Starfish64 have a new single out in support of their new album coming in early 2022. The song is an evocative and uplifting hymn to the birdsong and beauty of nature. The forthcoming album „Scattered Pieces Of Blue“ will include a wide range of moods from groovy modern sounds, fragile acoustic pieces to a lengthy and spacey progressive suite.
Birdsong is available through all common streaming services and download portals as well as on:
Arjen Lucassen (Ayreon) is back with a new Star One album titled Revel In Time. The new album comes more than 10 years since the previous release and is due out on Feb 18th, 2022 on InsideOutMusic. Revel In Time is now available for pre-order, along with the re-issues of “Victims of the Modern Age” and “Space Metal”.
Today, Arjen is pleased to share the third single and video for “Prescient” featuring Micheal Mills (Toehider) and Ross Jennings (Haken, Novena).
Watch the video for “Prescient” here:
Arjen has this to say about the track:
“For me this is the most varied Star One album so far, every track has a totally different feel. The first single, Lost Children of the Universe, is a big epic track; the second single, Fate of Man, is a fast metal track, and Prescient is definitely the most proggy on the album. With the video we tried to capture that vintage black and white Twilight Zone feel with a touch of David Lynch!”
Revel In Time is available as Ltd. 2CD Digipak, Ltd. Deluxe 3CD+Blu-Ray Artbook (incl. a poster of the cover artwork), as 180g Gatefold 2LP (incl. the album on CD & an LP-Booklet) and as Digital Album (2 CD).
Also available will be a 5.1 mix, a high-res audio version, and an exclusive, hour-long Behind the Scenes video, on the Blu-ray included in the Artbook.
CD 2 features alternate versions of the same songs as CD 1, but with different vocalists.
Arjen explains the decision to return with a new Star One album:
“Ayreon is like the mothership for all my music. It contains all the different musical styles that I like to listen to and that I love to create. But I’m always looking for challenges and trying to create something new and original as well. Working within a set of constraints forces you to do that, so sometimes I like to limit myself and focus on just one style. For example, with Star One I focus on the metal-side of Ayreon. That means you won’t hear the exuberantly liberal use of acoustic instruments that are so often featured on Ayreon albums, like violin, woodwinds, cello, horns, dulcimer, mandolin, etc.”
The new album, featuring guest appearance from The Flower Kings’ Roine Stolt on title track, due out on Feb 18th, 2022.
Swedish progressive rock outfit Jonas Lindberg and The Other Side recently announced their signing with InsideOutMusic for the release of the upcoming new album Miles From Nowhere due out on Feb. 18th, 2022. Today, the group release the first single and video from the album for the track “Oceans of Time.”
This epic is sung by band leader and songwriter Jonas Lindberg himself and is about an ending relationship in the form of a ship on a stormy ocean. It features intense drumming from Simon Wilhelmsson and stunning guitar solos from Calle Stålenbring as well as folky melodies. Jonas comments:
“This track is one of my favourites from the new album. It got a lot of influences from Swedish folk music, which is something I grew up with. It also one of the tracks that I’m singing lead vocals on myself, which is not something I normally do. But I was spurred on by Simon (the drummer) when I showed him the demos that I was singing on, and he thought I should sing more tracks myself. So I thought I would give it a go!”
Watch the video for “Oceans of Time” here:
1. Secret Motive Man (7:26)
2. Little Man (5:49)
3. Summer Queen (15:52)
4. Oceans Of Time (11:37)
5. Astral Journey (5:50)
6. Why I’m Here (4:26)
7. Miles From Nowhere (25:32)
PT I – Overture, PT II – Don’t Walk Away PT III – I Don’t Know Where You Are PT IV – Memories, PT V – Miles From Nowhere
Miles From Nowhere will be released as:
Ltd. CD Digipak, Gatefold Black 2LP+CD+LP-booklet, and Digital Album.
‘Miles From Nowhere’ consists of seven songs which spans the full range of the progressive rock landscape – from the soaring ”Summer Queen” (led by Jenny Storm), to the folksy instrumental ”Astral Journey” to the closing title track; a sprawling 25 minute epic which features none other than Roine Stolt (The Flower Kings, Transatlantic) on lead guitar.
