Em-Ep

 

Em Sinfonia (USA): In Mourning’s Symphony (Martyr Music Group 72020-0002-2, CD, 1999)
Metal/Progressive
April Domet (joint lead vocals), Mary Bielich (bass)
With just four long songs, this unusual album falls broadly under the banner of atmospheric doomdeath, but is quite difficult to describe. With lots of violin and a strong classical atmosphere, it contrasts passages by two very different vocalists – the male vocals are semi-spoken whilst the female singing is clear and melodic – and sets them against relaxed musical backing with slow tempos and spare though heavy riffing. The results are melancholy, portentous and often quite pretentious (especially in the lyrics department), making for an intriguing release. GRADE: C+.

Em Sinfonia (USA): Intimate Portrait (Martyr Music Group 7202000052, CD, 2001)
Metal
Bunny (joint lead vocals)
Unlike their first, this much longer album has generally short songs, but the basic style remains similar: solid, understated mid-paced doomdeath lifted by melodic female vocals. Once again, there are heavy riffs aplenty, but the whole thing still manages to sound light and airy, which is quite an achievement. GRADE: C+.
See also Novembers Doom, Penance

Embertides (UK): Between Trees And Starlike (Reverb Worship RW 433, black CDR, with DVD case and inserts, 2020)
Folk/Psychedelic
Daughters Of Grief
This collaboration between United Bible Studies’ David Colohan, the Hare & The Moon’s Grey Malkin and the pseudonymous Daughters Of Grief consists of several eerie, almost ambient improvisations. The results, unsurprisingly, hint towards both United Bible Studies and the Hare & The Moon as well as broadly similar explorers like Sarry, mixing Ligeti-like vocals and liturgical keyboards with electronics and effects. It’s all pretty rambling and diffuse, of course, but more varied and intriguing than most releases in the style. GRADE: C+.
See also Daughters Of Grief

Embryo (West Germany/USA): Bad Heads And Bad Cats (April 0005, 1975)
Jazz/Rock/Progressive
Maria Archer (principal vocals, percussion)
By this stage in their career, the prolific Embryo had added some slick funk edges to their original jazz/rock sound. The soulful vocals lend a polished, rather sterile edge to some of the material, and about half of this is song-based, but there is some good music here (especially the ethnic-tinged 12-minute ‘Nina Kupenda’ and the inventive instrumental ‘Klondyke—Netti’). GRADE: C+.
Embryo (West Germany/USA): Live Embryo (April 0003, 1976)
Jazz/Rock/Progressive
Maria Archer (joint lead vocals, percussion)
Consisting mainly of instrumental performances, this is an odd album that does everything right on paper (long jazzy jams with funky edges and lots of trippy lead guitar work) but ultimately sounds rather dull and underwhelming. Perhaps it’s the lack of playfulness and atmosphere compared to, say, Gong or Hatfield & The North; or maybe there just aren’t great tunes. After this album, Maria Archer went on to the more mainstream Real Ax Band. GRADE: C+.
See also Real Ax Band

Emerald Dawn (UK): Searching For The Lost Key (World’s End WERCD1, CD, 2014)
Progressive
Katrina Jane Stewart (joint lead vocals, keyboards, flute)
This Cornish band’s debut consists of just four tracks, each of more than ten minutes. There’s nothing very adventurous or exploratory here, but this is lovely symphonic progressive with soaring melodies, plenty of dynamism and effective arrangements and production (despite the complete absence of bass). Their actual songwriting isn’t as impressive as their composing, with the lyrics in particular being somewhat simplistic, but this is nonetheless an excellent first outing showing plenty of promise. GRADE: B–.

