Review – The Bardic Depths – What We Really Like In Stories – by JohnWenlock-Smith

The Bardic Depths formed when Canary Islands resident Dave Bandanna sought out musical contributions and assistance from fellow Big Big Train ‘passengers’ on a project that he was working on. The response being so positive that Dave decided to turn the project into a band to make an album, which became The Bardic Depths first album ‘The Bardic Depths’.

‘What We Really Like In Stories’, the collective’s third offering, arrives in March and offers eight more tracks of their rather unique, intelligent and different take on progressive music. The eight songs are mainly just under the six minute mark, although there are two longer tracks in ‘Vendetta’ and ‘Whispers In Space’.

This album is based on authors and their writing. The lyrics are all written by the band and Dr Brad Birzer, an American history professor at Hillsdale college, Michigan in the United States Of America. Once again, the album has a core group of musicians alongside Dave Bandanna. We find Peter Jones on vocals, whistles, clarinet, trumpet and alto saxophone, Gareth Cole on electric and acoustic guitars and guitar orchestrations and Tim Gehrt on drums and percussion. Dave himself provides lead and backing vocals, acoustic guitar, bass, keyboards and programming.

The album opens with a delightful, if brief, overture, Genius which itself leads into the first song proper, What We Like In Stories, which brilliantly recounts a conversation between CS Lewis and JRR Tolkien in which both authors expressed their dissatisfaction at the lack of books that contained what they would like to read. So they decided to write some for themselves, they tossed a coin and the outcome decided that Lewis would write the ‘space’ stories whilst Tolkien would write time travel stories, the term science fiction having not been coined at this stage. From this decision came CS Lewis’ ‘Out Of The Silent Planet’, ‘Perelandra’ and ‘That Hideous Strength’, all of which saw Lewis’ talents recognised in both the UK and North America, indeed, one could say that CS Lewis and Ray Bradbury made science fiction respectable. Meanwhile JRR Tolkien’s efforts were unsuccessful in the short term, it was two decades before ‘Lord Of The Rings’ appeared and a further twenty for ‘The Silmarillion’ to appear. The next track is a haunting, mid-tempo piece, You’ve Written Poetry My Boy, which has a direct line to the works of Ray Bradbury and, in this song, we learn that Aldous Huxley thought that the words Bradbury writes about ‘so many brave new worlds‘ are like poetry. This has a good saxophone solo from Peter Jones and great guitar orchestrations and flourishes from Gareth Cole. Vendetta concerns the works of comic book writer Alan Moore and takes the theme of one of his books ‘V for Vendetta’, set in a near future time, in a dystopian society where one has to make a stand against the way society is being led by those in charge. However, in this song our hero is finding that to be a challenge and hides away, refusing to face what is going on around him. We are told that silence is a fragile thing and that hiding away and not being involved is not the answer to the predicament or the issue. Musically, this a very good track with lots of interesting parts including fine guitar, keyboards and excellent drums, all with a very strong rhythm.

Old Delights is a homage to writers, a celebration of their talents and how their words can cause us not only to think but also to view things, people and situations in a different light, a very considered viewpoint. It is another fairly brief track but gets its point over very stylishly and it also serves as a clever platform for the next song, The Feast Is Over, which is based the work of Robert E Howard. Howard is regarded as one of the first writers to write in the Fantasy genre and wrote ‘Conan The Barbarian’, which saw him regarded as the father of the Sword and Sorcery sub-genre of pulp fiction. This track features a very memorable refrain repeated on the closing parts, it is also one of the longer songs, meaning it has space to evolve organically. It opens with a gentle acoustic strumming and is is about Sword and Sorcery writings, the second part of the track becomes more expansive in sound with orchestrations playing. In this section there is a lengthy and beautifully expressive guitar solo that ends with some fiery slide guitar, it is a really strong and satisfying track on every level. Stillpoint is based around the writings of science fiction writer Walter M Miller Jr, who’s work went largely unpublished during his lifetime, another relatively short, but highly enjoyable, track. Whispers In  Space concludes the album in strong form, this one references the writings of Robert Rankin, an acclaimed writer whose style included, fantasy, comedy, conspiracy theories and steampunk elements. The lyrics are very clever, referencing in many oblique ways the sad death of Big Big Train’s own David Longdon, as in the line “The captain of the skies flies again…” Again, the music on this track is exquisite with lots happening. A graceful, expressive solo is played with great sensitivity and feel in a very special section of the track. Although the meaning of the song is possibly lost on me really, being a bit obscure and elusive, to my ears at least, the music is exciting and engaging on every level, making it a fitting conclusion to a very interesting and rewarding collection of songs.

With ‘What We Really Like In Stories’, The Bardic Depths take a subtly different route from what has gone before, the album having no central theme as such but, rather being a collection of songs inspired by literature. I enjoyed this album immensely and further, extended listens have allowed it to firmly secure a place in my heart and mind, I heartily recommend it.

