Nick Fletcher Interview with John Wenlock-Smith

I took the opportunity to talk with the ever affable, Huddersfield based, guitarist about his forthcoming new album release ‘Quadrivium’.

JWS: Good afternoon Nick, how are you doing?

NF: I’m doing very well thank you!

JWS: So let’s talk ‘Quadrivium’, What’s it all about Nick?

NF: Well the album which is fully instrumental with no vocals this time (due in part to be unable to locate vocalists who could sound right for the albums themes), it’s based upon Plato’s four noble arts, Mathematics, Astronomy, Geometry and Music. This album, ‘Quadrivium’, links three of those; Astronomy, Mathematics and Geometry, under the overall one of music, as the whole album is, in effect, music. It may be a lofty concept yet I feel it is a valid one.

JWS: It is definitely an interesting one and I found it interesting that drummer Anika Nilles hardly appears on the opening track and then her presence is strongly felt thereafter.

NF: Yes, that was a deliberate decision to ease her in gently, I think it works?

JWS: Yes, I agree, how did that tie up come about?

NF: It’s a long story so I’ll give you a shortened version of it, I was going the see Jeff Beck but the tour got cancelled because of the pandemic. It was rescheduled, which also got subsequently cancelled as well. When it was rescheduled once again, I couldn’t get a ticket, however, a friend of mine told me I’ve got tickets but we can’t go, do you want them for half price?

Well, I almost bit his hand off to get them, this was in May 2022 and when the band came onstage I was surprised to see that Vinnie Colaiuta was not amongst them, instead this young girl was on drums. I thought, what!? As I really like Vinnie as a drummer but, with the first songs, I could see why see was there (those first songs were Rumble and Isolation, the latter with Johnny Depp on guitar).

After the concert I looked her up online and got in touch to see if she would play on my next album. I heard nothing for a while and I thought she’s probably busy or not interested, so forgot about it. Then, out of the blue, I got an email saying “Hi Nick, sorry for the delay in replying but I was checking you out and, yes I would love to play on your album.”

I was gobsmacked I can say, so we talked and shared the music and Anika did her parts in Germany where she is based (in Berlin) and the results can be heard on the album. Anika has all the skills I was after, she can go from a whisper to a scream within the same track, she is a percussive powerhouse. I am very proud of the parts she played for this album, she is a phenomenal talent and I am proud to introduce her to the world on this album.

JWS: She is joined by some familiar names like Dave Bainbridge and Tim Harries, Along with your regular collaborator Caroline Bonnett who, along with being the producer, also provides keyboards.

NF: Yes, I’ve known Dave since we were both 19 and Caroline from my earlier career as a session musician for mainly Christian music artists like Dave Bilbrough and Martin Joseph, amongst others.

That Jeff Beck concert was fantastic, Jeff was a totally unique player with his own identifiable sound and style, he was a master of his art and it almost made me want to give up playing as he was so good!

JWS: I saw Jeff in Birmingham in 1982, his concert was like a guitar masterclass really, totally remarkable. He’s start a solo and something new would come out of it or that’s how it seemed to me. So, on to the new album then…

NF: Yes, well it begins with a track that is referenced in the last track of my previous album, ‘The Cloud Of Unknowing’ and the latter part of that album’s last track The Paradox Part 2, which is reprised on this album in the opening track, A Wave On The Ocean Of Eternity. In addition, The Fifth Parallel uses repeated harmonics within the track.

The album takes you on a journey through life to death, from the earth to the outskirts if the solar system. It is a journey best undertaken in a single setting so that various soundscapes can be fully heard and appreciated fully. You will find all of the styles I employ, fast, emotive, soft and heavy, although you won’t hear any whammy bar effects as I don’t use those, nor do I use any tapping techniques. I feel that this lick is a trademark of mine, it hopefully marks me as being different and yet still, hopefully, I remain interesting to listen to.

The album changes moods often within the same track and my collaborators have made this album a worthwhile listening experience.

JWS: I’d have to agree, it’s a wonderful release and one of the albums of the year, many thanks for talking to me and all the best.

NF: Thank you John, I much appreciate the comments, look after yourself.

‘Quadrivium’ was release don 15/9/23 and you can order direct from Nick’s website here:

ONLINE STORE | Nick Fletcher Guitar (

Review – Nick Fletcher – Quadrivium – by John Wenlock-Smith

‘Quadrivium’ is the latest solo release from Sheffield based, highly acclaimed guitarist, Nick Fletcher who, as anyone who has seen him can testify, is a very accomplished player who can not only shred with the best of them but is also a player of taste and style. So, it is with little wonder that even Steve Hackett regards him very highly, possibly sensing a kindred spirit and, finding in Nick, a musician who strives to be the best he can be, whatever the situation in which he is found.