Emerald Dawn (UK): Visions (World’s End WERCD2, CD, 2017)
Progressive
Katrina Jane Stewart (principal vocals, guitar, keyboards, flute)
Emerald Dawn are a rarity among progressive rock bands – they really know how to take their time. Opener ‘Musique Noire’ lasts for 20 minutes, but isn’t packed with tempo changes or spidery solos: it’s all about atmosphere and unfolds slowly and deliberately. That sense of restraint is equally apparent on the other three tracks, making this as memorable as their first. Its detractors might point out the slightly low-budget production or ‘Musique Noire’’s squelchy synthesiser riffs, which firmly anchor the band’s roots in neoprogressive, but to these ears Emerald Dawn’s naïveté is simply part of their charm. GRADE: B–.
Emerald Dawn (UK): Nocturne (World’s End WERCD3, CD, 2019)
Progressive
Katrina Jane Stewart (joint lead vocals, keyboards)
For their third album, Emerald Dawn favour a much more dramatic style, complete with a theatrical spoken introduction. At times, this even hints towards progressive metal or bands like Jacula, and the haunting restraint of their first two LPs is largely lost, moving their sound closer to mainstream neoprog. GRADE: C+.

Emerald Dawn (UK): To Touch The Sky (World’s End WERCD4, CD, 2021)
Progressive
Katrina Jane Stewart (lead vocals, guitar, keyboards, flute)
This is considerably mellower than Nocturne, and to these ears a bit of a step up. But it’s also very ambitious, comprising three pieces of 11, 15 and 22 minutes, the latter a 15-part suite. Sometimes less is more, and I find this less enjoyable than the band’s earliest work, on which they had a far more distinctive sound. GRADE: C+.

Emily (USA): Emily (EMI Pathé C064-11896, France, 1971)
Singer/Songwriter/Folk/Psychedelic

Emily Bindiger
American singer Emily Bindiger is best-known for her work as a session musician and on film soundtracks, but at the age of sixteen she recorded this album of her own songs in France. A couple of country-flavoured cuts notwithstanding, it’s a masterpiece – packed with hauntingly sad songs, with eerie baroque orchestrations and some restrained yet powerful backing from local prog rock band Dynastie Crisis. Mostly the lyrics concern spiritual questing and existential regrets, with a religious angle on several numbers (as titles such as ‘Confession’, ‘Jesus Said’ and ‘Born Again’ indicate). Overall this is rather similar to the first couple of albums by French singer/songwriter Catherine Lara (whose second album from 1972 is my pick for the greatest acid-folk LP of all time). There are few weak moments, but the standout cuts are the spooky opener ‘Confession’, the spacey and sepulchral ‘Song Of Decision’ and the astounding closer ‘Old Lace’ – a ten-minute psychedelic folk blowout that sounds like some imaginary fusion of Trees and Jethro Tull. A stunning gatefold sleeve, depicting the huge-eyed, waif-life Bindiger wearing a Victorian dress and posing with a penny-farthing in a forest at dusk, completes the deal (and perfectly reflects the feel of the music). Unsurprisingly, this is becoming a very expensive album as more people learn about it. I’d posit it as the acme of American female singer/songwriter psychedelic folk – Emily’s highly original and distinctive music blows Linda Perhacs away, for starters. GRADE: B.

Emmaus Road Band (USA): This Could Be The Beginning (Trutone TR-520573, 1974)
Rock
Lillian Long Parker (joint lead vocals)
For the most part, this is mainstream guitar rock with plenty of fierce leads, somewhat resembling a much more robust late seventies or early eighties Grateful Dead. However, it also takes in a mediocre country-ish number (‘Time’), a rather bland ballad (‘All I’ve Done’), a straighter piece of blues/rock (‘Damascus Road’) and a short number sung by a child (‘Jesus Loves Me’). The guitar work reaches a fiery peak on side two, and despite some significant inconsistencies this is a solid album throughout. GRADE: C+.

