Review – Orange Clocks – Tope’s Sphere 2 – by Emma Roebuck

Originally devised in 1973 by eccentric producer Tomska R Huntley and destined for German TV, Tope’s Sphere was set to be a ground-breaking animation featuring a live soundtrack by 1970’s UK/Germany supergroup, Klementine Uhren. The series followed Tope, the knitted monkey protagonist, with his sidekick Chode on their outer-space adventures accompanied by lush layers of psychedelic music. Unfortunately for Tomska, Klementine Uhren were unhappy with the final mixes. They promptly disappeared with all the tapes for an ‘extended session’, never to be seen again. Tomska was bankrupted and his dreams shattered; he dumped what was left from Tope’s Sphere into a skip and vanished into the depths of the Himalayan Mountains “.

So reads the Bad Elephant Music promotional material. I think of myself as a Kraut rock fan but I will be the first to admit it missed me completely. That maybe me being a 9 year old in 1970 at the time and I am sticking to that rather than plead complete ignorance of something I feel I should know. It creates a mythology of nostalgia and finds me want to know more of this television series.

It is a story Of Tope, a knitted monkey and Chode his sidekick, a reimagining of the TV series in musical form. Musically it is uplifting and delightful, I hear so many different influences here but imagine Gong’s ‘Flying Teapot’ saga translated into a children’s series sound track.  I won’t single out individual tracks here but the fun the guys had in the studio creating this is glaringly obvious and I’d love to hear the outtakes.

Orange Clocks hail from “East Northamptonshire”

Burn – drums, percussion, Derek Cotter – vocals, bass guitar, Tom Hunt – vocals, synthesisers, Ja Lee – samples and sounds, Dan Merrils – guitar, Stuart Paterson – guitar, Martin Winsley – narration, vocals, percussion.

They have produced something quite unique which holds a reverence for the past but has an amusing irreverence in the way they have made the music with more ‘in-jokes’ from the genre than a Brian (may he rest in peace) Pern series.

It opens with an audio lift from the original series telling one adventure against an arch-enemy of Tope and the battles worthy of any Steampunk adventure. You follow the tale from end to end with a solid narrative and characters. Good versus evil, the music and vocals representing the characters well. I hear Hawkwind, GongGrobschitt, Public Image Limited and Ashra Tempel all in the mix. Musically it is not hard work yet it is incredibly accessible and has its own unique identity.

This is, in true Prog tradition, a concept album but it is also a rollicking space romp of hilarious proportions in anyone’s book. Yes, you read that, hilarious proportions. I am a melancholy soul at best and my taste in music reflects that but I do like to smile and this album makes me grin from beginning to end. In classical music there are a couple of albums that act as doorways to the music, Prokofiev’s ‘Peter and the Wolf’ and Benjamin Brittan’s ‘A Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra’, there is even a similar album for King Crimson that I seem to remember. This album, for me, is a great way to introduce the “young mind” to what good modern Psychedelic/Prog should be like without melting the brain. When I say ‘young’ I mean those with no knowledge or background rather than your average Bieber obsessed pre-teen.

This album is yet again proof the music industry should take risks and invest beyond the core “karaoake” style ‘zero outlay, high short term yield’ mainstream we have at the moment. I will not be forgetting this album come December when I look back and review 2017.

Released 3rd March 2017

Order your copy of ‘Tope’s Sphere 2’ from Bad Elephant Music here

You can listen to the whole album here:

Review – Tearing The Tour Apart (live DVD) – The Franck Carducci band – by Progradar

Music was always intended to be heard live, that’s how it started. There were no recording devices when the first minstrels and troubadours travelled far and wide singing their stories of incredible deeds and perhaps slightly embellishing them. It was passed by word of mouth and would be centuries before waxed discs, vinyl records, compact discs and digital files were even thought of.

Therefore, to me, live music is music in its natural form and the energy of a live gig has to felt to be believed. I suppose the next best thing to being there is to watch a good quality recording of that concert or show and I think that is why live DVDs and Blu-rays are as popular as they are nowadays.

I saw The Franck Carducci Band live at the Masquerade Festival last December and they were fantastic, a live experience like no other in fact and I’d had chats with Franck about him releasing a live DVD which finally came to fruition with the ‘Tearing The Tour Apart’ live DVD that was released towards the end of 2016 and which Franck graciously gave me a copy to review.

The live DVD was recorded at the Climax Club Legend in November 2015 and features tracks from Franck’s first two albums ‘Oddity’ (2011) and ‘Torn Apart’ (2015).

Pop the DVD in your player and the title menu appears asking you to choose 5.1 sound, stereo sound or pick a track. I got straight in with stereo and the visuals begin, instantly recognisable as being the work of Olivier and introducing the Franck Carducci Band – Franck Carducci (bass, 12 string guitar, vocals), Christophe Obadia (electric guitar, bass pedals, didgeridoo, vocals), Olivier Castan (keyboards, vocals), Mathieu Spaeter (6 and 12 string guitars, vocals), Mary Reynaud (rainstick, tambourine, vocals) and special guest Jimmy Pallagrosi (drums).

The fantastic entertainment begins with an utterly stunning version of the crowd favourite Torn Apart. Franck has always stated his appreciation of the visual art form and you are plunged straight into brilliant musical theatre with a stunning light show and incredible music. The camera work is exemplary and you really feel as if you’ve been transported right into the concert, especially with the close ups of each musician. The high energy blues/rock work out of the track comes across perfectly, you feel the fierce passion of the guitar solos and the funky edge to Olivier’s keyboards and Jimmy Pallagrosi is a modern day version of Animal from The Muppets. The appreciative crowd soak it all and give some serious applause. The elfin-like Mary Reynaud makes her first appearance on the edgey and thoughtful Closer To Irreversible and you can feel the heartfelt pathos and fervent melancholy blues coming across, once again, these musicians really know how to put on a show and this is one that has been honed into a well oiled machine but also one that never loses that required passion you want from a great live performance. Feel the guitar literally weep and the keyboards bleed sincerity as the notes literally leap from the screen and leave you transfixed. The thespian feel continues with the wonderfully melodramatic prog-fest that is Artificial Paradises. With the tense and dramtic keyboard playing of Olivier being central to the opening, the camera focused on his intense expression, you are drawn into the scene completely. The scene opens up with Franck and Mary the focus of attention. This is one song where inhibitions are left at home, a wonderfully thrilling and vivid display of musical excellence and portrayal by the singers. Almost like a three act play, you are caught on every note and nuance when the camera closes in on each performer.

