Review – Kaipa – Children of the Sounds – by Roy Hunter

Legendary Swedish progressive rockers Kaipa, led by mastermind Hans Lundin, have announced the release of their new studio album ‘Children of the Sounds’ for 22nd September 2017. The band’s 13th album, and 8th since the act were reborn in 2002, this album features the line-up of Lundin, accompanied by Per Nilsson (Scar Symmetry), Morgan Ågren (Karmakanic), Jonas Reingold (The Flower Kings, Karmakanic), Patrik Lundström (Ritual) & Aleena Gibson, plus a guest appearance from violinist Elin Rubinsztein.

This album is a thing of great beauty, and if you know the extended catalogue of the band, it sits right at the top!! Since Per Nilsson replaced Roine Stolt from the 2007 album ‘Angling Feelings’, there has been subtle change to the style of music. Always melodic, with great interplay between Nilsson’s sometimes frenetic guitar, Reingold’s bass and Lundin’s keys.

Just 5 tracks on here, the opening title track, Children Of The Sounds, sets off with swapped female/male vocal leads interspersed with Nilsson’s piquant guitar floating over all. The rhythm section drive the music along for 11 minutes, and not one minute of this is filler. Aleena Gibson’s voice is an acquired taste I’ll admit, but I can’t imagine anybody else singing her parts!

Track 2 is a 17 minute epic composition that builds right from the off. On The Edge of New Horizons is a lovely long-form work that Kaipa is noted for. Just when you think it is over, Lundin brings in a new melody or revamps an earlier one. Excellent.

The 3rd track Like A Serpentine does what it says on the tin. Beautiful melodies again and great vocal harmonies, Lundin himself taking the lead. Nilsson excels yet again!! The rhythm section to be so understated carries the tune along very sweetly. The violin places yet another layer overall.

The Shadowy Sunlight, track 4, is the shortest at just under 7 minutes. Beautiful folky violin with some fascinating guitar/keyboards interplay here. Multiple key-changes as the tune ascends to a heady climax – the subtle shift from minor to major really awaken a longing for resolution and finally Nilsson delivers! But I wonder why it finished so soon?

The last track What’s Behind The Fields, opens with a feeling of déjà vu… Have we heard this before? Indeed the track develops into a showcase for all the great features of this band:- harmony vocals and instrumental wizardry of the highest calibre!!

Released 22nd September 2017

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Review – The Tangent – The Slow Rust Of Forgotten Machinery – by Craig E. Bacon

The Slow Rust of Forgotten Machinery’ by The Tangent succeeds at every level, from the incredible depth and texture of the colours in Mark Buckingham’s arresting album art to the pacing of the expansive musical compositions. Band leader Andy Tillison has talked about working to recover his ‘mojo’ after a long hospital stay, and ‘Slow Rust’ makes clear that he’s found it, perhaps in greater quantity even than before. In particular, the album comfortably engages an intriguing dialectic between global politics and individual relationships; broad social commentary and hyper-specific lyrical descriptions; fury and compassion; and the musical energies of seasoned and youthful collaborators. Along the way, Tillison & Co. play jazz, funk, punk, prog, techno, ambient, and heavy rock to great effect.

The album opens with the “pocket symphony” Two Rope Swings, which packs the musical and thematic expanse of a 20 minute epic into a mere 6.5 minutes. Each member of the band turn in lovely performances here, including newcomer Marie-Eve de Gaultier, whose vocals emphasize the mournful aspect of realizing our ignorance concerning those who live in a different skin from our own—whether human or otherwise. Tillison’s wonderfully detailed lyrics express the global import of the song through their very specificity:

And we think Africa is like some fairyland/Like in the picturebooks we read when we played on the swings/Lions and tigers and wildebeests and zebra…Kilimanjaro

What do we expect from each other, when we make our adult choices with the naivete of a child reading picture books on a rope swing? When we can’t even place an entire species of animals on the right continent, imagining African lions as living side by side with Asian tigers?

