Review – Proud Peasant – Cosmic Sound – by Progradar


So, what do you do in-between albums? Chill out for a bit? develop a side project? release a solo album? or none of the the previous?

Well, if you’re cinematic instrumental progressive rock band Proud Peasant you release a limited-edition 7″ vinyl EP that consists of cover versions of Eloy and Manfred Mann’s Earth Band and, why not?

Released on the acclaimed UK vinyl-only label Fruits de Mer Records, ‘Cosmic Sound’ will be released on April 6th and, ahead of that release, my friend, and band member, Xander Rapstine, gave me the chance to hear what it’s all about.


Austin, Texas band (actually, more of a collective), Proud Peasant are described as being cinematic and pastoral instrumental progressive rock, the soundtrack to sublime dreams and wicked nightmares, they released their debut album ‘Flight’ in 2014 and I wrote these words about it;

“In places Flight is quite an exhausting listening experience as lots of differing musical styles vie for your attention and, in some parts it is just too much, almost turning you off.  I suspect that the band is taking it for granted that you have a certain level of intelligence whilst listening to their music. It is convoluted, enlightened and creative but not for the faint hearted. In fact, occasionally, it is too clever for its own good. That should not detract from the fact that Proud Peasant have produced a very good album that captivates throughout and I await their next release with not a little anticipation.”

Well, the anticipation of a new, full-length release will have to wait a little longer as Xander has told me that Proud Peasant won’t start recording the new album until April at the earliest and will be looking at a late 2016/Early 2017 release date.

Never mind, I’m intrigued by this new ‘covers’ EP and it’s trippy cover art so let’s dive straight in at the deep end and see what’s going on in Austin, Texas….


The first track on this mini-EP is a cover of Daybreak, a bonus track on the 1973 album ‘Inside’ from Eloy and it opens with some rather furious percussion and a fuzzy, funky guitar riff that basically just knocks you off your feet in a ‘WTF was that’ sort of moment. The low down and dirty guitars really give this a feel of 70’s rock with a stoner edge to it. I love the intricate and undulating guitar work that leads you on a fantastical musical journey through your mind. I’m not advocating the use of illegal ( or even legal) highs here but this music is utterly spaced out and way out there in the cosmos, that feeling only enhanced by the psychedelic keyboards. A short, sharp jab to the solar plexus by flower power infused musicians.

Saturn, Lord Of The Ring/Mercury, Winged Messenger was originally recorded by Manfred Mann’s Earth Band for the 1973 album ‘Solar Fire’ and is given the full retro treatment here. A subdued sci-fi opening that could have come straight from the 70’s jars your nerves with its angular notes and intonation, the silky bass and stylish drums adding serious gravitas to the sound. I’m thinking flares, long hair and straggly beards here as the laid back music washed over you. Everything glides to a halt before a spooky guitar and wondrous noises emanate from the speakers, anxious and experimental in tone and feel, what’s coming next? you wonder as the song seems to be building up to something ominous. What you get is hectic and frantic rush to the end of the track, the fuzzy riff and staccato guitar dragging you along with reckless abandon. Frenzied and frenetic it gives you no pause for breath before coming to a tumultuous close.

Proud Peasant take their signature wide-screen cinematic approach to two classic 70’s tracks and the result is rather good indeed. A mad, turbulent and yet utterly immersive ten minutes of self-indulgent fun and worth every penny!

Released 6th April 2016

Buy ‘Cosmic Sound’ from fruits de mer records

Review – Body English – Stories of Earth – by Progradar


It’s funny how you discover new music, a recommendation from a friend, a snippet on the radio, a video posted on social media, the list is never ending. I tend to find that the best endorsements come from people who appreciate the same music as I do.

So, first, a little background story, stay with me, it won’t take long….

Fine upstanding citizen, music reviewer and a friend of mine, Phil Lively, introduced me to the music of Josh Goldberg, Chapman Stick specialist and a superb musician. I reviewed Josh’s solo work and came to be friends with him over social media.

Through this concord, I recently received, and reviewed, the debut piece of work from his band GEPH and got to talking to Josh about other musical projects. His next recommendation was ‘Stories of Earth’ by Body English, a musical project of Clint Degan and one in which Josh was now involved, although he didn’t play on this particular release.

