HRH Prog 7 at Hafan y Môr Holiday Park in Pwllheli – by James R Turner with input from Progradar

This was my first HRH Prog, and I gleefully loaded up my car with the requisite supplies (Bottled water, Bottled Beer) and entertainment for the journey (the new Sheridan Smith album – it’s rather brilliant btw, the new Robyn CD, the latest Gryphon album and Chas n Dave the EMI years) and set off on the long trek from Bristol to North Wales.

I drove through some wonderfully evocative countryside, (which I saw on the way home, as it got dark for the last two hours of my journey) not to mention the frankly terrifying visions of cars honing past me on blind bends and narrow roads. They have no fear those Welsh drivers.

On arrival I was met by Lord Progradar himself, already priming me for the wallet emptying that was coming by raving about Southern Empire. Having seen the stage times and the final rearranged running order, I was pleased to see that Southern Empire and The Strawbs no longer clashed.

It was pretty much drop the bags off, have a beer at the apartment, and then off to see the music, the first night kicking off on Stage 1.

The venue itself was an actual original holiday camp and it’s been over 20 years since I last stayed in a Haven and, I have to say the accommodation was excellent, and a short (if bracing) walk to the main venue. Both the stages are next door to each other, separated by a pleasant plaza with a Burger King, Chippy, Starbucks and an open air bar.

This made ducking between stages for the sets incredibly easy and meant even if there was a slight overlap, then you didn’t miss much of the bands’ set. Of course, there were several clashes so some bands I was unable to see and apologise if I missed you out. Unfortunately, I couldn’t be everywhere at once.

Joined by fellow prog scribe Leo Trimming and other friendly faces, the relaxed atmosphere (and probably the beer) made for a relaxed and friendly ambience. Of course, there was David and Nicola Robinson and Andy Faulkner offering to relieve us of the burden of heavy cash in our wallets in exchange for shiny discs of happiness (hell, it’s a prog festival – you will go home laden with CD’s. It’s as inevitable as death so don’t fight it).

It was a pretty packed schedule which we were launched into, I won’t say gently as they were anything but, by Maschine who ticked the event off on Thursday night on Stage 1.

My biggest gripe with the festival was that the areas in front of both the stages were seated, which really took away some of the ambience and energy of the audience. Whilst there was plenty of dancing and movement going on further back in the venue, it must have been disconcerting for the bands in full rock mode to look down to a sea of faces all sat down like they were at the theatre.

The audiences were very enthusiastic, and it was a good crowd, but as a punter I do like to stand as close to the stage as I can get for at least a couple of songs, and this vital aspect of a live gig was sadly denied to me in stage 1.

A highly acclaimed act to start the festival, Maschine are full of energy and presence. Formed by Luke Machin (who must be one of the hottest young guitar players on the scene currently) and Dan Mash (Damanek) on Bass.

This young band have really grown into their sound, with the second album ‘Naturalis’ really building on the sound of their debut ‘Rubidium’. This band environment allows Luke the space to stretch himself on stage, however the occasional shredding in the middle of what was a fantastically complex song is one that jars a little bit.

There is no denying that the band is chock full of talent, Elliott Fuller more than holds his own with Luke on guitar, Marie-Eve De Gaultier on keyboards and vocals, centre stage as if she’s keeping the boys under control, and James Stewart anchors the sound with his drumming.

Bringing the material from their two albums to life on stage, Maschine set the bar high for all the other bands that followed and with their energy and power opened HRH in style.

This festival is nothing if not eclectic and Stage 1 did gain the nickname the retro stage, due to the number of classic bands performing there, and there was none more classic than the current incarnation of The Crazy World of Arthur Brown.

Fronted by one of the most distinctive front-men in rock and roll, the band did not disappoint. Arthur, in his full on God of Hell Fire face paint, and celebrating 50 years since the band’s debut album. To commemorate this fact, they played the first half of the record before launching into some newer material.

Arthur, as ever, is the consummate showman and the bands blend of blues and psych was performed by the latest incarnation, including a fantastic female guitar and keyboard pairing. These younger musicians, overseen by musical director Jeavon Beaumont, really put some spark into the music.

It even takes you back to old school psych festivals when, during some of the longer spacier moments, the band building a real groove, a female dancer comes on. The only thing that looks a tad uncomfortable is Arthur (about my Dad’s age) dancing and gyrating around the younger female guitarists, looking like a creepy Uncle in a nightclub.

Other than that, his voice still has all the power that it ever had and with their psych lightshow and deep groove (and a taut band), they put on a great show.

(Picture by Gareth Cole)

Headline act for the night, and band of the night for me was The Martin Barre Band, putting on a barnstorming performance, mixing new material and classic Tull tracks, the band put on brilliant performance. Vocalist Dan Crisp bringing the early style of Ian Anderson to mind, without this being a tribute act style.

Progradar I have to echo Jame’s thoughts on The Martin Barre band, it was a powerful and consummate performance. The tracks from latest release ‘Roads Less Travelled’ were blended perfectly with the classic Tull material and others. Martin’s guitar playing was incredible and Dan Crisp’s vocals perfectly matched.

(Picture by Gareth Cole)

For me, the highlights were the title track from the new album and (This Is) My Driving Song, both fiery, blues infused and powerful tracks. There was an electric energy running throughout the set and it made for a great end to the first day.

Heading back to the apartment for beer and a wind down after a long journey, this was a perfect opening to this three day bender Festival.

Day 2 started at the civilised time of 13:20 over in Stage 1, so there was plenty of time for me to go for a nice walk along the cliff tops, admire the Northern Wales coastline scenery and meander along the beach, before rendezvousing with Martin, who had been for a run.

A full English (or should that be Welsh?) in Porthmadog with Leo, set us up nicely for an afternoon and evening of entertainment. As locations go, a Prog festival in picturesque North Wales is certainly one I would recommend if they ever come back here again, as they are moving to London for next year’s festival.

On Friday I spent a lot of my time over in Stage 1 but before that the first full set of Friday was kicked off by I Am The Manic Whale in Stage 2.

I know Martin is going to go into their set in more detail, but I had spent the whole morning defending my position as a Doctor Who but not a Whovian, and then what did I Am The Manic Whale play? A song about Doctor Who complete with a fully progged out version of the iconic theme tune which brought a smile to my face.

Their set was a great way to start the Friday with and I will be looking forward to seeing them again.

Progradar The first band on a Friday lunchtime have a real task to energise the audience but I Am The Manic Whale soon had a fairly sizeable crowd rocking along to their high tempo, feel good style of progressive rock. With a set list comprising tracks from both of their releases, ‘Everything Beautiful In Time’ and ‘Gathering The Waters’, this unassuming band garnered many new fans with their excellent performance.

Over in Stage 1, Haze, currently celebrating their 40th year in existence put a great show on.

Led by the McMahon brothers, Chris (on bass/keys/vocals) and Paul on guitar and vocals, it was a romp through old and new material covering the bands existence. It’s been 20 years since I saw them and, since then, they released their album ‘The Last Battle’ back in 2013which mixed their sound up. Joined by Paul’s son Danny on drums and Ceri Ashton on vocals and flutes, they put on a fantastic show. Chris has lost none of his energy and stage presence and Paul’s vocals and guitar work was as great as I remember it from the ‘World Turtle’ days.

Danny on the drums adds some real power to the band, and it’s great to see the band carrying on as a family affair. They put on a fantastic set and were one of the bands I’d wanted to reacquaint myself with this weekend, and I am glad I did.