Released 7th March, 2024.

Order download from bandcamp here:

What We Really Like In Stories (24bit/96k) | The Bardic Depths (

Order CD from Gravity Dream here:

The Bardic Depths – What We Really Like In Stories CD – Gravity Dream Music

Single Review – A Knife Ballet – Scattered Red, Blue & Black

A Knife Ballet is Composer & Producer Jonathan Stolber whose music is a blend of introspective cinematic electronic art-rock, inspired by Radiohead’s emotive brilliance & the atmospheric textures of Mogwai. Alongside the new breed of intelligent & distinctive bands such as peers Black Country New Road & Black Midi, Stolber kicks against music’s current corporate tsunami. This music is a soundtrack for the grand reset or, at the least, Netflix’s latest cancelled Scandinavian noir thriller.

Culled from his forthcoming LP ‘For The Blood Of England’, the inaugural teaser track Scattered Red, Blue & Black is a poignant, cinematic send-off imbued with the early spirit of Mogwai. It’s accompanying track, A Phantom Limb underscores an eerie atmospheric score reminiscent of 80’s horror. 

The track drops across all streaming services 26/01/2024 & will receive one bespoke vinyl pressing to be auction on Ebay to raise donations for Alzheimer’s Society. The track hails Stolber’s first release under new moniker A Knife Ballet having previously received critical acclaim for his Holy Road EP ‘An Unshakable Demon’ during the pandemic.

A Phantom Limb could be the soundtrack to a psychological horror movie and brings to mind echoes of John Carpenter soundtracks of old with its brooding synths and piercing arpeggios. A definitive 80’s feel but with a sharp, contemporary update, it certainly hits the mark. Scattered Red, Blue & Black is a gloriously over the top cinematic epic that just builds and builds to an enigmatic crescendo. The interlocking guitars generate a pensive feel before some eerie strings create a feeling of almost unbearable tension. The superb sinuous cello of Maddie Cutter combines with Ben Weedon’s wistful, weeping strings to imbue an almost sinister undertone to the piece. JJ Saddington’s crashing guitars echo in your eardrums and the dark, sombre piano of Chris Forham completes the intensely heightened acoustic overload.

Jon Stolber has returned with something quite magnificent and apocalyptically profound. This is theatrically demanding music that is not for the faint hearted but it is oh so brilliantly executed and something that is addictive in its attraction and augurs well for the new album to come.

Spotify: A Knife Ballet | Spotify

Alzheimer’s Society Ebay Vinyl Auction Link (live as of 26/01/24):

A Knife Ballet Vinyl – Scattered Red, Blue & Black Ltd Dub Plate Clear 10″ | eBay


Scattered Red, Blue & White | A KNIFE BALLET (

Review – Geometry of Chaos – Imaginary Friends

Geometry of Chaos is a progressive metal project by Fabio La Manna, who not only plays guitar, but also bass guitar and keyboards player. Fabio also writes all the lyrics and music. The band merges his solo work with what remains of Alchemy Room, in which Davide Cardella played drums for a while. Davide keeps collaborates constantly with Fabio and the project also sees Charles Soulz on keyboards. The vocalists, Marcelo Vieira, Ethan Cronin and Elena Lippe, are all guests and add their considerable talents to ‘Imaginary Friends’.

‘Imaginary Friends’ consists of five tracks for more than 42 minutes of music, that continues what “Soldiers of the New World Order” had started and remains on the same challenging path: the difficulty of succeeding with our own strength and the need for support during the moments of discouragement.

While I am more a fan of the more traditional side of progressive rock, I do like to dabble in some quality progressive metal every now and then so, when I received an email from Fabio, I was intrigued to find out more about this project.

And, boy, do we get some seriously good prog metal with ‘Imaginary Friends’, from the thunderous opening riff of Tulpa you know you are going to be in for one hell of a intense and powerful listening experience. Fabio’s guitar delivers a sound hewn from pure granite and Davide Cardella’s drums nearly take your breath away. There’s a base of quality hard rock (and I mean HARD!) underpinning the music and then layers and layers of vivid and fervent heaviness are added over the top. The result is a sound that is almost unique but one that has some pure class to it, rather than just smacking you in the face at every opportunity! Ethan Cronin supplies the lead vocals on this track and he does a stellar job of conveying an almost sinister atmosphere and giving a deliciously dark feel. There are growling vocals that I actually like and have a place on the record and a brilliant guitar solo, what’s not to like? After that monstrous hit to the solar plexus, things continue with title track Imaginary Friends. I love the initial riff that could have come from any of the great metal bands of the 70’s and 80’s, almost Deep Purple or Black Sabbath-like in its delivery. Marcelo Vieira’s vocal, ably backed by those dynamic growls of Ethan and Elena Lippe’s backing vocals, is spot on too. This is not music for the faint hearted, this is music that wants to take over your soul and you will face a fight to stop that happening. It’s violent, intensive and acutely vivid and is all the better for it! Do you need to sit down and get your breath back? well, don’t worry, there is a piano led musical interlude to follow. Distant Voices is the polar opposite of what has gone before and Charles Soulz’s playing is a joy to behold as the piano beautifully carries on, overlaying a hushed voice-over and then Fabio’s passionate guitar just adds the pièce de résistance, simply stunning.