Let’s change the intensity and ramp it up with the schizophrenic heavy rock of Mr Hyde & Dr. Jekyll, a real throwback to the excesses of the late 1970’s. A really energetic rock out that is as infectious as it is utterly enjoyable. You really want to be there in font of the stage headbanging and rocking away to the ferocious guitar work and Franck’s great frontman performance. Franck introduces Articifial Love as ‘something more psychedelic’ and he’s not wrong. The music, performance and light show is all a little tripped out and drags you willingly into the mood. Mary and Franck are quite transfixing front of stage as they deliver their psychotropic performance, I’ve said it once and i’ll say it again, it really is musical theatre and, to me, is how this music is at its best. At this point things get a bit more interesting with Mathieu and Olivier giving a really spaced out guitar and keyboard combo before Mary and Christophe ultimately blow your mind with a duel didgeridoo display that is as theatric as anything that has gone before and actually made the hairs stand up on the back of my neck, quite spooky and eerie actually. Next we have what can only be described as ‘Star Wars with swords’, the Achilles Sword Fight where Olivier and Christophe do (choreographed battle) to a soundtrack not too dissimilar from The Imperial March all bathed in an ominously ghostly red glow. This segues immediately into another leviathan prog track Achilles. An engrossing opening perfectly captured by the camera as Franck gets his twin necked bass out to play. The quality on this DVD is excellent, both in sound and picture, the close ups are sharply in focus and there is a smooth transition between shots, no jerking or jumping around. There’s a Genesis feel to the song both in the music and the vocal delivery and this is more a music performance than a theatrical one this time, just focus on the excellence of the performers and the blazing guitar solo from Mathieu Spaeter, music at its purest and played with skill and aplomb.

A Brief Tale Of Time brings a science fiction story to life and an allegorical tale of how life isn’t always greener on the other side (or in the future). A powerful central performance from Franck is the core to this track, proper progressive rock both in content and delivery. It’s a slow burner to begin with, wistful and dreamy with the lights down low and the shadowy musicians playing in the twilight, the skill and dexterity is the main focus here. Things get a bit more upbeat when Mary joins Franck at the front of the stage, a winsome musical journey which leaves a contemplative footnote as it wanders across your mind, the visuals enforcing this feeling. Some Wakeman-like keyboard ingenuity and finesse from Olivier ramps up the prog quotient even more and Franck’s edgy bass line joins the party as the stage is awash with a rainbow of light and you are treated to something that I’m sure even ELP would have been proud of. Add in the great little video (made entirely out of animated cartoon drawings by Olivier ‘Casoli’ Castan) and you couldn’t really ask for more. The last song (before encore) is The Last Oddity (from ‘Oddity’ funnily enough), another superb twelve minutes of progressive rock fused with Gallic flair. The musicians own the stage and Mary and Franck are the centre of attention with their earnest and fervent vocal performances. The camera wanders around the stage picking out the individual musicians in their reverie as this intricate and dreamlike song is played out before you. When the camera pans out to the audience you can see their rapt attention as they focus on every note and word. Christophe delivers a punky, truncated riff and the fuse is lit, get ready for the explosion! Off we go on a convoluted rock out, Mary’s waif like figure throwing herself around as things get altogether more funky and 70’s inspired, where’s my flares man??!! The atmosphere comes across as utterly electric as Franck decides to go for a wander off into the surprised audience, now where’s he gone? The trippy and psychedelic aura pervades all and leaves you wondering what illegal substance was slipped into your coffee as these musical artists deliver a completely demonstrative spectacle, the highlight being  the four-armed guitar playing performed by Christophe and Mathieu, you’ve got to see it to believe it, pure theatre! The band move straight into a spine-tingling four minute sequence from Genesis’ ‘Supper’s Ready’, nostalgia for the fans deep at its heart with Franck, as animated as ever, delivering a great homage to Peter Gabriel and Mathieu delivering a superbly emotive guitar piece. Franck goes round doing the obligatory band introduction to the audience and things come to a close, or do they?

Well there’s always got to be an encore hasn’t there? The camera sweeps around the incredibly appreciative, lively and passionate audience who have lapped up everything laid before them and then back to the stage. Franck is stood there with his Mad Hatter’s top hat on and we are going to be treated to The Franck Carducci Band’s way out version of Alice in Wonderland, Alice’s Eerie Dream. This is pure musical theatrics at their most extreme, almost like a circus sideshow from the 1930’s, titillating and thoroughly enjoyable and you can’t take your eyes of it. It’s an absolute blast from start to finish with its blues-rock roots and vivid visuals. Mary arrives as a very provocative Alice indeed and gives a real sensuous feeling to proceedings. Just let yourself go with the flow and enjoy this fourteen minutes of unabashed entertainment, guitar solos fly by, Jimmy is as ebullient as ever behind the drums and you just know that everybody is enjoying themselves to the utmost. As the song and performance come to a close you know they have left nothing behind and given everything of themselves during this thrilling, engrossing and captivating show.

This is how music should be consumed, the high energy performances of all the musicians are utterly addictive and leave you wanting more. There’s a primal force at play here and it comes across in every word and note as if the artists are giving something of themselves to the audience. Skillfully filmed with a superb light show and stunning sound, ‘Tearing The Tour Apart’ is a musical tour-de-force and should be on anybody’s wish list!

And just to spice things up, Franck has told me that there will definitely be a Blu-ray release of this wonderful gig.

Released 13th December 2016

Buy ‘Tearing The Tour Apart’ on DVD from The Merch Desk

 

Review – Nerissa Schwarz – Playgrounds Lost – by Craig E. Bacon

The premise for Nerissa Schwarz’s (of Frequency Drift) debut solo album, ‘Playgrounds Lost’, immediately intrigues for two reasons. First, it is an instrumental concept album about innocence lost—perhaps through very sinister means, judging from the album cover and song titles. Second, the songs are performed entirely on mellotron and electric harp. Put the two together and you’ve got something that veers so far to the left of ‘prog’ that it comes back full circle as very progressive indeed.

The album opener, Play, begins with chiming, plucked strings later overlaid with ambling mellotron washes. Soon, a menacing bass note takes over as the chiming, plucked ‘harp riff’ continues. Immediately, the album is off to a very expressive and cinematic start; honestly, it’s quite surprising that this is not the soundtrack to some foreign language film consisting entirely of wordless vignettes. Imagine a secluded playground in a moderately forested area: it’s mid-autumn, some leaves are turning, some green remains, the warm sun and chill breeze play together nicely. We see a lone child on the swing, pumping and pulling at a relaxed pace, eyes fixed straight ahead. The action doesn’t change much from scene to scene; instead, the camera moves around the location—sometimes out of focus—lighting changes, slowly moving toward dusk; we get the sense that something is not right here.