Following Haze were Tir na nOg, one of the legendary Irish folk duos, comprising Sonny Condell and Leo O’Kelly who, after a long hiatus, are now back out there playing a mixture of classic tracks and more contemporary material. Considering they are just an acoustic duo, they managed to hold the audiences attention and, while there were occasional drifts into folk singer cliché, they utilised looping and percussive beats on other tracks to put on a fantastic set that kept the audience entertained.

Progradar Following I Am The Manic Whale on Stage 2 were The Amber Herd, a band I’d never heard of before but one who produced a rather flawless set of folk rock/prog with intelligence and humour. As James has already stated, it’s difficult to catch every band at a festival like this but I’m glad I caught this trio as they were on of my surprise highlights of day 2.

Over on Stage 2 I was able to catch some of Mother Black Caps’ set, they had their ‘team’ out in force the night before passing out fliers and drumming up support, and while I didn’t manage to stay very long, I found I enjoyed their blend of rock and would have liked to have seen a bit more. Unfortunately, with festivals like this, you do find there are clashes.

Back over to the Stage 1 arena I was in time to catch the whole set from Birmingham instrumental trio Axiom, who were last minute replacements, hot footing it down to North Wales from the Midlands, complete with their drummers’ dogs.

This instrumental power trio of Zaid Crowe on guitar, Josh Ainsworth on drums and Stuart Drinkwater on bass were a revelation and one of the star acts of the Friday. Pulling together an impressive musical arsenal, they blend riffs with beats and they sit very nicely in the same area as bands like The Fierce and the Dead and Zombie Picnic.

Clever, progressive instrumental rock that is very easy to get into and enjoy, they also proved they have a sense of humour and don’t take themselves too seriously by playing a track that included some of their favourite riffs, mixing Michael Jackson’s Beat It with some Thin Lizzy and then the Death Star March tune from Star Wars got a great reception, it was fantastic to see a new exciting band like these guys really bringing it to life on Stage 1. I rather suspect that we will be hearing a lot more from this talented trio in the future.

A quick nip back over to Stage 2 enjoy the rest of Final Conflict’s set, a band who I’ve not seen, like Haze in about 20 years, and it was good to see that they are as strong as ever, with their own brand of Floydian-esque rock they know how to put on a show, and the audience seemed attentive.

Following them was a band who were new to me, an act called GU-RU, another musical trio who, with Lee Spreadbury on keys and vocals, Malcolm D’Sa on drums and Naomi Perera on flute and vocals, created quite a unique sound.

The mixture of the drums, the flute and the keys created a fantastically eclectic musical mix going from old school prog to real psych sounds and heading into full on dance music, while Perera’s flute soared throughout. Spreadbury is a bona fide old school prog keyboard player, full of charm and stage presence and plenty of musical chops.

In fact, GU-RU had magnificent stage presence and a sense of how to entertain the audience, and I managed to catch nearly all their set. They were really entertaining with a unique and different sound to some of the other guitar heavy bands. That really captured my attention as I love artists who will mix things up and go down a different road to everyone else.

GU-RU are one of those bands and they really played a fantastic set.

(Editor – We have this strange image because, despite James saying Wishbone Ash are one of his favourite bands, he didn’t manage to provide a picture!)

It was back over to Stage 1 for the founder member of one of my favourite bands. I was chatting to someone about the mammoth Wishbone Ash box that came out earlier in the year, it really is a thing of beauty. I know it was expensive, but I have loved Wishbone Ash for over 20 years and it was a perfect opportunity to get everything all in one place for me, and that’s why I was really looking forward to Martin Turner’s set.

I have seen Martin Turner’s band before, and the Andy Powell version of Wishbone Ash and while I like the fact that these bands are still out there and playing the music, Martin’s band just edges it for me. The reason why is that he plays a lot of the deeper cuts and back catalogue stuff that Andy Powell doesn’t, throwing in a blinding version of Front Page News for instance, Persephone also got an airing as did the title track to the latest studio album, Written in the Stars.

Obviously sets like this are truncated so the band, which is currently touring the Wishbone Ash debut album in its entirety, cut that back and played a few numbers from there and rounded the set off with a blinding trio from ‘Argus’, Warrior, Throw Down the Sword and Blowin’ Free.

Martin was on top form with his between song banter and his bass work is asnifty as ever, the twin guitar work of Danny Wilson and Misha Nikolic replicates the sound of the original band but, as both men are incredibly talented guitarists, they aren’t merely copying. They put their own stamp on the sound and are clearly having fun playing together, while drummer Tim Brown anchors the sound.

This is clearly Martin Turner’s musical vision and he takes both the audience and the band with him as he plays the music he created. It’s no nostalgia fest either as he and his talented band make their own mark on these songs and breathe new life into them.

Headliners on Stage 1 on Friday were Neo-Prog legends Pendragon, celebrating their first 40 years with the tour of the same name.

Nick Barrett’s distinctive guitar and vocal work is, as ever, front and centre, while the core line up of Peter Gee on bass, Clive Nolan on keys and Jan-Vincent Valazco on drums were augmented by Verity White and Zoe Devenish, who help to flesh out the already mighty sound of Pendragon.

These guys have been touring and performing for a very long time, and Nick and Clive are both masters of their respective instruments. Though I have seen Pendragon live more times than I care to remember, this is the first time I’ve seen them with the additional female vocals, and this new dimension to the bands sound really makes a difference.

The auditorium was packed, and it was heartening to see several younger punters here (and by that, I mean people younger than me – at 41, according to Martin I brought the average age down!)

Performing a set covering all the classic Pendragon eras, after all 40 years is a hell of a lot of music to cover, Nick and the gang managed to mix the set up and include tracks like Green and Pleasant Land (with its slightly dubious lyrical content, I am not sure how tongue in cheek it is with some of the sentiments expressed) among others, which kept the crowd entertained.

Having enjoyed another full day of music and discovering new bands to go with my appreciation of some of the more vintage acts, HRH put on a good mix.

Progradar -I had, early evening, shot off to meet up with Sean Timms, Danny Lopresto and Brody Green of Southern Empire:

It was an impromptu interview which, unfortunately, I didn’t record (the official interview will be aired soon) but we talked about all things Empyrean and the music in general over (quite) a few beers. I did manage to get back in time to catch part of a wonderful set from Luna Rossa, their ethereal sound and waif like grace ever ceases to calm my heart rate and Anne-Marie Helder was on top form this night. 

Saturday, we had a lovely trip out to Criccieth Castle with those TPA boys Leo Trimming and David Glaves (there is no competition between the prog review websites, we’re a friendly bunch of guys), just up the coast from Pwllheli, before the music started. The view was stunning and, as the castle is part of the ring of castles in North Wales, it would be rude to not visit whilst we were up there. We then found a pleasant café where we enjoyed our full Welsh breakfast to set us up for the days progging.

Martin was busy doing interviewing things (Ed: it’s called ‘work’ James), so I spent plenty of time at the bar, drinking with Gareth Cole flitting between the two different arenas to see as many sets as I could.

I spoke to Al Winter, frontman for This Winter Machine, this time last year when their debut album, ‘The Man Who Never Was’, had just been released and was getting great reviews. Since then, the band has recorded their second album, and been making waves with their well-received live shows.

This was the first time I had seen them and, having really enjoyed their debut, I was looking forward to their set.

They did not disappoint, Al was on fine form, his vocals really superb, and he worked that stage (& the audience) like he owned it, the new material from the forthcoming album fitted in perfectly with the songs from ‘The Man Who Never Was’, a perfect evolution of the bands sound and approach, and when they finished their hour long set (4 or 5 songs I think, but hey this is Prog) they got a standing ovation (the first opening band, I Am The Manic Whale, also got one on Friday).

