Prog is Back!
Don't take our word for it. Here are magazine and web-site reviews, plus a couple of e-mails from fans. Why not e-mail us your views and we'll add them.....
One of the most beautiful albums released at the close of last year...
"The history of progressive band Protos provides evidence of how unimaginable and unpredictable the fortunes of a rock group can be. The biography of this band was elaborated when reviewing their debut album “One Day a New Horizon”. Let me remind you that it was released in 1982 and Protos recorded it as a duet: Rory Ridley-Duff (k), Steve Anscombe (g). It turned out to be the priceless treasure of British prog-rock undiscovered until the arrival of the CD age. Twenty-five years after the premiere of the vinyl, when considerable interest (mostly from the Japanese) had been aroused, Rory and Steve resolved to reissue this album and it turned out to be a great success.
The band appeared doomed to utter oblivion yet rose like a phoenix from the ashes. The band made another well-grounded decision by bringing out a record with completely new material. That is precisely how the new album “The Noble Pauper’s Grave” found its way to our hands. It tells a vivid history about a man of noble birth, who abandons his background, to experience a feeling of joy and love among both poor and common people. The band Protos (which continues to be a duet solely accompanied by a cellist – Nigel Rippon) spins a story using the instrumental compositions interspersed with narration.
Steve, with the help of Ally Rough, interprets the story and engagingly wrote the lyrics. The album consists of 13 parts. Its seven odd numbers are the lyrical pieces, whereas the album’s six even numbers come as the narration. We have encountered this more than once in the history of light music (in “Return To The Centre Of The Earth” by Rick Wakeman). However, all things considered, the album “The Noble Pauper” is most impressive when in the form of a 51-minute narrative-musical. The music interlaced with narration takes on the unique expression and a genuine brilliance. In the process, it makes the individual compositions of Protos something more than simple illustrative music. Together with the words, sounds acquire significance and activate the imagination of the listener.
I want to emphasise that this music is – to my ears - of stunning beauty. The enchanting melodies, the maturity of the sound, as well as the excellent instrumentation and perfect interpretations ring out with clarity on this record. To crown it all, the epic narrative pervades the longest tracks on CD: “The Rally” and “Outcry”. “Travels” also shows itself as an extremely impressive track with a lovely tune played on the bassoon. “Departures” is a splendid and solemn lyric finale. It illustrates the funeral of the main character.
The subtle arrangements (the recording is varied with an unprecedented multitude of sounds played on 12-strings guitars, saxophones, flutes, pianos and stringed instruments) which, together with the charming melodies make “The Noble Pauper’s Grave” one of the most beautiful albums released at the close of last year. It stands out against a background of exceptionally good releases in recent weeks."
http://www.mlwz.pl, MLWZ Review (Krakow Radio, Poland) – English Translation by Artur Chachlowski, 15/02/08.
I see no reason why this album should not be held in high esteem...
"The album is broken into instrumental pieces interspersed with Moody Blues-like narrative about a rich nobleman who finds love among the poor and organises them into a movement. The style is dominated by luscious keyboard and guitar arrangements in a romantic vein. The third composition, "The Rally", epitomises the style. This ten minute piece has a courtly baroque essence and good development with slow passages and rhythmic up tempo marches giving the back line something to do. It is followed by the eloquent and at times rather chirpy "Final Dawn", with sax and flute joining in. A childlike female vocalist relates the next part of the tale before one of the finest parts of the album "Outcry", a sophisticated melancholic piece featuring rolling thunder and distant church bells. It builds steadily to the point where it breaks out like sunshine through the clouds in an emotional uplifting celebration. The arrangement then cuts back to delicate strings and light piano before building a second climax through organ and brass effects. A sad renaissance-era refrain closes this stunning piece with a subtle harpsichord score.
The only other album by Protos (although Rory has released other material under his own name and with others) was 25 years ago and is viewed by many as a minor classic. I see no reason why this album should not be held in similarly high esteem. If you are turned off by narrative tales then you can buy the album’s 7 instrumentals from CD Baby download [or iTunes]."
- Richard Barnes, http://www.seaoftranquility.org/reviews.php?op=showcontent&id=6017, December 2007
A colourful prog instrumental album that fans of genre will love...