Now, you may expect that we will return to the heavy hitting of the first two tracks but, no, with Lies Of Vampire this intelligent musician takes us down another route that majors on the narrative and storytelling, much like some of the best progressive rock. You find yourself lost in the blues-infused music and the spellbinding vocals, it is all very clever and almost hypnotic in the way that it draws you in. There’s a spine tingling extended instrumental section where Fabio’s guitar and Davide’s drums build up to a fiery, sinuous crescendo that makes the hair on the back of your neck stick up, the guitar riff is almost primeval at heart and Charles’ keyboards hover ominously in the back ground before breaking out in a vivid flourish (Derek Sherinian may be looking at copyright here!). The tension breaks a little as the vocals come back in but there’s still a frenetic feel to the music. I’ll tell you what I wasn’t expecting, saxophone! but here it comes, Patricio Bottcher gloriously imbuing everything with a jazz fusion feel but it’s over way too quickly, lingering in the memory, before we run to the end of the track. Creatura, the final song on this ever impressive album takes us back to the manic, in-your-face prog-metal of the first two tracks and it is wonderfully overblown and fervently impassioned. Frenetic guitar, wild keyboards and devilish drums all combine to give a theatrical thrill ride of an intro before Fabio hits the brake pedal and brings things down a notch, intensifying the atmosphere before letting loose once again, it’s like a progressive metal version of Phantom of the Opera and it’s bloody brilliant and one hell of a superb sign off!

I already felt that 2024 had started off brilliantly with lots of excellent new music and you can now add Geometry of Chaos’ superb concept EP to that list. ‘Imaginary Friends’ is a spellbinding, inventive and incredibly powerful release that should make people stand up and listen, progressive metal doesn’t get much better, or cleverer, than this. Highly recommended!

Released 21st November, 2023.

Order from bandcamp here:

Imaginary Friends | Geometry Of Chaos (

HeKz debuts new video for ‘Terra Nova’

Brace yourself for an exhilarating musical expedition as HeKz unveils their latest single, the energetic ‘Terra Nova.’ The accompanying video seamlessly weaves together electrifying moments from the band’s return to the live stage at the Underworld in Camden (September 2023) and the album launch spectacle at the Cart & Horses (November 2023), capturing the raw energy and intensity of these unforgettable performances.

“’Terra Nova’ is a perfect example of HeKz’s distinct fusion of intricate musicality and raw emotion,” explains singer and bassist Matt Young. “It kicks off the live show with a blast of energy and everyone on the stage gets their chance to shine – we really love to play this one and hear the audience shouting that anthemic chorus along with us! It’s one of the highlights of any performance.”

Check out the video:

Young, alongside Mirko Fadda (guitar), Lucia La Rezza (violin), and Jerry Sadowski (drums), will be performing live throughout 2024, commencing with a co-headline performance at The Black Heart in Camden on Saturday, 27th January, alongside the metallurgical talents of Primitai and Toledo Steel. HeKz will be onstage at 8:40pm.

Catch HeKz at these venues in 2024:

– Saturday, 27th January – The Black Heart, Camden, UK

– Friday, 8th March – The Cavern, Raynes Park, UK

– Friday, 12th April – Parkvilla Theatre, Alphen a/d Rijn, NL

– Friday, 28th June – Esquires, Bedford, UK

– 5th-8th September – Nene Valley Rock Festival, UK

– Friday, 20th September – The Cart & Horses, London, UK

– Sunday, 22nd October – The 1865, Southampton, UK

More tour dates are to be announced.

‘TERRA NOVA’ is available on all major streaming platforms and for purchase in digital, CD, and vinyl formats at HeKz’s Official Website:

Terra Nova | HeKz (

Review – Emerald City Council – Motion Carries

Emerald City Council is an American progressive rock band, formed in 2021 out of a recording project produced by saxophonist/keyboardist Brent Bristow. The band features vocalist Jake Livgren (Proto-Kaw, newphew of Kansas’ Kerry Livgren) and drummer Noah Hungate (Team Illuminati, son of Toto’s David Hungate), along with Jeremy Nichols (Erin Coburn) on bass, and up and coming guitarist Seth Hankerson. Brandon Goff, Associate Professor of Music Industry at Francis Marion University, has also contributed significant guitar work as special collaborator to the band.

‘Motion Carries’ was written and produced by Brent Bristow and boasts a wide variety of styles and influences. The album has a unique blend of saxophone and guitar-driven material that fans of both classic and modern progressive rock will love. The album includes several guest appearances.

