Transport Aerian – Love.Blood.Live

In between 2013’s Bleeding, and what would eventually become Darkblue, Transport Aerian released Love.Blood.Live, a compilation of live recordings made during live shows on Bleeding. The idea was to give fans world wide, who would not be able to attend shows in Europe, a feel for what Hamlet and his accomplice at the time Stephan Boeykens were capable of live. In doing that, they also created an nice introduction into the repertoire and style of Transport Aerian at the time.


From the opening track Love it is clear that Transport Aerian is not about party music. The atmosphere is gloomy and dark. The music, minimalistic – a pulsing bass, with (percussive) noises around it gives it an industrial feel, perhaps even more postrock, with some interesting guitar work by Stephan Boeykens near the end.  The spoken word vocals of Hamlet tell of someone looking desperately for love in a voice that seems to be on the edge of breaking…

Inspire shows a different face of Hamlet – loose piano notes are the basis of the song, which features a higher pitched, singing vocal, but still with a desperate ring to it. Drums and guitar loop kick in half way to make it more powerful, and near the end we get a haunting guitar and bass piece that is replaced by a horror movie like piano crescendo to finish the track.

With Fog Vision, another post rock like track appears – this time a bit faster played, and with an almost whispering vocal. A vocal that disappears completely for 2 minutes on the instrumental Float – a track by Stephan Boeykens, featuring a single guitar and a loop station, playing picked melodies.

This guitar seems to return briefly at the beginning of Nightsky, but switches to strumming when the vocals come in. In between verses, the guitar plays a simple 3 or 4 note repeating tune, which draw attention in a weird way. When singing on this one, Hamlet suddenly adds an aggressiveness to his vocal that wasn’t there earlier. Involuntarily, in some places he manages to sound like a hoarse version of Klaus Meine – but only if one wants to hear that.

The aggression gives way to melancholy on the slightly sad, moody Winter, which also contains some nice, haunting postrock guitar work.

After this, its time for another instrumental by Stephan Boeykens, once again guitar and loop station, Minor Moody. A moment of peace in between the darkness of the other tracks.

And then, the two closing tracks Triangle Town and Radio Void bring us back to the opening – spoken word, dark music and a stronger beat than elsewhere on the album. Triangle Town also shows a little bit of jazz influences, when the bass and piano join the guitar and speed things up a bit halfway the track.

As I wrote in my review for Darkblue, this is not music to be played as background noise. No music ever should be, but in this case its impossible – you have to listen to be able to appreciate this, and that is what music should be about. Even though it’s dark and gloomy, there are times when this is worth putting on and sitting down for – even if only once, to get a feel for what Transport Aerian is about.

Transport Aerian – Darkblue

When I was in high school, I always looked at the aspiring musicians in my school (some got quite far with their aspirations too) as if they were some sort of mystics. They always had this sense of being untouchable, impossible to understand around them. That feeling disappeared over time, as I kept in touch with some of them, and it turned out that they were just moving into the same musical areas where I ended up (albeit I started as a listener and became a player only much later). End of 2014, in the chatroom of House of Prog, I ran into Hamlet, the man behind Transport Aerianand that old feeling returned. This man seemed to be very intelligent, open for communication, but also somehow distant, almost unapproachable. Now, half a year later, I know that the latter is not true, Hamlet is indeed intelligent, but certainly open for communications. However, unlike my old school mates, he is much less moving into the mainstream (or mainstream prog) direction than many others.DARKBLUE COVER


When I started reviewing his new album DarkblueI was thinking of writing a double review for that album and the live album Love.Blood.Live, which preceded it last year. That wouldn’t do justice to Darkblue however, because this is vastly different from Transport Aerian’s earlier work. Where, as Hamlet wrote in his blog himself, Bleeding (studio album) and Love.Blood.Live are more song oriented, Darkblue is a surrealistic movie expressed in music and the visuals of the accompanying artwork. To that will, as plans are being announced now, the visuals of a live performance will be added later.

This album for sure is what the title suggest, dark, but not pitch black (although Jim Morrison’s work with The Doors is almost white compared to this). The music is haunting and minimalistic (Sand Horizon), experimental at times (Black), leaning towards industrial in places (Full Body Access, ), while building almost psychedelic soundscapes in others (Epitaph) – and then there is something close to hard rock or metal as well (Crossbreed).