The band made a fare few new fans and friends, and I am sure that they sold plenty of CD’s (Al knowing how to push his product by reminding the audience exactly where the merch was). Sometimes opening a festival can be a thankless task, it’s not known as the graveyard slot for nothing, but, like I Am The Manic Whale  before them, This Winter Machine took full opportunity of this to get the day started in style. It followed the tone of the weekend, while the bigger names were on Stage 1, some of the more eclectic and exciting acts were on Stage 2.

There is a delicious irony in me typing that as bar Southern Empire and Gandalf’s Fist, I spent pretty much all Saturday in Stage 1 (& part of it enjoying the company of Gareth Cole, Chris Bembridge & Richard Thresh – splendid chaps, all of them).

I saw some of Goldray’s set, the new band from former Reef guitarist Kenwyn House, with vocals from Leah Rasmussen. This weekend certainly had an interesting mix of classic rock sounds and psych sounds and Goldray were certainly out there.

From their glittery stage presence, to the light show, and the hypnotic musical sound they are at the forefront of the psych revival and about as far from Reefs sound as is possible to get. Leah has a magnetic stage presence, and plenty of star quality whilst the guitar work of Kenwyn was sublime. A complete glittery contrast to the next band on Stage 1, Jump.

Now out of all the bands that play for the CRS and that I have seen, I reckon I have seen Jump nigh on 30 times and they have never played the same set twice.

Fronted by Celtic bard John Dexter Jones, still looking as lithe and nimble as when I first saw him, he is the reminder of the fact that the protest song is still as relevant as it ever was and why musicians must talk about politics and life.

I read a lot of guff online about people saying that musicians shouldn’t talk about politics in their music and they should keep their art separate. Why? Is always my stock answer, they are making their art and it is not up to us to dictate what anyone should sing about. I remember the Jump song Tower of Babel, inspired by someone telling John he shouldn’t swear so much. Politics is everywhere, it dictates house prices, it permeates out every being, everything that happens to us and society is dictated to by politics, so musicians should reflect that in what they do if they are being true to themselves and their art.

He is a passionate, articulate and intelligent frontman who comes from proud Welsh stock and his history is as important as our future. This was evident in this truly impassioned and powerful set, featuring as it did, several songs that still resonate and sadly, despite being written a while ago, are still as relevant as they ever were.

The scathing Moscow Circus (taken from my favourite Jump album ‘Matthew’) and the new poem to music The Station Parade segueing into The Sniper from ‘The Beachcomber’ album, were two personally poignant insights about the First World War in the 100th year since it finished and telling of the folly of war and the story of one of John’s Great Uncles.

However, the highlight and most powerful song of their set, nay the weekend, was their new number Breaking Point, the title taken from ‘that’ EU referendum poster. It is Johns most brutal and impassioned takedown of this whole Brexit clusterfuck and rise of the right, I doubt there was anyone in there who wasn’t moved and understood the message behind the song.

Jump as a band are peerless live and they just get so much better with age, like a fine wine, with the twin guitar sounds of Steve Hayes and Ronnie Rundle trading licks and rolling riffs from one side to the other, whilst Mo on keys adds a lot of texture to the sounds. Andy Barker on drums keeps the beat going while newest member, Mark Pittam on bass, fits in perfectly with the band ethos.

JDJ made a humorous comment from a previous review about him hectoring and haranguing an audience, and you know what, for the quality of the performance and the songs I would happily be hectored and harangued for another few hours thank you very much.

I saw very little of Stage 2 during this period, which upsets me slightly as I had the misfortune to see some of the band that followed Jumps set.

Davy O’List’s The Attack, now Davy has an impressive prog pedigree, and an interesting back story, however I watched about 10 minutes of The Attack, of which at least two were the band stood in silence on the stage after finishing one song and none of them quite knowing what was happening next. At one point it looked like the band were all playing different songs, very little audience interaction and not much entertainment.

Sorry chaps, it wasn’t for me and I think a bit more rehearsal could have gone into this!

Progradar: I got back from interviewing duties just in time to catch German progressive metallers Deafening Opera on Stage 2 and I’m glad I did, their blend of powerful prog metal along with great melodies went down a real storm with the growing crowd. These young musicians were not only technically excellent but played with a lot of verve and a lot of soul. The 80 minute set was a great success and set everybody up for the next act…

I have been a big fan of Aussie melodic proggers Southern Empire for a while. Their first, self-titled, album crept under the radar a bit but the sophomore release of ‘Civilisation’ has seen them rapidly come to a lot of people’s attention.

With the charismatic Danny Lopresto on vocals and guitar, Cam Blokland on lead guitar, Brody Green on drums, Jez Martin on bass and Sean Timms as erstwhile bandleader and keyboardist, the band delivered a flawless set of dynamic, powerful and downright soulful music. Saxophonist James Capatch added a layer of impressive sophistication and Southern Empire proceeded to literally blow the audience away with their incredible storytelling and joyous music.

Opening with Forest Fire from the debut album and then following up with two lengthy tracks, Cries For The Lonely and Crossroads, from ‘Civilisation’, these marvelous entertainers from Adelaide had everybody lost in the moment and in the palm of their hands. Cam and Danny’s guitar interplay was brilliant and added a real fun feel to what was the utter highlight of the weekend for me.

 A live performance that was one of the best I have ever seen and one which I later called a musical epiphany, if you ever get the chance to see these guys live then do not miss it for the world!

Back to James for his take on Southern Empire

Making their HRH debut meanwhile over on Stage 2 was Southern Empire, formed by Aussie keyboard player Sean Timms, recently recovering from a heart attack, the timings were adjusted so they didn’t clash with The Strawbsand boy was I glad about that.Wwith livewire frontman and guitarist Danny Lopresto in fine form, and the formidable musical attack by the rest of the guys, Southern Empire were the band of the weekend for me.

Every festival I have ever been to always has the ‘why the fuck haven’t I heard this before?’ moment, and for me this moment was watching Southern Empire.

They filled the Stage 2 arena, put on an hour and 15 minutes of blinding music and left having won the hearts and minds of the arena. Those people saying ‘You must see Southern Empire’ were right, and much as I loathe to admit it (as it’ll give him a big head) Lord Progradar himself was bang on the money by saying these guys would be band of the weekend.

To think, if they hadn’t adjusted the timings due to pressure from fans wanting to see both Southern Empire and The Strawbs, I’d have missed this show, and I would have been completely gutted.

(Yes, I did leave having bought both Southern Empire albums, and they made excellent companions on the 4 and half hour journey home).

Progradar: Next up on Stage 2 were the wonderful ‘progressive piano trio’ Exploring Birdsong. I’d interviewed this young trio earlier and they came across as very wise heads on young shoulders and their set proved this to be very true. Drummer Matt Harrison, bassist Jonny Knight and pianist/vocalist Lynsey Ward delivered music that was a powerful combination of pop sensibilities and progressive compositions, all topped off by Lynsey’s soulful vocals.

Their recently released track, The Dowpour, is a cut glass piece of songwriting that belies their relatively tender years and was delivered superbly to the rapt audience. These three have a bright future ahead of them if this performance is anything to go by.

Back to my spiritual home for the day, Stage 1, for a set celebrating 50 years of The Strawbs. David Cousins had been unwell recently and so to see him on stage, surrounded by mainstays Dave Lambert on guitar, Chas Cronk on bass, Tony Fernandez on drums and, relative new boy, Dave Bainbridge on keys, they really went to town and played an explosive set.

Having jumped across many genres and styles, The Strawbs complex and intelligent music weaves between folk, rock and softer sounds and , for HRH, they pulled out all the big guns and gave us an eclectic electric set.