Empire (UK/USA): Mark I (One Way OW 31443, CD, USA, 1995, recorded 1974)
Progressive
Sydney Foxx (lead vocals)
Empire was the project of former Yes guitarist Peter Banks, and despite existing from 1974 until 1980 the group released no records during its lifetime. This collection of 1974 recordings – with the crack rhythm section of John Giblin and Preston Heyman plus guests Phil Collins and Sam Gopal – confirms them to have operated at the most commercial end of seventies prog, with a few pop and showtune elements creeping in. It also confirms them to have been a very good band, playing a pleasing brand of melodic progressive rock. GRADE: B–.
Empire (UK/USA): Mark II (One Way OW 32650, CD, USA, 1996, recorded 1977)
Progressive
Sydney Foxx (lead vocals)
This later set of demos, by a different line-up, also has its moments (and repeats one song from the earlier collection). However, despite some fine progressive moments, the soft rock elements are stronger this time around and the cheese quotient is considerably higher. GRADE: C+.
Empire (UK/USA): Mark III (One Way OW 32179, CD, USA, 1996, recorded 1979)
Rock/Progressive
Sydney Foxx (lead vocals)
The law of diminishing returns continues: this is by far the least of the three volumes of the band’s work. For the most part, this is fairly straight rock with a typically late seventies feel: the near-10 minute instrumental ‘Foundation’ (which isn’t great) is the highpoint, whilst their overt flirtation with disco on ‘Dancing Man’ is unsurprisingly the album’s nadir. GRADE: C+.
Peter Banks’ Empire (UK/USA): The Mars Tapes (Nuovo Immigrato NIMM 1001/1002, double CD, with booklet and obi, 2014, recorded

1974 & 1979)
Progressive
Sydney Foxx (lead vocals)
This later collection of 1979 demos (plus one previously released bonus track from 1974 with Phil Collins) consists of much rawer, but also much more progressive, material than the overly polished Mark III. The sound quality varies significantly, as does the volume of the recordings, but the mostly instrumental material is rather interesting, particularly a 17-minute jam based around ‘Something’s Coming’ from ‘West Side Story’. GRADE: C+.

Empire (Italy): Back To Knowledge (Vinyl Magic 476631-2, CD, 1994)
Progressive
Rosanna De Luca (lead vocals)
The sleeve notes proudly claim that ‘there’s no drum quantization at all on this album!’, whatever that means, but the heavy, busy drumming dates the LP badly and doesn’t work to the material’s advantage. A trio of a vocalist, keyboardist and drummer could be expected to produce a fairly bombastic album, and this proves the rule, mixing songs and instrumentals with a distinctly Italian and decidedly neoprogressive sound. Parts aren’t bad, so this does have its moments, but it’s certainly not among the top tier of nineties progressive releases. GRADE: C.

Emporium (USA): I’m So Glad (Peace, 1970)
Lounge/Rock/Psychedelic
MaryAnn Stanton, Linda Williams
This college band’s live album is unusual in a couple of regards. Musically it’s closest to lounge, with a louche, glitzy feel, soulful dual female vocals and mildly funky percussion, but it also has some folky and psychedelic moments, including some fine fuzz guitar on ‘Jesus Jesus’. Secondly, it mixes Christian and secular material, taking in everything from ‘Aquarius’ to ‘Leaving On A Jet Plane’, ‘For What It’s Worth’, ‘Let’s Get Together’ and ‘Here Comes The Sun’. An equally unusual and very striking orange and purple sleeve completes the deal. GRADE: C+.

Empty Days (Italy/USA): Empty Days (Altrock ALT 036, CD, Italy, 2013)
Folk/Jazz/Ambient
Elaine Di Falco (principal vocals), Rachel O’ Brien (occasional vocals)
This album, cut by Di Falco with Italian collaborators, is very difficult to describe. The material is song-based, with piano the dominant instrument, and quite folky, but very ambient at the same time, with hazy washes of synthesiser creating a spacy mood. An interpretation of a John Dowling piece features a superb soprano vocal from guest Rachel O’ Brien, whilst elsewhere the album drifts by eerily, oozing atmosphere but never really demanding attention. GRADE: C+.
See also 3 Mice, Caveman Shoestore, Combat Astronomy, Ligeia Mare, Luciano Margorani & Elaine Di Falco, Thinking Plague, Dave Willey & Friends

Empty Storage (Germany): Mortalitas (TTS Media Music TTS00776, CD, 2003)
Metal/Progressive
Viola Ladensack (lead vocals)
This one-off album offers a fusion of gothic metal and symphonic sounds, offering powerful guitars riffs and rich swathes of keyboards. A few hints of seventies progressive rock appear here and there, and it’s consistently strong throughout, whilst lacking the individually great songs that would have taken it to the next level. GRADE: C+.

