FESTIVAL WHICH HIGHLIGHTS THE WORLD’S BEST PROGRESSIVE BANDS COMPLETES THIS YEAR’S LINE-UP WITH THE DEVIN TOWNSEND PROJECT, LEPROUS & JARDÍN DE LA CROIX.
30th June – 1nd JULY 2017 – BARCELONA
Since its inception in 2014 the Barcelona based festival Be Prog! My Friend has played host to the likes of Opeth, Steven Wilson, Anathema, Devin Townsend, TesseracT, The Pineapple Thief, Magma, Agent Fresco, Camel, Meshuggah, Katatonia, Riverside, Ihsahn and Alcest.
Taking place in the beautiful open air surroundings of Poble Espanyol – a huge stone built architectural museum – the site is one of the most important and striking landmarks of tourism in Barcelona. Whilst by day the Catalonian hotspot may play host to some of Barcelona’s most interesting historical articles, by the end of June to the start of July it will instead play host to some of the world’s finest progressive bands. Last year saw the festival co-headlined by Steven Wilson and fellow progressive heavy weights Opeth.
So far for 2017 Be Prog! My Friend have announced legendary headliners Jethro Tull and Marillion alongside Norwegian music collective Ulver, Anathema, Animals as Leaders, Mike Portnoy’s Shattered Fortress and Caligula’s Horse.
Now Be Prog! My Friend’s line-up for this year is complete with the addition of the Devin Townsend Project, Leprous and Spain’s Jardín de la Croix.
Devin Townsend returns to Be Prog! My Friend for an exclusive performance of his 1997 album ‘Ocean Machine: Biomech’ in full to celebrate its 20th anniversary. Devin himself describes ‘Ocean Machine’ as ‘a labor of love that was born more out of adversity than almost anything else. I’m very proud of this album, and has a very obvious ‘blue’ feeling to me’
Joining Devin will be one of the best progressive metal acts in the world, Leprous. The festival organisers comment: ‘we were stunned by their technical genius, the absorbing personality of frontman Einar and their almighty live shows’. At Be Prog! My Friend their performance will be a ‘By Request’ show, where all fans of Leprous can vote. The songs with the most votes will be played at the festival.
The final band that completes the line-up for Be Prog! My Friend 2017 is Jardín de la Croix described by the festival as ‘one of the most beloved bands in the Spanish rock scene at the moment. With their excellent live shows they are definitely one of the best instrumental rock bands in Spain at the moment. We proudly welcome them to the festival and hope you enjoy Jardín de la Croix with us!’
The complete line-up for Be Prog! My Friend 2017:
JETHRO TULL / MARILLION
MIKE PORTNOY’S SHATTERED FORTRESS / ANATHEMA / THE DEVIN TOWNSEND PROJECT / ULVER / ANIMALS AS LEADERS / LEPROUS / CALIGULA’S HORSE / JARDÍN DE LA CROIX
Tickets are on sale now at the fixed price of 130 Euros:
Be Prog! My Friend takes place in the heart of Barcelona and with an airport only 12km away, regular, cheap flights make it an easy festival to get and from the UK. Bands will start playing from mid/late afternoon each day which will also mean visitors have plenty of time to explore the stunning city of Barcelona while they are there.
There follows a transcript smuggled out from under the noses of our Chicken overlords, we have been unable to verify the authenticity of the document, or indeed what happened to the brave rebel who made this recording but we can only hope he is safe, Mubla praise him.
‘Is this on…..can you hear me? Can you hear me? As you all know they rose up suddenly, whilst we were all distracted by Brexit, Trump and Armageddon, we were too busy worrying about ourselves to notice the chickens….then, they there were, they hadn’t just crossed the road, they’d built a nice big tunnel, snuck into the army bases around the world, and as we were reeling from the aftermath of the big red spark, there they were, our new overlords.
Luckily there were few with foresight, those who knew about the upcoming uprising, and the wisest of them all, some called him a seer, some a mad man, some called the twiceborn moth, all we know is he is called the Wizard Ramsay, and with his coterie around him, and a set of tantalising clues and lessons, spread throughout the world, our journey has led us here.
Who are we? You ask, well we are the resistance, following the orders of the one known only as the Great Elephant, and now…well now I am the only one left, I can’t get the image of Brother Godfrey, sitting in his tree getting pecked slowly to death by a thousand chickens as he pledged allegiance to the ducks, or Brother Stevens, the hero of the battle of Rushden, he riffed and looped, fierce to the death.
Now I remain, and I have found what I was looking for, the mystical artefact, the legendary disc of words, we cannot fight them by force alone, we need something new, something to confound and disturb them.
