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/

Review – Gleb Kolyadin – s/t – by Progradar

I suppose, like me, the music you listen to depends on the mood you are in? Uptempo, fast-paced music for workouts or when you are in a really energetic mood or perhaps the chilled out, more relaxing music for a quiet night in and then there is that album that sits a bit on the fence, it has the higher cadence but also the easygoing, even emotive tracks that make it a great listen.

I was lucky enough to receive the promo for Gleb Kolyadin’s (pianist and co-songwriter of Iamthemorning) self-titled solo release and was intrigued to find out whether it would be more of his day job or a change from the norm that would head in other directions. Along that journey I have had the pleasure to become engrossed in what is a wonderful musical adventure…

The record features a staggering who’s-who of performers, including: Gavin Harrison (King Crimson Porcupine Tree) on drums; Nick Beggs (Steven Wilson) on bass; Theo Travis (Robert Fripp / Porcupine Tree / Steven Wilson) on flute and saxophone; the unmistakable voice and lyrics of Steve Hogarth (Marillion) alongside Mick Moss (Antimatter); and Jordan Rudess (Dream Theater) on additional keys.

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.

There’s a wonderful freshness and freedom to the music that Gleb delivers, whether it is the instrumental tracks where his piano playing is key or the vocal tracks where intimate stories are weaved by the collaborative voices of Mick Moss and Steve Hogarth. The near-frantic tempo of opener Insight is a case in point with Gleb’s dextrous digits flying over the ivories to give a breathtaking demonstration of his skill. The accompanying musicians add a veneer of sheer class, Theo’s sax really stands out and you could imagine yourself standing to applaud as it comes to a close. There’s a humble feel to the opening of Astral Architecture, the gentle piano is hushed in comparison giving an ethereal grace to the song. Mick Moss adds a subtle authority as his vocals begin, full of feeling yet with an undercurrent of melancholy, they draw you into there intimate embrace and you willingly follow. A fantastical aura settles over the song as the vocals take on a more passionate note and the classical strings add gravitas, a powerfully emotive track. The elegant notes of White Dawn wouldn’t be out of place in a piano recital, oozing class and panache, it’s a short interlude that could be termed a musical amuse-bouche and it leaves a lovely feeling on the aural palate.

The theme continues but at a much faster tempo as we segue into Kaleidoscope, a track that lives up to its name as you are taken through a huge spectrum of musical wonder by Gleb’s incredible skill and artistry. Tatiana Dubovaya’s haunting vocals give an air of mystery and intrigue but it is a piece of music that fairly skips along without a care in the world and you gladly join the ride as Theo Travis’ flute takes up the reins to take us to a breathtaking close. The momentum slows a little for the captivating charm of Eidolon to beguile and enchant before the slightly discordant notes of Into the Void carry on the recurring musical theme, quite insistent and incessant in their delivery. Again, this is classical music given over to a mass audience with the added skill and expertise of modern day, real world musicians added into the mix to create something quite unique. The unrelenting timbre is carried over to The Room but you always feel the performers are totally in control of proceedings. A note of seriousness has entered the music in places, the happy-go-lucky quality taking a step into the shadows without leaving altogether, Theo’s sax playing adding a gritty feeling of ‘out there’ jazz playing to the furious piano that closes out the track.

There’s a wistful, darker aura that descends around Confluence, a dreamlike and wistful opening seems to be meandering to nowhere in particular with is deliberately slow tempo and Steve Hogarth’s hushed spoken word vocal barely heard in the background. It’s a wistful, contemplative tapestry on which a beautifully mournful soundscape is created. The music has a thoughtful and reflective ambience as it dances gently across your aural synapses and belies its ten minute plus length. This song is a testament to Gleb’s creativity as it twists and turns to gather pace before applying the brakes, always demanding your attention, an introspective piece of music that leaves a lasting impression on your mind. Constellation The Bell is a moving song that has a barely hidden fragility behind the impressive piano playing, an eloquent and expressive three minutes that leaves a hollow feeling behind. There’s a grandiose and ebullient impression to the short lived Echo Sigh Strand, a track where Gleb’s piano playing seems to emanate from his very being to come alive and it crackles with electricity, powerful and exciting.

