Review – Storm Deva – s/t – by John Wenlock-Smith

Trawling the prog-rock related sites is always an interesting experience for me as I am friends with many of my fellow reviewers and their thoughts, opinions and recommendations are always worth taking note of. One such trawl led me to the band Storm Deva and their self-titled debut album as it was garnering some very positive comments indeed.

I got in touch through bandcamp and offered to write a review of the album as I liked what I had heard. Storm Deva replied in the affirmative and wheels were put in motion with a full download and a physical CD being sent to me. I was very grateful for this and for the kindness offered to me by the band. The album arrived mid-week and I sat down to really have a good listen at my leisure. Armed with the lyrics and the biography of the band, I was all set.

The album opens with Carpe Diem which has a fabulous guitar riff and strong keyboard textures, the riff is the chugging sort that propels the song along. Carolynn Eden’s vocals are a thing of real beauty and class, very operatic at times but with a noticeable hint of Kate Bush, amongst others. The dynamics between vocals, guitar and piano are exceptionally good, at times the guitar following the piano, interweaving and dancing all around the melodies. A fine, if short, guitar solo adds further dynamics to what is a very strong opening track indeed, a really great song and a fine opening statement of intent. Alchemy is next and this one has a very impressive video:

The track has a very nautical theme and good sound effects providing real atmosphere, as does the fine cello of Hannah Reeves that adds great colour to the piece. It is an excellent song with some fine acoustic guitar from Stuart Clark who captures the essence of the song wonderfully. I recommend that you watch the video for maximum impact. Title track Storm Deva is hinged on a strong bass line that is doubled with guitar, which then switches to some fluid arpeggio lines. I like the crunch of this track, it is so well delivered, powerful and yet well constrained and contains a fine fluid guitar solo alongside Carollyn’s excellent piano. Another well executed and delivered song with a theme of overcoming adversity (one that is repeated several times on this fine release) and hope.

Free opens with ambient birdsong sounds, the song is about a journey to wholeness, contentment and, ultimately, to freedom from the past and any hold it has on one’s current happiness. We are treated to more excellent vocals from Carolynn on this powerful track. Come Back To Me begins with a descending piano motif and solo vocal from Carolynn before the band all join in. The song has a fine acoustic guitar solo from Stuart, the song calling for a lovers return. A rather gentle, but no less powerful, song of lament. The Garden Of Wisdom has a longer running time giving opportunity for some extended parts to emerge. This is a really great track and the parts are both interesting and cohesive. There especially fine dynamics from the piano leading to an excellent guitar part from Stuart, who plays a blinder on the whole album, he is a player of both taste and brevity, as a second solo later in this track shows fully. This song has an epic feel and a very good build in its intensity, making it my favourite track thus far, it is about finding personal freedom through overcoming situations.

The Dance is a celebration of life, especially the new life that occurs in the spring time. There are references to the power of the sun and of connection, it’s a song calling for support to being stopped from falling. Believing is the album’s penultimate track and is a fairly gentle song about seeing things afresh with new eyes. It is a very hopeful track with another lovely cello part from Hannah Reeves that adds depth to this fine piece of music, another winner here. The final track is the album’s other epic, the almost eleven minute long Journey, which is a strong finishing track with more sound effects of nature to start before it both gains intensity and momentum, fairly charging along in a very spirited manner, some very fine guitar fills and exciting piano parts following, The song is about a journey into self-realisation and fulfilment, it is quite an emotionally charged and exhilarating ride too with some strong ensemble playing, a fiery guitar and a great rhythm section that certainly adds strength to this great track. Again, another excellent and succinct solo from Stuart leads us to the final closing sections of this song where the momentum and drive is revived to good effect. Strong orchestral elements adorn this track, in fact the entire album is tinged by classical chamber music, albeit with a rock edge. The album ends with the sound of the sea and surf and then the journey is complete on what has been a really fine song and album.

I must also point out the sheer beauty of the album’s artwork, possibly the best I’ve seen, apart from Roger Dean, it is simply sumptuous and very satisfying on the eye and shows Storm Deva to be a very accomplished and talented new group. In addition, they have great taste and style, the bookmark that came with the album is a lovely addition.

This is a really good and fine album, I really liked it and think that others will too. It will especially appeal to Big Big Train Passengers as various BBT alumni are thanked for their input and support.

Released 1st December, 2023.

Order from bandcamp here:

▶︎ Storm Deva | Storm Deva (

Review – Kyros – Mannequin – by John Wenlock-Smith

Kyros have been around for well over a dozen years. Originally a solo project formed in 2009 under the name Chromology by Shelby Logan Warne whlist undertaking an undergraduate degree at Middlesex University. In 2010 Warne began writing a debut album that would be released under the name Synthaesthesia. It was as a self titled album in 2014 and was well received. However, after releasing the album Warne began to put together a band to play the material live and for future activities.

This line up was composed of Warne on keyboards, vocal and production along with another University colleague Samuel Higgins on second guitar, guitarist Ollie Hannifan, drummer Robin Johnson and bassist Peter Episcopo. Hannifan decided he wanted a leave of absence and was temporarily replaced by American guitarist Joey Frevola who eventually joined as a full time member, replacing Hannifan. After recording ‘Mannequin’, Episcopo left to be replaced by Knifeworld member Charlie Cawood.

Anyway enough history and biography, let tell you about what this album is like…

Kyros specialise in an updated progressive rock version of classic 80’s Synthpop. Which, actually, they are really rather good at performing with this resulting album, ‘Mannequin’, being chock full of some familiar sounds and styles. Think ABC, Duran Duran, Propaganda and Japan, you wouldn’t be a mile off. The music is all performed so fabulously with style and conviction that you wouldn’t think this was recorded in 2024, it sounds so much like a lost 1980’s album and I mean that as a compliment.

