs of lowering skies, forests and deserted landmarks. The music is equally moody, and very much in the swelling, ebbing Radiohead-meets-modern prog style of We’re Here Because We’re Here. Eventually albums from a band as distinctive (and yet as derivative) as this is always difficult, but this is almost certainly their best to date – more powerful, more atmospheric and above all more progressive. GRADE: B–.

Anathema (UK): Universal (Kscope KSCOPE517, Blu-ray plus DVD and double CD, with digibook and slipcase, Germany, 2013)
Lee Douglas (occasional vocals)
This live set (or strictly speaking, sets, as there’s a bonus short acoustic performance included) is again impressive: the band have a great stage presence and the music soars and flows in all the right places. But as always, it’s all very much of a piece, so how much you need this if you have their last DVD is debatable. GRADE: B–.
Anathema (UK): Distant Satellites (Kscope KSCOPE521, CD plus double DVD, with 10" digibook and slipcase, Germany, 2014)
Lee Douglas (occasional vocals)
Anathema – at least in their post-metal guise – are a band whose greatest strength is also their greatest weakness. They’re extremely adept at creating lush, atmospheric soundscapes and they have a very distinctive sound – which isn’t to say that they’re especially original, as they wear their influences very much on their sleeve. What really characterises them is their consistency: not just from song to song but from album to album; even the graphic design (this time focusing on brightly coloured aerial phenomena, in a beautiful deluxe package) is instantly recognisable. Thus, once you’ve heard one Anathema album, you’ve heard them all. But they’re nearly all good enough that they’re worth hearing. The deluxe version of the album comes with a bonus DVD featuring hi-res (48/24) stereo and 5.1 versions of the album: the latter is superb and vastly more involving than the stereo mix. A second DVD features an interesting documentary about the making of the album, whilst a Japanese pressing (KScope VQCD-10374) substitutes a Blu-ray of the audio DVD but drops the documentary and deluxe packaging. GRADE: B–.
Anathema (UK): A Sort Of Homecoming (Kscope KSCOPE525, Blu-ray plus DVD plus double CD, with digibook and slipcase, Germany, 2015)
Lee Douglas (occasional vocals)
This acoustic set in the stunning surroundings of Liverpool Cathedral is quite a revelation – it makes me realise that their songs are more distinctive than I thought they were and that Lee Douglas has a superb voice, neither being obvious from their more homogenous studio output. A short behind-the-scenes film completes the Blu-ray and (identical) DVD, whilst the entire concert is presented on two CDs; as usual for this band, the packaging is beautiful. GRADE: B–.
Anathema (UK): The Optimist (Kscope KSCOPE5531, Blu-ray plus DVD plus double CD, with 12" digibook, Germany, 2017)
Lee Douglas (joint lead vocals)
Anathema’s final album is in their usual atmospheric rock style, and once again comes in a deluxe packaging featuring lots of evocative night-time imagery. However, it’s heavier, more majestic and slightly more experimental than their earlier work, so this may just be their best studio LP. In addition to the standard CD, the deluxe version features a second disc with a mixture of demos and live tracks plus a Blu-ray and DVD featuring hi-res stereo (96/24) and 5.1 mixes of the album proper. GRADE: B–.

Anchoress (UK): Confessions Of A Romance Novelist (Kscope KSCOPE345, CD, with gatefold minisleeve and booklet, Germany, 2015)
Catherine Anne Davies (lead vocals, guitar, keyboards, percussion, flute, omnichord, music box)
The former soloist and Simple Minds sidewoman’s debut as the Anchoress has been widely compared to Kate Bush’s Hounds Of Love, but aside from the very Bush-like ‘Popular’ resembles her spiritually and conceptually rather than musically. Far less ethereal than that description made me expect, Confessions Of A Romance Novelist offers a procession of melodic rock songs and ballads stitched together with sound effects to create a rich and rewarding musical tapestry. Whether it’s objectively better than Hounds Of Love is subjective, but I’ve never shared the consensus that that album was a masterpiece – whereas I do rate this quite highly. The following year, the set was reissued as a double album (Kscope KSCOPE429, with digipak and booklet) with a bonus disc featuring acoustic remakes of five of the songs. GRADE: B–.
Anchoress (UK): The Art Of Losing (Kscope KSCOPE345, triple CD, with book sleeve, Germany, 2021)
Catherine Anne Davies (principal vocals, guitar, keyboards, percussion, flute, melodica, omnichord, programming)
Like her first, this is a vivid tapestry of songs and instrumentals, though the mood is more introspective this time round, with a greater emphasis on ballads. More importantly, the quality is equally high – as it perhaps should be after six years’ gestation. The deluxe triple CD version features additional discs of demos (excellent in their own right) and remixes (much less interesting but still nice to have). GRADE: B–.