Most of the songs move between pretty, bright uses of the electric harp and mellotron—more like the ‘hippie’ and folky-psychedelic sounds you probably associate with the instrument—and downright frightening brown notes that creep, circle, but never quite obscure the harp. Indeed, Schwarz has come up with some truly inventive uses for an instrument that often occupies a place of nostalgic filigree in many compositions. Here, the sounds range from meadowy to proggy to atmospheric to reminiscent of Taurus bass pedals.

Fireflying is perhaps the most thoroughly pleasant and reassuring track, but the songs tend to vacillate between golden hour, dusk, and menacing cloud cover. The album cover provides an excellent interpretive framework for listening, and I cannot separate images of a lone child in a secluded playground area from the musical experience. Thematically, ‘Playgrounds Lost’ is ambiguous but clearly dark. We may be listening to a metaphor for growing up, or possibly an experience far worse, but the closing trio of Something Behind Trees, No More Games, and Playgrounds Lost make it clear that we are dealing with something very serious and terribly unsettling.

And that is the great accomplishment of ‘Playgrounds Lost’: it takes the concept of a concept album, strips it down to bare instrumentation—strips even the instrumentation down to two—and pulls it off with clarity, virtuosity, and precision. It’s a niche album, to be sure. This is a film score without a moving picture. It’s too brooding and menacing for background music. Don’t try it as accompaniment for a workout or a long drive. However, need a bit of meditation, introspection, calibration for a pair of headphones? Love electric harp and/or mellotron and want to hear how far one can go in arranging for those instruments? Nerissa Schwarz has an album for you. And, given the expressiveness of these compositions, here’s hoping she gets the ear of some filmmakers looking for an original score.

Released 23rd September 2016

Buy the download from bandcamp

Buy the CD digipak from the webstore

 

 

Mew share video for new single 85 Videos & European Tour Dates

Hot on the heels after the announcement of their seventh albumVisuals – released on April 28th – Danish art rock outfit Mew announce details of a brand new single 85 Videos.

Having made his directorial debut on 2015’s +- (plus/minus) album, 85 Videos, once again sees front man Jonas Bjerre take the helm whilst also creating videos for every single that follows on the Visuals album.

Speaking of the video, Bjerre says:

“I’ve been working a lot with kaleidoscopes lately. You have an image, or a sequence of images, and you snip out an angle, mirror it, and repeat it in a 360-degree angle. It’s a beautiful thing, because almost no matter the state of the original image, it ends up a beautiful symmetrical, indefinable something. A picture of your messy desk turns into a strange flower. I like that you can’t really envision what it will look like until you see it. I think our music is a bit like that too, even as we’re working on it.

I made a bunch of sequences, and crafted them into these ever-changing ‘faces’ that I then video-projected on to our actual faces. It’s like wearing a mask made out of photons. You can say a lot of philosophical stuff about masks – but don’t worry, I’m not going to. Hope you enjoy the video.”

Visuals marks the band’s return to the fray following a relative short break (for them) since 2015’s + –. Having whetted the appetite with album closer Carry Me To Safety, Mew unveil the brand new single 85 Videos as they continue to inhabit their own dream-pop landscape of pop sensibilities enveloped in swathes of 80’s influenced synths.

From the outset 85 Videos exudes a familiar expansive backdrop, lush instrumentation coupled with rousing vocals and a euphoric pop brilliance that is part of Mew’s DNA. Twenty years into their career, Visuals sees the band retain the irrepressible ebullience of a band working on their debut album.

Visuals is released on 28th April though Play It Again Sam and available on CD, vinyl and digitally and is available to pre-order here.

Mew will be playing a short run of European shows as follows.

May 2017

 17  Paradiso  – Amsterdam, Netherlands

19  Point Ephemere – Paris, France

20  Trix – Antwerp, Belgium

21  Trinity – Bristol, UK

22  O2 Ritz – Manchester, UK

23  Shepherds Bush Empire – London, UK

25  Luxor – Köln, Germany

26  Knust – Hamburg, Germany

27  Immergut Festival – Neutrelitz, Germany

Visuals Track Listing:

Nothingness and No Regrets

The Wake Of Your Life

Candy Pieces All Smeared Out

In A Better Place

Ay Ay Ay

Learn Our Crystals

Twist Quest

Shoulders

Videos

Zanzibar

Carry Me To Safety

Review – Findlay Napier – Very Interesting Persons & Very Interesting Extras – by Progradar

The very best songwriters weave incredible stories via their music and lyrics, songs that are immersive, enthralling and compelling in equal measure. You can lose yourself in these mini sagas of life, love, death, hardship and happiness and forget about the real world, if only for a short while.

I’ve been fascinated by music for a lot of years now and that is all kinds of music, this webblog may be called Progradar but it is truly meant for any kind of music that deserves a place on here.

The extraordinary skills of Scottish Folk Singer/Songwriter Findlay Napier were first brought to my attention by my great friend Iain Sloan, a talented guitarist well known to fans of Abel Ganz and The Wynntown Marshals but who has also performed live with Findlay before.

Findlay has a new album in the works but I was drawn to his previous releases ‘Very Interesting Persons’ and its companion piece ‘Very Interesting Extras’ due to the stories of real life characters and the trials and tribulations of their lives.

Here Findlay gives us some background to the project and how it got off the ground,

“‘So tell me about VIP?’

That’s what every journalist and broadcaster has asked me
first and the problem was, and still is, where to start.

I’m going to start with Simon Thoumire. Simon asked me
what I was doing, what I was really doing, with my music
career. With my head in my hands my part answer, part cry
for help was an overly honest ‘I don’t know anymore’.

Simon helped me apply for Creative Scotland’s Advanced
Mentoring funding and Boo Hewerdine agreed to be my
mentor. Boo and I began writing in March 2013 and soon
came upon the idea of writing songs about people who
have led interesting lives. We fitted in sessions between his
hectic touring schedule, my chaotic calendar and the birth
of my daughter Lucy. By March 2014 we had written and
recorded the fifteen songs in this volume.”

Musicians on ‘Very Interesting Persons’:

Findlay Napier– Lead vocals, guitar, ukulele
Boo Hewerdine– Guitar, harmonium, ukulele, vocals
Gustaf Ljunggren– Lap steel, mando-guitar, woodwind, piano, percussion, backing vocals
Hamish Napier– Piano, backing vocals
Roy Dods– Percussion, Radiator
Gillian Frame– Backing vocals
Louis Abbott– Backing vocals

Boo, Gustaf and Gillian also joined Findlay on ‘Very Interesting Extras’.

The first part of the review takes in the ten tracks that make-up ‘Very Interesting Persons’.

