US symphonic neo-prog band Aethellis will return with what promises to be a smashing 3rd release. “A Home In Your Thoughts” is a brand new 3 track mini album, and is the highly anticipated follow up to Northumbria the bands last album released in 2011. “A Home In Your Thoughts” will be released worldwide as a digital only release, and should be released late Summer.
In a statement from Aethellis “Aethellis continues its amalgamation of progressive structures, pop hooks and funky grooves with the new collection of songs, A Home In Your Thoughts.
By turns plaintive and inspiring, “A Home In Your Thoughts” is meditation on the persistence of overcoming obstacles, while the joyous, uplifting and powerful “Second Home In Your Thoughts” represents the fruition of that persistence with its multi-thematic epic structure.
“Janice” tells the story of a divorced man attempting to reconcile with his ex, detailing his frustrations, yearning and ultimately his belief in the power of love. Add this to an infectious funky groove that spirals into prog territory in the latter half of the song which includes jazzy riffs and solos and concludes with a variation on the main riff but this time in 5/4 (which is hinted at earlier in the song).
Finally, “Believe In Somebody” is a punchy concise pop/rock offering with prog flourishes and more uplifting lyrics. This song received the Runner Up Award from the 2014 Song of the Year Contest.
This inspiring Aethellis collection could be considered a concept EP about overcoming obstacles by believing in oneself.”
Aethellis – A Home In Your Thoughts
1. A Home In Your Thoughts / Second Home In Your Thoughts (15:08)
Music and lyrics by Ellsworth Hall
Copyright 2017 Ellsworth R. Hall
2. Janice (8:12)
Music by Mark Van Natta and Ellsworth Hall, lyrics by Mark Van Natta
Copyright 1992-2017 Mark L. Van Natta and Ellsworth R. Hall
3. Believe In Somebody (4:35)
Music by Ellsworth Hall and Mark Van Natta, lyrics by Mark Van Natta
Copyright 1992-2017 Mark L. Van Natta and Ellsworth R. Hall
Ellsworth Hall – keyboards, guitar, vocals
Mark Van Natta – guitar, vocals
Erik Marks – bass
Mike Harrington – Simmons drums
Joe Dwyer – saxophone
Recorded, mixed and mastered at Ellstudio, Timonium MD, USA.
Barrington, NJ based The Tea Club have launched a Patreon account.
“The Tea Club is a band that has been cultivating unique ideas in the form of music and visual art for more than a decade. As we continue to release new material, a vast collection of unreleased work lies beneath the surface of the public eye. We want to share this repository with our supporters while also providing an exclusive look into what the band is currently creating. By supporting our Patreon campaign, you allow us to continue our pilgrimage.
The way it works is this: If you make a monthly donation of any amount to this Patreon account, you will gain access to a private page where we will release two tracks or videos from “The Archive” each month. You’ll also get some written background for each release, a monthly video clip providing an inside look into what the band is working on, early news on upcoming tours, records, videos, graphic novels and other press, discounts on merch, and access to new releases before anyone else, as well as a few surprises.
Some of the material we’ll be making available to our Patrons includes rare demos, live recordings, unreleased studio tracks, b-sides, live videos, unreleased music videos, and lots of concept art.”
Formed by brothers Patrick and Dan McGowan, The Tea Club have been creating music for over fifteen years in the Philadelphia and New Jersey art rock scene.
In 2008, acclaimed Producer/Engineer Tim Gilles (Anthrax, Taking Back Sunday, Jeff Buckley, Thursday), discovered the band and recorded, produced, and mixed their four studio albums. In support of their most recent album Grappling, The Tea Club performed with Haken, Toby Driver (John Zorn, Kayo Dot, Maudlin the Well), and Bent Knee, and embarked on an extensive tour with Thank You Scientist and Moon Tooth.
The Tea Club consists of Patrick McGowan (Guitar, Vocals), Daniel McGowan (Guitar, Vocals), Jamie Wolff (Bass), Joseph Dorsey (Keyboards), and Daniel Monda (Drums).