"We're always pleased to reveal hidden treasures. Protos will be a pleasant surprise if you haven't already enjoyed some of the fruits of Rory Ridley-Duff and Steve Anscombe. Their history goes way back to 1982 with their One Day a New Horizon album. Twenty-five years on the good beginning have not been forgotten. A colourful prog instrumental album with narrative that fans of the genre will love. Keyboard based and a pleasure to follow!"-- Martin Hudson, Classic Rock Society Magazine, Issue 162, Dec 07 - www.classicrocksociety.net
A perfect mix between music and narration...
"The Noble Pauper's Grave is presented as a progressive concept album which tells the story of a noble who abandons his origins to help the poor....and depicts his big-hearted fight to help others by supporting the weaker party in a struggle against oppression. The thirteen tracks are split into two types: the odd number tracks are the musical parts; the even number tracks are a narration of the story written by Steve Anscombe. This inventive approach allows the listener to fully enjoy the drama of the instrumental music and manages to avoid being boring.
Musically we are presented with an evolution of the classic Protos sound that was apparent on the debut album. This album combines an eighties sound and mixes it with a progressive rock style to create moments of great atmosphere. Rory and Steve have taken good care to preserve their melodic style and the song writing manages to create a perfect mix between music and narration. It is incredible how the various songs reflect the mood of the narration moment by moment - they successfully seduce the listener so that they become immersed in the story.
The work lasts 51 minutes and almost half of the CD is concentrated in two main tracks - The Rally and Outcry – which represent the soul of the album. There is also a fine closing track Departures that depicts an emotional farewell at the noble’s funeral. A lovely touch is the way the thunderstorm marks both the birth and the death of the noble, closing of the circle of life.
Production quality and mixing are of a good standard. The cover appears a bit bare, but is in line with the album's title. This is a good album that will fascinate lovers of progressive electronic sounds and ambient dreamy music. I recommend this CD – it is not easy to find albums as well made as this."
(Translation from the Italian by Valentina Contini)
--Fabio Rancatti, http://www.hardsounds.it/PUBLIC/recensione.php?id=3679, Italy, November 2007.
Through sheer musical guile, Protos produce a masterpiece...
"Through sheer musical guile Protos produce a masterpiece...depicting the virtues of honour through struggle. Through seven musical tracks interspersed with a further six tracks of narrative this album tells the story of a man living a life of courageous acceptance and sacrifice. 'The Noble Paupers Grave' produces a musical story that needs no narrative with its stirring marches and noble uprisings. As with many pieces of art the perspective is in the eye of the beholder, but if you like your art rock to last a lifetime then this could meet your expectations."
-- Rock 3, http://www.rock3music.com/reviews/2904-protos-noble-paupers-grave.html?ltr=P, 15th November, 2007
The compositions are dazzling...
"The compositions are dazzling, emphatic and full of dynamic verve. A distinct aura of optimism is predominant. Each song celebrates accomplishment and infuses the listener with that same sense of success. Few modern progrock releases embody an abundance of grandeur as this one does."
-- Matt Howarth, Sonic Curiosity, http://www.soniccuriosity.com/sc326.htm, 19th November 2007
This is a great masterpiece, a step up in scale and quality from their previous work...
"Protos re-issued a CD album titled 'One Day A New Horizon' (1982) last year which we evaluated. They expanded
This is a long lost classic...
"Protos…started out in the late 70’s [and] managed to put out an album in 1982 titled One Day A New Horizon. Now that it has finally been released on CD, more can hear its beauty, especially in the opening track The Fugitive. This is a long lost classic… it combines everything I love about the genre including the cinematic keyboard sounds, the fluid guitars and the rhythm section that gels so well. The music is so enjoyable to hear over and over [and] since Protos is all instrumental, they don’t fall into the clichés of the neo prog genre. I’m still at awe with all the great music that comes out of the woodwork in this digital age. Kudos to Rory Ridley-Duff for bringing this and other of his releases to the progressive rock table. Look no further and add Protos’ ‘One Day A New Horizon’ to your collection today! Your ears will thank you a thousand fold!"
