Reviews

  • REVIEWS

22 LAYERS – ‘isotope’ Peter Coyle & Tony Lowe REVIEWS

“Oh, my goodness; that’s gorgeous!” – Review of ‘isotope’ by 22 LAYERS – Peter Coyle & Tony Love by Rob Fisher in The Progressive Aspect

isotope … poetic and contemplative … both by the music of Tony Lowe but also by the willingly surrealist lyrics of Peter Coyle … a sweetness of harmonies, sensuality of melodies and delicacy of arrangements.” – Full Review: Pierre/Prog Critique – English Translation

  • ESP Project

    REVIEWS of phenomema

    Variety + The ESP Project on Progressive Discoveries

  • Resident reviewer, Dr. Rob Fisher, will take us on a voyage of Progressive Discovery with the latest album by Tony Lowe’s ESP Project!Prog Watch 751

    New review and feature article in Big Bang Magazine – France – Dec 2020 IssueBig Bang - France

    Phenomena “is glorious, it is embracing but it is always and forever shifting. You never hear the same album twice. Different things resonate with each listen, emphases shift, different elements and aspects stand out depending on mood, attentiveness and the listener’s disposition. To my mind, this is what makes it a truly absorbing and deeply fascinating album.” – Full Review – Rob Fisher – Progressive Aspect

    “Phenomena is a much needed boost of an album, powerful, challenging symphonic rock that refuses to rest on its laurels and proving yet again that the ESP Project is full of class, musicality and great, thoughtful writing.” – Full Review – Andrew Cottrell – Background Magazine

    Phenomena is full of “beautiful melodic lines and remarkable imaginative and refined sections”Full ReviewJacques Becker 

    Phenomema” keeps all its promises with a superb musicality… In short, great class and the full of positive energy!” – Full Review – Pierre from ProgCritique

    “…a mix of original melodic rock, all tinged with symphonic-typed breaks, pieces flowing gracefully through the voice and instruments…” – Full Review – Brutus from Prog Censor

    “Tony Lowe (music & instrumentation) and excellent vocalist/lyricist Damien Child come through with a collection of very enjoyable Neo Prog songs.I am intrigued by Tony’s chord sensibilities as well as Damien’s ability to find a fitting though often edgy and distinctive melody line with his beautifully modulated voice. Definitely an album and duo worth revisiting. B+/4.5 stars; a near-masterpiece of well-formed progressive rock music.” – Full Review – Bruford Freak – ProgArchives

    “The album is crammed full of accessible, symphonic rock music with some nice progressive flourishes and effective snatches of experimentation…bolstered by Lowe’s precise layered instrumentation and sumptuous production…some great playing, thoughtful lyrics, and the definitive ESP stamp make PHENOMENA another class album.” – Full Review – Gareth’s Prog Blog

    It’s an absolutely superb album from Start to finish!!!” Garry Foster – Prog Rock Files Show – wcrfm

    Here’s the Prog you’ve been looking for! – Phenomena is a tour de force of contemporary prog.” – Brian Talgo (Gentle Knife)

    “A new ESP album is something I always look forward to. Tony Lowe has in both his solo and ESP work constantly delivered an excellent eclectic mix of original rock and melodic prog music. His signature sound manages to recall the glory of classic prog, while avoiding sounding derivative, unlike many other prog bands these days. Clearly a first-class musical producer, the high production values shine throughout as a key factor on all his releases.

    It was with some trepidation that I noted on this latest ESP release, Phenomena, that he was credited for ‘Music & Instrumentation – All tracks’, with only lyrics and vocals being handed over to others (The excellent Damien Child collaborating once again, and a guest performance by Alison Fleming on a remake of Tony’s lovely ballad ‘Seven Billion Tiny Sparks).’ My worries would prove to be entirely unjustified.