“I am careful not to confuse excellence with perfection. Excellence, I can reach for; perfection is God’s business.”
― Michael J. Fox
Surely every musician strives for perfection on every new record that they are working on but perfection cannot be attainable otherwise what else could they seek to achieve? When you follow an artist across their album releases you accompany them on this journey to a perceived nirvana of musical enlightenment, every release opening another door into their soul for clearly that is what every musician leaves with their music, a piece of themselves?
Robin Armstrong is the man behind the highly respected musical project Cosmograf, the Cosmograf sound is rooted in 70’s classic rock with a contemporary and progressive twist with obvious influences from classic progressive rock such as Pink Floyd, Yes and Genesis, but with more contemporary flavours from bands such as Porcupine Tree, Muse, and Radiohead.
Cosmograf albums are built around concepts – Conceptual Progressive Rock allows the freedom to span genres, stop and start in different tempos, with the inclusion of relevant soundscapes and effects to build the story. This creates a musical freedom far beyond the commercial rules and constraints of a disposable 3 minute pop song.
Robin’s musical odyssey began in 2008 with a rough demo called “Freed from the Anguish” and ‘End of Ecclesia’ whichwas self released in 2009. The break-through release that really brought Cosmograf to the music industry’s notice was ‘When Age Has Done Its Duty’, released in 2011 and the quality and excellence never let up through 2013’s ‘The Man Left In Space’, 2014’s ‘Capacitor’ and last years superb ‘The Unreasonable Silence’, a release where many thought Robin had actually reached his musical zenith.
However, an artist with the talent and imagination of Robin Armstrong can’t sit on their hands and, despite health problems (thankfully resolved now), Robin has returned with another Cosmograf release ‘The Hay Man Dreams’ which, for the first time, will be released on vinyl through Chris Topham’sPlane Groovy label.
A retrospective album in both theme and style, ‘The Hay Man Dreams’ harks back to the sound and feel of the classic prog era fused with the raw energy and darkness of a rock behemoth. The 6 track album is measured at a single LP length and instrumentally delivers the vintage sound of guitar, bass and drums with a sprinkling of classic keyboards.
The theme presents as a mythical tale of a farm labourer meeting an early death, and leaving a loving wife and young family. His widow builds a scarecrow effigy as a shrine to her loss, and this ‘Hay-Man’ spends his weather beaten days in eternity, dreaming beyond his field.
The new album features guest performances from Rachael Hawnt (The Beautiful Secret), Kyle Fenton (These Septic Stars), Matt Stevens (The Fierce and the Dead), Rachel Hall (Big Big Train) and former BBC Voiceover artist David Allan.
It’s great to see an album that was conceived to be a vinyl release from the outset, the packaging is excellent, as I’ve come to expect from Plane Groovy, and you get that frisson of excitement as you remove it from the shrinkwrap and take the slipcase and liner notes out of the sleeve. The singular artwork is very impressive and really stands out. Time to take it out of the slipcase, put it on the record deck and lower the needle…
“I’m tethered and bound to the earth today
It’s hard to walk free when you’re made of hay
Tethered and bound to the earth I say
Nothing to fear but nothing to say…”
The ominous and suspenseful opening to the first track Tethered And Bound raises the hairs on the back of your neck and David Allan’s atmospheric voice-over just helps to build the tension. The eerie feeling continues before a powerful and methodical guitar riff breaks through the uneasiness and Robin’s distinctive vocal adds an authoritarian tone. This song is pure and definitive Cosmograf but turned up to 11 with emotive guitars and mountain moving percussion provided by Kyle Fenton. It’s like the best of progressive rock met math-core and morphed into something quite unique. I love the creeping tension that lies throughout the song, it’s almost like hiding behind the sofa watching Doctor Who when I was a kid but brought bang up to date for the 50-something adult I am now. A really powerful, imposing piece of music that dominates its surroundings with Rachael Hawnt’s vocal talents also put to good use to add even more theatre, a thunderous start to proceedings.
