Prog ‘Supergroup’ Shits n’ Giggles release Christmas Charity EP ‘Wake Up’

It’s that time of the year where Christmas Songs come flying at you from left, right and centre. Prog Rock collective Shits n’ Giggles have announced the release of their charity Christmas E.P. ‘Wake Up’ which will be online for purchase this evening.

Here’s the press release:

“With Christmas fast approaching, a bunch of us have teamed up to concoct a festive song entitled ‘Wake Up’ which was released as part of an EP on December 1st. Wake Up features Colin Tench (Corvus Stone), Gareth Cole (Mike Kershaw, Tom Slatter), Ben Bell (Patchwork Cacophony, Gandalf’s Fist), Stefan Hepe (Gandalf’s Fist), Peter Falconer, Pat Sanders and Manu Michael (Drifting Sun). The song was mixed and mastered by Jon Huxtable at Smallfish Studios, Scotland. Also included in the EP are 7 songs previously recorded by the musicians who contributed to the making of ‘Wake Up’.

All the profits from the sales will go to TIERHILFE SAUERLAND E. V. Barbara Hellekes, CEO of the animal welfare organisation said “We’re over the moon about this! Winter is coming, and it’s really hard to get the poor souls through the winter, especially in Hungary and Greece, where we support and help privately organised shelters in keeping the streets free of stray dogs, trying to find them a forever home”

We, Shits ‘n Giggles, take this opportunity to thank everyone who has taken up their valuable time to bring their contribution to this EP to help make this release possible, and we hope that the charity organization we have chosen will benefit greatly from the generosity of the people who donate to their cause, cheers everyone and Merry Christmas to all!”

The EP is available to purchase from:

Purchase the ‘Wake Up’ Charity EP here



Review – Drifting Sun – Twilight – by Progradar

There is so much new music out there that sometimes I just don’t know where to start. Requests for reviews come in multiples and it is really difficult to keep up with them all. Thankfully the team here at Progradar manage to just about keep up with the plethora of new releases.

The issue with this is that some great releases may get missed or forgotten and that would be a crime. Persistence is the key here and my friend Pat Sanders, the keyboardist and main man behind melodic-progressive rock outfit Drifting Sun is the embodiment of the word!

He is tireless in his promotion of the band and dedicated to his work. I would have reviewed their latest release ‘Twilight’ anyway but Pat has made sure it is front and centre and I am glad he did!

Drifting Sun date back to the early 90’s when Pat moved to the UK from his native France and released their first eponymous album in 1996. There have been many line-up changes through the band’s history and ‘Twilight’ sees departing guitarist Dan Storey replaced with the virtuoso Mathieu Spaeter, previously of the Franck Carducci band. The rest of the band consists of Peter Falconer (vocals), Manu Michael (bass) and Will Jones (drums).

I think Drifting Sun evolve and progress with each record they release. Their roots are in melodic progressive rock and the opening, and title, track Twilight enforces that view perfectly. The sumptuous melodies and vocal harmonies are brilliant and the added dynamic of Mathieu’s fluent guitar playing just adds another layer of class to the music. The solo just makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up and yet it’s not just about the guitar, the whole band are gifted performers and the music is a joy to behold. Pat’s eloquent keys almost talk to you and the rhythm section is superb. Wings Of Hope is a very emotive song from the first notes of the keyboards and Peter’s voice has a touching timbre to it. It builds in layers of sonic complexity, all the while demanding your attention. The elegant guitar adds a classical touch to this symphonic feeling track. Once the blue touch paper is lit, the tempo rises and this stylish song opens up before you. The band’s music has the ability to move you and stir emotions inside and this track is a typical example with its complex sentiments and lush melodies. The segue into Mystery of Lies gives you a wonderfully restrained and stylish piece of guitar work from Mathieu, one that stirs the soul to leave a lasting impression. The hesitant feel continues with low-key voice over before Peter’s vocal breaks out in a demanding fashion, harmonies abound left, right and centre and Pat’s keyboards keep everything on track. It’s a clever contrast in styles that runs throughout the song. The interplay between guitar and vocals is tender and dignified and the whole song has a warmth and fragile innocence to it.