Doctor Livingstone (I Presume), besides possessing the perfect, playful title for a long instrumental, showcases the band’s seemingly limitless musical muscle. Leaping right over the gate with lithe bass, rolling organ, and a melodic synth lead, the track quickly sets the stage then shines the spotlight on guitarist Luke Machin’s searing but instantly accessible soloing. Theo Travis provides plenty of nuanced saxes and flutes along the way, while piano and acoustic guitar occasionally accent the trading off between bass, synth, guitar, and sax solos. What begins as a relatively mellow jazz exercise rolls to full boil midway with some heavier riffs and shredding from Machin; not content to climax at its most intense moment, the track slides into a more classically jazz section that highlights even further the god-level bass genius of Jonas Reingold. Taken all together, this instrumental melds early 70’s jazz-influenced prog with mid-60’s Impulse! Records jazz experimentation. It also succeeds as a test for a new addition to The Tangent’s line-up: if you want to prove the mettle of your new drummer, how better than with an extended jazz work-out? The spry young lad taking over drum controls makes a great showing here that matches but never overwhelms the contributions of his bandmates, and it’s quite the surprise that this talent has not been tapped by the band on previous outings.* Perhaps the snare could have been a bit punchier to better complement Reingold’s monster tone, or the crash treated with less decay, but those are minor differences of production opinion that don’t detract from a stellar debut performance.

On an album replete with highlights, title track Slow Rust is clearly the centrepiece. All the righteous indignation, cynical wisdom, and nimble musicality of the album are placed on full display for 22 intense minutes. On the face of it, this song is inspired by the same series of recent events that prompted A Few Steps Down the Wrong Road, namely, the horrendous slandering of “migrants” by the UK press in the wake of 2016’s Brexit vote. But Slow Rust is this and so much more. Rooting around behind the mere occurrence of such hateful news reporting, Tillison explores the contributing factors. How is it that celebrity gossip, local events, and national politics coexist on equal footing in the papers? We all know that this paper has this party bias and that one another, but how do the potentially myriad perspectives of numerous writers and editors fall out along such neat lines, and why must we find a ready group on which to place the blame for our perceived problems? When there’s profits to be had, and fear and hatred turn a profit, any story becomes about the insecurities of the reader; the actual story of another person’s hardship gets twisted into the story of how an influx of persecuted refugees affects my life:

Ah, when the helpless are a threat/What does that say about the rest of us?

Furthermore, when only binary choices are on offer, the rejection of one point of view becomes the ready adoption of another, and either way someone will be waiting to accept your payment. Even Education, the great salvation of the Enlightenment, is implicated. If schools are just an ideas factory for “Corporate automatons,” then the same principle of profit and binary choices will drive all learning:

Become a teacher and bow your head/To the passing fashions where you get led/Recite your mantras, but say your prayers/’Cause what else have you done? The future’s theirs/To sell textbooks/That’s all they’re here to do

Even for a Prog Epic, this is an incredibly expansive track, though it never feels stretched or repetitive. There’s no thesis, but it’s focused polemic more than angry rant. It also seriously rocks. Tillison turns in a number of noteworthy synth and vocal performances, especially in the funky and heavy “Binary Choices” section that includes effected spoken word vocals and a reference to President Biff. Reingold is, again, a force-beyond-nature on bass throughout the song, though de Gaultier is the key ingredient that lifts everything above the sum of its parts. Here and elsewhere on the album, the soft timbre of her voice pervades every open space, simultaneously smoothing, undergirding, and highlighting whatever else is happening musically. Depending on Tillison’s role at any moment, this includes supporting the more mournful notes in his voice or providing the comforting sweater counterpoint to his angry grandpa affectation.

De Gaultier’s vocals are also essential to the emotion of The Sad Story of Lead and Astatine, as she permeates the very pretty and hopeful chorus to an otherwise sad tale. Her reassuring suggestion for a repaired relationship sharpens the sadness of the song once you realize that of course, as per the song’s title, this advice will be ignored in favour of doubling down on prideful posturing. As such, this track provides the personal counterpoint to the album’s finale: in the microcosm, destructive pride and redirected fear can lead a person, as well as a country, a few steps down the wrong road. Musically, The Sad Story leaves plenty of room for jazzy solos, including some gorgeous flute work by Travis, a healthy dose of flittering piano, a classic drum solo, and more arresting guitar shredding from Machin.

