Blue Rose Code Announce New Album Pre-Order And Sign To Navigator Records

From Ross Wilson:

“So delighted to announce something that we’ve been working on for a while now; Blue Rose Code has signed to Navigator Records and we’ll be releasing new album, The Water Of Leith, on the 27th October 2017. We’ve got an amazing team behind us and I love what we’re going to share with you.

Thanks, first and foremost to the top man, my manager, Sean Devine, for his work in putting this together, to Angus Lyon for co-producing the record with me, and to all of the world-class musicians and engineers who’ve made me sound better across each of the twelve songs;

LUNATIC SOUL ANNOUNCES ANTICIPATED FIFTH STUDIO ALBUM – FRACTURED – WITH THE RELEASE OF A VIDEO FOR THE TITLE TRACK

(Album art by Travis Smith)

Lunatic Soul is Mariusz Duda, the talented creator, singer and multi-instrumentalist behind some of the finest and most captivating progressive music coming from Europe, including his output on UK label Kscope and with Poland’s shooting stars Riverside. Duda is now releasing his fifth and long-awaited album Fractured – the follow up to 2014’s acclaimed ‘Walking On A Flashlight Beam’. ‘Fractured’, has been described by Duda as an album of catharsis after a challenging year in his personal life.

Mariusz explains further “the main theme of “Fractured” is coming back to life after a personal tragedy. It’s inspired by what happened in my life in 2016 and by everything that’s happening around us and what’s making us turn away from one another and divide into groups, for better and for worse. Musically it will be the most original album I have ever made as well as the most accessible and personal album in the Lunatic Soul discography.”

Fans can watch the new video & hear the title track “Fractured”:

As well as a conceptual development, Duda gained the self-confidence to allow himself greater creative freedom with the new material, experimenting more with electronics and rhythm and inspiration with influences from the likes of Massive Attack and Depeche Mode to Peter Gabriel and David Sylvian. ‘Fractured’ features Poland’s Sinfonietta Consonus Orchestra, conducted by Michał Mierzejewski, on two of the album’s most personal tracks “Crumbling Teeth And The Owl Eyes” and “A Thousand Shards Of Heaven”; the album also features saxophonist Marcin Odyniec who first worked with Mariusz in Riverside.

The album was recorded in Poland at Serakos Studio and Custom 34 Studio, mixed by Magda & Robert Srzedniccy and Mariusz Duda, and the artwork was created by long time collaborator, renowned cover artist Travis Smith, whose previous work includes the likes of Anathema, Katatonia, Opeth & Riverside.

‘Fractured’ will be released in the following formats and is now available for pre-order here: http://found.ee/LS_FRACTURED

·       CD

·       LP – double gatefold LP in heavyweight 180g vinyl in black and limited edition red vinyl (w/ MP3 download code)

·       Digital – with digital pre-orders receiving the song “Fractured” as an instant download

(Picture of Mariusz by Oskar Szramka)

Follow Lunatic Soul online:

Website: www.lunaticsoul.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lunaticsoulband

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/lunaticsoulband

Twitter: @Marivsz_Riv

Kylver release new video for ‘The Great race’.

‘The Great Race’ is the final track from ‘The Island’ and the final part of the albums concept. The first video for ‘Hy-Brasil’ ended with the sole survivor of the shipwreck being transported from the island to another world. ‘The Great Race’ begins with him awakening the day before the fated voyage is to set sail. With his mind erased of past events he makes haste in returning to his village before boarding the ship to begin his journey again.

Check out the video here:

From Kylver’s new album ‘The Island’ which is available now on CD and Download from kylver.bandcamp.com

www.kylvermusic.com

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instagram.com/kylvermusic (@kylvermusic)

 

Review – Long Earth – The Source – by Progradar

Not sure if you’ve noticed but I like music, I like a whole gamut, a plethora even, of different musical styles and the bands that produce it but, being the man who actually runs this website, it also means I get sent a lot (and I mean A LOT) of new music on a weekly basis and sometimes it’s difficult to keep up with it all.

When I met Neil Mackie (vocals and guitar) of Long Earth at last year’s ‘A Prog Before Christmas’ gig we had a good chat about their forthcoming new album and, don’t ask me why, that seed stuck in my mind and grew when news of the impending release of ‘The Source’ broke.

So, while it may have taken me time to get round to it (due to real life pressures and earning a coin), I always intended to review the album and here is my take on it but, first, a little background…

Long Earth came together by a series of fortunate but unexpected coincidences. Born from an agenda of no agenda, the principal from the outset was to create a musical adventure with no preconceived plan of the final destination.

Mike Baxter (Keyboards) came from an exemplary background of having been at the forefront of the Glasgow music scene. It was during Mike’s tenure with Identity Crisis that, despite moving in converging circles, Mike played with Gordon.

