Imagine your mind being twisted into a knot, then suddenly shaken back and forth, then slowly and gently being massaged into a beautiful dream-like bliss. This is what happened to me when I listened to the progressive rock band 2KX and their latest album "Sussuration." The band had been on a two year hiatus after keyboardist and composer Lisa LaRue battled a few health issues. But now the band is back and I'm so glad I was directed to listen to them!
The band features Lisa LaRue on the keyboards, Steve Adams on guitar, Mike Alvarez on cello, Merrill Hale for drums and percussion, and Don Schiff on bass and NS Stick. John Baker, who was the lead vocalist/guitarist for Mars Hollow as well as played for Christian Love (The Beach Boys) and The Little Girls, joined as a band member on this release, as lead vocalist.
I'm not sure why I'm drawn to progressive music. I guess because it forces me to think hard and imagine what message the artist is trying to convey. I feel challenged to find form and structure that sometimes simply isn't there. It's addicting for me to listen to bands that are so talented in a way that breaks the mold of even my idea of progressiveness.
Prior to their two-year break period, 2KX was nominated as Best Instrumental Band at the 21st Annual Los Angeles Music Awards. I'll forewarn you, this band is not for the weak minded! This is a band for those who wish to hear music interpreted in a way that is breathtaking and mind-boggling. Listening to 2KX's latest album will be like walking into an art museum.
Don't believe me? Buy their album on iTunes. We need to support more music like this.
Die EP „Sussuration“ erschien im September 2014, nachdem die Gesundheit von Lisa LaRue nach einer zweijährigen Pause wieder hergestellt war.
Die eröffnenden 58 Sekunden sind einem scheinbar etwas schrägen Künstler namens Johnny Unicorn aus dem Bekanntenkreis von Lisa Rue gewidmet. Unicorn steuert ein Intro zu der EP bei, in dem er – mit komödiantischem Talent gesegnet – die Namen von 2KX-Musiker/Innen singend zur Begleitung von akustischer Gitarre und den Keyboards aufzählt.
Darauf folgt eine volle Version von „Sussuration“, das früher schon als „radio edit“ erschienen war. „Sussuration“ entpuppt sich als eine von den symphonischen Keyboards getragene Artpop-Prog-Nummer, die doch entfernt von Yes und The Flower Kings beeinflusst sein könnte. Auf den gesungenen Teil folgen überraschend sphärisch-minimalistische Ambient-Passagen, die zweimal von einem jazz-rockigen Teil für Geige und Stick unterbrochen werden.
„Lemniscate“ beginnt mit sanften Celloklängen, zarten Slide-Gitarren und mehrspurigen Tasteninstrumenten, die allesamt eine idyllische Klanglandschaft hervorzaubern. Darauf folgt eine minimalistische Ambient-Passage, die wie eine Abfolge von Traumsequenzen wirkt. Anschließend dienen das treibende Schlagzeug und virtuoses Stick-Spiel als Begleitung für ein temperamentvolles Saxsolo. Dieses ein wenig aggressive Klangbild löst sich bald in Wohlgefallen auf. Da sorgen nämlich Piano, Cello und Sax zu wortlosen Chorgesängen und Mandoline für eine sehr entspannte, mitunter etwas angejazzte Stimmung.
Auch wenn in „Lemniscate“ ein gewisser Michael Sadler als Hintergrundsänger agiert, Ähnlichkeiten zu Saga sind nicht vorhanden.
Insgesamt macht diese EP einen recht ungewöhnlichen Eindruck, indem sie entspannten Symphonic Prog, Ambient-Passagen und jazzig angehauchte Instrumentalteile nebeneinander präsentiert.
CREATIVE EDGE MUSIC
2KX is a highly intriguing band whose music reaches out and grabs you the very first time you hear it. And not in a heavy metal loud sort of way, but in a more sophisticated manner. The composition combines several complex elements of musical production to achieve an almost nostalgic effect, throwing me back in time as I travel through that which is Sussuration.
The guitar solo from 1:39 - 2:19 really caught my attention, since it has classical elements that remind me of Michael Angelo Batio (one of my favorite guitar teachers of all time) and fits the space so perfectly. It is almost unexpected so early in the song, but welcome in its warm nature.
Lemniscate offers similar vibes, with lengthy ballad-like qualities that remind me in many ways of Opeth's arrangements despite the difference in genre; they both share the same sort of sophistication and build up. The effect is made even more powerful with the subtle yet audible delays on higher frequency components, such as around 3:45.
What will really blow you away with this second song is how it shifts to such a powerful ending by transitioning into a slow-tempo jazz feel at the end. After working through a more progressive feeling midsection (of the song), it is a somewhat unexpected, but well-anticipated ending. The simple pluck of what sounds like an upright bass becomes significant in the presence of simple saxophone riffs and easy, intentional percussion.
After speaking with the band, they are thrilled about their new release after spending the last two years out of commission while Lisa LaRue, their keyboardist and composer, battled to regain her health.
According to their recent press release, this new album involves an unusual feature in that one movement of the song will be available as a special 7”, hand-shaped lathe cut record! It will be cut real time on a vintage 1940 record lathe, too. This movement is the ballad section of the song and the only part with vocals.
Note that the CD/EP will contain a full-length version of ‘Sussuration” as well as the previously released singles from 2KX: “Lemniscate,” a radio edit of “Sussuration,” and a bonus of “Song For a Name – 2KX” by Johnny Unicorn It will be available as a CD and an mp3 album in addition to the radio edit “Sussuration” ballad which will be produced in a very limited quantity as the hand-shaped lathe cut 7” record. Digital downloads are available now.
Credits as noted by the band: 2KX is comprised of Lisa LaRue on keyboards, Steve Adams on guitar, Mike Alvarez on cello, John Baker for vocals, Merrill Hale for drums and percussion, and Don Schiff on bass and NS Stick. Baker, previously lead vocalist/guitarist for Mars Hollow as well as playing for Christian Love (The Beach Boys) and The Little Girls, joins as a band member on this release, as lead vocalist. Special guests are Michael Wheeler playing Dilruba and violinist Brenda K of the Panache Orchestra. The album was produced and mixed by LaRue and mastered by multi-Grammy mastering engineer Adam Ayan of Bob Ludwig’s Gateway Mastering. Ayan is known for his mastering of bands such as The Rolling Stones, Nine Inch Nails, Rush, Linkin Park and numerous others.
2KX has been previously nominated as Best Instrumental Band at the 21st Annual Los Angeles Music Awards and has a bright future ahead of them. Earlier career highlights for Lisa LaRue include being the first female artist signed to the Sound of America Records (SOAR) Natural Visions sub label, the 2008 Oklahoma Music Awards “Native American Artist of the Year” and a 2008 nominee for the Hollywood Music Awards Instrumental category.