‘Hedy Lamarr
Been here before
Can you take anymore?’

“I came across Hedy Lamarr by accident. I was watching a
documentary on BBC4 about TV Smith & The Adverts
and their bass player, Gaye Advert, was described as
looking like Hedy Lamarr. Rather than waiting for the
library to open or calling an expert on films of the 1940s
I looked her up on Wikipedia. I scribbled her name and
‘actress…invented Wi-Fi… many husbands,’ in my notebook
and forgot about her till my first writing session with Boo.”

A plaintive tune with a wistful nostalgia at its heart, Hedy Lamarr is a pared back song of delicate beauty. The vocals are delivered perfectly, the male/female harmonies making the hairs stand up on the back of your neck with their near perfection. A winsome and charming tale of a screen beauty that nobody really knew. It is almost heartbreaking in its emotive delivery.

‘George C Parker was the man who sold New York
To out-of-towner millionaires who fell for his sweet talk
They’d pay for Lady Liberty they bought his every line
He must have sold the Brooklyn Bridge at least a hundred times’

“I’d been planning a song about a con man for a while. For one of our writing sessions I looked up some famous confidence tricksters. George C Parker was one of the mostinteresting of an extremely interesting bunch. His con was
to sell famous New York landmarks, usually the Brooklyn Bridge, to immigrants who had just arrived in America.”

The Man Who Sold New York is a powerful tale of morality driven along by a blues guitar and Findlay’s gritty Glasgow drawl. This song is one of the first that really stood out to me when I heard this album. There’s a metronomic beat that holds you in thrall and a really tasty guitar tone that works on every level. It gives this track a real 1930’s Americana sound to it, the guitar playing on the outro is outrageously good.

‘Poor Mickey Mantle pride of the Yankees
I had a card that you’d signed
The end of America’s childhood
An idol in decline’

“I found that flicking through Tumblr was a really great way
to find inspiring images and stories.

John Dominis’ 1965 photo inspired this song . It appeared
on the Time Magazine Tumblr page. The original headline
for the photo read ‘Twilight of the Idol: A Portrait of
Mickey Mantle in Decline’.”

A heartfelt song about the decline of a baseball great. Stripped right back to mainly vocals and piano, An Idol In Decline has a haunting grace to it. The wistful melancholia that runs through the track really does bring this story starkly into focus and Findlay’s softly delivered vocal is truly earnest and sincere in its delivery. There’s a sad resignation that things won’t ever be the same again, a look back to sepia tinged better days as it comes to a gentle close.

‘Eddie Banjo tramping in the rain
Eddie Banjo picking on a biscuit tin
Who’s good for a handout
Where’s good for a feed
Who’s good for a hard luck story
Where’s good for a sleep’

“My Dad told me about a tramp that used to live in a cave
outside Wick. He would walk the streets, playing a banjo
made out of a biscuit tin, singing ‘You Are My Sunshine’.

The tramp’s real name was Teddy Banjo. When I called my
Dad to remind me of the story he was in an airport and I
couldn’t hear him properly. By the time he got back we had
recorded the song and it was too late to change the name.”

Eddy Banjo is quite an upbeat little ditty, a tale of a hometown tramp that everybody knew. It’s a pure folk track that has you toe-tapping and dancing on the spot and Findlay gives the vocals the full local inflection. Again the stripped back feel of the song really invests it with a touch of joie de vivre and the perfect segue into the ‘You Are My Sunshine’ section had me smiling.

‘What a shame about George
Well he skipped class again
He’s out on the street
Singing songs to get paid’

“The first time I went to Canada I taught at the Sunshine
Coast Fiddle School alongside a banjo player called Chris
Coole. We sat up at night drinking, playing tunes and
singing. He kept singing amazing songs by a singer called
George Jones.

I was hooked and as soon as I got to Vancouver I bought
everything I could find by George Jones. I drove the rest
of the band mad listening to him in the van.”

This country song tells the story of famous singer George Jones and how his life echoed his art. Laid back and mournful, it has a feeling of regret running throughout it. Findlay tells the tale with respect and yet holds nothing back and the music mirrors the repentance and sorrow perfectly. A country song for a tormented country singer who finally hung up his cowboy boots.

‘Left behind the rising sun
Here until the war is won
You said that you’d come back for me’

“‘Words are falling from the sky’ refers to the leaflets that
were dropped to try and convince Hirō Onoda that it was
time to surrender. It is amazing that he lasted so long.

Onoda’s commanding officer had ordered him not to
surrender until he returned. The only way Onoda would
agree to a surrender was if the authorities brought his
former commanding officer, now a bookseller, back to
the island.”

I really love the treatment that Findlay gives of the well known story of the Japanese soldier who didn’t realise that the war had ended. Rising Sun treats Onada with the reverence he deserved and the simple guitar, haunting flute and plaintive, wistful vocals fit the mood perfectly. There’s an air of this song just floating along in the breeze, ethereal refined and insubstantial, an exquisite piece of songcraft.

‘No one else there saw it
Just Gabriel as he fell
Jimmy’s ghost, the man he killed
As the keeper rang the bell’

“The Saturday before the last day of recording Louis Abbott
and I spent the day recording backing vocals for VIP. I told
him that I needed one more song. Louis suggested that
boxers probably lead interesting lives. We jumped onto the
internet and it wasn’t long before we stumbled upon the
story of Gabriel Ruelas and Jimmy Garcia.”

Sweet Science is a prime example of recounting real life stories through song. With a big ‘Heavy-folk’ feel to it throughout from the driven guitar and insistent vocals, you can almost feel like you’ve been dropped right in the middle of a brutal boxing match. Listen to the excellent guitar work and Findlay’s intonation of every word, a modern day troubadour spreading the news across the nation. When songs are this good, you don’t need anything more complicated than a guitar and a superb voice.

‘Cutting the cloth and pushing in pins
Work never ends it just begins
Smoke rises slow and the soot it falls
Valentina’s high above us all’

“‘Valentina’, like ‘Idol in Decline’, was another Tumblr find.
I was drawn to a photo of a Russian propaganda poster
featuring Valentina wearing a space suit. I looked up her
story on Wikipedia and the song sprung from there.

Valentina trained to be a cosmonaut by correspondence
course and by enrolling in a local parachute school. She
funded her studies by working in a uniform factory.”

Valentina is a winsome song, all grace and refinement with the delicate acoustic guitar and Findlay’s graceful vocals bestowing an air of sepia tinged summer days that never end to this fine-grained tale. You have to take the time to listen to the lyrics as you let the music wash over you, leaving you calm and collected and with a feeling that all is well with the world.