“These trees surround the field
The boundary marks the forest
It forms a perfect shield
Protects the summer harvest…”
Trouble In The Forest is a massive contrast with its wistful, gentle nostalgic opening that is full of the feeling of lazy, hazy sunny days and a forest with the dappled sun’s rays lighting up the forest floor. A wonderfully calm and collected track full of assured grace and composure. There’s a feeling of longing to the elegant, ethereal guitar and contemplative percussion that gives an otherworldly aura to the music. I can’t imagine a more laid back song that I’ve listened to this year as Robin’s voice finally joins in, all soothing and tranquil and with a meditative timbre to it. The tempo increases slightly, a note of urgency bleeding into the vocals before another voice over from Mr Allan sets the scene. The gentle meander and preamble takes on a slightly discordant edge as the immediately recognisable tone of Matt Stevens’ guitar opens up and he goes into Guthrie Govan mode with an intricate and convoluted guitar solo that only a guitarist of Matt’s talent could ever hope to deliver. The snaking, coruscating guitar work fits in perfectly with the almost spiritual ambience of this song and the ambient effects add even more mystery as this superb piece of music comes to a serene close.
“The motorway extends in grace, the shiny metal’s keeping pace
The engine’s calling out to me, rev it more and let it breath
Let it breath…”
A stylish acoustic guitar motif opens The Motorway with an assured note, another tell-tale Cosmograf sound that is instantly known to this reviewer. It lulls you into a false sense of security as it gently ambles on before Robin’s emotive vocal begins, backed by Kyle’s classy drums and a real 70’s sounding keyboard, Rachael’s carefully considered backing vocals adding lustre. Everything seems good natured and jaunty as the song moves along at a measured clip but the mood changes as Robin’s voice switches to a more ardent intonation and the whole song seems to transform into something altogether more serious, sombre and thoughtful. A thunderous riff emerges and the drums go all native on us as Robin turns into a seriously heavy rock vocalist, all dark and dangerous, it’s quite an about face, I’m thinking 70’s Deep Purple or Bad Company myself. A sultry break with more of that acoustic guitar calms things before Robin opens up with a superb guitar solo that literally pins your ears back to the side of your head and screams passion, fervor and feeling at you (yes, it’s air guitar time!) before the song comes to resounding close and so does side one of this utterly captivating and arresting vinyl release.
“Spoil the view
Do what you want to do
A greener field
Made from a muddy hue…”
A deliberate and pensive piano opens Cut The Corn, the first of two relatively shorter tracks, and thisprecedes Robin’sinstrospective, absorbing vocal, full of sentiment and warmth and yet there’s a melancholy edge that runs throughout the song, a yearning and a longing for something out of reach and this adds a fragile beauty to the whole track. The tempo is deliberate and restrained and adds to the mournful sense that emanates, even more so when the reflective and thoughtful acoustic guitar is played to the captivated audience leaving you lost in thought as the track comes to a close.
“The colder air it hurts my throat
as I walk the stony roadway
There’s demons on the moonlit path
They plot to steal the break of dawn…”
The emotion, passion and fervor reach a climax on the wonderfully stirring and affectional Melancholy Death Of A Gamekeeper, a track where, if I didn’t know better, I’d have thought Robin had co-opted David Gilmour into appearing. The whole song is a complex blend of emotions from Robin’s sultry vocal, Kyle’s elegant drums and the flowing keyboards but it is the incredibly impressive guitar work that really stands out and makes this a song I keep returning to time and time again. I could sit and listen to the searing, powerful and ardent playing all day long, this is music that moves you on a primal level and stirs the soul, I can’t get that guitar note out of my head and I don’t want to either. Touches of Pink Floyd? Yes, but it’s an affectionate nod of the head, not a blatant copy and I think it works fantastically well.
“The rain comes
It soaks his worn out clothes
I follow everywhere he goes
Hay Man dreaming of the sun
Hay Man are you having fun?”