ARLEQUIN'S PROGRESSIVE ROCK WEBZINE
Dopo aver superato gravi problemi di salute nel corso degli ultimi mesi, la tastierista Lisa LaRue ed i “suoi” 2KX ritornano a far parlare la loro musica con questo breve EP, “Sussuration”, che speriamo sia solo l'apripista, magari a breve, di un più sostanzioso full-length. Solo 4 brani compongono il lavoro. L'introduttiva e brevissima “Song for a name-2kx” di Johnny Unicorn (che non va più in là di un mero riempitivo), la lunga title-track (presente anche nella versione radio edit) ed infine “Lemniscate” già uscita come singolo (un po' particolare peraltro... durando oltre 13 minuti...). Il precedente album della band aveva mostrato pregevoli spunti che spaziavano dagli Yes ai Genesis per finire con gli Spock's Beard e con l'AOR tipicamente americano. Per “Sussuration”, Lisa (alle tastiere) si avvale praticamente della medesima line up di “Fast and blue” con l'aggiunta di John Baker nel ruolo di cantante (già voce dei Mars Hollow nonché marito della LaRue). L'EP o, meglio, i due lunghi brani portanti, appaiono meno avventurosi, più meditati e sofferti rispetto alle esperienze precedenti. La lunga e malinconica introduzione della title-track con pianoforte e violoncello apre poi le porte ad un cantato di più facile appeal con “coretti” alla Beach Boys. Le soffuse partiture sinfoniche mantengono l'atmosfera sospesa e quasi mesta a cui contribuiscono certamente le note del “cello” di Alvarez. “Lemniscate” inizia delicata e quasi sussurrata per poi attingere e rielaborare le dissonanze crimsoniane ed il jazz-rock. Più fluido il finale anche se prevalgono sempre i colori delicati ed i bisbigli musicali. Segue la versione “breve” di “Sussuration” che riprende ovviamente la parte cantata quella, cioè, di più facile fruibilità radiofonica. Una band con praticamente gli stessi effettivi di “Fast and blue”, ma diversa nel sound, meno enfatico e ridondante di quest'ultimo, ma attento al particolare ed anche all'aspetto più intimo che la musica può offrire. Certamente un lavoro di cosi breve durata e composto di fatto da due soli brani non può originare un giudizio definitivo ma l'impressione ricavata da questo antipasto è comunque buona. Quindi nell'attesa di un lavoro più corposo, per ora accontentiamoci e... bentornata Lisa...
SELL OUT RECORDS
I know it’s my job to compare musical acts and try to paint a picture as to what they are doing so that you can go and buy the record and check them out, but every now and again artists are beyond just one genre and above any simple terminology. It’s paying disservice for me to call the latest release from 2KX anything other than a masterpiece. Fronted by Lisa LaRue, this is a release of progressive rock and is like nothing I’ve heard in a long time. Yes, there are other prog rock bands out there, but this release is a cataclysmic exemplification of art, and not just music. With the release of “Sussuration”, you get elements of every type of musical genre, but it’s like a work of art, seamless in the integral elements that make this worth picking up.
I was floored by the pieces, and really found myself in awe at the precision at which every element comes together. It’s like a giant jigsaw puzzle, and once you hear the record, you understand the pieces fit to make sure that this makes sense. It truly makes sense, every song comes through with vital pieces and then progresses into a huge and compelling soundscape.
My personal favorite is “Lemniscate” a 13 minute masterpiece of funk, soul, 80s rock, and so much more. It had me doing a little dance in my office chair with my speakers blasting. It’s rare to hear a record with so many parts coming together in this format. It has ups and lows and sews together 30 minutes of pure bliss. This is definitely a solid release and something that I can definitely see getting a lot of attention.
2KX really puts forth a great set of songs here, with full framework of artistry in mind. There are so many notes presented here and many genres, even though you’ll have a rock theme come through to wrap it all up. “Sussuration” is by far one of the coolest releases I’ve heard this year. It’s unlike anything else I’ve heard thus far.
Check out Lisa LaRue and 2KX via the official site here, and check out Facebookhere. You cannot miss this, you will love it on so many levels. I love it. I’m impressed.
A couple of weeks back we published the exciting news of the return of the progressive band 2KX, after a two-year break, with the release of their new body of work –“Sussuration”. Interesting curiosities that surround the September 1st release of the CD/EP, involves an unusual feature. In that one movement of the song will be available as a special 7” hand-shaped lathe cut record. The record is cut real time on a vintage 1940 record lathe. The CD/EP will contain the full-length version of “Sussuration” as well as a previously released singles from 2KX: “Lemniscate,” a radio-edit of “Sussuration,” and a bonus of “Song For a Name – 2KX” by Johnny Unicorn.
The other mind-blowing plus factors, of the new 2KX release, includes cover artwork byKeith Birdsong, famous for his Star Trek book covers and other outstanding work, as well as mastering by multi-Grammy engineer Adam Ayan of Bob Ludwig’s Gateway Mastering. Ayan is known for his mastering of bands such as The Rolling Stones, Nine Inch Nails, Rush, Linkin Park and numerous others.
In comparing “Sussuration” to an artistic painting, we can clearly define, by the aforementioned facts, that the framework for this effort, is nothing less than exceptional.Lisa Larue, has left nothing to chance and rounded-up the best talent she possibly could, to perfect the physical structure of the audiovisual material incorporated into this CD/EP package.
From a musical point of view, however, the real question is; “What about the creative and performing qualities of 2KX on “Sussuration”? Does this music stand the test of time? Moreover is Progressive or Art Rock still relevant styles of music, in an era saturated with samples, loops and patches; where any newbie can copy and paste an awesome twelve-bar guitar solo into a 128-track musical arrangement, on a 49 dollar home studio rig – without knowing, understanding or being able to perform one single note of music?”
“The answer my friends,” once said the immensely intelligent Bob Dylan, “is blowing in the wind”…or rather…it’s ‘susurrating’ on the latest 2KX EP!There are only four tracks on this record, but each of them matters as an important piece of this EP. To my mind they are more like ‘Movements’ of a single work of music. Lisa LaRue and crew, were thinking outside the box, and were looking forward into uncharted waters, as 2KX set sail to explore and conquer a world of sound that has stood stationary for many a year.
With its majestically long and illustrious history, Progressive Rock obviously doesn’t start here with “Sussuration”, but 2KX make pretty damn sure it doesn’t end here either, adding luster and substance to a genre that desperately needs to be re-awakened and delivered to the masses, before the total take-over, of simple beats and rhymes, is completed.
What is so strong about this recording is that each piece is archetypal. Each is the definitive version of itself. From the virtuosic, almost 12-minute –long “Sussuration”, to the, at- times-introspective, at-times-theatrical “Lemniscate” and the fairy-tale-with-a-message, radio edit, of “Sussuration”, all the music is strange, new and familiar at the same time. You may think you’d heard it before and elsewhere, but until this recording came along, you hadn’t (well you have, but not in this tincture!).