Mixing material from new album ‘The Ferryman’s Curse’ (tracks like The Nails from the Hands of Christ fitted the setlist like it had always been there) with an astonishing version of Ghosts, an emotive and powerful New World and a truncated quartet from their ‘Hero and Heroine’ set (Autumn, Hero and Heroine, Out in the Cold and Lay a Little Light on Me), they rounded off a powerfully strong set with the ‘Bursting at the Seams’ favourites The River and Down By The Sea.

This was an intense show of power by The Strawbs and shows how much energy and power the band have, it also shows that, with the newer material and the addition of Dave Bainbridge on keys, even after 50 years, Dave Cousins and the band are relevant, important and still have so much more to say musically.

I am glad the concert was rejigged so these guys and Southern Empire didn’t clash, as both their sets were important parts of this festival jigsaw and I am so glad I got to see an all-electric full band The Strawbs set in their anniversary year.

Following on from The Strawbs, and in one of the contradictory and different pairings that HRH seems to relish was another classic band celebrating their 50th anniversary. The original psychedelic warlords and musical anarchists Hawkwind.

Astonishingly, despite having loved this band since I discovered ‘Warrior On The Edge Of Time’ back at Uni in 1995. This is the first time I have ever seen Hawkwind live and, again, like The Strawbs, Jump, Gandalf’s Fist and Martin Turner, was one of my ‘must see’ bands of the weekend.

My favourite Hawkwind album is Warrior and so it was with great delight that they opened the set with Assault and Battery and The Golden Void, Dave Brock on fine form with guitar and vocals, while the line-up, currently down to a four piece of long serving drummer Richard Chadwick whose been with the band for 20 years (and who my chiropractor used to rent a room from, randomly!), Niall Hone on bass and vocals and newest member Magnus Martin, were, in suitably psychedelic fashion,just mesmerising.

The set included an incredibly extended version of the classic Damnation Alley where the riffs and extended improvisations contained more ideas than some bands have on an album, an arresting and brain melting Sonic Attack and a metronomical version of Born To Go.

We did duck out before the end due to the closing band on Stage 2 getting ready to start, but Hawkwind demonstrated why they are the original, and best, psych band still treading the board, and it’s full testament to the vision and skill of Dave Brock to keep this band on the road, playing these amazing tracks to an audience who clearly idolised everything they did.

(Picture by Gareth Cole)

One of the bands I have wanted to see for aeons, ever since I reviewed the album ‘A Forest of Fey’ back in 2013 for the DPRP, was Gandalf’s Fist, their drummer Stefan Hepe is a fellow naughty pachyderm. The way the band has expanded organically is brilliant, and then they blew everyone else out of the water in 2016 with their triple disc epic ‘The Clockwork Fable’.

Founder members multi-instrumentalist Dean Marsh and lyricist and vocalist Luke Severn have created a band around them with Stefan on drums, Ben Bell (Patchwork Cacophony – whose albums you need in your life) on keys, Christopher Ewen on bass and Keri Farish on vocals, this 6 piece absolutely owned the stage,and they were the perfect band to end the festival.

Making a brave choice to kick off with the unreleased track Leader of Men, from the opening bar they got the whole of the second stage on side. After all, the Fisters have previous having already fisted an HRH to within an inch of its life.

Pulling together a set list covering all bases (and, of course, the merch desk had all their CD’s including ‘The Road to Darkness’ reissue, ‘A Day In The Life Of A Universal Wanderer’, ‘Forest of Fey’ and ‘Clockwork Fable’, which I definitely didn’t buy the lot of to play on my journey home – here’s a tip for free, if you write for a prog website and know beyond doubt that your beloved better half won’t read this review, when smuggling CD’s into the house and hiding how much you spent, the phrase ‘review copies’ is one that you can get a lot of mileage from!)

Of course, the buggers pulled out the epic Eve’s Song from ‘Clockwork Fable’, which brought a tear to my eye, either that or I was sobbing at how much I’d spent but, either way, the powerfully emotive vocals of Keri Farish really brought this to life live and, of course, the band were on fire throughout.

The witty intro to Emerald Eyes (careful with that plagiarism Eugene) hinted at where the inspiration for this song came from and the between song banter between Luke and Dean was hilarious.

Songs from ‘Forest of the Fey’ (do Gandalf’s Fist deliberately try to provoke proggers with these titles?!?) mixed with the wonderful pieces from ‘A Clockwork Fable’ (a bloody marvellous live rendition of The Capture, for instance) show how much passion and energy the band put into their music. Another new song, The Warden, formed an integral part of the set and I cannot wait to hear the album that becomes part of.

From being a studio project to a fully fledged live band is not the easiest journey for some artists but Dean and Luke have chosen the perfect travelling companions. Stefan and Chris on drums and bass provide the perfect anchor points to allow keyboard wizard (in a top hat instead of a cape) Ben to sprinkle his magic all over the songs (seriously, you need to buy his Patchwork Cacophony albums) and Keri is the perfect blend of star vocalist and frontwoman, adding some real heart and soul to her musical performance and looking like this band have been together for ever.

From a competition to find the maddest prog name, to being real contenders for one of the most innovative and exciting prog bands out there, Gandalf’s Fist have had a tremendous few years, this set confirming what we all knew.

They are the future of prog and it was brilliant to see them play to a room full of appreciative fans, who stayed up well past their bedtime, looking at the at the age of them. We were well and truly Fisted, and I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

(Picture by Gareth Cole)

ProgradarI can echo James’ sentiments completely here, Gandalf’s Fist really did deliver a performance worthy of the final headliners on Stage 2. The impressive musicianship was matched by the peerless songs. To be fair, they are a band you either get or you don’t but I’m a big fan of their steam punk fantasy lyrics and ideas and, in Keri Farish, they have a vocalist who can capture an audience and hold them in her spell.

Dean’s sometimes crushing riffs give a visceral quality to the fantastical music and the rest of the band are all superb musicians imbuing the whole set with style and verve. Being the final act there was almost party feel to the performance with the audience thoroughly enjoying every track and giving the band well deserved standing ovation at the end. A wonderful way to close out the weekend.

I am a great believer in the healing power of music, and music, brings us together and unites us under one common cause, if only other things in life were so easy.

The HRH Prog festival crams a lot into the three days on site and I am very sorry to the bands that I couldn’t get to see due to clashes but, in events like this, you’re never going to see everyone, and I am glad I saw the sets I did. While I was most looking forward to seeing Gandalf’s Fist, who did not disappoint in any way shape or form, Southern Empire with their empirical and dominating set, just edged it for me as band of the festival.

The next HRH Prog is down in that there London, whether it will retain the family feel of this one I am not sure but, if the line up is anywhere near as strong as this, then any attendees won’t be disappointed.

People talk about the diminishing returns and lack of punters for small local prog gigs, I do wonder if this model isn’t the future, it might cost a little more, and take out more of your time, but I loved the friendliness, the convenience, and the way of seeing a combination of bands I loved and new bands that I now love, all within a very small dash between two stages.

Hats off to all the folks involved in pulling this together, and a massive thanks for letting me tag along and be a small part of something much, much bigger.

Progradar: HRH Prog 2018 was a huge success for me, excellent bands spread across two excellent stages with all the support network (food, beer, water etc.) very close to hand. The location had a hell of lot to do with the brilliant atmosphere and time will tell if the Shepherds Bush Empire venue will be as accommodating next year.

The highlights were Martin Barre, I Am The Manic Whale, This Winter Machine and Gandalf’s Fist but the star band of the whole weekend were the incredible and magnificent Southern Empire.