Well, it is going to take something really special to top that and, to Robin’s eternal credit, he just gets on with it and produces another instant classic with the title track The Hay Man Dreams. From the first exquisitely delivered word that Rachael Hawnt utters we are given a song that will stand the test of time and should be considered a classic of the genre. Rachel’s hypnotic vocal is utterly beguiling and enthralling and the guitar, bass, drums and keyboards ooze style and sophistication. A track for late nights, darkened rooms, powerful red wine and forgetting about the complexities that life throws at you. The longest song on the album at over twelve minutes, not a second or a note is wasted and Robin delivers possibly his best guitar work yet with playing that bewitches, dazzles and delights even the most seasoned hack, just sit back and enjoy. That’s not all though, it’s a song in three or more parts and the mood is broken by David Allan’s voice over one more time before things take a darker turn as the carefree jazz/blues guitar is overwritten by a more compelling and aggressive riff, the drums dominating and Rachel delivers an outpouring of passion and fervor as the atmosphere turns chaotic around her, as if a tornado has hit the Hay Man. All of a sudden an argent and incandescent guitar solo breaks loose irradiating the sky, a furious and dynamic piece of guitar playing that hits you right in the solar plexus. This thunderous refrain comes to a sudden halt to be replaced by the elegant strains of Rachel Hall’s violin and order is restored once more. The album closes out with a feeling of pastoral calm and relaxed repose as the needle comes to a stop and silence settles around you.
What an incredibly emotional roller coaster Robin Armstrong has taken us on. I have no qualms in saying I have always been huge fan of his music and on ‘The Hay Man Dreams’ the sheer scope of his songwriting and imagination is barely conceivable. Cosmograf albums are lovingly crafted nuggets of musical brilliance created not for commercial gain but for the enjoyment of the listener and, on this latest opus (especially as it is available on vinyl), Robin has delivered his most impressive work yet. Perfection? maybe not but it doesn’t get much closer than this.
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.
Apparently there are two bands called Cast, I wasn’t aware of this, and like so many bands that have the same namesake (think English Nirvana and American Nirvana – about as far removed as is possible to be) the Mexican progressive band Cast are both sonically and geographically removed from their jaunty Britpop counterparts.
Formed in Mexico in the late 70’s this is their first album since 2015’s ‘Cast Vida’, and whilst it is very much traditional prog rock, and well produced and performed, there is a slight feeling of having heard it all before, and in some instances done slightly better.
The opening 11 minutes plus of Rules of the Desert features some great guitar and keyboard interplay from Alfonso Vidales and Claudio Cordero, however too many of the keyboard solo’s are very Wakeman-lite, and with too much power and not enough outcome, there are large musical portions that veer too closely to pastiche rather than plausibility.
The title track has some wonderful symphonic work, and a beautifully understated piano and guitar interlude, with fine violin work by Roberto Izzo, that builds into a great piece of music, whilst the lyrical performances are superb, and it’s when they do something a little different on this piece that is where the album works, it is almost soundtrack like in it’s scope and the vocal interplay between Bobby Vidales and Lupita Acuna is great.
However for every moments that soar like on Power and Outcome, unfortunately there’s also too many prog by numbers moments for my liking, there are plenty of bands out there who are doing exciting new things, and on this album Cast can play and perform with the best of them.
Details is split into two parts with a) Circle Spins being a big power ballad that would fit nicely into a musical, with it’s emphasis on the lyrics, while the musical accompaniment could have fallen from the West End, whilst it’s counterpart b) Start Againis all dramatic strings, mellotron, guitar and power and fury, however it’s all be done before with Jon Lord’s classic/rock crossovers in the 70’s and the real stand out is the violin solo.
I do feel that at points on this album they show flashes of brilliance, however they are dragged down by the weight of their own history and the genres history.
This viewpoint isn’t helped by tracks like Through a Stained Glass, that mix Yes, with Genesis, and some very traditional prog sounds, that makes it very cliché ridden unfortunately.
That’s the problem I have with this album, it is well made, well produced and the band are undoubtedly talented but for every thing fresh they throw in the pot, they also regurgitate prog clichés as well.