One of the first songs released from the album, Soldiers reinforces the inherent drama that all Drifting Sun songs contain. Well crafted in both lyrics and music, the emotions run raw through this mini-epic. Peter Falconer puts so much into his vocal delivery that you could imagine him treading the boards performing in a musical in the West End and it gives songs like this an edge that other bands don’t have. Mathieu Spaeter overlays this with his expressive guitar work, accompanied by the dancing keyboard fingers of Pat Sanders and it’s all held together by the uber-cool bass and drums of Manu Michael and Will Jones. This all comes together to give maturity to the songs that wasn’t always present before. Summer Skies is a full-blown ten minute-plus epic that enthralls from beginning to end. Mathieu’s slow burning opening keeps you on tenterhooks for what is going to follow. Soft, yet passionate vocals ramp up the tension even more, there’s anticipation evident in every word and every note that is played. The melody around the repeated chorus is very addictive and I find myself humming along, always the sign of a good tune! This is a thoughtful and articulate piece of music where every note has a place and every word is there for a reason, songwriting with the listener in mind. Pat’s graceful piano interlude in the middle of the song is a clever break and the track then builds up to a great outpouring of vocal and musical emotion, backed by the ever expressive guitar. The extended close out just leaves you feeling mellow and relaxed and satiated by a marvelous piece of music. A classical introduction to Remedy is enforced by the jazzy piano and guitar that gives a laid back mood to the song. The vocals are underscored by an ambient synth to give a cultured and sophisticated feel, reinforced by Peter’s most wistful vocal performance to date. A mellow vibe settles down over everything and you find yourself entranced by the calm nature that pervades each note as it plays out to a sophisticated close.

The dramatic opening to Outside has a real sense of melodrama to it and a theatrical overtone which is embellished by the smooth tones of Peter’s vocal. The musicians deliver another intense performance and Mathieu is let loose to showcase his evident prowess. This is a fantastic marriage of melodic, symphonic and progressive rock to give the music a life all of its own and it is really impressive, just listen to the fiery solo and you’ll see what I mean. The cultured keyboard skills of Pat are always there to give structure and roots to these virtuoso musicians as they deliver stunning note after note. The last track on this thoroughly entertaining musical journey is Remain, eight minutes of melodic inventiveness where the listener is taken on a harmonic roller coaster ride. A fast paced track with an urgent rhythm, the music is again the focus for the listener as you find yourself drawn in to the world of Drifting Sun. Another great extended guitar solo segues into some intricate keyboard playing to add another highlight before the song and album close out and I’m left with a knowing smile on my face.

Drifting Sun have perhaps added the final piece to the puzzle with Mathieu Spaeter and ‘Twilight’ is without a doubt the band’s most consummate and polished release to date. They deliver melodic progressive rock of the highest calibre and continue to mature and evolve into a very impressive musical outfit, I can’t recommend this highly enough.

Released 1st September 2017

Buy ‘Twilight’ from bandcamp





Drifting Sun Announce New Concept Album ‘Twilight’ Release Date and New Single ‘Eternal Cycle’

UK Progressive Rock act Drifting Sun have announced that they are in the final stages of completing their forthcoming new concept album ‘Twilight’ and it is now available as a pre-order ahead of a 1st September release at the band’s official website here:


To celebrate the release of the album Drifting Sun are offering a ‘name your price’ download of the track Soldiers from their bandcamp site here:

‘Name Your Price’ download of Soldiers

As a ‘thank you’ for pre-ordering ‘Twilight’, the band are giving away the new single Eternal Cycle with each pre-order. Once you have ordered from the website, you will receive a free download code direct to your email address.

Drifting Sun are a UK-based Progressive Rock studio project which dates back to the early 90’s when Keyboardist/Composer Pat Sanders left his native France for England with Bass Player Manu Sibona. Their music has been described as dramatic, theatrical, & atmospheric, in the true style of prog rock giants such as Dream Theater, Queensryche, Genesis and Jethro Tull, to name but a few of the bands that influenced their sound.

Drifting Sun’s eponymous debut CD was released in December 1996 to positive reviews from across the globe. Following line-up changes, ‘On The Rebound’, the band’s second CD was released in the autumn of 1998. After taking a long break from the music business during which time he pursued other interests, Pat decided to revamp his project, and, armed with a brand new line up, released their third opus ‘Trip The Life Fantastic’ in January 2015.

Pat, Manu, Peter Falconer (vocals), Dan Storey (guitars) and Will Jones (drums) recorded the previous album ‘Safe Asylum’ that was released on the 21st May 2016. This was the last record to feature Dan on guitars and his replacement, Mathieu Spaeter (of The Franck Carducci band) was recruited in time to record the new album ‘Twilight’.


Review – Drifting Sun – On The Rebound (2016 Remaster) – by Progradar

“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it…”

A common enough saying, if there’s nothing wrong with a certain thing then why change it? Yet in the music industry there seems to be a propensity of remixed and remastered versions of older releases, why is this?