Bristow says of the album, “Producing this album has pushed me on many levels as a musician and songwriter. Everyone who worked on it put their heart and soul into bringing this material to life, which forced me to be better, and I could not be more grateful. While the songs can all stand on their own, I think we are providing a true album experience for those that want to lose themselves in music for an hour.”

I really love it when I get sent an email introducing me to a new band that I’ve never heard of and asking if I’d like to find out more. Music isn’t just there for enjoyment, it is a voyage of discovery and asks questions of the listener. When Brent Bristow contacted me and I checked out the two videos he had sent me, I knew I needed to know more about this intriguing band and immediately Jeffrey Combs narration and the dynamic, fast paced feel to opening track Realize I – Escape From the Ancient drew me in to this impressive and immersive musical journey. There’s a proper feel of truly American progressive rock to ‘Motion Carries’, which is not surprising knowing the musician’s pedigree, I can hear Spock’s Beard, Pattern Seeking Animals and Kansas throughout the album’s sixty minute running time. Realize II – Brutal Camouflage introduces us to Jake Livgren’s energetic and lyrical vocal delivery and to a really fluid delivery of the eloquent music which is dotted with intense saxophone at every turn and did I ever tell you, I love the saxophone?! Noisy Talking carries on the impressive storytelling with it’s edgy, high energy feel and Jake’s almost rap style vocals. The guitar playing on this album is next level good, Seth Hankerson providing the driving forward motion, ably assisted by Douglas Case, and Paul Bielatowicz delivering some incendiary soloing.

Mortal Game takes a more measured approach and heads down a more AOR/ classic rock route. Jake’s emotive vocal is superb and works perfectly in harmony with Heather Bristow and the sax is just spine tingling. It is a beautiful, soulful piece of music that will really touch you. Ice Thinning brings the exciting rhythm section of Noah Hungate and Jeremy Nichols into focus and really could have come from a modern Kansas album. The song is both powerful and graceful at the same time and packs a real stirring punch, especially on the notable chorus.

Now we get to the pièce de résistance, the gloriously pompous and wonderfully overblown prog epic Platforms of Illusion. This piece of music is just brilliant and has everything that a song of this nature should contain, all combined with a palpable sense of fun and enjoyment, isn’t that what music should feel like? Just sit back, relax and let this twenty minutes of pure musical inspiration wash over you. The time changes and segues keep you guessing at all times and the skill on show is just incredible. I’m a big fan of both Kansas and Spock’s Beard and, on this song especially, Emerald City Council give us a perfect amalgam of all that those two bands are great at. I’ve already said that Jake Livgren has a great voice and he really gets to shine here and as for Brent Bristow, this multi-talented musician is proving to be a force to be reckoned with.

Rather cleverly, after the mind blowing previous track, the band give us a lovely little musical amuse bouche in the shape of the light stepping, enjoyable instrumental Diversion 1 before we get back to the main event with the punchy, rocking No Thanks To You, a song that leans more towards the Toto edge of AOR and hard rock. The driving piano and rhythm section combine with the edgy riff to give a more classic rock focused feel, one that is only endorsed by the superb vocals and Mike Thompson’s epic solo. Realize III – The Comfort Of Suffering closes the album with another superb slice of hard rock infused prog. Soaring guitar and vocals and elegant bass and drums all combine to deliver another highly addictive song that will linger in your mind for quite a long while, especially the superlative melody.

Emerald City Council have entered the progressive rock scene with a massive bang. ‘Motion Carries’ is a superb album, utterly immersive and uplifting with incredible musicianship, soaring melodies and a real sense of fun. This is music that touches the mind and lifts the soul and I haven’t stopped smiling yet. Trust me, you need this album in your life!

Released 19th January, 2024.

Order from bandcamp here:

Motion Carries | Emerald City Council (

You can also order a copy signed by Brent Bristow at the band’s website here:

Online Store (

Review – Magnum – Here Comes The Rain – by John Wenlock-Smith

There are few great bands on our planet that you can infallibly identify within the first few bars of one of their songs. Their unique melodic skill, their tasteful instrumentation, the right balance of depth and catchiness, and then of course that charismatic voice: Magnum are Magnum! 

I spent a lot of 2022 rediscovering Magnum after losing touch with their musical output after ‘Goodnight LA’. This was quite expensive, yet also really enjoyable, especially when I found some of their SPV output was very worthwhile. I was even more excited when they announced a show near me at KK’s Steel Mills in Wolverhampton in December 2022. I attended the concert on a very cold December evening, finding the venue to be a bit challenging, especially Its solid concrete floor, which transmitted cold through your shoes to the feet. It was so uncomfortable that I spent the last part of the show sitting outside in the bar area where they had a few old chairs.

