MIDAS FALL SHARE LATEST TRACK ‘SOVERAINE’

This April, Midas Fall, the Scottish duo comprised of Elizabeth Heaton and Rowan Burn — will release their fourth studio offering, ‘Evaporate.’

A visceral display of ferocious beauty straight from the desperate, savage cacophony of album opener “Bruise Pusher” to the heavenly crush of final track “Howling At The Clouds,” ‘Evaporate’ conjures stunning soundscapes at every turn. Captured in Argyll, Scotland, the album shimmers with a dark, gothic grace, delicate, and brutal in equal measure.

As a precursor to its release, the ethereal post-rock outfit have shared the poignant sounds of “Soveraine” for public feasting.

Writing ‘Soveraine’ was like entering new territory for us and a big deviation from our last album,” notes Heaton of the weighty track. “It was born from an improvisation with just cello and vocals but turned into the type of song we had wanted to write for a long time. We wanted to show restraint with the guitars and drums and instead layer in instruments to culminate in a subtle but powerful and atmospheric ending. The song centers around the theme of resentment and trying and failing to let go.”

Midas Fall’s Evaporate’ will be released worldwide by Monotreme Records on April 27th on CD and digital formats, as well as a limited pressing of 500 LPs on 180-gram vinyl (200 black and 300 clear blue/black).

Preorder the album now – http://monotremerecords.limitedrun.com/products/610709

Listen to the title track:

BLACK MOTH SHARE VIDEO FOR ‘SISTERS OF THE STONE’

Following this month’s UK tour, Black Moth have shared a new video for the track ‘Sisters of The Stone’, described by vocalist Harriet Hyde as ‘an anthem for wronged women’. The video by Noomi Spook, ‘depicts glimpses of female power, lovingly hunted and excavated from the swathes of old footage of the Stepford Wives advertising domestic bliss to dead-eyed sex dolls selling automobiles. Noomi paints a picture of the wild woman in all us’, adds Harriet.

While their first 2 albums were released by New Heavy SoundsBlack Moth will have their latest / third studio album issued worldwide via Candlelight Records on March 2nd 2018, the result of an alliance between Candlelight and NHS.

Produced by Andy Hawkins (Hawk Eyes, Maximo Park) with Russ Russell (Napalm Death, Dimmu Borgir) handling the mix, this 10-track affair sees the Leeds / London outfit – vocalist Harriet Hyde, guitarists Jim Swainston & Federica Gialanze’, bassist Dave Vachon and drummer Dom McCready –  further honing the various elements of their sound to make the hooks more barbed and the focus more collective.

What’s for sure is that ‘Anatomical Venus’ is the heaviest Black Moth album to date, taking the signature Mothic sound – a dark and heady swirl of garage rock, mind-blowin’ psychedelia and amplified over-drive – down a more targetted path, effectively opening a new chapter in a career that stretches back to an inaugural single in 2010 and a debut album, ‘The Killing Jar’, in 2012.

For ‘The Killing Jar’ and its 2014 follow-up, ‘Condemned To Hope’, the band brought in Jim Sclavunos (a member of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds since 1994) to handle production and mixing duties, and the results immediately connected with fans and media alike…

“Like Electric Wizard meets Band Of Skulls, in a dungeon” is one press description that sticks in the mind, with other points of reference including Black Sabbath, the Stooges, PJ Harvey, Melvins, Kyuss and Patti Smith; however, with ‘Anatomical Venus’ Black Moth are seeking to forge their own path, both musically and conceptually. 

 

GLEB KOLYADIN, THE VIRTUOSO IAMTHEMORNING PIANIST, DEBUT SELF TITLED SOLO ALBUM – OUT TODAY – NEW VIDEO FOR “STORYTELLER” FEAT. JORDAN RUDESS OF DREAM THEATER

With the debut self-titled album from Gleb Kolyadin (iamthemorning) released today on Kscope, the Russian virtuoso pianist premieres a new video for the song “Storyteller” which features special guest Jordan Rudess from Dream Theater

Gleb comments on the song and the Kolyadin/Rudess collaboration “Storyteller is the final point of this musical journey.  After passing through intricate corridors and stairs, the character finds a secret room where he comes to understand himself and everything that is happening with him. The room is a real mystical location in which time and space are intertwined. 

I think no one could play the solo part better than Jordan. His rocking piece is the true magic. I’m happy that everything turned out the way it did: his part was the most important detail that breathe new life into the track.”

Gleb Kolyadin is an emotive exploration of self-identity; a story of two parts with interweaving leitmotifs. The album’s central concept weaves through an elaborate tonal and thematic structure, built around the extraordinary rhythm section of Gavin Harrison and Nick Beggs, which is accented at its focal points by guest appearances from Steve Hogarth, Jordan Rudess, Mick Moss and Theo Travis.

The album is a collaborative piece with each musician recording their own parts separately, starting with Gleb recording himself on grand piano in Moscow Winter-Spring 2017 at the famed Mosfilm studio. The album was mixed and engineered by Vlad Avy, who also previously worked on the two Iamthemorning records.

Gleb Kolyadin is available on CD / LP and digitally and is available HERE

Follow Gleb Kolyadin: https://www.facebook.com/iamthemorningpage/

Drifting Sun Open Pre-orders For Reissue of Debut Album

The re-issue of Drifting Sun’s eponymous debut album has been set for March 2nd. The album will be released as a jewel case CD, with brand new artwork in a 12-page colour booklet, and the band are now taking pre-orders on their official web:

Shop

And from their bandcamp page here

Reviews – Colosseum Reissues – by James R Turner

Released and remastered on Esoteric Recordings, these are the first three studio albums from musical pioneers Colosseum, covering a magical musical period in their life from 1968-1970, and complete with in depth sleeve notes, bonus tracks, and on ‘Valentyne Suite’, the complete American version of the album ‘The Grass is Greener’, which differs substantially from the English version.