‘Put it all on a piebald bow-legged mare
She just backed off put her tail up in the air
I hung my head in shame
There’s only one sure thing
Gonna lose my queen to the sport of kings’

“This came from the second Ely writing session. It was the
day after Sherburn and Napier’s first festival outing at Ely
Folk Festival. On the way down to Ely I read The Guardian
obituary of Sir Henry Cecil and that’s what inspired this
tale of gambling and womanizing. I stress that this song is
only loosely based on his life.”

Let’s head back to early 1900’s America for the pared back, sparse country blues, guitar-picking feel to The Sport Of Kings. The lap-steel guitar is brilliant and gives the song that huge nostalgic feel of old-school saloons and the depression era United States. I found myself reminiscing about the great Bugsy Malone film from the mid 70’s (yes, I am that old to have seen it at the cinema) and gangsters and their molls, an amusing look back at the life of one of horse racing’s greats transported to a whole different era.

‘I know you’ve heard this all before
I cannot tell a lie
Of how I flew with aces high
Young men in the war
But there is nothing you can do
When the bugle calls
You don’t feel quite so brave somehow
When an angel falls’

“The more I read about Jimmie Angel the wilder his story
becomes. There’s still time for someone to make the film.

We squeezed his life into three sections but each verse
could have been expanded into a VIP song on its own.
One of the first recordings of this song, from Boo’s back
garden, contains a marvellous moment when a light
aeroplane passes overhead.”

When I was a boy I was fascinated by the story of how Jimmy Angel crashed his plane into  a waterfall in Venezuala thereby finding the highest waterfall in the wrorld and having his name bestowed upon it so I was really interested in hearing this song. Angel Falls is a tribute the man who was larger than life, a beautiful piece of emotive songwriting and really brings a lump to your throat. The perfectly simple and uncomplicated music brings pathos to the song and Findlay’s plaintive vocal is delivered with poignant sentiment, a fitting tribute to a man who bestrode the world he lived in.

Five extra tracks were released on the companion ‘Very Interesting Extras’, two months after the original album…

‘Suspended from the gods you spin
The rope’s about to break
Bound in danger locked and chained
How will you escape?’

“Although the song is now about Harry Houdini, when
I started it I was using escape artist imagery to view the
troubled life of Amy Winehouse: the idea of giving the
audience something astounding, beautiful and personal
and then the media machine says ‘Okay. That’s great.
What’s next? We want more and bigger and better and
more and…’

The gentle banjo and piano give How Will You Escape an old school Americana/Country feel of the wistful old days, regret and fifteen minutes of fame that never lasts. The vocals are bitter sweet and match the frailness of the music perfectly. It is a graceful track but one which hides much pain and remorse and leaves you feeling slightly sad and sombre.

‘Princess Rosanna graceful and tall
Was she pushed or did she fall
Didn’t make the front page just an inch or two inside
Princess Rosanna drowned in the Clyde’

“I like a snappy title…

This is another running song. I wrote it while running
down the side of the Clyde between Glasgow Green and
Pacific Quay.

Someone had spray painted ‘RIP Princess Rosanna’ in
foot-high luminous pink letters underneath Jamaica St
Bridge. I’ve never really been sure of who Rosanna is. By
the time I went back to photograph the graffiti the City
Council had removed it and all that was left was a faded
RIP and the letter ‘R’.”

A proper singer/songwriter track, Princess Rosanna Drowned in the Clyde is one man and his guitar that has a feel of Richard Thompson or Steven Stills about it. The powerful strumming of the acoustic guitar and Findlay’s dynamic vocal inject it with realism. It gets under your skin, the way this musician can conjure up a story from graffiti written on a bridge, a believable tale of a life lost is incredible and leaves you reflective and thoughtful as it closes out.

‘So Des what’s with the personalized plate
What’s with the paint job, the alloys, on this council estate
So Des is that number, which begins 52,
A badge for the crisis you’re driving into’

“I wrote the words to this while I was out running in the
East End of Glasgow.
52DES was a real number plate of a real dark blue BMW
M sport. I had run up over Haghill, down over Duke Street
and west along the Gallowgate and had seen the car parked
outside a dodgy looking tenement building.
The last line came from every heist movie I have ever
watched. There’s always some idiot who flashes their illgotten
gains too soon. Like Lester Freamon says in The
Wire, ‘Follow the money.’”

There’s a real feel of Oasis’ Half The World Away throughout 52Des, a sort of ‘homegrown’ track where Findlay’s inventive songwriting mind weaves a tale from nothing more than a number plate on a flash BMW parked outside a’dodgy tenement building’. Unhurried and laid back, it has a sarcastic humour at its core but is delivered in a sweet, sugar-coated manner. The elegantly strummed acoustic guitar and Findlay’s languid vocal add a nonchalant touch to this great little song.

‘After the last bell rings
Will I be on my own
Sleeping beneath the stars
Nowhere to call home
A million lights above me
When all I want is one
Will I be on my own
After the last bell rings’

“‘After the Last Bell Rings’ was inspired by two things. The
spark of the idea was a joke Chris Sherburn used to tell at
Last Night Fun gigs. Just as Nick Scott was about to play a
beautiful, and long, slow air on the uilleann pipes, Chris
would invite the audience to stack their chairs quietly
during the performance, supposedly to save time at the
end of the night.
The rest of the song is based round the end of every Sunday
Funday at the open mic night in Bar Bloc, Glasgow. I used
to run the night there with Louis Abbott and Jamie Sturt.
After twelve hours of music and drinking the musicians of
Glasgow still had the energy to keep partying into the early
hours of Monday morning.”

A proper slice of  Americana inspired country music, After The Last Bell Rings leaves you feeling that you really could be in a saloon bar in Texas listening to some good ol’ boys playing this fantastic song. The guitars are note perfect and Findlay has an easygoing, insouciant tone to his carefree vocals. A song for lazy days and drinking whiskey, the lap-steel solo is jaw-droppingly good, breathe in the tobacco soaked atmosphere of the old days and just enjoy brilliant music delivered in a simple but impressive fashion.

‘I don’t why I never grew
The world too much for me
Fell in with clowns and acrobats
Nothing else to be
I saw the limelight of New York
I saw the Golden Mile
A life as memorabilia
I was here to make you smile’

“Film maker Jono McLeod, one of the major pledgers for
the VIP project, asked Boo and I to write him a song. The
song was to be about his Uncle, an actor,comedian and
Very Interesting Person called Jimmy Mac.”