I really have warmed to this album the more I hear it, the songs are strong and well delivered, the production is flawless and sonically spot on. All in all, it’s a remarkable achievement from the band and is definitely on my best albums of the year list, it is that impressive musically. This release plays like roller coaster with a series of tracks with ferocious drumbeats, a fiery guitar and thumping bass lines. I am seriously impressed with it all, especially Showtime which is full on, relentless and rather hi-energy in style, Shelby’s synths are all over this track all, it is simply glorious! Illusions Inside is another fine track with heavy elements of Propaganda’s Dr Mabuse track, this song really grabs the attention, especially the excellent bass from Charlie Cawood.

Esoterica is another stunning track with a running sequence of an ambient electro beat driving the track along. Lots of intense guitar chords add to the great rhythm of the track and, again, superb heavy synthesisers are present. A great chorus adds dynamics to this excellent track and I love how it mixes up the sound, a glorious, blistering, thunderous sonic assault. It is truly remarkable stuff, seven minutes of magnificence. The End In Mind has lots of intricate and dextrous bass lines giving another powerful groove that has strong echoes of Duran Duran, especially in that luscious bass, the spirit of John Taylor is definitely present and correct here. The guitar work of Joey Favola is superb too, driving a heavy groove offset by the Sonic the Hedgehog type keyboard sounds (the Sega Mega Drive game more than the movies though). It’s a fairly long track and that gives it time to proceed through its different sections which, taken together, form a very cohesive whole.

Digital Fear is a fairly short track with lots happening musically. It takes a while for things to really kick in on this track which is good as it’s and instrumental and a great one at that. Ghosts of You is so 1980’s that it is unbelievable! It reminds me a little of Go West or The Blow Monkeys as it has that sort of swing to it, or possibly Breakout by Swing Out Sister but it is one hell of an excellent track. Liminal Space puts us in prime a-ha territory, albeit with a very heavy bass line, or maybe it’s Roxette I’m hearing here? either way, it’s mightily impressive.

Technology Killed The Kids is the album’s penultimate track and there is a more moody delivery on offer here. Another powerfully pounding track, I’m sure it will be barnstorming live. More spidery guitar lines from Joey are propelled by Charlie’s strong bass work. I love the way the sound distorts like the tape has broken down, whether this is deliberate or not I can’t say, either way it is effective. The final song Have Hope opens with a very upbeat synthesiser sound, an all round excellent sounding track with shades of Kajagoogoo to my ears.

Whilst this album is heavily reminiscent of the New Romantics, it really is more of a celebration and homage than a carbon copy for within its grooves are some very fine tracks and exciting and committed performances that are really well delivered. ‘Mannequin’ is a wonderfully expressive and exceptionally bold release that you really need in your life. If Steven Wilson can gain kudos for his 80’s sounding albums then why shouldn’t Kyros?

Released February 2nd, 2024.

Order direct from the band here:

Merch — KYROS (

Kaipa release first single & share music video of upcoming album “Sommargryningsljus” / now available for pre-order 

Sweden-born, folkloric progressive rock band Kaipa proudly announce their new album Sommargryningsljus. 49 years after the release of their debut album, the band is set to reveal the 15th longplayer of their musical journey, Sommargryningsljus, which will be released via InsideOutMusic on June 28th, 2024.  Sommargryningsljus is now available for pre-order:

Sommargryningsljus (Single Edit) (

The announcement comes with the release of the first single of the album, which is a mélange of both the opening and closing track of Sommargryningsljus, subsequently named “Sommargryningsljus (Single Edit)”. Two of the songs from the album, the opening track Sommarskymningsljus and the ending track Sommargryningsljus, can be heard together in this single edit version, as they were originally written.

The song is about dusk and a journey through the night to meet the light again at dawn. The single comes with a lyric video that showcases the mystical vibes of twilight and gives a glimpse of the album aesthetics and illustrations.

Watch the video for Sommargryningsljus (Single Edit) here:

Listen to Sommargryningsljus (Single Edit) on your favorite DSPs here:

Kaipa – Sommargryningsljus (

Hans Lund comments:

I had written all the songs for the album and the total playing time was 70 minutes, but then something unexpected happened. One day when I was recording with Aleena Gibson, we took a break and went out into my garden to have a cup of coffee. Suddenly Aleena started singing some notes and I said it was beautiful. Okay, let’s write a song, she said. So we returned to the studio and 15 minutes later a new song had been born. We were both delighted with the result and said that this song must be on the album and the lyrics must be in Swedish. I developed the song and created an interlude built on the same chords. The melody was hovering around in the studio and it landed gracefully in my fingers when I started to play. One early morning a few weeks later, the words suddenly came floating down and landed in my consciousness.

Sommargryningsljus will be available as

·      Ltd. CD Mediabook with extensive 24-pages booklet

·      12’’ Gatefold 180g 2LP black vinyl

·      digital album


1.    Sommarskymningsljus 00:01:30

2.    Seven Birds   00:09:50

3.    Like Thousand Dawns 00:11:08

4.    Revelationview 00:09:28

5.    Chased by Wolves And Burned by The Sun 00:10:17

6.    Spiderweb Train 00:15:29

7.    Songs In Our Hands 00:13:00

8.    Sommargryningsljus 00:03:58

9.    Sommargryningsljus (Single Edit) 00:05:24

Kaipa are:

Hans Lundin – keyboards & vocals

Per Nilsson – electric & acoustic guitars

Jonas Reingold – bass

Darby Todd – drums

Patrik Lundström – vocals

Aleena Gibson – vocals 

Review – HFMC – Eternal Snapshots

The wonderful Swedish band HFMC (Hasse Fröberg & Musical Companion) formed in 2008, out of an idea by Flower Kings singer and guitarist Hasse Fröberg. The idea started to take shape and in 2009 HFMC started to play and prepare for what later became their debut album ‘FuturePast’.

