Pro-Py

Procosmian Fannyfiddlers (Norway): …And Silver’s Quality (Langt Lem LLR666-17B, with booklet, 1998)
Garage/Progressive
Heidi Santos Larzen (occasional vocals)
The odd band name, humorous lyrics and frequent pornographic references suggest a strong Zappa influence, but the music here isn’t particularly jazzy. Instead it’s garage rock with some knotty time signatures and a few sympho-prog moments, culminating in the 19-minute ‘Dante’s Imporno’. It’s all enjoyable, unpretentious and amusing, but this also feels like a work in progress rather than a statement by a fully-formed band – though, given the offhand feel of the band’s music, that could be missing the point entirely. GRADE: C+.
Procosmian Fannyfiddlers (Norway): Fisted Lady (Langt Lem LLR666-17C, 1999
Progressive/Avant-Garde
Heidi Santos Larzen (joint lead vocals), Mette Jensen (flute)
Their third album (their first had an all-male line-up) represents a huge step forward: the hesitancy of …And Silver’s Quality is gone, replaced by dynamic music that makes their avant-garde roots far clearer. In turn, one can hear echoes of their tricksy, riff-driven sound and surreal humour in modern prog bands like A Formal Horse, though Procosmian Fannyfiddlers are so obscure that I’d hesitate to say that they were an influence. GRADE: B–.
Procosmian Fannyfiddlers (Norway): The Rolling Court Massacre – A Rock Opera (Langt Lem LLR666-17 D, CD, with booklet, 2001)
Progressive
Heidi Santos Larzen (joint lead vocals), Mette Jensen (occasional vocals, flute)
This title says it all: this is Procosmian Fannyfiddlers’ stab at – or more likely, pisstake of – a rock opera. As such, the spoken voices (all heavily accented, some electronically treated) may distract from the music, which is more varied than before and demonstrates more obvious references to seventies sympho-prog. The result is an interesting and creative album that pulls in all kinds of strange directions, though I suspect many listeners may enjoy some parts and loathe others. GRADE: C+.
Procosmian Fannyfiddlers (Norway): Return Of The Sweaty Owl (Langt Lem LLR666-17 E, CD, with booklet, 2003)
Progressive
Heidi Santos Larzen (principal vocals), Mette Jensen (keyboards, flute, backing vocals), Bente Marit Ekker (violin)
A far more mature album, this completes the move from guitar-based garage prog to keyboard-based sympho-prog (complete with lashings of sampled Mellotron) begun on its predecessor. Opening with a 20-minute suite, it’s packed with early seventies references, though the knotty riffs and surreal, profanity-packed lyrics characterising the band’s earlier work are still very much in evidence. They even manage to namecheck Steeleye Span during their bizarre, vivid ramblings, which provide fascinating counterpoint to the richly melodic, increasingly folky music. GRADE: B–.

Procosmian Fannyfiddlers (Norway): Father Dog (Langt Lem LLR666-17 F, CD, 2005)
Progressive
Heidi Santos Larzen (joint lead vocals), Mette Jensen (piano, flute, backing vocals), Bente Marit Ekker (violin, backing vocals)
There’s a greater pop sensibility creeping in here, plus lots of folky references and the band’s usual experimental time signatures. It’s curious to imagine how this music would play out with less risqué lyrics – it would certainly appear a great deal more conventional, but even aside from the surreal wordplay this is a fine modern prog album – richly symphonic, well played and sung, and full of surprises. GRADE: B–.
Procosmian Fannyfiddlers (Norway): The Horse From Hell (Langt Lem LLR666-17 G, CD, 2008)
Progressive
Heidi Santos Larzen (joint lead vocals), Mette Jensen (flute, backing vocals), Bente Marit Ekker (violin, clarinet, backing vocals)
The Horse From Hell marks a slight return to the more riff-driven, guitar-oriented style of their earlier work, with the sophisticated symphonic edges toned down. It’s still quite folky in parts and even manages to incorporate elements of jazz and hip-hop, though as usual for them the focus is very much on the vocals rather than extended instrumental passages. As usual, it’s quirky, unpredictable, creative – and damn good fun. GRADE: B–.
Procosmian Fannyfiddlers (Norway): Requiem Fatigue (Langt Lem LLR666-17 H, CD, 2009)
Progressive
Heidi Santos Larzen (joint lead vocals), Mette Jensen (piano, flute, backing vocals), Bente Marit Ekker (violin, backing vocals)
Any sense of artistic development between their albums has slowed down to a crawl: this is a band that has clearly marked out its territory and is enjoying operating within it. Nonetheless, on listening to this, a new comparison occurred to me: there are definite hints of the Cardiacs in their music, though that band’s punk influences are replaced by sixties garage and pop references. Along the way, they include musical and lyrical references to Abba and Jethro Tull, and even sum up their manifesto in a song title: ‘We Are Here To Annoy You’. However, whilst the po-faced won’t enjoy their quirky, humorous songs, I certainly do. GRADE: B–.

Procosmian Fannyfiddlers (Norway): Interference Number 9 (Langt Lem LLR666-17 I, CD, 2012)
Progressive
Heidi Santos Larzen (joint lead vocals), Mette Jensen (keyboards, flute, backing vocals), Bente Marit Ekker (violin)
Procosmian Fannyfiddlers’ albums are becoming increasingly difficult to review, for the simple reason that they’re becoming increasingly interchangeable. Thus, whilst Interference Number 9 may not objectively be worse than earlier releases, it’s hard to tell – but it certainly strikes me as less fresh, adventurous and amusing. GRADE: C+.
Procosmian Fannyfiddlers (Norway): Happy Accident (Langt Lem LLR666-17 J, CD, 2017)
Progressive
Heidi Santos Larzen (joint lead vocals), Mette Jensen (flute, backing vocals), Bente Marit Ekker (violin, backing vocals)
The five-year absence seems to have done Procosmian Fannyfiddlers some good, as this is a marked return to form. Richly symphonic, quirkily jazzy and constantly surprising, this is above all great goofball fun. GRADE: B–.

