Rikard Sjöblom’s Gungfly recently announced the release of ‘Friendship’, their brand new studio album, due out on November 9th, 2018. Following the release of 2017’s ‘On Her Journey To The Sun’, as well as 2018’s retrospective 5CD collection ‘Rumbling Box’, the band masterminded by former Beardfish frontman & current Big Big Train member Rikard Sjöblom.
Today a video for the track ‘Ghost of Vanity’ has been launched and you can watch that here:
Rikard comments: ”A song that really just came to me all at once while I was strumming away on my guitar one day, lyrics and all. I kept singing ‘I don’t want no part in this’ over and over at first and then started partake in. Well, vanity is something I’ve never been a big fan of but one way or another we’re all slaves to it. I think most people, especially teenagers and young adults strive to live up to unrealistic expectations from TV-commercials or the superficial parts of showbiz. I remember when I was a kid and thought everything they said on TV was true, or at least didn’t reflect too much about whether thinking about what it was I didn’t want to it was real or not. No matter how much we try to not care about how cool or pretty or rich we are, I think it gets to us. The ghost of vanity is always present and I guess it takes a lot of reflecting over your own identity and a lot of courage to try to be yourself. I admire those who truly are.”
The album will be available as a limited CD Digipak & gatefold 2LP + CD (both including 3 bonus tracks) as well as digital download. Pre-order now here: https://Gungfly.lnk.to/Friendship
The full track-listing is as follows:
1.Ghost of Vanity
4.A Treehouse in a Glade
6.If You Fall, Pt. 2
7.Crown of Leaves
8.Slow Dancer (Bonus Track)
9.Past Generation (Bonus Track)
10.Friendship (Utopian Radio Edit) (Bonus Track)
Rikard comments of the musical direction: “Musically, what can I say? This is prog rock, but I want to be free to move in whatever direction the music wants to go and I happily go exploring where it wants to take me. Even though there are a few softer songs and sections, most of the album turned out to be a rocker; a collection of hard rock songs with lots of tricky parts, some heavier moments and some downright jazzy elements too!”
Rikard Sjöblom is perhaps best known as the multi-instrumentalist frontman of Beardfish, who established themselves as one of the most consistently brilliant modern-day progressive rock bands over the course of eight studio albums. In recent years, he has also become known for his work with English progressive collective Big Big Train, playing live with them as well as performing on their most recent studio album ‘The Second Brightest Star’ as well as the new live album ‘Merchants of Light’.
“Heir to Despair” is the 11th studio album by Sigh set for release on 16th November (Candlelight Records).
While the previous album “Graveward” (2015) was rather symphonic orchestral stuff, “Heir to Despair” is pointing at the completely opposite direction. Heavily inspired by old crazy progressive bands like Brainticket, Embryo, Agitation Free, Between, Gentle Giant, Os Mutantes, Modulo 1000, Black Widow, etc.,”Heir to Despair” turned out to be a heavy, psychedelic and exotic album filled with vintage keyboards and flute.
“Homo Homini Lupus” is the first track to be shared from the record featuring guest vocals from Phil Anselmo. Vocalist Mirai Kawashima comments,
“Homo Homini Lupus” is one of the fastest and the simplest tracks on “Heir to Despair”. Don’t expect other songs to sound like this. “Homo Homini Lupus” means “Man is wolf to man” in Latin. Thomas Hobbes referred to this verb to describe how men would act in the state of nature before we were civilized. The world shown in “The Walking Dead” series should be the best example of what we truly are. Men become wolves, or should I say men are wolves in their real nature. Look what our ancestors did during the wartime! Look what our ancestors did during famine! We have own wolves inside.”
Mirai met Phil 20 years ago when they were both in US death metal band, Necrophagia adding, “it is a great honor for us to finally have him on our album! He added a great atmosphere to the song with his very deep voices! It should be VERY easy for you to tell which parts were sung by Phil”.
What the band describes with this album is the world through the eyes of madness. Yes, the album is about insanity. Music on the album is varied as a mad man’s thoughts. It starts with psychedelic and exotic “Aletheia” but the following “Homo Homini Lupus” is rather a straightforward thrashy song with the typical Sigh twist. “In Memories Delusional” is a brutal tune with heavy Asian touches, which must be an new experience for everybody, while “Heresy Trilogy” is the representation of pure madness and insanity with lots of crazy stuff going on, which has nothing to do with metal at all. The album ends with the title track, which is a 10 minutes long progressive epic song.