Keep your eyes peeled for forthcoming interviews from HRH Prog 2018 with Southern Empire, Exploring Birdsong and Gandalf’s Fist.

Steve Hackett Announces Release of New Studio Album – At The Edge of Light

Following the tremendous success of 2017’s The Night Siren (charted at #22 in Germany, #28 in the UK), legendary former Genesis guitarist Steve Hackett announces the release of his new studio album At The Edge Of Light on the 25th January 2019. The album which features ten songs, sees Steve unite a vast amount of styles ranging from guitar driven rock to epic orchestration, from world music to the reflective and atmospheric all brought together in Steve Hackett’s unique style.

Steve says: “In these dangerous times, deep shadows feel even sharper than usual and we find ourselves standing at the edge of light… The contrast between dark and light weaves its way throughout the album in many ways, from the sense of good fighting evil through to the interplay of dark and light opposites magically combining in cultures, including the heartbeat of India and primal tribal rhythms. Ultimately, this album embraces the need for all musical forms and cultures to connect and celebrate the wonder of unity in this divided world.”

At The Edge Of Light is released in a number of formats including a Mediabook CD plus extra DVD with 5.1 surround sound mix & behind the scenes documentary, double vinyl LP + CD, Jewel case CD and digital album.

Steve Hackett has established himself as one of Rock music’s finest and recognisable guitarists through his time with the legendary Genesis who he joined in 1971 and a solo career following his departure from Genesis in 1977 and is a hugely influential guitarist particularly in the Progressive Rock genre. At The Edge Of Light will be Hackett’s 26th studio album in a solo career that began in 1975 with the release of his debut solo album Voyage Of The Acolyte.

At The Edge Of Light was mainly recorded in Steve’s own studio but also around the world. The album features international artists, including Durga and Loreley of Pink Floyd vocal fame with drummers Nick D’Virgilio and Simon Phillips from USA, Sheema on sitar from India, Icelandic drummer/percussionist Gulli Briem, tar player Malik Mansurov and Swedish bass player Jonas Reingold… This album also features Paul Stillwell on didgeridoo, Rob Townsend on sax, bass clarinet and duduk, Amanda Lehmann on vocals, John Hackett on flute, drummer Gary O’Toole, Roger King and Ben Fenner on keyboards, Dick Driver on double bass, violinist and viola player Christine Townsend… All magically honed and engineered by Roger King.

Tracklist:
1. Fallen Walls And Pedestals
2. Beasts In Our Time
3. Under The Eye Of The Sun
4. Underground Railroad
5. Those Golden Wings
6. Shadow And Flame
7. Hungry Years
8. Descent
9. Conflict
10. Peace

The album is released shortly before Steve performs as special guest on the Cruise To The Edge in February 2019 and the On The Blue cruise featuring Justin Hayward, also in February.

Hackett recently played a series of Genesis Revisited shows with Orchestra and will perform two UK dates with acoustic sets in early December before touring Europe in April/May 2019 and has just announced a UK tour in November 2019 with a much anticipated “Selling England By The Pound & Spectral Mornings & Album Highlights” set.

NOVEMBER 2019 UK TOUR DATES

 

Sat 02                   Aylesbury Waterside
Sun 03                  Folkestone Leas Cliff Hall
Tue 05                  Sheffield City Hall
Wed 06                Cambridge Corn Exchange
Fri 08                    Leicester De Montfort Hall
Sat 09                   Cardiff St. David’s Hall
Mon 11                Liverpool Philharmonic
Tue 12                  Brighton Dome
Wed 13                Portsmouth Guildhall
Fri 15                    Salisbury City Hall
Sat 16                   Reading Hexagon
Mon 18                Birmingham Symphony Hall
Tue 19                  York Barbican
Wed 20                Bath Forum
Fri 22                    Halifax Victoria Theatre
Sat 23                  Gateshead The Sage
Mon 25                Edinburgh Usher Hall
Tue 26                  Manchester Bridgewater Hall
Wed 27                Southend Cliffs Pavilion
Fri 29                    London Hammersmith Eventim Apollo
 
Tickets available from https://myticket.co.uk/ and venue box offices.
Press photo by Tina Korhonen

THE PINEAPPLE THIEF ANNOUNCE NEW LIVE DATES IN EUROPE & THE UK FOR FEBRUARY & MARCH 2019

The Pineapple Thief have just returned from the first leg of their Dissolution tour where they enthralled audiences across Europe and the UK. Including many sold out shows and their biggest show to date at London’s prestigious O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire. The band are now ready to announce new dates for 2019.

Frontman Bruce Soord states “Our first Dissolution tour went so well, and we had such a great time so we’ve decided to do it again. This time visiting some of the cities we couldn’t make the first time around. I know there are a lot of people disappointed we are not coming to their neck of the woods, but we hear you all and are definitely working on it!”

The Pineapple Thief will once again be joined by now full-time member Gavin Harrison on all dates.

21.02 Firenze (Italy) – Viper

22.02 Roma (Italy) – Largo Venue

23-02 Milano (Italy) – Santeria Social Club 

24.02 Pratteln (Switzerland) – Z7

26.02 Stuttgart (Germany) – LKA – Longhorn

27.02 Frankfurt (Germany) – Batschkapp

28.02 Strasburg (France) – La Laiterie

1.03 Zoetermeer (Holland) – Boerderij

2.03 Hamburg (Germany) – Grosse Freiheit 36

3.03 Copenhagen (Denmark) – Lille Vega

5.03 Stockholm (Sweden) – Nalen

6.03 Oslo (Norway) – John Dee

20.03 Newcastle (UK) – O2 Academy

21.03 Glasgow (UK) – Saint Luke’s

22.03 Manchester (UK) – The Ritz

23.03 Birmingham (UK) – The O2 Institute 2

24.03 Bristol (UK) – The Fleece

Support to be announced

Tickets on sale now – http://www.pineapplethief.com/

The Pineapple Thief are:

Bruce Soord – vocalist, guitarist, composer

Gavin Harrison – drums

Jon Sykes – bass

Steve Kitch – keyboards

 

JO QUAIL SHARES NEW TRACK ‘MANDREL CANTUS’

Internationally acclaimed composer and virtuoso cellist Jo Quail, who is currently on tour across Europe with Mono and A Storm of Light has shared a new track from her upcoming album ‘Exsolve’. Recorded with Chris Fielding at Skyhammer Studios (Electric Wizard, Primordial, Witchsorrow, Conan), the album will be released on 2nd November. Listen to the radio edit of new track ‘Mandrel Cantus’ here:

Mandrel Cantus Video Edit

Commenting on the track Jo adds, ‘Mandrel Cantus is a track that’s been evolving over a long period of time, and continues to morph each time I perform it live. I started with abstract percussion, in fact I I built a whole new armoury of sounds for this track, and these themselves helped inform the direction of the music as I continue/ed to work on it.  

It’s impossible to talk about your own music without sounding pretentious… I wanted to make a pathway through the percussive labyrinth that resolves and opens powerfully in a physical sense, but dissolves to leave just the spiritual essence of the whole music with the modal C cantus at the end. I’m doing things I’ve never done before in terms of how my loop station is set up, and the sound modelling too, and as such I’m really excited every time I play this track, though it’s a potential minefield to navigate!’

Since commencing her solo career in 2010, Jo has released three albums, three EPs and a live DVD. Following her 2015 European tour with post-rock giants Caspian Jo has embedded herself in the world of left-field and heavy music, whilst continuing to perform within the contemporary and avant-garde spheres. Not only did she open for black-metal artist Myrkur but Jo joined her on stage as part of her Folkesange project as well as collaborating with the likes of A-Sun Amissa, Mono’s Takaakira ‘Taka’ Goto, Eraldo Bernocchi and FM Einheit  (Einsturzende Neubauten). Jo has performed several concerts of her works arranged for electric cello, orchestral ensembles and choirs both at home in the UK, in Europe and in Australia where she tours on a yearly basis.