As a band Colosseum were to have a massive impact on the nascent progressive music scene (a differentiation from what has been lumped together as prog, subtle but vitally important to understand) where they came from the ranks of the Great British Blues bands that stalked the land and led to the emergence of other bands as important as Fleetwood Mac, Cream and CCS among others.

These three groundbreaking albums came from the time when musicians were keen on creating something new, something vital, something brave and original and it shows here, these are no mere copyists doing what someone else does because that’s how it’s done, these are some of the true pioneers of musical innovation.

From John Mayall and Graham Bonds bands came Jon Hiseman, band leader and renowned drummer, Dick Heckstall-Smith legendary jazz saxophonist (whose solo album ‘A Story Ended’ is a tour de force of musical genius) bassist Tony ReevesDave Greenslade came from working with Chris Farlowe and there’s James Litherland on guitar fresh from the Manchester music scene.

Having worked together the core of Jon, Tony, Dave and Dick were already musically tight, and with James adding extra guitar and vocals, the band appeared almost fully formed, and with lots of experience in the jazz and blues scene, and a very clear vision from Jon Hiseman about what the band wanted to achieve.

As a result the debut album, released in March 1969, ‘Those Who Are About to Die Salute You’ (from the phrase Roman Gladiators said to the Emperor before going into the Colosseum – Hiseman is a bit of a Roman History buff) which is reflected in the bands name, and indeed a rather spectacular track Ides of March, which is where they start with a Bach piece and end with a stunning musical moment between Litherlands guitar and Greenslades organ work.

As is usual with debut albums from this period, the majority of the music is what was the band’s live set, recorded on the hoof in between gigs, and features a couple of covers in amongst the bands originals, setting out their stall with a cover of the Graham Bond classic Walking in the Park, complete with Henry Lowther guesting on trumpet, this lays out the band’s stall right at the start.

They were an amazingly tight musical unit, and the combination of Hiseman and Reeves on drums and bass, provide the foundations for Litherland’s guitar, Greenslade’s organ and Heckstall-Smith’s sax to flow freely.

Coming from that loose improvisational musical scene, the melding of the jazz and blues influence into a harder rockier sound comes naturally to the band, and on songs like the Leadbelly cover Backwater Blues, Litherlands vocals, and the astonishing sax of Heckstall-Smith’ takes the blues and pushes it into a completely different direction to the one taken by other former blues merchants like Black Sabbath or Led Zeppelin.

Original material like Dick’s The Road she Walked Before, or the sort of title track Those About to Die, which has some amazingly taut musical twists and turns, with some fantastic jazz rock drumming from Hiseman, who always seems to be overlooked when lists of ‘best drummers’ appear, and yet on here he combines power and subtlety as well as being the timekeeper, and holding the band together, again you only get music as good as this from musicians who have all played live together, and can turn that spontaneity and improvisational skill into great music.

To modern ideas it seems inconceivable that you can literally tour and then pop into a studio and bang out your live set as a new release, you know that if you did that today then it would be up on You Tube or some Russian Streaming site before the lights had gone up.

By the second album, ‘Valentyne Suite’, (the three part title track of which makes up the original second side of the vinyl) the band had made an impact, and their debut had made number 15 in the album charts (again with the perspective of time and distance, it’s hard to imagine that happening in this day and age with the whole industry fragmented). With the same line up, and the same producers of bassist Tony Reeves and Gerry Bron, the band had by this time started improvising and writing new material to fit into their live shows.

Again the band were a hard working band, and the albums would be recorded in the daytime before they would fly off in their van to another gig in another town.

The ‘Valentyne Suite‘ record is notable for a number of different reasons, 1) it was the first record released on the nascent Vertigo label, 2) It features that stunning enigmatic cover by Marcus Keef in his own inimitable style, 3) it’s a bloody good record.

From the opening The Kettle, the band have melded into a tight and powerful unit, and that shows in the fact that the only guest writer was Pete Brown (Jack Bruce lyricist and friend of the band) who contributed the exceedingly accurate lyrics, foreshadowing events in his usual style, to The Machine Demands a Sacrifice, James Litherland’s maturity as a songwriter and guitarist shows here as he adds his vocals to the damn fine Elegy, as well as the driving Butty’s Blues.

However the centrepiece here, and one of the most important tracks on the album, and indeed in the bands career, is the three piece suite Valentyne Suite, which with it’s linked parts, musical themes and powerful performance was responsible for showing bands how long suites can work on record, and is as fine a piece of true progressive music as ever there was. From recurring musical motifs, some sublime sax work from Dick Heckstall-Smith (there is nothing finer in the world than hearing a sax solo in full flight) and the combined musical prowess of the band, every member shines as the Valentyne Suite propels music forward at a rate of knots. Flitting dexterously from jazz to blues, to rock, and with recurring themes and riffs reappearing, the idea that rock music can create mini concerto’s is shown here to best effect, with the band making it seem effortless as the music fills the room. Ably aided by arrangements by Neil Ardley throughout the album the band’s ambition matches their performance. The Valentyne Suite is an absolutely brilliant piece of music, and released in November 1969, a scant 8 months after their debut was released, it shows just how far they had come in terms of compositional style and musical prowess.