It should be nothing surprising for Sigh fans, but the album got everything from extreme metal, 60’s / 70’s rock, jazz, classical, world music, dub, and noise. The music styles it covers are as wide as the world through the eyes of madness.
Also “Heir to Despair” can be taken as Sigh’s first attempt to intentionally take in Japanese / Asian musical feel. Mirai used some Japanese traditional singing techniques and the ex-Estradasphere Shamisen (the Japanese traditional instrument) master, Kevin Kmetz is featured on several songs. Moreover, 90% of the lyrics are in Japanese, which never happened on the past Sigh albums.
The album was mixed by a Canadian engineer, Phil Anderson, and mastered by Maor Appelbaum, who has worked with a lot of great artists such as Faith No More, Yes and Yngwie Malmsteen to name a few. Phil and Maor have a perfect combination and they have worked together on many projects. Thanks to them, “Heir to Despair” turned out the heaviest Sigh album.
The cover artwork, which exactly fits the concept of the album, was again drawn by Eliran Kantor. Eliran did the artworks for the past Sigh albums such as “Scenes from Hell” (2010) and “In Somniphobia” (2012).
Mirai adds, “I just suggested to Eliran that the album is about insanity and gave him some Japanese psychotropic drug advertisement from the 60s / 70s, which I love, to show him what kind of artwork I wanted. The result was perfect. The woman on the artwork looks ostensibly happy but the plant she’s watering is withering, and her room looks like a mess. This is what true insanity is about. This is what true horror is about. These days people are trying to pretend to be as happy as possible on SNS, but what kind of darkness do they have in their mind? You cannot draw the line between sanity and insanity any more.”
“The darkness of the ultimate light is better than the lights of the ultimate darkness.”
― Mohsin Ali Shaukat
One cannot truly appreciate the light unless one has first walked in the dark. We talk of the light at the end of the tunnel, you see this through the dark and it is the ultimate goal, you must, however, travel through the dark to reach the light.
The tragedy that befell in February 2016 called into question the very existence of Riverside. The co-founder and guitarist of the band, Piotr Grudziński, died suddenly just before his 41st birthday. The band cancelled all the concerts planned for that year and dedicated the album “Eye of the Soundscape”, released in September 2016, to their late friend.
To begin a new chapter of Riverside, they would have to record an album from the point of view of someone bereft, someone who has survived a tragedy. The fact that the album would be recorded without their guitarist might result in having to experiment musically a little more than usual but, most of all, it might translate into deeper symbolism and carry a more profound meaning. “I had a feeling we would be alright and we could make something beautiful and exceptional,” recalls vocalist and main composer Mariusz Duda.
In the spring of 2017, Riverside resumed playing live. During the “Towards the Blue Horizon” tour the band were joined on stage by Maciej Meller who officially joined RIVERSIDE as their live guitarist. Why has he not become the official fourth member of the band? “It’s not so simple,” Duda explains, “To catch up with 15 years takes time. I love Maciej but everything has to have its place and time. For now we are a quartet only live.”
So that band is coming back this year with their seventh studio album called “Wasteland”, recorded as a trio: Mariusz Duda – vocals, guitars and basses, Piotr Kozieradzki – drums and Michał Łapaj – keyboards and Hammond organ.
The band entered the recording studio in December 2017 and Duda assumed the duties of the band’s guitarist. “We recorded a demo. It turned out alright and we had come to the conclusion that I would manage to play all the rhythmic parts, all the melodies and some of the solos. Naturally, to enhance the sound of the album, we left some space for guests.”
And so on the new album, you can hear a few guitar solos by Maciej Meller, as well as one by Mateusz Owczarek, a young, talented guitarist, who played with the band during their Warsaw memorial concert for Piotr. For the first time in their music, there are also violins played by Michał Jelonek.
Touted by the band as the spiritual successor to ‘Second Life Syndrome’, the new album is a much heavier and emotive proposition than fan favourite ‘Love, Fear and the Time Machine’. From the opening strains of Duda’s a-cappella vocals on The Day After and the segue into the sparse, industrial riff of Acid Rain, this is immediately apparent. An underlying feel of apprehension and darkness takes over the first few tracks on the album, for an album whose theme is attempting to survive in a world after the Apocalypse this is, perhaps, quite understandable.
