Pat O’Connell – Rogue Elephant Music Presents the Music of Pat O’Connell
Rogue Elephant Music Presents the Music of Pat O’Connell is essentially a best of sampling from the New York based multi-instrumentalist, highlighting a number of albums from his career. “Tikal pt 1” gives us a glimpse at the nine-part symphonic prog suite, starting off with some serious mood music that gives a good jungle vibe through a sort of new-age meets prog mentality. “The Ballad of Dr. Heywood Floyd” presents a relaxing soundscape of chorusy guitars and chimes followed up by “Tara’s midnight run,” a fun three-minute acoustic guitar piece that makes effective use of groovey pickin’ riffs and harmonics. While not a particularly innovative piece, it does manage to pull in a variety of moods and take you somewhere rather than just hammer out a few licks. “Constant Motion Forward” gives a bit more of that new age vibe, this time with a steady beat and a lot of focus on percussion over a consistent bass line. Finally, “White Magic Healer” brings us a tune full of tuned percussion and ambient noises with enough rhythmic interest to make it both interesting and meditation worthy. If you’re into music that is relaxing, new-agey, and even a little bit prog, make sure to check out Pat O’Connell.

Copernicus – Immediate Eternity II
For those of you who are familiar with the atomo-philosophical poetry of Copernicus, you may recall L’Eternite Immediate, a French version of the 2001 record, Immediate Eternity, made with Copernicus and his Ecuadorian ensemble of Aragundi, Velasquez, Auz, Zuñiga Lopez. Well, 2014 presents us with a re-recording of the 2013 French recording, this time titled Immediate Eternity II; but this time around it’s in English (again), bringing it all around full circle. With the recent passing of their bassist, Freddy Auz, the album perhaps takes on even more meaning beyond the in-existence of humanity. Among the highlights of the album I’d like to mention “Absolute Truth is Possible,” song featuring great impressionistic piano work dialogue-ing with Copernicus’ unique poetry that takes a dive into the absolute truth of the atomic. Aragundi’s shredding solo which follows the full on despair of the screamed exclamation, “I am no longer here!,” builds a great sense of climax, banking on long, dramatic runs, pinch harmonics and soaring bends in the high register. One of the most surprising pieces, “Feel the Nonexistence,” delights with a change of pace to ambient synthesizers, a vast canvas of simplicity that highlights the inherent nihilism of the poetry. Finally, the brutal lyrics of “The Stick” (nukes, abortion, drugs, pollution, deification of sex, etc) over a pounding, fast rock drumbeat and distorted guitars makes this one one of the most intense and passionate pieces on the album. I will say that Copernicus is not for everyone, but if you enjoy poetry/spoken word, jazz, and theatrical philosophizing, a little revisit to this updated version of this Copernicus record may just be the stop for you.

P.J. Shadowhawk – Nevereverland
Formerely of Quasar, San Francisco Bay Area based drummer and multi-instrumentalist P.J. Shadowhawk is back with a new solo record: Nevereverland. With lyrics that bridge that gap between the personal, realism, and fantasy, alongside music that seems to take its cues from the neo-prog scene, P.J. brings a packed record to the table with a consistent style. What stands out on the album are the large number of pretty melodic ideas, such as the intro to “Darkness Before the dawn” played on piano/strings or the simple but catchy ideas on “Excalibur.” Along similar lines, there are loads of uplifting sections. Exemplary of this would be the joyful 5/4 opening of “The Only One” and the swelling vocal harmonies of “Subsukkoth,” a mostly instrumental piece where stacatto piano chords face off against weaving guitars before a slow middle section where pulsating synth bass delivers a nice backdrop to ambient harmonies. On the flip side, what I would like to see more of is variety of instrumentation and tightness of arrangement. Where most of the album seems to rely heavily on piano with strings synth pad I would like to have seen the melodies treated in ways that set them apart more, which I think would tighten up each individual track. Still, there are some very strong moments, my personal highlight being the intense, headspinning section in 9 that appears around 7:37 on the album closer “Icarus.” The combination of furious drumming over quick piano contrast by ambient, moving guitar melodies really hit the sweet spot and showed P.J. Shadowhawk certainly has a few tricks to offer fans of neoprog.