Emtidi (West Germany/Canada): Emtidi (Thorofon ATH 109, West Germany, 1970)
Folk/Psychedelic
Dolly Holmes (joint lead vocals, guitar, bouzouki, kazoo)
For their first album, the duo of Canadian Dolly Holmes and German Maik Hirschfeldt simply accompany themselves on acoustic guitars, flute, bouzouki and kazoo. The music ranges from straightforward American-style folk (as another reviewer pointed out, ‘No Turn Back’ sounds like a Bob Dylan tune with added kazoo) to hints of Krautrock spaciness (the appropriately titled ‘Space Age’, ‘Birds On A Graveyard’ and ‘Flutepiece’) with some Eastern tunings. Whilst not entirely consistent and including a few average tracks, this is frequently an interesting and adventurous LP, given distinction by Holmes’s beautiful singing. GRADE: B–.
Emtidi (West Germany/Canada): Saat (Pilz 20 29077-8, West Germany, with poster and sticker, 1972)
Folk/Rock/Progressive
Dolly Holmes (joint lead vocals, keyboards)
The second and final Emtidi album is something else – a genuinely unique fusion of folk, space-rock, prog and hints of new age, all swathed in layers of Mellotron. This astounding album is the pinnacle of the Krautfolk movement and one of the crowning glories of the famous team of Rolf-Ulrich Kaiser (producer) and Dieter Dierks (engineer – he also plays bass, Mellotron and percussion here). Quite simply, this is one of the most genuinely cosmic, as well as one of the most beautiful, musical experiences ever to emerge from Germany. GRADE: A.

Enbor (Spain): Enbor (Xoxoa X-11.117, with insert, 1979)
Folk/Jazz/Rock/Progressive
Amaia Kareaga (occasional vocals)
With a relaxed, mellow sound, this is a lovely album of jazzy folk/rock, with rich solo and massed vocals, well-judged electric guitar leads and a few judicious progressive elements. Occasionally it’s a little lugubrious, and at times their sound hints at a Christian influence, but for the most part this is a very accomplished and sometimes remarkably beautiful album. As a footnote, the minimalist sleeve design is very haunting too. They went on to cut an even better second and final LP, Katebegiak, without Amaia Kareaga; this included an outstanding side-long cut. GRADE: B–.

End Of Level Boss (UK): Prologue (Exile On Mainstream EOM 019, CD, Germany, 2005)
Metal/Progressive
Elena Jane (bass)
This mildly interesting album offers an unusual synthesis of influences, falling somewhere between Metallica and the grunge sound. Both intense and laconic, it’s listenable enough but frequently sounds like a pot pourri of other bands. The best cut by far is the ten-minute ‘Disjointhead’, on which the band stretches out and adds some progressive influences. GRADE: C+.
End Of Level Boss (UK): Inside The Difference Engine (Exile On Mainstream EOM 029, CD, with gatefold minisleeve, Germany, 2007)
Metal
Elena Jane (bass)
Their second album is perfectly listenable, but a bit lacking in distinction and with a complete absence of really great songs. Nonetheless, it’s a solid enough example of modern metal. GRADE: C+.

Endless (Czech Republic): Among The Trees (Lídl Music, cassette, 1996)
Metal/Progressive
Hana Nogolová (joint lead vocals)
Recorded by Hana Nogolová simultaneously with her work with Forgotten Silence, this is a varied set of gothic metal featuring some notable progressive edges. It’s all enjoyable enough, but quite amateurish at the same time, and isn’t really in the same league as her work with her other two bands. GRADE: C+.
See also Forgotten Silence, Silent Stream Of Godless Elegy

Endlich Allein (Italy): Le Voci Del Mondo (Mellow MMP 340, CD, 1996)
Progressive
Marina Galimberti (occasional vocals)
This obscure album draws strongly from the classic seventies Italo-prog sound whilst adding some neoprogressive touches (particularly in the chunky guitar work). Despite some good riffs and a pleasingly relaxed mood, it has two serious weaknesses: the inappropriate electronic drums and the rather unfinished feel of much of the material (some of the instrumental segments simply stop dead as though the band is bored with playing them). With a little more effort, this could have been a thoroughly enjoyable album, and as it is Italian prog aficionados could still find it a worthwhile listen. As a footnote, Marina Galimberti barely appears on the album, despite being credited as a full band member. GRADE: C.