This opening may surprise long term fans but it is superbly well crafted and delivered music that seeks to find a way through an increasingly turbulent world full of new divisions and conflicts. The closing couple of minutes of Acid Rain seem to bring a feeling of light and hope but that is immediately dashed by the granite heavy, staccato riff that delivers Vale of Tears onto an unsuspecting world. A powerful and imposing track that is delivered in one serious and heavy manner. So far ‘Wasteland’ and its predecessor are proving to be polar opposites.
The symbolism of the album refers not only to the post-apocalyptic visions of the world, but also to the death of Piotr Grudziński, to the band’s attempt to find themselves in new circumstances. The wistfully heartbreaking Guardian Angel with its understated vocals and delicate piano and guitar is calmness personified among the dark, post-apocalyptic feel of the earlier tracks. There’s a melancholy feel and a longing at its heart that brings a lump to your throat, a sepia tinged look back in time perhaps?
The elegant acoustic guitar that opens Lament gives no indication of what is to follow, Duda’s keening vocal heralds the entrance of the heaviest riff on the album so far, one that Mikael Åkerfeldt would have been proud of. A song that will inevitably draw comparisons with Opeth (well, I’ve done it!!) with its spacious and melodious verse and thunderous chorus. It’s the song on the album that really hits home with me, emotionally and musically, and Mariusz Duda’s solo just bleeds passion.
There’s a slight change in feel on the album as we head into the ying and yang of the 9 minute-plus instrumental The Struggle For Survival, a feel of the fight to pull away from the hold of the darkness and fight to get to the light. An invigorating first half where Duda’s bass line orchestrates proceedings with a deftness of touch is replaced by the more frantic and chaotic guitar and keyboard heavy second part where Łapaj comes to the fore. The graceful River Down Below sees the seeker getting closer to the light but there’s still a slightly forlorn edge to the music and a fragility to the vocal, a touching and truly moving song that wears its heart on its sleeve.
Title track Wasteland has a world-weary aura, a feel of an ending to a journey of extreme hardship but also one of hard fought knowledge collected along the way. The song drifts along with a lightness of being that can only come from the triumph over adversity. There’s a break into a frenzied instrumental section that fights to overcome the calm before sanity finally regains control. This gives an epic and cinematic feel to the song, an allegory of the fight between darkness and light which has been at the crux of the whole album. For me, the best is saved till last, the wonderful The Night Before where the sparsity of just piano and vocals gives humanity and reality to the song. It’s sublime, almost intangible grace seeps into your very soul until the song finishes and all is left is the vacuum of total silence.
Simply put ‘Wasteland’ is two things, a triumph of the light over the dark and a fitting tribute to Piotr. A compelling and engrossing musical journey through darkness, grief and loss to emerge into the light. A spiritual catharsis that sees a new chapter in the life of Riverside and puts them back at the forefront where they truly belong.
“If you want to experience a deep journey into sound, ATME is a band you are looking for.”
Well, that’s quite a strapline isn’t it? Definitely enough to get me intrigued but, first, more about Poland’s ATME from the Press Release:
“ATME was founded in 2011 in Wrocław, Poland. The band consists of four friends and integrated personalities crafting their own musical language mostly by improvisation during rehearsals and concerts.
“We like to leave our comfort zones in search of our own unique sound and character, the best way is by putting ourselves in a state of being here and now and just letting the music flow through us” – states ATME’s guitarist Piotr Guliński.
The stories behind their songs are the result of observation of the world and people. Lyrics discuss issues concerning the existence, spiritual development and psychology of the human mind.
“Music needs to be alive, to interact with us, people and the world around us, it needs to breathe” – says vocalist Luke Pawełoszek.”
Along with Piotr and Luke, ATME’s line up is completed by Adrian Nejman – bass and Paweł Zborowski – drums & percussion. ATME’s sound can be associated with some of the works from bands like Tool, Led Zeppelin, Budgie, Opeth, Mastodon, Perfect Circle or Faith No More, while still maintaining an identity of their own.
So, big shoes to step in but step into them they do. The band’s debut release ‘State of Necessity’ is a dark and powerful statement of intent shot through with some quite beautiful moments of light and lucidity. There is a touch of jazz to opening tracks Worthy of Pity and Pleasure Box that does give a feel of Faith No More to the music, if Faith No More had spent a few days locked in a dark dungeon with Satan himself that is.
