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Various Artists - 'Ventis Secundis, Tene Cursum - This Is Progressive Rock!' Hot

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Written by Central Electronic Brain     March 11, 2011    
 
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An impressive collection and one that contains more than a few welcome surprises.

Translating roughly into 'Go with the flow', 'Ventis Secundis, Tene Cursum' is a collection of progressive rock from the Angel Air catalogue which has been chosen by author and reviewer James McCarraher. As with all compilations of this sort, this sixteen track album, which is subtitled 'This Is Progressive Rock!', covers a wide spectrum of music that is described as prog (although some of it isn't) and not only is a timely reminder of just what an excellent roster Angel Air have amassed, but also how vibrant the many variations of music that make up this genre are.

The three names on the disc most likely to be known to readers of this magazine are Atomic Rooster, Greenslade and The Ian Gillan Band. The former are represented with 'I Can't Take No More', which is an excellent slab of seventies Hammond organ and fuzzed up guitar. The quirky prog-lite of 'Bedside Manners Are Extra' by Greenslade does little for me, but then not much by this band does, so maybe it's more me than them. 'Child In Time' is wheeled out once more by The Ian Gillan Band, although this version is the more jazz oriented (not sure its prog though) adaptation that fitted the sound of this band, it isn't exactly the definitive rendition, but if you haven't heard it before the different slant brings a completely new life to an admittedly wonderful song and Gillan himself is at the peak of his powers here. The other song that doesn't quite fit the progressive brief is the blues rock of 'Mister Wind' by Stray, although this live version is well worth hearing.

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The only band to have two tracks featured on this album are Zzebra, the reason for which being that 'Procession Of The Zzebra' is more of an introduction than a song, whereas their Santana, Latin-jazz fusion inspired rock-lite is interesting without really going anywhere. Mo Foster's beautifully poised oriental harp and floating flute; make's his song 'Achill Island' one of the surprise standouts of this album and as the song evolves into a more rock based, but still perfectly arranged and uplifting track, I made a mental note to investigate further. The other highlight comes from Rob Thompson who somehow manages to make 'Dust' sound like Porcupine Tree playing Americana! I know that sounds simply dreadful, but this song is a triumph and the album of the same name is one I will be buying. There are other worthy mentions, among which are the acoustic based 'Ultrastar' by Roccoco and the low slung groovy brass infused 'Three Sisters' by Affinity. I could personally have done without the spacey snake charming of Third Ear Band, or the jazz meets Ozric Tentacles of Mouse, but neither song is particularly awful.

As an introduction to the progressive music that Angel Air have to offer 'Ventis Secundis, Tene Cursum' is an impressive collection and one that contains more than a few welcome surprises of the highest order.

Steven Reid

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