This expanded edition includes the American release ‘The Grass is Greener’ (named after the closing section of the Valentyne Suite) in January 1970, by which time James Litherland had left the band and been replaced by Bakerloo guitarist Clem Clempson (and if you haven’t heard Bakerloo’s album, it’s worth a spin) and this release took the tracks Elegy, Butty’s Blues, The Machine Demands a Sacrifice and The Grass is always Greener, remixed and with Litherland’s guitar work replaced by Clempsons (although Litherland’s vocals remain on Elegy) and 4 new tracks recorded by the new line-up, the powerful rock song Jumping off the Sun (a track given to Hiseman by the late Mike Taylor) which shows Clempson’s different style to Litherland, and how easily he fitted into the ethos and sound of Colosseum, whilst the Greenslade/Heckstall-Smith composition Lost Angeles (with Clempson’s superb vocals adding to the sound), with the power underneath, hints at how the band were developing, especially with Clempson’s sublime solo work. Rope Ladder to the Moon is a cover version of the Jack Bruce song, with some great swinging performances from Heckstall-Smith and Greenslade, showing how versatile this band could be, whilst Bolero is exactly as it says on the tin, Ravel’s Bolero Colosseumed up to the max, with some great guitar work from Clempson, and some musically deft touches from Greenslade.

As a holding exercise, this is a great album, and one that shows the power of this line-up, being the only music recorded prior to Tony Reeves departure, and now again it’s inconceivable that the same band would have a record released in the States that was different to the one in the UK.

Pulling together this collection is great as it shows how the band were evolving and developing as they grew. I would say if you are a fan of truly progressive music (not just prog) then you need the ‘Valentyne Suite’ in your life, and it’s probably as good a place as any to start with Colosseum.

Released in December 1970, their third album ‘Daughter of Time’ saw the bands line-up evolve even more when Tony Reeves left to go into production, being replaced initially by Louis Cennamo from Renaissance, who didn’t quite fit, so Mark Clarke came in on bass joining the core of Hiseman, Greenslade, Heckstall-Smith and Clempson. The band also decided that they needed a vocalist, so Greenslade approached his old colleague Chris Farlowe, who surprisingly said yes.

This is a revelation of this album, as the bands compositional scope grew, so did their musical ambitions, and with Neil Ardley helping with arrangements for brass and string sections augmenting the mighty six piece, this is an album that could only have been recorded and released in 1970.

That doesn’t mean it has aged or dated at all, it just has that power, that scope and that imagination that musicians in those days had, the idea that nothing was beyond your reach or aim and that freedom to do what you wanted.

The opener Three Score and Ten, Amen is a statement of intent, with Farlowe’s powerful vocals even stronger than Ian Gillan’s, and the addition of Clarke on bass to replace Reeves is perfect, as he works so well with Hiseman, and throughout the musical confidence is so strong that this is a track that grabs you by the scruff of the neck, pulls you in and demands you listen.

On this, what would turn out to be their last original studio album, the only cover is the Jack Bruce/Pete Brown track Theme From an Imaginary Western, given some real musical clout here (and again showing how close these bands all were, with members of Colosseum having played with Bruce in John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, as well as contributing to his solo albums) and Farlowe is again outstanding on vocals.

Musically at this point Colosseum were a big band, and they needed someone with the vocal chops to stamp his mark all over the material, and Farlowe more than puts his stamp over it.

Again when you look at your Gillans, your Plants and your Rod Stewarts from this era, its astonishing Farlowe doesn’t get the recognition he deserves as he has everything on this album, power, swagger, an amazing range, and in parts his voice is another instrument to be utilised.

New boys Clarke and Clempson fit right into this incendiary musical mix, as Dave Greenslade stamps his personality on this, with all but two of the original tracks being co-writes (and in certain areas you can see where he’d go next with his eponymous band).

The fantastic Take Me Back to Doomsday features Clempson on lead vocals, recorded prior to Farlowe joining, and it sounds amazing, and Clempson, despite having a superb voice would rather focus on his guitar work.

That is not to the detriment of the album, each musician, particularly Greenslade, Hiseman and Heckstall-Smith had developed a groove and a natural way of working together, and as Clempson, Farlowe and Clarke gelled so well, this album is the most accomplished, most satisfying and most ambitious of the three studio sets.

Of course, this being 1970 it features a drum solo by Hiseman, recorded live and included on the record called The Time Machine (because that’s what he was) and yes, it’s a drum solo, but John Bonham was doing them, even Ringo Starr did on Abbey Road, so it’s very of it’s time, but as an example of Hiseman’s musical prowess it is a fantastic calling card.

This was a fantastic run of musical quality by anyone’s standards, and it just seems that in this musical world today there aren’t enough musicians out there willing to take the risks that Colosseum did, and make this kind of music.

If you are looking for real progressive music and not just prog, then this is for you. This is musicians flying by the seats of their pants, doing it because they could and working their arses off touring it and playing it, working on the old adage if we make it they will come.

Now whilst these were the only studio albums, prior to them splitting they did release one live album, the imaginatively titled ‘Colosseum Live’ was released in 1971, and remastered and expanded back in 2016 on Esoteric, but I thought it worth revisiting it here as part of the bands original story.

This is the classic ‘Daughter of Time’ Colosseum line up of Hiseman, Greenslade, Heckstall-Smith, Clempson, Farlowe and Clarke, and whilst they are imaginative on record, live they had to adapt as they didn’t have the brass and string section from the studio. But as all great bands prove live is where there power came to the fore, and this is a double disc expanded set of the legendary double album from 1971.

The original album contained only a couple of tracks that had been on the studio recordings, with material like Rope Ladder to the Moon and Lost Angeles only being available on the American ‘Grass is Always Greener’, and Walking in the Park kicking off their debut album.