For this is a very dark album in places, deliciously dark in fact, the guitar riffs feel like they have come from the darkest recesses of the Earth and the obsidian drumbeat is hewn out of solid rock. There’s no comfort zone here, just the stylish, raw musical sound of a band crafting their own musical language and forging their own unique sound. Be it the grunge-heavy groove of the fabulous Trickster or the hard-rock-fest of the riotous ten minutes of Interrupted Call, like Led Zep on some serious acid, this band have crafted some seriously impressive tracks.
Through it all Luke’s impressively world weary and gravelly vocal drives things along, accompanied by that superb sound from Piotr’s memorable guitar and the truly heavy rhythm section of Adrian and Pawel. There are rare moments of calm within this thunderous musical storm of an album, moments that concentrate your thoughts on what is coming next, Pecto Dril, which will rock you like the proverbial hurricane, or (un)cut Thoughts with its more cerebral moments, either is a force of nature.
The album closes with the monster Hotel of the Transfiguration, a near ten minute journey into the soul of the beast and one of the best prog metal/hard rock/grunge tracks you’ll hear this year, this truly is the primeval sound of the earth at its elemental core.
Well, if you want a complete heavy mind-f*ck of an album that will, literally, blow you away but one that is full of intelligence and incisive songwriting then you need look no further than ATME’s brilliant debut ‘State of Necessity’.
The conflict and correlation between dark and light is a universal theme with a historically rich history. Musically, perhaps no band in the 21st Century has mined that relationship more consistently or effectively than Japan’s MONO.
Across 10 albums in 20 years, MONO have convincingly reflected the quietest and most chaotic parts of life through their music. Their ever-expanding instrumental palette – which began in earnest in 1999 with the traditional guitar-bass-drums rock band setup – has evolved to include as many as 30 orchestral instruments. Now, on Nowhere Now Here, the band add electronics to their repertoire – perhaps inspired by guitarist/composer Takaakira ‘Taka’ Goto’s recent collaboration with John McEntire, the beguiling Behind the Shadow Drops. Nowhere Now Here also sees MONO’s first-ever lineup change, adding new drummer Dahm Majuri Cipolla (The Phantom Family Halo) to the core trio of Goto, Tamaki, and Yoda. Tamaki also makes her vocal debut here, singing into the shadows of vintage Nico on the poetically hazy “Breathe.”
The unlikely career of MONO has taken them to virtually every corner of the planet, several times over. Those corners have all left indelible marks on their music, as it drills deeper towards the sound of feeling not quite human and all too human – often at the same time.
MONO have also shared a collaborative short film, directed by French Director Julien Levy:
Recorded with producer Steve Albini, Nowhere Now Here is released on 25th January 2019 via Pelagic Records.
IMAGES AND WORDS BEHIND PROG’S MOST CELEBRATED ALBUMS 1990-2016
Well known and respected within progressive music circles as the man behind The Prog Report, Roie Avin has worked with various labels and rock and prog artists over a 20 year career in the music business.
This new book looks into the stories behind the best prog albums from 1990-2016, eschewing the classic prog bands who made their name through the ’60’s, ’70’s and ’80’s, like Yes, Rush and Pink Floyd. As Roie says in the introduction, “Prog didn’t fall off the cliff after getting Close To The Edge, it continued on the Bridge Across Forever.”
A mighty tome of coffee table reading size, ‘Essential Modern Progressive Rock Albums’ looks in-depth at how these albums came about with exclusive interviews from the artists involved and the requisite amount of glossy pictures.
A comprehensive guide to over 50 albums that shines a light on such gems as Queensrÿche’s 1990 release ‘Empire’ that opens the book and ‘Whirlwind’, the 2009 epic from Transatlantic to Big Big Train’s legendary 2013 album ‘English Electric: Full Power’ and ‘Similitude of a Dream’, Neal Morse’s brilliant 2016 retelling of A Pilgrim’s Progress that closes things out. Roie has a genuine affection for the music and the artists who released it and this comes across in his intelligent, and warm writing style.
With a seemingly inexhaustible supply of encyclopediatic knowledge, Roie devotes a chapter to each album with a well written introduction leading into the main description, there seems to be nothing that this man doesn’t know about his subject.
