Tuesday, October 28, 2014


Hello once again fellow progheads!  It never gets old thanking you my loyal followers for faithfully checking in.  This week in my search for all things prog, I decided to change it up a bit...trying to avoid staleness and predictability.  As October 2014 draws to a close I have grounded the Concert Closet for a much needed "Febrezing" and a little rejuvenation while I take a long listen to some remarkable prog.  Under the stack of empty Ramen Noodle containers, I found a prog album loaded with tremendous talent and brilliant music.  Please to enjoy a review of sorts as we listen together to the marvelous sounds of Kompendium.

Kompendium was the prog brainchild of Rob Reed, founding member of Magenta.  In 2012 Kompendium released their only album, "Beneath The Waves."  It was three years in the making and I am honored and pleased to review it here.  The talent assembled to pull this off is is something to behold...but I will pull back the curtain later.  Right now I want to indulge my unending appetite for all things prog...

The buffet this week is loaded with choice morsels, so let us step with a graceful gait to the first course, a song called "Mercy Of The Sea."  As the piece unfolds you immediately get the sense this is not your average band--prog or otherwise.  The Celtic mood embraces while the ocean waves slowly wash over you, causing auditory hallucinations.  Vocals that are as crisp as a sea breeze meld beautifully with the guitar work, backed beautifully by orchestral sounds reminiscent of The Moody Blues, a la "Days of Future Passed."  This band is packed with talent and spilling over with creativity. Hang on tight; I have a feeling this is just the start of a seven day journey across the entire prog garden and back.

The second serving delicately served up is a piece called "Lilly."  The acoustic guitar and cello blend together so well you are hard pressed to separate one from the other.  As previous, the Irish folk overcoat envelopes the song while simultaneously crawling through your ear canal and melting into the tissue lining of your brain.  Steve Hackett plays guitar on this song, but I am getting ahead of myself...the talent pool for this album is extremely deep.  Rob Reed either had a lot of favors he was able to call in or is tremendously good at arm twisting, because he was able to place the perfect musician in just the right place for each song--even the vocalists.

Liner Notes...Kompendium is an amalgam of some of the best progressive rock has to offer.  Leading off with the previously mentioned Rob Reed and Steve Hackett, the band also includes guitarists Jakko Jakszyk, Neil Taylor, Nick Barrett, Angharad Brinn, John Mitchell, and Francis Dunnery, B.J. Cole on pedal steel guitar, Nick Beggs on bass and chapman stick, Gavin Harrison on drums, Mel Collins and Troy Donockley on horns,  and vocalist Steve Balsamo.  Rob didn't stop there though; Synergy Vocals include Shan Cothi, Rhys Meirion, Barry Kerr, Chris Fry, Hywel Maggs, and Christina Booth...and that's not all!  The stage gets even more crowded with The London Session Orchestra and The English Chamber Choir.  Kompendium certainly lives up to its name...

For the final serving from this prog feast, I actually struggled.  Trying to find the perfect finish was no easy fete--this entire album is a true masterpiece.  I do not take lightly the task Rob shouldered in bringing this many musicians and artists together--the scheduling challenges alone would be enough to send even the most ardent task master into mental overload--never mind the egos.  So to close out with a major head slap I chose "The Storm."  The opening thunderclap is but a prelude to the rough seas that lie ahead. A guitar riff tears open the clouds and Gavin's drums, backed by that marvelous horn section, rain down like parachutes over Normandy.  The tempo is much livelier than previous tracks, but the song remains true to the Celtic underpinnings that seem to be the foundation for the entire album. The vocals hit hard and strike fast, and the choir supports the entire piece.  The song comes alive as though you are in an Imax theater; the hits come from all sides . Kompendium works because every musician knows what to do and does it to perfection--there is no second best here. Learn  more about Kompendium at http://www.kompendium-web.com/.  You can also follow on Twitter, @Kompendium1.

An even tougher call this week was the selection to post for your listening pleasure.  After much deliberation (and perhaps a snort of Scotch) I chose "Exordium."  The ominous opening paints a vivid picture of the heart and soul poured into this album.  You can almost see the ship breaking over the waves if you close your eyes...the giant clipper sailing majestically across the ocean as the music compels the vessel onward.  One can only hope that Rob Reed et al will reconvene soon and pick up where "Beneath The Waves" left off.


OK fellow progheads, I hope you enjoyed this brief respite from the weekly norm.  "Beneath The Waves" is a concept album that not only sets the standard--it is the standard.  I recommend you make the purchase and take a weekend to listen thoroughly...very thoroughly...you will not regret it.

Well, now that I have the Concert Closet all "Febrezed" up, it is time to pack some clean clothes, fresh snacks, and new headphones as I continue my search for all things prog...until next week...

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