HFMC also consists of Sampo Axelsson (bass guitar), Kjell Haraldsson (keyboards), Anton Lindsjö (guitar) and Ola Strandberg (dums). The band members have played together with names like Glenn Hughes, Michael Schenker, Jeff Scott Soto and Joe Lynn Turner amongst others… HFMC has a warm and unique sound of their own with influences from progressive rock, classic rock and even a hint of pop.

2024 marks the forty-year anniversary since Hasse released his first full length album. What can be better to celebrate forty years as a recording artist than to release a new one? The new HFMC record ‘Eternal Snapshots’ is the band’s sixth studio album.

It’s a concept album that deals with questions such as how do we become who we are. Is everything predetermined? Is destiny involved in our lives? The title ‘Eternal Snapshots’ reflects over the fact that new fate of lives is being born every second and here we get to follow two of them.

I will admit to being a big fan of HFMC, I made their 2021 release ‘We Are The Truth’ my album of the year saying, “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.” So I had high expectations of this album and, being up front and central, Hasse and the guys have not let me down!

There’s just something immediately recognisable about Hasse’s vocals, maybe it’s because I am also a fan of the Flower Kings, I’m not sure but his vocal delivery is pretty unique and perfectly suited to the music and, in Anton Lindsjö, he has a superlative guitarist who can turn his hand to pretty much any genre he wants to and, in Sampo Axelsson and Ola Strandberg, a rhythm section as sharp and as cool as they come. What they have created is a masterly collection of brilliant, catchy songs that flow superbly and make a wonderfully cohesive album of progressive tinged hard rock that even has some poppy moments. It’s a record that makes you smile, tap your foot and sing along too and I love music like that!

Opening track All I Wanted To Be (Pt 1) has a big build up with some solid guitar and Kjell Haraldsson’s dextrous keyboards before it flies off with some thunderous drums and excellent bass play conducting the journey. Hasse’s almost plaintive vocal then joins in as the foot comes of the accelerator giving the song a more purposeful feel and then it segues perfectly into the upbeat and uplifting vibe of Deserve To be Happy, a track that showcases music with a sunny disposition. An earnest vocal with subdued music opens the song before it blossoms into something quite remarkable indeed, Kjell’s keys and Ola’s drums providing the driving force and Anton’s fine guitar playing the glue that holds it all together. Add in the wonderful, catchy chorus and you’ve got that joyous toe-tapper that just makes you smile, it’s just feel good music at it’s finest. I love the 80’s Asia/Boston vibe of the guitar, drums and keys that provides the musical palette for Hasse to paint his vocal lines on, “I deserve to be happy…”, you do indeed Hasse! Wistful and and nostalgic in feel, Wherever You may Go adds a quieter, inspiring feel to the album as the subdued acoustic guitar opens the track and Hasse’s poignant vocal begins. It is a beautiful song and one that just bleeds emotion, especially on the delightful chorus. It is a song that just stays in your head for a very long time, invoking sepia tinged memories that are almost melancholic but the music is just so spiritual that the feeling never lasts for long. Anton’s fabulous guitar work and Kjell’s Hammond organ are touches of genius, an outstanding piece of music indeed!

That 80’s vibe returns to grace another great piece of songwriting on No Messiah, an evocative mix of soaring keyboards, fiery guitar and a thunderous rhythm section that gets under your skin and drags you along on its emotive journey. Hasse said to me, “The lyrics might be a little “depressing” at times but as a whole it comes out as a positive experience listening to it.”, and I agree with him totally, they is a joy to the music and a real energising effect from the vocals, especially when harmonised as brilliantly as they are on this song! The sounds of a shipyard open Once In A Lifetime, a journey back in time with it’s 80’s hard rock feel. Powerful and reflective, a song that wouldn’t have been out of place on an album by Foreigner or Journey and it’s when I type the latter that an inspiration particle goes off in my head, that’s who Hasse’s voice reminds me of, the legendary Steve Perry! This is a song that lifts you up into its maelstrom willingly and you are captivated by the amazing musical journey. Only For Me and The Yard are two short interludes, the former having a feel of sunny shores and glimmering ripples in clear calm waters, “why can’t I see, this is for me…” and the latter could have come straight from a Spock’s Beard release and, despite being under two minutes long, possibly the most proggy track on the album!

The excellent songwriting continues with Searching For The Dark, which feels like a mix of classic Crosby, Stills & Nash and Yes with its gorgeous vocals and heavenly music that just floats suggestively in your psyche, the guitar is especially divine and helps make this engaging track something quite remarkable. A Sorrowful Marriner is another musical amuse bouche that has an almost choral feel to it, all church organs and heavenly voices. Just occasionally a band decide to do something quite left field from the other songs on the album, maybe just because they can and HFMC decide to channel their inner rock god with the utterly sublime Blind Dog, a brilliant, grin inducing, hard rocking song that wouldn’t have been out of place on a 70’s Led Zep album. I get the impression that everyone is having the time of their life on this fiery, thunderous behemoth of sinuous bass playing, primeval drums and Hammond organ to die for. Anton gets to cut loose and, boy, does he ever! delivering a lesson in classic rock guitar playing second to none, add in Hasse’s dynamic, ardent vocal and you have a superlative slice of rock music. The album comes full circle as it closes with the refrain of All I Wanted To be (Pt 2), the bells are ringing, the guitar is playing and we are coming to a tremendous tumultuous conclusion to an utterly exhilarating musical experience.

Music is written to connect with people, to move you on an emotional, spiritual and intellectual level. If it is done right then it leaves you in a much better place than when you listened to the first note and, with ‘Eternal Snapshots’, Hasse Fröberg & Musical Companion have delivered one of the most superlative musical events of the year so far.

Released 6th June, 2024.

Order from bandcamp here:

Eternal Snapshots | HFMC (

David Gilmour ‘Luck And Strange’, First New Album In Nine Years, Released 6th September on Sony Music

David Gilmour today announced his new album ‘Luck and Strange’, to be released on 6th September on Sony Music. The first track from the album, ‘The Piper’s Call’, will be released this Thursday, 25th April, following a world exclusive first play on the BBC Radio 2 Breakfast Show.