Enemy Of The Sun (Germany): Shadows (The End TE092, CD, USA, 2008)
Metal/Progressive
Alla Fedynitch (bass)
Quite different from Fedynitch (and guitarist and composer Waldemar Sorychta)’s previous band Eyes Of Eden, Enemy Of The Sun offer knotty progressive metal, borrowing from black, death, thrash and classic metal and almost every other metal style you can think of. With an exceptionally versatile vocalist, offering everything from clean singing to death growls and black screams, this sometimes hints towards Dillinger Escape Plan in its furiously complex tempos. The result is an interesting and creative record, but also one that is a touch uneven and sometimes a bit too relentless. GRADE: C+.

Enemy Of The Sun (Germany): Caedium (Massacre MAS DP0673, CD, with digipak and booklet, 2010)
Metal/Progressive
Alla Fedynitch (bass)
This is slightly straighter than their first, with a clear thrash metal base, but it’s once again an odd, creative, unpredictable album that draws from all kinds of metal genres. Again, it’s a bit too relentless for my tastes, but it’s certainly interesting. GRADE: C+.

See also Eyes Of Eden, Leaves' Eyes

Enfasis (Venezuela): Enfasis (No label S-83-001, 1983?)
Rock/Progressive
Blanca Pulido Quintana (principal vocals), Carolina Pulido Quintana (occasional vocals, guitar)
Fronted by a pair of sisters, this is a lively album of symphonic rock with synthesiser-dominated arrangements. The band draws heavily on prog, with some moments of complexity though few extended instrumental passages, but also on pop and new wave to create an enjoyable if rather lightweight sound. GRADE: C+.
Enfasis (Venezuela): Vencer O Morir (Palacio LPS-66549, with inner, 1984)
Rock/Progressive
Blanca Pulido Quintana (joint lead vocals), Carolina Pulido Quintana (joint lead vocals)
On their second and final album, frequent comparisons to their countrymen Equilibrio Vital make more sense. Nonetheless, despite a heavier, more complex and more rocking sound, their music remains rooted in mainstream pop/rock, with a greater emphasis on catchy synthesiser lines. Overall, this is the better of their two LPs, though both have merit. As a footnote, the 2007 CD reissue (GDR 0710) was limited to 777 numbered copies and packaged in a full-size gatefold sleve. GRADE: C+.

Ens Cogitans (Russian Federation): Heart Of The Way (Nostradamus NR004, CD, 2002?)
Metal/Progressive
Irene Rusakova (occasional vocals, keyboards)
An enjoyable, accomplished progressive metal set, combining a very melodic approach with plenty of shifts of mood and tempo.

GRADE: C+.

Ensemble Dufay (New Zealand): The Courtier’s Courtship (Tartar TRL-015, 1981)
Folk/Classical
Greer Garden (joint lead vocals, harp), Andrea Oliver (flute, recorder)
This album of fifteenth and sixteenth century songs is a marginal case for inclusion, as it is as close to classical music as to folk. Nonetheless, it is a very pleasant album, resembling City Waites at their very best. According to the back cover, they released at least one other album (Music Of The Fifteenth And Sixteenth Century, Tartar TRL-013). GRADE: C+.