Well, what can I say, one listen and I was hooked, a real ball of nervous, upbeat musical energy with a freshness that has to be heard to be believed and the rest, as they say, is history, here we are at the review…..

band pic

Album opener Kiss Them, begins with a really summery and upbeat guitar riff that just gets you tapping your foot to the rhythm before Clint’s vocals join in. He has a very distinctive voice with clipped enunciation and I think it works perfectly with the sharp and incisive music. This is feel-good music at its best, it will put a smile on your face from the first resonating note. The intricate drumming fits perfectly well with the relatively pared back sound on this track and the beautiful guitar runs just add another layer of class. There is a more emotive feel to You Were Something Else, from the effusive opening you can feel a more serious tone. The piano and heartfelt vocal deliver empathy and sentiment which builds up until the graceful violin adds the final touch. I get a real feeling of a hometown finesse to the music. Take some Ben Folds Five, add in some of The Tea Party and garnish with The Twenty Committee and you’ll have some idea of the rather excellent sound of Clint’s creation. The dashes of organ and strings adds a real feeling of lazy Sunday afternoons and a hint of almost ecclesiastical polish. A slightly off-kilter guitar solo leads in another softly delivered vocal section, underpinned by some more compassionate piano playing. I don’t know why but, I get a real sense of 70’s rock about this track, albeit updated to modern times with the excellent production. Prose and Poetry is just that, a rhythmical literary piece intelligently set to music. The halting vocals and delicate music that open the track keep you on the edge of your seat in anticipation of what is coming. There is a build up of tension as the song unfolds before you, Clint’s voice increasing with passion before an elaborate and convoluted instrumental section impresses with musical chops. The song then carries on with that slightly dense  musical delivery, the vocals being the centrepiece and the music providing excellent support, a clever piece of musical theatre.

Apple Head

Next, a most raucous track that has real country music undertones and some jazz pointers too, I Don’t Want To Be A Housewife (for Someone Else’s Family) seems to bound along with a relentless and infectious energy, the slightly manic drumbeat a case in part. Strings, saxophone, piano and guitar all combine to deliver something almost vaudevillian with tongue firmly in cheek. Clint’s vocals are impish and full of mischief. The song flies along breathlessly, dragging you along in its wake, thoroughly enjoying the ride. The impressive fiddle adds an electric-folk edge, there’s so much going on here that it could easily become an untidy mess but the skill of the musicians keeps it flowing, laughing its maniacal little head off. Once you’ve calmed down from the fun and frolics of the previous track, Do It Slowly is an acerbic, wistful love story. It begins all slow paced and solemn with a deferential drumbeat underscoring a melancholic, powerfully harsh guitar. A remorseful and unfeigned vocal from Clint delivers the sad story to the listening audience, the forceful guitar interjections adding to the sorrowful atmosphere. A compelling track of love and loss delivered in Body English’s own inimitable style, leaves you with a lump in your throat. Americana influenced with lap-steel sounding guitar and vibrant piano, Rock n’ Roll Will Save You is short and sweet but still leaves its own mark on proceedings. A vibrant, fast-paced little song that wears its heart on its sleeve, it has a sanguine tone of hope and, yet, the slightly grating solo adds a little edge to the pleasantries. The run out to the close is quite inspiring.


Sound Asleep takes Clint’s tentative and tender vocal as its focal point, opening with a laid back tone before the brass lifts the pace slightly. It seems to be treading water, letting the vocals take the lead, the drums holding pace perfectly. Perhaps the most lightweight track on the album in stature before opening up with a theatrical, almost cinematic guitar and brass instrumental section. A more serious overtone muscles in, edgy and nervous, trying to stay in the background but giving an anxious tone to the vocal. I love the funky almost ‘movie soundtrack’ feel to the repeated instrumental section and the guitar solo could have come direct from a 70’s Bond theme, a really clever song. So onto the last, and longest track and one with a title to match its 10 minute plus running time, The Humour in the Heart of the Old Grey Mountain begins with a real spooky sci-fi tone, all ominous and inspirational. A laid back and low key guitar then takes over before the vocals begin, soft and gentle, accompanied by an unadorned piano. Profound and sincere, Clint delivers his most open and honest performance on the album. A song that draws you in and leaves you caught on every word and note, the expressive songwriting and rousing music lending a spring to your step and pride in your heart. This track that has theatrical overtones then seems to segue into a progressive overture full of pomp and circumstance and one that fills you with joie de vivre and hope. Insistent, dynamic drumming is the foundation on which this labyrinthine section is built on, all the other instruments then taking their place in the greater scheme of things and lending a cinematic tone. As the song, and the album, reaches its final chapter, we return to the almost pastoral beginnings and Clint’s hope-filled voice leads us to the close, accompanied by that contemplative piano.