Well this album is particularly fine, it is entirely instrumental and it is very fusion focused. Within its tracks you can find many references and nods to those gods of fusion, from Al Di Meola, Alan Holdsworth, Pat Metheny and, of course, Jeff Beck, to point out the obvious ones. There are also a whole slew of others that Nick has drawn upon in his style and playing and this is all put together perfectly into a melting pot with this album emerging as the result. This release is a musical journey that demands listening to as a whole, you need to clear fifty-five minutes in your schedule and settle down to enjoy this masterful slice of fusion pie. It is also an album that uses lots of atmosphere and nuances to punctuate is dreamy sound, in between the bluster there are gentle moments of almost serenity occurring, this gives the album an even pace and allows individual contribution to shine, like the excellent bass work of Tim Harries who is there at every turn, propelling or  pushing the bear along as needed. His sympathetic playing adds greatly to the overall dynamics and sound, he also provides a solid platform for Nick’s fiery guitar flights of expression and frees him to really soar,

This is fusion for today with nods to the past but generally forging ahead in new directions and pathways, it is extremely musically strong and focused. I doubt if you will hear another fusion album that burns this hot, it is almost incendiary such is the firepower contained within its grooves, this is blistering in its intensity and depth of vision. Now, if fusion doesn’t usually grab you then, don’t worry as this is more than just fusion, it has great rock sections as well and some truly jaw dropping guitar playing, enough to make you sit up and even to put away your own guitar in envy. The album has eleven tracks ranging from the very brief Ziggurat Of Dreams Parts One & Two to the longer tracks like Aphelion and The Journey To Varanasi, the songs changing in style, often within the same track.

Nick is aided by several of his good friends like Dave Bainbridge and the aforementioned Tim Harries, who provide excellent keyboard and bass support. On the drums Nick has enlisted Anika Nilles (who was previously in Jeff Beck’s last band and is also a drum teacher and has her own band as well). She is very much an up and coming fusion star in the making and adds strong syncopation and delicacy along with the powerhouse drive as required. Anika is like a young Billy Cobham in style at times, in short, she is a truly exceptional talent and really makes her mark here.

The album has a theme as Nick is very interested in philosophy and especially the works of the Greek masters, Plato, Aristotle and the like. This record is based on Plato’s four noble arts, these being mathematics, geometry, music and astronomy.  Well, the music relates to either mathematics, geometry or astronomy and the whole album is music, the fun is spotting which track relates to which! There  is a lot of fun to be had by doing that, so I won’t actually tell you and leave you to find out for yourself but look at the track titles for clues. The use of Google might be of use in this task, at least you will learn something new in the process.

I always feel that, for me personally, knowing and understanding the background to a music piece aids my enjoyment and enriches it significantly. Not for nothing is the maxim that knowledge is power quoted. However, don’t let the concepts behind the music stop you from listening to this extremely masterfully delivered release, instead let knowledge lead you onwards in your journey from the inner soul to the edges of the universe, life and beyond, onwards into eternity. A very entertaining and illuminating concept for certain but also a very worthy one for our modern age.

There are so many highlights on this album from the gentle introduction of A Wave On The Ocean Of Eternity that had me in mind of Beck’s The Final Peace, with its emotive guitar lines. The Indian styled The Journey To Varanasi has some very heavy guitar parts featured prominently, in all it is a very rewarding listen and does bear repeated listening thereafter as it has many depths to be uncovered as you absorb the music fully. I also appreciate that this album ends as it begins, delicately as the circle is completed.

This album is really rather a revelation in sound as it sounds absolutely gorgeous and is extremely well recorded and produced, with a full and clear production that allows room for everything to be clearly heard. There is excellent definition with good separation between the instruments, alongside which you have really great sympathetic and skilled performances from everyone that all combines to make this an astonishing musical accomplishment. Kudos must also be given to Nicks co-producer Caroline Bonnett who aids him in this crafting so diligently and adds some fine keyboard work too.

‘Quadrivium’ is an absolute stormer of an album, most impressive and very highly recommended and is my fusion album of the year so far. There is so much to discover, to embrace and to enjoy in this mighty fine stew.

Released 15th September, 2023.

Order the album from the artist’s website here:

ONLINE STORE | Nick Fletcher Guitar (

John Wenlock-Smith Interviews Steve Hackett

JWS: Good morning Steve, how are you?

SH: Morning John, yes I am good, thank you.

JWS: You’ve just come back from South America haven’t you?

SH: Yes, we’ve done three weeks over there and spent the last week back here recording. In fact, I’m putting the finishing touches to a new album this very day.

JWS: What is that going to be?

SHIt is a new rock album.

JWS: So any nice long tracks for me to enjoy on this?

SH: Well I am trying to link it all together so it’s a continuous journey. I was actually talking to Jo about that earlier, about how much space do we leave between things. There a short guitar instrumental that I think my mother will like, it’s only short but it has the trill of the guitar that makes it exciting, There was a guy I was playing with in South America called Luis Fernandes and his band Genetics, I’d call him a jazz rocker really, we were trading solos, it was a lot of fun.

I was playing with my Fernandes (guitar), I have two of them, one was Gary Moore’s but I think mine is actually sounding better than his at the moment. These things change as guitars sound different every day. It’s very strange how it changes from day to day and, you know, I can tell the difference. Others say it sounds like it normally does but I can tell when it’s responding differently, some times its the electricity but other times it something else but I can tell.

I’ve just had to get my Iron Man pedal refined, it had stopped working, so I’ve had it rebuilt. It’s actually more of a treble booster that gives you a bit of an edge to your sound and it’s all good now after failing in South America.