ProgAID (UK/USA/Sweden/Holland): All Around The World (F2 Music 200503S, CD single, with minisleeve, UK, 2005)
Susie Bogdanowicz, Heather Findlay, Tracy Hitchings, Rachel Jones, Christina Murphy, Liz Prendergast
Despite a running time of more than 30 minutes (plus a bonus ‘making-of’ video), this charity venture in aid of the Tsunami disaster consists of a single song in five versions. It brings together personnel from a plethora of neoprogressive outfits, ranging from Marillion and IQ to Glass Hammer, Karnataka, Landmarq and Iona. But is it any good? I’ll give you two clues. The first is that it should more accurately have been credited to SomewhatPompousStadiumRockAID. The second is that Rob Reed produced and co-wrote it. As a footnote, I suspect that the female musicians involved contributed nothing beyond occasional backing vocals. GRADE: C.

See also Ayreon, Dave Bainbridge, Bluehorses, Liam Davison, Heather Findlay, Glass Hammer, Tracy Hitchings, Karnataka, Landmarq, Mantra Vega, Mostly Autumn, Clive Nolan & Oliver Wakeman, Odin Dragonfly, Quasar, Reasoning, Strangers On A Train

Progressive Battle ’88 (Japan): ’88 Vol 1 (Crime 8SSX 14, 3" CD, with long sleeve, 1988)
Progressive
Megumi Tokuhisa (joint lead vocals)
This promo-only release, which appears have emerged from some kind of battle of the bands, runs for 19 minutes and features covers of Taï Phong’s ‘Now It’s The Season’ (fronted by Megumi Tokuhisa) and PFM’s ‘L’Isola De Niente’ (with male vocals). Both cuts are typical Nippon neoprogressive, and not brilliantly played or recorded to boot, but this is still an intriguing curio from the Japanese eighties underground scene. GRADE: C.
See also Teru’s Symphonia, Megumi Tokuhisa

Project Creation (Portugal): Floating World (Progrock PRR320, CD, USA, 2005)
Progressive/Metal
Alda Reis (joint lead vocals)
The science fiction concept doesn’t enthral me, but the music here is pretty captivating. Blending symphonic progressive and metal, Project Creation offer a set that’s moderately complex and constantly changing, moving from hard riffing sections to folky moments and Eastern motifs and taking the listener on a sonic journey reflecting the lyrics. The results stand as a testament to the talent of Hugo Flores, who wrote, arranged and produced everything and played the bulk of the instruments. GRADE: B–.
Project Creation (Portugal): Dawn On Pyther (Progrock PRR321, CD, USA, 2007)
Progressive/Metal
Zara Quiroga (joint lead vocals), Alda Reis (occasional vocals)
Album number two continues the concept and basic style of the first, but this time round the music is much more relentless: steam hammer drumming topped by ostentatious power metal soloing, all topped with reams and reams of lyrics delivered by multiple voices complementing, repeating and disrupting one another. Ironically, it’s the more peaceful moments that work best, indicating that in this case less is very definitely more. Flores subsequently formed the duo Factory Of Dreams with Beto Vazquez Infinity vocalist Jessica Lehto.

GRADE: C+.

Project Siebensinn (West Germany): Zeitzeichen (Christ Musik Kultur GEMA BLD 708, with booklet, 1988)
Pop/Rock/Progressive
Sonja Holzapfel (principal vocals), Beate Strehle (bass, backing vocals)
This oddball Christian crew seem to have been some sort of multimedia spectacle, as one member is credited with ‘pantomime’. Musically, their album is a strange mixture of funky eighties pop, lightweight hard rock and symphonic progressive; whilst the cheese factor is a little high and the production has dated badly, there are some good instrumental sections here. Overall, this is decidedly more imaginative than most Christian fare. GRADE: C+.

Projeto Caleidoscópio (Brazil): O Sete (Caleidoscópio CLD 001, CD, with booklet, 1999)
Folk/Rock/Progressive
Analu Paredes (principal vocals)
This short, delicate album offers two proggy pieces (one of them featuring Quaterna Réquiem’s Elisa Wiermann as a guest) bookending five shorter ballads. Cutting-edge it isn’t, but the duo of Analu Paredes and Arthur Nogueira write and arrange well, and Paredes has a truly beautiful voice. Inevitably, some commentators have compared this to Renaissance, though I don’t hear much resemblance herself; that said, none other than Annie Haslam notes the similarity in her glowing sleevenote. GRADE: C+.
Projeto Caleidoscópio (Brazil): Carrosell (Rock Symphony RSLN 069, CD, with booklet, 2001)
Rock
Analu Paredes (principal vocals, guitar)
They do resemble Renaissance on their second and final set (notably on ‘Now Is The Time’), but that’s not to say that it’s a step up. Despite the presence of a few wordless numbers with slight classical tinges, this mostly drops the progressive edges of its predecessor for a mellow, mildly jazzy soft rock sound. The results are pleasant enough, though at twice the length of their first this makes the lack of any rough edges or risk-taking in their music more obvious. Bacamarte’s Jane Duboc duets on the opening ‘Pescador Do Ilusões’. GRADE: C+.

Promesses (France): Voir Un Peu La Vie… (Jef 335.410, 1979?)
Folk
Pascale Paslier (joint lead vocals, guitar), Lydie Paslier (joint lead vocals)
This Christian album by three siblings and a friend has a bit of a school project feel, with lush harmony vocals and gentle backing from acoustic guitars, bass and harmonica. Whilst it’s not the most distinctive LP, Pascale Paslier’s compositions are of a high standard, and the whole thing has a suitably serene and beatific mood. GRADE: C+.
Promesses (France): Il Est Ressuscité! (Jef 335.412, 1981?)
Folk
Pascale Paslier (joint lead vocals, guitar, synthesiser), Lydie Paslier (joint lead vocals, synthesiser, flute)
They may have shrunk to a trio, but this has a bigger sound than their first album, with lush symphonic keyboards fleshing out their delicate music. In most regards, it’s a slightly better album, but an overweening jollity (not uncommon for Christian bands) creeps into a few songs, which undermines their sense of naïveté. GRADE: C+.
Promesses 2 (France): Sûr De Ton Amour (Mayim MAD 120, with insert, 1986)
Singer/Songwriter
Pascale Paslier (joint lead vocals, guitar), Lydie Paslier (joint lead vocals, keyboards), Aude Paslier (synthesiser)
Now a trio of Paslier sisters (with Lydie sharing in the songwriting), the renamed Promesses 2 offer a much more synthesised sound, with the music dominated by synthesisers and programmed percussion. It’s still quite folky, but the music here falls more into a singer/songwriter vein with some soft prog edges; it’s all very eighties, but also very pleasant and more distinctive than their previous incarnation. GRADE: C+.
Promesses 2 (France): Tu Cherches Un Phare (Mayim MAD 123, with insert, 1986?)
Singer/Songwriter
Pascale Paslier (joint lead vocals, guitar), Lydie Paslier (joint lead vocals, keyboards), Aude Paslier (synthesiser)
Their final album is in the same vein as their third, though the MOR elements underpinning their new synthesised sound are more obvious here. Nonetheless, this is another charming album, containing some lovely and gentle musical moments. GRADE: C+.