‘Luck and Strange’ was recorded over five months in Brighton and London and is Gilmour’s first album of new material in nine years. The record was produced by David and Charlie Andrew, best known for his work with ALT-J and Marika Hackman. Of this new working relationship, David says, “We invited Charlie to the house, so he came and listened to some demos, and said things like, “Well, why does there have to be a guitar solo there?” and “Do they all fade out? Can’t some of them just end?”. He has a wonderful lack of knowledge or respect for this past of mine. He’s very direct and not in any way overawed, and I love that. That is just so good for me because the last thing you want is people just deferring to you.

The majority of the album’s lyrics have been composed by Polly Samson, Gilmour’s co-writer and collaborator for the past thirty years. Samson says of the lyrical themes covered on ‘Luck and Strange’, “It’s written from the point of view of being older; mortality is the constant.” Gilmour elaborates, “We spent a load of time during and after lockdown talking about and thinking about those kind of things.” Polly has also found the experience of working with Charlie Andrew liberating, “He wants to know what the songs are about, he wants everyone who’s playing on them to have the ideas that are in the lyric informing their playing. I have particularly loved it for that reason.”

The album features eight new tracks along with a beautiful reworking of The Montgolfier Brothers’ ‘Between Two Points’ and has artwork and photography by the renowned artist Anton Corbijn.

Musicians contributing to the record include Guy Pratt & Tom Herbert on bass, Adam Betts, Steve Gadd and Steve DiStanislao on drums, Rob Gentry & Roger Eno on keyboards with string and choral arrangements by Will Gardner. The title track also features the late Pink Floyd keyboard player Richard Wright, recorded in 2007 at a jam in a barn at David’s house.

Some contributions emerged from the live streams that Gilmour and family performed to a global audience during the lockdowns of 2020 and 2021; Romany Gilmour sings, plays the harp and appears on lead vocals on ‘Between Two Points’. Gabriel Gilmour also sings backing vocals. 

The album’s cover image, photographed and designed by Anton Corbijn, is inspired by a lyric written by Charlie Gilmour for the album’s final song ‘Scattered’. Of working with his family on ‘Luck and Strange’, David says, “Polly and I have been writing together for over thirty years and the Von Trapped live streams showed the great blend of Romany’s voice and harp-playing and that led us into a feeling of discarding some of the past that I’d felt bound to and that I could throw those rules out and do whatever I felt like doing, and that has been such a joy.”

‘Luck and Strange’ will be released on 6th September on Sony Music.

Available for pre-order now:

Luck and Strange (


Gatefold sleeve and booklet with photography and design by Anton Corbijn


Black Cat*

Luck and Strange

The Piper’s Call

A Single Spark

Vita Brevis*

Between Two Points** – with Romany Gilmour


Dark and Velvet Nights




Album plus two bonus tracks.

Digipak and booklet with photography and design by Anton Corbijn

Black Cat*

Luck and Strange

The Piper’s Call

A Single Spark

Vita Brevis*

Between Two Points** – with Romany Gilmour

Dark and Velvet Nights




Yes, I Have Ghosts

Luck and Strange (original Barn Jam)*


Album in Dolby Atmos and high-resolution stereo mixes plus four bonus tracks.

Digipak and booklet with photography and design by Anton Corbijn

Black Cat*

Luck and Strange

The Piper’s Call

A Single Spark

Vita Brevis*

Between Two Points** – with Romany Gilmour

Dark and Velvet Nights




In Dolby Atmos and Hi-Res stereo

Yes, I Have Ghosts

Luck and Strange (original Barn Jam)*

A Single Spark (Orchestral)*

Scattered (Orchestral)*

Deluxe LP & CD boxsets will be announced in the coming weeks. 


All songs Music: David Gilmour. Lyrics: Polly Samson.

Except *Music: David Gilmour.

**Music: Mark Tranmer. Lyrics by Roger Quigley.

***Music: David Gilmour. Lyrics: David Gilmour, Charlie Gilmour and Polly Samson.

Produced by David Gilmour and Charlie Andrew

Engineered by Matt Glasbey, Charlie Andrew, David Gilmour and Damon Iddins

Mixed by David Gilmour, Charlie Andrew and Matt Glasbey

Additional engineering by Andy Jackson and Luie Stylianou


David Gilmour is guitarist, vocalist and writer with Pink Floyd, but is also renowned for his solo work. David Gilmour and Roger ‘Syd’ Barrett met as children in Cambridge, UK, and later began playing guitar together. In 1965 Syd co-founded Pink Floyd, while David continued playing with a succession of his own bands. In 1968, David was asked to augment the Pink Floyd line up as the singer and guitarist, only for Syd to leave the group five gigs later. David’s guitar playing, singing and songwriting became major factors of Pink Floyd’s worldwide success, including his distinctive vocals and guitar playing on The Dark Side Of The Moon, the third most successful album of all time.

In 1978, David released his first solo album, David Gilmour, which charted in the UK and the US. His second solo album, About Face, was released in 1984, again hitting the Top 20 in the UK.
David assumed control of Pink Floyd in 1985, creating the new Floyd album A Momentary Lapse Of Reason with Richard Wright and Nick Mason. It was followed in 1994 by The Division Bell, which contained the instrumental Marooned, composed by David and Richard Wright, which won a Grammy Award. Both albums charted at Number 1 on both sides of the Atlantic and were supported by sell-out world tours.

In 1996, Pink Floyd were inducted into the US Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, followed by the same honour in the UK in November 2005.

David is one of the all-time guitar greats, with an instinctive and distinctive sound; he was voted ‘Best Fender Guitar Player Ever’ in a poll in Guitarist magazine, beating such greats as Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton. In 2005, David was made a CBE for services to music.