JWS: So I’ve heard the new ‘Foxtrot at 50’ live album, I have to say it sounds really good, very clear sounding with good clarity to the vocals too.

SH: Well that’s because we had it mixed by Chris ‘Lord-Alge’ to get that clarity of sound. I’ve not heard the Blu-Ray of the concert yet though, I’ve seen it but not heard it properly. That’s all up in Norfolk at the moment but I’m expecting it to sound equally as good though.

JWS: We saw that tour in Buxton at the Opera House and we thoroughly enjoyed it, especially as it is such a great little venue, very old and very intimate.

SH: Yes that is a great venue, as is Holmfirth in Yorkshire, where they filmed ‘Last Of The  Summer Wine’. That is similar to Buxton, plus Buxton is easy for my brother John to join us as he lives in Sheffield.

JWS: I think John was with you when we saw you.

SH: Possibly, I am very pleased for how things are working out so well for him at the moment, his band, The John Hackett Band, are getting more recognition and getting good reviews, he deserves it and they are an excellent band musically too.

JWS: Actually my wife and I got married in part because of you.

SH: Really, why’s that?

JWS: When we first met we were talking and she asked what I did in my free time and I said I write music reviews and do interviews. Then I told her that I had spoken to you and she said the exact words my brother had said, “Steve Hackett from Genesis rang you!”

Then, when you did the first Genesis Revisited 2 shows in Manchester, we came along and she was overwhelmed by it all. She was very emotional, especially for Firth of Fifth, and the guitar solo reduced her to tears of happiness and joy, it was such an emotional time for her, she really enjoyed it so much.

SH: See, my mother says that I think the guitar solo does that to her, it seems to get to people, it’s a lovely melody to play as it sounds a little bit like Erik Satie. Of course, Tony Banks wrote it on piano and it has a kind of eastern melody a million miles away from what it sounds like on the guitar. It’s almost like an adagio where the guitar functions like a voice, it takes me back to my Quiet World days.

That solo seems to do things to people so a german, two French people an English guitarist and an English man came up with the whole thing. When I play that solo I feel quite secure in knowing that it’s a really good piece of music. With a nod to Bach and Erik Satie and even Ravel in the piano solo!

JWS: Anyway Steve, I think my time has gone so I’ll say thank you for your time, we’ll speak again soon I hope, keep well.

SH: Yes thanks John, you too, au-revoir for now.

Review – Steve Hackett Foxtrot At Fifty + Hackett Highlights: Live in Brighton

2022 Saw Steve Hackett fully re-emerging from the spectre of frustration over a few difficult years thanks to the pesky worldwide pandemic that affected much of the wield and disrupted how we lived and interacted with each other. It was, indeed, a turbulent, nay difficult, time for many, which saw lots of planned activities being thwarted.

So what did Steve do? he decided to mark the 50th anniversary of this ground-breaking album by touring it with his band, first playing a set of his solo material and then, in the second half, playing ‘Foxtrot’ in full and in sequence, along with a few other select tracks to round it out to a full two hour show. I have to say this set certainly makes an impression, you may ask why do we need another meander through the Genesis archives or do we actually want or need one? Well, on the evidence of this fine live document the answer is a resounding yes! We do both want and need this documented in such style.

On this album you will find Steve and his band are on top form and really making their mark with the sublime music and enthralling the added demographic audience of Brighton in the process. Okay, there is nothing new here, recent but not actually new, but still this is so beautifully recorded and wonderful sounding that it brings fresh insight and the realisation of the sheer quality of the material being performed. Steve especially is on very fine form here making his guitar sound sumptuous and masterful at the same time. His tone on Spectral Mornings alone puts many other players to shame, such is the clarity of the album. It is truly exceptional in sound, crystal clear with great separation between the instruments and clear vocals and harmonies bring heard, it’s almost like the band are in your front room, so good is the sound.

Standouts of the first set for me are The Devil’s Cathedral with it’s dark tones, hint of menace and some suitably gothic touches in the tale of an ambitious theatrical understudy who takes thing into his own hands to achieve success, a lively spirited take on Spectral Mornings and an urgent Every Day. Along with this are an effect laden A Tower Struck Down with all sorts of creaking noises occurring This has a swagger and muscular thrust to it missing from other live versions, it really crackles with energy and menace and it really sounds excellent and extremely well performed. There is also, of all things, a bass solo, thankfully this doesn’t overstay its welcome unduly and, in addition, it does reveal Jonas Reingold to be an inventive player, his addition of a well known riff will make you smile.

Camino Royal comes over very well, this song with it roots in New Orleans music and benefits greatly from the jazzy interludes of Rob Townsend’s woodwinds before a blistering guitar solo from Steve takes the track forward, a wonderful piece that most definitely impresses greatly. Then we have the final part of the short set of Steve’s own material with a shortened section of Shadow Of The Hierophant that features Amanda Lehmann on vocals. This is only a truncated version though, not the  full length one. However, even so, it is still great to hear this in any form as it is such a graceful number. The clever use of dynamics really makes this a memorable version of this slow burn of a song, it builds in its intensity very well indeed, all reaching towards its heady conclusion. Then oddly, on the CD, we have the evening’s final two songs Firth of Fifth and Los Endos.