“Plenty to marvel at in the ensemble and individual playing of these musicians” – Louder Sound
Due to reasons which most fans will be well aware of by now, Gazpacho’s “Fireworker” 2020 album tour was cancelled. Stuck with the predicament of having a well-honed show rehearsed and the prospect of a long period off the road, the band had a decision to make. The idea of a live stream which would reach fans far and wide quickly presented itself and the band had a perfect setting in their very own rehearsal space in beautiful Fredrikstad.
The resulting film is a very moody trip into the world of ‘The Fireworker’, captured on the 25th of October 2020. No fixes, no polishes, no light show and no nothing. Not even catering. Just the pure rendition of the music along with a surprise or two for those of you who have been with the band for a while.
In Thomas Andersen’s own words “Gazpacho has always been an ‘anti band’, in the sense that we strive to do things differently. For this reason, we wanted an ‘honest’ live stream where we decided not to play the gig on an empty stage with a light show. Instead, we decided to perform it exactly how we play when we record or rehearse in the actual room we use.”
The original stream has now been completely re-edited and expanded with 30 minutes of additional material not included in the original broadcast, all remixed in glorious 5.1 surround sound. The Blu-Ray edition also contains 2.5 hours of bonus material including promo videos, interviews and a bonus concert filmed at the last night of the Soyuz Tour in 2019.
The band are now back on the road, but these recordings offer a fine historical nugget from the bands already sterling catalogue.
Deluxe 4-disc hardback book edition – with the whole show on double CD, Blu-Ray and DVD as well as 48 page coffee table book including extensive liner notes about the Fireworker concept and the history of Gazpacho, including never before seen photos and alternative album artwork.
· Blu Ray – which features the re-edited and expanded original stream with 30 minutes of additional material not included in the original broadcast, all remixed in glorious 5.1 surround sound. Plus 2.5 hours of bonus material including promo videos, interviews and a bonus concert filmed at the last night of the Soyuz Tour in 2019.
There’s just something you have to love about Scandinavian progressive rock, there’s a warmth and organic joy about the music that stems from those lands and the latest from Sweden’s excellent HFMC (Hasse Fröberg & Musical Companion) is no exception.
The band’s fifth studio album is an absolute gem and follows up 2019’s fan favourite ‘Parallel Life’, Hasse says of the new release:
“We Are The Truth is our most adventurous album to date. The music is positive, warm, organic, soulful and thoughtful. The lyrics are a cry for compassion, respect and love. We Are The Truth is both musically and lyrically very much about the world today”.
In a world that has become a place of darkness, fear and jealousy, ‘We Are The Truth’ shines like a beacon of light with its uplifting songs, wonderful music and Hasse’s distinctive vocals imbuing everything with a sepia tinged feeling of good will.
Music is something that can fill your soul with comfort, delight and elation and, from the first note of To Those Who Rule The World, there’s a heady feeling of good natured fun. This album is chock full of memorable chorus’s, chunky riff’s and amazing melodies that will last long in the memory. Bluesy, funky and full of Scandinavian soul, HFMC have that feel of seasoned professionals who just love what they do and want to share that affection with the rest of the world.
Other Eyes and Rise Up have an almost anthemic feel to them with a soaring chorus that just begs to be sung along to and a jaunty rhythm that just puts a smile on your face. There’s the longer, more intricate and utterly magnificent Constant Search For Bravery, the dreamy, childlike delight of Yoko, the sublime brilliance of title track We Are The Truth and the emotion and warmth of Every Second Counts, the hits of pure joy and elation just keep coming.
As in a lot of cases, the best is kept till last. Coming in at just under eleven minutes, A Spiritual Change showcases all that’s best about HFMC. Musically complex yet at the same time eminently accessible and listenable there’s an incredibly catchy motif running throughout and Hasse’s vocals are, once again, superb. Just let this song wash over you and enjoy the sense of joy, fun, bonhomie, warmth and charm that takes you to a higher plane, simply wonderful!
This superlative gem of release is worthy of all the praise that is being heaped upon it and finishes 2021 on an utter high for this reviewer, the finest of a wonderful crop of albums released this year? You’ll have to wait and see but it is most definitely right up there with the very, very best.
‘Of Brine And Angels Beaks’ is the second album from UK proggers Azure, who hail from Brighton and the South East of England. The album was Released in June 2021 after a period of lockdown and is the follow up to their debut ‘Wish For Spring’ that followed a few EP’s and singles like Redtail, a twenty minute progressive love song, and the shorter single Mistress that garnered wide acclaim for the band.