Here, the 6 piece band were at the peak of the powers, and this set reaffirmed their skill and power, as they adeptly worked their way through a collection of classic live tracks like Skellington and Tanglewood ’63 and the musicianship throughout is superb, as Hiseman’s drums and Clarke’s bass anchor the sound, allowing Greenslade’s organ and Heckstall-Smith’s sax free range whilst Clempson’s guitar work is superb and, as you would expect, Chris Farlowe is never less than magnificent. Originally released on two LP’s the original live album is now on disc one of the set. Meanwhile it’s on the second disc of additional live material recorded at the same time that we get a full live version of their Valentyne Suite, which is worth the price of admission alone, the ambitious musical works getting an amazing live rendition, which not only does the original work justice, but adds so much to it, as any live performance honed over the years really perfects the track.

I see with bands like Colosseum the studio works being the starting point, and it’s only as the band work and perform and improvise and hone the music night after night, do you get the finished product (well at that particular gig anyway) as the music grows and evolves, and listening to this album you see how far the band have travelled in such a short space of time, before they splintered and continued on solo or other group journeys, where they took the Colosseum ethos and spread it even further across the genres.

This was a highly regarded live album from a potent live band who managed to straddle a multitude of genres and create something genuinely new when they arrived on the scene, and with the bonus tracks it just reminds us of what an innovative and powerful band Colosseum were.

Order all the Colosseum reissues from Cheery Red Records at this link

 

 

Review – Geof Whitely Project – Sempiternal – by Progradar

‘Prolific’ is a word that I have to use when you talk about album releases from the Geof Whitely Project. The man behind this musical phenomenon, Arny Wheatley, has released a bewildering number of albums over the last few years and it is a testament to his songwriting that they have remained high calibre with no loss in quality or content.

So, imagine the shock when it was announced that ‘Sempiternal’ would be the only album release from the Geof Whitely Project in 2018? Well, if it is going to be the solitary one, it had better be good eh?

Arny always seems to give some a little different but without straying too far from his so far successful formula and the new release is no exception, delivering powerful and brooding tracks like opener Stir of Echoes. It’s perhaps the most dark and serious track on the album and it really hits a nerve with me, lengthy at over nine minutes, there is no wasted space and every note has meaning. There’s a lifting of the obfuscation with Hidden Depths but not the serious overtones, a really mature piece of music where Arny’s thoughtful vocals work their usual magic. The signature keys and guitar sound all add to the mix to give another melancholy and yet contemplative track. A wistful and reflective two minutes follows with the measured instrumental delights of Isolation. Like a calm oasis, it mops your fevered brow before you carry on further on your musical exploration.

Low End Distortion has a slow burning intro before an aggressive riff takes over and gives it a seriously edgy feel. This is a real departure from the signature sound, a more hard rock infused track that Arny pulls off really well. That driving riff is the key to the song, powered on by the effective and dynamic rhythm section. Arny takes the vocal duties in his stride as usual and you are left with one of the best Geof Whitely Project tracks I’ve had the pleasure to listen to. A stirring and involving song, Overseer is measured and studied, the sax style keyboards are a real delight and instill a real grace and calmness to the music. This is a track with real passion at its core and Arny’s sparse vocal delivers that with aplomb. Another fast paced, rockier piece, Fairground Distraction even gets my foot tapping to the beat. I like this edgier, more vibrant direction that Arny takes on these tracks, giving them a dynamic and energetic flow that you really engage with.

There’s a lovely piano tinged opening to the emotive Momentary Lapse and its steady,measured pace does remind you of a certain Pink Floyd in places, Arny’s voice even sounding David Gilmour like (that could just be me though!). It is a moving and poignant sounding piece of music that once again shows that Arny is at the top of his game here, just check out the instrumental section around two thirds of the way through and you’ll know what I mean. A powerfully inspiring song that I really like. Ooh another guitar riff! The Voice isn’t as in your face as the earlier, harder tracks but has a great opening that includes a forceful riff and potent rhythm section that imbue it with authority and stature. The verses have a more reflective feel to them but the chorus is significant and substantial and the juxtaposition between the two works exceedingly well. The final track on the album is On a Strange Tide and it has feel of Floyd to its opening again, a bit ‘Shine On..’ with its mysterious and moody synth sound that builds slowly. A wistful and nostalgic song that has a hint of melancholy running through it. Arny’s voice is reflective and musing and the music has a touch of longing at its centre. Swirling synths and brooding guitars abound and there’s a weighty and significant atmosphere that builds all around. A serious and meaningful track to close out this impressive album.

Well, if ‘Sempiternal’ is the Geof Whitely Project’s only album release of this calendar year then Arny has delivered what is, in my opinion, far and away the best GWP record so far. High praise that may sound like but it is worth every word. A more expansive and harder sound combined with some excellent songwriting, one not to be missed.

Released 26th March 2018

Order ‘Sempiternal’ from the Geof Whitely Project

Review – VLMV – Stranded Not Lost – by James R. Turner

Genres, funny things aren’t they? It seems that as human beings we are happiest when we can look at, listen to or read something and think yes, that definitely belongs in that category. Label it nicely and then go have a beer.

There seems to be something within us that isn’t satisfied until we’ve exhausted all the permutations and decided that x, y or indeed z fits into that little category, and woe betide it if it tries to escape the little box.

That is the only reason why I can think of a certain type of listener or internet commentator exists, you all know the one’s I mean, The ones who aren’t satisfied until they’ve proven beyond reasonable doubt that so and so is ‘prog’ and won’t listen to anything that doesn’t fit into their little boxes.