There’s some albums in there that I have never touched on but now will and also some of my favourite records that will gain a new lease of life due to Roie’s enthusiastic and descriptive words, albums such as ‘Milliontown’ from Frost* and Porcupine Tree’s‘Fear of a Blank Planet’, this engrossing guide brings the history behind the music to the fore.
Yes, there are some albums that don’t make the guide that, in other people’s opinion, maybe should have but there is so much in-depth material here that you will be dipping in and out for many years to come. And, for the music nerd, there is an extensive knowledge base for you to play one upmanship with your fellow music loving friends.
What you have here is exactly what Roie has set out to deliver, the essential guide to modern progressive rock albums and it is an entertaining and engrossing read that you will enjoy for a long time to come.
Since the release of her previous album ‘Five Incantations’ in 2016, internationally acclaimed composer and virtuoso cellist Jo Quail has been touring extensively across Europe performing alongside the likes of Boris, Amenra, Caspian, Myrkur and Winterfylleth. Festival performances this year include ArcTanGent, WGT, Dunk! and Tramlines Festival, and two separate concerts at the invitation of Robert Smith for his curation of the Southbank’s Meltdown Festival.
Jo’s new album ‘Exsolve’, recorded with Chris Fielding at Skyhammer Studios (Electric Wizard, Primordial, Witchsorrow, Conan), will be released on 2nd November. Watch the trailer with an excerpt of the track ‘Mandrel Cantus’ here:
The initial ideas for ‘Exsolve’ were formed following an invitation to perform at the Arp Museum in Bonn, to celebrate the Barbara Hepworth ‘Sculpture for a Modern World’ exhibition (previously at the Tate Modern). Jo comments, ‘as well as my standard concert repertoire from my previous three albums I wanted to write and perform something specifically to honour these beautiful works. I wrote a piece for solo cello called ‘Single Form’ which explored the cello physically, using the extensive pitch range and then creating a sonic ‘hole’ literally by handshape and position on the neck, mirroring the curves and spaces in Hepworth’s work.’
While ‘Single Form’ doesn’t appear on the new album, the writing process behind it went on to inform and help mould all the pieces on ‘Exsolve’. Jo adds, ‘there are many aspects of Barbara Hepworth’s life and works that inspired the early creative stage of this album. She talked of the left hand ‘seeing’ and the right hand then carving, and I found this analogy greatly inspiring. I wanted to explore what it actually feels like physically to play cello and at the same time I wanted to write something ambitious, brave and proud, something that pushes beyond what I had done before in terms of live looping, yet something that has the weight and certainty of a monolith for want of a better term!’
Since commencing her solo career in 2010, Jo has released three albums, three EPs and a live DVD. Following her 2015 European tour with post-rock giants Caspian Jo has embedded herself in the world of left-field and heavy music, whilst continuing to perform within the contemporary and avant-garde spheres. Not only did she open for black-metal artist Myrkur but Jo joined her on stage as part of her Folkesange project as well as collaborating with the likes of A-Sun Amissa, Mono’s Takaakira ‘Taka’ Goto, Eraldo Bernocchi and FM Einheit (Einsturzende Neubauten). Jo has performed several concerts of her works arranged for electric cello, orchestral ensembles and choirs both at home in the UK, in Europe and in Australia where she tours on a yearly basis.
“Exsolve’ is comprised of 3 tracks, with each one being broken down in to sections and movements across 45 minutes. Mastered by James Griffiths, himself a film composer, there is an almost symphonic quality to the album.
‘Exsolve’ has been an unique process in both writing and recording terms for Jo who states, ‘what made the writing process so different for me was the sense that every single note was being sculpted, created, forged by hand somehow. It was not a ‘struggle’ but it was a clear process with a lot of very detailed attention to individual sounds; in some cases the sounds themselves built the pieces rather than a melodic structure requiring an extra heft of percussion. For example the tribal toms at the end of ‘Causleen’s Wheel’ were created and set down before the front end of the piece was written…but as with my other pieces, the whole work relates back and forwards, and is built from the same motif throughout.’