Gordon Mackie (Bass) has a background in music spanning more than 40 years. Moving into the ’90’s, and a move east, saw Gordon hooking up with Mike in Identity Crisis.

Ken Weir (Drums & Percussion) was the foundation not only musical but also in terms of timeline of Abel Ganz. During his time with the mighty Ganzers, Ken was there from the early days of Milgavie Town Hall through to and beyond the Gullible’s Travels days – featuring a line up changed to Paul Kelly, Hew Montgomery, Gordon Mackie and himself.

Neil Mackie (Vocals & Guitar) is, surprisingly enough, Gordon’s brother. Due to Gordon’s influence, Neil learned bass and performed with a number of Central Scotland covers bands from the ’80’s onwards. 

As things progressed, the band agreed we needed an amazing and very particular type of lead guitarist to join the ranks – so the hunt began. Thankfully in September 16 we were joined by the insanely talented Renaldo McKim (ex Suicide Underground).

The final cog in the wheel is Hew Montgomery, Abel Ganz / Comedy Of Errors / Grand Tour who acts as a motivating factor in Long Earth. A semi silent partner almost…

Neo_prog started in the early 80’s and hit its heyday later in that decade with the likes of Marillion, Pendragon, IQPallas et al and it’s influences can still be felt today, just listen to the recent solo releases from Alan Reed (ex Pallas) and Paul Menel (ex IQ) and you’ll know what I mean.

You can hear the way that Neo-Prog has shaped Long Earth’s debut ‘The Source’ but the quality of the songwriting gives it something a little different. It’s made up of two song ‘suites’ and three other tracks and is an engrossing listen throughout. Title track The Source is made up of four constituent parts beginning with i -Through The Void, a stylish instrumental that takes me straight back to the 80’s with it’s simple keyboards and elegant basslines. To these ears it almost combines the era’s other stand out music, New Romantic, with some stylish prog overtones and is a great opening to the album. There’s a segue into ii – The Source which is another nostalgia soaked unpretentious piece of music but one that grows and morphs into something much more up-to-date. There’s a relaxed tone to the music and Neil’s vocals and when the tempo increases, it becomes something more vibrant. Up to now it’s been Mike’s keyboards that have been the overriding contributor to the music, aided and abetted by Gordon and Ken’s stylish rhythm section and there’s a nicely laid back keyboard solo in the centre of the track. To be fair, everything is nicely judged but it’s just missing that little extra, until it arrives in the shape of a classic guitar solo from Renaldo towards the close, powerful and compelling and making the circle complete.

iii – First Steps is a short, slow moving and brooding instrumental with a dreamlike quality to it, the music washing over you and putting you into some kind of relaxed stasis, calm and composed before iv – The Call begins, an intelligent song which gets me in a thoughtful frame of mind straight from the off. Haunting keyboards and jangling guitars give an alternative music vibe, like something out of 1990’s North West England. That dreamlike aura lingers among the smooth vocals and the effortless rhythm section. Below the unhurried surface the guitar adds some edge and body without spoiling the tranquil ambience. It’s a piece of music to lose yourself in and just enjoy the mesmerising music, let another quality guitar solo from Renaldo lift your spirits high and let them soar on the musical updrafts. and enjoy the serene ending to the song.

The second multi-part track is Ghosts and the first piece is i – Invisible, an eerie sounding keyboard precedes the haunting vocals as the track builds slowly with a slightly nervous and tense feel. It has a wistful sound to my ears, it’s almost like a song of longing and regret, of looking to the past with a heavy, melancholy heart. The subdued guitar solo is dignified and seems to be holding back the sea of emotion waiting to spill out. This is a song that is not in a hurry to get anywhere and its presence is felt deep in your soul, the contemplative voice over works very well and the whole track leaves you looking into your own mind in a sobering manner. ii – Above And Beyond is another short and pensive instrumental with an absorbing and reflective atmosphere, there’s an almost otherworldly sound to the keyboards but it is fleeting as it segues straight into the sombre tones of iii – Ghosts. The solemn vocals add to the absorbing music to leave the listener pondering life, the universe and everything. I love the echoing guitar note, it just adds layers and layers of pathos and sentiment and the whole song is a really poignant piece of music with a deep yearning and sentiment. Overall this is a melancholy song about loss and longing that stays with you long after it fades out.

The last part of these two multi-faceted tracks is iv – Her Ghost In The Fog and it opens with an almost euphoric keyboard note, a feeling of hope in the desolation of loss, much more upbeat than what has preceded it and the 80’s feeling repeated guitar motif is really catchy, you will find yourself humming this at the most inopportune moments. There’s almost a nostalgia overload with the keyboards slap bang in the 80’s but the great songwriting once again lifts this song above the ordinary. Neil’s voice has an emotive overtone, quite affective and touching and the keyboards and piano add real gloss. Once again that excellent rhythm section of Ken and Gordon provides the engine room that keeps things ticking over and Renaldo weaves his special brand of magic throughout.