--Ron Fuchs, http://www.geocities.com/prognaut/reviews/protos.html, April 29th 2007
"Into The Mouth of the Tiger contains live recordings from 1982 - 1984. With appreciative audiences, the band wheels through tight multi-part originals recalling contemporary greats such as IQ, Pallas, England, and Marillion, though with no vocals. The music is consistently positive, very tight, but not too challenging. Anscombe's guitar tone emulates Steve Hackett and Brian May. There is very little showy soloing, except for a great drum solo during the track "New Horizons". The sound quality is good for a live show from the 80's, with ambient audience noises and a good deal of band banter. An excellent release of historical material, making me interested at the least for more from Rory Ridley-Duff."
Brian G, full review at Progressive Ears (www.progressiveears.com), 25th February, 2007
"I think [One Day a New Horizon] is one of the most important albums of this particular sub-genre and in my opinion is one of the best as well (it is at least equal to the first efforts of Marillion, IQ and Pallas and probably better than the first Pendragon album). There's also a big difference in comparison with other neo bands in that Protos plays music that is entirely instrumental, while most other neo bands seem to focus a lot of their attention on lyrics and vocals. I think this is Protos' strength since most neo vocalists are simply dreadful (save Fish and some others). It's hard to choose the best track from this album because it's so consistent. Every song has a unique charm about it and you can find something you like in any number. The musicians are all extremely competent...a thoroughly satisfying album.
Maribor, Progressive Ears (full review at: http://www.progressiveears.com/ASP/reviews.asp?albumID=3811&bhcp=1), 2nd February, 2007
"Congratulations on one of the best Prog Rock albums made! Is there any chance of the band reforming? I run a Prog Rock Festival and would be very interested if it ever happened..."
Dave Martin, Whitchurch Prog Rock Festival Organiser, UK
"Protos's music reminds me of Genesis (at Wind and Wuthering), and the keyboard playing reminds me of Tony Banks. I have always liked Protos music since I first heard One Day a New Horizon in 1993. I thought it was totally original. As for me, I like Yes, Fantasy, Solstice, England and Protos best amongst the British progressive rock bands."
Dr Yasushi Tsuruta, Reviewer, Orange Power Prog Rock Magazine, Japan
"It was a pleasure listening to the whole album (+ the bonus tracks...). It IS a goodie, with warmth and depth in the melodic themes. Also there is enough variation keeping the music interesting all the time. Yes, I can really recommend it to anyone who enjoys classic British symphonic prog..."
Stig Lundstrom, Finland, first published on www.cdbaby.com, USA.
"I like it! It has a sound that I miss nowadays, an innocence and naivety that somehow left over the years. Nice also to see a band understand how important melody is and how useless technical flash and complexity are in the final product. Although there is no mellotron, it really is not missed at all. Coming from me, a mellotron freak, that is a huge compliment. I enjoy the sounds and the way the music is arranged and presented. I am amazed it never garnered more success. Protos is one band that begs to be listened to again - it holds up well to my expectations and it is one of those without any waste on it whatsoever - filler free."
Gregg Kovach, Gnosis Reviewer and Radio DJ ("ProgKing"), USA
"The album is quite obviously the result of many hours of careful compositional honing and the quality is evident from the opening of the first (and possibly best) track, "The Fugitive". This piece is a wonderful musical journey, by turns dramatic, sensitive and triumphant. This album is a must-have for anyone interested in progressive rock as well as being a staple of rock history".
Lord Chumley, UK, first published on www.cdbaby.com
"The pieces move between the territory set by Mike Oldfield, Vangelis and electronic prog (from 1970 to 1980). This collection really is a surprise to me as it opens the doors into a world where symphonically tinged prog rock lives in eternal splendour; it's beauty and magnificence never fading away. Can't get tired of these tracks and you would play them forever just to keep travelling between the clouds, turning here and there without pause. I recommend without reserve. Get it. You won't regret it. A timeless disk - if you love prog it can't be missing from your collection."
Fabio Rancati, Prog Rock Reviewer, first published on www.hardsounds.it, Italy
"One Day a New Horizon by Protos (Airship AP391 in 1982) is one of the jewels that these rare talented musicians created. It is also a dignified inheritance for this three-man band. The key role in the keyboard playing, smooth melody lines from beginning to end. Remember as the top progressive rock group since England (Garden Shed, 1977)...."
Marquee Magazine, Japan, first published on www.cdbaby.com.