With recording ‘Exsolve’ Jo decided to try something different and set out working with Chris Fielding, known more for his work with metal bands such as Conan, Electric Wizard and Witchsorrow at Sky Hammer Studio. Jo describes this as, ‘an incredible experience. Chris is really on it as a producer, and had no issue with my method of writing from a loop perspective, and dealing with all the various motifs that appear and withdraw throughout the compositions. Pretty much everything was reamped live, which brings the depth to the sound. Chris is very patient and equally very creative, so we were able to take my existing sounds and make them somehow 3 dimensional for the record. In places where I was less convinced of my sound choices Chris was able to advise and to bring different factors in too, experimenting with different heads and amps for reamping, or suggesting various techniques he employs in other genres of music to help to realise what I had in my head.’
Having had special guests on her albums in the past Jo brought in Dan Capp (Winterfylleth), Nik Sampson guitar (Devilment, Prolapse A.D.) and Lucie Dehli to contribute and collaborate on this record adding, ‘they are all very good friends of mine and all musicians I admire so greatly, so it was a pleasure to give the tracks to them and see where they went. I gave them no direction, just the tracks as they were, and this is the result. I wanted to create a sound world that my guests could come and place their sculptures on, to continue the analogy.’
‘Exsolve’ is a snapshot in time of these 3 pieces and with every live performance Jo looks to develop them further. As Jo concludes ‘For me, the final record is usually only the starting point of the journey and over time and with each performance the music will morph and be reshaped – composing and performing is a collaborative process between me, the space and the audience’.
1) Forge – Of Two Forms
2) Mandrel Cantus
3) Causleen’s Wheel
Pre-orders will be announced soon and a vinyl version of the album with an additional track will follow early next year.
Jo Quail will be heading out on two European tours to support the release opening for Mono and A Storm of Light in October followed by Myrkur in December.
European tour w/ Mono & A Storm of Light
01 Oct: Bristol, UK, The Fleece
02 Oct: Norwich, UK, Arts Centre
03 Oct: Glasgow, UK, Classic Grand
04 Oct: Newcastle, UK, The Cluny
05 Oct: Leeds, UK, Left Bank
06 Oct: Ghent, BE, De Central
07 Oct: Utrecht, NL, Tivoli De Helling
08 Oct: Bremen, DE, Tower
09 Oct: Dresden, DE, Beatpol
10 Oct: Wiesbaden, DE, Schlachtof
11 Oct: Aarau, CH, Kiff
12 Oct: Lyon, FR, CCO
13 Oct: Barcelona, ES, Aloud Music Festival
14 Oct: Toulouse, FR, Le Rex
15 Oct: Bordeaux, FR, Krakatoa
16 Oct: Orleans, FR, Astrolabe
17 Oct: Heerlen, NL, Nieuwe Nor
18 Oct: Oberhausen, DE, Drucklufthaus
19 Oct: Leeuwarden, NL, Into The Void
20 Oct: Athens, GR, Fuzz Club
22 Oct: St. Petersburg, RU, Zal
23 Oct: Moscow, RU, Zil
European tour w/ Myrkur
03 Dec: SE Stockholm, Vasateatern04/12 – NO Oslo, John Dee
The Franck Carducci team is proud to announce that we will release a music video for our new song “Slave to Rock ‘n’ Roll” on November-15 2018
We will hold a release party at Boston-Cafe in Lyon, FR on November-14 where the video will be displayed on the big screens while the band plays a short special concert.
The video was produced by La Koloc Production and stars our new fictional character: “Arion Superstar”
Statement from Franck:
“I don’t want to reveal too much about this song already, all I can say for now is that it’s a humoristic tune , full of self-derision,
in the pure tradition of the 70’s classic rock hits. We had a great time shooting a funny video full of glam to go with it, and we sure hope the viewers will be entertained”
“Who hears music, feels his solitude Peopled at once.”
― Robert Browning, The complete poetical works of Browning
Damn, 2018 has been a stellar year for some great new releases and another one has found its way to Progradar Towers!
Damanek are a sort of Prog Rock supergroup formed by fellow Yorkshireman Guy Manning (vocals, keyboards, percussion, guitars, bass), Marek Arnold (saxes and seaboard), Dan Mash (bass) and Sean Timms (keyboards, guitar, backing vocals & additional programming). This talented quarted is joined by a plethora of stellar musicians including Antonio Vittozzi, Luke Machin and Tzan Nico on guitar and Brody Thomas Green on drums.
Described as ‘a genre-defying collection of sophisticated songs..’, ‘In Flight’ is the follow up to 2017’s well received ‘On Track’. Once again Sean Timms’ sleek production adds to the overall sense of quality and class.