Where Is The Laughter takes a slightly different route with a really engrossing introduction where Gordon’s bass is more front and centre before Neil’s plaintive vocal begins. There’s more of a mainstream feel to the song, although it is still rooted in the neo-progressive arena (dare I mention that well known & tall Scottish singer). I like the elegant music that seems to just glide over your synapses and leave an indelible mark as a layer of sophisticated calm falls over your shoulders. Music for lazy days and long drinks in the garden, a smooth jazz aura seems to emanate from the keyboards in the middle of the song, the bass and drums joining in the impromptu musical jam session. It is one of the best lead outs to a track I have heard this year, just so relaxed and uber cool, just stop what your doing, relax and enjoy it. Children Of War is a superb song that occasionally lets itself down, and that is by the verses being a tad too long. It starts with a feeling of suspense and trepidation, Neil’s moving vocals making the hairs stand up on the back of your neck and all is well. It’s a haunting song about the unknown casualties of war, mainly the children, and it is a moving sentiment but it tends to meander too much for its own good and you get a feeling of treading water with no particular destination in mind. When the brilliant guitar breaks out that spell is broken and you sit, wide eyed, at Renaldo’s virtuosity, it really is quite superb. The verse begins its slow traverse and, once again, things become a bit static, only to be lifted by the rarefied harmonies, it’s a small criticism but a criticism nonetheless. Things come to a close with The Deafening Silence, an organ opening proceedings with Neil’s high pitched vocal adding a bit of theatre. Next, a smile breaks out on my face as a really catchy riff hits you full in the face and the powerful drums and keyboards drive things on. More of a hard rock song that your neo-prog, it works really well with some funky bass and edgy guitar thrown in the mix. It’s a pleasant surprise to have a short and relatively uncomplicated track closing an album out and I’m really enjoying it when Gordon goes all 70’s funk on us with his short but ever so sweet bass solo and, not to be outdone, Renaldo leaves us with another thunderous guitar solo. To me, it’s a great choice of song to close out what has been a thoroughly entertaining listening experience.

Taking what was great about classic 80’s Neo-Prog and adding some modern drama and pathos, Long Earth have given us a debut album that has been years in the making and all the better for it. Yes, it is not without some minor flaws but it certainly is an album that you will return to many a time and will be even more gratifying every time you do, bring on the next one guys!!

Released 9th May 2017

Buy ‘The Source’ from Grand Tour music:

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Review – TDW & Dreamwalkers Inc. – The Antithetic Affiliation – by Progradar

“If you’re waiting until you feel talented enough to make it, you’ll never make it.”
― Criss Jami, Healology

There’s a very old and very wise saying that goes something along the lines of, “If you’re good enough then you’re old enough..”, don’t let other’s perceived conception of your youth hold back your talent. This can be applied in many walks of life and music is definitely one of them.

Tom De Wit may literally have just turned 30 years of age but this man already has a huge array of talents in creating and producing music and I’m always waiting with much anticipation to see what he comes up with next.

So when the CD & press release arrived for his latest project with TDW & Dreamwalkers Inc. I couldn’t wait to immerse myself into it completely…

After three years of self-discovery and hard musical labour, the next chapter in the musical story of TDW has arrived. ‘The Antithetic Affiliation’ is here and it’s become an album of extremes.

After garnering success in the international (prog) metal scene for his 2014 album “Music To Stand Around And Feel Awkward To”, Tom de Wit (TDW’s main driving force) got back into writing mode. The original idea was to create a new release that would be different from his last album in stylistic sense but also lyrically and theme-wise. This album would become something of a sketchbook of emotional states of being that Tom had been witnessing the last few years.

The very first song that was written and completed was the 20 minute epic Lest We Forget which shows a new darker and more angry side of the TDW music. Combined with shorter songs like Dirge & Lovesong and the epics Monolith and The More We Remember, the album got into its final shape. With all these songs combined, the album had a structure and a flow that makes it one big experience that searches for the outer reaches of emotions and music in general.

The infinity symbol is crucial to the theme that lies in this album as the human life pattern never stops in terms of positive and negative experiences. As long as a person lives and feels, the cycle will continue.

With the ‘Cynic’ and the ‘Idealist’ playing the main roles in this album’s concept, one can see that these discs are both different in style and tone, but they form a unity as a whole. Forging the anithetic affiliation that is noted in the title. ‘The Idealist’ being a more melodic and symphonic orientated disc and ‘The Cynic’ being a more dark, brooding and metallic affair. This showcases both sides of the emotional spectrum within the music of TDW in a new way.