Perhaps it was simply the newness of combining these songs at this particular moment in music, but 2KX comes out with a unique, complete and coherent EP. It’s one of those recordings where every note is in place, every inflection is absolutely right, perfectly capturing a singular moment in time.
“Sussuration”, is an extraordinary virtual-music, appreciation-course, capable of giving the listener an instant respect not only for classical music, but also for the jazz and rock influences contained within. Each member of 2KX gets ample opportunity to show off his or her talents. Lisa Larue’s keyboard playing is simply breathtaking across the tracks, as isSteve Adams’ guitar, Don Schiff’s bass, Merrill Hale’s drums and new vocalist, John Baker. Not to mention all the other musical contributions displayed on “Sussuration”.
2KX with this EP release continues to push the boundaries of popular music. Forty-five years down the line, “Sussuration” is definitely one of first new albums, to try and reshape the future Progressive Rock again.
If you are looking for lighthearted, dance or easy listening music, this isn’t it. This is music to be listened to, savored, and listened to again. Portentous, audacious, biting and driven; great musical art requires technical skill and the ability to influence the way we emote with it. “Sussuration” contains both!
INDIE BAND GURU
Sometimes the best bands develop out of random people coming together for a one-off project. Talented musicians who may run in different circles can be brought together in a session to record and the pieces just fit. Such seems to be the case for our recent find 2KX.
The group was originally brought together in 2009 to work as the international progressive music endeavor ‘Lisa LaRue Project 2K9’. When all the talent started feeding off of each other they knew there was more music to be shared with the world than just one short album. Keyboardist and leader Lisa LaRue has been around for a while releasing 4 solo albums and several singles. She has had nominations for multiple awards for her instrumental work. The new project 2KX was also nominated for “Best Instrumental Artist” at the 2011 Los Angeles Music Awards.
On September 1st, after a 2 year hiatus, 2KX will be releasing the album Sussuration. The music is full of sound creating a cascade effect of music washing over the listener. The combination of these talented musicians blends perfectly together to create something epic sounding and huge.
Looking for a taste of something new? How bout progressive rock group 2KX? The band returns after two-year break with a new lead vocalist, John Baker (formerly of Mars Hollow and The Little Girls), and a new EP titled Sussuration – an epic 11 minute musical journey ranging from symphonic, pop and experimental.
When listening to Sussuration, you really get to see the talent lead songwriter and keyboardist Lisa LaRue has. Solid songwriting chops with the right amount of pop mixed in creates a very enjoyable listen. 2KX’s sound sort of reminds me of The Flaming lips but with a little more polish, something that I’m sure a lot of people will enjoy.
Another cool thing about this new releases is that there will be a special edition, hand shaped, 7″ of the EP which was created in real-time on a vintage lath. Peep some tracks below and look for the full EP and special edition 7″MUSIC STREET JOURNAL
2KX is the permanent band formed from the recent international prog endeavor, Lisa LaRue Project 2K9. Lisa La Rue, an Oklahoma Music Awards' Native American Artist of the Year, is the leader and keyboardist for the band. The band also includes John Payne, (former lead singer of Asia), on vocals, Steve Adams, on guitars and bass and Merrill Hale on drums from the Portland, Oregon band ARZ. Cellist Mike Alvarez adds depth and mood to the music. There are several noted guest artists on this album including; Mitch Perry (Edgar Winter Group, MSG, Cher and more), Don Schiff (Rocket Scientists, and many more), Michael Sadler (Saga), Ryo Okumoto (Spock's Beard and GPS) and Maxi Nil (Visions of Atlantis).
The album kicks off with a major epic after the soft opening intro of “Mystery of the Rose,” and never lets go of your psyche or ears as prog epic after epic unfolds in this seven song story. Fast and Blue is an explosive and dynamic album that will thrill and bring back many memories from the legends of the past, while still remaining original.
Track by Track Review
Mystery of the Rose
“Mystery of the Rose” opens with cello, soft strings and drums, percussion, bass and brilliant lead electric guitar. It’s a very beautiful, but quick opening.
Fantastic soft almost mandolin sounding guitar opens “Prometheus”, before the real action begins. The ominous sounding drums, keys and bells eventually give way to guitar, that, for a while, will take you right back to the spirit of Jeff Wayne and Justin Hayward’s “Forever Autumn.” This is an excellent way to open this track full of dynamic range and depth. The deeper guitar and bass signals a change in pace and feeling in the melody and sound. There is a medieval/King Crimson feel to the next section of the song, before another switch to Hackett – like soaring guitars with power drums supporting the climb. Then the song slows down and beautiful guitar and soaring keys mixed with what sounds like backing vocals. The keys glide through the haze and offer their abundant waves of sound. Then a little Kansas Leftoverture keys and buzzing guitars, join before they finish off this section with bells and a gong. At 8:20 into the song, another great shift hits as the pace picks up with a Tony Banks on keys sound, with bass support, cool blasting drums, and great lead electric guitar riding through the storm of sound. The last section adds some ELP – like keys to remind you they know all the legends of prog. They touch on the many moods and highlights of prog within one power epic. A better name for the track might have been, “Journey Through the History of Prog in Under 20 Minutes”.
“Tryptych” opens slowly with what sounds like an orchestra before the crowd cheers and cellist Mike Alvarez fills the soundscape with the magic of the cello. Supporting him along the way is wonderful acoustic guitar which brings back memories of some of Steve Hackett’s solo and Genesis era songs. The guitar mixed with cello makes it feel as if you are at a Steve Hackett acoustic/classical show. The ‘live’ sound quality is pitch perfect as if the artists are performing before you. The guitar and cello continue as piano is added to the mix to coax even deeper emotions.
Jam Jehan Nima
“Jam Jehan Nima” opens with powerful keys, drums, bass, and guitar. The electric lead guitar is back, weaving mysterious chords and Asian – like sounds. The drums and background cello modes give the entire arrangement enough volume and presence to fill a concert hall. The keys provide dramatic Asian impressions. Then an almost Ayreon mixed with Kitaro blend of keys and guitars that propel the sound even higher. We get chanting, bell chimes, and thunder drums summoning the force of spirits. As the song builds they add some Zeppelin – like guitar chords and power drums as the dynamics of the song change and grow.
Lamont of the Cherokee/Ruins of Home
“Lamont of the Cherokee/Ruins of Home” opens with soft keys and beautiful cello. Then John Payne enters to deliver some spoken word poetry from John Howard Payne of the 1830s. The guitar and drum work are wonderful and inspiring on this mostly instrumental track. The keys are crystal clear.
Fast and Blue
The title track opens with power guitar and keys before John Payne’s vocals join. Maxi Nil’s backing vocals add a softness and emotion to the sound. This has a 1980s/Asia feel to it. The cello in the background adds another cool dimension. There’s great guitar licks and fantastic power drums.