Anchoress (UK): Versions / EP1 (No label, CD, with gatefold minisleeve, autographed photo and ribbon, 2022)
Catherine Anne Davies (lead vocals, guitar, keyboards, flute, dulcimer, music box)
At just over 16 minutes, this four-track collection of cover versions isn’t what you could call substantial, but the songs are well chosen and the sparse, spacy arrangements beautifully executed, so it’s still just about a B–. Just about. GRADE: B–.

Anchoress (UK): Versions / EP2 (No label, CD, with gatefold minisleeve, autographed photo and ribbon, 2022)
Catherine Anne Davies (lead vocals, guitar, keyboards, drum programmes, flute)
‘Bizarre Love Triangle’ and ‘Friday I’m In Love’ are perhaps not the most obvious choices for Ms Davies to cover, whilst I’d never previously heard of ‘Elderly Woman Behind The Counter In A Small Town’ or ‘Sweetness Follows’. They’re all nicely performed, adding up to a charming 17½ minutes of music, but I’d much rather hear her interpreting her own compositions – or better still releasing a whole album of new stuff. GRADE: C+. 
Anchoress (UK): Versions / EP3 (No label, CD, with gatefold minisleeve, autographed photo and ribbon, 2022)
Catherine Anne Davies (lead vocals, guitar, bass, keyboards, drum programmes)
This third instalment is a bit folkier, peaking on a faithful rendition of All About Eve’s ‘Martha’s Harbour’. Elsewhere my feelings remain unchanged – this is a pleasant EP but I’d really prefer to hear more of Ms Davies’s own material. GRADE: C+.

Ancient Bear Cult (Finland): Sounds From The Past (Kingdom Productions KID 953, CD, with digipak, 2008)
Päivi Väisänen (joint lead vocals, erhu, crwth, kankles), Verna Paavola (joint lead vocals, flute, recorder, whistle, winds)
The title says it all: this is (mostly instrumental) folk music played on a variety of obscure and ancient instruments. The first surprise is that frequent use of percussion instruments gives this sufficient heft to make it appealing to rock and prog fans. The second is that nearly all the nimble yet earthy material is self-penned. GRADE: B–.
Ancient Bear Cult (Finland): Lullamoinen (Kingdom Productions KID 954, CD, with digipak, 2011)
Päivi Väisänen (joint lead vocals, erhu, crwth), Verna Paavola (joint lead vocals, flute)
This isn’t much of a step forward from their first, though the instrumentals and songs here are a little gentler and more pastoral, a touch more conventional and a mite less energetic and complex. Nonetheless this is a beautiful and effective folk album by any standard. GRADE: B–.
Ancient Bear Cult (Finland): Sammalikossa (Kingdom Productions KID 955, CD, with digipak, 2014)
Päivi Väisänen (joint lead vocals, erhu, nyckelharpa)
The addition of guttural, growling male vocals on quite a number of songs changes the band’s sound somewhat, though otherwise this is business as usual. On a few of the female-fronted numbers they rather resemble Ougenweide, but for the most part Ancient Bear Cult maintain their distinctive sound and identity, with a nicely mystical and eerie edge here and there. GRADE: B–.

Ancient Veil (Italy): I Am Changing (Lizard CD 0124, CD, 2017)
Valeria Caucino (occasional vocals)
This Italian trio (plus numerous guests) produced a beautiful, understated album blending delicate, folky songs with richly symphonic instrumentals. The whole thing has a delicate, dreamlike, pastoral feel, with plenty of woodwind and some strings; a few moments of rock energy only serve to lift the mood. Valeria Caucino fronts the lovely ‘Chime Of The Times’, sounding uncannily like Judy Dyble, whilst Anna Marra adds some wordless and backing vocals and Elisabetta Comotto contributes some of the flute. GRADE: B–.
See also Narrow Pass

Andrew John & Lissa (UK/Denmark): Louise… A Life Story (Antagon ALP 3212, West Germany, 1976)
Lissa Ladefoged (joint lead vocals, guitar)
This duo (Andrew John Huddleston being one person rather than two) debuted with an unusual concept album that tells the story of a woman’s short life and tragic death entirely through cover versions. Like most covers albums, it doesn’t have a great deal of personality, though it’s pleasant enough, with the best cut being a rather baroque version of Trees’ ‘The Garden Of Jane Delawney’. GRADE: C+.
Andrew John & Lissa (UK/Denmark): Old Friends, New Friends (Popular Musik PM 1815, Denmark, 1977)
Lissa Ladefoged (joint lead vocals, guitar, autoharp)
Unlike its predecessor, about half their second album consists of original songs by Huddleston. When it’s good (notably the sophisticated progressive folk of ‘Early Morning, Early Warning’) the disc is excellent, but there’s far too much whimsical material on here, making for a patchy and sometimes irritating listening experience. GRADE: C+.