    Not to belittle the past albums, all of which I’ve enjoyed, but from the initial track, ‘First Flight’, and onwards, I realized this was a different ESP; a darker, edgier version, with a seasoned musician truly finding his métier. Perhaps it’s because Lowe had more or less full control of the project, from writing and arranging to performing and producing, he has been able with Phenomena to bring his artistic vision to a new level of fulfillment. For whatever reason, Phenomena is a tour de force of contemporary prog.” – Brian Talgo – Gentle Knife 

    REVIEWS of THE RISING

    The Rising is ‘an extraordinarily accomplished album, symphonic in scale, while retaining a freshness and urgency.’ An Album ‘that demands urgent attention, not just from prog fans, but from anyone who appreciates thoughtful, well-constructed songwriting.’Review – Andrew Cottrell – Background Magazine

    “Tony Lowe’s songwriting is completely intoxicating. Delicious soundscapes are interwoven around sophisticated and carefully designed structures. All the melodies on this disc are seductive and resonate with intense and changing rhythms.” Review – English Translation – Daniel Sebon – Amarok Magazine

    The sheer scale and extent of the musical vision is mesmerising. This is an album brimming with invention and imagination, where exceptional instrumental artistry embraces a rich lyrical poetry to create tantalising musical sketches to surprise and delight in equal measure. Highly recommended.” Review – Rob Fisher – The Progressive Aspect

    Listen to Rob Fisher’s eloquent review on Progressive Discoveries – the Prog Watch 704 Podcast

    The Rising will without question lift your spirits towards the sky, injecting both pace and energy at exactly the right juncture. It’s a real pleasure in this age…that the likes of ESP Project are still crafting well considered albums that flow and engage both through each individual song but also from the mood they create as a cohesive whole.Review – Sea of Tranquility

    There may be a few doing this, but not to this depth; the concept, the soundscape, the organic playing, this band have delivered  ESP Project album review in Fireworks January to March 2020 issuefrom the beginning…luxurious, hypnotic…” – Review – Steve Swift – FIREWORKS

    “…the whole album sparkles with musical, lyrical and vocal delights. Lowe and Child seem to have both drawn each other’s talents and created the most rounded, enjoyable ESP album to date.” – Review – Jason Ritchie – Get Ready to Rock

    “An album that promises to deliver on everything that the band has previously worked on and more.” Review – The Median Man

    “It’s a prog rock fans dream…a great performance by new vocalist Damien Child…with Lowe’s guitars and keys tastefully dominating…there’s nothing to dislike on The Rising” – Geoff Wootton – Powerplay Oct 2019

    “Yet again Tony and Damien lead a great ensemble through a splendid set of tunes. This pair are looking VERY strong. Too early to have a real favourite yet. ESP Project has been causing ripples in the “prog” firmament, now they are making waves.” Mike Ashton

    The Rising album launch – another beautifully crafted addition to the canon from Tony Lowe’s ESP Project” – Gareth’s Prog Blog

    …an album of poetic finesse chiselled on topical themes of our planet and our everyday life…the album is a great artistic success that will surprise and delight…Review – Jipé Yoda – Prog Critique

    LIVE

    To experienESP live review in Record Collector Xmas 2019 issue-1ce the soaring, experimental, epic musical investigations of their new album, alloyed with essential choices from its previous incarnations, ESP proffers an expanding musical pathway ahead. From the opening synth pulsations of ‘The Rising’ they unlocked a new musical door, the new release’s symphonic prog highlights entrancing the room.” – Complete Review – Paul Davies – Record Collector

    “I’d urged prog fans to get to see ESP after the performance marking the launch of their debut, Invisible Din in November 2016, highlighting them as new standard-bearers for 21st century symphonic prog; three full-length albums and one EP in, I stand by my words.” See live review from Gareth’s Prog Blog

    REVIEWS of ESP 2.0 (Tony Lowe & Peter Coyle) – ’22 Layers of Sunlight’

    “…between classic and contemporary, digital and analogue, musicality and ‘the grid’…the sun rises again on symphonic prog project – ESP 2.0.” – Full Review PROG #86

    FireworksThis is an album that will reward your time with real richness. Listen to it in the summer sunlight and be caressed by the sound.” – Full ReviewSteve Swift – Fireworks Issue 83

    …expertly crafted with excellent writing and musicianship, impeccable production and once again, beautiful presentation.Prog Blog