Firth of Fifth needs little introduction really but here we receive another fine rendering of this all time classic song. Once again, the vocals are clearer than on many other versions, all of which lends a fresh appreciation for this majestic track and, as always, the manner in which it builds up to that guitar solo, possibly the most famous one in the whole Genesis canon, when it arrives you are rewarded not only by the solo but also the busy bass that underpins it so eloquently and adds to it impressiveness. This in itself is a new revelation to the jaded listener, another impressive take on a classic song, utterly sublime. We have the short but very impressive drum solo from Craig Blundell that leads into Los Endos which is faithfully reproduced here, with lots of input from Rob Townsend.

The second disc contains the rest of the ‘Foxtrot’ album in sequence and begins with the excellent and stylish power of Watcher Of The Skies with it’s menacing mellotrons that create an atmosphere of impending doom most convincingly and more than adequately. Nad Sylvan has been on top form throughout these sets and he really comes to prominence here delivering a near perfect vocal performance. At times a lesser known and certainly less celebrated track but here it is well covered and the eloquent bass from Jonas Reingold raises its profile dramatically in a really delicate and moving rendition. Next we have the ever relevant political comment of Get ‘Em out by Friday, about unscrupulous landlords evictions of undesirables (in this instance, refugees). Well, fifty years after it was written, nothing has changed, landlords are still doing the same things to gentrify and basically make even more money.

Can Utility and the Coatliners follows and this almost pantomime track is lively enough but I don’t really get it, somehow its meaning is hidden from me. The brief solo classical guitar piece Horizons is the forerunner to the album epic, and much loved, Supper’s Ready, which here receives a very warm welcome and we are treated to a wonderful version of this astonishing track with all its parts performed to the always high standards that Steve expects. This is a masterfully delivered take on the classic and brings this album and concert to a close.

The Blu-Ray is equally as fine and has a 30 behind the scenes sections which are well worth seeing. Overall this set is excellent and the Blu-Ray makes it even more worth the money. It is another fine milestone in Steve’s career and, with new music well underway, watch this space.

Released 15th September, 2023.

Order direct from the artist here:

Steve Hackett | Steve Hackett (

Mariusz Duda Unveils New Album ‘AFR AI D’, Out November 17th Via Kscope

Riverside mastermind Mariusz Duda returns with fourth solo album ‘AFR AI D’ out November 17th via Kscope. 

Mariusz Duda has always been fascinated by the telling of a story, idea or concept.

Whereas on previous album ‘Lockdown Trilogy’, Mariusz Duda wanted to capture a snapshot of life during the pandemic the renown progressive mastermind, this time explores the concept of AI as disruptor. His new solo record looks at the growing commodification of AI and specifically with artificial intelligence entering the mainstream.

Using the notion of ChatGPT and Midjourney and the increasing use of deep fakes as a springboard, ‘AFR AI D’ explores these interesting and forward thinking theories musically just as much as it does conceptually.

Unveiling ‘AFR AI D’ first single ‘Embracing The Unknown’ the track is the longest composition on the album and a fitting representative. The changing musical moods and rhythm are characteristic not only of the new album but of all Mariusz Duda music released under his own name.

“I’m happy I can continue this instrumental electronic music journey,” says Duda.

“I love these evocative sounds. Contrary to what the title of the album suggests, I am not afraid of new technologies. I think AI is just another tool which, over time, we will learn to use in a better way, and which will speed up work in many areas. In spite of a slight subconscious fear of the unknown, I am ready to embrace the future :)”

He’s also shared a video for first single  ‘Embracing The Unknown’ which you can view now: 

The album opens with the ominous sounds of the aptly titled ‘Taming Nightmares’ acting as a musical signpost to this new dawn of machine learning. It’s followed by Interstellar nod of ‘Fake Me Deep, Murf’ and later by the TRON like ‘Mid Journey To Freedom’.

Off the back of ‘Bots’ Party’ we move into the emotive arpeggios of ‘I Love To Chat With You’ that whisks you straight into the mind of Theodore Twombly falling for an operating system. The album later ends on the cold and unfeeling introspection of ‘Embracing The Unknown’.

In a world where truth is often camouflaged by deception the electronic heartbeat of ‘AFR AI D’ can never lie. Or can it?

AFR AI D’ Track listing:  

1. Taming Nightmares [07:20] 

 2. Good Morning Fearmongering [05:14]  

3. Fake Me Deep, Murf [04:48] 

4. Bots’ Party [05:00]  

5. I Love To Chat With You [03:43] 

6. Why So Serious, Cassandra? [04:56] 

7. Mid Journey To Freedom [03:08]  

8. Embracing The Unknown [08:00] 

German artist and illustrator Hajo Müller (Steven Wilson) appears once again carrying on the legacy of Mariusz Duda’s artwork as the two have collaborated throughout Mariusz’s solo album career. Mariusz also performs all instruments throughout the album except for guitar solos performed by Mateusz Owczarek 

‘AFR AI D’ was recorded throughout May and June 2023 at Serakos Studio in Warszawa, with engineering by Magda and Robert Srzedniccy and mastered by Robert Szydło.

The album is available in a variety of formats that include LP, Magenta LP, CD and Digital. 