Promise & The Monster (Sweden): Transparent Knives (Imperial IMP050CD, 2007)

Folk

Billie Lindahl

This one-woman band (with Lindahl primarily contributing acoustic guitars but also tuned percussion, autoharp, cello and even a little Mellotron) offers delicate, shimmering folk with a psychedelic atmosphere. Lindahl’s precious, girlish singing style may not appeal to every listener, but this is undeniably beautiful stuff, recalling her sometime collaborator Lisa Isaksson’s better-known Lisa & Piu project. GRADE: B–.

Promise & The Monster (Sweden): Red Tide (Imperial IMP086CD, 2011)

Folk/Rock/Psychedelic

Billie Lindahl

This time round, Jörgen Wall is sharing instrumental duties with Lindahl and Lisa Isaksson is guesting on nearly half the tracks, resulting in a richer and much trippier listening experience. Ethereal, mesmerising and haunting, this is genuinely lovely stuff. GRADE: B–.

Promise & The Monster (Sweden): Feed The Fire (Bella Union BELLA492CD, UK, 2016)
Folk/Rock/Psychedelic
Billie Lindahl
Their sound is a little more modernistic this time around, hinting toward the quasi-ambient eighties sound of bands like the Cocteau Twins. Nonetheless, there is still some lovely mystical psychedelic folk, particularly on the excellent closing cover of Lal Waterson’s ‘Fine Horseman’. Once again, Lisa Isaksson contributes to most numbers. GRADE: B–.

See also Me & My Kites, Ştiu Ni Ştiu, Vårt Solsystem

Prophets Of Zarquon (UK): Eternal Skies (Otherworld Music, CDR, 2019)
Rock/Progressive
Zoey Blaize (lead vocals)
Zoey Blaize sounds like a cross between Stevie Nicks and Heather Findlay, but that’s not to say that this sounds like a cross between Fleetwood Mac and Mostly Autumn. However, fans of both groups could well enjoy this outfit’s pleasant, inoffensive brand of symphonic rock, with its strong pop sensibilities. Those expecting some kind of space-rock or a highblown concept album due to the band’s name will be in for quite a surprise, however. In any case, the CD is the version to get as its bonus instrumental track is by far the best thing on offer, making one wish the group had been less song-based elsewhere. GRADE: C+.
Prophets Of Zarquon (UK): Autumn Fall (Otherworld Music, CDR, 2021)
Rock/Progressive
Zoey Blaize (lead vocals)
This is a cut above their first – livelier, more tuneful, more engaging and above all closer to solo Stevie Nicks. But though it’s damn good for what it is and could delight many listeners, the truth is that the Prophets’ brand of catchy, well-crafted classic rock isn’t likely to change your life – or indeed theirs. Tthat said, this certainly sounds like the best album Nicks has made in many a year, GRADE: C+.

Propinquity (USA): Propinquity (Owl OWL 23, with insert, 1972)
Folk/Rock
Carla Sciaky (joint lead vocals, guitar, percussion, violin, recorder)
This collective of singer/songwriters delivered a beautiful and haunting album that sometimes recalls Cardboard Village without the hand percussion or an unplugged Riverson. It’s a touch straighter than either, though, focusing on creating delicate atmospheres through varied acoustic instrumentation plus a rhythm section. As that description suggests, this is a lovely LP but perhaps a mite short on anything you could call excitement – or the three or four killer songs that could have elevated it into the Riverson class. GRADE: C+.
See also Carla Sciaky

Provenance (Sweden): 25th Hour; Bleeding (Scarlet SC 038-2, CD, Italy, 2001)
Metal/Progressive
Emma Hellström (joint lead vocals, keyboards, flute)
Rooted in gothic metal, this sometimes resembles a cross between early Theatre Of Tragedy and Madder Mortem. However, it’s also an eccentric and inventive album: despite short song times, there are plenty of progressive and experimental moments, including some unexpected use of keyboards and flute. Overall, it’s a striking and quite impressive debut, and one that would probably have merited a B­– had the band not chosen to use male death vocals on just about every song. GRADE: C+.
Provenance (Sweden): Still At Arm’s Length (Scarlet SC 056-2, CD, Italy, 2002)
Metal/Progressive
Emma Hellström (joint lead vocals, keyboards, flute)
This is a big step forward, not least for toning down the death vocals (although they do unfortunately appear here and there, sounding camp and kitsch as always). For the most part, this resembles an ultra-heavy twist on Anekdoten, being influenced as much by prog and new wave as metal. A relaxed instrumental aside, it’s all song-based, but with unusual structures contrasting quieter passages with majestic explosions of rock to generally great effect. GRADE: B–.
Provenance (Sweden): How Would You Like To Be Spat At? (Scarlet SC 100-2, CD, Italy, 2004)
Metal/Progressive
Emma Hellström (joint lead vocals, keyboards)
The death vocals have gone, and their music, while still rooted in metal, has become far more more minimalistic and experimental. Even more than its predecessor, this comes across as a heavier pastiche of Anekdoten, so it’s hardly at the cutting edge, but it’s certainly an interesting melding of modern progressive rock and metal, with the emphasis very much on sonic textures rather than melodies or riffs. GRADE: B–.
Provenance (Sweden): Red Flags (Peaceville CDVILEF146, CD, with slipcase, UK, 2006)
Metal/Progressive
Emma Hellström (joint lead vocals, Mellotron)
Although a few Anekdoten-like elements remain, this mostly sees the band returning to its original gothic metal sound. It’s a solid and atmospheric album, but a definite step down after its slightly more daring predecessor. GRADE: C+.