The Slow Rust of Forgotten Machinery’ culminates in the Prog-Punk Theatre of A Few Steps Down the Wrong Road. The punk elements are noteworthy, but the spirits of Emerson and Lake are as strong here as that of Johnny Rotten, Tillison playing some particularly nice analogue synths to punctuate the story. Like Slow Rust, this song is about the post-Brexit rise of hatred toward those of ‘questionable origin’, but it’s also about the historical recurrence of inhumane attitudes, and serves as a cautionary tale of the dangers in not learning our history lessons already. Alternating between spoken word narration, explosive rock bombast, proggy excess, jazzy swagger, and punk aggression, this epic competes for “most quintessential Tangent track” as well as “most timely political commentary by a musical artist.” If ever a polemic needed pressing to a side of vinyl, it’s this one. When the album reaches its depressing conclusion, be sure to immediately start it over again. The opening strains of Two Rope Swings, with de Gualtier’s call of “halcyon days,” take on an elegiac character when placed immediately following A Few Steps Down the Wrong Road.

With ‘The Slow Rust of Forgotten Machinery (or, Where Do We Draw the Line Now?)The Tangent have progressed by retaining everything that made their previous work great while seamlessly integrating these elements with new musical contributions that hold up to the weighty subject matter. The album burns with all the conscience and compassion called for by our times. It simultaneously maintains a spirit of joy and playfulness in the performances. A clear contender for Album of the Year, ‘Slow Rust’ is wonderfully immediate while reserving unfathomable depths to be explored across repeated listens for years to come.

*This reviewer is simultaneously sincere and facetious: yes, I’m aware that the drummer is Andy Tillison himself. It is genuinely a surprise that Tillison’s drumming was not previously featured, because he’s quite good.

Released 21st July 2017

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New Album From The Tangent – The Slow Rust Of Forgotten Machinery – Released 21st July 2017

FROM INSIDEOUT Music MAY 9 2017

The Tangent, the progressive rock group led by Andy Tillison, have announced the release of the first new music since 2015. Their new ninth studio album ‘The Slow Rust of Forgotten Machinery’ is set for release on 21st July 2017. The line-up for this album once again features Tillison on keyboards, vocals (and for the first time on a Tangent record – drums), Jonas Reingold on bass, Luke Machin on guitars and vocals, and Theo Travis on sax and flutes plus new member Marie-Eve de Gaultier on keys and vocals. There are also guest appearances from author/playwright and Chumbawamba founder Boff Whalley on vocals, and upcoming DJ/producer Matt Farrow.

Band leader Andy Tillison had this to say: “Roger Waters did prove the ability of Progressive Music to act as a vehicle to communicate ideas about the current world scene. In both Pink Floyd’s “The Final Cut” and his “Amused To Death” albums, Waters set a challenge to others in the genre. A challenge which has not been frequently accepted.”

The album sees The Tangent in political commentary mode once again – this time often focussing on the horrendous plight of refugees from war torn parts of the world – and the way in which they are treated by the West, and in particular by the tabloid press. The album laments the new trend in building walls and defending borders across the world yet takes time to look at the breakup of friendships and other more personal issues – along with a song about the fate of wildlife in the modern consumer world.

And it’s a Progressive Rock Record. Full of intricacies, long developed pieces, challenging arrangements and virtuoso playing from all members. New sounds and styles (the band have brought a DJ on board for some sections) – new voices and techniques (first female vocals in The Tangent since the “Not As Good As The Book” album 10 years ago). A new producer in the form of Luke Machin whose open and deep/clear sound is a major factor of this album, a new drummer in the form of Andy Tillison who decided at long last (after drumming for 30 years) to let his own performances guide the rest of the band rather than adding another musician later. And after 13 years of asking, Jonas finally agreed to play some double bass in a song where Luke also plays some Scat guitar and Andy does a full on drum solo.

“The Slow Rust Of Forgotten Machinery” also features stellar artwork from Marvel / DC Comics artist Mark Buckingham. The sleeve of the album is totally based on the music it contains and was especially created for this project.