Pre-order HERE (

About Mariusz Duda:

Mariusz Duda is a Polish musician, songwriter, vocalist and multi-instrumentalist. The leader of the progressive rock band Riverside, and the founder of the solo project Lunatic Soul. His musical interests span from rock and metal, through pop and folk, to electronic and ambient music.

Review – Tiger Moth Tales – The Turning Of The World – by John Wenlock-Smith

This October sees the release of this latest album from Tiger Moth Tales which is, of course, the moniker under which multi-instrumentalist Peter Jones operates and releases his own music. Peter is a highly respected and regarded musician who also fronts Red Bazar as keyboardist and vocalist while also doing the same for Cyan and, more recently, Camel. He is also a member of Francis Dunnery’s It Bites and, in addition, Peter also has a dedicated following and has performed several Mothster parties as warm ups to Big Big Train shows (usually in London at venues near to where the BBT shows are taking place.)

All this is pretty remarkable, especially when you consider that Peter is totally blind and yet still strives to create new music, usually labouring by multi-tracking and mixing using an old 8-track recorder. His music really is a labour of love for him, it must take him a long time to get the sounds he envisages in his mind on tape when recording, but this he does and then shares these fruits of his labours with the world.

‘The Turning Of The World’ follows a different tack to earlier Tiger Moth Tales‘ albums in that it was composed mostly on acoustic guitar and, whilst this lends a softer tone to proceedings, it is abundantly clear who it is performing this music such is the uniqueness of Peter’s voice and the sound is easily recognisable as  a Tiger Moth Tales release.  

For this album Peter is in a fairly upbeat mood and it is clear that Peter, once again, is in a happy place and this comes across in the more personal, and even intimate, songs about friendships, family, love and life, several of which are autobiographical in their lyrics.

Proceedings commences with a short scene-setting instrumental, The Getaway, that  represents the madness, discord and overall business of the modern world in which we live in a post-covid age. The album’s first proper song, per se, is The Turning Of The World which concerns itself with Peter’s fear that, with the world being in the state it is, revolution is on the cards, although whether Peter’s fears are justified or merely baseless is as yet unknown. Peter is concerned about how a victory would look and how its winners would behave, this song makes good use of a melodica to make the song sound plaintive. This is in complete contrast, in terms of emotions, to So Wonderful To Be Alive, which is a composite of childhood memories that Peter holds dear. This song name-checks his grandparents fondly and the adventures they shared together, it also talks of Peter’s teenage years. The track is hinged on a fine acoustic riff, played with the style and progresses onto Peter’s memories of a very happy wedding day with his wife, Kimberly. He sings with real love, gratitude and fondness for her presence in his life. This is followed by the albums longest track, The Snail, The Horse And The River, which concerns itself with using nature to look at how you are feeling. This is possibly mindfulness in practice as Peter says it represents three instances where looking at nature really helped his mood. The first was as a child when a beloved pet had died and Peter felt a Snail moving beneath his fingers helped him to be able to move onward. The second was an interaction with a horse. Peter has a timbre that has tones of Peter Gabriel, his voice is rich, warm, gentle and mellow, it is quite remarkable in fact, there is also good use of a zither alongside the melodica.

Try is about perseverance, resilience or, as we used to call it, gumption! The ability to keep trying and carry carrying on with something, this is a clarion call to keep trying and is a lesson we can all learn from, I think! We’ll Remember is a song that is written about the unexpected and sudden death of David Longdon of Big Big Train with whom Peter recorded a version of Spectral Morning that was recorded in 2015 in aid of The Parkinson’s Society. When the sad news of David’s death was announced, Peter wrote this song in response and, to help him work out his emotions, he bought in Rob Reed and Christina Booth of Magenta to assist him in this touching tribute. Pass It On has another taste of the smooth sound and is again based of his memories of people who have passed on. This song mentions some of those folk, and how we should pass on the kindnesses we have received to others. The Good People Of Munchwald recalls the positive memories that Peter has of a house concert that he was invited to play at in Muchwald in Germany and the friends he made and excellent hospitality that he and his wife received whilst there.

You reached for My Hand is a very personal song, one that details the time that Peter’s father was in hospital and held his hand for support. Thankfully his father made a full recovery but this tender song recounts that time. The Lock Keeper is  ostentatiously about a lock keeper but, in actuality, it is about The March Of Progress and how, in that quest, skills are being lost, never to be replaced and how this, in effect, can make the world a poorer place as a result. It’s very interesting and realistic song that really makes good use of that softer toned. The track has a lively sax and melodica section to it but, for me the song doesn’t really go anywhere special. This is definitely not the case with the last song of the album, All I Need Today, which begins with open guitar chords and sounds not unlike Genesis’ more acoustic moments. The track has underlying keyboards and what sounds like a clarinet but is actually the returning melodica playing and makes for a very full sound. It is a warm song and Peter expresses how his wife and marriage help him to realise the good things he has in his life, in part because of her presence. It is a positive and touching note on which the album concludes.

This is a very different type of Tiger Moth Tales‘ album but its deep subject matter and its thoughtful words and sentiments are actually very worthy and act as a good counterpoint to the downbeat ‘Whispering Of The Wind’ of 2020. Whilst this album has some darker songs there is a prevailing sense of gratitude and warmth within and around these songs, which are a bit more direct emotionally.