Providence (Japan): Tradition (No label, cassette, 1986)
Progressive
Yoko Kubota (lead vocals)
The band’s obscure debut release is unsurprisingly both impossible to find and resolutely lo-fi. Musically it’s enjoyable if unremarkable neoprogressive, with just three lengthy tracks of between seven and eighteen minutes. Whilst the songs display many of the hallmarks of eighties Japanese prog, they’re a little harder-edged and a lot less lush than most comparable female-fronted bands, particularly on the intense middle section of ‘I Talk To The Tradition’, which is easily the album’s best moment. GRADE: C+.
Providence (Japan): And I’ll Recite An Old Myth From… (Crime KICP 10, CD, with obi, 1990)
Progressive
Yoko Kubota (principal vocals)
Once again there are ambitious track lengths (between eight and twenty minutes), but despite a few attempts at complexity this remains firmly rooted in neoprog. It’s all listenable enough, however, and certainly has its moments. GRADE: C+.
Providence (Japan): Rare Tracks (Made In Japan MCB-002, with 12" insert and booklet, 1992, recorded 1985-1990)
Progressive
Yoko Kubota (lead vocals)
Limited to 500 copies, this unusually packaged set features previously unreleased live tracks from between 1985 and 1990. The sound quality is somewhat variable, but the music is more interesting than on their studio sets, demonstrating a denser sound with notable King Crimson influences. GRADE: C+.
Providence (Japan): There Once Was A Night Of “Choko-Muro” The Paradise (Made In Japan MJC-1012, CD, with obi, 1996)
Progressive
Takako Sugawaka (lead vocals)
This comeback album, with a different line-up, is mostly solid but unexceptional neoprog like their earlier work. However, the lengthy title track, which builds up a powerful, laconic groove, is nothing short of stunning, and well worth hearing. GRADE: C+.
See also Saber Tiger

Prowlers (Italy): Morgana (Mellow MMP 205, CD, 1994)
Progressive
Laura Mombrini (lead vocals)
With tracks of up to fifteen minutes, this is a pleasant symphonic progressive affair, but the music is also undemanding, sometimes amateurish and less than brilliantly recorded. Overall this is a rather average neoprog album with a few enjoyable moments, although only the powerful closer ‘Morgana’s Shadows’ really catches fire. GRADE: C.

Prowlers (Italy): Mother And Fairy (Mellow MMP 272, double CD, 1995)
Progressive
Laura Mombrini (principal vocals)
This is an ambitious set, consisting of two separate albums (one recorded between December 1992 and October 1993 and the other between July and October 1994) with a total running time of two hours. Musically it’s not exceptional, but it is a positive step forward from their debut, with longer instrumental passages, a more relaxed approach and some excellent keyboard textures. GRADE: C+.
Prowlers (Italy): Sweet Metamorfosi (Mellow MMP 323, CD, 1997)
Progressive/Psychedelic
Laura Mombrini (lead vocals)
Radically different from their first two albums, this is largely instrumental, with a dreamy, trippy feel and lots of psychedelic and mildly avant-garde touches. There are a few elements of their familiar neoprogressive sound worked in, but in general this sees the band reaching far beyond its comfort zone and coming up with something mostly very interesting. Whilst not everything here works brilliantly, there is some fine music on offer, so this stands head and shoulders above its predecessors. GRADE: B–.
Prowlers (Italy): Sogni In Una Goccia Di Cristallo (Mellow MMP 520, 2011)
Progressive/Psychedelic
Laura Mombrini (lead vocals)
This reformation album is thankfully a logical follow-up to Sweet Metamorfosi, rather than marking a return to their original neoprogressive style. If it has a failing, it’s a little disjointed, but at its best – notably on the massively extended ‘Libere Mente Sola’, which resembles a tripped-out twist on early seventies Pink Floyd at their spaciest – this is stunning stuff. GRADE: B–.
Prowlers (Italy): Prowlerslive (Agla, CD, with digipak, 2013)
Progressive
Laura Mombrini (lead vocals)
This well-recorded live album inevitably concentrates on songs rather than the long, trippy instrumental passages that characterised the last couple of LPs. It’s well done and listenable enough, but I’d certainly never choose it over the band’s later studio work. GRADE: C+.
Prowlers (Italy): Mondi Nuovi (Agla CD-07, CD, with digipak, 2014)
Progressive
Laura Mombrini (lead vocals)
This isn’t quite as creative or surprising as the two studio albums that preceded it, but it’s still a varied and interesting album with a nicely trippy mood and a few unexpected moments. At its heart, however, this is richly melodic prog with a typically Italian ballad style and a few nice touches of Mellotron. GRADE: B–.

Prowlers (Italy): Navigli Reflessi (Ma.Ra.Cash MRC070, CD, with gatefold minisleeve and booklet, 2017)
Progressive
Laura Mombrini (lead vocals)
In a world where countless bands playing straightforward rock insist they’re prog, it’s nice to find genuinely progressive albums like this. Richly melodic, musically literate and lushly atmospheric, Navigli Reflessi is frequently unpredictable (bagpipes, a musical saw and a children’s choir all make well-judged interventions) yet never random, and adventurous without being bombastic. It’s proper prog, in other words, and a universe away from the work of lesser bands who claim the same title. GRADE: B–.

Psychedelic Witchcraft (Italy): Black Magic Man (Taxi Driver, 10", green or white and green vinyl, some with art print, 2015)
Rock/Metal
Virginia Monti (lead vocals)
A marginal case for inclusion (being an EP rather than album), Black Magic Man offers four promising acidic hard rock songs. Avoiding the doom metal edges their name implies, Psychedelic Witchcraft offer atmospheric hard rock that sometimes hints towards a more psychedelic, underground early Heart. It’s good stuff, but it would also be good to hear them stretch out on some longer numbers. GRADE: C+.