(silence. The voice goes dead…all we can hear is hissing and the sound of claws scraping on rock…)
‘….they’ve gone, that was close, that was a bantam attack, as everyone knows they are the SAS of the chicken army, where was I?
Oh yes, following the instructions on the sheet hidden by one of the Elephant sympathisers, (a gentleman only known as Wizard Wilfred) I have found the Black Box…. (what’s in the Black Box? It’s definitely not chocolates) I have it, the CD in my hand, despite the Chicken overlords banning CD players due to them not being able to operate them with claws, luckily the mysterious man of the resistance known only as Wallet Emptier, managed to provide me with one, wrapped up in the tattered remnants of a wizards sleeve.
(sounds of cellophane being ripped, the unmistakable sound of a CD being inserted into the device, and the words of the beloved Wizard Ramsay, a Gandalf for these modern dark times echo round the chamber? Cavern? Sewer?)
Almost as if he predicted it, the first utterance from the disc of Ramsay is a Living Will, full of intensity and power, as if he knew this day would come.
Scattered throughout the sacred artefact are four lessons that will help ensure the survival of our species, all starting with the phrase ‘Ecoute et Repete’ the motto of the resistance, each one being a salutary lesson before the public service broadcasting begins.
Urging the survivors to Open a Hole, someone to survive in? somewhere to take shelter? I am reminded of the sage Moorcock as he told his tales with and without his Hawkwind compatriots, the joy of hearing music after so many months of solitary wandering makes me all giddy and euphoric, the beat hypnotic, the lyrics hitting me, and the sonic effect making up for hearing nothing but the sound of clucking and the cracking of whips as the Chickens made us build statues in their honour.
Almost like he forgot the tape was running we get some behind the scenes action from the Ramsay world, as he is interrupted by Wizard Wilfred, clearly the junior partner, and also, judging by the mishap heard here, still has a long way to go before he is as adept as Wizard Ramsay.
Almost as a warning to our hubris and our downfall, Ego Power gives us strong words for uncertain times, whilst channelling the spirit of whimsy, Stanshall and the cult of Python, Tramps In Their Purest Form is a joy to behold, Ramsay’s use of our language is bewitching and beguiling, and takes me back to the night he and the Brother Godfrey got me heroically drunk on Big Big Train beer at a concert in Rotherham, oh how I wish those days were here again.
I raise an imaginary tankard to fallen comrades, as I listen and take heed to the message, we are members of the Black Box Society, and the final victory will be ours. Hidden in plain sight, Hawaii Fried Chicken, ostensibly an alternative version of the Chicken national anthem, are words designed to inspire and enlighten us. When we hear one particular cluck, that is when the revolution will begin, and we shall be victorious, with the Wizard Ramsay leading us to salvation.
If I Rule the World is his vision of our post Hen utopia, a land where we can be free, where we can live like we should, where we can sit in trees naked outside peoples houses if we want to and no-one can stop us (not even that pesky restraining order).
Urban Crusoe, with it’s baffling co-ordinates and Egyptian references, maybe this is Ramsay telling me where I should go next, where I can find the final answer and help the resistance rise, and batter these chicken.
I will follow them…these words of wisdom, and see where they will take me…….’
Transcribers note: this tape was found wrapped in an old t-shirt, under a rock behind a dumpster near a KFC with the CD intact. It is unknown as to what happened to the brave member of the resistance who followed the clues laid down the Elephant to discover this. He did the work so we didn’t have to. Having played it I can safely say that now our chicken overlords have been defeated, this is the work of either a genius or madman or both. Channelling the spirit of Stanshall, Monty Python and old school English surrealism and word play, Wizard Ramsay has created a unique form of Magick, and one that keeps hitting the spot.
Gandalf’s Fist have announced a special deluxe re-issue of their 2013 space-rock offering “A Day in the Life of a Universal Wanderer”.
The expanded album has been fully remixed and remastered from the ground up, utilizing new performance takes and bringing the release firmly in line with the sonic palette of 2014’s “A Forest of Fey” and 2016’s “The Clockwork Fable”.
The record also features new and re-recorded narrative tracks from British Actor Mark Benton, who had previously worked with the band on last year’s Triple-CD album release.
Completing the package is the brand new, exclusive track The Stowaway and the Endless Night, an 11 minute opus originally omitted from the original release, as well as brand new cover art commissioned from German artist Thomas Huth, the man reasonable for the band’s sleeves on the last two releases.