It is good to hear Peter singing these songs as, from the heart, this emotionally direct approach pays rich dividends here indeed. I’m pretty sure that Peter’s next album will see him return to the style we have come to know and love but for now he asks us to embrace this different and yet deeply compelling album. Different? Yes, Enjoyable still? Definitely! Embrace it now, I think you will enjoy it if you do.

Released 6th October, 2023.

Pre-order the album from White Knight Records here:

Tiger Moth Tales (

Review – Psychoyogi – Brand New Face – by John Wenlock-Smith

Psychoyogi are a band who hail from London and who describe themselves as ‘left field, punk jazz’ and their music as being a diverse mixture of instrumental colours, melodies and words. Their songs offer current social and political critique alongside personal moments, which is a way of saying that they are a little different and, possibly, an acquired taste for many. I personally like them a lot but I can understand why some would struggle to get the drift.

In Chris Ramsing they have a talented and imaginative guitarist and vocalist who has a different view of the modern world and feels strongly that persons who upset the apple cart should be held accountable. One thing that will definitely assist in getting to the heart of this album are the very clever and intelligent lyrics for the songs which can be found on the band’s website:

PsychoYogi Leftfield punk jazz

So, what this latest album all about? First, the details, ten tracks in total and an approximate forty-two minute duration. The five band members are Chris Ramsing (Guitar and Vocal), Izzy Stylish (Bass), Justin Casey (Drums) , Toby Nowell (Sax and Trumpet), Ben Woodbine- Craft (Violin) and there is a guest, Tim Smart from The Specials who provides trombone, all of which makes for a great sounding album.

The album opens with Destitution, which is about the gulf between the have and the have not’s, i.e. the rich and the poor. In the lyrics there is the call for a redress of the balance, which isn’t on the cards for the foreseeable future but at least the opinion is clearly stated here. Musically this song fuses Zappa-ish guitar along with trumpet and violin to create a pleasing soundscape. In fact, the interaction between the brass and the strings is very fine indeed, a different but pleasing sound that lends itself well to the music being played. I am reminded of 80’s jazz outfit Working Week who took a similar musical approach. Arts and Farces is about creating art and the issues that raises in being true to yourself. Again the brass is sympathetic and supportive and makes for a lovely track. The Process opens with a languid and sneaking guitar line, which is supplemented by that excellent brass section once again. Even I can find the music of Psychoyogi challenging at times but I am also very aware of its ability to stay in your mind for days, usually it’s a little melody of line that achieves this effect. The track itself is about the relentless onslaught of change that is all around us. Whether we like it or not, we are all caught up in the endless march onward, all in the name of progress There is a great section where the use of percussion interludes marry up with the guitar to create some moments of almost peace and serenity before everything gallops forwards once more, a most interesting song indeed.

A Happier Song actually isn’t that happy at all, rather it, once again, points out the disparity in today’s society. It’s a common theme for Psychoyogi and makes their music that rare beast, intelligent but also unafraid to challenge and question, which I feel adds to its validity. Hence the left field punk tag, as wasn’t that what the punks were trying to do in the late 70’s? We then have The Chase, nothing to do with the quiz show but rather more of an instrumental that allows the violin to perform a longer part and take centre stage There are parts that almost sound like a Celtic jig with brass interjections playing in harmony. The drums are mostly using deft touches and brushes rather than powering ahead, this is a very welcome change and allows the musicians to really showcase their imagination imagination and skills. All this make this the album’s standout track thus far for me as it is very musical with great performances from all parties. The album’s title track, Brand New Face, has interesting and questioning lyrics, there is a lovely trumpet part that leads to a brief flurry of Chris’ guitar, a real flight of fancy. There is also a brilliant recurring guitar motif the underpins the track and makes it yet another impressive song that definitely gets the thumbs up from me.

We are then on the final stretch home for the album with Opportunity, Everything Before and Open Season. These three songs continue the questioning and challenging nature of the band again to good effect, showing that Psychoyogi’s music is never less than interesting, difficult, uneasy listening for sure, but still wholly worthwhile. The final track, Find Peace Within, is superb, again brass heavy but not overpowered. It has a slinkiness to it that greatly appeals. This song is about coping with modern life and urges us to find peace within when all around us is tumultuous, again worthy sentiments for sure but, possibly not always within our grasp!

My verdict on this very clever release is, if you like quirky, intelligent and questioning music then this new Psychoyogi album might just be your thing. I liked it for sure, especially the fabulous interaction between the guitar, violin, trombone and trumpet that all meld into a truly glorious sound.

Released September 29, 2023.

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Brand New Face | PsychoYogi (

Review – Duncan Parsons – I’m Here, All Weak – by John Wenlock-Smith

I don’t know how these musicians manage to do all this, Duncan Parsons is not only the drummer for the John Hackett Band, he is also the bass player for author Joanne HarrisStorytime project, along with which he is a composer of his own musical journey bridging progressive music and mixing it up with elements of jazz, funk, ambient and whatever else takes his fancy! All that is before his main work role of software development for GForce Software where he recreates classic analogue keyboards for the digital age, specialising in Mellotrons and String Machines, quite an impressive C.V. really!