This album continues to mix hard edged progressive metal with fantasy elements (especially in the lyrics) and, over the course of its twelve songs and its sixty-three minute running time, many tales are told and worked upon. The music also includes lots of synthesizers, a modern clean production and lots of staggering guitar work from Galen Stapley, who can shred with the best of them, as eviced on his highly fluid and furious solo on the track Self-Crucifixion. The vocals of Christopher Sampson are very different and tend to verge wonderfully on the side of operatic, think Freddie Mercury on helium and you’d be in the right area. Thankfully they are highly listenable, no death metal growling here!
A Night Of Superlunary Gazing opens the album with one minute of almost psychedelic, fantastical music before Ameotoko 1 – The Curse drives in with some delicate arpeggio guitar lines and soft vocals, after about four minutes the song gains some traction and some pace, there are some strident keyboards runs in this section too. This is followed by the upbeat and excellent sounding The Jester Who Cheated Death and the fantastical Lustre – Siphon of Umbra, the former opening with what sounds like a marimba but isn’t. The song has great lyrics and lots happening musically, including some great guitar from Galen, along with some great dual harmonies. The song is a sorter one by Azure standards but certainly packs a punch. Lustre is a mellow, but hard edged, classic and one of the best songs on the album with great vocal harmonies and crunching, soaring guitars, it grabs your attention and holds on, a powerful piece of music.
Outrun God is next and, again, this starts gently but soon gains momentum. The song also has a highly impressive refrain that will stay with you long after it has finished, highly impressive Stuff. Mercy follows with very some very heavy guitar and epic synth work, along with driving beat that really gets under your skin in a positive way.
Of Brine and Angels Beaks opens with strong keyboard textures and a low bass from Bella Lee and some kick from Sam Calder on the drums. The song is slower paced but very dramatic, with some excellent vocals from Chris in among the strident riffing from Galen. The middle section really rocks with lots of effects being used to process the sound effectively. Again, a very strong chorus and, indeed, song which strong metallic elements to the fore. The song is quite dark in nature, especially in the lyrics. It talks a lot about death and the passing of time, the bass is prominent here and sounds impressive too.
A Sailor Will Learn is next and starts softly, although the vocals are certainly impassioned, after which we enter a heavy section with Galen’s furious guitar riffs adding great dynamics to this song. There is yet another memorable chorus and some more dual guitars tracked that give the melody a lift, after the chorus there’s a furious section with some frantic guitar parts and great solo before thunderous drums lead to more riffing guitars. The keyboards take over before leading back into vocals, although taken at pace. This is one of the strongest and most imaginative tracks on the album, simply fabulous and with a great solo towards the end. The subject matter is dark again but what a song! Fabulously inventive and invigorating.
Cup Of Poison is another lengthy and epic piece, opening with some graceful guitar lines as the song builds its momentum. The track is epic in nature and tone, with lovely graceful, fluid guitar lines. It’s all highly impressive, musically diverse and bravely bold. Not afraid to be different, not for show but because the songs merit it. This song also contains elements of Celtic music touches which add to its magic and dynamics. In fact, the whole album is full of dynamic touches, you’re listening and then it all changes abruptly but in a positive direction. The Jellyfish is a shorter track with excellent keyboard programming and a definite 80’s touch to it. Lyrically, the song is simply weird, talking about living on a self-made raft and longing for a different life.
The album closes with Ameotoko II – Cloudburst, which is ferocious and hard hitting and, once again, has disturbingly dark lyrics about killing and death but fabulous music. There’s lots going on here and it’s never a dull moment, before you know it you’ve reached the end and are left wondering what the hell you’ve just listened to? Before you know it, you’ll be playing the album again, just to try and grasp it all a new. Such an impressive album that will stay with you long after it’s finished.
I’ve added a link to the lyrics as I feel following them will aid in understanding and appreciating this fine album, I know it certainly helped me get the gist of it all.
Nostalgia is a thing of the past, or so one witty person once said. Although, reading progressive music websites could we have you thinking that prog fans are Living In The Past, as Jethro Tull once sang on their unorthodox album of the same name, released in 1972. A certain sector of prog fans tends to view with suspicion any album released after 1976 and, heaven forbid, anything from the eighties or beyond!