The album will be available on limited digipak CD, gatefold 2LP + CD, and digital download, and you can find the full track-listing below:

Two Rope Swings
Doctor Livingstone (I Presume)
Slow Rust
The Sad Story of Lead and Astatine
A Few Steps Down the Wrong Road
Basildonxit

The band will head out on tour in support of the new record, once again joining forces with Sweden’s Karmakanic to present albums by both bands. The full list of dates is as follows:
Aug 26th 2017 – Bierkeller, Reichenbach, DE
Sept 1st 2017 – 2 days of Prog +1 Festival, Veruno, Italy
Sept 9th 2017 – The Boerderij, Zoetermeer
Oct 8th 2017 – SUMMERS END Festival, Chepstow, UK
Oct 21st 2017 – Progtoberfest, Chicago, USA
Oct 22nd 2017 – Shank Hall, Milwaukee WI, USA
Oct 24th 2017 – Token Lounge, Westland MI, USA
Oct 26th 2017 – Roxy & Dukes, Dunellen NJ, USA
Oct 27th 2017 – The Regent Theatre, Arlington MA, USA

Look out for more information in the coming weeks!
The Tangent online:
www.thetangent.org
https://www.facebook.com/groups/alltangentmembers/

INSIDEOUTMUSIC ONLINE:
www.insideoutmusic.com
www.youtube.com/InsideOutMusicTV
www.facebook.com/InsideOutMusic
www.twitter.com/insideouteu
www.myspace.com/insideoutlabel

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Review – Nad Sylvan – The Bride Said No – by Tony Honour

(All artist pictures by Tom Wild)

After deciding that he wasn’t busy enough touring with Steve Hackett, in 2015 Nad Sylvan signed a Solo contract with InsideOut music to bring us his first solo album, the excellent ‘Courting The Widow’. May 2017 sees the arrival of the eagerly anticipated follow up, ‘The Bride Said No’.

Whilst ‘Courting the Widow’ contained heavy overtones that were firmly routed in 1970’sBritish Progressive Rock, perhaps not surprisingly heavily influenced by Genesis, Nad has fairly and squarely put his own stamp on this new album whilst still acknowledging those influences. The album opens with Bridesmaids, a haunting melody played by Nad, with backing vocals from Jade Ell and Sheona Urguhart, which is used as a recurring theme throughout the record. It segues directly into The Quartermaster, a powerful song based around Nad’s exquisite keyboards which acts as an introduction to the Bride’s suitor and sets the plot for the story. It is also to be released as the first single and contains a very abrupt ending which caught me completely by surprise on first listen!

When The Music Dies is considerably more melancholic and shows off Nad’s vocal range to its imperious best. The story continues with The White Crown which has very strong Medieval overtones. Jonas Reingold’s distinctive guitar riff gives the song a harder edge and is a great contrast to Nad’s guitar throughout the rest of the track. What Have You Done is my personal highlight. It opens with gentle piano from Nad and backing vocals from Jade and Sheona with Jade also sharing the lead vocals with Nad beautifully. Steve Hackett and Guthrie Govan share the guitar duties with Steve starting the incredible soloing and they complement each other magnificently. Crime Of Passion follows and is a much more powerful song that still retains a wonderful melodic balance. A French Kiss in an Italian café begins with a tasteful guitar intro, Nad’s vocals then set the scene and we are led to a meeting with a stranger. Wonderful guitar work from Steve and Nad accompany the vocals along with Tony Levin’s  ever expressive bass and there is a beautiful saxophone solo from Sheona to close the track.

The Bride Said No is the albums finale and at first glance is a nigh on 20 minute magnum opus. It lasts however 12 and a half minutes and magnificently concludes the album. Tania Doko this time shares the vocals with Nad who also contributes with a wonderful “Emersonesqe” solo added to more splendid guitar work and an incredible solo from Steve.

Drums and percussion are shared throughout by the excellent one-time Jethro Tull drummer Doane Perry and Big Big Train’s Nick DiVirgilio. Bass is provided by Jonas Reingold (of Swedish progsters Kaipa) and Tony Levin. The vinyl edition is three sided with the fourth being occupied by an etch in the manner of his stablemates Kansas’ last album. Doubtless, in the 1970’s, the likes of Todd Rundgren would have squeezed this on to two sides of plastic but I for one am ecstatic that we have three sides of pure listening pleasure which I am counting down the days to receive.

Released 26th May 2017

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