Once again joining Tom in this album, is a wide variety of guest musicians that all bring their flavour to the mix by adding solo’s and specific parts on the already existing music. But the most noticeable change is the inclusion of the brand new live-band Dreamwalkers Inc in the recording process. This band was formed to perform the TDW music live on stages and since their acoustic debut gig taking place at Progpower 2016, this band of people have worked with Tom to finish this TDW album and to put their own stamp on this material as well.”

The first song on The Idealist disc is the powerfully emotive epic The More We Remember which builds up from a low key start with some beautiful oboe from Nienke van der Kamp before a striking riff breaks out and gives the song more impetus in a symphonic metal style. This track ebbs and flows with some pretty impressive guitar playing and incredibly catchy riffs and the drums are pretty dynamic too. Tom’s stentorian voice provides a big vocal backdrop while he also takes things lower and more gentle too, showcasing his wide ranging voice. This is some stylish progressive metal with a fast paced tempo that interchanges with the moderate sections. There’s some virulent, mind bending guitar solos thrown in the mix by Bob Wijtsma that add a shot of musical caffeine among the dreamlike sections. It’s a song of many interesting juxtapositions, none more so than the addition of Radina Dimcheva’s vocals as a stylish counterpoint to Tom’s more aggressive, masculine intonation. I’m a big fan of Tom’s music and he has really crafted something exciting here, like a fantasy novel set to heavy progressive-metal music.

Anthem starts with a thunderous riff and dominant drums with some suitably swirling keyboards driving things along. A dark, gruff vocal precedes the energetic vocals which lead up to a suitably bombastic chorus, yes a true ‘anthem’ indeed. The female vocals that complement Tom’s give a true symphonic metal edge to the track, it’s nothing new but it is done extremely well and I just can’t get enough of that really memorable chorus. There’s a huge wall of sound being created by these impressive musicians using incredible technical skill and melodic brutality, the screaming guitar solos being just one example along with Sophie Zaaijer’s violins and viola, it’s one hell of a ride and a thoroughly enjoyable one at that!

There’s a whole lot more of a relaxed feeling to Lovesong, a stylishly chilled affair of restrained vocals and guitar that just seems to float across your synapses leaving a trail of relaxation as it passes by. A wistful, almost nostalgic song that shows the great variety inherent in Tom’s song writing. He can create huge, powerful soundscapes but also music that touches you in your heart and soul and it’s the subdued and tasteful side of his personality that is on show here.

We close The Idealist with Monolith -The Ascent, a brooding and intelligent track that gets you thinking. I really like the way it builds up the suspense with some really creative music and Tom’s questing vocal. It almost has a magical air to it before it begins to evolve into something much more dominant and compelling. The edgy riffs and precise drumming add structure to the organised chaos of this true progressive metal track that’s awash with a real sci-fi aura, this is what I’ve come to expect from Tom and the impressive group of musicians he always brings together.

So, on to the second disc, The Cynic and we open with Monolith – The Descent. It’s said that this disc is more dark, brooding and metallic and it most certainly is, this track opening with a monstrous riff and choral voices before powering on with a mixture of resounding drums and weighty guitars. The vocals are properly metallic with some gruff style shenanigans thrown in too but they work well with the feel of this forceful song. It’s verging on heavy metal with a progressive twist and could seriously crumble mountains into little bits of gravel with its all-encompassing soundscape. If ever you needed a musical hangover cure then put this track on at a high volume and it will blow any cobwebs away with its relentless sonorous attack. Don’t let the little interjection of a quieter section that closes out the song fool you into a false sense of security, this is monumental metal at its best.

The next track Aphrodisia opens with a thoughtful tone, laid back, heartfelt vocals giving real pathos to the song. A world weary timbre enters Tom’s vocals and Martine Mussies’ cello provides succour. That feeling doesn’t last though as the track blows apart into a thrashing metal monster with energetic speed guitars and tirelessly animated drums. There’s barely controlled chaos erupting among the chord sequences here and it’s utterly enthralling, add in the keyboards that almost have a life of their own and it’s almost as if the song has come to life all on its own. The coruscating guitar solos from Dave Mola add to that almost alien feel with their vehemence and individuality. It’s a peculiar kind of prog thrash metal in places but one that has a keen perception at its heart, evident in the quite haunting close out to what has been a literally breath taking piece of music.

The shortest track on the whole album at just over 5 minutes, Dirge lives up to its name. A slow, almost funereal tempo and Tom’s hushed vocal over a calm guitar note give it a respectful overtone and Cailyn Erlandsson’s beautiful vocal, added to more of Martine Mussies’ cello adds an ethereal overtone of otherworldliness. A sombre and reflective song that leaves you in a melancholy and thoughtful frame of mind.