This is unfair and is not completely true, much as I love those classic albums from prog’s so called ‘golden era’, I am also open to newer music, as I am to reissues of classic, long lost, or under-appreciated albums, of which I have reviewed several on this very site.
Many of these lost gems come from the good people at Esoteric/Cherry Red, although some have come from the Rock Candy label whose remit is usually hard rock or AOR type offerings from US Bands who got lost in the mix of all that has happened in the last four decades.
This review features one of those lost gems, namely the Phenomena album from 1985. Phenomena was a project created and by Tom Galley, the Cannock, Staffordshire younger brother of Mel Galley (the guitarist in the Midlands based band Trapeze). Mel was also heavily involved in the music behind this “concept” album, being able to call up, and recruit, his old band mate Glenn Hughes, who had been with Trapeze for their first three albums before jumping ship and taking over from Roger Glover in Deep Purple. In addition, both Cozy Powell and Neil Murray (who were both members of Mel’s then band Whitesnake) were recruited to the project, as was original Magnum keyboard player Richard Bailey and John Thomas of Budgie.
On paper, the project had the stamp of pedigree with some very well known and established musicians to carry the project forward. The album had interesting packaging with a deluxe booklet with the lyrics and the artwork of Ian Lowe’s interpretation of the songs (along with the lyrics and album credits). All this occurred on the then Bronze label home of Uriah Heep and another local hero Robin George, who also had Magnum connections. However, Bronze were in trouble financially, their golden days of Uriah Heep selling millions of albums were long past and they were struggling to make ends meet, As such, despite the huge promotional push for Phenomena, it sadly failed to make the sales expected, Robin George’s then album, ‘Dangerous Music’, suffering a similar fate.
Listening to the album again now ,nearly 40 years on, is fascinating and, yes, the music certainly stands up well and is rightly due for re-evaluation, This set comprises all three Phenomena albums, along with the ‘Anthology’ album that includes three tracks from the original album, three from the second album, ‘Dream Runner’, and four from the third, and final, Phenomena album, ‘Innervision’. In addition, there are three non-album tracks and two 12″ single mixes of Did It All For Love and Still The Night. Also, there is a booklet for each album that gives the lowdown, who plays what and the full lyrics to each album, all well presented in a sturdy clamshell box.
The music itself is prominently British heavy rock of the mid 1980’s so think Whitesnake, Thin Lizzy or Gary Moore and you’re in the right territory. What really lifts the album into something special though are the tremendous vocals of Glenn Hughes who is absolutely fabulous throughout and sings his lungs out on tracks like Still the Night and Phoenix Rising. Also very noteworthy is the demonic violin playing of Ric Sanders (latterly of Fairport Convention) on the track Dance With The Devil. It is utterly mesmerising and backed up with some muscular musical accompaniment. The last track on the album is a little different in that it is performed by a boys’ choir who wordlessly intone Latin, which gives a certain gothic nature to the track.
On listening to the album, I think I can spot where they went wrong in that the concept was not clear enough for listeners to fully grasp and so this was a factor in not really reaching the heights they had wanted to achieve. Also, there were a myriad of confusing releases from the album which, over time, diluted the album’s appeal and could be viewed as hype that was not fully realised. This was a pity as the original album had good material and performances throughout and really deserved far better than it received.
The next Phenomena album was released, again to much fanfare, in 1987, some two years after the original album. This time around they took a more Sci-Fi based storyline and plot, although, again, the concept got lost in the mix a little. This time they had, in addition to Glenn Hughes, John Wetton of Asia, Ray Gillen of Black Sabbath and members of Japanese band Bow Wow, whose guitarist and drummer came on board, as did Max Bacon of Bronz, another group whose success was limited by the collapse of the Bronze label.
The music was, again, very mid eighty’s hard rock, although John Wetton’s vocal on Did It All for Love gave the album a big boost in certain markets like Europe and South America, where it was a big hit, making the album even more successful than the first. It still stands as a fine piece of hard rock from that era, stand out tracks being Did It All For Love, Hearts On Fire, Jukebox and No Retreat, No Surrender, on which Ray Gillen turns in a memorable performance. Again, the artwork is very suited to the album and the booklet details the saga of getting the album out. It was quite a struggle and the fact they managed it speaks volumes to the faith they had in the project, which was thankfully repaid upon release.