Psychic Dose (USA): Early Demos (No label, download, 2014)
Metal
Amanda Howells
No prizes for guessing from the band name that this is doom metal with a mildly psychedelic edge, plus strong garage elements (partly due to these recordings’ demo status). Judging a band by its demos is usually unfair, but there’s plenty of promise here and this is pretty satisfying in its own right. GRADE: C+.
Psychic Dose (USA): Satyrnalia (No label, CDR, 2016)
Metal
Amanda Howells (principal vocals)
Their album proper offers a pleasing mix of doom, stoner and hard rock styles, with the whole thing having a definite seventies edge. This is pleasingly raw stuff, with strong garage edges, and could have some appeal for fans of the wildest side of acid-rock too. GRADE: C+.

Psychic Dose (USA): Mykviðr (No label, download, 2016)
Metal
Amanda Howells (principal vocals)
Whilst they’re fairly ambitious here – the closing jam extends to 14½ minutes – Psychic Dose’s punkish, garage take on doom metal is never going to win me over to the same extent as, say, Blood Ceremony or Windhand’s majestic take on the style. Nonetheless, this is good stuff: raw, powerful and assertive, and packed with powerful riffing. GRADE: C+.

Psychic Hit (USA): Promo 2018 (No label, cassette, 2018)
Rock/Metal/Progressive
Ariana Jade (lead vocals, synthesiser, violin), Andrea Genevieve (guitar, synthesiser), Melanie Burkett (guitar, bass)
This mostly female band’s demo EP offers unusual progressive hard rock with wild vocals and plenty of unexpected shifts of mood and tempo. Complex yet amateurish and sometimes quite bizarre, it melds all kinds of influences, and is extremely hard to define: a cross between Canadian experimental metal pioneers Trop Féross and Stevie Nicks is about as close as I can get. The end results are odd through and through and could sharply divide listeners’ opinions. GRADE: C+.
Psychic Hit (USA): Solutio (Seeing Red SRR067, gold or gold and black splatter vinyl, with insert, 2021)
Rock/Metal/Progressive
Ariana Jade (lead vocals, violin), Andrea Genevieve (guitar, synthesiser), Melanie Burkett (guitar, bass)
This is an odd as their demo – a truly peculiar melding of styles and influences – but it’s much more confident, if still a touch tentative with a playing time of under half an hour. But maybe half an hour is about right for music this wild, unpredictable and untutored, and this is certainly a memorable trip. GRADE: B–.

Pumpkin Pie (UK): Down The Cut With Pumpkin Pie (Saydisc SDL 272, 1976)
Folk
Norma King (joint lead vocals, guitar, accordion, recorder)
The subtitle ‘The Canal Age in song’ explains the concept behind this traditional folk album, which comes complete with a laminated cover mimicking a barge’s sign. With decidedly rustic vocals backed by acoustic guitar, bass and accordion plus occasional harmonium, melodeon, harmonica and recorder, it has a similar sound to bands like Vulcan’s Hammer and is a pleasant example of its genre. GRADE: C+.

Punch (USA): Punch (A&M SP 4307, 1971)
Pop
Kathy Ward (joint lead vocals), Dee Steele (joint lead vocals)
Bright and breezy harmony pop, with punchy production by Bones Howe and backing from top sessionmen like Hal Blaine, Joe Osborn and Larry Knechtel. Several tracks are self-penned, which is unusual for the genre, but the two best numbers are the Beatles covers: an eerie, baroque ‘Blackbird’ and a lively ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’. The band later changed its name to Sonoma and issued a second album in 1973. GRADE: C.
See also Sonoma

Punchin’ Judy (UK): Punchin’ Judy (Transatlantic TRA 272, 1973)
Rock
Barbara O’ Meara (principal vocals)
This competent hard rock album often sounds more American than British, bringing to mind female-fronted contemporaries like Brownstone, Coven and Kindred. There are also a few hints of contemporary Led Zeppelin at their most straightforward, as well as Stone The Crows, with Barbara O’ Meara’s vocals sometimes strongly resembling Maggie Bell’s. With a range of moods and styles, this is a solid and enjoyable disc but it lacks the great songwriting or original vision they would have needed to break through to the big time. As a surprising footnote, Fuchsia leader Tony Durant joined the band following the release of the LP. GRADE: C+.

Pupils & Staff Of Humphrey Perkins School, Leicester (UK): Resurgam (No label, 1975)
Folk/Rock
Jackie Brown (joint lead vocals), Anne Thursby (joint lead vocals), Rebecca Disney (joint lead vocals), Helen Gibson (backing vocals), Jenny Mitchell (backing vocals), Dawn Holt (backing vocals)
This rather amateurish school project album combines massed and solo vocals with backing from piano, drums and brass, with the whole thing having an obvious stage musical feel. Whilst not a particularly impressive example of its genre, it’s an evocative period piece and some of the solo pieces are pleasant enough. GRADE: C.
Pupils & Staff Of Humphrey Perkins School, Leicester (UK): The Song Of Nowayre (No label, 1976)
Folk/Rock
Candace Mort (joint lead vocals), Susan Widdowson (joint lead vocals), Francesca Shackel (joint lead vocals), Jackie Brown (joint lead vocals), Catherine Mee (backing vocals), Anne Harris (backing vocals), Shelley Green (backing vocals), Caroline Tyson (backing vocals), Helen Gibson (backing vocals)
The kids have learned a lot in a year, as this is significantly more enjoyable (and better recorded) than Resurgam. Full rock band backing is used in the middle of the first side, and the mood gets pretty heavy and even somewhat psychedelic. Elsewhere, extensive use of organ varies the mood and adds a welcome late sixties touch, and the music ebbs and flows with good use of dynamics. On the downside, the frequent loud applause and cheering is rather intrusive and some of the more comedic musical diversions are ill-judged, but there’s plenty to enjoy here. GRADE: C+.

Pupils Of Houghton Regis Upper School (UK): Eden (No label, with inserts, 1978)
Folk/Rock
Sharon Dempsey (joint lead vocals), Debbie Harrison (flute), Jackie Munn (clarinet), Pauline Woolley (clarinet), Linda North (oboe)
This secondary school concept album comes housed in an absolutely stunning laminated black-and-white sleeve depicting a serpent in paradise. Musically it’s par for the course, featuring full band backing with lots of woodwind; instrumentally there’s a strong resemblance to Jaffray’s The Seven-Sided Dice but the vocals are amateurish and rather hesitant. The inserts comprise two photocopied letters and a printed sticker. This is a very rare record, with just a handful of copies known. As a footnote, the album credits numerous female backing vocalists in addition to the musicians listed above. GRADE: C+.