“Recurring Dream” is the closer and best track on the album for me. Those awesome keys and soft guitar that open the song just steal the show. Then Michael Sadler’s vocals enter to give it that Saga flare, just after the amazing gong closes out the instrumental opening. Payne and Sadler duet as the number builds, bringing together two powerful voices of prog’s past. The keys are extraordinary and those Hackett – like electric guitar climbs are breathtaking.
THE PROGRESSIVE ROCK FILES
I have to say, it’s not every day you hear a musician for the first time and say “where did this come from!” Wow! I look at Lisa LaRue’s bio and I see that she’s been recording music since about 1994 but I wasn’t prepared for a progressive rock keyboard extravaganza. But that’s what Fast and Blue is. Performing are: Lisa LaRue (keyboards), Steve Adams (guitar, bass), Merrill Hale (drums) and John Payne (vocals, bass). Then there are the special guest musicians: Ryo Okumoto (keyboards on 2), Michael Sadler (vocals on 7), Don Schiff (NS stick on 2), Mitch Perry (guitar solos on 4), Maxi Nil (backing vocals on 6) and Mike Alvarez (cello). It’s a stellar cast and the music they make is classic symphonic prog with a bit of bite.
Fast and Blue is LaRue’s 5th actual CD and consists of seven tracks, two of which are quite lengthy with lots of instrumentals. We start off with the short “Mystery of the Rose” [1:09] moody synth strings softly picked acoustic guitar and choral sounds all of which slides neatly into “Prometheus” [17:58] continuing with classical guitars and various keyboard layers and sounds. A minute into the piece it starts to get a bit more aggressive with some great guitar riffs leaving the keyboards playing the bell chime accents and a haunting string backdrop. It eventually settles into a softer interlude. LaRue’s keyboard virtuosity is everywhere. A tune rarely goes very far before we’re treated to another keyboard sound or style. That said, the guitars offer the proper balance and ensure the music never falls into a samey mode. Another words there is always something going on. The music is always changing and you’ll never really know when. Songs build in grandeur and intensity and then subside. Ebb and flow. Classic symphonic prog compositional structures are what make the music for me. But even at that, the bass and drums maintain the rhythm perfectly.
If you’ve never heard Lisa LaRue’s music before you have to check out Fast and Blue. Fans of bands like Kansas and Genesis will really get into this. I would also say if you enjoy keyboard oriented bands like Ars Nova or Gerard you’ll also find much to enjoy. The tunes are well crafted and well played. For symphonic prog fans I highly recommend it.
DUTCH PROGRESSIVE ROCK PAGES
Once each month spanning the year 2009, Oklahoma-based keyboardist Lisa Larue released an individual download tune under the moniker Lisa Larue Project 2K9 and which were then collected as a proper physical CD entitled World Class. LaRue is back now with another release under her new moniker Lisa LaRue 2KX entitled Fast And Blue, her seventh release since 1995.
For Fast And Blue, LaRue on keyboards is joined by John Payne (Roger Daltrey, GPS, The Passion, Asia, Asia Featuring John Payne, CCCP, Geoffrey Downes New Dance Orchestra, Stringer, Lunatica, Jupiter Red, Quadrascope, Bite The Bullet, Dark Horse) on vocals, Steve Adams (ARZ) on guitar, returning drummer Merrill Hale (ARZ, All Good People, many more), Michael Alvarez (Bass Clef Experiment, Erik Norlander, Lana Lane, Roswell Six, Don Schiff, Vinny Appice, Nima Rezai, Bridget Brigitte, Michele Shipp, Deal By Dusk, Scot Taber) on cello, and special guests Mitch Perry (Michael Schenker, Cher, Glenn Hughes, Billy Sheehan, Asia Featuring John Payne) on guitar, Maxi Nil (Elysion, On Thorns I Lay, Moonspell, Visions of Atlantis) on backing vocals, Schiff (Rocket Scientists, Elvis Presley, Tina Turner, Pat Benatar, Sheryl Crow, Sammy Davis, Arjen Lucassen and many more) on NS/Chapman stick, Michael Sadler (Saga, Roswell Six,) on vocals, and Ryo Okumoto (Spock’s Beard, Kitaro, Phil Collins, Eric Clapton, Aretha Franklin, Creation, Roberta Flack, Barry White, Peabo Bryson, Eric Burdon, Natalie Cole) on keyboards.
The style of music on Fast And Blue is neo-prog with many symphonic touches.
The version of Fast And Blue being reviewed here is the special limited edition which came with a DVD and magazine. These versions sold pretty quickly and there were only a few of them left at the time of this writing; visit RockTunz for more details. Individual copies of the CD and DVD can be purchased from LaRue’s website (see link above).
I gave an initial listen to part of the CD while driving in my car one day and I was at first not impressed. But I wanted to give LaRue and her cohorts a chance before coming to a conclusion, and upon my full listening of the CD I was left with a positive listening experience.
Fast And Blue offers up epics like the 18-minute Prometheus, which showcases some dramatic Transatlantic-esque sections, a synth solo sounding like the cry of an intergalactic pterodactyl, and sections evoking Genesis and Relayer-era Yes. Other tracks on the CD are more conventional and song-based, like the title track with a commanding vocal from Payne, dutiful backing vocals from Nil and an anxious guitar solo from Adams.
His guitar on Recurring Dream goes from pastoral to birdsong-like, with unassuming drumming from Hale and vocals that are assured from Sadler and emotive, as always, from Payne.
Tryptych is a lighter, almost religious sounding piece offering up confident yet plaintive slices of cello from Alvarez, autumnal guitar from Adams and some piano from LaRue that seeps into the tune like an anonymous ghost from the past.
Fast And Blue is a great CD with LaRue and her capable band spotlighting their individual talents throughout. My only criticism of the CD and what could be an area of opportunity for future LaRue projects is that the drumming at times sounds under produced. Of course I realize that a bit of rough production quality can be due to budgetary constraints that come with being an independent musician. I give credit to LaRue and band for their DIY ethic.
The DVD starts with a documentary, The Making Of Fast And Blue, which sees the band posing for shots and answering interview questions including a couple of questions asked by Payne. Commentary on a couple of Fast And Blue tracks and some relaxed footage of the band enjoying some down time at a local watering hole are featured as well. The documentary is shot somewhat home movie style, with some over modulated sound during the track commentary sections and jerky camera movement. Willow, credited as “the studio dog”, also makes an appearance.
Next up on the DVD is Prometheus, a film made by Thomas Edison of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Or The Modern Day Prometheus, set to music from the CD.
The DVD is rounded out by videos for Recurring Dream and the single version of the title track. The videos offer dreamy sequences and animation and to a point are clever, but I feel that LaRue’s music is strong enough to stand on its own, independent, as it were, of video. As a whole I would say that the DVD is for hardcore collectors only.
The magazine is colourful and informative and on a couple of pages there are CD-sized squares which were apparently intended as inserts for the CD and DVD. However the CD and DVD came packaged on their own, respectively in a jewel-case with an autographed and well-designed booklet and in a somewhat modest DVD box.