We finish this immersive musical journey with the riotous prog-metal epic that is Lest We Forget, a track that is on the front foot from the off and never lets up. The staccato, aggressive riff gets right under your skin and is matched by the relentless pugnacity of the drums. Tom’s vocal is demanding and in your face, it’s almost like Metallica on steroids having a jam with Dream Theater turned up to 11, especially on the primeval riffing. Take your pick on the solos, they are all incandescent and rather excellent and provided by Tommy TalamancaMendel bij de Leij and Frank Schiphorst and add even more flare to what is already a huge behemoth of a metal song. I’m not a huge fan of demonic vocals but Sascha Blach actually adds something hair raising to the song with his. This song is massive rollercoaster of a musical experience and one which rarely lets you stand still and then not for long. Just when you think you’ve got the hang of it, Tom goes off in a different musical direction but it doesn’t take long to catch up again, just hold on for your life and enjoy the ride as you roll along lifted up by the ferocious riffing. This song is twenty minutes of pure musical theatre as Sacha’s growling character delivers another monologue punctuated by a savagely potent guitar solo and then the riff fest fires off into the distance again only to be held back by a calm and collected acoustic guitar accompanied by Tom’s composed vocal. The music never lets up in its brilliance and diversity, who’d expect Thomas Cochrane’s almost Mariachi like trumpet and trombone to appear in the middle of this rollicking metal beast? Not me but it works and it works really well. Anyway, I’m going kick back and just enjoy the last two minutes of the song as it closes out in a magnificently ebullient fashion.

I’ve always been a fan of Tom’s music and his endless desire to re-invent himself and create something new. ‘The Antithetic Affiliation’ is his most ambitious work to date and he certainly doesn’t hold anything back. Intelligent songwriting and superb musicianship delivered by a talented cast has made this a musical experience that won’t be forgotten anytime soon. To be fair, you need a few listens to really appreciate this lengthy musical work and, no, it’s not perfect but it’s as close to a progressive-metal masterpiece as you are likely to hear anytime soon.

Released 22nd May 2017

Buy ‘The Antithetic Affiliation’ from Layered Reality

 

 

Review – Karibow – From Here To The Impossible – by Rob Fisher

Through a clearing in the foliage a solitary figure is perched on top of a precarious pyramid of abandoned ageing tyres, silhouetted against a sweeping azure bay from which a coastline of derelict, crumbling buildings emerge in various states of skeletal incompleteness, adorned with vegetation as nature reclaims lost ground and framed against a shrouded horizon ill lit by a murky, misty sun.

Oliver Rüsing’s powerfully evocative cover, along with the gorgeous artwork which adorns the 20 page booklet accompanying the ninth Karibow release ‘From Here To The Impossible’, merits closer scrutiny and consideration before the CD even hits the platter. As a stark and almost brutal visual metaphor for what you are about to hear, the message it conveys is as compelling as it is poignant.

Despite the dreams we harbour and the careful plans we make, life rarely goes as we would wish. Everything changes; nothing remains the same. The energy and ambition of our youth crashes against and is washed up on the shorelines of the limitations we face. The burning desire to change the world, our passion, our dreams, our hopes are forged in the burning fires of experience and gradually extinguished by the realities of daily life, the fears which hold us back and the restrictions placed or forced upon us.

The consuming focus from ‘Holophinium’ (2016) carries over to the new album. Being human is a struggle. But Rüsing’s focus has evolved; the story is no longer about the vitality and the vulnerability of being alive but on the ways in which we plot the directions we can take, the plans we make and remake, crumble or are crushed, to be rebuilt again. Life is a glorious journey of vision and re-vision. We continually build and rebuild. Everything is in perpetual flux. And in the midst of it all, passion is regained and hope is reborn. We dare to dream once more: we aspire from here to the impossible.

What strikes you instantly as you listen to the music is the drumming. Imposing, incisive and deliciously complex, its slight elevation in the mix creates the driving, dynamic and fiercely creative momentum which underpins the album. The tone is set by the dramatic and powerful jungle-esque opening of Here (Track 1), a narrative heartbeat and a startling call to wake up, confront our fears and fight for what we want.

The energy and strength of both the music and the message carries over to My Time of Your Life (Track 2). The pensive defiance enshrined in the lyric “my generation has a right to fight”, both whispered and sung, is echoed in a glorious question-and-response passage of keyboard and piano. Time may well wash away what we once held close to our hearts, but there is “still a chance for us to change the world with love and passion” (Passion, Track 3).

Never Last (Track 4) brings us, literally, to the heart of the matter with a gloriously soulful and richly melodic change of pace. The opening sentiment is whispered in our ears: “My heart is not independent, but do you think I am less than the least of all”. A delightfully restless bass line gracefully carries us through to a scintillating sax riff which is a joy to lose yourself in, eventually bringing us to rest in a beautifully hypnotic and calming narration provided by Monique van der Kolk.