With tracks like Illusions and Tribulations clocking in at over 9 minutes, I do think that they could have trimmed some of these tracks down, as again there is guitar and keyboard interplay that brings Wakeman/Howe to mind, as well as some of Ricks solo albums, and whilst it might have been original back in the 1970’s, it’s lots a lot of it’s lustre, because if I want to hear Wakeman/Howe soloing I will put Yes on.
That is where I sit with this album sadly, I want to love it, as it has all the ingredients that make a great prog album, unfortunately all the ingredients make it a great prog album of the 1970’s, and time has moved on.
If I want 70’s prog I will listen to Yes, Genesis, VdGG et al, and unfortunately as the prog bar has been raised so high by so many in such recent years, doing what you always did will not get you the same results as it may have done five or ten years ago.
This will probably be fantastic live, however on record it’s not something I will be returning to.
If you’re a prog fan who moans that they don’t make them like they used to do, then this is your bag, for me it’s nice enough to listen to once or twice but it won’t be hitting the best of the year charts.
Stratospheerius will release their fifth CD “Guilty of Innocence” through Melodic Revolution Records early Fall 2017. The new 10-track album will be available worldwide in both Physical and Digital formats. “Guilty of Innocence” features special appearances by Alex Skolnick (Testament), Rave Tesar (Renaissance) and Randy McStine (The Fringe).
“Guilty of Innocence” highlights include a reimagined cover of Muse’s “Hysteria,” a 12-minute prog epic titled “Soul Food” which features many of the guests mentioned above, plus “Dream Diary Cadenza,” a solo electric violin extravaganza lifted from Joe’s electric violin concerto.
The band is led by founding member, electric violinist & vocalist Joe Deninzon. Joe has been called the “Jimi Hendrix of the electric violin.”
GUILTY OF INNOCENCE features members: French guitarist Aurelien Budynek (Cindy Blackman, Vernon Reid), bassist Jamie Bishop (The Syn, Francis Dunnery), and drummer Lucianna Padmore, praised by Modern Drummer Magazine for her “Deep grooves and serious fusion chops.”
In a Statement from Joe:
“We are honored to be part of Melodic Revolution Records, and feel it will be a strong partnership, “We would love to expand our audience worldwide, especially in the prog community. We love Nick’s commitment to and enthusiasm about the artists on his label.”
In a Statement from Nick Katona President MRR:
“I’m a long time fan of the band and look forward to this journey of making music and magic through our collaboration.”
Melodic Revolution Records is more than just another independent record label: we are a family of individuals and musicians that work hard together like a well oiled machine, bringing the music listener, music that inspires, and makes us think, while cultivating memories – music that will stand the test of time. It is through this family atmosphere that new collaborations have evolved to create a rich blend of dynamic new music.
– “Music Is Our Voice”
More About Joe Deninzon & Stratospheerius:
As a renowned violinist, Joe has recorded/performed with Ritchie Blackmore, Bruce Springsteen, Sheryl Crow, Trans Siberian Orchestra, Peter Criss, Jazz at Lincoln Center, NYC Ballet (electric violin soloist), Phoebe Snow, Les Paul, Renaissance, and Mark Wood to name a few. He is an active teacher/clinician and published his book, “Plugging In: A Guide to Gear and Technique for the 21st Century String Player” through Mel Bay in 2012. He also recently world-premiered his “Dream Diary: Concerto for Seven-String Electric Violin and Orchestra” with the Muncie Symphony in 2015.
Stratospheerius has showcased their “frenzied melange of progressive rock, jazz fusion and funkabilly” throughout the world at colleges, festivals, and clubs. They have opened for artists including Alex Skolnick, Martin Barre, Tim Reynolds, Mickey Hart, Mike Stern, and John Scofield. The band was a winner of the John Lennon International Songwriting Competition the Musicians Atlas Independent Music Awards. They have been featured in Progression, Relix, Downbeat, and Jazziz, among other publications.