Well, gentlemen (and it is always gentlemen), let me tell you, life is so much more fulfilling when you step out of your little comfort bubble and not just listen to the music that falls between the boxes, but start living your life outside the boxes.

This is where haunting duo VLMV (pronounced ALMA) from London come in, their second album ‘Stranded Not Lost’ is released on Friday 16th February, formed by Peter Lambrou and joined by Ciaran Morahan, VLMV specialise in the sort of post rock ambient soundscapes and haunting ethereal melodies that fit outside the traditional musical box, occupying the same universe as artists like Explosions in the Sky or Bristol improv group Jilk.

This is music Jim, but not as we know it, whilst the psychedelic warriors of the late 60’s & 70’s pushed the barriers by going in search of space and beyond, this is the opposite, this is emotive, expansive and introspective music.

The sort of thing that No-Man used to do quite well, and which VLMV do with great skill, is the art of the slow build, the sonic build and soundscapes where the space between the noise is as important as the noise, with songs like the hauntingly beautiful All These Ghosts (which is the lead single from the album) it’s atmospheric stark soundscapes, mixed with the steel guitar picking and some emotive lyrics bring this ballad to life, and it’s this juxtaposition of music as big as the universe, and lyrics as close as your deepest thoughts that are part of what makes this album so effective.

With a sonic palette that brings real warmth to what initially seems to be icy and stark (the aural equivalent of a long country walk on a frozen landscape) the warmth, the depth and the humanity that is teased out through these songs grows and delights.

The opening instrumental mood setting He Has Already Divided Us, with it’s enigmatic title leads us brilliantly into the album, where songs like the title track, with it’s alt country guitar, big orchestration, and vocals reminiscent of an OK Computer Era Radiohead crossed with Josh Rouse, is one of the most affecting tracks on the album. It’s beautiful lyrics, haunting melodies and beautiful string work complement the guitar and synths perfectly. The barely restrained vocal performance and musical accompaniment suggest repressed emotion fighting to get out, and I think it’s one of the most beautiful and evocative pieces of music I have heard so far this year.

Evocative is the word that keeps coming up again when listening to this album, it has the widescreen feel of a soundtrack for a British Indie movie that hasn’t been made yet, I can see the main characters falling apart in the pouring rain on an anonymous street in a big city to the heartstring pulling and piano and string laden And There Was Peace in Our Time, breaking down as the music builds up, the blend of strings and synths is pure class, the melody filling the speakers as it soars beautifully. This is strong stuff, and really gets into you, especially if you listen on your headphones on the commute to work.

It’s not often that music conjures up such vivid imagery for me, not even powerful instrumental stuff, but this hits the spot every time, its power is in its simplicity, and that runs through the album. These are all well crafted, well thought out and beautifully executed songs, with space to grow and room to breath.

Guest vocalist Tom Hodge joins in on the brilliant Little House, which again reflects on the personal with some more of that fantastic guitar and synth work. The beauty on this is giving space to the vocals, focusing on the everyday, the real concerns of individuals. Where the space within the music is as important as the music. There are no overblown histrionics here nothing so crass is required. This is music in its purest form, no notes wasted, no unnecessary pieces. Every song has what it needs and nothing more, and this economy of sound, and distillation down to the purest emotion is what makes this album so affecting, especially on tracks like the ambient Lunokhod.

Having gone from never hearing of VLMV before, I will now be visiting their bandcamp site to order my copies of their earlier work and I strongly recommend that on Friday when this album hits the streets, you hit their bandcamp site, have yourself a listen and get into some seriously great music.

Released 16th February 2018

Order ‘Stranded Not Lost’ from bandcamp in all formats

 

 

 

 

 

Interview with Acqua Fragile by James R. Turner

Following the release of their new album, the first in over 40 years I spent some time chatting with the charming Bernardo Lanzetti, vocalist and song writer with Acqua Fragile, about his musical career, reforming the band and the brand new album ‘A New Chant’.

I started by asking Bernardo how did you go about reforming and what spurred the reunion?

In May 2013, I did celebrate my 40 years in music with a unique event called “VOX 40”. Welcomed by an exhibition of my artwork, the audience attended a concert where up to twenty seven musicians gathered to play tracks off the different bands I had done vocals for, over the years.

On that occasion, all five original members of Acqua Fragile happened to meet after a long while and Piero Canavera on drums plus Franz Dondi on bass, even got a chance to play a couple of tracks off “Acqua Fragile” and “Mass Media Stars” along with Tango Spleen, a smart modern classical ensemble.

The idea of working on a new album took form quite naturally even though Gino Campanini (guitar and vocals) and Maurizio Mori (keyboards) confessed they could not join in. Quite nice though, Alessandro Mori, Maurizio’s son – a talented young drummer previously with Glenn Hughes and Bobby Kimball – right after that show, suggested he could be guest on one of the brand new tracks.

The start off was not that easy. The band wanted to keep A F vocal harmonies but we were missing one voice and we had no key man! A few characters, hanging around the band, enthusiastically, were giving suggestions and advice resulting in slowing down the whole project.

A few keyboardists and guitarists showed up and quit but we had a bit more of luck with Alessandro Giallombardo on guitar, backing vocals and keys too. Even though he wouldn’t join the band, Piero, Franz and Bernardo could find energy enough to carry on the project. Ok! We had no dedicated hands on keyboards but we could have strings, piano and intriguing bandoneon from Tango Spleen! Some minor health issue would, temporarily, keep Piero away from his kit? Well, Alessandro Mori could drum along!