Environs (Italy): 3 Luglio 1969 (Inisheer IN 1202, 1989)
Jazz/Rock/Progressive/Avant-Garde
Marinella Ollino (lead vocals, bass, accordion, percussion)
Formerly known as Franti, Marinella Ollino, Stefano Giaccone and Toni Ciavarra return as Environs, with a quite different musical style. Side one is given over to the 21-minute improvisation ‘Streams’, which moves from minimalist free jazz to some powerful rock jamming, whilst side two has four shorter tracks, including covers of ‘Close Watch’ and ‘My Funny Valentine’ (which clearly demonstrate Ollino’s love of Nico). The results are interesting, fringing RIO and avant-prog, whilst also having roots in more traditional jazz, but the album doesn’t quite hold together. Oddly, it was issued without a conventional sleeve, instead coming inside a thin paper booklet and plastic outer. GRADE: C+.
Environs (Italy): Cinque Parti (Inisheer IN 1205, 1990)
Avant-Garde/Progressive
Marinella Ollino (principal vocals, percussion)
Quite different from their first, this offers minimalist, piano-based music with a rather gothic, eerie edge. Rock elements are used even more sparingly this time round, and the jazz edges are toned down slightly, resulting in their most unusual and experimental project to date. Once again, the album is housed in a booklet rather than a sleeve; this time round it comes with a real jigsaw piece glued onto the front, making every copy unique. GRADE: C+.
See also Franti, Howth Castle, Ishi, Lalli, Orsi Lucille, Yuan Ye

Enya (Ireland): ‘The Frog Prince’ Soundtrack (Island Visual Arts ISTA 10, 1985)
Lounge
Enya Brennan
The former Clannad keyboardist’s solo debut has few of the hallmarks that would make her world-famous. Apart from a couple of soft pop songs and a few jazz standards thrown into the mix, this is mostly loungy instrumental music that may have worked very well in the context of the film but is no more than inoffensive background noise without accompanying visuals. GRADE: C.
Enya (Ireland): Enya (BBC CD 605, CD, UK, 1987)
Progressive/New Age
Enya Brennan (lead vocals, keyboards, programming)
Enya’s second album was also a soundtrack, but this time her personality shows through. Whilst this kind of music has become ubiquitous, it’s important to remember how original this was in 1987: taking the spacier end of Clannad (‘Theme From “Harry’s Game”’ et al) and stripping away most of the folk influences and instrumentation, Enya created an atmospheric and mellow style of Celtic music based around synthesisers, drum programmes and sometimes vocals (either wordless or conventional). The result is a beautiful and haunting record, and the beginning of an entire new genre that became very wearing in lesser hands. Following the huge commercial success of the follow-up Watermark, this was reissued as The Celts with completely different artwork. GRADE: B.
Enya (Ireland): Watermark (WEA 243875-2, CD, UK, 1988)
Progressive/New Age
Enya Brennan (lead vocals, keyboards, programming)
Maintaining the same approach as its predecessor, but with greater emphasis on vocals and lyrics, Watermark brought Enya international acclaim and vast sales. ‘Orinoco Flow’, the smash hit single, is a classic, and ‘Cursum Perficio’ astounds with its depth and craftsmanship. Nothing else makes the same impression, but this is a lovely album all through. GRADE: B.
Enya (Ireland): Shepherd Moons (WEA 9031-75572-2, CD, 1991)
Progressive/New Age
Enya Brennan (lead vocals, keyboards, percussion, programming)
Whilst this is basically a remake of Watermark with a slightly more middle-of-the-road feel, it’s undeniably an exquisitely beautiful album. The highpoint this time is ‘Book Of Days’, which was deservedly a major hit single. GRADE: B.
Enya (Ireland): The Memory Of Trees (WEA 0630-12879, CD, 1995)
Progressive/New Age
Enya Brennan (lead vocals, keyboards, programming)
This isn’t actually inferior to her earlier albums, but the law of diminishing returns had really started to set in – all Enya does here is repeat herself, with several cuts being little more than pastiches of earlier compositions. As if to make the point abundantly clear, the closing ‘On My Way Home’ actually samples ‘Orinoco Flow’. The result is a very good album, but also a very superfluous one for anyone owning her previous three. GRADE: B–.
Enya (Ireland): A Day Without Rain (WEA 8573-85986-2, CD, 2000)
Progressive/New Age
Enya Brennan
Enya remakes the same album yet again, on this occasion without any individually great tracks. A Day Without Rain is mellow, melodic and beautifully crafted, but it’s also slight, inconsequential, one-paced and predictable. GRADE: C+.
Enya (Ireland): Amarantine (Warner Brothers 25646 2797 2, CD, UK, 2005)
Progressive/New Age
Enya Brennan
Without the gorgeous tunes and willingness to experiment that characterised her early work, this often comes close to high-class muzak and even more frequently approaches self-parody. A year later, the album was reissued with a bonus EP of Christmas songs (Warner Brothers 25646 41 402); this is better than the LP proper. GRADE: C+.