Penrose Stairs carries on the pomp and circumstance with added theatrics, a vibrant and imposing track aided and abetted by Gleb’s stellar accompanying cast of musicians. However, it is the intricacies of his skillful piano playing that is always at the core of these songs. The involving complexities of the elaborate Storyteller take on a slightly menacing tone as Jordan Rudess’ instantly recognisable keyboard skills take over, it’s quite a thrilling joyride from beginning to end. All good things must come to an end and the dulcet tones of Steve Hogarth herald the closing track on the album The Best of Days. A fantastically nostalgic song where Gleb and Steve work together perfectly to deliver a sentimental track that tugs at the heartstrings. It’s hard for me to put my finger on it but there’s just something about this song that really works and, to my ears, it is near musical perfection.

I met Gleb at this year’s Summer’s End festival and he is a quiet, polite and very unassuming man, perhaps it is through his creative side and his music that he can really express himself. This self-titled solo debut is pretty much a work of art where the undoubted piano playing skills of this virtuoso musician are complemented by some of the most prominent musicians around to give us something quite wonderful and ultimately rewarding and something which I cannot recommend highly enough.

Released 23rd February 2018

Order ‘Gleb Kolyadin’ from Burning Shed here

 

iamthemorning Pianist Gleb Kolyadin Announces Self-titled Debut Album

Following the success of two highly-praised albums with Iamthemorning, Russian virtuoso pianist Gleb Kolyadin affirms his musical authority with his debut, self-titled album on Kscope, on 23rd February 2018.

The record features a staggering who’s-who of performers, including: Gavin Harrison (King Crimson Porcupine Tree) on drums; Nick Beggs (Steven Wilson) on bass; Theo Travis (Robert Fripp / Porcupine Tree / Steven Wilson) on flute and saxophone; the unmistakable voice and lyrics of Steve Hogarth (Marillion) alongside Mick Moss (Antimatter); and Jordan Rudess (Dream Theater) on additional keys.

‘The Best of Days’ features the instantly recognisable vocals from Marillion’s Steve Hogarth, on the collaboration Steve comments “Gleb is a beautiful pianist and a great musician. I was invited to collaborate on his new solo album and my mind was made up as soon as I heard the music.”

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.

Gleb is an extremely rare talent as a pianist and as a composer. His compositions are very inspiring as he breaks new ground on the instrument.” Gavin Harrison (King Crimson / Porcupine Tree)

he 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 will be released on CD / LP and digitally and is now available to pre-order HERE

“Gleb Kolyadin is a rare talent. A virtuoso classical pianist with tremendous compositional skills… believe you will find the listening experience quite breath taking.” Nick Beggs (Steven Wilson)

Photography credit: Alexander Kuznetcov

 

 

Review – Fish on Friday – Quiet Life – by James R Turner

This is the fourth release from Belgian born prog band Fish on Friday, and see’s them stretching their musical wings even further, having coalesced around the founding members William Beckers & Frank Van Boagaert, the line up now includes one of prog’s hardest working bassists Nick Beggs, Californian guitarist Marty Townsend and Marcus Weymaere.

Following on from 2014s Godspeed (also released on Esoteric Antenna) it takes the musical sound of accessible prog (very much in the vein of the Alan Parsons Project, Big Big Train etc) further down their journey.

With the band being introduced to Alan Parsons, one track, the wonderfully haunting In the Key of Silence, was recorded by Alan at Abbey Road, and he even adds his vocals to the track, whilst another of prog’s hard working men, Lonely Robot’s John Mitchell, adds some of his wonderfully fluid guitar work to the track.

The key to the band’s success is their songwriting, as, whilst it’s obvious plenty of hard work goes into crafting such a well realised album of this, from the outside it is like the swan gliding across the lake, we can see the beauty and the majesty and can’t see all the kicking under water as it glides effortlessly into our ears.

This album is also a grower, it’s one of those records where after two or three listens the hooks work their way into your mind, and you find yourself humming tunes, or singing the lyrics, and each listen you get more and more out of it, like a well written novel or intricately crafted piece of art, it reveals more of it’s secrets the more you listen to it.