Fast And Blue will most likely appeal to fans of symphonic neo-prog. Purveyors of top 40 singles are apparently reading the wrong music site.
Lisa LaRue is likely misplaced in time, perhaps 35 years or more. She's a keyboard player from Oklahoma, in the heartland of America, doing neo-classical progressive rock, with definite influences from prog's early 70's roots.
It's likely you don't know her or know little about her. But she has garnered some attention over the years as she has quite the supporting cast on her latest independent release Fast and Blue. These include Mitch Perry (Edgar Winter Group, MSG, et al), Don Schiff (Rocket Scientists), Michael Sadler (Saga), Ryo Okumoto (Spock's Beard, GPS), and Maxi Nil (Visions of Atlantis).
I listened to Fast and Blue with some skepticism. The possibility of a totally keyboard-centric prog album simply turns me away. However, with the exception of one song, Fast and Blue is more a classic prog album than an indulgent platform for LaRue's synth twiddling. That extravagance comes on Prometheus. Like the hero of Greek legend, whose cunning stole fire from Zeus and gave it to man, the song inspires with movements both epic and grand where LaRue shines. Her skill is displayed and that's good, but it's hardly the best track (and it's unnecessarily long). But the rest of Fast and Blue is not like that.
There's only two vocal tracks. Fast and Blue is mostly melodic rock with little prog invention. The closing song, Recurring Dream, blends melodic AOR rock with prog similar to Canada's Saga. It's light, but stirring.
The real genius is in the middle of Fast and Blue. Tryptych (a work of art usually divided in three panels) offers a three part composition which involves piano, violin, and acoustic guitar. I'm hoping that this is not all keyboard or synth manufacture (the liner notes are not specific), and guitarist Steve Adams and others are invloved in the production. It's such a great piece, I would be disappointed about the collaboration. (NOTE FROM LISA: The liner notes indicate we have a guitarist, and he wrote the song, and that we have a cellist. Yes, it's all real!)
Lament of the Cherokee/Ruins of Home explores some native american roots in a folk progressive rock context. There's great guitar work from Steve Adams and drums from Merrill Hale (Again the notes are note clear.). The significant piece here is Jam Jehan Nima. In this composition, LaRue is a player in the band, not the star. The arrangement involves every musician for an epic performance. This is pure neo-classical progressive rock and, indeed, 2KX at their most brilliant.
Relatively unknown, but deserving both attention and recognition, Lisa LaRue 2KX Fast and Blue is classic progressive rock re-imagined for a new day with tons of inspiration and inventiveness. Very recommended!
Fast and Blue is the latest project by Lisa LaRue 2KX, Native American artist keyboardist Lisa LaRue's group. She is joined on this album by a palette of well known and high profile musicians and singers of the Prog scene of the last 20 years (and even more). I can guess that the willingness of these talented artist to participate in this project reflects their very positive opinion of Mrs LaRue as a musician and composer.
After listening a few times to Fast and Blue, I must admit to being reminded of some of the more symphonic Progressive Rock albums of the seventies, even though this album clearly has a modern sound to it in a Neo Prog sort of way. The main reference I would make would be with Rick Wakeman's Voyage to the Center of the Earth album, mainly because of the grandiose style of the music, but also with the large presence of keyboards, spoken parts and medieval/arabic/native flavors to some of the music. Because of the guitar style and sounds, Steve Hackett also comes to mind and perhaps some of Yes' 70's music.
If you like the more symphonic side of Progressive Rock like it used to be done in the seventies (but with a modern sound), Fast and Blue is certainly an album to seek out. Lisa LaRue 2KX have produced one of the better CDs of that genre in recent years, all the compositions being of great quality and varied enough to keep the listener interested from begining to end. Add to that the exceptional talent level of the musicians involved and the music just has to be good. Recommended!!
SEA OF TRANQUILITY
Lisa LaRue and 2KX are back before the end of the year with more music already. This time it's an EP designed to support a fan of the band who has been having a difficult time of late with finances and health.
The project was conceived by Steve Adams, guitarist for Lisa LaRue 2KX, and consists of the following players contributing to the three tracks: Lisa LaRue on keyboards, (all tracks); Steve Adams, (ARZ), on guitar, (all tracks); Don Schiff, (Rocket Scientists), on NS/Stick and bass guitar, (all tracks); Merrill Hale, (ARZ), on drums, ("Beautiful Life" and "Forever Is a Journey"). Joining them for this benefit project is Dave Schiff, (Former Frank Sinatra Jr. Orchestra), on tenor saxophone and alto flute for ("Beautiful Life"); John Baker, (Mars Hollow), on vocals, ("Forever Is a Journey"); and Amy V. Simmons who wrote the lyrics for "Forever Is a Journey".
The EP will be available exclusively through http://www.rocktunz.com, and the release date is forthcoming.
This is a wonderful sampling of instrumental and vocal driven tracks set to highlight the best aspects of our 'beautiful life' on earth. The first track 'Beautiful Life' opens with great jazzy keys and mellow sax, before the guitars and drums ignite to add dimension to the sound. This is one of the two instrumental only tracks that are stunning in their composition and the way they capture an upbeat smooth jazz feel of a soft summer breeze filled day. The sax that layers over the top of the power bass is just amazing as the fluid keys drive through the middle, lead guitar in pursuit.
'Days with You' is the second instrumental track full of wonderful light keys and bass with good solid lead guitar and soft drums keeping the tempo.
'Forever is a Journey' closes out the EP, this time with lyrics and vocals. The lyrics are well worth the price of admission and John Baker's vocals sound better on this track than some of the tracks on Mars Hollow's new release this year. The wonderful guitar playing and Lisa's awesome keys make this the absolute highlight of the album.
Help support someone in need and enjoy some uplifting music in these troubled times. Sounds like a great recipe everyone would want to participate in.
1. 'Beautiful Life'
2. 'Days with You'
3. 'Forever is a Journey'
Very relaxed prog rock is the main dish that we are being served here! There are a lot of influences to be found from other music styles. The drum work on opener “In Camera” sounds like it comes from a Massive Attack album. The dreamlike guitar solo is ultra sensitive. In “Copper Edge” the presence of the Hammond organ gives the song that true vintage sound. Every instrument has an equal contribution to the sound. The piano reminds me a bit of Bruce Hornsby and there shine some Eastern influences through the guitar work as well. Next up is “Tell Me Why” a song that also can be found on the solo album from David Mark Pearce. Mr. Payne from Asia takes care of the vocals here. Besides the organ we can enjoy the stunning guitar work from David. “Kituwa” is more guitar orientated and places the link with the work from Pink Floyd. The emotions produced by the guitars are augmented by the sublime keystrokes. Some Spanish and South American inspired acoustic guitars get the company of fragile vocals from Payne in “Deluge”. The instrumental track “There Are No Words” not only has a clever found title but again we hear delightful acoustic guitars and some keys in the background. Some sensitive guitars and the voice of Payne opens “For Eternity”. But when the lead vocals start I recognize the very sweet familiar voice from Jo De Boeck from Belgian band Beyond The Labyrinth. This track can be found on their second album “Castles in the Sand”. Near the end of the song Geert Fieuw unleashes one of his short but sensitive solos.. With “Beautiful Illusion” we fall into the world of the prog masters Yes. The fresh and utterly emotional guitars go on a date with the frolic keys and the chemistry between those two lovebirds is a real treat for the ears. Payne gets the company of the female vocals from Claire Vezina in the romantic “For Our Love”. The short “Two A.M.” sounds like a film score with almost mainstream pop keys and percussion. The addition of choir vocals and a gentle guitar gives the song extra depth. “Save Me” closes the album with heavier guitars and sweet vocals from Payne.