The lyrics, spoken and sung by Hamlet and his accomplice for this album Rachel Bauer (also responsible for the mystic photos in the album booklet) tell a story of, in Hamlets own words ‘exile, self-isolation and love’ – in a dialog between two people.  As explained on the Transport Aerian blog, this “is the one-piece musical diary that tells the surreal love story, which is being recited throughout the album’s temporal and spatial space from the face of two main characters”. A concept that makes it nearly impossible to do a track by track review. In all honesty, I see no point in listening to individual tracks anyway – this is indeed a single piece of music. Thus, I’ll hold back on that and just recommend anyone who’s in for something non-conformist, experimental and as true to art as art can be, to give this album a try and experience for themselves what Hamlet felt when writing this music, and what Rachel Bauer and him made out of that when recording.

I really hope I’ll be able to catch a live performance of this album, if only to see if my own visualisations match those of the artists. Hamlet announced working on the scenario for a live performance as I write this, so perhaps see you there, dear reader?

Inner crying

grey-sky-23441281530729JXv5Grey skies, feeling empty
Pressure band around my skull
I try to smile, I almost fail
And even now inside I cry

Staring eyes, racing heart
A lump is stuck inside my throat
I realise, that it’s in size
The equal of my beating heart

Grim thoughts, about the past
Swirling round and round my head
I try to think, of future things
But there I cannot find my way

So hard, making choices
Cannot make them by myself
I tried, I failed, and still don’t see
Where I should turn to get some help

Grey skies, feeling empty
Pressure band around my skull
I try to smile, I almost fail
And even now inside I cry

Fractal Mirror – Garden of Ghosts

It’s months ago that I promised Leo Koperdraat (keyboard, guitar, vocals) to review the album Garden of Ghosts, which he released together with Ed van Haagen (bass and keyboards) and Frank Urbaniak (drums and lyrics). The second album of this trio, and I must admit that up to this day I have not had the chance (or, to be more honest, time) to listen to their debut, Strange Attractions. Maybe I should, given what I found on this one…


Fractal Mirror consider their music (as written on their web site) to be contemporary pop/rock with progressive rock influences. This shows in the way the songs are structured, there’s a bit more of chorus and verse structuring then on the albums I usually review, but a bit of variation in the musical diet usually doesn’t hurt. Certainly not in this case, when the progressive rock influences are coming from the corner that was once monikered symphonic rock. Or, in short, there’s a lot of keyboard work on this album. Not really a surprise, given that both Dutchmen, Koperdraat and Van Haagen play keyboards, next to the other instruments they handle.

This means that on just about all tracks, from the opening House of Wishes all the way to Stars, we are treated to layers of keyboard, synthesizer and mellotron melodies. Sometimes they simply form the main structure of the song, sometimes they are the accompaniment of the guitar. A guitar that is not always played by Leo Koperdraat by the way, on some tracks, for example Lost in the Clouds, producer and musician Brett Kull plays (slide) guitar.

So what does that mean in detail? Well, the album opens with House of Wishes, which has a an eighties synth pop feel to it, but with more intricate keyboard work. The singing of Leo Koperdraat reminds me slightly of Steve Kilby, singer of eighties Australian pop band The Church. 

This is followed by the slightly more complex The Phoenix. A heavier opening is followed by more keyboard work, like on the opening track, but this track goes through different moods and tempos. Just in time for me, it becomes a bit more powerful near the end: despite the beautiful keyboard structures, the album lacks a bit of power for me.

On Lost in the Cloud, which starts in the same tempo as the first two tracks, the additional slide guitar adds a more rocky edge. This track is also the opening of the Powerless Suite, which covers four tracks from the album – dealing with social media, human communications and what would happen if we became ‘really powerless’. An interesting theme, laid down very well in the music here.

Solar Flare the second part of the suite, is largely instrumental, with the band’s friend and video artist Andre de Boer on triangle. The combination of organ (a Hammond?) and guitar work out really well here, mimicking the power of a solar flare for sure.