Songs about true life always seem to throw up the most interesting stories and this elegantly delivered tale of Jimmy Mac’s marriage to a circus midget called Winnie Yelland and the media circus that surrounded it is no exception. Brilliant delivered mainly using a simple banjo and Findlay’s cultured vocal, it has a smooth class about it that exudes from every line. When the violin joins in it takes on a touch of the gypsey/traveller music that you would have heard from travelling Circus performers in the early decades of the 20th Century. The charming chorus really lingers on your mind, I found my self singing it for hours after. The addition of a harmonium is just genius and it is that instrument that brings the song, and this review to a most satisfying end.

I’ve found that over the last few months I’ve really taken a liking to the Scottish folk and singer/songwriter scene and , to me, Findlay Napier is right there at the vanguard of these new artists that are coming to the fore. Brilliantly composed songs with humour and pathos, written about people and places that this gifted musician knows and appreciates. You almost feel humbled that he wants to share them with you and I can’t wait for the next chapter in his tales of life and love in Scotland and afar.

‘Very Interesting Persons’ was released on 1st December 2015 and you can buy it from bandcamp here:

Findlay Napier – Very Interesting Persons

‘Very Interesting Extras’ was released on 15th February 2016 and you can buy it from bandcamp here:

Findlay Napier – Very Interesting Extras

Fin has started a kickstarter campaign for his next album ‘Glasgow’ which is going really well and you can join the campaign here:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Review – Siljan – Light In Chaos – by Progradar

What draws you to a new album, a new piece of music or a band you have never heard before?

Quite often for me it is the album art, sometimes the art alone is quite evocative and full of meaning and the music is, well, not! But most of the time, if I like an album cover at first glance it tends to be that the music will be good too.

When I first saw the artwork for ‘Light In Chaos’, the new album from French band Siljan, I was impressed by the contrast between darkness and the light coming out of the clouds, impressed enough to want to hear the music for definite…

Siljan hail from France, they were formed in October 2015 by Guillaume Arnaud (guitar/vocals), Guillaume Lehagre (bass) and Jules Pelletier (drums).

Named after a lake in Sweden (formed by a meteora and red in colour), the band performs a musical fusion between alternative and progressive styles, inspired by the complexity of prog music and influenced by the energy of the alternative and post metal scene.
The main criteria is above all to show a continuity between studio performance and live gigs, based on groove.

Siljan recorded and mixed Light in Chaos at Blackwhale Studio, Aubagne, France in the summer of 2016. Unfortunately Guillaume Lehagre had to leave the band for professional and family reasons just after the recording sessions, and was replaced by Yoann Colomb. After a year of writing and recording, the band is ready to play ‘Light In Chaos’ live for the first time in 2017.

‘Light In Chaos’ is an album that talks about  wandering, solitude, lack of communication, chaos theory, faith in humanity, ecology, feminism, loss and mourning.

First track Stockholm is full of edgy guitars and intricate drumming all brought together by some stylish bass guitar. It takes me a few seconds to tune into the plaintive vocals but their fragile edge gives the track extra pathos and meaning. To be fair, I wouldn’t call this metal, it’s more progressive and restive than that and flows beautifully from beginning to end. This first song really does echo the moody artwork and my hopes are high for the rest of the album. Rewind opens with a powerful and expansive riff that knock you back for a second before things take a step back and become altogether more reflective. There’s quite an intense chorus with the low key vocals coming to the fore. This track harks back a little to 90’s grunge with the fuzzy guitar work and  dynamic drums and, all the time, that impressive bass playing keeps things moving along at a fair lick. There’s a lovely interlude just over half way through with some delightfully light and airy guitar work before it opens up into the catchy chorus again and then closes with that staccato riff.

A full on and in your face riff opens Hollow Words as we move more into a distinctive metal style. The vocals remind me a bit of Creed and the whole track does have a feeling of that alternative metal scene. Charismatic and potent, this song really stamps its authority on your mind as these three excellent musicians work together in harmony to deliver great music. A guitar solo reminiscent of Audioslave with it’s Morse Code style adds a clever touch to what is a really addictive track and one that will definitely become an earworm. Title track Light In Chaos sees the bass really take centre stage and the Red Hot Chilli Peppers influence is there, front and centre. The most instantly accessible song on the album, it has a jazzy, upbeat vibe to it that is really infectious and the vocals mirror this. The grin-inducing funky guitar is the driving force here, adding a vitality and busy feel to the track. An instant toe-tapper if ever I’ve heard one.

Hunting Day brings the full on rock facade back with its insistent hefty riffing and forceful drums. A step back is taken and the vocals have a sincere quality, low and meaningful. A touch of melancholy has entered the music, a wistful and pensive tone to the vocals and a definitive seriousness pervades all. Intelligent songwriting and a maturity runs throughout the album and it is one that I have returned to many time recently. An impishness hits me with the skipping guitar beat that introduces Consolation. A more considered track, not exactly highbrow but without the raw forceful tone of the heavier songs on this release, nostalgic and regretful almost. Listen to the intricate musicianship that is delivered, these are accomplished musicians and its shows. A thoughtful and sedate piece of music that leaves you in a contemplative frame of mind.

Red Waters begins with a dominant, driving riff that immediately grabs your attention, there’s a reckless and excitable feel to the music, the vocals are nervous and impatient. A modern power trio, this track shows Siljan can rock out with the best, its unrelenting and incessant sub-plot means you are really on edge and cannot sit still. I like the oasis of calm that appears like a mirage in the middle of the track, everything taking a moment of reflection, allowing you to get your breath back. The resoluteness returns to take us to a emphatic and forceful close. The album comes to a close with the excellent instrumental Dawn. Like a calming walk through a pastoral and tranquil soundscape, there’s a serene and placid aura that surrounds this track. I find my heartbeat slows significantly and I feel at peace with myself and my surroundings, musical feng shui if you like. More than once I found myself immediately returning to the unruffled repose promised by these three exemplary musicians on this captivating piece of music.

A darkly emotive musical journey at times, ‘Light In Chaos’ is music that resonates with you at a deeper level. These are wonderfully evocative songs that move between the dark and the light to deliver a superb immersive experience and Siljan are surely going to be a force to be reckoned with, my recommendation is that you buy it as soon as possible!

(Band photo by Lionel Colomb)

Released 20th December 2016

Buy ‘Light In Chaos’ from bandcamp

 

 

SLEEPMAKESWAVES ANNOUNCE NEW SINGLE, 2017 TOUR DATES & THIRD ALBUM

Post-rock trailblazers sleepmakeswaves have announced a massive start to 2017 with a new single, a plethora of tour dates and the news that their third album “Made of Breath only” will be released Friday 7th April through Bird’s Robe Records.

The first taste of the new record ‘Tundra’ was premiered on triple j radio this week, with the station opining “a masterful rise-and-fall of breathless riffs and breathtaking atmosphere, the track pivots on scintillating guitars and epic climaxes towards a reflective final act.”