Alessandro Sgobbio, formerly with “Acqua Fragile Project” (an experiment carried on by Franz Dondi where young musicians would live perform A F music, around 2004 ) and now jazz pianist and composer for “Charm”, “Pericopes +1” e “Debra’s Dream”, popped up at Elfo Studio to do a flashy synth solo. Michelangelo Ferilli, also from “A F P ”, left some acoustic guitar arpeggios!

I had been quite busy in the last two years so I thought I could get some help with lyrics. As special guest, we were lucky to have US drummer Jonathan Mover (Joe Satriani, GTR) on the trickiest piece of the album succeeding in making a quite complicated composition sound simple. Though some additional actions were taken in centre Italy and Costa del Sol in Spain, main recordings took place at Elfo Studio in Tavernago (PC) Italy where sound man Alberto Callegari was sharp and patient enough to produce it.

I wondered what difference in recording and working together did you find after reforming?

From 72 up to 74, the band would gather at least four times a week. We had no recording facilities so we would memorize all we were playing, I mean dozens of changes in every session. We wouldn’t even take notes or write score on paper as most of us were just self-taught in music.

Actually, every now and then, somebody, may be an older chap, would show up with a reel to reel or, let’s say, some freak with a cassette recorder would promise to do magic but distortion was all we could get down on tape. We knew very little about recording studios but we were blessed getting Claudio Fabi to produce our albums with Gaetano Ria as sound engineer – I mean – top guys in recording studios in Milan.

After that, please, do know that Piero and Franz kept away for many years from the recording world so, when we got back together, everybody around us – I mean fans, fellow artists, guys who wanted to be producers etc. – they were all saying we should go back and start on the old way, rehearsing every day to “capture back the old flair”.

I would just keep scrolling my head – you know, after all in a band there’s got to be some form of democracy – ‘till I got the other guys on my side and started to work in a most proper way. Somehow, I would provide the music and the lyrics, recording a home demo good enough to start with. Drums and bass would then get together to work out modifying the existing patterns and lines of the chosen piece.

Electric guitars and most keybords came out from the work of Alex Giallombardo who we were lucky to have over three quarters of the album even though he wouldn’t join the band. Tango Spleen is a terrific small unit which I define smart & classic. I remember them recording “My Forte” at first take.

Lately, I’ve been moving around a lot so my lead vocals were recorded in different places around Italy and Andalusia. Vocal harmonies were recorded mostly at Elfo Studios or in Milan. In the final rush I played a few synth lines and played acoustic guitar that was missing.

So how do you see A New Chant fitting into your canon?

OK: We got the vocals with the three part harmony, we got friendly odd tempo signatures, we got acoustic guitars, we got synthesizers, we got original riffs, we got nice arpeggios and, yeah, we got good lead vocals too. On the lyrics side we are missing some social issues and science fiction stories.

On the other end, also thanks to Pete Sinfield and Nick Clabburn, we did get more poetry. The music still holds drama in it as well as humour, epics, rock, folk and classical flare.

How did the collaborations on the album come about?

The Orchestra 6 piece specialize in tango, I met them as guests when I did my vox 40 concert, they did a great job, I thought it would be good to have them guest, they did a terrific job, they got the 1st song as a 1st take, and it was the fist time they had drums in their cans. Jon Mover, track in 11/8 he doubled that into 22, then subdivided to 7/6/5/4 meaning each bar has a different beats per minute and from the previous and the following, this is prog definatley, Mariano the pioano player needed more information, he looked at the score and then they both did it. One to be guests, Mover, he’s American, he loves progressive music, he played for Marillion, after that he got involved in GTR, he booked a studio and invited them down to hear me play, he then got hired. I found out I’m his favourite singer, so I got in touch and we’re working on my new album. We had guests for lyrics, I found this website where Pete Sinfield has his lyrics/poems/haikus, there was a poem I liked so much that I put some music to it, but how do I contact him? I had the song but no permission to release it. I had been doing gigs with David Jackson, he was in my house, and when he was staying he talked about moving. I asked David when we next spoke if he had moved and he’d moved to a small town, turns out it’s the same village that Pete Sinfield lives, so David’s son is a famous engineer, and his daughter Dorie is a singer, and she sometimes helps Mr Sinfield, so we had a connection, Dorie got a CD from me and once they went to supermarket she put the CD on for Pete, he said I love it and that’s how it worked out. I got a mail confirming I could use the poem as lyrics. Also Nick Clabburn wrote the lyrics for me, I knew Nick from when Steve Hackett came to Italy, he came to visit me in Umbria, he took inspiration from the lake I lived at, and he got the lyrics I’m drowning.

Alesso Lombardo, we did a few gigs and asked he could join in, he was contributing and we were lucky. Where your Car Proudly, the only one we wrote in the 70’s, we had no recordings, the drummer remembered the lines to play, but I didn’t remember the words, only the title, and asked a friend to write the lyrics, the song is quite interesting, if you play it when driving you get carried away. Allessandro Scorpio on keys, was in a band Aqcua Fragile project, didn’t quite work out, and he became a jazz player. When I played Vox 40 all original members but the guitarist and keyboard player didn’t play, but the keyboard players son is a drummer who joined.

I wondered what inspired Bernando as a writer?

Conscious and subconscious pull up bubbles from education and personality. Lyrics are one topic. Music is another one. I keep written notes around with phrases and words with a sound and may be more than just one meaning. I store them for future use..