The Hive portrays what happens when the power goes down, taking us through the emotions of the now disconnected people. The keyboards and a quite sharp guitar part mimic the despair of the narrator having to communicate in the natural way again. That same guitar takes a lead role in the short instrumental Solar Flare Reprise.

After the suite, it is time for a short change in atmosphere and instrumentation. The Garden is build around piano and acoustic guitar, giving it a completely different feel than the rest of the album. A rather melancholic track about aging.

Orbital View builds layers of keyboard melodies again, which lead to a somewhat gloomy sound when combined with drums and guitars. Here Leo Koperdraat also sings in a slightly different way (higher pitched) than on the rest of the album.

Event Horizon is another good keyboard based track, about forgetting about the future when loosing someone. This nicely complements  Legacy, which is about the feeling of parents when their children leave ‘the nest’.

Closing off the album is Stars, which is dedicated by the band to all those they have lost. A beautiful track, opening with acoustic guitar and a real choir (no mellotron this time) followed by a bass hook that keeps you wondering how to explain it. The song builds up an becomes less dependent on that bass hook later on – and provides some great instrumentals.

Based on reviews of the debut, the band has improved quite a bit – and although this album is good, I hope the announced two volume album for 2016 shows more improvement. For that I see two ways, after listening to this album. First, I hope to find slightly more emotion in the vocals (Leo is a bit lacking there, which doesn’t do justice to the nice timbre he has). Second, maybe a few more instrumental parts – the melodies and compositions are so good that sometimes the vocals could be omitted without loosing the story. A story which is otherwise well covered by the lyrics of drummer and lyricist Frank Urbaniak.

So, it took me a while get around to reviewing this album, but now it’s done. Playing it is more than worth the time of anyone who likes symphonic rock and related music. Curious to things to come, with a promise of two volumes of music next year the band suddenly have raised the bar for themselves.

Hasse Fröberg & Musical Companion – HFMC

If you know The Flower Kings, you also know Hasse Fröberg. A fine hard rock singer and guitarist in the 80s, the man ended up in one of the biggest progressive rock acts of the 21st century – and together with four equally skilled musicians, he even has found the time to release a new (by now the third one) album under the name Hasse Fröbergs Musical Companion.


An album with a slightly uninspired title (HFMC), but after listening to it on and off for 6 weeks, I can only conclude that the inspiration has instead gone into the music. Music that is introduced by a ticking clock on Seconds, which is soon replaced by a short keyboard piece by Kjell Haraldsson that flows seamlessly into the whirling keyboard and guitar opening of Can’t Stop the Clock. This is the first real song on the album and it starts full of energy, reminding of Images & Words era Dream Theater and 2015 Franck Carducci at the same time. This track is varied in style, as well as in tempo and key (which the band already announced on their web site when it was released as a preview video. It contains metal and hard rock, but also mellower parts – in short, it rocks.

Less varied, and totally different is the the follow up Everything Can Change, which has a jazzy feel to it in various places, when the piano is the lead instrument, but in other places it also feels like a 60s rock song with synths and guitar added to make it more complex. On this one, Hasse Fröberg’s slightly hoarse voice really works very well.

With Pages, we move into longer songs, over 10 minutes. The opening is a quick crescendo of guitar and keyboards, followed by a more melodic keyboard piece. In a way, the music reminds of Yes, and later on also Genesis, but never too strongly. The vocals of Hasse remind me of a more emotional version of Grobschnitt’s Wildschwein. The highlight of this song is a guitar solo by Anton Linsjö, which I put in my review notes as “it’s not Gilmour, it’s not Stolt, it’s that guy from HFMC’. After this solo, a well done vocal part (with piano and acoustic guitar) leads into an outro that is as bombastic as the intro. Circle closed.

With Genius, a more ballad like track, the listener gets some rest before moving into the net long track, In the Warmth of the Evening. A varied track, like Can’t Stop the Clock, but 4 minutes longer and without the strong metal influences – although in the second half the keys become really bombastic, before a closing guitar solo with a lot of feeling in it – like some great blues guitarists also could, but here no blues is involved.