On 6th March 2006, David released his third solo album, On An Island, which entered the UK Charts at Number 1, subsequently hitting the top position in the pan-European Charts, as well as hitting multi-Platinum around the world. The tour for the album included a one-off performance in the historic dockyards of Gdańsk, Poland, with a 40-piece orchestra and a show at London’s Royal Albert Hall was filmed by director David Mallet and released in 2007 as ‘Remember That Night – Live At The Royal Albert Hall’, which topped the charts upon release.

In May 2008, David was awarded an ‘Ivor’ for Lifetime Achievement by the British Association of Composers and Songwriters. In September 2008, Fender Guitars made available their David Gilmour Signature Black Strat model, in ‘Relic’ and ‘New Old Stock’ models.

In 2009, David was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Arts from East Anglia’s Ruskin University of Cambridge and Chelmsford for his outstanding contribution to music as a writer, performer and innovator. 

In September 2014, Pink Floyd released The Endless River, and David confirmed that it would be the band’s final album and it topped the charts in over 20 countries.

David’s next album Rattle That Lock was released in 2015 and went to Number 1 in 13 charts around the world and Number 2 in a further eight, hitting the Top 5 in a total of 25 listings. The accompanying world tour saw David perform two spectacular shows at the legendary Pompeii Amphitheatre in the shadow of Mount Vesuvius, 45 years after he first played there for Adrian Maben’s classic film Pink Floyd Live At Pompeii.

The concerts were the first-ever rock performances played to an audience in the ancient Roman amphitheatre, which was built in 90 BC and entombed in ash when Vesuvius erupted in AD 79. The film of these shows directed by Gavin Elder, topped the box office In Italy, Germany and France and was Number 2 in the UK. David Gilmour Live At Pompeii was released on Blu-ray, Vinyl, CD & DVD in September 2017 and reached #3 in the UK and #1 in Italy.

In June 2019, David raised $21.5m from the Christie’s sale of more than 120 of his instruments and artefacts. He gave the proceeds to ClientEarth, a charity which uses the power of the law to protect the planet and its people.

Gilmour and Nick Mason reactivated Pink Floyd to record ‘Hey Hey Rise Up’ on 30th March 2022 with Andriy Khlyvnyuk of the Ukrainian band Boombox. All of the net proceeds have gone to charities to help alleviate the suffering of Ukrainian people.

Review – PreHistoric Animals – Finding Love In Strange Places – by John Wenlock-Smith

Bad Dog Promotions are proving themselves to be a most worthy PR resource for modern prog bands and associated artists. Okay, not everything is to my liking, however, I find more to my liking that ones I don’t like. There definitely a lot more ‘hit’ than ‘miss’ for me. Take, for instance, ‘Finding Love In Strange Places’, this fourth album from Sweden’s PreHistoric Animals. It certainly mixes things up blending, as it does, a love of progressive rock, alternative rock and brilliant pop music, a concept that shouldn’t work but somehow here it manages to pull of fthis feat in style.

Quite frankly I’m most thankful to have heard this album, as it is an album of depth and great songwriting and performances in a very clever concept, delivered and realised to a very high standard indeed.

The band are: Stefan Altzar (guitar, lead vocal and keyboards), Samuel Granath (drums and keyboards), Noah Magnusson (bass and keyboards) and Daniel Magdic (guitar, vocals and keyboards).

The album begins with The City Of My Dreams which opens with a Blade Runner type sequencer before heavy guitar and soaring synthesisers join in. The singer sounds reminiscent of someone who I can’t quite identify but sounds really good to me, The song has a compelling narrative and strong musical sections, all very well produced. I like this track a lot, it has lots of elements that together work hugely in its favour. A Bad Day For The Neon Gods is a brief interlude before Living In A World Of Bliss storms along with a fiery pace and drive. It’s a strange story about a girl who is a killer and eventually falls to her death. Her death inspires a follower to continue her work with a different outcome. I feel it is quite a hopeful song really but definitely an interesting one and another quality track.

Unbreakable is a longer track, opening with sequenced keyboards before a soaring guitar line plays. This track is about a couple who meet in a bar and commit to each other, getting married and both taking an implant to their brains which makes them attain a higher state of realisation of life. They sign the rest of their lives away in exchange for this heightened state, it’s an interesting premise and story and great musically as it has a lot going on throughout. Strange Places is a portentous, looming interlude that just builds up the suspense before He Is Number Four, a story of how two employees fall in love in a factory environment and how that single act saves countless others as the this stops an act of terror from even happening. It is the start of love that warms the female protagonist’s heart so much and deters her from the act of violence she had planned. It is a remarkable track bout how the power of love can change us as individuals.

Come Home is a very brief acoustic song, it’s all rather good and pleasant and doesn’t outstay its  welcome. This followed by The Secret Of Goodness, which appears to be about being watched by aliens, I could be wrong as it is a little unclear, it is very strong musically again though and another compelling tale. The final track on the album, Nothing Has Changed But Everything Is Different  is also a fantastic track rich in imagery and invention. This is a plea that that we should be loved for who we are. An epic guitar solo helps complete this very fine track with its simple themes and request. It is an emotionally laden song with much meaning and concludes what is quite frankly most interesting and accomplished album.

I really appreciated the level of imagination that is contained within these songs and the theme of finding love in strange places as told here on a brilliantly realised concept album of great songs and strong musical performances from PreHistoric Animals. With the excellent cover art, ‘Finding Love In Strange Places’ is an album that both looks and sounds good with real substance and definitely one to look out for on end of year ‘best of’ lists.

Released 16th May, 2024.

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Review – Blue Rose Code – Bright Circumstance

“Lord, you have called my brother home, will you guide him gently, Lord, you have called my brother home to that sacred rest. Jesus, you’ve called my brother home would you give him shelter, now the big man has gone on…”

Ross Wilson (Blue Rose Code) is, at once, one of Edinburgh’s favourite sons and still one of Scotland’s best kept secrets. A decade-long career has seen Wilson work with the great Danny Thompson, Eddi Reader, and most recently, co-write with English folk royalty – Steve Knightley.