Joe Deninzon : Electric Violin, Lead Vocals & Mandolin
Melodic Revolution Records is thrilled to announce that California Based Prog outfit FOREVER TWELVE has signed with the label for the bands new release.
Forever Twelve’s album is titled “HOME” and will be available worldwide in both CD and High Quality Digital formats, Home will feature 7 new songs clocking in just shy of 54 minutes.
Track Listing: The Seven Seas, Home, Daisy Chain, Kansas by the Sea, Karmageddon, Acoustic Rose, Fate Is In Our Hands.
Produced by Forever Twelve
Engineered by Tom Graham & John Baker
Mixed by Tom Graham
Mastered by John Baker at John Baker Audio.
About Forever Twelve:
Forever Twelve is a Los Angeles, California based progressive rock band which was founded in the early 90’s by Kenny Hundt, Steve Barberic. The band has had some personnel changes over the years with each new member helping to shape and redefine the sound of what Forever Twelve is today. The latest addition came to the band in 2012 with former Mars Hollow vocalist John Baker. With John on board, the band wrote and released their first new single Daisy Chain which was released as a video and was very well received by both fans and critics.
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:
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’.
“He sits at the table and reads novels, old favorites of his, the words and plots and characters comforting and lived-in and unchanged.”
― Hanya Yanagihara, A Little Life
Comforting – Serving to improve a person’s mood or restore a sense of physical well-being. That’s the definition from the Oxford English Dictionary and I often find that certain music can be comforting, music you want to listen to that isn’t challenging and just gives a feel-good factor, like your favourite pair of shoes or that comfy old chair you always collapse into after a long and arduous day at work. Mainly it’s comforting because it doesn’t change and you know exactly what you are going to get.
That’s what I like about the Geof Whiteley Project, each release (and there have been quite a few) progresses slightly from the previous one but is still very recognisable as being from this artist. The man behind the project, Arny Wheatley, delivers music that is like an old friend who has just changed their appearance slightly, enough so you notice but not enough for it to be a radical change.
The Geof Whitely Project was formed in 2011, it consists of Geof Whitely (actually it’s Arny!) and special guest Musicians, the aim of the project is to put out original material in all types of musical formats from Prog Rock-Rock-Pop-Electronic-Instrumental.
‘Carousel of Souls’ was released in April this year and, after a few listens, has really got under my skin in a good way. There’s a short Prologue that gives a dramatic introduction to the album before a segue straight into the title track Carousel of Souls which has a laid back almost flamenco feel to the music. I like the chilled out vibe that it gives out and the wistful vocal that Arny delivers is a perfect fit. It meanders along gently, taking you with it before opening up with a quicker tempo and an excellent chorus. As I’ve already said, there is no mistaking this for any other artists but, to my ears, the music has an added maturity and sensitivity to it. Nicely played guitar and elegant keyboards give a sheen to the whole song and it’s a great opening to the album. The keyboard intro to Clockwork Heart is very emotive before a short saxophone style blast delivers an intense vocal and another elegant song is put before us. It’s calm and sophisticated without any histrionics and the vocals really stand out on this track for me. A touching guitar adds even more pathos to the moving music, yes Arny has certainly stepped up a level on this album it would seem. A harder edged, more rocking riff opens Empires Full with an 80’s synth giving it the feel of that decade through and through. Smooth and cultured vocals add to that feeling even more, where did he get that time machine from? A methodical, driving beat adds atmosphere to what is one cool track but, for me, it’s the great guitar and synth that really make this track.