Furthermore the show itself was underwhelming and the band actually seemed to be going through the motions, on auto pilot as it were. For a show that was supposed to be a celebration of 50 years of Magnum I felt decidedly let down and disappointed. So, when this new album, ‘Here Comes The Rain’, was released I was pretty undecided about whether or not to actually get it for my collection. As it happens, I did order it but recent developments in the Magnum camp have meant that I am still waiting to actually receive my copy (the one with a film of the show that so disappointed me). Thankfully, due to my amazon account, I am able to access an online copy of the album and it is this that I am using to review the album.

The album was released on Friday  12th January 2024, although, sadly, Tony Clarkin, Magnum’s sole writer and guitarist since there formation, had passed away a few days beforehand. He was suffering from an previously announced spinal condition that made playing very difficult, so much so that they had cancelled previously announced tour dates. When I received this information, I was extremely saddened by it as I knew that this same condition may have been part of why that show had been so sub par. I also knew that this could prove to be the end of this fine group. So, with this in mind here are my thoughts on the album.

I am pleased to report that, if this release proves to be the final Magnum album, then ‘Here Comes The Rain’ is definitely one of the better offerings from the band. I had felt that ‘The Monster Roars’ was a little too safe by Magnum’s standard, whereas this album has both great dynamics and strong material alongside excellent performances from all parties.

With Magnum you pretty know what you will get, a mid tempo song usually around the 5 minute mark with strong keyboards and a strong rhythm section, some solid guitar work and great vocals from fellow co-founder Bob Catley, whose voice is so integral to the Magnum sound. This album does not disappoint on any of those fronts, in fact it serves as a reminder, as if one were needed, of just what a strong group Magnum are.

The album opens with Run Into The Shadows, which is a great statement of intent with punchy guitar and cowbells or cymbals even! It storms along at a fiery pace and maybe just lacks a killer guitar solo. Tony tends to not play too many of those somehow but still this one really rocks impressively and reinforces their pomp-rock roots most eloquently. Title track, Here Comes The Rain features a sinewy guitar line and chugging bass and drums. The song has an airy, lighter feel to it, you can imagine fan’s lighters aloft swaying to the music (it would be mobile phone lights nowadays though, of course). This is another strong song from the boys and the great keyboard sound towards the end really works well. Some Kind Of Treachery begins with a ripple of piano before the bass kicks in, mirroring Bob’s emotive vocal. The drums then arrive and the song’s chorus begins. The dynamics of this song are excellent, as is the bass work of Dennis Ward adding much depth and subtlety to this great track. The keyboards of Rick Benton also sprinkle inspired magic over the track. After the Silence is a slightly faster paced song, lifting the tempo intelligently, it also has a strong backbeat to it and works really well. Blue Tango has more than a touch of the ‘Goodnight LA’ era, namely Rockin’ Chair ,as it lies in a similar territory. It is definitely the hardest rocking track so far and makes you want to get up and punch the air, it’s that good! It’s a real Magnum classic with a great organ break and a Clarkin solo as well, where he cuts loose in the closing bars, it’s wonderful.

The Day He Lied is about a relationship it seems and is suitably emotional, it also has a great guitar line running throughout that adds real depth and emotion. The Seventh Darkness is another superb track with brass embellishments which add a different texture to the song, as does a brilliant saxophone that duels with Tony’s guitar fills. It’s a subtly different sound for Magnum but it’s Dynamics certainly make a fine impression. This is a very strong track that is every bit the equal of Blue Tango. Broken City is is a moody, brooding track with lots of keyboards and a heartfelt, emotive vocal. It’s sublime and suppressed emotions really hit home. I Wanna Live opens with a subdued piano line before the song builds in tempo and power. Bob’s vocal is really on song on this rather fine track, one that reminds me a bit of those classic Magnum power ballads that we have all come to love. The last track, Borderline, is a fitting finale to what is possibly a sublime final statement from the band. It is the albums longest song and opens with an Arabic sounding intro before things take on a typical rock swagger. There is another a strong vocal from Bob and the song also has two short guitar breaks from Tony along with a strong keyboard solo from Rick Benton. I really like how this song  plays out with an elegant piano melody that is almost bringing the curtain down on Magnum’s long and distinguished career. It may not have been intentional but it’s a graceful manner in which to end the album.

Unfortunately it is now all over and you are left thankful for a wonderful last shout from the band who will, probably, not be able to continue now that Tony is gone. I am so glad they were able to finish on a real high all these years after ‘Kingdom Of Madness’ in 1978. I really enjoyed this, their twenty-third album and eagerly await for my copy to arrive soon.

Released 12th January, 2024.

Order the album here:

Magnum – Here Comes The Rain (

John Wenlock-Smith Interviews Steve Hackett Ahead of Release of ‘The Circus And The Nightwhale’

In this Interview Steve Hackett gives John a pretty in depth walk through of his forthcoming album ‘The Circus And The Nightwhale’.