Gandalf’s Fist front man, Dean Marsh, commented:
“This is the album people seem to have been desperate for us to re-release on CD format and we were reluctant to do so until we could finally do it right and do it justice. This is not a pointless ‘CGI-Yoda’ retrospective tinkering, we’ve retained the main core of what we originally created, but now with a bit more sheen and more energy. It now works as a cohesive piece. A real thrill for me was to hear the synth violin sections being re-recorded by orchestral musicians, It’s those little touches that have lifted the record to another level. I think we’ve finally got it to a stage where we’re proud to let it sit on the shelf next to our last two albums!”
“A Day in the Life of a Universal Wanderer (Special Edition)” will be released on 18th September 2017. Pre-orders for the album are now available, including limited edition t-shirt packages exclusive to official pre-orders.
Music is a very personal thing both for the artist and the listener, motivational, inspirational, a catharsis on which a musician can bare their soul and the darkest secrets within. It has always been about emotions, happy or sad, a conduit through which a musician can come to terms with the past and look forward to the future. An outlet affording the chance to confront fears, battle them head on and come through the other side eliciting empathy from devoted fans who recognise the difficulties faced in bringing the music to life.
Artists can quite often be protective of their private lives, yet willing to lay raw past experiences and struggles still faced. We have seen some fall by the wayside, being unable to exorcise their inner demons, yet at the same time others find salvation in their music.
So it is with Anathema. They too have had their trials and tribulations, most recently Daniel Cavanagh’s publicised personal struggles, after the well received previous studio album ‘Distant Satellites’. A hiatus over the last twelve months to recuperate and enable him to return to some semblance of normality has led to a moodier album. Thematically picking up from 2001’s ‘A Fine Day To Exit’, the new album sees the band lead us down a darker path, which whilst the music guides you it doesn’t provide answers.
It feels like only a detective/gum-shoe could try to make sense of the tale……
I checked the coordinates of first track ‘32.63N 117.14W’ it gives a location on the west side of Silver Strand State Beach, along San Diego Bay. So I take a turn off the free-way at Chula Vista and drive the Chevy round there. I arrive in time to see some John Doe pulling himself from the surf like a wet rag and stagger his way up the beach. I’ve no clues as to who our protagonist is so I decide to sit back and observe. I roll the knob on my car radio and slip through the channels, there’s a tune, I recognise the band but then lose the reception.
It’s replaced by catchy digital style beats and my fingers drum on the steering wheel in time to the rhythm. The man climbs into the passenger side of a Buick which has pulled out of the Loews Coronado Bay Resort (as guitars kick in) and exit the kerb. I throw the old girl into gear and pursue at a steady distance the voices joining the tune on the radio sound familiar, urgent, but I ain’t got time to think on it further as they speed musically away from my car, they are ‘Leaving It Behind’. It occurs to me the pair may also be fleeing from some sort of trouble.
I step on the gas and close the distance as we cruise the 75 past the Naval Amphibious Base, Coronado and across the bridge. They approach a spaghetti like junction and could go ‘Endless Ways’but heading for the 14A their car slides on to the I-15N, through San Diego and out past Little Italy settling at a steady speed. I notice it’s some blonde dame driving, a pretty little thing. The name Lee comes to mind and I’ve seen her but can’t place where. She has the window down and is singing to the guy beside her, the words float through the balmy air toward me, the broad sure can hold a tune and clearly doesn’t want him to leave her and the dream she’s creating, lucky guy.
Over Ocean Beach Free-way skirting Enchanted and De Anza Coves we bypass Sorento Valley, this could be a long drive. The no name, let’s call him ‘The Optimist’, in the passenger seat starts telling the girl he feels like a rabbit in the headlights but has to run away before it’s too late. She reminisces about the life they’ve left behind as guitar loops and strings rise from the stereo, growing, filling the car with crying guitars to fade on a haunting guitar.
We eat up the miles of piano keys, twitching rhythms in a regular pattern, flying past San Elijo and over the waters of Batiquitos Lagoon State Marine as we draw nearer to ‘San Francisco’. I can’t hear their voices for noises of the night, maybe they’ve stopped talking for a while as we weave through traffic like snakes through a forest, percussion and keys fluttering in the warm breeze.
A large locomotive hurtles by heading North, pulling carriage after carriage, must be fifty at least, mostly passenger. It’s a brief distraction as we approach Carlsbad and they turn off into the Village pulling in at an all night diner, gleaming polished chrome and neon lights. The couple get out of the car (the man has changed his clothes) and go inside. I top up the gas tank at the pump, then park further down the bays, head for the entrance and in. I sit a few tables down from them so I can still see and hear them without raising suspicion. They order and then the waitress comes over to me, asks if I’m eating alone, she’s cute but I ain’t got time for flirting. I order coffee, black and a couple of caramel and marshmallow cream do-nuts, I need to keep my energy levels up.