On Something Worth Dying For, the band moves slightly into Hasse’s past as a hard rock musician. This one has guitar leads, and riffs accompanied by a strong drum work (lots of cymbals too) by drummer Ola Strandberg, and matching bass work by Thomas Thomsson.

The last track of the album Someone Else’s Fault brings us back to the world of symphonic rock, with vocal choirs and keyboards that remind of Yes and Genesis. But when Hasse sings alone, over a dancing keyboard tune, it becomes almost soulful, something Jon Anderson never did. Half way, the music changes into bluesy hard rock, with yet another very well executed guitar solo – before going back to symphonic land at the end. I put the words ‘soulful‘, ‘bluesy hardrock‘ and ‘Yes’ in my review notes – only to find out later that apparently Hasse Fröberg described this track as a mix between Yes, Stevie Wonder and AC/DC. Well – I guess he got that more or less right.

After this, all that remains is the ticking of a clock, on Minutes, which makes the album go full circle. And full circle it may go – as some other albums that I reviewed, I have no problem putting this one on repeat. In the second half of 2015, the band will be playing gigs in various countries, and I already spotted my chance to see them in The Netherlands. Get your chance as well, or just get the album, or do both… you catch my drift.

Vinyl instead of CDs, and books instead of eBooks? Yes, due to the taxman…

The past 6 months I’ve bought about as much music on vinyl (LP if you will) as I bought on CD and/or as digital download. That was a bold move, but it feels good to hold these large covers again, have a readable sized lyrics sheet and force yourself to listen to music because every 20 minutes you have to flip a record. Nostalgia perhaps, but it works for me – even if new vinyl is more expensive than the same album on CD in many cases (which is somewhat covered by the fact that the vinyl often comes with a CD included, or a download link).

For books, I took the opposite root a few years ago, when I bought an Amazon Kindle – which was later (after my son stepped on the screen) replaced by a Kobo reader and some Kindle-to-ePub conversion software. Instead of further filling the living room and the study with books, I filled my laptop and my e-reader with e-books. That seems to slowly come to a halt now, thanks to our dear elected politicians in The Hague and Brussels, and the officials of which they are the marionettes. What happened? Well, since January 1st, just like for digital music and other ‘e-services’, VAT in the EU is calculated based on the country of the buyer instead of the seller. That means the eBooks I used to buy in the US or UK are now charged with 21% VAT instead of the much lower US or UK rates. So far so good, if the e-books I bought had been available in The Netherlands I would’ve had to pay that too – but Amazon (my preferred supplier of 20 years) had no Dutch web site so that was no issue.

Now that this has changed however, I found out that there are more (and equally annoying rules and regulations in place) that hinder me. Apparently, due to copyright protection, I cannot order e-books from the UK, although I can from the US. What bothers me more actually is that the new prices reflect very clearly that I do not only have to pay Dutch VAT now, but also a bunch of other taxes and surcharges. I complained about the price difference at Amazon, but even the friendly lady working there, who called me less than an hour later, could not explain all of that.

Just to show what I mean – here’s what happened. I wanted to buy the book Rocking the Classics by Edward Macan. An English book, so I went to Amazon UK. Nice, the e-book would cost me 10 pounds. However, after logging in, I got the message it could not be ordered outside the UK, so I had to go to, the Dutch site.

Screen Shot 2015-05-16 at 11.37.34

Amazon UK, without taxes

Screen Shot 2015-05-16 at 11.38.06

Amazon UK, cannot buy from outside UK

On, the book was on offer for almost 54 euros, over 4 times as much as the UK price. Our local VAT is 21%, so what explains the other 279% price raise? I have no idea, and I’m not sure I’m even willing to investigate this. Then the lady from Amazon Netherlands called and explained that VAT and other charges apply, and that these become visible after logging in and entering a Dutch address on

Screen Shot 2015-05-16 at 11.38.53

Dutch site – EUR 53,96 (four times as much as in the UK)

So, I went to, the US site and indeed (after removing some cookies) I found that the same e-book costs 19 dollars there. Then I logged in and suddenly the price because 60 dollars, roughly 53 euro indeed. With VAT applied, I could’ve understood 25 or 26 dollars, but this is double that.