JWS: Hi Steve, good to talk to you again, let’s Talk about the forthcoming album ‘The Circus And The Nightwhale’, out next month. I believe it’s a concept album of sorts?

SH: Well it’s more a themed album, autobiographical in nature, but with some fantasy elements included. It has been incredibly well received by those who, like yourself, have been allowed to hear it in advance. It’s actually my 30th solo album release that began with ‘Voyage Of The Acolyte’ back in 1975, all those years ago.

The album is not actually a concept album as such, rather it is a collection of tracks with a central theme of my life growing up in post-war London in the 1950s and 1960s and going through the momentous changes of those years, living in Pimlico and experiencing the magic of a musical revolution.

The album begins with radio sounds of the 50’s moves onto a soundbite of listen with mother and a baby crying. That first song, People Of The Smoke, has a wonderfully evocative video which encapsulates that era very well. It’s by Paul Gosling and captures the black and white, smoky, foggy and murky London of those times, its an interesting video.

The album also has a number of instrumental tracks, each with different styles and flavours, all of which allowed me to stretch out a little in my playing.

JWS: What is the track Taking You Down about?

SH: That one is about a friend I had at school, he was rather a character and was always up to something, running a wheeze or wheeler-dealing or similar. We had lots of escapades and got up to fair amount of mischief I suppose. We both shared a love of music but, ultimately, our paths diverged and we went our separate ways in life. I often wonder what he is doing these days, probably running drugs from some African country or South America or something! He’s probably still up to no good though.

Found And Lost is about first love, my first love actually. She was lovely, came from  a good family and was very intelligent. After a while she decided I wasn’t what she wanted and dumped me, I was heartbroken and it took me a while to get over her. Later I found out that she’d gone off the rails and got involved with drugs to the extent the she ruined her life and was incarcerated, I used to get letters sent from her in prison. It’s a terrible tragedy really, although it did serve as a warning to me and the love of music saved me from many pitfalls, like excessive drinking and drug use, for which I am very thankful. Music both provided a goal and direction, doing so certainly saved me from such excesses.

Enter The Ring is about the circus ride of fame I experienced with Genesis. We were all over the place and frantically busy, with little time to draw breath, it was a wild ride for sure. During that time I had the ideas that were to lead to my first solo album, ‘Voyage Of The Acolyte’, which came out in 1975.

JWS: You were still with Genesis at that point though?

SH: Yes, Peter had just left after we toured ‘The Lamb’ album and before Phil took over the vocals. We recorded ‘Trick  Of The Tai’l and then ‘The Wind And The Wuthering’ and ‘Seconds Out’. After which I’d had enough, I was feeling increasingly marginalised and so decided to do my own thing.

As mentioned, Enter The Ring is about my life as part of Genesis and the circus ride it became, whilst Get Me Out is about the frustrations I felt towards the end. The trio of Mike, Tony and Phil were a very tight unit and that resulted in me feeling that my contributions were dismissed lightly, which left me feeling marginalised, resulting in me keeping my material for my own future use. Whilst I loved being a part of it all, in the end I was glad to be out of it and able to concentrate on my own efforts completely. Also, the success of ‘Voyage’ caused a rift that was never fully addressed or resolved and, while we are all still amicable, somehow it was never quite the same again.

Ghost Moon And Living Love is combination of heavy and softer tones in the same song, I get to let it out a little and play some fiery guitar lines. I know some folks don’t like love songs and just want rock but it’s part of who I am. Love is important to me, celebrating and expressing my feelings and not just in my playing. Jo (my wife) says this album combines both of these aspects, from the rage and the fury through to the flames of love, which I think is a good summation of the album.

Ghost Moon And Living Love is the albums longest track and a centrepiece of the album, this is followed by the Circo inferno, again more circus imagery to express a crazy period of my life. The track Into The Nightwhale is about facing your Demons and overcoming them, resilience and the like. When we started the album the term Nightwhale was not as widely used as it is now but, overall, it reflects a big part of my Life Journey.

Wherever You Are is unashamedly romantic and, again, it has heavy sections and much fiery guitar lines. The album booklet explains the songs far better but I don’t have a copy myself as yet, but I will be signing them in Birmingham and London when we tour.

JWS: Steve, I’d like to thank you for this immersive look into the songs on the album and wish you all the best.

‘The Circus And The Nightwhale’ will be released on 16th February, 2024.

Order the album here:

Steve Hackett – Wherever You Are (

sleepmakeswaves announce new single ‘Super Realm Park’ from forthcoming new album

Super Realm Park is the new single from the new sleepmakeswaves album ‘It’s Here, But I Have No Names For It’ due out Friday 12th April.

From the band:

“Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s the new single from sleepmakeswaves.

The main riff and synth on this track was inspired by F-Zero, the old school Nintendo 64 game. We developed and refined the concept into the first half of the track to bring in some late 90s influences.