Throughout the album, the interplay of the various instruments with each other is captivating. The fluid interactions create lavish walls of sound comprised of elegant shifting textures and complex, innovative arrangements. Rüsing assembles a dazzling cast of superb musicians and perceptively weaves their distinctive contributions into the flow and direction of the story.

Daniel Lopresto’s vocals in System of a Dream (Track 9) provide a grittier edge that speaks of pain, weariness and raw emotion. Sean Timms unleashes an enthralling mosaic of keyboard solos which dance and sparkle with vitality and restrained discipline. Mark Trueack brings a change of texture again on The Impossible (Track 11), creating a wonderfully nuanced call-and-response passage with Rüsing himself, leading to a building crescendo and the glorious cry: “I understand what I know can set me free, set me free!”

‘From Here to the Impossible’ is an impressive, deeply ambitious album which captures the imagination and gracefully enfolds you within layers of melodic complexity and unexpected musical delights. It will not give itself up to easy or casual listening. You will need to spend time with it; you will need to listen, to absorb and even, in places, to wrestle with where the signposts, markers and arrangements are trying to take you. And by the end you will be ready to believe that we still have it within us to change the world. Our dreams and passions make a difference, despite and in spite of the limitations which surround us.

Released 15th July 2017

Buy ‘From Here To The Impossible’ from the band’s webshop

Unified Past Release Etched in Stone (Video) Live at Rosfest 2017

Unified Past release Etched in Stone, the first of many live videos to come from their performance at RoSfest (Rites of Spring Festival) on May 6th, 2017 at Majestic Theater in Gettysburg Pennsylvania. Etched in Stone is the 3rd track from the band’s critically acclaimed album ‘Shifting the Equilibrium’ and was the final song performed by Unified Past at RoSfest.

The Rites of Spring festival or RoSfest is an annual progressive rock festival which takes place at the end of April or in early May. Established in 2004, and held the Majestic Theater in historic Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.

Unified Past was a well kept progressive rock secret. However, their 2013 release “Spots” was their most gripping recording yet that connected with fans of progressive rock and was met with positive reviews in progressive rock circles. ‘Shifting The Equilibrium’ is the band’s 7th release and promise to appeal to an even wider array of prog fans as the band has stepped up a notch or two with the addition of Emmy Award Winning Singer, Song Writer, and Vocalist Phil Naro.

The Band
Phil Naro – Vocals
Stephen Speelman – Guitar
David Mickelson – Bass
Roger Banks – Drums
John Battema – Keyboards
Unified Past Links
Official Website: http://www.unifiedpast.com/

Review – Jet Black Sea – Absorption Lines – by Emma Roebuck

Jet Black Sea: when I got this through my inbox I admit as to being blind to who they were or what to expect, apart from a brief listen to the demos on the band’s Facebook page which was enough to pique my interest.

Adrian Jones’ name popped up and then the penny dropped and the fog cleared with a tinge of familiarity, Nine Stones Close. He is bit of a creative tornado and, like many musicians in the progressive field, prolific in guesting on many other albums. ‘Absorption Lines’ is the second with Michel Simons, the first being ‘The Path Of Least Existence’, released in November of 2013. I did some ferreting around after my first listen through of this one after a very oh my response. Normally the first time I play any album it is to purge out what I have listened to before and get a general feel of what I am listening to musically. I can then flood my mind with the music so all I have is what any musician has created. I never make a snap judgement, I just get a first impression. My first impression here was very much this is special and I immediately flipped back to the start.

Adrian Jones: talent, Michel Simons: cool dance moves”

To the music which is described as experimental, ambient and dark progressive by the guys themselves and that description ispretty much spot on for me. On paper this is an album of 7 pieces of music or songs with guests:

Pieter van Hoorn: drums on Wrong Turn, The Sixth Wheel & Cathedral
Brendan Eyre: keyboards on The Sixth Wheel & Cathedral
Paul van Zeeland: bass guitar on Cathedral
Adrian ‘Aio’ O’Shaughnessy: vocals on Cathedral
Tony Patterson: vocals on Hours Slip Into Days

I am going to say that this is actually one piece of consciousness flowing into the recording and divided up into digestible chunks. It is fluid and connected and thus really difficult to do any song by song break down. Musically the journey is rich, varied and textured with more influences than you can shake a stick at, from the ambient trance dance of The Wrong Turn flowing into the middle-eastern doom chording of The Sixth Wheel, Brendan providing the tonal variation drawing the ear to the Minarets and deserts of the Arab Peninsula and North Africa.

Suddenly we join the crew of Apollo 13 for Jumping to Conclusions and a short ambient Berlin School piece drifting in the vacuum of space with Absorption Lines, which flows into a classic Floydian jam session drifting of guitar, keyboards and vocals.