Screen Shot 2015-05-16 at 11.48.49

Amazon US: 19 dollars is a bit more than 10 pounds, but UK doesn’t apply VAT to books, so that’s understandable

Screen Shot 2015-05-16 at 11.49.12 price for EU countries is 60 dollars – 21% VAT I can understand, but what is the rest about?

So, what did I do? I found out that VAT on e-books in the EU is higher than on real books, because European law considers them electronic services instead of books. A lobby is ongoing to change that by 2020, but I still have no clue what the other additional charges are. For now, I decided to take the same route as with music and move away from digital if I can or at least if the price gets too high. I ordered the hardcover edition of the book, which cost me 38 pounds in the Amazon UK store, but at least I can be reasonably sure that the additional money is not going to inexplicable surcharges (at least that is what I tell myself now).

Often, I feel a an urge to leave Europe behind and move to Canada, New Zealand or South Africa, and on days like this that urge gets even stronger. Unfortunately, I have no guarantee that things are better in these places…

Closing note: Amazon Netherlands will, based on this, consider adding more explicit information about taxes and charges on their web site. Let’s hope they go beyond considering it.

Paris 2008, a trio and Trisector

Today I received an e-mail from Guigo Barros, a man from Brazil who despite the distance and the infrequent contact we have, I consider a friend for life. He is the one who asked me, around 8 years ago, to join the admin team at We served on that team together four over four years – a time I won’t easily forget. The admins we worked with were all great people, as were the site collaborators. A lot of these people are still around there – Prog is a sticky business….

In Guigo’s e-mail was the above photo of (from right to left) Guigo himself, Martin Horst (a German site collab) and myself. We met one evening in Februari 2008 – in Paris, where Martin lived, and where Guigo was visiting, on vacation with his wonderful wife Ana.

We talked about music – obscure bands, well known bands, Zeuhl, symphonic, jazz rock… I was taking notes that led in the end to me picking up the unsigned bands section of ProgArchives later, and this site, Angelo’s Rock Orphanage last year. Always on the lookout for new, unknown gems…

One more memory from that trip is how I wrote my review for Van Der Graaf Generator’s album Trisector. The afternoon before meeting these wonderful people, I just sat down in a small park near the Sacre Coeur, put my headphones on and wrote that review, in the early February sun.

Guigo and Martin were just two of the good friends and musical contacts I made along the way, I’ll be posting more of these short ‘encounter stories’ here over time.





BunChakeze – Whose Dream?

Imagine an album being recorded in 1985, and being released only 25 years later, in 2010. Sounds crazy? Well, this is exactly what happened with BunChakeze album Whose Dream?. The four people involved were Odin of London members Colin Tench (guitar,   synthesizer and vocals), Gary Derrick (bass), Cliff Deighton (drums) and Joey Lugassy (vocals). The former three founded the band, helped build a studio in exchange for recording time and then hired the Lugassy to fill in the role of the until then missing vocalist. Studio owner Alex Foulcer fulfilled a guest role on piano.


After recording the album, the four disbanded. In 1992, they the album was remixed, but only in 2010, Colin Tench took the lead in releasing the album on CD, encouraged by Pasi Koivu, with whom he later founded Corvus Stone.

The album contains 9 tracks, which clearly show how these four men were influenced by late 1960s and early 1970s progressive rock . Music that was wanting air play and certainly of no commercial interest at the time of recording. However, times have changed again in the mean time, and this album is no misfit in the 21st century  revival of progressive rock.

The opening track BunChakeze is an energetic, short instrumental with ‘swirling’ keyboards and matching guitar, to warm up for the rest of the album. Once this is done, the band slows down for the first part of title track Whose Dream? Keyboard and piano guide the fitting rock voice of Lugassy, in what sounds like a melancholic ballad until the guitar and drums come in to make it into a more powerful, almost marching track. The circle closes when we go back to the first line of the intro, which is also the last of the song, once again only accompanied by the piano: Whose dream are you dreaming?