The third album in this set is the ‘Innervision’ album from 1993, this time the concept was far less ethereal or supernatural and was more like a gangster story. The music is more up to date, in that it sounded like a British Bon Jovi with big riffs and choruses and with a great, little known, vocalist, Keith Murrell (who had sung with Cliff Richard and Airrace, amongst others). The big star on this album was Brian May, who Scott Gorham knew and asked to play on two songs, What About Love? and A Whole Lot Of Love. The lineup may have been slimmed down but, even so, the music has fire and guts and still sounds good today, some 28 years on. I never bought this instalment as it was always expensive, so it’s good to have it in this set now. Again, the booklet tells the story behind the album and the difficulties they had in getting it released, 7 years after the second and 10 years after the first album.
Banzai sounds like a Foreigner song with some crunchy guitar riffs amidst the keyboards, the big song is What About Love, featuring the aforementioned Brian May on guitar, and this sounds truly epic with masses of backing vocals. They were trying to get Freddie Mercury to sing but, sadly, it never happened, imagine how that would have sounded! Yet again, the concept gets lost in the mix somehow but, the songs and music are exceptionally fine indeed and Keith Murrell is a fine singer who brings fire and passion to these songs, making this third instalment a real treat and an undiscovered classic album.
Having said all this, I do feel that these albums are worthy of far more appreciation than they received at the time and the additional tracks and excellent booklets provide information that makes this set very worthy of investigation. Of its time and era for certain but both marvellous and bold, in the face of many difficulties and with definite progressive moments and wonderful performances by all. In addition, the set features three previously unreleased tracks, Assassins Of The Night and Running With The Pack with Glenn Hughes and Stealing Heaven with Keith Murrell, and 12″ mixes of Did It All For Love and Still the Night.
An expanded and remixed, 10th Anniversary version of Tim Bowness and Giancarlo Erra’s 2011 album Warm Winter (now issued as Memories Of Machines, the original project name) will be released on 25th February through Kscope.
Featuring contributions from Robert Fripp, Peter Hammill, Julianne Regan, Jim Matheos, Colin Edwin, Huxflux Nettermalm, Peter Chilvers, Aleksei Saks and members of Nosound and Tim Bowness’s live bands, the album contains 10 sweeping and majestic songs (culminating in the epic At The Centre Of It All).
Available on CD/DVD-A/V – with hi-res stereo and 5.1 Surround mixes – and double vinyl, the reissue contains two 2020 recordings – an album outtake and a new version of the 2006 Nosound piece “Someone Starts To Fade Away” – created especially for this release.
Featuring a 2021 remix from the original tapes by Giancarlo Erra, this new edition emphasises the textural nature of the music and restores the pieces to their original arrangements and track lengths (resulting in a very different listening experience).
The artwork has also been enhanced and overhauled for the release by Giancarlo Erra and Caroline Traitler.
Memories Of Machines – 2 disc (CD/DVD), 2LP and digital album are all available to
Prog icons The Flower Kings recently announced the release of their 15th studio album ‘By Royal Decree’, set for 4th March 2022. Now, the band are pleased to share the first single from the album “The Great Pretender.” The album is now available for pre-order.
Check out the new track here:
Roine Stolt on the new single: “In the 25 year history and 16 studio albums of ’The Flower Kings’ – being in the middle of it all means it is not always easy to try and take a look from the outside, but this track represent well both what is new and what is old – the melodic side and the sonic adventure.”
‘By Royal Decree’ Tracklisting
1.The Great Pretender (6:55)
2.World Gone Crazy (5:04)
4.A Million Stars (7:11)
5.The Soldier (5:23)
6.The Darkness In You (5:13)
7.We Can Make It Work (2:48)
8.Peacock On Parade (5:15)
10.Time The Great Healer (6:12)
13.Silent Ways (5:01)
15.The Big Funk (4:39)
16.Open Your Heart (5:17)
18.Funeral Pyres (7:14)
‘By Royal Decree’ will be available as Ltd. 2CD Digipak,
as Ltd. 180g 3LP+2CD Box Set as well as Digital Album.