I suppose the technology today means that the songs can be tinkered with to produce what the artists originally wanted and there might not have been enough money in the coffers originally to release the desired versions of the tracks?

For whatever reason there is a plethora of ‘breathed on’ new versions of old releases around at the moment and last October Drifting Sun gave us a new version of their 1999 release ‘On The Rebound’ and the band’s main man, Pat Sanders, has asked your intrepid music journalist to review it.

Here’s the artwork for the original release:

I asked Pat why the band decided to remix and remaster the album and here it is, straight from the horse’s mouth (so to speak):

“The album was originally recorded and mixed/mastered at a time when we didn’t have much experience in this sort of thing, and lack of a proper budget basically forced us to take care of the mix and mastering ourselves, which wasn’t handled as best as it could have been, and that has always been in the back of my mind all these years.

Therefore, I recently decided to give the album a new lease of life and have it remixed and remastered by our sound engineer Jon Huxtable. He has done a great job bringing the songs back to life, really this was more than just a simple remix… we literally pulled the tracks from the raw files and started from scratch there.

While we were working on the mix, I thought that another thing that wasn’t showing the record in its best light either, was the cover, and so I did brand new artwork for it, as well as redesigning the entire booklet too. So there you have it, ‘On the Rebound’, Circa 2016, brand new mix, brand new master, brand new artwork!”

The band’s line-up on the original album was Pat (keyboards), Chris Martini (vocals), John Spearman (guitars), Manu Michael (bass) and Tobin Bryant (drums).

There is a rich sound to the newly remastered songs and it doesn’t sound like an album from the end of the last century, there’s a real modern sound to the music which is evident from the opening bars of The Charade, a really up-tempo neo-progressive track with a multitude of twists and turns throughout its thirteen minute duration. The keyboards and up front and centre and the drums have a real vibrancy to them and Chris Martini has a very expressive and expansive vocal style, almost theatrical in its delivery. A nicely harmonised chorus adds to the stylish feel and there’s a really intricate keyboard solo that puts a big smile on your face. John’s guitar finally loses its cloak of subtlety and becomes more forceful as we move further into this impressive track, I have to admit it has really surprised me, I wasn’t expecting a 17 year old release to sound this vibrant and dynamic. Swan Song opens with a powerful guitar run and Chris’ almost operatic vocal, a much more serious and sober track with an emotive vibrancy. It ebbs and flows superbly and the keyboards and guitar have a real tete a tete, playing off each other brilliantly before there’s a cracking guitar solo full of fire and brimstone that will have you pulling out your air guitar and joining in. A cracking track that shows just how neo-prog should be done.

A sophisticated vocal and delicate acoustic guitar open Drifting Sun with style and panache and draw you into its cultured embrace. The vocal opens up more and the music adds verve and tenacity and, along with Pat’s 80’s sounding keyboards, give you a rather elegant piece of music. Once again John’s skill on the guitar comes to the fore with a tasty solo, it doesn’t get much better than this. There are hints of Marillion but this talented band have their own identity right at the core, sit back and enjoy the music. Another cultured introduction opens Long Nights and there is definitely and 80’s feel to this song with the chiming keyboard notes and elegant bass lines. The vocals are heartfelt and earnest and the track seems to glide elegantly across your aural synapses with its hypnotic beat. There’s a feel of treading water, a calmness and serenity to everything as this mesmerising song continues. About half way in things take a darker turn and an aura of unease covers everything. The guitar fires up and goes on an intricate, quick fire journey, aided and abetted by the slightly discordant keyboards and driven along by the dynamic drums and bass, a proper progressive intervention into the composure and harmony of what went before. The song ventures into a more elaborate form with mysterious undertones, asking questions that you don’t have answers too, it’s very clever and really piqued my curiosity, I just love the freshness of the free-form and free will guitar section towards the end.

Heaven’s Eyes is a more straightforward song with a beautiful piano opening and Chris delivers another warm, sincere vocal performance. Almost a ballad but one with more depth than your usual fare, it is stirring and touches your soul with its earnest emotion. It stirred thoughts and sentiments inside that I thought were long gone and left me thoughtful and musing on the world we live in today. Minstrel is an intriguing track, it has many layers of subtlety and, as you peel them back, you are gifted with little nuggets of wonder. There’s a fantastic vocal from Chris that reminds me of some of the great frontmen that progressive rock has seen, almost a cross between Peter’s Gabriel and Hammill with a little bit of Fish thrown in for good measure. A proper ‘progressive’ track in every sense of the word and one with a penchant for a bit of showmanship at times. It’s a song for late night, lights down low, headphones on and a glass of deep red wine in your hand. As the song title would suggest, there is a touch of the troubadour about Chris’ performance on this song and he is the main focus, backed up very ably by these talented musicians to add a patina of theatrical artistry to every note.