It also makes a massive contrast from Nick Beggs’ other album release this year, the far darker and angrier Mute Gods ‘Tardigrades Will Inherit the Earth’, and his work on here is the ying to that’s yang. Restrained, fluid, and intuitive, this is Beggs at calm, and just because it’s a calmer album it doesn’t mean there’s no power behind it.

With tracks as emotive as the powerful MH17 all about the downed Malaysian Airlines flight that was shot down over the Ukraine, the lyrics mix the anger and grief, and with some truly beautiful work by both Theo Travis adding his unique sound to the song, and female vocals by Chantal Kashala and Nina Babet, this is remarkable track by anyone’s standards.

Unreal, has shades of Floyd in there with some truly wonderful lyrics and a blinding guitar finale, whilst Nick Beggs daughter Lula adds her superb voice to tracks Sweet Love and Quiet Life.

The female harmonies throughout this album are sublime and add so much to the tracks that they appear on, working so well with Frank Van Boagaert’s understated, yet powerful vocal range, and I’ve known a track that is so calm and chilled, bristling with so much anger in the vocals as You’ve Hurt Me, with it’s mighty chorus and emotive lyrics.

This album runs the whole gamut of human emotion and this is in part due to the finely observed vocals and the superbly sympathetic vocals, in fact it is an immersive album, one you need to listen to and lose yourself in for the whole hour.

Fish on Friday are steadily building themselves a strong following, and you can see why on records as uniformly strong as this, and the calibre of their guests shows the quality of the band.

This is a fine successor to a great album, and should push Fish on Friday up there to where they belong.

Released 26th May 2017

Buy ‘Quiet Life’ from Cheery Red here:

Quiet Life

 

Review – The Mute Gods – Tardigrades Will Inherit The Earth – by James R. Turner

The Mute Gods: ‘Tardigrades will inherit the Earth’

I had to do some googling to find out what a Tardigrade was, upon first reveal of the albums title I thought Tardigrades were what I achieved in my A levels all those dim and distant years ago, and it was ‘great my time has come’.

Upon reverting to the nearly always accurate Wikipedia it turns out a Tardigrade is not a D in media Studies but an odd looking water dwelling eight legged micro animal, sometimes known as water bears or moss piglets, it appears that these animals can survive in extreme conditions that would kill everything else, hence the title, which suggests that long after we’ve gone and done our damage to the worlds ecosystem, these little guys (no more than 0.5mm in length) will still be here.

Dark stuff indeed from the Mute Gods on their second album.

Following on from 2014’s ‘Do Nothing til you hear From Me’, Nick Beggs, Roger King and Marco Minneman have gone into even darker territory than on their debut.

Here Beggs and co are full of anger and despair at the current global situation, and this is reflected in some heavy musical passages, angry and impassioned vocals from Beggs and a musical sound that veers from outright darkness to shades of lighter music, where the mix of almost progressive metal turns on it’s head to a more melodic sound.

Having worked together as part of the Steve Hackett band, Beggs and King found a musical rapport that comes to fruition in the Mute Gods, and adding Minneman, who Beggs worked with in the Steven Wilson band, you find a musical collective who are so in tune with each other that it drives the music on.

Instead of utilising guest musicians, this record is firmly focused on the diverse and multi faceted approach that the three members bring to the table, a contemporary progressive power trio if you will. However there is none of the pomp and circumstance that you’d get from an ELP, or the look at me battle for supremacy that destroyed Cream.

Instead this is all about the music, and more importantly all about the songs on here. Tackling both his trademark Chapman stick and guitars on this album, as well as the vocals, Beggs is firmly at the forefront on this record, stepping away from the sideman role he does so well into the role of frontman, which he carries off with style and real musical presence throughout this record, the sublime sound of his guitar and bass on tracks like The Dumbing of the Stupid is one of the defining sounds of this record.

Roger Kings keyboard, guitar work and production make this a sonically adventurous release, with some real beautiful musical peaks, this is not a record for the faint hearted by any stretch, if however you want your horizons broadening and your music and lyrics full of inconvenient truths, then this is for you.

Drumming powerhouse Marco Minneman is the driving force on this record, his mighty drum sound thundering through like the hammer of Thor, as tracks like the first single We Can’t Carry On demonstrate.