I love it when I find really good music by chance, this album is a breath of fresh air compared to the glut of incoming music that I have heard recently that all sounds the same. Yes, it might not appeal to everyone but, I for one love it. Give it a chance and there is a high possibility it could be brightening your day anytime soon….

Released May 13th 2016

Buy Stories of Earth from Body English’s bandcamp page







Review – MINDTECH – Edge of the World – by Progradar


What, to you, is the heartbeat of a good band? What, if it was ripped out, would make them a pale shadow of what came before? If you replace the lead guitarist would that really make a huge difference? I don’t know. But, if you bring in a new lead singer, that can give you a totally different ambience.

I mean, look at bands like Van Halen and Marillion, when Dave Lee Roth and Fish, respectively, departed, you were left with something that was similar yet never the same again.

I bring this up because I recently received the latest promo from Norwegian progressive-metal act MINDTECH and they have a new vocalist. Now, I loved their debut album which was heavy and intense and yet had an intrinsic intelligence at its core, would this change of personel be for the better or, hopefully not, the worse?



MINDTECH was formed in 2007 by guitar player and songwriter Thor-Axel Eriksen. He recruited drummer Ole Devold, bass player Øystein Moe and
keyboard player Lasse Finbråten, a 3 track demo was released (under the moniker “Beyond Flames”).

2008 marked the live debut of the band, now called MINDTECH, with the addition of guitar player Thomas Hansvoll. The band started to work on their debut album, a process that seemed to be taking a long time, however, with the introduction of guitarist Marius Belseth in 2012, the spark was suddenly
back, and they started the work on finishing the album ‘Elements of Warfare’.

October 11th 2013 was the debut album’s release date, but their concert at the release party marked the end of singer Aslak Johnsen’s era in the band. He was only supposed to lay down vocals on demo versions of the songs, but ended up doing the full album.

Via Withem’s guitar player Øyvind V.Larsen, they got in touch with Mathias Molund Indergård, a great singer with a versatile musical background. He fit the band perfectly, the work on finishing songs for an EP started immediately, and the first single, Lost In A Dream, was released digitally on September 1st, 2015 and single no 2; Black Heart, was released January 22nd, 2016.


The first, and title, track Edge of the World opens with an ominous synthesiser and guitar introduction, gradually building the tension before it opens into a huge riff, reminiscent of the first album. All powerful and in your face, there follows a short staccato burst of guitar before we hit the accelerator and set off. When the vocals first enter, there is more than a hint of symphonic metal about them, Mathias has a great rock voice, more cultured than Aslak’s, which had definitive edgier delivery. He has nuances of heartfelt remorse in the slow parts and a thunderous intonation when the fuse is lit. Throw in a fiery guitar solo and you have a great stat to the E.P. There’s nothing new here but it is done with a stylish edge.

Black Heart, the second single release, begins with an immediate crunching riff and restless synth note. The vocals kick in with Mathias hitting some very high notes indeed, his voice is definitely more melodic in its delivery, especially on the really polished chorus. The band seem to have taken a conscious decision to move away from the industrial feel of the first album, yes it is progressive-metal in nature but there is a much more cultured feel to everything from the keyboards to the rather impressive drumming. The excellent guitar playing of Eriksen and Belseth is another highlight with a superb solo delivered towards the end of this track. However it’s the really expressive vocals of Mathias Molund Indergård that have lifted everything to another level.

A really gentle guitar and ethereal keyboard tone open up The Quest. Here Mathias gets to show us the softer side of his voice and personality, his vocal delivery is soft and cultured before the guitars liberate another dynamic riff to accompany a more forceful vocal expression. There seems to be a darker side to the track as it continues with the guitar becoming more abrasive, this is lifted by the elegant chorus. A really sophisticated song with a depth of meaning that is hidden at first.


Lost In A Dream was the first single, released digitally and it has a more harder feel right from the start, twin duelling guitars and frenzied drumming giving it an urgent feel. This track is pure progressive metal and the vocals follow that genre-given lead, I hear touches of early James LaBrie (Dream Theater) and Michael Eriksen (Circus Maximus) to them. The guitars of Thor-Axel and Marius are finally let of the leash on this impressive track with some incredibly fiery licks and a magnificent solo really highlighting their undoubted talents. Where the first three tracks had a slight feeling of restraint to them, Lost In A Dream pulls no punches at all.