Listen to ‘Tundra’ here: www.sleepmakeswaves.bandcamp.com

The band also participated in an AMA on Reddit ahead of the premiere and indicated that the new album will have the “up-tempo pace and intensity” of their previous album ‘Love of Cartography’, “but there are more straight up riffs and overall, it’s angrier, sadder, and heavier.”

To launch the record, the band have begun rolling out a series of tour announcements which will ultimately form part of their world tour in support of ‘Made of Breath only.’

In February, they kick off their touring as main support for reunited post-hardcore legends UNDEROATH at a series of sold out theatre shows around Australia.

In March, they will begin their headlining run in China with a 10-date tour playing their biggest clubs and theatres to date. During March and April, they will return home to launch the new album with a 7-date headlining Australian tour covering capital cities and regional areas.

In May, they will then continue on to New Zealand and another Australian tour, as direct support for Canadian progressive rock icon DEVIN TOWNSEND at theatres across the continents.

The band have also responded to fan requests on social media, indicating that further touring is in the works for the UK, Europe & North America.

In late 2016, the band put out a call to fans to help raise funds for their third album and a world tour through pre-orders via Australian crowdfunding site Pozible. They raised over $40,000 to cover the remaining costs of producing the record, which follows 2014’s ARIA-nominated & J Award-nominated ‘Love of Cartography.’

The band posted the following message to social media upon the announce:

It feels like the last 12 months have been leading up to today, and we’re incredibly excited/nervous/eager about recording this material with Nick DiDia, and performing it for you all over the world from early 2017. Thanks for the support as always. Your friendly neighbourhood post-rockers, sleepmakeswaves

sleepmakeswaves recently wrapped up a massive sold out tour with reunited alternative rock legends COG, as well as touring extensively across North America and their own headline tour in Australia, clocking up 54 shows in support of the single and video ‘traced in constellations.’

The band’s busy schedule follows their epic 55-date, 22-country ‘Great Northern’ tour of 2015 and 10 Australian tours, 4 European tours, 2 US tours and shows across Asia and New Zealand since their release of their debut album ‘…and so we destroyed everything’ in 2011. In 2014, they successfully raised $30,000 in pre-orders to help fund the recording of ‘Love of Cartography’.

New album “Made of Breath Only” is out 7th April in the UK.

sleepmakeswaves Australian tour w/Underoath (USA)

Fri Feb 10 – Eatons Hill, Brisbane QLD Lic. All Ages

Sat Feb 11 – Enmore Theatre, Sydney NSW Lic. All Ages

Sun Feb 12 – 170 Russell, Melbourne VIC – SOLD OUT

Mon Feb 13 – 170 Russell, Melbourne VIC

Wed Feb 15 – The Gov, Adelaide SA Lic. All Ages

Thu Feb 16 – Metropolis, Fremantle WA

sleepmakeswaves China headline tour

Thu March 9 – Mao Livehouse, Hangzhou CHINA

Fri March 10 – Mao Livehouse, Shanghai CHINA

Sat March 11 – Yugong Yishan, Beijing CHINA

Sun March 12 – Ola Space, Nanjing CHINA

Tue March 14 – Nuts, Chongqing CHINA

Wed March 15 – Little Bar Space, Chengdu CHINA

Thu March 16 – Vox, Wuhan CHINA

Fri March 17 – Fei Livehouse, Guangzhou CHINA

Sat March 18 – B10, Shenzhen CHINA

Sun March 19 – Hidden Agenda, Hong Kong CHINA

sleepmakeswaves Australian headline tour

Fri March 24 – Metro Theatre, Sydney NSW

Sat March 25 – Max Watt’s, Melbourne VIC

Thu March 30 – ANU Bar, Canberra ACT

Fri March 31 – Cambridge Hotel, Newcastle

Thu April 6 – The Gov, Adelaide SA

Fri April 7 – Badlands, Perth WA

Sat April 8 – Max Watt’s, Brisbane

sleepmakeswaves Australia & New Zealand tour w/Devin Townsend Project (CAN)

Thu May 18 – Powerstation, Auckland NZ

Sat May 20 – The Triffid, Brisbane QLD

Mon May 22 – Enmore Theatre, Sydney NSW

Wed May 24 – 170 Russell, Melbourne VIC

Fri May 26 – Capitol, Perth WA

Tickets for all shows from www.sleepmakeswaves.com

Pre-orders from www.sleepmakeswaves.bandcamp.com

Review – This Winter Machine – The Man Who Never Was – by Kevin Thompson

So, the opportunity to review an album from a new band. Not just a new band but one from Leeds, where I grew up. We’re a proud bunch us Yorkshire folk and we like to think whatever we do is quality. One look at their website shows they’re not a young bunch so I would expect them to carry some hefty experience in with their music.

They say their influences are from the 70’s and 80’s pioneers, should I worry? You see I was and still am a big fan of the music and bands of the Neo-Prog era and wary of this current trend for new bands emerging and trying to imitate 70’s/80’s sounds. A lot of it leaves me cold. Progressive music should be just that, not regressive. So Gentlemen you now have your work cut out to convince me, as fellow Yorkshiremen I expect great things.

 So lads and lasses daft enough to read this, let me introduce to you This Winter Machine:

Mark Numan – Keyboards and Backing vocals

Marcus – Drums

Jevo – Guitars

Pete – Bass

Al – Vocals

A piano intro floats above a noisy crowd introducing us to The Man Who Never Was, and a lone mournful guitar with Marillion like keys drift in as the crowd disperse and the bass, drums and vocals complete the contemplative sound. Broken into four parts, ‘(i) Asleep’ shows a changed man reflecting on the mistakes of the person he was, before ‘(ii) Dreaming’ of the mistakes which have brought him down to his current state. At his lowest ebb he stands in the ‘(iii) Snow’ on the brink, when realisation dawns and he knows what he needs to do to try and shed the past. Now ‘(iv) Awake’, he sees where he went wrong, but ignoring the voices in his head, carries on.

You get caught in the endless merry go round that is life and not always on The Wheel you would like to ride. It can be a cold vicious circle quite bleak, leaving a chill in your soul from the introductory  mournful guitar. The lyrics betraying the confusion and desperation of choices and temptation leading you down the wrong path in a driving riff and insistent rhythm, to search for something you may never find.

After the cold winter wind of the last two tracks, this starts sweetly with a guitar chord Lullaby and the sound of a happy young child playing only to be crushed by a doom laden synth sound and crying guitar as the pace picks up in this pleasant instrumental.