Pure Love & Pleasure (USA): A Record Of Pure Love And Pleasure (Dunhill DS 50076, 1969)
Rock
Pegge Ann May (joint lead vocals)
Guitarist and bassist Bob Bohanna had previously been the leader of Morning Glory and, as on their sole album, he writes the vast bulk of the material here. The mood is very different, though, with a far less psychedelic feel and a more conventional late sixties rock style. The songs and vocal delivery are actually more pop than rock, but the backing is pretty heavy, with the stomping ‘Relax’ approaching proto-metal. It’s not the most revolutionary LP in the world, for sure – but for melodic West Coast rock with great guitar leads, this is a thoroughly appealing piece of work. GRADE: C+.

Pure Reason Revolution (UK): The Dark Third (Columbia 82876817842, CD, 2006)
Progressive
Chloë Alper (joint lead vocals, bass)
Essentially arranged as a continuous suite of music that ebbs and flows – simuiltaneously hypnotically repetitious and constantly varied – this is one of the most impressive progressive rock debut albums for many years. Their biggest influence is clearly Pink Floyd (most notably on the superb spacy opener ‘Aeropause’) but instead of offering a neoprog homage they cross the Dave Gilmour-esque ambience with modern progressive metal stylings and an epic, multilayered vocal sound that is uniquely their own. As a footnote, the American pressing (and the German issue eighteen months later, as a double CD) feature the tracklisting the band had first intended for the LP; their label forced them to change it since most of the original contents had already been released on singles and EPs. Notwithstanding that the German issue is the most comprehensive, I think Columbia got it right: the British version of The Dark Third is decidedly the best. GRADE: B.
Pure Reason Revolution (UK): Live At NEARfest 2007 (NEARfest NFR0010, CD, USA, 2008)
Progressive
Chloë Alper (occasional vocals, bass, keyboards)
This excellent live set unsurprisingly features most of The Dark Third, as well as a couple of more techno-styled numbers presaging their future direction. Some of the material sounds a little thin compared to the beautifully layered studio versions, but this is still a fine album and a worthwhile historical document. GRADE: B–.
Pure Reason Revolution (UK): Amor Vincit Omnia (Superball Music 28150 CD+DVD, CD plus DVD, with digipak and booklet,

Germany, 2009)

Rock/Techno
Chloë Alper
In a baffling change of direction, their second album fuses the vocal and compositional approach of its predecessor with simple, largely electronic backing drawing heavily on techno. Whereas The Dark Third is a work of amazing complexity, with interlinked songs that push in a variety of directions, this collection of short individual tracks sounds as though it took about as long to record as it does to play. The bonus DVD features live versions of five of the album’s tracks; the disc is crudely put together, with different visual formats for different songs, but the material works vastly better in a live setting with real drums. GRADE: C+.

Pure Reason Revolution (UK): Live At Italia Wave And Heitere Switzerland 2009 (No label, DVDR, 2009)
Techno/Progressive
Chloë Alper (occasional vocals, bass, keyboards)
Mixing material from their first and second albums, and mixing performances from two different shows (filmed with different aspect ratios), this is a fairly low-budget, but importantly both the filming and audio quality is impressively high. More importantly, the performances are excellent – although I clearly prefer their earlier material, I suspect I would have enjoyed both gigs from start to finish. GRADE: B–.
Pure Reason Revolution (UK): Hammer And Anvil (Superball Music 0504438, CD plus DVD, with digipak, booklet and insert, 2010)
Rock/Progressive/Metal
Chloë Alper (occasional vocals, bass, keyboards)
Their third is both a logical step forward from Amor Vincit Omnia and a partial change of direction. Once again, it blends prog and techno, but this time the musical base draws heavily from metal, with occasional punky touches thrown in. That’s for the first seven tracks: the eighth is pure techno, the ninth is a progressive instrumental and the closer is a ballad. Overall, this is mildly interesting and somewhat more enjoyable than its predecessor, but in restricting themselves to short, discrete pieces of music the band ignore their real strengths and fail to produce a worthy successor to The Dark Third. The bonus DVD is an enjoyable nine-song live set drawing on this album and its predecessor. GRADE: C+.

Pure Reason Revolution (UK): Live At Scala (No label, DVDR, 2010)
Techno/Metal/Progressive
Chloë Alper (occasional vocals, bass, keyboards)
This is another great gig, but whilst the staccato techno and borderline metal numbers – taken from their second and third albums – that make up the main set may be viscerally exciting live, they don’t have many hooks to hang your hat on. The three encores from The Dark Third – introduced by Chloë Alper as ‘golden oldies for Christmastime’ – are in a different league musically, and the band’s decision to save them until last suggests they know it too. GRADE: B–.

Pure Reason Revolution (UK): Eupnea (InsideOut Music 19439725051, double LP, some on blue vinyl, plus CD, with insert, Germany, 2020)
Progressive
Chloë Alper (joint lead vocals)
The Dark Third remains among the five most remarkable progressive albums of the current millennium: a majestic, constantly changing tapestry of songs that takes clear influences from Pink Floyd but weaves in all kinds of other elements from the Beach Boys to grunge. Yet Pure Reason Revolution’s career as a whole remains a colossal disappointment: two adequate follow-ups more influenced by techno than prog, then a decade of silence. Trumpeted as the logical follow-up to The Dark Third that their other two weren’t, Eupnea arrived as an album weighed down by heavy expectations. The good news is that this returns the band to the prog-influenced style of The Dark Third, with an elegant, atmospheric and thoroughly modern sound (despite the unpleasant thoroughly modern compressed mastering). The bad news is that this has none of The Dark Third’s gravitas or conceptual unity, and aside from the superb ‘Silent Genesis’ (wisely used as a trailer for the album) it doesn’t have any of its great hooks either. Thus, enjoyable as this is, Pure Reason Revolution remain unable to fulfil their early promise. GRADE: B–.