Unusually, four years since Blue Rose Code’s last record, the songs on ‘Bright Circumstance’ were written between Galson in the North of Lewis and the Whitstable sea-front in Kent. Four years has seen new fatherhood, a dropping anchor in Liverpool, and (once the pandemic allowed) extensive national and international touring with Wilson’s seven-piece band.

Last Summer saw BRC play mainstages at Cambridge Folk Festival, Shrewsbury festival, Tonder in Denmark, and Black Deer. The experience of playing to the big crowds with the big band has developed the Blue Rose Code sound into an unmissable live show and that energy has been taken into the studio for the new record ‘Bright Circumstance’.

I feel that Ross has reached a creative nirvana with this new album. A completely wonderful melding of folk, roots, soul, country and Americana that touches your very soul and is reflective, uplifting and just a musical breath of fresh air but, before we delve into the review, Ross explains more about the new album:

How do you go about creating/writing the songs for a new album? Do you have a bank of songs or are they new experiences that you use to help with the idea behind the songs?

For me I always give time, that’s where the songs begin. In a space where there is no pressure, no expectations. Deadlines are great for work or otherwise but I think music ought not to be held to an artificial timeline. It walks its own path. Often songs will come in twos or threes for me, when I feel creative I’ll pick up the guitar or sit at the piano and they fall out in their own good time but mostly as a team. It’s always happened that, over the course of writing an album, at least one song will be written that is a last minute edition. This time it was ‘Now The Big Man Has Gone On’. Written for my dear pal Gordon’s funeral. 

I spend most of my life away from ‘being an artist’, it’s the only way that I’ve found to garner experiences honest and authentic enough to write about. I forget that I’m a musician and, when we’re out on a sustained run of shows I’m all of a sudden like, ‘oh, yeah, *this* is what it’s all about’, because that connection when I’m performing, between myself and the band and the audience, that flow is the greatest sensation I’ve ever experienced.

Do you have a cohesive idea/concept behind the album or is it a collection of random tracks?

Any concept would be post-rationalisation and, while some people may like to be seduced by their musicians talking shite about what they’ve done, that’s not really my gig. Having written and recorded this record, and now with a bit of distance from it, the biggest theme that’s emerged (by accident) is one of Faith with a capital F. 

Faith is very unsexy nowadays, you’re either naive, stupid and/or very likely bigoted. Since becoming a father again and coming out of the dread and desolation of the Pandemic, I’ve realised the need for communion and connection in my life, nay, all of us are inherently interdependent, the Lockdowns convinced me of that utterly. God, gods, Yahweh, Allah, Yoda, Mother Nature, whatever you want to call (insert pronoun here), I’m pretty relaxed about the notion that there is a power greater than me that binds us. 

I think this is your best album to date and, while it is most definitively a BRC album, it feels slightly different than the ones that have preceded it, is that intentional?

Thank you! I made a conscious effort to take the band out to festivals and grow a bigger, more muscular, soulful sound. We’ve had a riot around the country, a lot of fun, lots of dancing and smiling and I was so determined to bring some of that raucousness into the studio. I wanted to grab, on record, what we sound like out there, with the counterpoint of some of what you’d expect from a BRC record. 

Now, let’s see just exactly what ‘Bright Circumstance’ is all about…

Jericho opens the album with a high octane injection of soul, a fast paced thrill ride where Paul Harrison’s piano and Paul Towndrow’s horn section drive the track along with a grin inducing energy, the kind of live energy that has wowed festivals and theatres throughout 2023. Ross’ vocals are dynamic and uplifting and give the record a rather enticing opening and a blistering statement of intent. The mood is turned completely on its head with Sadie, a heartfelt lament written from a very personal perspective, a song about generational trauma and addiction. A melancholic strummed guitar is matched my Ross’ sombre and wistful vocals but the star of the show here is Conor Smith and his elegantly played, respectful pedal steel guitar which just bleeds emotion, it is simply heartbreaking and plaintive, every note touching and beautifully delivered. The mood turns again with the wonderfully triumphant horn arrangement by Paul Harrison that opens Never Know Why, a song about Grace, about experience over knowledge. Soulful with an almost reggae feel to it, the funky trombone from Liam Shortall and Harrison’s dancing piano just add to the inspirational vibe and general feeling of good will, a song that just makes you smile!

The subdued atmosphere returns with the elegant and stately Thirteen Years, this song is about Tory Britain, about kids going to sleep hungry and waking up hungry, going to school hungry. It’s a powerful message delivered with passion and pride but in a most dignified manner which is only enhanced by the gorgeous, haunting violin of Greg Lawson. A powerful piece of music that makes you stop and think. Next comes a full-on Gospel version of Amazing Grace where Ross makes the song his own, a personal and jubilant reworking of the classic hymn, featuring a chorus of Eddi Readers in the background. The music is almost bluesy with a brilliant Hammond organ leading the refrain and Paul Towndrow’s soulful sax adding some real verve, it’s simply irresistible. My favourite song of the year so far from any artist, Peace In Your Heart was written coming out of the pandemic and in light of the mental health crisis that came about through lack of connection. A gentle, wistful piece of music that just gets under your skin and seeps into your soul with its love and compassion, bringing tears of joy and a feeling of hope welling up,“May this next year go easier on your soul, I love you and I wish you peace in your heart.”