As for music, I used to write singing on top of my guitar playing but, in the last ten years or so, I developed other techniques the most interesting being the one that I think about a melody, memorize it and study in my head but may be I’m floating on a swimming pool or riding shotgun (better not driving when doing this) so I’m totally free of instrumentation and kind of draw diagrams in my head. Of course, later on, I try to get sounds off instruments, mainly starting with the ol’ guitar.

Talk me through the album A New Chant.

Well, we wanted an Italian song, we’re the only Italian prog band with no Italian song, the Tu per Lei song is about music, saying if you work hard for music, then it’s done. Taking the line from Jamie Muir, he once told Bill Bruford, ‘when you approach you don’t have to think about what music can do for you, you have to ask what can I do for music’ then the acoustic one, How come, I wanted Lombardo to be more involved, I pushed, so he said I’ll write something acoustic and you sing, then we had an argument, so he said I’ll take the music but you keep the lyrics, which were my words, so I ended up having to write a new melody to the lyrics. A new way of composing. All rise – when you write songs for an album you don’t think about the concert, then you have to rejig the order for the power, so I thought why don’t I write a song for the first encore, using the courtroom line, the drummer did a great job,

A New Chant, I can do many things with my vocals, but I can do something that resembles opera, but I never learnt to push without a microphone, they can push up to 50 metres, I never learnt to do that, so that’s what I wanted to, which is crossing prog with opera. Artwork from 1973, it’s guy carrying round chairs as an invitation to a concert, the bassist had it and kept it, and it seemed ideal to use.

Will you be playing live?

We are working on two options. We could call other musicians to fill the gaps or be surrounded by an orchestra.

How did you get the deal with Esoteric?

Ernesto De Pascale, journalist and producer got them in touch with me when they needed the original art work for the re-release of Acqua Fragile’s very first album.

Where next for Acqua Fragile?

Perhaps a live album or…..

What influenced you as a musician when you started out?

When I was a kid I wanted to become a mad scientist. Somehow I kept that attitude working with music. I am not such a good player, not fast fingers or feet, no strength in my hands or arms but I can do total vocals. I can do harmonies and my range spans over three octaves.

I always admired rock and blues, suspended chords, things hidden or not totally outspoken. Progressive rock gave me all the other topics I was missing.

How different is the music scene now compared to when you started out?

The people behind the music scene have taken over. They don’t need musicians or artist ‘cause they actually control all platforms that distributes music or what they push to become “music”.

Tell me about your time in PFM?

When I joined PFM I thought I was called in to complete the delivery potential of the band. Only one of the original member is still in the band, actually becoming its leader, but, along with the ones that left ,when being interviewed they all say they were forced to get a lead singer. I recall them knowing nothing about singing except, perhaps, the key man Flavio Premoli. They didn’t even know the words to their songs!

On stage, nobody wanted my vocals in their monitors and, when having only three lines, I would end up singing along with drums and fretless bass! We were recording in LA, the studio time expired so we moved to Scorpio sound and we flew economy on a students ticket, we arrived at midnight in Luton, got the bus to the centre of London, at 2am we were still on the bus. Franco said ‘this is the new day’ so instead of heading to the hotel so we took two cabs to the studio, we wanted to start recording. We knocked on the studio door at 3 in the morning and said ‘We’ve got the studio booked’ and the people running the studio said we’ve got no engineers in yet. Franco said, ’You got a microphone?’ OK Bernado, sing! And we started.  After a long flight and journey how can a guy sing after that?

After a career spanning many years what’s your favourite musical memories?

I have a lot, we started opening for bands like Soft Machine & Gentle Giant they were our heroes and we hoped we did our best and we even played before Alexis Korner, Tempest as well, We were exposed to terrific players. With PFM my first concert was in Tokyo, and we played the Royal Albert Hall and the Queen Mother wanted to meet us, so there’s a photo of us with the Queen Mother, so when I left they erased me, I then did my own and I erased them, so there’s three copies of this photo, one with all of us, one with them and not me, and then one with me on my own!

‘A New Chant’ was released 13th October 2017.

Read James’ review of the album here:

Review – Acqua Fragile – A New Chant – by James R. Turner

 

 

 

Review – Long Distance Calling – Boundless – by Kevin Thompson

There’s always the clamour to decide what has been album of the year every annum and the good and great are voted for. In conversation the other day it arose that what is voted best, may not always turn out to be the most played.

Some albums push their way into your play-list and you find yourself returning to them regularly to get your fix. Long Distance Calling’s “Trips” is one of those albums for me. I can’t count the number of journeys in the car, where it has been played, you just have to be careful one doesn’t drive too quickly to some of the tracks. It is a real energiser of an album and always picks me up.

I have all their albums and the addition of vocals on “Trips” seemed to give it an added edge. So I was surprised to find the latest Long Distance Calling (LDC) release “Boundless” sees them returning with an all instrumental album and no Petter Carlson on vocals, a brave or foolish move?

The suitably brooding cover and promotional photos accompanying the music would suggest the promise of something a little darker with plenty of atmosphere and strength in their musical belief.

A crash of cymbals and the heft of drums from Janosch Rathmer feed into a drone, building with a lashing of feedback from guitar duo Florian Juntmann and Dave Jordan to see them Out There. The growling guitars are suppressed to repetitive gentle chords, Jan Offman’s bass blowing across the brown grass and moss covered moors as LDC bend into the stiff breeze and push forward, the mud of sceptics sucking at their boots. Drums drift back into the mix and the music rises to a crescendo as they reach the foot of the mountain and assess the route.

The heavy climb is echoed in the pumping guitars as LDC begin Ascending the second track of the mountainous album, riffs jabbing at them like the bitter wind, scrabbling for hand and footholds, the escalating guitars puncturing the cloud-base as the band strive for the peak and throbbing percussion pushes upwards as looping chords announce the summit.