The heaviness is reined in on tracks like the Early Warning, which has a melodic feel to it, not dissimilar to Lifesigns debut (which Beggs was an integral part of).

The title track has an 80’s vibe to it, with a fantastic guitar line some classic synth sounds and great vocals by Beggs, this is probably the closest to a single on the album, and one which mixes Beggs pop and prog sensibilities to create a superb song. Highlight for me on the album has to be the wonderful The Singing Fish Batticaloa with its superb vocals, and the way it grows into a moving anthemic modern prog song, is sheer ecstasy for the ears.

This album pulls no punch when it comes to painting a picture of the state of the world currently, and there are some people out there (mainly on Facebook & twitter) who think that artists shouldn’t comment on what’s happening in the world, I say why not? Some of the greatest art and music has come from a time of trouble and darkness in the world, and there’s no point our musical heroes going all ostrich on us and ignoring the current global climate of hatred and fear.

This makes this album an uneasy listen, but when it’s wrapped up in such intense and well crafted music and a superb production that allows the songs to shine, this is something you have to hear, whether you like the message or not.

Released February 24th 2017

Buy ‘Tardigrades Will Inherit The Earth’ from Burning Shed’s Inside Out Store

Steve Hackett Announces 2017 Tour including tracks from Wind and Wuthering, new album & Genesis revisited

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Former Genesis guitarist and prog legend Steve Hackett is returning with an exciting new show for a 15 date UK tour next spring after his outstanding performance at this year’s inaugural Stone Free Festival.

Celebrating the 40th anniversary of the classic Genesis album Wind and Wuthering, Steve and his band will be performing several tracks from the album as well as fan favourites such as ‘The Musical Box’ and other Genesis numbers never performed before by Steve’s band such as ‘Inside & Out’ and ‘Anyway’.

“I’m excited to bring my latest show involving a new set of Genesis and Hackett numbers to the UK in 2017!” – Steve Hackett

 With an established solo career spanning over 40 years, Steve will also be performing some of his popular hits such as ‘The Steppes’, ‘Serpentine’, ‘Every Day’ and the first ever live performance of ‘Rise Again’ from his 1999 album Darktown. Steve will also be introducing fans to new music from his forthcoming album, which is due out early spring 2017.

Joining Steve on the tour are musicians Roger King (keyboards), Gary O’Toole (drums/percussion), Rob Townsend (saxes/flutes), Nick Beggs (bass, stick & twelve string) and Nad Sylvan on vocals.

Since the 1970’s Steve has had a remarkable musical career, releasing more than 30 solo albums, seven Genesis albums and working alongside Steve Howe of YES with supergroup GTR. Renowned for being one of the most innovative rock musicians of our time, in 2010 he was inducted into the Rock Hall Of Fame.

Continuing to impress with his outstanding live shows ‘Genesis Revisited with Classic Hackett’ is a tour not to missed in 2017.

Tickets for UK shows go on sale on Friday 7th October at 10am from myticket.co.uk and venue box offices.    Dublin tickets go onsale on the same day at 9am.

2017 TOUR DATES

 April

 Wed 26th        Dublin, Vicar Street

Fri 28th            Cardiff, St. David’s Hall

Sun 30th         Reading, Hexagon

May

 Mon 1st           Birmingham, Symphony Hall

Wed 3rd          Sheffield, City Hall

Thurs 4th        Bristol, Colston Hall

Fri 5th              Manchester, Bridgewater Hall

Sun 7th           Liverpool, Philharmonic

Mon 8th           Portsmouth, Guildhall

Wed 10th        Southend, Cliffs Pavilion

Thurs 11th      Nottingham, Royal Concert Hall

Sat 13th          Oxford, New Theatre

Sun 14th         Cambridge, Corn Exchange

Tues16th        Glasgow, Royal Concert Hall

Wed17th         Sage, Gateshead

Fri 19th            London, Palladium

www.hackettsongs.com

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BE PROG, MY FRIEND! 2016 part 2 (t-shirt wars) – by Kevin Thompson

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Day two arose to bright sunshine and we ate an ample breakfast in the hotel before a morning in the wonderful Museum of Art, with so many treasures to see. But enough of that, I am not here to talk about the wonderful historic sites in Barcelona, the colonnades  lining the street to the museum, waterfalls and twin towers replicating the style of San Marco Campanile in Venice. Nor am I about to tell you of the excellent Spanish guitarist delighting a crowd in front of the museum, on his ‘silent guitar’. No, we shall leap forward to our much needed early afternoon siesta from which we woke abruptly, making haste to reach  the Pobel Espanyol and the beckoning sounds of day 2, at Be Prog My Friend.