“Take my hand my love, hold me in your arms. Love me like you do, easy as we go…”. A song of hope, of renewal, about the coming spring, Easy As We Go blends Scottish country and Americana perfectly, the yearning and longing for something new, something better is uplifting and optimistic, imbuing an aura of faith and brotherhood into the music and Ross’ words. A comforting song that speaks of a brighter future, Donald Shaw’s accordion and Lyle Watt’s mandolin adding a real authenticity to proceedings. Sultry and brooding with haunting vocals to match, Don’t Be Afraid speaks of faith and devotion. The bible features the phrase ‘don’t be afraid’ 365 times. One day at a time. The dark and light of Jungian thought, ‘the devil is fear by another name’, a song with a questioning nature at its heart, pure creativity and originality and a showcase for the songwriting brilliance of Ross Wilson. The song segues brilliantly into the stark McDonald’s Lament, a Gaelic preamble to Now The Big Man Has Gone, written for a close friend of Ross’ who died suddenly while the record was being finished in Glasgow. Written for the Big man’s funeral, it is Ross with his heart laid bare, inviting us in to his own personal mourning. Pared back, it is just Ross’ perfectly judged vocal with a gentle mandolin and his faith holding strong as he bids farewell to a loved one and asks that he be welcomed into heaven with open arms. A tender and beautiful piece of music that has all of this spiritual musicians heart and soul at its very core, the recording of the Big man’s voice a very poignant way to close the album.

Music can reflect life and accompany us on our very personal journeys and we should be honoured that Ross Wilson has invited us to join him on his own poignant and introspective pilgrimage through his faith. What he has given us is one of the most intense and intimate records released this year, with faith and devotion as its central themes. ‘Bright Circumstance’ is an utterly captivating triumph and should propel Blue Rose Code onto further and better things, it really doesn’t get any better than this.

Released 10th May, 2024.

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Blue Rose Code is Ross Wilson

Drums – Stuart Brown, Trumpet & Flugel – Matt Gough, Keys – Paul Harrison, Violin – Greg Lawson, Vocals – Eddi Reader, Accordion – Donald Shaw, Trombone – Liam Shortall, Pedal Steel – Conor Smith, Bass – Gus Stirrat, Vocals – Naomi Stirrat, Saxophone – Paul Towndrow, Guitars & Mandolin – Lyle Watt.

Review – Nataraja – Spirit At Play – by John Wenlock-Smith

This album, Natajara’s Spirit At Play’, really appealed to me having a fondness for jazz fusion and knowing the Mahavishnu Orchestra catalogue pretty well, as I do. Guitarist Jack Jennings is new to me but here, on this rather splendid album, he combines his love of Jimi Hendrix with his passion for the Raja’s of northern India to fine effect.

This album may be a fairly challenging listen for the casual listener, however, bearing in mind that it was recorded live in just one day. The levels of skill on display here are really astonishing, you have the flamboyant guitar of Jennings anchored with the superb and sympathetic rhythm section of John Jowitt (bass) and Andy Edwards (Drums), the subtle analog synths of Richard Charles Boxley adding delicate textures over the top in a very sensitive way. It does help if you like Indian classical music, Ravi Shankar or John Mclaughlin’s ‘Shakti’, all of which have connections to this style of music. Overall, I would definitely recommend this to the more adventurous types who will find much to appreciate within this release. The album is produced by Phi Yaan Zek, which is a good enough reason to be even remotely interested in this music, as he is excellent in his own right.

Back to ‘Spirits At Play’, it has just five tracks, two relatively short, one medium and two very long tracks, both over ten minutes in length. The sound is crisp and punchy throughout with great separation between all of the instruments. I do especially like how fluid Jack Jennings playing is as he can really let rip on these tracks, he is most competent indeed and can play a blinder, as he does on title track Spirit At Play, where he plays an extended solo with great skill, flair and at lightning speed too! It is really remarkable playing, you really appreciate the strong support he gets from John and Andy ,both of who are really great on here. Raag Hansadwhani – Vinayaka is another excellent track being bathed in synths in its opening section These a bubble and are not overpowering at al,l leaving room for Jack to improvise freely, which sound really good here. He is a player of both taste and style and that shows clearly here.

As I say not an easy listen, in fact it can be rather intense and dense music at times. That said, it does sound very good, if not a little different to most modern music. Within the music you do get a sense of the measure of respect that Jack has for this form and of how he is seeking to honour and respect this by through his own interpretations of these Raja’s. I think that he should be both noted and applauded for bringing this fresh and vibrant translations and interpretations to this live arena as he does here.

Released 23rd March, 2024.

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Review – Warhorse; The Recordings 1970-1972 – by John Wenlock-Smith

When I heard about this 2CD set, which contains both the albums Warhorse made for the Vertigo label in 1970 and 1972, I became rather excited and curious of how these albums would sound 50 years after their original release.

Warhorse were a short lived group but with an interesting history. Formed by bassist Nick Simper when he was replaced in Deep Purple by Roger Glover in 1970, they were originally formed as a backing group to singer Marsha Hunt and originally had in their ranks, a Pre-Strawbs/Yes Rick Wakeman, who sadly left before actually recording with the group. In addition, both vocalist Ashley Holt and drummer Barney Jones would leave the band in 1974 to join Wakeman in his band The English Rock Ensemble.

In the meantime Warhorse did manage to make two albums for Vertigo, these being ‘Warhorse’ (1970) and ‘Red Sea’ (1972), both of which are here along, with a further eleven tracks of demo’s and live versions of the songs.

So what does it sound like? you ask, well, to these ears it sounds like the era in which it was made. So, if you consider a mix of say Uriah Heep and Deep Purple then you wouldn’t be a million miles away from the sound the band made.

The ‘Warhorse’ album begins with the strong, Hammond organ driven, Vulture Blood which sets out the stall in a decent manner. You can definitely detect the Deep Purple connection in the sound. No Chance features some interesting bass runs before the keyboards commence, again it’s very intense sounding and very Uriah Heep in style, although a good guitar line cuts through well. I like this track as it has good vocals which are both confident and clear, proving Ashley to be a fine singer in a certain style. It’s one that works well here at least, I was less convinced by his performances with The English Rock Ensemble somehow. Burning opens in a very strident, almost marching style, tempo, most effective, before a swirl of keyboards and a chunky guitar riff are introduced, successfully too I will say. This song has interesting lyrics too making another very fine track.