Festival performances this year include ArcTanGent, WGT, Dunk! and Tramlines Festival, and two separate concerts at the invitation of Robert Smith for his curation of the Southbank’s Meltdown Festival.

“Exsolve’ is comprised of 3 tracks, with each one being broken down in to sections and movements across 45 minutes. Mastered by James Griffiths, himself a film composer, there is an almost symphonic quality to the album.

‘Exsolve’ is a snapshot in time of these 3 pieces and with every live performance Jo looks to develop them further. As Jo concludes, ‘For me, the final record is usually only the starting point of the journey and over time and with each performance the music will morph and be reshaped – composing and performing is a collaborative process between me, the space and the audience’.

Tracklisting:
1) Forge – Of Two Forms
2) Mandrel Cantus
3) Causleen’s Wheel
Pre-order the album now – https://joquail.bandcamp.com
A vinyl version of the album with an additional track will follow early next year.
Jo Quail is currently on tour with Mono and A Storm of Light to support the release followed by another tour with Myrkur in December.
European tour w/ Mono & A Storm of Light
10 Oct: Wiesbaden, DE, Schlachtof
11 Oct: Aarau, CH, Kiff
12 Oct: Lyon, FR, CCO
13 Oct: Barcelona, ES, Aloud Music Festival
14 Oct: Toulouse, FR, Le Rex
15 Oct: Bordeaux, FR, Krakatoa
16 Oct: Orleans, FR, Astrolabe
17 Oct: Heerlen, NL, Nieuwe Nor
18 Oct: Oberhausen, DE, Drucklufthaus
19 Oct: Leeuwarden, NL, Into The Void
20 Oct: Athens, GR, Fuzz Club
22 Oct: St. Petersburg, RU, Zal
23 Oct: Moscow, RU, Zil
European tour w/ Myrkur
03 Dec: SE Stockholm, Vasateatern04/12 – NO Oslo, John Dee
05 Dec: SE Gothenburg, Pustervik
07 Dec: DK Aarhus, Voxhall
08 Dec: DK Copenhagen, Pumpehuset
10 Dec: PL Poznan, U Bazyla
11 Dec: PL Krakow, Kwadrat
13 Dec: HU Budapest, Durer Kert
14 Dec: AT Vienna, Arena
16 Dec: NL Tilburg, 013 KZ
18 Dec UK London, The Dome
19 Dec: UK Bristol, The Fleece
20 Dec: UK Nottingham, Rescue Rooms
21 Dec UK Glasgow, The Great Eastern
22 Dec: – UK Manchester, Gorilla

Marillion with Friends from the Orchestra Live in 2019

Marillion have announced that they will return to the road in the UK and Europe in 2019 with an extended line up of musicians joining the band.

The shows will feature the In Praise of Folly String Quartet plus Sam Morris on French Horn and Emma Halnan on Flute, featured on select numbers throughout the show as on previous occasions. In December 2017, Marillion played a sold-out show at The Royal Albert Hall which was the fastest selling concert of the bands career and featured this same ensemble of musicians who also featured on the UK tour in the spring of 2018. The concert at the Royal Albert hall was hailed by the fans and critics alike as “one of the best concerts in Marillion’s history”.  The recording of the show, ‘All One Tonight’ has since been released on DVD, Blu-Ray, CD and vinyl and topped the charts in 5 countries. Marillion will be playing songs spanning their 14 album-career with Steve Hogarth, as 2019 celebrates 30 years of him joining the band.

Tour Dates are:
November 2019
Fri 01                     Liverpool Philharmonic
Sun 03                   Nottingham Royal Concert Hall
Mon 04                 Manchester Bridgewater Hall
Wed 06                 Birmingham Symphony Hall
Thur 07             Portsmouth Guildhall
Sat 09                   Bath The Forum
Sun 10                  Oxford New Theatre
Tue 12                  Glasgow Royal Concert Hall
Wed 13                Gateshead The Sage
Fri 15                    Southend Cliffs Pavilion
Sat 16                   Cardiff St David’s Hall
Mon 18                London Royal Albert Hall
Tue 19                  London Royal Albert Hall
Tickets available from https://myticket.co.uk/ and venue box offices.

PAUL DRAPER ANNOUNCES ‘ATTACK OF THE GREY LANTERN – LIVE AT THE RITZ’

Paul Draper’s 14-date Spring ’18 tour celebrated the 21st anniversary of one of the most favoured British albums from the late Britpop era – Attack of the Grey Lantern.

Recorded live at The Ritz, Manchester on Thursday 1st March 2018, this album captures Draper’s energetic stage presence, his incredible band and classic Mansun tracks such as “Wide Open Space“, “Taxloss” and “Disgusting“, performed to a fantastic Manchester audience.

Listen to the live version of “Taxloss” :

This 2LP Limited Edition Vinyl* is available for Black Friday 23rd November in your local indie retailer and all good record stores.

*Includes an mp3 download of the album.

A very limited quantity, signed by Paul will be available on his upcoming acoustic tour starting 14th Nov.

Tickets are ON SALE NOW for Paul’s November 2018 Acoustic Tour: http://pauldraperofficial.com/tour-dates/

Performing tracks from his debut solo album Spooky Action, as well as Mansun Official classics and deep cuts. PLUS as yet unheard songs from Paul’s second solo album, due 2019.

November 2018 Acoustic Tour Dates:
Wed 14th – Bath, Moles

Thu 15th – Wolverhampton, Newhampton Arts Centre

Fri 16th – Cambridge, Storey’s Field Centre

Sat 17th – Leicester, The Cookie

Wed 21st – York, The Crescent Community Venue

Thu 22nd – Aberdeen, The Lemon Tree

Fri 23rd – Edinburgh, Pleasance Theatre

Sat 24th  – Stockton-on-Tees, Georgian Theatre

 

Caligula’s Horse – launch video for “The Hands are the Hardest” – EU tour starts imminently

Caligula’s Horse, a band at the forefront of Australia’s progressive rock scene, are set to begin their European ‘Aussie-Invasion’ tour imminently, and to celebrate they have launched a video for “The Hands are the Hardest.”

Jim Grey (vocalist) comments: “’The Hands are the Hardest’ is one of my favourite tunes from In Contact – it was the first we completed for that album and for that reason it holds a special place in my heart. The story of struggle within this song resonates with me personally, so it only felt right to make this tune a focus for our first headline tour in Europe, the biggest tour we’ve ever embarked upon. 

We’re taking a 27-show journey across Europe, and night after night we’ll be sharing this song’s story with all of our people – it’s going to be something truly special.”

Joining them on their EU tour will be fellow countrymen & progressive metal powerhouse Circles on their momentous return to Europe as main support, and instrumental guitar prodigy I Built The Sky (for their first European appearances). The run will also see Caligula’s Horse make appearances at several festivals including Euroblast, ProgPower, Very Prog Festival, Damnation Festival and AMFest.