Walk on Paradise then is a more guitar oriented track, although the synthesizer is quite present in the opening. Initially, this doesn’t feel like paradise music at all – but when the rhythm becomes more stable and prominent, the feel becomes more positive. Briefly only though, the instrumental midsection removes the happiness again – in line with the lyrics (‘I am a prisoner who lives alone, chains hanging from the walls‘). After a quite heavy guitar solo the song takes a more melodramatic turn, in music as well as lyrics, as the main character is looking for a way out.

After this, the album gets to what I think are its four best tracks, starting with Handful of Rice. The music is carried by a staccato guitar riff (by some referred to as latin or hispanic, but I don’t fully see that reference). This is haunting in a way, especially in the mid section where it is accompanied by a droning synth and metallic sounding drums. Near the end the track speeds up a bit, maybe signifying new hope? New hope that certainly belongs in the next track, Flight of the Phoenix, after all, a phoenix always rises from the ashes in which it perishes. This is a track that opens with wonderfully played acoustic guitar, accompanying a well performed vocal melody. It’s not a happy tune, matching the darkness of the lyrics. Halfway, the electric guitar comes in and the song becomes melancholic. After a nice, melodic guitar solo, the music speeds up and when the phoenix rises, the ‘Clock stops!‘ and so does the music.

After this, the band takes us to 19th century North America, with Midnight Skies, telling us about how the young United States dealt with the natives. On this track, which starts out with almost jazzy guitar and bass, the 1970s influences of the band really show. While the bass and guitar build a rhythm, the keyboards go into Genesis like patterns, and a Pink Floyd resembling guitar solo follows. All of this build up to the request to let the native Americans take back the prairies and run free under midnight skies….

With Long Distance Runner, the direction changes once again. With two vocals (both by Lugassy as far as I can tell), singing a sort of dialog, this track starts with a musical like feel. After this it speeds up gradually and a slightly staccato guitar seems to imply the runner is really running. The drums on this track are not continuous, in various places only fills and breaks are played, which really gives an unusual effect to the music. At the end, the piano comes in for a bit more. What keeps me wondering about this one is the question whether the line in the lyrics ‘A Cinderella Boy becomes a Marathon Man‘ is a reference to Rush: they have Cinderella Man and released Power Windows including Marathon while BunChakeze were recording.

And then – it is time for The Deal, yet again a track in which the 1970s influences return. There is a guitar riff underneath this whole track that is so close to something (go hear for yourself) on Pink Floyd’s The Wall that coincidence is impossible. It’s not a rip off though, the track works perfectly by itself, and it may be the easiest one to get into on first listen. After this, all that’s left is dessert, a short instrumental reprise  of Whose Dream, which is mainly a slightly folky electric guitar tune.

I got this album almost 5 years after it was released, after missing it completely in 201o – and I’m happy to have it now. It’s by no means perfect, certainly production wise a few things could be improved (hollow vocals here and there, slightly sharp drums), but given its history that is something I can live with. I really like the last four tracks (not including the far from bad Whose Dream reprise), even if they are not as original in style in 2010 or 2015 than they were in 1985 I guess. Recommended for checking out for sure – and added to the regular plays a while ago over here.

April’s top 10 of blog entries

April has come and gone already, so here’s another overview of the top 10 posts of the past 30 days. I’m happy to see Kristoffer Gildenlöw‘s new single Pass the Torch, released last week at the top – after only 5 days of publishing the review. Als interesting is the appearance of an older review, of Franck Carducci’s Torn Apart at the top of the list, right behind the brilliant album A Spark in the Aether by The Tangent – and just above the rest of last months reviews.

One thing to note: somehow, the gig review of Gentle Storm on March 26th has received the largest amount of views on my blog (over 600), most of which in it’s first week. No idea how that spread so fast, and it’s still in the top 10 of the past 30 days.

Kristoffer Gildenlöw asks us to Pass the Torch
The Tangent – A Spark in the Aether
Album Review: Torn Apart – Franck Carducci
Elephants of Scotland – Execute and Breathe (Album Review)
Karibow – Addicted (album review)
What to find inside? This Raging Silence – Isotopes and Endoscopes (Album review)
Nice Beaver @ JJ Music House 10-04-2015
Tiger Moth Tales – Cocoon
Steam Theory – Asunder (album review)
The Gentle Storm @ De Melkweg, March 26 2015