It continues pretty much in this vein through Cathedral until we have a “brass” song as such, with Adrian O’Shaughnessy on vocals and some very understated but powerful guitar work from Mr Jones. Without missing a beat we find ourselves in Hours Slip Into Days, Tony’s voice is silky soft and sits in the sweet spot at the centre of the melody, carrying you into the void beyond this world. We lapse to the end of 133 hours, the time the world held its breath while we waited for Apollo 13 to return home safely. This is a musical and thematic soundtrack to Houston and the Crew of Apollo 13 conversations. It is electronic music married with understated guitar that is built on pure atmospherics.

The album is a sonic experience and as a DJ I want people to hear this and hear what I hear. Playing a track won’t cut it for me as it misses the rest of the release. It is an album not a collection of songs, it flows and grows from one end to the other filling the listener and drawing them through and into it. I am a lover of the discipline of the album, maybe it is my love of classical and electronic long form music but this sits in the same place. Adrian and Michel are not frightened to go outside traditional structure and style and they understand their art and want to see how far it can go.

Fans of Cosmograf, Public Service Broadcasting, Autechre, Scanners, Pink Floyd, Tangerine Dream, Robert Fripp and Eno will find succour and pleasure in this album. It is individual in its style and is “Jet Black Sea “rather than a version of someone else. I would say this: when you buy this album switch the connections off to the world and spend 45 minutes just letting the music swallow you up, better still, take 90 minutes and go round twice.

Released 30th June 2017

Buy ‘Absorption Lines’ from FREIA Music UK (UK & Ireland)

Buy ‘Absorption Lines’ from FREIA (Europe):

Jet Black Sea – ABSORPTION LINES

Review – Gentle Knife – Clock Unwound – by Emma Roebuck

Gentle Knife is a Norwegian Ensemble of 11 members:

Astraea Antal – flutes, woodwinds and visuals
Pål Bjørseth – keyboards, vocals, trumpet
Odd Grønvold – basses
Thomas Hylland Eriksen – sax and woodwinds
Veronika Hørven Jensen – vocals
Håkon Kavli – vocals, guitars
Eivind Lorentzen – guitars and synths
Charlotte Valstad Nielsen – sax
Ove Christian Owe – guitars
Ole Martin Svendsen – drums, percussion
Brian M. Talgo – samples, words, vocals, visions and artwork

There is a saying that too many cooks spoil the broth and you would think that 11 chefs would create a truly chaotic spoiled broth. I am glad to say that this, the follow up to Gentle Knife’s eponymous debut in 2015, is one where the chaos is always under control and adds to the sum of the 11 parts and the very disciplined approach to the music that they make.

The relentless passage of time is the main theme of our 2nd album, Clock Unwound, which delves into lives overshadowed by longing and disappointment. Plans go askew, lovers betray and dreams fade. Yet, as a sense of resignation descends upon a dystopic inner landscape, moments of beauty remain. Songs are epic in format, and play across a broad spectrum of emotions.”

The promotional material tells us, and it is true to a point, but I hear more.  I have lived with this as an album for a few weeks and see many metaphors for the modern world here beyond the main theme of the album. It dances with a classic Progressive Rock feel with an end to end flow that, for this listener, is important for anyone planning on buying it does just that, listen to the completed album rather than piece meal track by track. The whole is far greater than the parts with themes carried over from track to track reflected and distorted by the huge range of instruments they have on call.

(Photo by Vidar Jensen)

Opening with Prelude Incipit, an overture to ease us into the album. A grand piano with ominous chords and a doom laden solitary Trumpet over the top hails the tragic end of times, plaintive and hollow. Dropping straight in to the title track via a lovely guitar life, Clock Unwound is straight from the Steven Wilson play book. Keyboards, guitars down-beat and a distorted vocal giving it a slightly steam punk feels then it veers off onto a remarkable musical journey swapping guitar and keyboard as they battle for supremacy. Veronika has a dissonant vocal line which then harmonises beautifully with the tale of regret and lost hope.  Failed love and life are thematically reflected both in the lyrics and musically. Fans of VDGG will find something here with the way the brass adds to the chaos of destruction and entropy. It is a 15 minute epic but your attention does not waiver and it passes by all too soon.

Fade Away will draw in the fans of Big Big Train, Moody Blues and BJH with its brass and Mellotron opening and is completely unhurried until a middle section of big Sax and Moogs show how carefully balanced the band is in the studio with an orchestral feel to the arrangements. Rapid and mixed time and key changes drop into 2 or three different styles in a 3 or four minute instrumental section. The poignant use of flute highlights the deep sense of looking for what is lost and will never  return. The way Veronika and Brian share and harmonise the lyrical conversation works very well to define the song.