You can find the full list of dates below:
Friday October 5 – Euroblast Festival, Cologne, Germany
Sunday October 7 – ProgPower Festival, Baarlo, Netherlands*
Monday October 8 – Backstage, Paris, France
Tuesday October 9 – Ferrailleur, Nantes, France
Thursday October 11 – Mungirock Aretoa, Mungia (Bilbao), Spain
Friday October 12 – Very Prog Festival, Toulouse, France**
Saturday October 13 – AMFest, Barcelona, Spain**
Sunday October 14 – Nazca, Madrid, Spain
Monday October 15 – RCA Club, Lisbon, Portugal
Wednesday October 17 – KiFF Foyer, Aarau, Switzerland
Thursday October 18 – Legend Club, Milan, Italy
Saturday October 20 – Collosseum, Kosice, Slovakia
Sunday October 21 – Dürer Kert (Room 041), Budapest, Hungary
Monday October 22 – KSET, Zagreb, Croatia
Tuesday October 23 – Strahov 007, Prague, Czech Republic
Wednesday October 24 – Musik & Frieden, Berlin, Germany
Thursday October 25 – Headcrash, Hamburg, Germany
Saturday October 27 – Fangelset, Gothenburg, Sweden
Sunday October 28 – John Dee, Oslo, Norway
Monday October 29 – BETA, Copenhagen, Denmark
Tuesday October 30 – The Tube, Dusseldorf, Germany
Thursday November 1 – Boston Music Room, London, UK
Friday November 2 – Audio, Glasgow, UK
Saturday November 3 – Damnation Festival, Leeds, UK**
Sunday November 4 – Mama Roux, Birmingham, UK
Monday November 5 – Star And Garter, Manchester, UK
Tuesday November 6 – The Lanes, Bristol, UK
*I Built The Sky Not Appearing
**Circles & I Built The Sky Not Appearing

Watch the video for the track ‘Songs For No One’, taken from the latest album ‘In Contact’, here:

‘In Contact’ is available now on CD & 2LP + CD (including exclusive coloured versions) here: http://smarturl.it/CaligulasHorseIC

Steve Hackett Anounces Selling England By The Pound 2019 UK Tour

The irrepressible former Genesis guitarist Steve Hackett announces his 2019 European Tour. Setting off on 2nd November 2019, Steve and his band will perform 20 shows around the UK.

For the first time ever, Steve will perform the seminal Genesis album Selling England By The Pound in its entirety. Released in 1973, the album went to No. 3 in the UK charts and has been described as “the definitive Genesis album.” It includes firm favourites such as Dancing with the Moonlit Knight, Firth of FifthCinema Show and, of course, I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe). Other favourite classic Genesis tracks will also feature in the show.

2019 also marks the 40th anniversary of one of Steve’s most popular solo albums Spectral Mornings and Steve will rightly celebrate this milestone by performing masterpieces from the album.

Fans will also be treated to highlights from Steve’s new album, to be released in 2019.

Steve explains, “I’m thrilled to be performing the whole of my favourite Genesis album, SELLING ENGLAND BY THE POUND, which caught the attention of John Lennon in 1973. I felt that I was now playing guitar in the world’s best band, and everything was opening up for us… 

Also I look forward to playing all the favourite songs from SPECTRAL MORNINGS, marking its anniversary, plus new album tasters, as well as additional Genesis gems in a terrific grand slam!”

NOVEMBER 2019 TOUR DATES
Sat 02                   Aylesbury Waterside
Sun 03                  Folkestone Leas Cliff Hall
Tue 05                  Sheffield City Hall
Wed 06                Cambridge Corn Exchange
Fri 08                    Leicester De Montfort Hall
Sat 09                   Cardiff St. David’s Hall
Mon 11                Liverpool Philharmonic
Tue 12                  Brighton Dome
Wed 13                Portsmouth Guildhall
Fri 15                    Salisbury City Hall
Sat 16                   Reading Hexagon
Mon 18                Birmingham Symphony Hall
Tue 19                  York Barbican
Wed 20                Bath Forum
Fri 22                    Halifax Victoria Theatre
Sat 23                  Gateshead The Sage
Mon 25                Edinburgh Usher Hall
Tue 26                  Manchester Bridgewater Hall
Wed 27                Southend Cliffs Pavilion
Fri 29                    London Hammersmith Eventim Apollo

Tickets available from https://myticket.co.uk/ and venue box offices.

Joining Steve on the tour are his regular musicians Roger King (keyboards), Jonas Reingold (bass), Gary O’Toole (drums/percussion), Rob Townsend (saxes/flutes) with Nad Sylvan on vocals.

About Steve Hackett

Since the 1970’s Steve has had a remarkable musical career renowned as both an immensely talented and innovative rock musician and a virtuoso classical guitarist and composer. He has released more than 30 solo albums, seven Genesis albums and worked alongside Steve Howe of YES with supergroup GTR.

Recognised as one of the most innovative rock musicians of our time, in 2010 he was inducted into the Rock Hall of Fame.

Hackett was lead guitarist with Genesis as part of their classic line up with Gabriel, Collins, Banks and Rutherford, who produced several of the band’s most acclaimed albums including Selling England by the Pound and The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway.

With Steve’s extraordinary versatility in both his electric guitar playing and his composing, he is influenced by many genres, including Jazz, World Music, Blues and classical.

Steve’s music is as popular as ever, his last two album releases Wolflight in 2015 and last year’s The Night Siren both went straight into the Top 40 of the UK album charts, proving that Steve’s amazing compositions and virtuoso playing continue to delight.

Rikard Sjöblom’s Gungfly launches video for ‘Ghost of Vanity’

Rikard Sjöblom’s Gungfly recently announced the release of ‘Friendship’, their brand new studio album, due out on November 9th, 2018. Following the release of 2017’s ‘On Her Journey To The Sun’, as well as 2018’s retrospective 5CD collection ‘Rumbling Box’, the band masterminded by former Beardfish frontman & current Big Big Train member Rikard Sjöblom.

Today a video for the track ‘Ghost of Vanity’ has been launched and you can watch that here:

Rikard comments: ”A song that really just came to me all at once while I was strumming away on my guitar one day, lyrics and all. I kept singing ‘I don’t want no part in this’ over and over at first and then started partake in. Well, vanity is something I’ve never been a big fan of but one way or another we’re all slaves to it. I think most people, especially teenagers and young adults strive to live up to unrealistic expectations from TV-commercials or the superficial parts of showbiz. I remember when I was a kid and thought everything they said on TV was true, or at least didn’t reflect too much about whether thinking about what it was I didn’t want to it was real or not. No matter how much we try to not care about how cool or pretty or rich we are, I think it gets to us. The ghost of vanity is always present and I guess it takes a lot of reflecting over your own identity and a lot of courage to try to be yourself. I admire those who truly are.”

The album will be available as a limited CD Digipak & gatefold 2LP + CD (both including 3 bonus tracks) as well as digital download. Pre-order now here: https://Gungfly.lnk.to/Friendship

The full track-listing is as follows:

1.Ghost of Vanity
2.Friendship
3.They Fade
4.A Treehouse in a Glade
5.Stone Cold
6.If You Fall, Pt. 2
7.Crown of Leaves
8.Slow Dancer (Bonus Track)
9.Past Generation (Bonus Track)
10.Friendship (Utopian Radio Edit) (Bonus Track)

Rikard comments of the musical direction: “Musically, what can I say? This is prog rock, but I want to be free to move in whatever direction the music wants to go and I happily go exploring where it wants to take me. Even though there are a few softer songs and sections, most of the album turned out to be a rocker; a collection of hard rock songs with lots of tricky parts, some heavier moments and some downright jazzy elements too!”

Rikard Sjöblom is perhaps best known as the multi-instrumentalist frontman of Beardfish, who established themselves as one of the most consistently brilliant modern-day progressive rock bands over the course of eight studio albums. In recent years, he has also become known for his work with English progressive collective Big Big Train, playing live with them as well as performing on their most recent studio album ‘The Second Brightest Star’ as well as the new live album ‘Merchants of Light’.