    This band creates the perfect soundscapes…another wonderful release from Tony Lowe and ESP. There’s not a track on 22 Layers Of Sunlight that did not sound perfect or had any missing notions.Professor Mark – The Progressive Aspect 

    22 Layers of Sunlight – “is a very well-crafted set of songs, clearly put together with passion and care by the PROG #86musicians involved and certainly recommended for all prog fans.Full Review –  PW – Rock Society

    4/5**** ESP 2.0 have done it again with another album full of intriguing and enjoyable music. ’22 Layers Of Sunlight’ will certainly propel them further into the upper echelons of progressive music.Jason Ritchie – Get Ready to Rock

    …it’s good to see Lowe and Coyle with their own agenda and what they do on their own terms…and on their own terms comes a grand concept…the album presents a lush listen…what stands out are the congenial and extended song arrangements…all controlled and contained in a warm and rich decoration.POWERPLAY Issue 207Full Review 

    Having heard the whole album, I can only say, it’s a cracker! I thought the first album was great, but this has surpassed that one, well done!” Campbell Stewart – The Fatman’s Rock Show

    ESP 2.0 – ‘22 Layers Of Sunlight’ After being slightly late to the party for the ESP debut album…..I made sure I turned up early for the follow up, and without doubt this is one of 2018’s finest albums!!!” – Garry Foster Prog Rock Files

    REVIEWS of Lowe & Brzezicki’s ESP – ‘Invisible Din’

    PROG January 2017Evocative and ambitious….From the first moments of Overture it’s apparent that we’re dealing with quality…Stylistically, this is solid classic/symphonic prog. GMM – PROG January 2017

    Highlights include…Searching the Banks for a Memory which opens with gorgeous electric harp (Yumi Hara)…before blossoming out with John Beagley’s vocals…Almost Seen, is a beautiful dreaming piece with David Cross’s excellent electric violin work and Pat Orchard’s gentle acoustic guitar…Rest of Review  – DK – Rock Society Jan/Feb 2017

    Best Albums Classic Rock Societyof 2016 – “Tony Lowe and Mark Brzezicki may have released the BEST new music in progressive rock in years. From the opening song  “Overture” to the closing “Almost Seen” every piece is simply superb…One of the best albums of 2016 and maybe of the decade.” Read the rest of the review by Benjamin E. New Esq. at Without Shoes

    From Japan – Progressive Award 2016 – Top 10 -“glorious and traditional British prog-rock”  – Prog Notes Special

    TOTP Pick of 2016 – Thanks to The Progressive Aspect and Mark A France who included ‘Invisible Din’ in his top three albums of the year; “Lowe & Brzezicki’s ESP/Invisible Din: Tony Lowe and Mark Brzezicki very recently released what I am calling one of the BEST progressive rock albums in years. From the opening “Overture” to the closing “Almost Seen”, this is a true voyage for the prog aficionado!” The Progressive Aspect

    Fireworks Magazine Issue 77‘Invisible Din’ is good. Oh, it’s good alright. This is big, important Prog… Steve SwiftFireworks

    …one of the best prog releases this year. Fantastic album!Campbell Stewart

    I’ve now listened to the album three times and the concept stands up really well. The production adds a Floydian feel to some of the material and the tracks evoke appropriate emotions: sometimes reflective, sometimes elation. The work is remarkably melodic…and repeated listening has revealed further layers and previously unnoticed jazzy moments. It’s impossible to choose a favourite track because the album holds together beautifully. ESP: All symphonic progressive rock fans should buy Invisible Din and make every effort to go to see them on tour.Gareth’s Prog Blog

    “Invisible Din is an excellent album, the kind that the leaders of prog used to make, fashioned over hours of careful and thorough practice….a wonderland of sounds that will take you back to a different era. Get this album and experience music made by consummate professionals, the way it used to be.Professor Mark – The Progressive Aspect

    TIP (Highly Recommended) –The traditionally constructed symphonic rock has a melancholic atmosphere… due to the prominent, often compelling guitar playing and theiO pages melodic as well as furious saxophone-parts there’s a clearly sharper edge to ESP. Yet the statelier works dominate, especially because solemn Mellotron-like sounds, vital Moog-riffs and robust Hammond organ passages are frequently embedded in the medium length, multi-part compositions.” René Yedema – Dutch progressive rock-magazine iO Pages, No. 140English Translation

    4/5 Stars – “The symphonic/big sound created make this album one that will stand up to repeated plays. Interesting listen and it certainly grabs the listener’s attention taking them on a marvelous musical journey.Jason Ritchie – Get Ready to ROCK!