Pure Reason Revolution (UK): Above Cirrus (InsideOut 19439989401, LP plus CD, some on white, green or lilac vinyl, with insert, Germany, 2022)
Progressive/Metal
Chloë Alper (occasional vocals)
The good news is that, despite the band’s claim that this would sound more techno than Eupnea, it mostly resembles that album rather than Amor Vincit Omnia or Hammer And Anvil. The bad news is that there’s nothing here remotely as good as ‘Silent Genesis’, let alone The Dark Third. This is still a very good album, the soupy mix notwithstanding, showing the band starting to move in a progressive metal direction, but they’re going to have to manage something more substantial next time around if they’re to maintain my interest. GRADE: B–.

Purple Algae (UK): Adrift On A Sea Of Sound (Poor Person Productions PPPR7, with booklet and insert, 1995)
Garage
June Player (lead vocals)
‘If the Purple Algae had been around in the heady days of the Haight-Ashbury scene, they would of [sic] without a doubt been regulars at the Fillmore West, playing alongside such now remembered groups like the Jefferson Airplane, Electric Flag, Quicksilver Messenger Service, HP Lovecraft and the Neighb’rhood Childr’n’ comments producer and label boss Dave Tor in the sleeve notes. However, whilst Purple Algae’s music bears a certain resemblance to a less bluesy Big Brother & The Holding Company, there’s also a lot of seventies punk in their sound, with particular hints of Poisongirls and early Patti Smith. Ultimately, their material and performances are pretty good, but the recording less so – it may seem perverse to complain about the sound quality of a garage-rock album, but a fuller, less shrill sound would have given their acid guitar attack a bit more heft. GRADE: C+.
Purple Algae (UK): Adrift On A Sea Of Sound Gig (Poor Person Productions, VHS, no artwork, 1997)
Garage/Psychedelic/Progressive
June Player (lead vocals)
Mixing material from the LP and covers (ranging from ‘White Rabbit’ and ‘Epitaph’ to ‘Venus In Furs’ and ‘Rocking In The Free World’), this live set sees the band stretching out nin a way they didn’t in the studio. Filmed in a local pub, it’s a fairly amateurish set (in terms of both the performance and the sound quality), but it was clearly a great gig: the band have a warm and inviting stage presence, and anyone liking acid-rock or garage rock will find plenty to enjoy here. GRADE: B–.
Purple Algae (UK): Adrift Live (Poor Person Productions, double CDR, 1997)
Garage/Psychedelic/Progressive
June Player (lead vocals)
Limited to two copies, this double album features audio from the entire Adrift On A Sea Of Sound Gig set plus four bonus songs from a different show. Despite the bootleg-like sound quality, the material impresses as much as it did on the video, whilst the bonus cuts (which sound slightly better) include a stunning extended version of Pink Floyd’s ‘Another Brick In The Wall (part two)’ and a nice interpretation of Hazel O’ Connor’s ‘Will You?’. GRADE: B–.
See also Euphoric Darkness, Fump, Mynd Muzic

Purple Image (USA): Purple Image (Map City MAP 3015, 1970)
Psychedelic
Diane Dunlap (joint lead vocals)
This is heavy fuzz psychedelia from a black band whose concerns are summed up in song titles such as ‘Living In The Ghetto’ and ‘We Got To Pull Together’. The album loses momentum a little in the middle with a catchy pop-ish number followed by a soulful ballad, but these provide some respite from the hard acid-rock that bookend them. When it’s on form, this is an impressive, if not hugely original, album – the band really knew how to jam, and frequently cut loose in no uncertain fashion. GRADE: C+.

Purple Smoke (USA): Vol 1 (Mark MC 1446, 1971?)
Lounge/Rock
Mikki (joint lead vocals, percussion)
This lounge rock album sells for big money, but for the most part it’s fairly tepid and unexciting. On the plus side, their version of ‘Black Magic Woman’ has sinuous guitar and organ work, whilst the closing eight-minute ‘Evil Ways’ contains some enjoyable jamming and a good drum solo. There’s also an attractive and rather psychedelic sleeve, which is appropriately purple. GRADE: C.

Purposeful Porpoise (USA): Purposeful Porpoise (No label, double CD, 2014)
Rock/Progressive
Ginny Luke (occasional vocals, violin)
It’s pretty unusual for a new band to debut with a double album including songs of up to 20 minutes, implying they wish to make a major artistic statement. Then again, Magenta did the same with their first LP, which went precisely nowhere, and though I prefer this the same could be said of Purposeful Porpoise. Leaving the rather silly science fiction concept aside, this is a collection of fairly straightforward soft rockers interspersed with a few harder rocking instrumental sections: pleasant and well-crafted but never particularly adventurous or memorable. The album was reissued the following year in the UK as The Water Games (Giant Electric Pera GEPCD1048), with a bonus track. GRADE: C+.

Purpura (Argentina): Purpura (Vertigo 812 040-1, 1983)
Rock/Metal
Leonor Marchesi (lead vocals)
This is a solid hard rock album, with very good singing and guitar work but not an especially memorable set of songs. It’s also far from varied, making for a listenable but rather uninspiring set. GRADE: C+.
Purpura (Argentina): Purpura II (Vertigo 818 825-1, 1984)
Rock/Metal
Leonor Marchesi (lead vocals)
Their second is rather heavier, with the emphasis more on the metal side of their repertoire. Like its predecessor, this isn’t terribly exciting or varied, but it’s solid enough eighties heavy rock with some good guitar leads. GRADE: C+.
See also Santa

Purson (UK): The Circle And The Blue Door (Rise Above RISECD162, CD, 2013)
Psychedelic/Progressive
Rosalie Cunningham (lead vocals, guitar, keyboards, percussion)
This album was released to considerable fanfare, and was described by the label as a cross between Pentagram and Pentangle. I can’t hear any influences from either band, and nor is this is the satanic metal album that the cover artwork implies. Instead it’s a collection of short, trippy songs with influences from both psychedelic and progressive rock, performed with plenty of Mellotron. Notably, on ‘Leaning On A Bear’, they sound like dead ringers for Julian’s Treatment, and the whole thing has a definite early seventies vibe. Despite the appealing sound and strong musicianship, the disc is a bit lacking in intensity and the songwriting is never especially memorable, so whilst there are definite hints of greatness this doesn’t live up to the hype. GRADE: C+.

