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Some years back I was introduced to record honcho, prog promoter, and all-round good guy Nick Katona, and we have become firm friends (in the modern internet meaning of the word), so much so that I asked him to write the introduction to The Progressive Underground Volume 5. He has told me that one thing he enjoys about my writing is my honesty, as he knows I will always say what I think about a release even if that means we are at odds with each other, so when I say something is simply essential then he knows I really mean it, and that is the case with his latest free compilation. For more than a decade Nick has been releasing compilations featuring his artists, now on more than one label, and this time we have 30 artists with a total running time of more than 2 ½ hours. 

This means there is plenty of room for long-time MRR artists to sit alongside new ones, or travel in a slightly different direction with those from PeacockSunrise, all combining in such a way that the listener is transported from one delight to another. This means that the collection is almost impossible to review, as how can one take the sheer beauty and atmosphere of the wonderful Captain of the Lost Waves and put him up against the live bombast of Joe Deninzon (who is now a member of Kansas) & Stratospheerius. How about the delightfully whimsical music of The Gardening Club where Martin Springett continues to delight with his combination of Camel and Roy Harper, or pitch that against the more in-your-face raw rock approach of Distressed. That’s before I get onto the wonderful sounds of Steve Bonino, the opening symphonic blast from the new band Emerald City Council, or the art rock of Babal.

The 30 artists contained in this release fit well within Nick’s own tastes, but even by spreading this over two labels, there is still a huge diversity with the only common element being the skill and artistry of those involved. Ten Jinn is always going to be high on my personal favorites, but is “Slaves Of The Machine” the best song here? I honestly can’t say, as there is so much here to savor, from prog through melodic rock to art rock to prog metal, symphonic and singer-songwriter and so much more. This is a wonderful introduction to some of the most recent releases from MRR and PSR, and did I mention that it is totally free from Bandcamp. For anyone who wants their music to be melodic, has thought and care behind it, and is provided by great musicians, then this is something that needs to be sought out immediately.
9/10 Kev Rowland