GUNGFLY online:
https://www.facebook.com/rikardsjoblom/
http://www.rikardsjoblom.com/

INSIDEOUT MUSIC online:
www.insideoutmusic.com
www.youtube.com/InsideOutMusicTV
www.facebook.com/InsideOutMusic
www.twitter.com/InsideOutUSA
www.insideoutmusicshop.com

JO QUAIL ANNOUNCES NEW ALBUM ‘EXSOLVE’ / TOURING WITH MONO + MYRKUR

Since the release of her previous album ‘Five Incantations’ in 2016, internationally acclaimed composer and virtuoso cellist Jo Quail has been touring extensively across Europe performing alongside the likes of Boris, Amenra, Caspian, Myrkur and Winterfylleth. Festival performances this year include ArcTanGent, WGT, Dunk! and Tramlines Festival, and two separate concerts at the invitation of Robert Smith for his curation of the Southbank’s Meltdown Festival.

Jo’s new album ‘Exsolve’, recorded with Chris Fielding at Skyhammer Studios (Electric Wizard, Primordial, Witchsorrow, Conan), will be released on 2nd November. Watch the trailer with an excerpt of the track ‘Mandrel Cantus’ here:

The initial ideas for ‘Exsolve’ were formed following an invitation to perform at the Arp Museum in Bonn, to celebrate the Barbara Hepworth ‘Sculpture for a Modern World’ exhibition (previously at the Tate Modern). Jo comments, ‘as well as my standard concert repertoire from my previous three albums I wanted to write and perform something specifically to honour these beautiful works. I wrote a piece for solo cello called ‘Single Form’ which explored the cello physically, using the extensive pitch range and then creating a sonic ‘hole’ literally by handshape and position on the neck, mirroring the curves and spaces in Hepworth’s work.’

While ‘Single Form’ doesn’t appear on the new album, the writing process behind it went on to inform and help mould all the pieces on ‘Exsolve’. Jo adds, ‘there are many aspects of Barbara Hepworth’s life and works that inspired the early creative stage of this album. She talked of the left hand ‘seeing’ and the right hand then carving, and I found this analogy greatly inspiring. I wanted to explore what it actually feels like physically to play cello and at the same time I wanted to write something ambitious, brave and proud, something that pushes beyond what I had done before in terms of live looping, yet something that has the weight and certainty of a monolith for want of a better term!’

Since commencing her solo career in 2010, Jo has released three albums, three EPs and a live DVD. Following her 2015 European tour with post-rock giants Caspian Jo has embedded herself in the world of left-field and heavy music, whilst continuing to perform within the contemporary and avant-garde spheres. Not only did she open for black-metal artist Myrkur but Jo joined her on stage as part of her Folkesange project as well as collaborating with the likes of A-Sun Amissa, Mono’s Takaakira ‘Taka’ Goto, Eraldo Bernocchi and FM Einheit  (Einsturzende Neubauten). Jo has performed several concerts of her works arranged for electric cello, orchestral ensembles and choirs both at home in the UK, in Europe and in Australia where she tours on a yearly basis.

“Exsolve’ is comprised of 3 tracks, with each one being broken down in to sections and movements across 45 minutes. Mastered by James Griffiths, himself a film composer, there is an almost symphonic quality to the album.

‘Exsolve’ has been an unique process in both writing and recording terms for Jo who states, ‘what made the writing process so different for me was the sense that every single note was being sculpted, created, forged by hand somehow. It was not a ‘struggle’ but it was a clear process with a lot of very detailed attention to individual sounds; in some cases the sounds themselves built the pieces rather than a melodic structure requiring an extra heft of percussion.  For example the tribal toms at the end of ‘Causleen’s Wheel’ were created and set down before the front end of the piece was written…but as with my other pieces, the whole work relates back and forwards, and is built from the same motif throughout.’

With recording ‘Exsolve’ Jo decided to try something different and set out working with Chris Fielding, known more for his work with metal bands such as Conan, Electric Wizard and Witchsorrow at Sky Hammer Studio. Jo describes this as, ‘an incredible experience. Chris is really on it as a producer, and had no issue with my method of writing from a loop perspective, and dealing with all the various motifs that appear and withdraw throughout the compositions.  Pretty much everything was reamped live, which brings the depth to the sound. Chris is very patient and equally very creative, so we were able to take my existing sounds and make them somehow 3 dimensional for the record. In places where I was less convinced of my sound choices Chris was able to advise and to bring different factors in too, experimenting with different heads and amps for reamping, or suggesting various techniques he employs in other genres of music to help to realise what I had in my head.’

Having had special guests on her albums in the past Jo brought in Dan Capp (Winterfylleth), Nik Sampson guitar (Devilment, Prolapse A.D.) and Lucie Dehli to contribute and collaborate on this record adding, ‘they are all very good friends of mine and all musicians I admire so greatly, so it was a pleasure to give the tracks to them and see where they went. I gave them no direction, just the tracks as they were, and this is the result. I wanted to create a sound world that my guests could come and place their sculptures on, to continue the analogy.’

‘Exsolve’ is a snapshot in time of these 3 pieces and with every live performance Jo looks to develop them further. As Jo concludes ‘For me, the final record is usually only the starting point of the journey and over time and with each performance the music will morph and be reshaped – composing and performing is a collaborative process between me, the space and the audience’.

Tracklisting:

1) Forge – Of Two Forms

2) Mandrel Cantus

3) Causleen’s Wheel

Pre-orders will be announced soon and a vinyl version of the album with an additional track will follow early next year.

Jo Quail will be heading out on two European tours to support the release opening for Mono and A Storm of Light in October followed by Myrkur in December.

European tour w/ Mono & A Storm of Light

01 Oct: Bristol, UK, The Fleece
02 Oct: Norwich, UK, Arts Centre
03 Oct: Glasgow, UK, Classic Grand
04 Oct: Newcastle, UK, The Cluny
05 Oct: Leeds, UK, Left Bank
06 Oct: Ghent, BE, De Central
07 Oct: Utrecht, NL, Tivoli De Helling
08 Oct: Bremen, DE, Tower
09 Oct: Dresden, DE, Beatpol
10 Oct: Wiesbaden, DE, Schlachtof
11 Oct: Aarau, CH, Kiff
12 Oct: Lyon, FR, CCO
13 Oct: Barcelona, ES, Aloud Music Festival
14 Oct: Toulouse, FR, Le Rex
15 Oct: Bordeaux, FR, Krakatoa
16 Oct: Orleans, FR, Astrolabe
17 Oct: Heerlen, NL, Nieuwe Nor
18 Oct: Oberhausen, DE, Drucklufthaus
19 Oct: Leeuwarden, NL, Into The Void
20 Oct: Athens, GR, Fuzz Club
22 Oct: St. Petersburg, RU, Zal
23 Oct: Moscow, RU, Zil
European tour w/ Myrkur
03 Dec: SE Stockholm, Vasateatern04/12 – NO Oslo, John Dee
05 Dec: SE Gothenburg, Pustervik
07 Dec: DK Aarhus, Voxhall
08 Dec: DK Copenhagen, Pumpehuset
10 Dec: PL Poznan, U Bazyla
11 Dec: PL Krakow, Kwadrat
13 Dec: HU Budapest, Durer Kert
14 Dec: AT Vienna, Arena
16 Dec: NL Tilburg, 013 KZ
18 Dec UK London, The Dome
19 Dec: UK Bristol, The Fleece
20 Dec: UK Nottingham, Rescue Rooms
21 Dec UK Glasgow, The Great Eastern
22 Dec: – UK Manchester, Gorilla