There’s a shiver of anticipation running through me as the opening notes of Ragusa break out, there’s already a feeling of class and quality shining through. Guy has one of those voices that speaks to you through and beyond the music, a familiar cultured tone that puts you at ease immediately. The music itself is impressively stylish and smooth and just adds to the feeling of sophistication. The guest guitarists add even more sparkle and inspiration, this is going to be one enjoyable journey. Oooh, jazzy piano and percussion, the opening to Skyboat is joyful and upbeat and, as the track opens up with gusto, we are sent on a rollocking musical ride. Funky guitar and edgy percussion, along with an ever so cool hammond organ, add to the feel-good factor and the grin spreading across your face. This is music at its inspiring best and music that brings joy to your soul.
The Crawler opens with a deliciously dark melody and feel, a mature and sophisticated aura permeates the song with Guy’s distinguished vocal adding layers of class. The captivating chorus with its elegant sax sends shivers down your spine. Sean’s production can be felt most here, giving us a stand out piece of music on what is becoming an evidently impressive album. There’s a levity to Moon Catcher, a lightness of soul and featherlight touch to the music. The sparsity of the production and laid back approach to the vocals, along with the meandering sax, leaves a whimsical feel, a really classy piece of music.
Catchy, addictive and upbeat from the first note, The Crossing is a jazz-infused delight, the carefree tinkling of the ivories a particular highlight. Add in some more of the impressive sax and Guy’s vocals and you are onto a winner. The 3 part epic Big Eastern closes the album, taking the listener on an emotive journey from East to West: from the poorest rural lands of China to the West Coast of the USA. Grand in conception, and inspired in execution, it’s a journey that you become deeply involved in and one that takes you across the whole galaxy of progressive music, visiting every nuance on its way. At just shy of thirty minutes it is a true epic but never outstays its welcome, every note and every word is there for a reason and that reason is to give the listener the best and most joyous experience ever when it comes to music.
‘In Flight’ is an album I haven’t remotely got bored of, even after multiple listens. A compelling, engaging and stimulating listening experience that leaves you high on music and life. Every absorbing minute of music is a minute that will bring a smile to your face. This year there have been some fantastic releases, releases that are finally bringing the joy back to music and Damanek’s ‘In Flight’ should be considered up there with the best of them.
Nosound have come a long way since their humble beginnings as a solo project of main man Giancarlo Erra. Six studio albums along with the odd EP and live CD/DVD have seen them hailed as one of the most interesting up and coming alt/art rock bands in Europe. Nosound inventively combines influences from ’70s psychedelia, ’80s/’90s ambient and contemporary alternative and post rock.
The follow up to 2016’s ‘Scintilla’ sees the band forging a different sound. “Allow Yourself’ is a new phase for Nosound. Finding a new balance between organic and electronic sounds. stepping away from rock structures and ditching guitars to have more space for experimentation.”, says Giancarlo, “It is a stripping back of what we have known before, and its inspirations are in a different field altogether, finding the band in a new space once more, wholly embracing Alternative/Electronic influences.”
So is the new sound of Nosound (sorry, couldn’t resist that!) a step in the right direction. Well yes….and no…
There are times when you bemoan the absence of the lush chords and wonderful orchestrations of the previous albums, especially ‘Afterthoughts’ and ‘Scintilla’ and, to my ears, some tracks that just don’t work at all. However, at other times, it’s minimalist feel and heartrending simplicity is painstakingly beautiful.
The highlights of the album are the wonderful, ethereal sounding shelter, my drug, this night and saviour, four tracks where the band’s desire to take the stripped back route works just about perfectly, leaving you with a feeling of whimsical, melancholy delight. The slow burning desire of at peace works particularly well, all the pent up desire burning under the surface but never allowed to break free.
The less is more approach works less well on ego drip, don’t you dare and weights, all good songs but just lacking that spark I have come to expect from this band. I just cannot get into growing in me and defy at all, I’ll just leave it that they are not my cup of tea.
So, overall, I have to say that I was a little disappointed with the new album. I always applaud a band’s desire to progress and change, that is the lifeblood of music but, for me, there is just too much pared back minimalist style on the album. The good tracks are very, very good indeed but they don’t quite make up for the others. It is by no means a bad album but the change in direction just doesn’t fit with my musical ethos.