In the midst of this activity he has self released six solo albums, mainly via bandcamp. This new release is actually a compilation of those albums and it is an eclectic selection of music ranging from story song Ladybird through to the flute led J: Oi!, which features both the Hackett brothers, John and Steve, along with Nick Fletcher and Gary Boyle and a spoken piece from Bill Bruford, a grand collection of prog luminaries gathered in one glorious piece of music.

F: lower is another imaginative track in which Pink Floyd tones meet Canterbury whimsy and it all ends with John Hackett and Nick Fletcher doing what they do so well, I just wish it were much longer! Furry Leaves will most probably make you smile with its simple well known melody(Fleur De Lis) being developed well, with some fiery guitar from Nick Fletcher really hitting the mark and the more you hear J: Oi!, the more you realise how excellent a track it is. Lavender Rose is also an interesting track, mixing funk and progressive in a new style but all done with taste and aplomb. The Last Mango In Powys takes an approach of mixing ambient electro-folk, like the Penguin Cafe Orchestra, in space to create something both minimalist and also rewarding at the same time.

Variety is definitely the space of life for Duncan on this collection, his voice may be an acquired taste for some (not to me, I love it) but his imagination and how he applies it to this music is certainly not in question. He is truly progressive in his approach and thinking and whilst this doesn’t always make this a straightforward easy listening experience, it is one that will refresh parts that other prog musicians daren’t venture to explore, which I think validates the bravery Duncan exhibits so well. He is not afraid to try new things and new ways of working. I personally feel his way of approaching and applying his musical vision bears great fruit, the performances are good and the guests all contribute worthwhile ideas in their parts and, overall, make this 17 track album a highly interesting and very well realised set of songs.

This Day benefits from the sultry clarinet of John Helliwell, whose touch is delicate, profound and captivating, all at the same time. This track is an edit from his album ‘On Earth As It Is’. Also worthy of note is the almost mariachi style of Gonville, with Raul D’Oliveria’s trumpet leading the way over a sumptuous background of bass and synth sounds, all very sprightly and impressive sounding. Duncan’s willingness to reinvent during this album is very refreshing and appealing, he is one that likes to reimagine and re-envision his own music, thus retaining its freshness for him. This is very laudable and few would be so bold and for this we should applaud him and recognise his efforts to this end.

I for one find this release one that will given space in your music collection with very rich dividends indeed. I admire its balance of thoughtfully considered songs and its sympathetic use of guest musicians, whose touch greatly enhances these efforts of Duncan’s. The booklet is informative and gives a fine insight into what the music is about. I think that all this makes this a very worthwhile listen and I commend it and, indeed, all of Duncan’s music to you as you find within it all a plethora of wonder and imagination. It’s a collection very fine music indeed, everything from folk to funk, via jazz, ambient and even classical. Minimalist ideas abound and there is truly something for every taste, so why not check it out for yourself? You might thank me for the recommendation!

Released 6th October, 2023.

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I’m Here, All Weak | Duncan Parsons (

Review – Steve Anderson – Journeyman’s Progress Part One – by John Wenlock-Smith

Steve Anderson is one of the founding members of The Room and is also a part of Grey Lady Down and Sphere3, ‘Journeyman’s Progress Part One’ is his first solo album and explores his musical ideas from a completely blank canvas. This release is naturally guitar focused with the instrument taking centre stage but Steve also provides good bass work and keyboard support throughout the whole eleven tracks, which range from acoustic sketches and interludes through to the epic title track.

It all begins with a brief acoustic moment, Solus, which is swiftly followed by Coda which introduces Steve’s electric guitar lines as they slot over a delicate keyboard sound. This is a very melodious sounding track with a strong organ sound that gives way to a more up-tempo section alongside a solid beat, taking the track forward, an exciting part, the pacing steady and well thought through. This allows space for the guitar to stretch out a little which is done in great style. A Glimpse Of Light opens with a gentle acoustic guitar and great playing that delights, as does the sensitive backing supporting and enriching the track. The piece moves along most satisfyingly, it is a good track with lots of imagination at work. Hellebore is an acoustic vignette, almost like a track from the likes of Will Ackerman or similar. This is followed by the further short soundscape of Circlet which is suitably imagined and engaging.

The percussion sounds that open Mr Mekano are contained within angular and jagged riffing which creates an atmosphere of unease. It is certainly a bit darker sounding in tone, a good bass part runs through this track and when the sound breaks out into a harder sounding and jarring rhythmic section, one cannot fail but to be impressed by its sheer musicality that really captures something special. This then morphs into Descent, which definitely has a feel of going down that is conveyed by the music. The tone is almost bleak sounding, well it conveys that feeling to me, and the low bass part adds depth to help reinforce the sentiment. All in all, it is a most impressive track and guitar effects add to the mood. For Nancy is much lighter and was written for Steve’s wife. This piece is both joyful and also beautifully realised, it conveys warmth and contentment and satisfaction in its brief running time. Glass Quartet returns us again to the percussive sounds, similar to clocks but that are actually wine glasses being hit with wooden skewers. The First Step sees Steve getting all ambient and using synths to create a track that could easily be used for a science fiction film, with its nods to Blade Runner and Jean-Michel Jarre really hitting the mark. It is a most interesting track, very well delivered and imaginative in its scope and ambitions. The Title track Journeyman’s Progress concludes the album with its extended ten minute running time that allows space for its many sections to emerge fully, from acoustic to full flights of electric guitar passages, it is a very good track indeed. I especially like the use of counterpoint harmony where the keyboards soar over the main melody and how the build up for the extensive guitar segment is introduced, and subsequently delivered, all with very solid backing. It really is a glorious section of the track, the synths really take this track to great heights, it is most satisfying to hear the degree of craftsmanship that has gone into making this music.