They are In The Clouds, disorientated with limited visibility as strange sounds and percussion echo around. Strummed chords bend like sirens’ cries and aggressive guitars pull at the fabric of the tune as LDC seek to gain purchase and not lose their way among the rocks and crevices of the atmospheric synths and loops. The instrumentation fluctuates, with the menace of the bass warning of one lost footfall and the subtle percussion tries to wrong foot across undulating, tuneful ground.

Through plucked strings and behind jangling guitars, a sound is heard Like A River, as this accomplished German quartet confidently navigate their way. At one point the sound morphs into something narrowly close to the theme from a spaghetti western, whilst violin and brass make brief dalliances. Pulled back by the whistling winds, the clouds of music are parted revealing unparalleled views of the cruelly beautiful landscapes around them,. LDC admire the aural view as the guitars float down the mountainside and away.

Pushing their way through the heavy waves of riffs that strike them, the band forge their way to The Far Side of the mountain top, drums eddying as bass rolls of thunder meet overhead and the darkening, heavy clouds of guitar speed their way across the sky with determination.

Abruptly finding themselves On The Verge, piano calms the storm as harmonic guitar notes are picked to drift in the air. Looping guitars build and the band members attend to the backpacks they have been carrying and prepare for the descent. The music creates a determined urgency, to take advantage of the break in the weather, as the clouds drift away and pale watery skies are revealed.

Buddy checking they are ready, the band take a few steps back then all instruments rush forward together and leap from the edge………

The cold air moans around them as LDC dive from the precipice, sharpening the senses at the wonder of it all as they feel Weightless, drifting like birds on the thermals of the music as the building bass and drum rhythms quicken the heart. The pace of the descent increases, arms and legs splayed as the music spreads and the guitars fly with complete freedom. A tug of chords, the brief jerk upward as the ‘chutes open safely and they are nearly there.

The ground rushes towards them with all the energy the instruments can muster and percussive blood pumps in the ears. Knees bend as contact is made with terra firma and they roll before standing proud as the music swells their chests and hearts. Rising, the Skydivers acknowledge they have arrived unscathed and begin to draw in the ‘chutes as they congratulate each other in conquering the dramatic mountain of music; they have made it their own.

All gathered in, the band turn and with fading notes in the cooling breeze, LDC head back homeward with tales of their achievement bolstering their distinctive success.

So have Long Distance Calling pulled off the challenge of reinvention? For me it’s another resounding yes, to be shouted from the highest mountain and to echo in every valley. Their bravery has been rewarded and so shall yours if you have belief and buy the album.

Bands are criticised for drifting from their comfort zones at times or relying on tried and tested methods, this is no throwback but yet another push forward for Long Distance Calling whilst holding on to their distinctive sound, well done lads, keep up the good work.

Released 2nd February 2018

Order ‘Boundless’ direct from Inside Out in Europe

Order ‘Boundless’ from Burning Shed (UK)

Photos by Michael Winkler.

Paul Draper (Mansun) announces details of new EP / UK tour starts this month

PAUL DRAPER – EP THREE 

Confirmed for release on 16th march 

“Jealousy Is A Powerful Emotion”

1.    Jealousy Is A Powerful Emotion (single version)

2.    Things People Want (acoustic)

3.    Jealousy Is A Powerful Emotion (acoustic)

4.    Friends Make The Worst Enemies (Public Service Broadcasting Remix) 

Released digitally via Kscope on March 16th 2018 

EP Three is available to pre-order here: http://found.ee/PAUL_DRAPER_EP_THREE 

Paul Draper has announced details of a new EP release. EP Three features new versions and acoustic recordings of some of the stand out tracks from Draper’s acclaimed 2017 album Spooky Action. Lead track Jealously Is A Powerful Emotion is a tale of betrayal and coldly plotted revenge that builds from twisted, spectral electronics into a glorious swooping, swooning crescendo. Also featured on the EP are acoustic takes on Jealousy… and previous single Things People Want as well as epic overhaul of the EP Two lead track Friends Make The Worst Enemies by Public Service Broadcasting.

Paul Draper plays a series of previously announced shows in February and March. At those shows, Paul and his band will play a set of solo material before performing Mansun’s classic debut Attack of the Grey Lantern in full for the first time ever on the 21st anniversary of its release. The dates are:

Mon 19th Feb – Brighton, The Haunt (sold out)

Tues 20th Feb – Portsmouth, Wedgewood Rooms

Weds 21st Feb – Bristol, Bierkellar

Fri 23rd Feb – Dublin, The Workman’s Club

Sat 24th Feb – Belfast, Limelight 2

Mon 26th Feb – Edinburgh, The Caves

Tues 27th Feb – Glasgow, The Art School

Thurs 1st Mar  – Manchester, O2 Ritz

Fri 2nd Mar – Sheffield, Leadmill

Sat 3rd Mar – Newcastle,  Riverside

Mon 5th Mar – Nottingham, Rescue Rooms

Tues 6th Mar – Norwich, The Waterfront

Weds 7th Mar  – Oxford, O2 Academy

Thurs 8th Mar  – London, Brixton Electric

Following the UK shows, Paul Draper heads to the States to play a series of shows supporting Steven Wilson in North America in April/May. A limited edition signed vinyl LP – Live at Scala – will be available on the UK tour dates. The album features a recording of Paul’s recent sold out headline show at the iconic London venue. A CD version of the album will be available via independent record shops from February 16th 2018 or as a part of a double deluxe Spooky Action reissue.