This project is a true trip through many different musical landscapes. Every song has its own style and feel. Every fan of prog rock (Yes – Pendragon – and others) should give this album a listen and many of those who do will be swept away by the passion for music that it breaths.
There's a simple reason why I'm a huge keyboard fan. It's a multi-faceted instrument that sends chills up my spine and creates wonderful fantasy worlds in my mind! Lisa LaRue is more than capable of achieving this effect. The award winning musician has the smarts and the chops to pull off an amazing keyboard-based album called Fast and Blue with an All Prog Star cast to support her.
The impressive line-up includes:
Lisa LaRue - Keyboards
Steve Adams - Guitars and Bass
Merrill Hale - Drums
Michael Alvarez - Cello
With contributing guest musicians:
John Payne - Vocals
Michael Sadler - Vocals
Maxi Nil - Vocals
Ryo Okumoto - Keyboards
Mitch Perry - Guitar
Don Schiff - Chapman stick
This is not the first time she has collaborated with some of these musicians. Her recent album, World Class, also hosted many of them, including Mr. Payne. I am not able to compare Fast and Blue with her previous releases, having never heard them before, but that is a situation I will soon remedy. She is a rising star in the Progressive Music movement and should be taken seriously by fans and fellow musicians, as well as industry leaders.
The album starts out with “Mystery of the Rose”, a lively, short number with tribal influences, and continues on to “Prometheus”, a true epic in the Prog sense. Mysterious and spooky at first, it ends on a happy note with a serious Kansas influence. The third song, “Tryptych”, is a very sweet and pastoral tune with pretty piano and cello. It might be my favorite of the instrumentals on this album.
“Jam Jehan Nima” has strong Asian influences, complete with a Tibetan-type chant, which then melds into a lovely guitar. It has a variety of movements within the song, leaving the listener wondering what comes next! The fifth song, “Lament of the Cherokee/Ruins of Home” is perhaps her most dramatic, symphonic track on the album. It has metal edges that mellow out to cello, complete with a vocal narrative describing the Native American experience.
The last two songs feature singing and lyrics. The title cut, “Fast and Blue”, is a lovely power ballad with strong synths and drums, with tinges of metal guitar. Sung by John Payne, this could easily be a single! The album winds down with “Recurring Dream”, which has a gorgeous keyboard/guitar duet morphing into a beautiful love song. It's very dreamy and perfect for Michael Sadler's voice.
Prog fans and keyboard fans alike should dish up this wonderful, tasty album. It's the sort of music you can daydream by, which is why it is one of my favorite releases of 2011. Please order this album from the "shop" at her website http://www.lisalaruemusic.com/ which also comes in a deluxe edition with DVD and a magazine describing the album. Unfortunately, I don't have that magazine, so my review is probably missing some obvious key elements.
In any case, I can't wait to explore her previous works! I hope she will continue to make beautiful Progressive music for many years to come.
With a history of composing music ranging from the Native American influence to progressive rock, keyboardist Lisa LaRue is one of the best kept secrets in prog. Having released a multitude of solo albums across the board, her third record with the band 2KX not only features the core of guitarist Steve Adams and drummer Merrill Hale, but puts John Payne (Asia, GPS) in the main fold as well amongst a list of guest players and vocalists.
Fast and Blue's tunes range from symphonic new age ("Tryptych"), to neo prog ("Fast and Blue"& the Michael Sadler fronted "Reoccurring Dream"), to the multi-faceted progressive rock approach on the extended tracks, both "Jam Jehan Nema" & "Prometheus," where various elemental approaches are utilized with melodic fortitude, including metal, fusion, & ambient soundscapes infused with classical overtones featuring the various musical personalities of guests including Spock's Beard's Keyboardist Ryo Okumoto, cellist Mike Alvarez, Rocket Scientist's stick player Don Schiff, guitarist Mitch Perry, and vocalist Maxi Nile adding their personalities to the arrangements of Lisa LaRue as these big arrangements don't get overbearing, where the music flows and changes with a more natural edge to it, rather than being jarring at times.
Like The Tangent's The Music that Died Alone and Proto Kaw under a heavy Vangelis influence, Fast and Blue is an album of LaRue's true musical identity, and the music itself is more eased and tame, without a bunch of wild improvisations or jitteriness, as it's about taking a melody and giving it a work over.
Lisa LaRue put together a new band called 2KX band and consists of Lisa (keyboards), and from the band Arz, Steve Adams (guitars/bass) & Merrilll Hale (drums) and John Payne of Asia Featuring John Payne (vocals, bass). Special guests on the CD include Michael Sadler of Saga (vocals), Ryo Okumoto of Spock's Beard, K2, GPS (keyboards), Don Schiff of Rocket Scientists, Lana Lane, Erik Norlander (NS/stick), Mitch Perry of Asia featuring John Payne (guitar), Maxi Nil of Visions of Atlantis (vocals) and Michael Alvarez of Bass Clef Experiment (cello).
This is the first time I’ve heard Lisa LaRue’s music and I’m very impressed with the album, Fast And Blue. So I was very happy when Lisa contacted me online. The album is epic sounding and primarily an instrumental album with some vocals and spoken word. Lisa’s arrangements also reminds me a little bit of Erik Norlander’s music especially with Rocket Scientists and more recently, The Galactic Collective. Another keyboard legend that I am reminded of when listening to Fast And Blue is Keith Emerson.
Opening the album is a short instrumental song, “Mystery of the Rose” (1:14) which set the mood for the entire album and segued right into the epic of the album, “Prometheus” (18:53) which is just about the most epic sounding song, that doesn’t sound forced, that I’ve heard in a while. To me this song alone is worth the cost of the album, especially if you get the Special Edition version(more on that later).
Following the epic is “Tryptych” (4:55) which opens with an audience clapping then the acoustic guitar begins with a cello backing it up. This is a very beautiful song. Then Lisa and company bring us back into a long form song called “Jam Jehan Nima” (13:30) which has a more modern vibe about it than the opening track.
Following that is “Lament of the Cherokee/Ruins of Home” (7:40) which has some spoken word moments at the beginning then the rest of it is an amazing instrumental piece.