Catherine Andrews (UK): Fruits (Cat Tracks PURR LP2, with poster sleeve and booklet, 1982)
Folk/New Wave/Psychedelic
Catherine Andrews (lead vocals)
Recorded in 1980 but unreleased for two years, this is chiefly renowned for its gorgeous poster sleeve. Musically, it’s quite strange, refracting psychedelic and new age elements through an electro-pop prism (or possibly the other way around), with Eastern instrumentation used on a couple of cuts. However, on side two’s openers ‘Cuddles’ and ‘Didums’ (whose titles accurately reflect their contents) Andrews appears to synthesise Kate Bush and Lene Lovich, though Bush would never have entertained such irritating, childlike ditties. Overall, it’s quite interesting and certainly unique, and the ‘acid-folk’ label attached to it in dealer lists is probably as good a description as any other, though this could arguably be marketed as anything from new wave to prog. The album’s circumstances are as odd as its music: Cat Tracks was clearly Andrews’s own private imprint (its only other release was a single of ‘Didums’, credited to ‘Hunny Yum & The QT Bum Fairies’, and squarely aimed at children), but she must have had a substantial budget: the producer is Mike Oldfield alumnus Simon Heyworth and the musicians include Denis Haines of progressive pop outfit the Doll, Gong associate Stephan Lewry, Hawkwind’s Nik Turner, and Gordon Giltrap. GRADE: C+.

Androids Of Mu (UK): Blood Robots (Fuck Off FLP 001, with insert, 1980)
New Wave
Suze Allport (joint lead vocals, synthesiser), Katalin Barat (joint lead vocals, guitar), Birsen Meydanci (bass), Patricia Aston (drums, backing vocals)
The band name, album title and presence of Suze Allport (previously of Here & Now and Planet Gong) might lead you to expect space-rock, but despite lots of trippy synthesiser this is second generation punk and post-punk. It’s not good punk and post-punk either – whilst the frequent reggae-influenced rhythms indicate a strong Slits influence, this has none of the Slits’ iconoclasm or genuine sense of adventure, and the writing, musicianship and (especially) the vocals are frequently below-par. The album could have some appeal for fans of Crass and the Poisongirls, though it’s nowhere near as good as either band at its peak. GRADE: C–.
See also Here & Now, Planet Gong

Andromaca (Italy): The Curse Of The Mad Hatter (Hellbones HBR032, black CDR, with 7" gatefold minisleeve, 2020)
Antonella Suella (lead vocals)
The presence of Antonella Suella, formerly leader of bizarro progressive metallers Nova Malà Strana, made me expect something similar, but the only resemblance is that this is also extremely weird. Recorded solely using voice (often heavily processed) and synthesiser, this resembles a cross between Affenstunde-era Popol Vuh, the various Ventricle label acts and the most experimental end of Tangerine Dream, with added industrial Nurse With Wound or Current 93 edges. The single 39-minute track ebbs and flows, builds and subsides, with an incredible 3D stereo image that creates a swirling cauldron of sound. The result is a fascinating sonic trip and an album that many listeners may treasure as a classic, though my own tastes tend towards the more structured. GRADE: B–.

See also Nova Malà Strana

Androméda (West Germany): Karliburr (No label 66.21 988-01, 1980)
Rebecca Wronker (occasional vocals, flute)
Androméda’s second LP (their first was cut by an all male line-up) is a concept album featuring light but quite complex progressive rock. With influences ranging from folk to new wave, it’s a varied set that sometimes recalls contemporaries like Captain Sperrmüll but is much more rooted in traditional prog. GRADE: C+.
Androméda (West Germany): 3 (No label 66.21 199-01, 1981)
Rock/New Wave/Progressive
Rebecca Wronker (occasional vocals, flute)
Their third and final LP is much more song-based than its predecessor and often very punkish, especially in the mannered, gabbling vocals. The backing displays some new wave influences too but also draws strongly on hard rock and prog, with quite a bit of keyboard and flute work and some avant-garde sound collages. With a different vocal approach, this could have been a fine album; as it is, it’s a very listenable set that takes them closer to Rotglut and other polit-rock acts. GRADE: C+.