Unfortunately the second day started an hour earlier and we joined the queue of latecomers as we fed into the square just in time to catch the last three songs from the ravishing Anneke Van Giersbergen and The Gentle Storm. This lady’s voice as those who have heard her will know, is a tour de force and her powerful vocals tore through the tracks with gusto engaging with the slowly swelling crowd in some grand Prog Metal. Her energy was infectious and warmed the audience up nicely as did the mid afternoon sun and we watched from floor level partaking of much needed liquid refreshment.

Anneke

Buoyant from the night before and with a rousing first act to start the day we were feeling rather pleasant and whilst we waited for the next band we wandered round and checked out the t-shirts. No contest as I have to say the lovely Sarah Ewing’s artwork conquered all comers. I thought I had done well in the t-shirt battle yesterday but Big Big Train’s ‘Grimspound’ drew so many admiring glances it felt like being on a catwalk.

Grimspound

We briefly met the gang from yesterday for a chat, but they wanted to go down the front and we decided we would hang back and find a seat somewhere with a decent view, if we were lucky.

And so to the second band, whilst I had only heard a couple of tracks from Between the Buried and Me which sounded promising. They appeared to be attracting favourable attention from the media recently and I was looking forward to being impressed as they had travelled over from the US of A. I’m still waiting I’m afraid. The sound wasn’t brilliant, louder than clearer and Konnie and I agreed it was like listening to an extended promo reel, with clips from songs cobbled together.

Konnie said she was unable to decipher when one track ended and another began as it sounded so disjointed. Despite an enthusiastic following nearer the stage and you may read differently elsewhere, we didn’t seem to be the only ones and for me the guttural vocals only added to my disappointment, sorry guys I’m sure there are many disagree with us including those at the front, but here’s a photo.

Between

I was a child of the 70’s it was the blossoming of my teenage musical years and the awakening of my eyes and ears to Prog. Now I’m sure many will agree, some records are timeless and transgress all era’s without ageing badly and some you raved about then, you find hard to reconcile why in the present day. I would not have bought the next band’s albums then and wouldn’t now as I will happily tell you, ‘it’s not my sort of thing’. So on an increasingly hot and sunny, Spanish afternoon surrounded by a sizeable crowd of MAGMA t-shirts, what happened?

Like a rabbit in headlights or with myxomatosis, I stood rooted to the spot as MAGMA took the stage. They seemed quite the perfectionists and had taken some time to set up which may have explained why they couldn’t play as long as they wished, but as they strode on to the stage and the music and chanting of the first song began I was transported to Summerisle. I was transfixed as if drugged and the tune grew like some creeping, Dario Argento film soundtrack as it swelled most disturbingly. I forced myself to look away from the stage and those around me seemed entranced and swayed to the the throbbing rhythms. I’m glad there was still daylight to bring me comfort.

Magma

As the music continued the young man in his twenties standing in front of us took up the song. A cherub faced middle aged man, with rosy cheeks and glasses, clad in walking gear with a backpack, wandered through the ranks of the audience singing the lyrics in a deep resonating tone, an angelic smile spread across his face, arms wide in subjugation. Had I stepped into a pagan festival? Konnie stood on my left enraptured and I glanced to my right and the terrace above. A boy of no more than twelve stood in front of his father, chanting in the knowledge of every word, his small hands air drumming without missing a beat.

And then they finished , disgruntled they could not extend their set, with a shorter tune (over 10 minutes) and the veil lifted from everyone’s eyes. Konnie talked enthusiastically and I tried to figure out what had just happened. Would I buy the music, no. Would I travel and pay to watch them, I don’t think so. Would I be able to resist the lure of their unique performance if they were on a festival bill again, probably not and they have a new disciple in Konnie. Strangely watchable, if you have never seen them and happen upon them, watch, you may be enchanted but rest in the knowing you don’t have to weave flowers in your hair and there are no human sacrifices required during the performance.