We hit a few walls with how to close the track, until one afternoon in 2020 at an apartment in Erskineville, we suddenly realised it needed a slow, crushing, hypnotic wall of noise. We can’t wait to play it live.”

Listen to Super Realm Park now:

It’s Here, But I Have No Names For It | sleepmakeswaves (

sleepmakeswaves | Instagram, Facebook | Linktree

The new album ‘It’s Here, But I Have No Names For It’ was produced by the band themselves, at Golden Retriever Studios in Sydney, Australia. Written during the pandemic, it was originally recorded during 2022 just before the band embarked on a 3 month tour for their previous EP trilogy ‘these are not your dreams.’ Further recording was completed in 2023, including string arrangements by Simeon Bartholomew (SEIMS). The record was then mixed by Andrei Eremin (Closure in Moscow, Tash Sultana, G Flip, Luca Brasi) in Philadelphia USA and mastered by Jeff Lipton and Maria Rice at Peerless Mastering in Boston USA.

The first single ‘Super Realm Park’, prefiguring the record as a whole, is a majestic return to the classic hallmarks of the band’s melodic post-rock sound, whilst introducing new production and arrangement elements. Fans of the band’s heavy bombastic aggression will resonate with tracks such as ‘All Hail Skull’ and ‘Ritual Control.’ They also shine with invigorated melodic and emotive performances and arrangements on tracks like ‘Black Paradise’ and ‘Terror Future.’ Retaining their signature approach to heavy dynamics and crescendos the band are still at their unmatched peak when they turn their hand to cataclysmic emotional epics such as the title track and the album closer ‘This Close Forever.’

Pre-order the album now –

The band recently announced that they will tour Australia, Europe and the USA in support of their new album ‘It’s Here, But I Have No Names For It.’

They will kick off their world tour in Australia in April, playing shows in Melbourne, Sydney & Brisbane with support from Taiwanese math rock legends ELEPHANT GYM and fellow Australian post-rock veterans MENISCUS.

sleepmakeswaves will then return to Europe in May to headline Belgium’s Dunk Festival, and North America to co-headline PostFest in Indianapolis in July. Further shows will be added.

sleepmakeswaves Australian tour 2024

w/Elephant Gym (Taiwan) & Meniscus

Fri 26 April – Max Watts, Melbourne VIC

Sat 27 April – Manning Bar, Sydney NSW

Sun 28 April – The Triffid, Brisbane QLD

+ more to be announced

Presented by Bird’s Robe & Cult Artists

Tickets on sale from & venue websites

sleepmakeswaves UK/EU tour 2024

Sat 11 May – Dunk Festival, Zottegem BELGIUM

+ more to be announced

sleepmakeswaves USA tour 2024

25-27 July – PostFest, Indianapolis INDIANA

+ more to be announced

‘It’s Here, But I Have No Names For It’ is out Friday 12 April through Bird’s Robe/MGM and Dunk Records

Check out more at



Monsters is the second single from Cold Waves Divide Us, the fifth studio album from Scottish alt/post/progressive-rock trio Midas Fall.

On Monsters, the band show a more contemplative side, with an ethereal intro giving way to gorgeously syncopated guitar and drums.

Says Elizabeth Heaton, “The monsters I sing about in this song are the intrusive, anxiety ridden thoughts that decide to rear their ugly heads from time to time, especially when you least expect it, just to remind you that you never truly have full control. There is a feeling of defeat and submission in this song, juxtaposed with the idea that the act of writing the words and music itself can be the resolution

The single is accompanied by a video from producer David Gregory of Cineoteric Films, featuring the band members. Describing the approach he took to the video, David recounts, “Liz explained to us that the song Monsters came to her during a tough time. Composing it happened quickly and organically as it very much helped get her through it. We wanted to explore the idea that art and specifically music is ever-present. As if we’re conduits to the vibrations around us and we’re pulling the lyrics, music and inspirations directly from our surroundings. Sometimes music reveals itself when we truly need it”.

Watch the video for ‘Monsters’:

Cold Waves Divide Us will be released on 8th March, digitally, as well as on CD and a limited pressing of 500 LPs on 180g vinyl (150 black, 350 clear with orange and black splatter). The first 50 physical pre-orders from the Monotreme Records web shop will also receive a limited edition printed A5 booklet with images of handwritten lyrics drafts and drawings from Elizabeth Heaton. Pre-order here:

Monotreme Records – Midas Fall ‘Cold Waves Divide Us’ album – pre-order (


1. In the Morning We’ll Be Someone Else  

2. I Am Wrong  

3. Salt  

4. In This Avalanche  

5. Point of Diminishing Return  

6. Monsters  

7. Atrophy  

8. Cold Waves Divide Us  

9. Little Wooden Boxes  

10. Mute

Midas Fall tour dates confirmed so far:

16.04.24  Munich DE – Sunny Red Club

17.04.24  Dresden DE – Polimagie Festival

18.04.24  Karlsruhe DE – Kohi

19.04.24  Neunkirchen DE – Stummsche Reithalle

20.04.24  Osnabrück DE – Pop Salon Festival

26.05.24 London UK – Portals Festival, EartH


Elizabeth Heaton – vocals, guitars, strings, synths, piano, drums

Rowan Burn – guitars, synths, piano, drums

Michael Hamilton – bass, synths, drums

Music by Elizabeth Heaton and Rowan Burn

Lyrics by Elizabeth Heaton

Recorded, mixed and mastered by Elizabeth Heaton  

Artwork by Steven Pellatt – EvercloudDesign

Big Big Train launch video for ‘Miramare’; second track taken from ‘The Likes Of Us’

The award-winning progressive rock band Big Big Train will release their 15th studio album ‘The Likes Of Us’ on 1st March 2024 (InsideOutMusic). The album is the internationally-based group’s first full collection of songs since the unexpected passing of long-serving lead vocalist David Longdon in late 2021. Besides marking the debut of new frontman Alberto Bravin, a former member of the Italian band Premiata Forneria Marconi, it also heralds the beginning of a new relationship with InsideOutMusic, the group having self-released their music for almost two decades. 

Today the band are pleased to reveal a second track taken from the forthcoming album. ‘Miramare’ is an edited version of a song that features in a longer format on ‘The Likes Of Us’. You can watch the video for ‘Miramare’, created by Miles Skarin of Crystal Spotlight, here:

Gregory Spawton comments of the track: “BBT is known for its story songs, and I was keen to find a story which is set in Italy. Alberto lives in Trieste and mentioned the story of Maximilian and Carlotta, which was both a romantic (but doomed) love story and also a tale of the end of empires. 

Miramare was their castle home, a castle of dreams, set on the shore just outside Trieste. It turned out to be a grand folly and a place of madness and nightmares. Alberto had written a lovely piece of music and melody to set the words to and so it was simply a process of reading some books on the history and finding the way to tell the story.”

Alberto Bravin adds: “Having grown up in Trieste, and recently returned here after living for some years in London and Milan, the Miramare castle has been a backdrop for most of my life. 

Putting the story of Maximilian and Carlotta into music with Greg has been hugely satisfying for me. It was very fulfilling to co-write this song together and create what will hopefully be regarded as a Big Big Train future classic. With all its twists and turns as the story progresses, Miramare should be great to play live as well.”

Watch the recently released clip for ‘Oblivion’ here:

‘The Likes Of Us’ will be released on several different formats, including for the first time as Dolby Atmos mixed by The Pineapple Thief’s Bruce Soord, while the stereo mixes were undertaken by the band’s regular engineer Rob Aubrey together with Alberto Bravin. The Dolby Atmos mix will come as part of the Limited CD & Blu-ray Mediabook edition that also contains the album as 5.1 Surround Sound & 24-bit high-resolution stereo. The album will also be available as a Gatefold 180g 2LP (available in black, sky blue, olive green and orange formats), Standard CD Jewelcase and Digital Album. The stunning artwork was created by the band’s longstanding collaborator Sarah Louise Ewing, with layouts by Steve Vantsis.

Pre-order now here:

Big Big Train – Miramare (Single Edit) (

The album’s full track listing is as follows:

1.     Light Left In The Day 06:10

2.     Oblivion 05:27

3.     Beneath The Masts 17:26

4.     Skates On 04:28

5.     Miramare 10:17

6.     Love Is The Light 06:11

7.     Bookmarks 06:23

8.     Last Eleven 07:55

Big Big Train will perform for the first ever time in the USA in March 2024, including an appearance on Cruise To The Edge. The full list of shows can be found below:

1st March – Sweetwater Performance Theatre, Fort Wayne, Indiana

2nd March – Rivoli Theater at the Williams Center, Rutherford, New Jersey

3rd March – Rivoli Theater at the Williams Center, Rutherford, New Jersey

5th March – Regent Theatre, Arlington (Boston), Massachusetts

8th-13th March – Cruise To The Edge, Miami, Florida

The band have also confirmed two summer 2024 festival appearances at the final Night of the Prog Festival in Germany on 21st July, and Cropredy Festival in the UK on 9th August.

Look out for more dates to be announced soon.

ALBERTO BRAVIN – Lead vocals, guitar, keyboards

NICK D’VIRGILIO – Drums, percussion, vocals, 12-string acoustic guitar, vocals

DAVE FOSTER – Guitars 

OSKAR HOLLDORFF – Keyboards, vocals

CLARE LINDLEY – Violin, vocals 

RIKARD SJÖBLOM – Guitars, keyboards, vocals

GREGORY SPAWTON – Bass guitar, bass pedals, 12-string acoustic guitar, Mellotron

Featured image by Massimo Goina.