Nothing here overstays it’s welcome in addition the variety of styles and approaches utilised throughout help to create a very solid and engaging sound palette. The whole album is served up in a classy looking package which includes some intriguing artwork from Ruby Anderson and a good logo design that would look equally as fine on a T Shirt. Additionally the album was mixed and mastered by The Tangent’s Andy Tillison (a man who certainly knows how to do these things) exceedingly well and to a very high standard.

‘Journeyman’s Progress Part One’ has many hidden charms and many fine musical passages and, overall, the album has a great flow to it as it moves through its many moods and emotions. The music has some most excellent dynamics that enliven and highlight the excellence of the compositions, I think it a very well realised musical statement and I urge you to check it out for yourself as it’s definitely one worth seeking out!

Released 4th February, 2022.

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▶︎ Journeyman’s Progress Part One | Journeyman’s Progress (

Review – Wegferend – En Autremonde – Chapitre Second by John Wenlock-Smith

One of the main issues with fans of progressive music is their general unwillingness to listen to anything that is new or out of their comfort zone and, whilst this is possibly an unfair generalisation, it does mean that many are closed off to exploring new bands and artists for themselves.

Social media, like Facebook or X (or whatever it’s called this week) has to take the blame as part of this problem. I hear that bands are finding it harder to get any publicity these days without having to jump through certain hoops, all of which means albums like ‘Chapitre Second’ from french trio Wegferend will struggle to find a market for what is a very interesting, and very different, prog related release. Which is really a shame as this rather quite gently layered album is full of some great music and moods.

Allow me to unfold this album a little for you. First a little background, Wegferend (which is olde English for wayfarer) are a trio composed of two sisters, Manon and Alexia Cazaméa on guitar and recorder respectively, both also provide vocals with Alexia being the foremost voice. They are joined by percussionist and multi instrumentalist Thomas Boisser who adds to the captivating melodies the sisters offer. This music is very gentle, yet intricate, and blends an almost world music feel with their use of ethnic instruments in their songs.

First track Gedim opens gently with guitar and percussive interjections and a high pitched voice. A Gedim is a kind of a spectral form of the deads in the Aramean mythology and this song is about the cycle of life and death following the cycle of the Sun creating days and nights and you can certainly enjoy the gentle mood. The music takes you on a journey of many moods, darkness and emotion with some delicate guitar from Manon in the middle section that really adds to the atmosphere and mood of the piece. It is a lovely track full of great performance and vision and ends with a bell chiming majestically. Holy Ghost is full of a Celtic sounding recorder and very lively rhythmic chiming guitar chords that work as a great contrast to the recorders and vocals. This piece has a lot of life to it and it impresses greatly, it’s so very musical and complete. Next is the albums centrepiece and almost title song, The Wayfarer. This stars gently with Irish low and high tin whistles and another delightful vocal from Alexia, the recorder parts really add greatly, creating an other worldly atmosphere. I am detecting elements here that have touches of The Emerald Dawn and their singer Tree Stewart as this track has that sort of feel to it, it is also full of great guitar playing, mainly rhythmic, but it is all well conveyed and the track works well as a result. When we get to Druide, I especially like how the music is layered to create a depth of sound, mostly on acoustic guitar with percussion fills for emphasis. A great vocal from Alexia brings the music to life, this is music you have to allow to settle in your sprit, although I can say the Celtic elements of the sound are very satisfying to these ears.

Lost In Reveries is an instrumental track built on wordless voicings and acoustic guitar that Manon plays with great feeling and good style, using the guitar to make and establish a rhythm which is maintained by Thomas’s percussion, an approach that pays good dividends. I really like the simplicity of the style and it defines and elevates the great musicianship of the trio. This is an album that really grows on you as you begin to appreciate it’s fine crafting and unique style. Jos L’Uelh De La Breissa is full of recorder flourishes and has a distinct touch of the folky side of Led Zeppelin to it (not a bad thing in my opinion at all). I really like how they work so well together to make something of note and value, it makes for a really good listen. Final track En Autremonde is also striking with it slow, almost funeral march, beat and time along a deep cello aiding the melancholia. It is very moving, dark and deeply atmospheric in tone and really impresses, as does the whole album with its mood and dark ambience. It is really rewarding to hear something that is so well imagined and delivered with such grace and style, it is simply a beautifully crafted track.

This album has grown on me so much that I have no hesitation in recommending it to the more adventurous prog listener. Within its songs you will find a world of wonder and enchantment. I urge you to check it out for yourself, the album is available on Bandcamp and the band will appreciate your interest and support, a truly wonderful and enchanting release.

Released March 31st, 2023

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En Autremonde – Chapitre Second | Wegferend (