Opeth 1

It’s worth mentioning at this stage that the transitions between bands was not as smooth as the previous day. Whether the crew were different or more likely the bands on the second day were more demanding, either way the wheels were not as well oiled. This gave us more time for food and liquid sustenance and to soak up the atmosphere. A couple of large tattooed Scandinavian  bikers asked we take their photos and they kindly reciprocated snapping the ‘Grimspound’ shots of Konnie and I. They also gave some of their stone step space so we could sit for a while which was most welcome until we found seating a little further back with a better view.

Opeth 2

It was time for the main acts of the day, first came Opeth. I am a late convert and up until now only have ‘Pale Communion’ and still feel some of their older material may not be to my liking. But I have since ordered a couple of older CD’s to try and Lamentations DVD on the strength of their performance and what a show. The sun descended as the atmosphere grew, Michael Akerfeldt and the band striding the stage as giants of the prog metal genre, rousing the crowd who need little encouragement. With acknowledgement to the long faithful that the newer material has not always received favour, they pulled old favourites from their earlier albums to rapturous applause and drove them like giant machines crushing any doubters under the sound, loud and clear with the lighting matching the moods. It is well known Michael and Steven Wilson have become firm friends and you can catch elements of influence in the work, enhancing the massive production here.

Opeth 3

Revelation of the day was Konnie’s response, she has never taken interest in Opeth before and had neglected to listen on the occasions I have played ‘Pale Communion’, fearing they weren’t to her liking. By the end of the first song she was hooked, loving every minute, extolling the virtues of their live performance and on completion she was grinning like a kid at Christmas. Had they been the only head-liner, the day would have finished on a tremendous high. As it was, we were to be spoiled further…..

Opeth 4

We knew what to expect from Steven Wilson as we have seen him on his last three tours, but this did not lessen our excitement, merely settled us in the privy we bestowed upon our Spanish friends, eager to watch a man who verges on deity status in the genre and learn all they can about him. Mr Wilson has developed and perfected his style with such precision he holds all in his sway and has carefully honed his stage craft since we first saw him. Again I feel his friendship with Michael has influenced and benefited him especially in performing as he seems more at ease talking to and joking (yes, joking), with the crowd. His live sets are always louder these days, the tracks played are heavier and rockier than the album versions. We always pack our ear defenders, but that could be our age, yet he balances the delicate, ‘Lazarus/Routine’ finely, gently sprinkled like fairy dust on the sounds emanating from his current band.

Steven 1

All masters in their own fields, with none finer on the drums than Craig Blundell, as readily recognised by the work he has done as an international clinician for Paiste, Premier, and RolandAdam Holzman is a rare keyboardist, having moved from the jazz fusion field to his current position in the band, he consistently earns critical acclaim as one of the most daring and best contemporary keyboardists alive.

No one could have predicted back in the Kajagoogoo days that Nick  Beggs would go on to be such a luminary in Bass guitar and Chapman Stick, his mighty presence up front ably bookending Steve with current guitarist Dave Kilminster. Having spent the last few years as principal guitar player in the Roger Waters band, Dave brings his own, skillful style to the well renowned tracks and my only regret is that they didn’t play Drive Home, as I would like to have heard his take on the beautiful guitar solo.

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It’s a commanding show and a fitting end to a wonderful couple of days though the fuzzier lighting employed for the majority of the set prevented my getting many photos.

But not quite an end: it was by now 02:00, weariness took hold and with an early start the next morning we elected to leave with the majority and head for our hotel. Which leaves me to apologise to metalcore band Textures, who bravely came on after we left and played to a greatly reduced crowd, so I cannot comment on their performance.

It only remains to say ‘Gracias’ to the organisers of BPMF, everyone who helped make it possible the bands themselves and the Spanish people we met along the way. Watch for next year’s line up, take the leap, make the trip and revel in what Barcelona and Be Prog My Friend have to offer, you won’t be disappointed.