Anekdoten (Sweden): Vemod (Virta 001, CD, 1993)
Anna-Sofi Dahlberg (occasional vocals, keyboards, cello)
Upon Vemod’s release, Anekdoten were hailed as one of the great progressive bands of the nineties, and there’s little I can add to that. This is impressive music focusing on dynamism rather than self-conscious complexity, and with some sublimely melancholy moods (even if, while quite varied, it’s all of a piece – often the way with truly distinctive bands). They’re frequently compared to King Crimson, which makes perfect sense, although their countrymen Kultivator were probably an equally important influence; the main difference is that Anekdoten favour a lot more Mellotron and reduce the zeuhl and jazz elements to a minimum. The Japanese CD adds an excellent ten-minute bonus cut ‘Sad Rain’. GRADE: B.
Anekdoten (Sweden): Nucleus (Virta 002, CD, 1995)
Anna-Sofi Dahlberg (Mellotron, cello, backing vocals)
Their second album has been widely lauded for its dynamism, but the said dynamism frequently consists of alternating passages of atonal guitar thrashing (approaching metal, but with a certain new wave edge) with slow, folky Swedish melancholia recalling their debut. As a modus operandi for a single song, this could have worked interestingly, but eventually it becomes rather tiring and one-dimensional, with the mellower compositions being the best. GRADE: B–.
Anekdoten (Sweden): Official Bootleg – Live In Japan (Arcàngelo ARC 1036/1037, double CD, with gatefold minisleeve, booklets and obi, Japan, 1998)
Anna-Sofi Dahlberg (keyboards, cello, backing vocals)
Mixing Vemod, Nucleus and previously unreleased songs (some of which would later resurface on their third studio album From Within) this excellent live set proves that Anekdoten were more than capable of recreating their studio excursions onstage. With a subtler, though still aggressive approach, the Nucleus material is a great deal more palatable this time around. Three out of four songs from the previous year’s limited edition Live EP are replicated here. GRADE: B.
Anekdoten (Sweden): From Within (Virta 003, CD, 1999)
Anna-Sofi Dahlberg (keyboards, cello, backing vocals)
Studio album number three is a marked improvement over the relentless Nucleus, with rich, measured compositions that are more relaxed than the band’s earlier work. With some typically superb Mellotron textures, this is wonderfully atmospheric music than never degenerates into mere showmanship or barrages of ostentatious riffing and soloing. GRADE: B.
Anekdoten (Sweden): Gravity (Virta 004, CD, 2003)
Anna-Sofi Dahlberg (keyboards, backing vocals)
This is Anekdoten’s most controversial album, showing them moving significantly in an alternative rock direction and even incorporating some pop influences into their sound. Many fans consider it their worst, but to my mind it’s their best, wedding their rich Mellotron-based sound to some genuinely catchy and well-structured material. The opening ‘Monolith’ fully matches the intensity of their earlier work, whilst the sumptuous ‘Ricochet’ is the single finest thing they ever wrote; the album never recaptures the same heights thereafter but maintains an impressive standard throughout, climaxing with the excellent instrumental ‘Seljak’. GRADE: B.
Anekdoten (Sweden): A Time Of Day (Virta 005, CD, with digipak and booklet, 2007)
Anna-Sofi Dahlberg (keyboards, cello, backing vocals)
Whilst unmistakably Anekdoten, this is a much softer album than anything that went before, although the more commercial edges characterising Gravity are mostly absent. On first listen I found it underwhelming, but there are some fine musical passages here, with some well-judged use of flute deepening their textures. GRADE: B–.

Anekdoten (Sweden): Until All The Ghosts Are Gone (Arcàngelo ARC-1165, double CD, with gatefold minisleeve, booklet, poster booklet and obi, Japan, 2015)
Anna-Sofi Dahlberg (keyboards)
The problem with All The Ghosts Are Gone isn’t that it’s a mediocre album – on the contrary, this is a huge step up from A Time Of Day. The problem is that it sounds like a recapitulation of their career to date: some From Within­-style melancholy here, a few Gravity-like alternative rock touches there, and a closing instrumental that harks back to Vemod and Nucleus. Anyone who loves Anekdoten’s previous albums is certain to like this; whether they’re likely to need this is a different question. As a footnote, the Japanese pressing uniquely includes a second disc featuring an extended remix of ‘Shooting Star’ (way better than the original), an alternate mix of ‘If It All Comes Down To You’ with a different flute solo, and a remix of the superb closing instrumental ‘Our Days Are Numbered’ (not an improvement but radical and very interesting). In fact, the bonus disc takes Anekdoten into the new musical areas that the album proper doesn’t, making it the more interesting set. GRADE: B.

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