I’m sat writing this on a cold, damp rainy day but that is not the feeling I get from this album. Despite the despairing lyrics the cover of the album is more indicative of the mood, across a chilly snow laden scene but with an air of calm.

The loss in a relationship, holding on for a reconciliation that will never materialize After Tomorrow Comes in the wistful yearning of the melody and heartfelt words. Sometimes no matter how hard you want something it won’t happen.

Fifth and final track Fractured shows the excellent quality of the musicians as all are given chances to shine, with Marcus’ flailing drums especially to the fore and the pumping bass from Pete pulsating throughout. Al sings of fractured lives and yet we still go on ‘confused and undecided’ as the gang pick up the pace with the bubbling keys from Mark and a delicious final guitar solo from Jevo sees us out.

Only five tracks on this and leaves me wanting more. Yes they are derivative in places with comparisons from Marillion to IQ, Pendragon and every other band of this ilk, but it works. Their recent support of Magnum shows their worth.

 All the band members are on their game and despite the emotional heft of the lyrics I found it most enjoyable, particularly the guitar solos. Though I hate to praise any member of a band more than the others, Jevo plays the sort of guitar I could listen to all day, echoing the likes of Steve Rothery, Mike Holmes and Nick Barrett and holding his own quite capably.

 If a band is to wave the flag for a modern evolution of a Neo-Prog revival and raise the standard for the white rose of the independent state of Yorkshire and our beloved country, then let’s hand the banner to This Winter Machine and let them run with it. I for one would like to see what impressions they can leave in the deep snows of winter and carry them forward to a bright future. It could end up bright and we may need shades.

The album is available now, brighten up your winter and grab a copy, I intend to.

Released 16th January 2017

Buy ‘The Man Who Never Was’ from Progressive Gears

Telepathy to release sophomore album – Tempest

(Photo credit: Stephanie Pearl)

‘Tempest’ is the long awaited sophomore full-length from U K instrumental titans, Telepathy. Recorded, mixed and mastered at London’s Orgone Studios by lauded producer /engineer Jaime Gomez Arellano ( Ghost, Opeth, Paradise Lost, Altar of Plagues, Cathedral ), ‘Tempest’ follows in the footsteps of Telepathy’s critically acclaimed 2014 debut ’12 Areas’ and is very much a concept record.

‘Tempest’ depicts the harrowing journey of a person beset with grief and faced with total isolation after awaking from a great flood. The album guides the listener on a journey through awakening, desolation and finally acceptance.

Further showcasing the band’s no-holds-barred approach to songwriting, ‘Tempest’ fuses elements of post-metal, sludge, doom and black metal with unorthodox and complex song structures, creating a cohesive and cathartic tapestry of unique instrumental metal. The inclusion of tortured
vocals on the album’s centerpiece, Echo of Souls, shows a band un-afraid to travel into uncharted waters, further cementing their reputation as a forward thinking and unique group in today’s experimental metal
scene.

Where its predecessor ’12 Areas’ was by intention a chaotic and furious exploration of sound, ‘Tempest‘ marks a shift towards a more balanced and open sonic pallette. More dynamic, spacious and refined than before, but with an added emphasis on sonic weight, unbridled heaviness, melody and emotional depth.

Telepathy spent the majority of 2016 stunning audiences up and down the UK with their immersive and intense live show, building upon their ever growing following. Highlights included appearances alongside fellow UK metal veterans Raging Speedhorn, Oathbreaker, American post-metal pioneers and labelmates Rosetta and most notably an appearance at the prestigious Desertfest in London.

The band recently completed a five date European tour in September 2016 which saw the band return to Incubate Festival in Tilburg for the second time. ‘Tempest’ marks a brand new chapter in the band’s career, and with its definitive line-up in place — owing to the addition of new bass player Teddy-James Driscoll — ‘Tempest’ showcases a ruthlessly punishing, heavy and emotionally demanding take on instrumental music.

The 2×LP comes with an etching on side D, download code and on 180 gr vinyl.

Released 31st March – Golden Antenna Records

Review – Napier’s Bones – Alpha-Omega Man – by Emma Roebuck

Welcome to Napier’s Bones’ fourth outing and they have decided to create their own mythology for this new album, ‘Alpha-Omega Man’.

A rare thing for me to quote biblical/religious texts but it’s appropriate

“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.”

I have played and played this to get to the core of the meaning but I believe it has many levels for those willing to look. Gordon Midgely and Nathan Jon Tillet have, in the previous albums, looked at local and/or established mythology and drawn that their inspiration from that. Tregeagles Choice, which is referenced in the track Without Sentiment being an old legend form the south west.

This album appears to be the journey of the creation of a Messiah or Deity figure from its formation in some unseen mechanism attached to tubes and machines, comatose awaiting consciousness. This is essentially Awakening, the opening track.  A being out of time and space cast adrift on the oceans of an empty void.  The music is classic prog with Mellotron and guitar work and what sounds like analogue Moog synths. At 13 minutes long I could go down a black hole of paranoia and ‘End of Day’s’ language in massive volume here but I won’t, I promise.

The Messengers, a distant American News Anchor tells us of an all seeing, all knowing news service bringing harmony from discord, from Alpha to Omega.   Heavy fuzzed bass and guitar with a mono synth is the insistent back drop. The voice of the creator in the void that our hero inhabits.

Leading Straight into Citizen, we finally hear the voice of the Alpha-Omega Man. The music makes you feel like you are travelling, a solid pressing bass line and massively distorted guitar solo of which John Lees or Andy Latimer would be proud.  He surfaces slowly into the next track Hypno-Sapiens, a suitably ethereal track fitting its name and place.

You could take the concept of this album as that of a comatose man recovering from a near death experience, slowly lifting from the darkness. You could also take this as the second coming of the messiah from Judeo-Christian mythology, placed into a modern framing of St John’s Revelation.

I will not go track by track for the rest but, instead, I suggest you listen to them and seek your own meaning. I don’t want to spoil the ending either.

Musically I think that we have a definite ‘Napier’s Bones’ sound that makes them distinct from other bands and it is definitely one for the classic Prog fan. It is prog at its most ‘proggiest’, theatre, sci fi, mythology, death and deity all rolled into a musical epic. 3 tracks coming in over 11 minutes and a narrative that runs true from end to end. Yet, it is neither pretentious nor self indulgent, it is Gordon and Nathan pushing their musical boundaries out of the comfort zone of the previous albums to see where they can go musically.

Fans of The Tangent, Camel, Barclay James Harvest, Genesis, Big Big Train and their ilk will find something of worth here, but not in a plagiarist’s way.

Released 20th January 2017

Buy ‘Alpha-Omega Man’ from bandcamp