    9/10 Stars – “Invisible Din” is quite brilliant, and surprisingly accessible…the songs are epic journey’s often encompassing two or three parts, and many with huge instrumental passages – and the phenomenal Saxophone of Jackson at the end of “Through The Dream” is worth buying this record for alone – but all with the idea that this should be enjoyed not endured and there is nothing remotely “challenging” (always a dread word) about this quite glorious 70 minutes.”  Andy Thorley at Maximum Volume Music

    4.5/5 Stars – “…it’s difficult not to be swept away by the masterful touch and sounds on show. Keep in mind however that Invisible Din is a slow burn, an album tRhythmhat at first feels intriguing, before slowly revealing its true and quite breathtaking strengths. There’s little doubt that prog is where it’s ‘at’ once again, stunning albums seemingly dropping from nowhere on a monthly basis to amaze and impress. What Lowe and Brzezicki have created with ESP however, is right up there with, if not beyond many of the best of them.Steven Reid at the Sea of Tranquility

    8/10 Stars – from Martin Howell in the November issue of POWERPLAY

    4/5 Stars – “Producer/guitarist Tony Lowe’s project with Big Country and session ace Mark Brzezicki has yielded an eclectic album packed full of progressive rock and fusion.” – November Issue of Rhythm Magazine

    It’s top quality prog no matter where you drop the needle, but early doors it’s “Through The Dream”, “Searching The Banks For A Memory” and “Almost Seen” that get me moist.  An essential album for prog fans.Zeitgeist and The Rocker

    Esp -’Invisible Din’-listened to it in its entirety. It just about blew my mind! Beautiful arrangements, magical production and so emotional and dramatic – enrapturing, captivating, a masterpiece! Absolutely fantastic. Made me well-up in places. That sax, lead guitar, violin – powerfully emotive. The drumming is just phenomenal.

    BACK CATALOGUE

        • Chris Gray’s ‘Diamonds In Your Tree – Reviews
        • Tony Lowe & Alison Fleming’s ‘Human Sleeping‘ – Reviews
        • Chris Gray’s ‘Don’t Lose Your Way’ –  Reviews
        • Bram Stoker’s ‘cold reading‘ – Reviews

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    Tony Lowe’s – ‘reflector’ from tonylowe.com

    Yes. Music the way they used to make it. Soaring guitars, intricate melodies, meaningful lyrics; have they all gone into hibernation? Died an untimely death? One might be tempted to think so. Fortunately, with ‘reflector’, Tony Lowe’s latest offering, they gloriously resurface in nothing less than a miniature musical tour de force.

    Wary of comparisons, I can’t help but mention seeing ‘reflections’ of several other bands and musicians here; from Mike Scott and the Waterboys to prog giants Steve Hackett and Yes, with a taste of George Harrison thrown in for good measure. I could have sworn I felt the presence of Jade Warrior as well; in other words, excellent company all-round. That said, ‘reflector’ is not in the least derivative; this is 100% Tony’s vision, with his own unique musical style, fantastic dreamy guitar chops and first-class songwriting. What’s more, this is an actual album, a wholeness, not a loose collection of songs. Play it from start to finish and you’ll find the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Flaunting the craft and lush production values of yesteryear, yet sounding as fresh as your morning coffee, this is clearly the stuff of a genuine musician. You can feel the combination of care, talent and true emotion that unobtrusively permeate each and every song.