Next we have a cover of a song from The Easybeats called St Louis that was intended as a single but, sadly, wasn’t a hit as such. The track has a sprightly riff and moves along at a cracking pace, it’s actually rather good and deserved far more than it achieved, unfortunately such is often the way of  things in music. The more lengthy Ritual features three time on this collection, one album and two live versions, all being of differing length. The song is pretty powerful but despite a stomping beat and great guitar work, it actually isn’t the finest moment really as it kind of meanders somewhat aimlessly or it seems that way to me at least. Far better is Solitude, which is the albums epic track at just shy of nine minutes in length, which gives a chance for the track to really evolve and show its progressive elements off fully in a strong manner. There’s nifty guitar work from Ged Peck who plays excellently throughout, he was definitely very underrated in his time.

This leads onto another longish song, Woman Of The Devil, which bristles with energy and has more Hammond and keys from Frank Wilson, who is all over this track in a most exciting manner. More great guitar from Ged really helps lift the track greatly. It has strong echoes of Uriah Heep’s Gypsy. This concludes the Warhorse album although this version is bolstered by four live tracks and a demo of Miss Jane, all of which are decent and very welcome. You can tell that they must have been an excellent live act in the day and one that could engage, interact and captivate an audience.

The sophomore album ‘Red Sea’ was released in 1972 and contains seven more tracks of excellent early 1970’s hard rock and prog songs beginning with short title track Red Sea, which is a busy little number with doubled guitar lines and an underpinned Hammond Organ. A great guitar runs through this track, although it should be noticed that Ged Peck had been replaced at this stage by Pete Parks, who was a soloist in a different style and really makes his mark on this second album. The longer and stronger Back In Time is really excellent, especially if you like organ driven tracks, as this one is, interlaced with short guitar fills and notes. This track shows the differences between the guitarists, Ged Peck being the more adventurous and fluid player. Pete Parks is a great player but not really in the same league somehow, although his solo section on this song is pretty exciting. Confident But Wrong has a good guitar riff that holds it all together along with more concise soloing from Pete. It’s a strong track underpinned by more Hammond from Frank Wilson, who again adds great depth and colour to the track.

Sybilla is another interesting track with a throbbing bass line and chunky guitar riffs and fills making another excellent track. Next is the album’s longest track Mouthpiece which has an extended drum solo woven into it. This piece has excellent dynamics and makes for a very different, but nonetheless exciting, instrumental track where each member gets their chance to shin in some fine ensemble playing and strong performances. This then leaves the bonus tracks which are a further live version of Ritual and five demos that were to form the basis of their third, unrealised, album that was to have been on Atlantic Records.

Despite the band being signed, the OPEC oil crisis of 1974 put those plans on permanent ice and that was then end of Warhorse. Ashley Holt and Barney James were invited to join Wakeman’s TheEnglish Rock Ensemble and they duly accepted, bringing to an end the short lived career of Warhorse. However, with this excellent re-release of these albums in the full glory and with the usual Esoteric care and attention, this fine group can be heard in their full glory once again. This is a release of note that I strongly recommend to all.

Released 26th April, 2024.

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Review – Six By Six – Beyond Shadowland – by John Wenlock-Smith

Occasionally, and very rarely, I get an album that fails to captivate me fully. Whether this is my fault or a failing on behalf of the artist is very much open to debate. In this instance, I was anticipating and expecting far greater than what is on offer here, which is actually not that bad. However when your debut is stunning, as was the first self-titled SiX By SiX album, it is very disappointing when the follow up, ‘Beyond Shadowland’, falls a long way short of what had gone before, and is, to be blunt, definitely sub-standard quality wise in comparison.

To be fair, you do get more crunchy prog-rock crossover songs with some soaring guitar lines exciting riffs and excellent drumming. Yet, despite all this, it seems a little too safe and too pedestrian for these ears. I realise that coming up with another quality album as quickly as SiX By SiX have done is not an easy task. However, this sophomore album comes barely a year on from their debut album and I can’t help but think that they missed out in applying some crucial quality controls on this album, making it a step backwards for the band and not a progression in my view.

It has great cover art but its contents are relatively unrewarding thus giving us material that suffers highly in comparison to their excellent debut, which really captured the imagination first time around. There are some good tracks but there is way too much that lacks enough magic focus. This really saddens me for, as a trio, these are all seasoned, intelligent and articulate musicians who know their craft. However, here they seem to have forgotten that songs need more than a strong riff, they need some commitment and some thrust and drive, not just power for powers sake! Bluff and bluster is really not good enough from these veterans, rather more, they need a strong melody and a touch of polish, which several of these tracks seem to be missing.

I do like the longer track One Step that has time to actually go somewhere interesting and the tracks Arms of a Word and Can’t Live This do have their charms. Sadly, it’s not the case elsewhere on the album, no doubt I will still actually buy the album and really make my own mind up. However, at this moment in time I don’t find it a very appealing album unfortunately, which is a shame as, on paper, it is all there. You have the vibrant guitar work of Ian Crichton, the powerful drums of Nigel Glockner and the undeniable talent and production skills of bassist and vocalist Robert Berry. Here though, it simply fails to really ignite or to captivate in any significant manner. 

I hope this is a blip and doesn’t mean the end of what could be a very rewarding project. I really hope they regroup, refocus and return with the album that they really should have delivered rather than this mishmash of half realised ideas and incomplete songs. I really hope so guys but you fell far short here, you didn’t even reach the Shadowland, yet alone get beyond it…

Full track listing:

1.     Wren 

2.     The Arms of a Word  

3.     Can’t Live Like This  

4.     Obiliex

5.     Only You Can Decide  

6.     Titans 

7.     Outside Looking In  

8.     Spectre

9.     Sympathise  

10.  One Step

11.  The Mission

Released 26th April, 2024.

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