You can pre-order the album now here:
The band are back at their most creative, flowery and playful – mirroring the 70’s melting pot of folk, symphonic, electronic, jazz, blues, funk & prog. On the new album they have looked for more organic and vintage sounds, still centered around the foundation of drums, bass, guitars and the iconic Hammond, grand piano, mellotron & Moog synthesizers.
The album also sees the return of founding member Michael Stolt, who takes up bass guitar and vocals, alongside the line-up of Mirko DeMaio on drums, Zach Kamins on keyboards, Hasse Fröberg on vocal & guitar and Roine Stolt on vocal & guitars and Jonas Reingold on bass. The band convened in the middle of 2021 at Fenix Studios in Sweden to record through the fully analogue Rupert Neve mixing desk. The album also features beautiful cover art, once again created by Denver-based artist Kevin Sloan.
Next year’s tour will also see the band revisiting their early years, performing tracks from ‘Retropolis’, ‘Stardust We Are’, ‘Flower Power’, ‘Space Revolver’ and ‘Back In The World Of Adventures’. This will coincide with the release of newly remastered editions of The Flower Kings albums on CD & Vinyl later in 2022. The first confirmed live dates are as follows:
30th March 2022 – Katalin, Uppsala, Sweden
31st March 2022 – Musikens Hus, Gothenburg, Sweden
Nick D’Virgilio (Big Big Train, ex-Spock’s Beard), Neal Morse (Transatlantic, NMB, ex-Spock’s Beard), and Ross Jennings (Haken, Novena) are pleased to announce their debut album titled ‘Troika’ will be released on Feb 25th, 2022.
Today, the band is also sharing the album’s first single “Julia”. You can watch the video by Christian Rios here:
Ross had this to say about the track:
“With my original demo clocking in at around the 8-minute mark and possibly leaning too close to ‘prog epic’ than the singer/songwriter vibe we were attempting to present on this record, Neal arranged my lengthy ballad into something more concise, in-keeping with the album’s essence and writing in a powerful new chorus in the process!
“This one was all about the 3-part vocal harmony interplay and ‘pull-at-the-heartstring’ lyrics which deals with themes of regret and forgiveness in the context of a broken father-daughter relationship.”
– Ross Jennings
1.Everything I Am (5:43)
2. Julia (6:07)
3. You Set My Soul On Fire (3:22)
4. One Time Less (4:53)
5. Another Trip Around The Sun (4:39)
6. A Change Is Gonna Come (4:24)
7. If I Could (4:02)
8. King For A Day (5:47)
9. Second Hand Sons (4:43)
10. My Guardian (3:43)
11. What You Leave Behind (4:16)
‘Troika’ will be available as Ltd. CD Edition / Gatefold 2LP+CD / Digital Album. Each format includes a bonus alternative version of the track ‘Julia’ and is available for pre-order here: https://dvirgiliomorsejennings.lnk.to/Troika
Recorded during lockdown, the process began with Neal Morse writing some acoustic songs that he thought would be enhanced by strong vocal harmonies. He already knew how well his voice blended with former Spock’s Beard band-mate and Big Big Train drummer/ vocalist, Nick D’Virgilio who came on board and, considering a third man, the Americans sought out Haken’s Ross Jennings from the UK to complete the trio. All three found they had songs that would benefit from the three part harmonic blend, and so they pooled their resources, inputting creatively into each others compositions.
Neal comments: “What a great pleasure it’s been to work on this album with these amazing artists! It was kind of funny… We had been working on the songs remotely for several months before I finally heard all of us singing together at the same time. The first time I brought the faders up, I knew we had the magic!“
Nick adds: “I’ve known and worked with Neal for over 30 years and I’ve been a big fan of Ross and the music he makes for a long time. I felt confident right away that this would be a fun project to be a part of. I was so right.”
Ross comments: “Receiving ‘The Call’ from Neal to participate in this project was somewhat of a prayer answered… As a long time fan of their work, I’ve been singing along to Neal’s & Nick’s records for years, so it felt really natural for my voice to slot right in.”
The tracks took shape with the musicians recording all of the music and vocals separately, yet the eclectic performances burst with the energy and excitement of the collaboration. Acoustic anthems, charged rockers and sensitive ballads are all part of the mix, and the unique blend of Ross, Neal and Nick’s voices and styles have created an album in which you will encounter these musicians in a way you’ve never heard before.