Up next is the title track, “Fast and Blue” (5:12), which is one of the only song to have vocals on it, with John Payne on lead. I This song is an extremely catchy, and memorable song that you find yourself humming along with it and soon after it‘s over.
Ending off the album is “Recurring Dream” (7:26) is the other vocal based track with Michael Sadler on lead. I think Lisa crafted the song perfectly for Michael’s vocals. This is a very good way to close off an amazingly epic album.
When I was told to expect a copy of Fast And Blue, I was pleasantly surprised to see a dvd and a magazine. Both of which are available on the Special Edition version of Fast And Blue, of which I highly recommend, and as I told Lisa, the music here is EPIC! This album has the best of the 70s and the present day progressive rock has to offer, which I think should make the fans of Lisa LaRue’s music, happy to listen, watch and read.
SEA OF TRANQUILITY
For American keyboardist Lisa LaRue's latest effort World Class she has enlisted some of the best up and coming artists in the prog arena to collaborate alongside such seasoned veterans as Asia's John Payne. What you get here are eleven richly layered compositions that can best be described as progressive / symphonic rock with a hint of world music thrown in for good measure.
The album kicks off with a couple of majestic and intricately arranged instrumentals with "In Camera" and "Copper Edge". Both of these tracks are peppered with some absolutely splendid, atmospheric keyboard playing from LaRue, as well as a plethora of sizzling solos from guitarist Steve Adams. The gears are shifted for track number three "Tell Me Why", which is an up-tempo melodic rocker penned by David Mark Pierce featuring Payne on vocals. Payne's distinctive vocals are featured predominately throughout World Class; for example on the song "Deluge" he delivers a poignant vocal with lyrics adapted from Susanna Moodies poem The Deluge, while other highlights include "Beautiful Illusion" and the sparkling melodies that come to the forefront on "For Our Love" where he shares the microphone with female vocalist Claire Vezina.
While I certainly wouldn't describe LaRue as being your prototypical, flashy keyboard player, her real strengths are revealed within the lush textures and emotive melodies found in a song like "There Are No Words", an instrumental duet between herself and Pierce. On this particular track her delicate treatments provide a sumptuous backdrop for David's superb classical guitar work. The album concludes with the brief instrumental "Two A.M." and a remix of the song "Save Me" which was featured on her last album Transformation 2012.
World Class is full of great melodic keyboard arrangements that are written and executed perfectly. LaRue has definitely surrounded herself with a stellar cast of musicians here and this is another big reason why this album works as well as it does. The unique qualities of each player is allowed to shine through in such a way that the listener is definitely able to pick up on the true sense of collaboration that is flowing through each and every one of these compositions. It's hard to get any better than that.
Transformation 2012 make me recover the faith in the prog music.
Since the age of “These boots are made for walking over you” till “golden Birds” or “Lighthorse”. The price is paid. Today the world music has a reason to reflex and enjoy.
I am living in the Mayan land (Cancun), 2012, according the ancient scriptures, could be the beginning of a new good era to the mankind. Also, “Transformation 2012” announces to be: Good Music prog for the masses!
Blessings - Manuel Ramirez, Cancun, Mexico
THE PROG FILES
I tend to have a set style when asked to review an incoming CD. I'm not apt to visit an artists website to "get to know them" a bit more before I "understand the music". Because, in my opinion, the proper order of things is the polar opposite of that. Your music speaks to me first, and then (if in fact it speaks to me) I'd like to know more. I share this with you not because I'm important or my style of reviewing is unique, but because Lisa LaRue's music IS. Very few artists are "in tune" with themselves and the surroundings that have molded them to be what they are presently. Lisa, whether subconsciously or in full cognitive grips, has channeled her influences, both in music and in mind. It wasn't until after I sought after the extra information that I saw that in completeness.
Her effort titled “Transformation 2012” is worth your time.
Since the CD's title catches attention (intended to do so I am sure), I'd like to address it: If you're like me, you've caught a late night documentary or two on The Aztecs or Mayan cultures. You've no doubt heard about their mystique and especially the Mayan calendar and prophecies. While it's en vogue these days to excuse the child sacrifices they performed as relative truth or religious allowance in that particular culture, I for one think that when we as a “civilized” people want to elevate these members of history as somehow wise in the scope of antiquity, we are treading on dangerously contradictory waters. That is not to say that the invading Spaniards were in the right and the Mayan's were wrong, but it IS something of an uneasy feeling that we seek knowledge from a society that sacrificed the innocents on bloody altars.
With that being said, Lisa expresses a personal “transformation” and offers this explanation in the liner notes:
“If we see the Mayan Prophecy of 2012 as doom and gloom, that's what it will be. But if we see it as a time for transformation as the Mayan Elders believe, it will be a time for renewal.”
Ok, I'll buy that... let's get into the music now shall we?
The CD starts off as if you just tuned in to a mainstream hit radio station with sound bites and booming announcer voices. It's a little chaotic and interesting. A chanting "American Indian" type voice rises above the audible clutter - drawing you in. Although it sounds nothing like it, it reminds me of Louis Armstrong's style of playing his horn as if to transcend the bustling noise below his sweet melody. It's a unique tool to use musically, and no doubt Lisa has some jazz influence equipping her to execute it.
A baritone voice over dominates with an ominous tale to tell. It's Jeff Straub - you may have heard his voice, he's all over TV and radio. There's even a flute floating in the mix performed by Kerri Lake. The mixing of these layers is astonishingly well done.
The second track continues on the quality production level but is quickly recessed to the back of your mind as you find yourself taken in by the sheer pleasure of the music. Immediately a "not so run of the mill" bass performance emerges from one Marc Nelson. In a cosmic marriage of melody, Tommy Zvoncheck (Blue Oyster Cult, Jon Anderson) walks along side Lisa in a mind blowing musical journey. It's quickly becoming evident that Ms. LaRue knows exactly what she's doing on this CD.
The next song, The Purist, appears to be ALL Lisa, and this being such a brilliant composition, it should remain so. As if only she herself could make sense of what she hoped to achieve in this piece, none other has been permitted to commune, save the riveting narration by a male voice only credited as "Peter". Then, as if in a continuation of The Purist, comes a "Warning". It's an uplifting track that is also strangely eerie. Although it is all keys, I think it would be unfair to dub her a Rick Wakeman do-over. She is much more at home in her own skin than to be a follower - and her music doesn't just express that, it emits it.
A strong highlight on this CD is one of the most intriguing drum solos I have ever heard. Yes you read that right, a drum solo performed in house and recorded for this CD. It's performed by a relative unknown named Andy Livesay. This isn't the standard "look what I can do" show off performance. This solo is rich with meaning, and it wasn't until AFTER I heard the CD and wrote the skeleton review that I discovered why. You'll recall my explanation of not seeking "extra information" on artists until after I've reviewed the CD... As this disc wrapped up, I found myself saying "of course" and "no wonder" - Of course those voices reminded me of an Indian Pow Wow (Lisa belongs to the Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians in Oklahoma). No wonder I got a spiritual kick from Andy's drums (OK Native American with 30 years of experience).