Purson (UK): Desire’s Magic Theatre (Spinefarm 0602547714367, CD, with gatefold minisleeve and booklet, Holland, 2016)
Psychedelic/Progressive/Metal
Rosalie Cunningham (lead vocals, guitar, bass, keyboards, percussion)
Everybody except me seemed to love Purson’s first album, so I wasn’t sure what to expect from their second. The most notable thing about is how strange it all is – Rosalie Cunningham’s theatrical songwriting style is quirky through and through, and the backing, which draws on everything from metal and glam-rock through to psychedelia and jazz, is equally strange. Like their debut, this doesn’t reflect any of the musical labels people have attached to them; unlike their debut, it’s a very interesting album that’s packed with constant surprises.

GRADE: B–.

PUS (Brazil): PUS (Maggot FUC 11, with insert and poster, 1985)
Metal
Simone Death (guitar)
This is a fairly early example of black metal, with stripped-down, guitar-dominated arrangements and a very understated feel. In small doses it’s quite enjoyable, but PUS were one-trick ponies and over the course of a whole album the endless repetitious riffing and silly death vocals become rather one-dimensional. Nonetheless, this is a bit above average for the genre, with some good moments (principally those without singing). GRADE: C.

Puzzle (Poland): Puzzle (Lynx Music LM97CD, CD, 2015)
Pop/Rock/Jazz/Soul/Progressive
Karolina Teernstra (lead vocals), Marta Mołodyńska (keyboards, backing vocals)
The sole instrumental ‘Jedna Z Dróg’ is nice enough and the front cover artwork is lovely, but that’s where my praise for Puzzle ends. Their slick synthesis of jazz, soul, pop and rock, with just a hint of modern RnB and borderline prog, all fronted by over-emoted vocals and wall-to-wall saxophone (not my favourite instrument, especially when used like this) may well have an audience, but I’m struggling to imagine who it might be. GRADE: C.

Puzzlepie (West Germany): Now (Majesty PP 001, 1989)
Progressive
Sibylle Karpati (lead vocals)
This unusual progressive album features three short songs followed by one of nine minutes and another of 22, with the latter taking up the whole of the second side. Side one, as nearly as I can describe it, sounds like a more theatrical twist on Renaissance circa Azure D’Or, with a singer who resembles Shirley Bassey on some of the high notes. Side two is better, also resembling a theatrical twist on Renaissance, but this time the mid-seventies incarnation. As a whole, this is an odd record indeed, with lyrics as strange as titles like ‘Moods Of A Guinness’ and ‘Twilight Spin’ suggest. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Sibylle Karpati’s main career was in classical music and chanson. GRADE: C.

Pyewackett (UK): Pyewackett (Dingle’s DIN 312, 1981)
Folk/Rock
Rosie Cross (joint lead vocals, tambourine, bassoon)
Unusually for a folk/rock band, all the guitar is acoustic, and it’s rarely used as a lead instrument – the focus here is on violin, keyboards, accordion and multiple woodwinds, creating lush, symphonic, almost chamber music settings for the traditional songs and instrumentals. Rosie Cross’s flawless vocals add the final ingredient, particularly on a spellbinding version of ‘Reynardine’ with a subtly psychedelic ambience. Not everything is perfect, with ‘Reynardine’ followed by the incongruous (though very well played) 1930s whimsy of ‘We Just Couldn’t Say Goodbye’ and ‘Aunt Hessy’s White Horse’, providing a bizarre end to the album, but for the most part this is stunning stuff. GRADE: B–.
Pyewackett (UK): The Man In The Moon Drinks Claret (Familiar FAM 43, 1983)
Folk/Rock
Rosie Cross (principal vocals, tambourine, dulcimer, bassoon)
More 1930s whimsy, early music with a progressive edge, acapella sections and modernistic folk/rock with funky bass and synthesisers – Pyewackett’s second album has it all. There’s plenty of fine music here, but unlike their first it’s not at all cohesive, with the band seeming unclear about the direction they wish to pursue. GRADE: C+.
Pyewackett (UK): 7 To Midnight (Familiar FAM 047, 1985)
Folk/Rock
Rosie Cross (lead vocals, dulcimer, bassoon)
The promo letter accompanying my copy announces that ‘Pyewackett has become famous for powerful and inventive playing of music from the past five centuries’. I’d question whether they were ever ‘famous’, but this is a solid enough album of folk dance instrumentals, prefaced by one nostalgic song. GRADE: C+.

Pyewackett (UK): This Crazy Paradise (Familiar FAM59(CD), CD, 1986)
Folk/Rock
Rosie Cross (lead vocals, dulcimer, bassoon)
Unlike its almost exclusively instrumental predecessor, the band’s final album is mostly song-based. It’s a bit different musically too, incorporating world music elements (hinting towards Jacqui McShee’s Pentangle) alongside early music instrumentals, contemporary covers and some 1920s nostalgia, with the whole thing sounding very modernistic due to the keyboards and drum machines. The results are interesting and sometimes excellent, but also quite incoherent, as that description suggests. The CD version, which is now very rare, includes an extra song and a longer mix of the opening number. GRADE: C+.
See also John Kirkpatrick, Rosie Cross, Georgina Le Faux, Michael Gregory, Jane Threlfall & Carl Hogsden

Pymlico (Norway): Meeting Point (Apollon ARP003CD, CD, 2016)

Progressive/Jazz/Rock

Marie Faerevaag (occasional vocals, piano, percussion, saxophone)

This album of jazzy prog (which never crosses over into being jazz/rock) offers eight elegant, carefully phrased instrumentals that are mellow and engaging, yet also a little too middle-of-the-road for their own good. Further, by focusing entirely on discrete tracks the band never really stretches out, resulting in an album that’s a little low on energy as well as inventiveness. As a footnote, they had previously released several albums as a one-man band or with an all-male line-up. GRADE: C+.

Pymlico (Norway): Nightscape (Apollon ARP015CD, CD, 2018)
Progressive/Jazz/Rock
Marie Faarevaag (occasional vocals, keyboards, saxophone)
This is somewhat livelier than its predecessor, and nicely varied too, but some of my reservations remain. Maybe it’s because of the lack of rough edges, though I suspect it has more to do with the band ending some of the tracks just as they’re catching fire. Another factor is the rather filmic nature of much of the music: this sounds like decent progressive rock, but ultimately it sounds more like above-average library music. GRADE: C+.