This is a quick jump to Smother, a manic track that always feels close to chaos and a musical riot but then comes back from the edge, again it’s a perfect match for the lyrics, the idea of defeat and loss of all, close to achievement but missed despite all. The dream, highlighted by a jazz section of halcyon days, is all the more painful for the memory of its loss. The brass in this never intrudes but is always here in the right measure.

Plans Askew is the simplest track on the album by far and is almost a straight rock power ballad in form. The Acoustic guitar introduction in this is building on the continuing theme of chaotic loss but critiqued externally as a narrative rather than a first person perspective, it then becomes something else entirely.

Resignation, the joker in the pack and final track on the album, returns us to the primary theme of despair. We have a deceptively sparse track of the end of time for the person and the world as we know it. The song is narrated rather than sung and a weary soul speaks of giving up on all things in a universal expression of depression and loss. This track really picks out the way Ole Martin Svendsen (on drums) and Odd Grønvold (on bass) work to be the foundation that supports the every present mix of music so despite the potential chance of chaos, it never actually happens because they are solid as a rock throughout.

Overall the way this album works deserves praise for its maturity and skill in song writing but also the disciplined studio work. There is plenty for the classic Prog fan but it isn’t a mirror of the past, it actually feels like it belongs in 2017 not 1973. This is slick where it needs to be and raucous at other times. I review every song of an album but feel the variation on ‘Clock Unwound’ needed just such a treatment. That is like quite a few of the albums made in recent years and proves to me personally that good and intelligent music can be produced despite being ignored in the boardrooms of the big labels of the world.

Released 15th June 2017

Order ‘Clock Unwound’ via Caerllysi Music

(Featured image by Thomas Hysvær)

 

 

White Moth Black Butterfly (TesseracT + Skyharbor members) unveil 2nd album ‘Atone’ / Sign to Kscope

Kscope are extremely proud to announce that White Moth Black Butterfly have joined the label’s roster and the release of the band’s new album ‘Atone’ on 1st September.

White Moth Black Butterfly features a team of songwriters & producers based worldwide, all at the height of their own scenes. The members met through working on Skyharborone of India’s biggest rock bands – Daniel Tompkins, vocalist with UK’s premier progressive rock band TesseracT (also on Kscope); New-Delhi based Skyharbor songwriter and producer Keshav Dhar; US based producer and string arranger Randy Slaugh who has previously worked with the likes of Devin Townsend, Architects & Periphery. Randy wrote and tracked string arrangements for Skyharbor‘s second album ‘Guiding Lights’, and as their relationship grew, he was invited in as a third song-writer. White Moth Black Butterfly’s line up is completed by UK singer & lyricist Jordan Turner.

On bringing White Moth Black Butterfly into the Kscope family Daniel Tompkins comments WMBB signing to Kscope is nothing short of a privilege. We feel we have truly found the right home, where we can grow and develop with the help of a respected and hardworking team of people.”

White Moth Black Butterfly are a contemporary pop project with progressive and experimental music at its heart; initially created by Daniel Tompkins as a creative outlet aside from his writing with TesseracT to indulge in his other musical influences ranging from Massive AttackEnigmaSigur RosDavid BowieMichael Jackson to Tool, Dredgand Thrice.  On the evolution of White Moth Black Butterfly Daniel explains “What started out as a creative outlet has blossomed into a fully-fledged musical project. Writing music with Keshav, Randy and Jordan has been an inspiring and invigorating process and one that has allowed us to explore new sounds through contemporary vocal work and organic instrumentation.”  

 Their new studio album ‘Atone’, the follow up to White Moth Black Butterfly’s 2014 self-released debut ‘One Thousand Wings’; which was recorded across the globe at studios in India, the UK, US and Taiwan, is masterfully built on organic, textured and cinematic soundscapes, with two opposing themes of loss and hope.

Tompkins explains – “Whilst songs like “Tempest” and “Atone” focus on faith and forgiveness, others like “Rising Sun” and “An Ocean Away” linger on love and nostalgia; throwing the listener into a bygone world of having less and caring more. The front cover artwork captures the beauty of nature and the harsh realities of life: power and dominance. White Moth Black Butterfly represents that very same struggle.”

The first song from ‘Atone’ the band are releasing is entitled “The Serpent”, here is a teaser:

Co-singer Jordan explains the concept behind the song – “The Serpent is an exploration of the temptations that lurk within each of us, and the internal fight that we partake in when they arise. The battle between good and evil consciences is fought throughout the song, drawing attention to the cunning games that a tempter can play.”

Atone will be released on CD, LP and digitally (all digital pre-orders receive “The Serpent” as an instant download), all formats are available to pre-order here http://found.ee/WMBB_ATONE

White Moth Black Butterfly online:

https://www.facebook.com/whitemothblackbutterfly

https://www.instagram.com/whitemothblackbutterfly

https://open.spotify.com/artist/5bjUhKTjzpd7U6PHYBOOd8