    Still, the eponymous title track is such a classic of atmospheric progrock guitar playing that it has already earned a special place in my heart and has burned itself into my mp3-player forever. Likewise, it’s impossible to remain unmoved by the achingly beautiful ‘Seven billion tiny sparks’, a heartfelt ode to humanity.

    Because finally, and most importantly, this is music that moves you, the way that music is meant to. The songs entice; they pull you in and then whisk you off on a magic aural carpet ride. Yet even when the ride is over, they play on. That’s ultimately where real rock starts and finishes. It becomes part of you. And quite frankly, it doesn’t get much better than this.” Brian Talgo aka Robert J. Roid – “Artist and Author”

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    Excellent, melodic, guitar-driven pop music. Reflector is a delightful new album in the tradition of thought-provoking, musically-rich pop groups such as The Waterboys and World Party, and reaching back to psychedelic bands such as Pink Floyd and King Crimson. Highlights of this outstanding set include the catchy opening track “Reasons,” the driving, existential piece, “The Grand Illusion,” the uplifting “Fly with Angels,” and the emotionally intense, “Change of Heart.”” Paul Halpern – “Physicist and Writer” (Amazon Review)

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    Tony Lowe’s newest CD, Reflector, is one of those rare gems that grabs you from the first listen and doesn’t let you go. It is a collection of lush, rich melodies that evoke the heyday of great 70s prog rock in its attention to detail and musicianship, and yet remains modern and fresh. The lyrics are positive and manage to fill the listener with optimism and hope for the future. My favourite time to listen to this CD is during my walks to and from the gym- for the two half-hours it takes to get there and back, I am energized by the powerful words spoken and by the vibrancy of the music. Whether transported to the soft landscapes in “Meet Me On the Hillside” or just taking in the peaceful messages in “Fly With Angels”, this is a meeting of remarkable poetry with music that stays with you after you’ve put the earphones down.” Anne-Marie Klein – “Author”

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    Simply stunning. Precise and soulful guitar playing accompanies nine immaculately crafted songs. A captivating listening experience from a true musical genius.” Alison Porter

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    From the superbly imaginative guitar work of the title track, ‘reflector’ to the sublime romance of ‘fly with angels’, this album certainly reflects the song-writing ability of a highly respected musical talent.” Colin Shears

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    Enchanting – ‘reflector’, the latest gem from Tony Lowe, is such a beautiful album. His unique voice and virtuoso guitar skills are perfect for the thought-provoking, meaningful lyrics. This is spine-tingling music that you’ll want to listen to over and over again; music to be uplifted and inspired by.” Lisa Tenzin-Dolma

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    Fantastic Album – What a great album, great guitar work! The album is uplifting, the lyrics meaningful and thought provoking. I find myself playing this album over and over because it leaves me full of energy.

    Other reviewers I think nail some of the influences I hear in this album. No need to elaborate.

    I’m very glad I got it–I feel Amazon’s short 30 second streaming clips and quality, makes it really hard to tell with some albums, particularly this album.

    While I like all of the songs, some of my favorites include:
    Fly With Angels
    The Grand Illusion
    Seven Billion Tiny Sparks
    Reflector
    Faster Than Light” – Waki

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    Gentle, melodic songs and soaring guitar solos: it’s all in one – Having heard and loved several samples of Tony Lowe’s music in the past, I decided it was time I bought this album to see what a whole collection of songs offered.
    I have to say I am totally charmed. I love the atmosphere generated by this album: the gentle vocals, melodic songs and soaring guitar solos. The musicianship is fantastic. The peace the album conveys is compelling. I guess this is why I am reminded in some ways of David Gilmour. Tony Lowe does not sound or play like DG, but the sense of listening to a master is there as is the sense of tranquility and love. It’s the sort of album that makes me think of sunshine and driving in open country – always good. Favourite tracks? Reasons (love the guitar in this), Seven Billion Tiny Sparks (likewise, the guitar), Meet me on the Hillside (just a beautiful song with gorgeous backing instrumentals), Mirror to Mirror (lovely vocals and rich instrumentals, especially the guitars at the end). Wonderful, keepable music that is good for the soul.” – Rivergirl