Adios, hasta pronto………

Review – The Mute Gods – Do Nothing Till You Hear From Me – By Shawn Dudley

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One of the many benefits of living within “the era of Steven Wilson” is in addition to his seemingly bottomless pit of musical projects and his excellent remixing work he also has quite a knack for surrounding himself with top-drawer musicians.

The multi-talented Nick Beggs immediately made his presence felt in Steven’s solo band, not just with his bass and stick playing, but his excellent backing vocals. He provides the harmonic anchor in very much the same way that John Wesley did in Porcupine Tree. When I first heard about The Mute Gods project I was intrigued to hear him take on the main vocal duties himself and the results were even better than I anticipated.

To complete the lineup for The Mute Gods he brought along Marco Minneman, his rhythm section partner from Wilson’s band and also keyboardist/producer Roger King (Steve Hackett) as well as additional contributions from session drummers Nick D’Virgilio and Gary O’Toole.

“Do Nothing Till You Hear From Me” isn’t an actual concept album, but it does have a loose thematic element to it.  The topics include “hacktivists”, government surveillance, religious extremism, Internet trolls, general apathy and many other wonderful elements of life in the 21st century.  But to his credit Beggs mostly wraps these heavy topics in wonderfully accessible, melodic pop/prog confections, allowing the messages to come across without beating you into submission with negativity.

On my first listen to this album I was really surprised by how infectious it was, a very accessible pop/rock sound delivered with the type of sophistication expected from the artists involved. It made me realize that it’s a shame “mainstream rock radio” doesn’t really exist any longer, because I think many of these tracks would sound great while cruising down the highway with the radio blaring.

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The title track Do Nothing Till You Hear From Me sets the stage nicely.  After an extended keyboard intro (that had me temporarily flashing back to the early 80s) the main driving rhythm kicks in, propelled forward by a muscular bass pulse. In an alternate reality I could see an arena full of people jumping up and down to this groove and singing along with the anthemic chorus. This track stuck in my head like glue from the very first listen. Is is prog? Well, I suppose that’s debatable, but I don’t hear very many “mainstream” rock acts that have the subtlety and musical chops displayed here.

Praying To A Mute God keeps the vibe upbeat with an even more pop-oriented approach but veers off for a little display of instrumental dexterity in the proggy mid-section. This approach is repeated elsewhere on the album, short moments of progressive stretching out used to punctuate otherwise fairly straightforward compositions. The song always remains the focus.

My favorite tracks on the album are a couple of progressive rock gems on the second half; the lovely and ethereal Strange Relationship and the exotic-tinged atmosphere of Swimming Horses. Two of the longer cuts they give the band a chance to stretch out both compositionally and instrumentally. Roger King’s tasteful keyboard choices are worth note on these songs; he uses a nice balance of vintage and modern sounds, always providing just the right tone the composition requires.

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For contrast there are a few darker compositions on the album; Feed The Troll, Your Dark Ideas, the instrumental In The Crosshairs and Mavro Capelo. These tracks are a little heavier and a little more menacing, but are scattered throughout the tracklist so the mood never completely dominates. Of these the most successful is the deliciously dark and devious Feed The Troll, it’s menacing but playful at the same time, kind of like a cat toying with a mouse for a while before finishing it off. The only track that doesn’t quite work on the album is Your Dark Ideas; it comes off more silly than intense, but is partially redeemed by the instrumental mid-section and a particularly gonzo guitar solo.

Speaking of playful, there’s a track on here called Nightschool for Idiots (I’m pretty sure I was valedictorian). This song is the very definition of a grower.  When I first heard the album I’ll admit it irritated me to no end, I just found it too sweet, too syrupy, too cute…but with each subsequent listen I liked it more and more and now it’s one of my favorites. This song and Father Daughter stand apart from the rest of the album and feel more self-contained. Father Daughter is exactly what it says it is, a duet between Beggs and his daughter Lula Beggs, the lyrics forming a dialogue. It’s a touching and unique track.

All in all The Mute Gods isn’t quite what I was expecting, but it was a very pleasant surprise nonetheless. I’m hoping we get a follow-up.

Released 22nd January 2016

Buy Do Nothing Till You Hear From me from Inside Out Music