The final track, Mon Masque, is a fitting ending to the album, full of pomp and circumstance, emotion and sentiment, it has real fervor to it. I’ve used the word ‘theatrical’ in this review and you do get that feel that you could be in a West End musical, it is more than just music, there is a heart and soul to every word and every note and the band are really putting on a performance for their audience. To hear these songs played live would be pretty special I’m sure. I keep losing myself in the myriad twists and turns that envelop this song, like a musical maze that you’re quite happy to be lost in.

I loved Drifting Sun’s last release ‘Safe Asylum’ and the praise I gave that album is well justified by this remastered version of ‘On The Rebound’. An entrancing, theatrical musical experience that draws you in and leaves you sated with its dexterity and brilliant tracks. Whether it was broken or not, this ‘fix’ has produced something rather special.

Released 1st October 2016

Buy ‘On the Rebound – remastered and remixed’ from bandcamp





Review – Drifting Sun – Safe Asylum – by Progradar


“Tradition is not the worship of ashes, but the preservation of fire.”
Gustav Mahler

“Tradition is a guide and not a jailer.”
W. Somerset Maugham

I like using quotes in my reviews, they can give some instant idea of what I am trying to get across in a pithy and memorable way.

Maybe you would say the phrase ‘Taditional Progressive Rock’ is an oxymoron (a figure of speech that juxtaposes elements that appear to be contradictory), how can something seem to progress if it’s traditional and, by definition, resistant to change?

Well, look at it from another angle and maybe the artists in question are not blindly following or copying what they admire but are being influenced by it to take their music to a different level. As W. Somerset Maugham said above, they are using it as a guide to produce something quite unique in its own way.

And to further Mr Mahler’s statement, they are preserving what is loved and respected by taking it further and, yes, progressing what has gone before.

Web site

Drifting Sun are a UK-based Progressive Rock studio project which dates back to the early 90’s when Keyboardist/Composer Pat Sanders left his native France for England with Bass Player Manu Sibona. Their music has been described as dramatic, theatrical, & atmospheric, in the true style of prog rock giants such as Dream Theater, Queensryche, Genesis and Jethro Tull, to name but a few of the bands that influenced their sound.

Drifting Sun’s eponymous debut CD was released in December 1996 to positive reviews from across the globe. Following line-up changes, ‘On The Rebound’, the band’s second CD was released in the autumn of 1998. After taking a long break from the music business during which time he pursued other interests, Pat decided to revamp his project, and, armed with a brand new line up, released their third opus ‘Trip The Life Fantastic’ in January 2015.

Now Drifting Sun return with their most ambitious project yet. The current line-up of Pat, Manu, Peter Falconer (vocals), Dan Storey (guitars) and Will Jones (drums) recorded the new album ‘Safe Asylum’ and it was released on the 21st May 2016.


Opener King Of Hearts starts with some dramatic keyboards giving a feeling of apprehension as the track builds before the vocals begin, Peter Falconer has a rather special voice, melodic and very pleasing on the ears. A rising keyboard wail introduces a staccato riff and drum beat that gives the song more impetus. The guitar almost becomes lyrical as it backs the more insistent vocal on the verse. Everything then begins to flow nicely in a song that has more than a hint of the medieval to it. Excellent guitar runs and precise backing form the rhythm section deliver a really progressive feel. This track ebbs and flows nicely between the low key and laid back sections, that are sung in a sort of minstrel style, and the harder edged, more metallic interludes of stylistic prog. Music telling a tale in a jaunty fashion, it holds your attention throughout and the delightful guitar runs and intricate soloing that punctuate the song towards the end are really rather good. An excellent opener to the album.

The Hidden Truth begins with an offbeat keyboard and drum combo that gives it a slightly jazzed up feel. Peter’s vocal then joins in, quite sublime in its delivery. He really does have a voice full of warmth and compassion and it is the true focal point of this track. The music acts as a wonderful canvas on which the vocals can be painted. The delicate guitar and precise harmonies give a feel of a laid back Moon Safari to the song and the graceful solo adds some serious panache. This song draws you into its wistful, gossamery embrace before a burning guitar solo breaks out to add some fierce passion to the fine-grained aura of the rest of the track.