Headlights pierce the windows then the entrance door swings open and in come four serious looking guys, in denims, hoodies and leather jackets. I know them, it’s the Cavanagh twins, singer/guitarist Vincent and bassist Jamie with troubled brother Daniel, also a singer/guitarist. They grew up amidst a violent background but are all fine musicians these days. Danny Cardoso is with them, I recognise him from a magazine shot, the article said he’s a good keyboard player. They join the two I’ve been following saying their ‘hello’s’ and it clicks, the siblings Douglas. John’s a drummer who has struggled with a drug problem and his sister Lee, with the dreamy voice, is the one who picked him up at the beach. So the old Anathema crew are back together again.
I sit and listen, it’s quiet in here apart from the music in the background, a relaxed tune of guitars and keys. They talk and Lee starts singing softly to the tune and wondering “How did I get here, I don’t belong here…”. The music intensifies and I’m only getting brief snatches of conversation, mention of ‘Springfield’, but that’s way up the coast beyond Frisco, maybe they intend going there.
As the music dies down they rise to leave the conversation over, though I do hear someone whisper, “They’re leaving here, and were never seen again”, best I follow a while longer and see if I can work out what their plans are. They refuel and I wait, then we wend our way back to the I-15N and continue the journey. As we do I can hear Lee start to sing again, that dame could charm the birds from the trees. I’m beginning to wonder if this maybe ain’t just a road trip but a journey of the soul, a chance to blow away ‘Ghosts’ of the past and old cobwebs leaving the future a little clearer, not just for the band but me as well.
The music on the car stereo is sweet as we struggle our way through LA, I nearly lose them a few times but ‘Can’t Let Go’ just yet. I’m working things through, though I’m not sure I have many answers yet. The driving rhythm helps soothe me and picks up tempo as we gain speed heading inland through the forest parks toward Bakersfield. We’ve been travelling sometime when their two auto-mobiles swing into the lot of a motel with me following at a respectable distance. They go into reception and I watch as the music fades with only the sound of their footsteps and the doors as they take a couple of rooms for the night.
I decide to sleep in the car, it’s a balmy night and my budget doesn’t stretch to luxuries especially with tolls to pay en route. Car facing their rooms I yawn, recline the seat, leaving the windows partially open, tip my hat over my face and in my imagination I can hear Lee sing, soothingly ‘Close Your Eyes’ as I do just that. I’ll sleep tonight and dream on.
I wake with a start and sit upright, my hat falling into the foot-well, shaking my head to shift the fuzziness from my brain and rubbing my tired eyes. The sun is skirting the horizon on it’s ascent to day, red and orange causing a haze in the background, making it look like there are ‘Wildfires’ in the bush and scrub along the bleachers. The parking lot is empty except for my motor, think they’ve given me the slip,did they rumble me? I turn on the car stereo to a piano refrain joined by echoing harmonised voices that float from the speakers out of the window and into the warming air. The drums roll in as I get out of the car and stretch and turn in a circle, a vague attempt at allowing the light breeze to air my slept in clothes, I sure ain’t smelling of roses.
As I look around the music builds, filling out the sound like a grand introduction to the glorious sunrise before me, then echoes away. The sound of waves on the shore return my thoughts to the beginning of this tale and acoustic guitar offers reflection, whilst a male voice taunts me, “You don’t understand…All I need is you”.
I notice something propped on the windshield of the car and pick it up. It’s a CD. The cover is of a car at night driving towards me, making me feel like a rabbit in the blazing headlights. It’s Anathema‘s new one, ‘The Optimist’. Busted! They got me and now they’re gone, ah well I wish them all the best on their journey. No point in going any further I may as well head ‘Back To The Start’, besides I think I have gained enough from what I’ve seen and heard to satisfy my curiosity. The music comes to an end and there is the sound of a knock on an imaginary door, could be one in my brain. The door opens and a male voice asks,“Hi, how are you?” If it’s a question I had to answer right now, this journey has given me time to sort the dumpster in my head and I’m feeling just dandy.
I get back in the car and fire up the engine, she settles to a steady rumble. I take the CD from it’s cover and slip it into the player, there’s the sound of waves and someone on the beach, the soundtrack to this journey, now there’s a surprise. I smile, engage the transmission and head back South, it’s been a ride.
Wait! You were expecting answers? An explanation maybe? Not from this sap, my information on the band remains strictly confidential and what I have discovered about myself along the way highly personal. You want revelations I heavily suggest you treat yourself to a copy of ,‘The Optimist’, and discover for yourself, I’m sure you’ll find this excellent album is worth it.