John Payne's (Asia) vocal contribution cannot be ignored and it goes without saying... but I'll say it anyway, what a fantastic voice. Why we're not hearing this particular track on car stereos everywhere is beyond me. I don't say that as if to diminish the progressive nature of this album, but the song writing on this piece, coupled with John's performance is exquisite - very moving indeed.
My favorite track on this album has to be "Beautiful World" which comes off as a collaboration with electric violinist James Sudakow (watch for this guy!)...
... I will be on pins and needles for the next Lisa LaRue project. I wish we had a 4.75 star review to give Lisa, because she deserves a slightly higher rating than 4.5. It is a incredible disc and one that I will be returning to again.
DALE JUDAY- The Prog Files
As noted before on these pages, we normally don't "do demos" as a matter of policy, except for rare exceptions on rare occassions. Oklahoma-based Native American keyboardist Lisa LaRue qualifies as one such exception, in allowing us a brief preview of her upcoming album due this fall (Nov '08) entitled "Transformation 2012."
The operative track here is "2012 Concerto," a beautifully realized symphonic piece...LaRue's melodic arrangement is by turns stately and playful, as she alternates leads on piano and synth, while (James) Sudakow providing violin embellishment.
Other samplings of Larue's work here are "I Feel Soooo Emo" from her album "Ama," plus "Lighthorse" and "All I Survey" off "That Ol' Sofkee Spoon." LaRue is an accomplished progressive stylist in the Rick wakeman vein who obviously knows a thing or two about blending American Indian motifs with symphonic prog. The new album should be quite a showcase for her talents.
JOHN COLLINGE - Progression Magazine
SEA OF TRANQUILITY
The album opens with a mixture of sound effects, phantom radio narration and poetic sequences and then moves into a romantically melodic synth, organ and piano piece supplemented by a sweetly flittering flute and dancing percussion.... James Sudakow,'s violin returns on "Beautiful World" and neatly complements Lisa's piano, where she excels in my view, as shown again profoundly in "Wondering" the next short instrumental piece. "Wake up" is a classical romantic instrumental which would have been at home in a court dance. . . The completion of the transformation is an understated celebration with flute and violin supplementing the layers of keys, rather Oliver Wakeman-ish in delivery. . .
SEA OF TRANQUILITY
LISA LARUE - "Transformation 2012"
Lisa Larue is a North American keyboardist and composer who was born in Oklahoma (where she lives today), but grew up in Topeka, Kansas. Therefore, the Native American music has a strong influence on her work, so that her debut album - "Beloved Tribal Women" – was released through the specialized label Sound of America Records (SOAR). In 2008 she was chosen the "Native American Artist of the Year" by the “Oklahoma Music Awards”. Currently, Lisa Larue is working on a side band called "Project 2K9" that assembles musicians from all around the world (the CD “World Class” will be released by Christmas 2009). Speaking of Lisa Larue’s Progressive side, her influences come mainly from keyboard-oriented Progressive acts, like “ELP”, “Yes”, “Genesis”, “Kansas”, and “Rick Wakeman”, blended with some bits of Ambient and New Age music, including “Kitaro”, and “Enigma”. Her last release, entitled “Transformation 2012” (2008, Fingerwoven/Third Childhood Publishing), is a conceptual work based on the Hopi and Mayan mythology, involving the prophecy of the transformation of the world in 2012. The record has participation of many guest musicians, including singer "John Payne" (“Asia”), keyboardist "Tommy Zvoncheck" (“Blue Oyster Cult”), "James Sudakow" (violin) and "Kerri Lake" (flute). Lisa Larue composes progressive instrumental pieces that are calm and tranquil, with several features of New Age Music. But different textures of keyboards coupled with insertions of violin and flute provide those compositions with a melodic fluidity, preventing them to sound minimalist or monotone to the listener. Her way of playing is not aggressive or exuberant as “Keith Emerson”. She rather resembles a gentle “Rick Wakeman”, avoiding the use of bombastic keyboards and emphasizing the arrangements. The orchestrations resemble bands like “Rumblin Orchestra”; “Jeff Waynes’s War of the Worlds”; “Mandalaband” (album “The Eye of Wendor”) and “Isildurs Bane”. The flute of Kerri Lake combined with light and delicate keyboards are also reminiscent of “Camel”. The Ambient Music atmosphere is a direct influence of New Age acts like “Kitaro”, “Changing Images”, “Era” and “Enigma”. “Transformation 2012” develops its concept through 13 tracks. On the first three tracks - “Transformation“, “Waiting for a New Day“ and “The Purist“, there is a predominance of sound samples, sound effects (radio news), ethnical flutes, and Arabian female vocals that intermingles with a narrative Voice that announces a catastrophic event of worldwide proportions. The arrangements are light and decorative, tending to “Enigma”, “Era”, “Changing Images”, “Rick Wakeman” and “Camel”. The following tracks get gradually better, with a greater investment on the orchestrations, providing the music with much more drama and grandeur. “Melancholy“ uses keyboards textures in “Kitaro’s” style, and is followed by two tracks which are mainly influenced by “Rick Wakeman”: “Warning“ (featuring a Baroque organ reminiscent of albums “Six Wives…” or “Journey to the Centre of the Earth”), and “Concerto 2012“ (tending to “King Arthur…” and songs like “Guinevere”). Then comes an intermezzo, on which Andean flutes introduce the romantic ballad “Save Me“ (featuring "John Payne"). This song is the only one with vocals, and separates the previous block from the following, formed by tracks of different musical orientation: “Sea of Unity“, one of the best, features electronic voices resounding underneath the water and a cool organ that reminds me of “Yes” (album “Going for the One”). The connected tracks “Beautiful World“ and “Wondering“ have a jazzy mood and Brahms-like softness piano, while “Wake Up“ sounds like a string quartet. The last tracks finally close the circle, going back to the orchestrated formula: “Release“ mirrors the opening track by bringing samples and narration back – a childish chanting announces hope for the Future and introduces “Transformed“ - a classical piano piece with flutes and choirs that join “Rick Wakeman” with ethnical-folk flutes. Summing all up, the work of Lisa Larue symbolizes the female side of Progressive Music, being specially recommended for fans of melodic and soft Progressive Rock. Band members and collaborators involved in Lisa Larue band are: Lisa Larue - Keyboards; “Peter” – Narration; John Payne – Vocal on “Save Me”; Tommy Zvoncheck - Keyboards; James Sudakow - Violin; Kerri Lake - Flute; Mark Nelson - Bass; Andy Livesay – Drums. Sinu Spiral (ERH) – Samples (“The Free Sound Project”); Bill Bruford - Drum Samples (Studio ProFiles)... (Comments by Marcelo Trotta)