Enya (Ireland): And Winter Came… (Warner Brothers 2564 69330 6, CD, UK, 2008)
Progressive/New Age
Enya Brennan
Christmas albums are far from my favourite genre, but at least this one has all-original material. That said, they’re not particularly good original songs, and whilst pleasant this is also desperately somnolent. The electric guitar leads on the penultimate song lift it enormously, making one wish that Enya would abandon her long-established formula and take a few more risks with her arrangements. GRADE: C+.

Enya (Ireland): Dark Sky Island (Warner Music 0825646994441, CD, with gatefold minisleeve and booklet, 2015)
Progressive/New Age
Enya Brennan
Enya’s first album in seven years delivers zero surprises, which is itself unsurprising. However, it does deliver some of her best material in decades, so whilst this isn’t the equal of Watermark or Shepherd Moons it is a fine LP in its own right. GRADE: B–.
See also Clannad

Epidaurus (West Germany): Earthly Paradise (No label e 1004, 1977)
Progressive
Christiane Wand (lead vocals)
This is classic keyboard-led progressive with the music swathed in layers of synthesisers and Mellotron. Many albums in this style are rather mediocre, with the emphasis on musicianship rather than composition, but this one has some great melodies and the keyboard textures are frequently awesome (especially on the opening ‘Actions And Reactions’, which also features some beautiful singing from Christiane Wand). Most of the album is instrumental, with some very deft playing from all concerned and just the right balance between complexity and atmosphere. GRADE: B.
Epidaurus (Germany): Endangered (Penner CD 015, CD, 1995)
Rock/Progressive
Christiane Wand (principal vocals)
Totally different from their first, this reunion effort (intended to cash in on the success of the Earthly Paradise CD) is identikit neoprog with a soft and melodic sound. In fairness, it’s a pleasant album, with some catchy material and a few nice instrumental breaks. GRADE: C+.

Episode (USA): Into The Epicenter (Episongs, cassette, with insert, 1989)
Progressive
Roe Tyler (joint lead vocals)
Originally conceived as the band’s demo tape, this is a pleasant album of symphonic progressive with a few moments of mild experimentation. They’re often compared to Renaissance, but there’s not really much resemblance – Episode are far more rock-oriented with a more robust and varied sound incorporating everything from a drum solo to electronics and sound effects. A vinyl pressing also exists (Syn-Phonic SYNPHO 9), although I believe this came a few months after the private cassette release. GRADE: C+.
Episode (USA): Edge Of The Sky/Echoes (Episongs 1002, cassette, 1991)
Progressive
Roe Tyler (joint lead vocals)
This short album (or extremely long single, if you prefer) features two side-long tracks totalling just under half an hour. The self-penned ‘Edge Of The Sky’ would reappear on Starlight Tales two years later, whilst their cover of Pink Floyd’s ‘Echoes’ is exclusive. Both cuts are in a similar style to their debut, whilst representing a definite step up. GRADE: B–.
Episode (USA): Starlight Tales (Alabaster ALB 37330-1, CD, 1993)
Progressive
Roe Tyler (joint lead vocals, flute)
Their final album was also their most substantial, running for more than an hour. ‘Edge Of The Sky’ reappears from the earlier cassette, but everything else is new: mostly fairly short, melodic songs but also including the 24-minute suite ‘Hesperates Rising’. The new material is mostly quite mediocre, with the suite in particular far outstaying its welcome, but this is a perfectly pleasant listen. GRADE: C+.