The final track on this oh-too short E.P. is Misery ( that’s the title, not my opinion!) which opens with another fine riff which underpins some rather superior guitar work and notable drumming, as fine an intro to a prog/symphonic metal track as you are likely to hear this year. Mathias’ voice takes in an earnest, almost forlorn timbre and lays the serious foundations that the song is built on. The progressive riffing mirrors the sombre feel that runs throughout and there are some more admirable twin-guitar solos, licks and heavy riffage from the axe-men. The close out to the track is pure progressive-metal exhibitionism but, who cares when it’s this good, there’s even a Rush-a-like guitar part that just made me smile.

So, what can we glean from this new vocalist-inspired MINDTECH? Well, one thing for certain is I enjoyed every second of this prog-metal romp and wished it had been longer. Mathias Molund Indergård has added another dimension to this already exciting band and I’m impatient to hear more. If you like your progressive-metal with a symphonic touch then you’ll love this!

Released 12th February 2016.

Buy Edge of the World from iTunes

Review – Flicker Rate – self-titled – by Progradar


Mention the Sussex coastal town of Hastings and what comes to mind? Well, there was 1066 and the great battle I suppose but I had to dig deeper to find out much more….

“Historically, Hastings can claim fame from the Battle of Hastings, and later because it became one of the medieval Cinque Ports. Hastings was, for centuries, an important fishing port; although nowadays less important, it still has the largest beach-based fishing fleet in Europe. The town became a popular spot for ‘taking the waters’ (therapeutic bathing in the sea) in the 1760s, and then, with the coming of the railway, a seaside resort.”

More recently, well for me at least, it has been for the music of John Bassett (he of KingBathmat and Arcade Messiah fame) so, when I was approached by a young gentleman called Spencer Bassett about his musical project Flicker Rate, I put two and two together and actually came up with four for once!

Yes, young Spencer is actually the son of the celebrated Hastings’ musician John, could we be looking at a chip of the old block? Had some of his musical pizzazz worn off on his offspring? I was very interested to find out…

Spencer 2

Flicker Rate is a instrumental atmospheric post/math rock based solo project formed by 16 year old multi-instrumentalist, Spencer Bassett, all music is mixed and mastered produced and composed by Spencer Bassett.”

So says the bandcamp site where you can purchase the eponymous 4-track debut E.P. and it sounded very interesting so it was time to dive in and see what we had in store for us…

The first track is Valhalla and it starts in a very ominous frame of mind with low down guitars and stylish drumming imparting a vision of a post-apocalyptic landscape with a pensive aftertaste. The music seems to dance caustically across your synapses leaving  a sharp jolt with every note. Yes, there are paternal hints but this young man definitely stamps his own style on proceedings. A first-rate introduction to the post-rock/progressive instrumental musings of Spencer Bassett.

Evident adds a definitive harder edge to proceedings with an opening riff that can fell giants and decimate mountains. A slow paced, ponderous leviathan of a track that seems to pulverize your organs with every beat and, you know what, I’m loving it! Call me a musical masochist if you must but the sheer ferocity and weight of the music just blows me away in the best sense of the word. It powers in to the realm of chaos towards the end and becomes a monstrous, malevolent thing of wonder, this guy has the musical chops way beyond his tender years.

Two minutes of intense musical virtuosity, that is what you get from Small Sun with a chugging riff and persistent drum beat that literally drag you along in their impressive wake. The track opens up with a further edgy riff that hits you with its metronomic fluency and the whole song just exudes class from the first note all the way through its too short one minute and fifty-five minute running time.

The most relaxing track and a great way to close out this mini-musical fest is Elusive Rain. A really classy strummed riff overlays some intricate and stylish drumming. At the heart of it all is a plaintive guitar note that seems to be crying out for attention. the gentle feel is blown away by a huge riff that appears, stage left, like a sonic tidal wave and lifts this sonerous smorgasbord onto a higher plane. Music that seems to tear through your very fabric of being to leave  lasting reminder of what has gone before.

Wow, I’m left in stunned silence by that twelve minutes of seriously impressive music. It is one of those E.Ps where you will simply keep pressing play to listen to it again. I’ll pull no punches, John Bassett’s influence is there, no denying it, in fact, what John himself had to say was,

“…..the boys done well, i’ve given him a few tips, especially with promoting himself, other than that i’ve pretty much left him to it.”

What Spencer has done though is mould it into his own creation and it is something of which he should be very proud. Keep an eye out for Flicker Rate, this is a musical project that is definitely going places.

Released 14th February 2016

Buy Flicker Rate from bandcamp