Lionheart is an almost anthemic track which has a vibe of a modern day Asia to it. The unhurried verse has a leisurely tempo, the vocals are smooth and relaxed and lead up to the powerful chorus and it all comes together to sound like something that could be used as soundtrack to a Disney film, cultured and urbane. That sax sound returns on Childs Eyes to give an upbeat introduction and that is carried on into the song with some more of those tasty keyboards driving the track along. There’s more than a touch of electronica to the music and the vocal, delivered in a stylish monotone fashion, combines to take us back in time again. I’m beginning to get the idea that Arny might have been influenced by the electronic music of the 80’s on ‘Carousel of Souls’ and especially on this track and Empires Full and I fully approve! A more touching piano note opens House of Cards and it is a very nice touch. The heartwarming vocals begin and the whole mood is one of reflection and nostalgia, I’m gripped immediately as the song takes on a most impressive aura, again quite anthemic like Lionheart. There’s a lovely guitar solo that just bleeds emotion, it is a stirring track that really hits you in the solar plexus with its passionate delivery. Let’s admit it, every musician likes to rock out now and again and Arny is no different. A cracking guitar riff and riving beat open Rock And Roll Band, anyone familiar with Asia’srecent offerings like ‘Omega’, will know what I mean. It has a really upbeat vibe and runs along at a rollicking pace, designed to put a smile on your face and a skip in your step, it delivers on both counts. It’s not what I’d expect from Arny but he pulls it off with aplomb, not sure about the ‘Gonna rock you like a hurricane’ line though lol. The album closes with the dreamy Cold Warning which opens with ethereal keyboards and a heavenly piano note. Arny’s deliberate vocal adds substance over the top and gives the song a supernatural aura. The guitar and keyboards then open up with a more august tone and that supernatural feel goes into overdrive. It’s a clever song and one that cultivates sophistication and the uber-cool guitar solo is an excellent way to close out this knowing release.
Featured image by Martin de Diego Sadaba Art.
All the tracks on ‘Carousel of Souls’ are definitively Geof Whiteley Project but they also have their own character and it’s the way that they all work together that makes this such a great album. There’s a worldly wise feel to this latest release and it’s another great progression of where Arny is going musically and I can’t wait to hear the next chapter in this engaging musician’s story.
Vocalist Daniel Tompkins explains the lyrical concept & inspiration behind the song
Lyrically ‘Smile’ carries a strong and forward sense of irony as we explore and darkest side of the human condition. The song will witness the manifestation of an ’entity’. Consciousness survives through constant manipulation only to propagate pessimism and hopelessness. Our entity observes, consumes and evolves, bearing witness to human existence, mimicking our presence in colossal form.
Recorded at both 4D Sound Studios, Brighton and Celestial Sound Studios, Notts UK and produced by Acle Kahney during late spring this year “Smile”, described by the band as their most collaborative track of recent times, here, the vocals play a key part in shaping the structure of the song, the bass shaping the verses, so, allowing the band to explore new perspectives. Bassist Amos Williams explains further “We chose this track as although it is part of a greater theme, and is in fact towards the end of a story arc, it stands alone very well. We have a solid idea of where we would like to take this track on the next album as it is in no way finished. It is merely one step in a journey.
The verses and choruses stand very far apart from each other. There is a tension we wished to build through a minimalist approach, with small phrases that repeat against accompanying parts of different lengths. These undulate, seemingly getting lost against the nonconventional phrasing of the drums. All this is nothing new to TesseracT fans, but this time we have looked to really align the lyrical and musical messages. “
After building up a rabid and loyal fanbase across North America with their previous tours with the Devin Townsend Project, Gojira and multiple headline runs the band are stateside again for a monumental tour with Megadeth & Meshuggah.
Guitarist James Monteith enthusiastically comments “We couldn’t be more excited about going back to the US, the shows are always amazing out there and the fans are some of our most enthusiastic and loyal. There’s also the added bonus of touring with two of the most important metal bands ever! Megadeth and Meshuggah are major boundary pushers in the genre and we’re massive fans of them both, so it’s a real honour to share a stage with them. And not to forget Lilake who are doing some cool things too, so all in all, it’s going to be the highlight of our year”
Beginning in Big Flats, New York on Friday 23rd June the tour takes the band through Massachusetts, Virginia, Ohio, Maryland, Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas and ending in Pennsylvania on July 11th. TesseracT will also be performing at Amnesia Festival, Montebello, Canada on 24th June, as well as a series of headline shows in Indianapolis, Nashville, Memphis, Buffalo and Amityville