Let’s turn up the tension a notch and move into firmer neo-prog territory with next track Intruder. This was the first song that Pat let me hear from the album and the one which hooked me in immediately. A repeated synth note opens proceedings before a calming bass line and drum beat underpin a swirling guitar and the vocals begin, adding a sense of momentum. Hold for a chugging riff and we are off on a heavier musical trip. The powerful crescendo of the chorus is quite addictive and, as Peter’s voice starts to hit the high notes, the transformation is complete. Heavy and precise riffs join stylish keyboard runs and everything is held together by the glue of the superb rhythm section. It comes in at over ten minutes long but never feels like it is outstaying its welcome. Properly progressive and yet quite dynamic and compelling, the repeated ‘I’m The Intruder’ line sticks in your mind long after the song has finished. Intricate keyboard wizardry is joined by some sophisticated guitar playing to lift this above the ordinary and into the arena of the distinctive and, as it comes to a close, replete with chugging riff and repeated chant,  I find myself silently nodding in rapt appreciation.


That medieval bard-like feel returns with the ethereal and winsome delights of Alice. A calm and collected acoustic guitar and tender piano begin the song before Peter’s bewitching vocal joins in. The addition of the pleasing flute and string arrangement adds even more gravitas to this charming song under which there runs a slightly melancholic tone. There is an aura of nostalgic sombreness running throughout, a longing for something lost and never to be found perhaps? I can feel a lump forming in my throat and I must have something in my eye! The superlative strings and flute add an almost otherworldly feel to this beauteous piece of music and, when it comes to a close, you feel ever so slightly lost for words.

Wonderland opens with a keyboard introduction, backed by acoustic guitar before the storytelling continues in a superior vein. All echoing harmonies and precise instrumentation, it is captivating and quite wonderful. It is progressive rock but with a theatrical edge, in fact, when the pace picks up and the guitar riff breaks out, I am reminded of early Queen, Peter does have a touch of the Freddy Mercurys in his vocal delivery at times and the guitar has a magical voice all of its own. With the titles Alice and Wonderland you don’t need to guess the subject matter of these two tracks (and album) which weave their own little conceptual ideas around your brain. The dynamic section in the middle of the song just knocks you back with its energy and dynamism and the guitar work that follows is pure genius, Dan is seriously channeling his inner Bryan May here with a solo of technical wizardry and yet one that is full of emotion. These are some seriously clever and extremely competent musicians that are on a real high with this album and it shows on this ever impressive track.

That theatric and showy feel returns with the melodramatic Gods. This is not just a collection of songs, it is also a collection of stories and tales and one that you could just about imagine watching in the West End of London as some sort of Rock-Opera. Again that showy feel, reminiscent of Queen, is present in large quanitities, Peter’s vocal brilliance and the virtuoso playing of Dan give it tongue-in-cheek pomposity. The keyboards swirl and envelop everything with this musical sheen and the drums and bass sit there supremely confident in the background, the rock on which everything else is founded.


The next two tracks are so entwined you could see them as one. The yin and yang of Desolation and Retribution. Two sides of the same coin, the dark and the light. Desolation has a feel of the darkness of Opeth mixed with the subtleties of Mystery. Almost mantra like vocals, subdued and solemn, give an occult feel and the music plays out as if it is a Greek Tragedy, the nebulous solo a case in point. It is quite ominous in tone and atmosphere, leaving you crestfallen and subdued. The segue into Retribution is some edgy and jazzy drums followed by a riffing guitar and Peter hitting the highest of high notes, the blue touch paper is lit and we are off! Fast paced and upbeat, this track is a stellar opposite to Desolation with its great harmonies and irrepressible riffs that are delivered in a symphonic prog hue. Overblown and unapologetic it fires off into the distance strutting its stuff. The solo is forceful and in your face and the whole song just rides over anything that gets in its way like an irresistible force.

There are two instrumental bonus tracks on the version I received and, in the interests of completeness, I must mention them.

Emphasis (For Sienna Joy) is a lovely little piece just over one minute long that just dances lightly over your aural synapses to leave a very satisfied feeling in your heart and soul and Vagabond is a more potent and charismatic piece that focuses on the guitar to give a feel of a Joe Satriani song. The excellent interchanges between guitar and keyboards give it some added zest. These two tracks, while not exactly necessary, just give the album something extra and I really enjoyed them.

Drifting Sun have delivered quite a work of art, one that touches on the past for influences but, also, has its own, confident vision of the future. Consume it in one listen to get the full effect of this great album, it is one that will live in the memory for a long time.

Released 21st May 2016