Midlands based progressive-rock band Oktopus (formerly Progoctopus) have revealed their new, three-piece, line-up along with details of their upcoming exciting debut album and forthcoming live performances.
After the recent departure of singer Jane Gillard, the band have decided to forge ahead as a trio with guitarist Alistair Bell taking on lead vocal duties. Samuel C. Roberts (bass) and Tim Wilson (drums and vocals) complete the dynamic make-up of this distinctive act.
Tim Wilson – “Parting company with Jane was a difficult decision, but ultimately we felt a change in direction was important for the growth of the band. She played an important part in laying our foundations and we thank her for her valuable input.”
Later this month, the band will enter Rob Aubrey’s respected Aubitt Studios to begin work on their debut album, ‘Worlds Apart’, which will land in early Spring to coincide with their appearance at the HRH Prog Festival and a further three dates supporting District 97 and The Dave Kerzner Band.
The band marry the traditions of progressive music with stellar contemporary musicianship, superb live performance and tongue in cheek humour.
Oktopus UK Spring Tour 2016 (so far confirmed)
Thursday 17th March – HRH Prog, Pwllheli (w/Hammerhead, Third Quadrant and The Crazy World of Arthur Brown) Now Sold Out
Saturday 26th March – The Borderline, London (w/District 97 and The Dave Kerzner Band)
Sunday 27th March – The Musician, Leicester (w/District 97 and The Dave Kerzner Band)
Monday 28th March – The Robin 2, Bilston (w/District 97 and The Dave Kerzner Band)
Please check out the website for tickets : http://oktopusuk.com/events/
For enquiries, please email Tim or Alistair at firstname.lastname@example.org
On the 13th of February UK progressive rockers The Gift will be be re-releasing their seminal first album ‘Awake and Dreaming’ to mark its 10th anniversary. The re-issue will feature stunning artwork by Brian Mitchell, thereby giving the album a new lease of life with the striking imagery. Initially the re-issue will be limited to 100 copies with an elegantly illustrated lyric booklet.
Despite the album being 10 years old, it’s as though it could have been released yesterday, the sound remaining fresh and the meaning remainsing true no matter how many times you listen to it. Frequent melodic variation, ambiguous tonalities and thought provoking lyrics; The Gift give you a real gift.
The re-issue is not the only exciting news that the band have, they have also announced an extended band line-up, including the return of original guitarist Leroy James. This couldn’t have come at a better time considering Leroy and lead vocalist Mike Morton deliberated greatly together in the writing of ‘Awake and Dreaming’.
Not only do they welcome the return of Leroy, The Gift also look forward to welcoming 2 new members to the band. This includes drummer Neil Hayman of KONCHORDAT a fellow prog band who are also signed to Bad Elephant Music. The band also welcome Gabriele Baldocci from Italy on keys who is a renowned concert pianist as well as a conductor and Professor of Piano at the Trinity Laban Conservatoire in London.
For those who want to listen to the mellow, yet sometimes eerie, sounds of The Gift beyond the headphones, they will be performing at The Boston Music Room in London for “An Evening of Bad Elephant Music” on the 13th February, the first day that the band perform in their new line-up. jh, Tom Slatter and Twice Bitten complete the line up of Bad Elephant artists performing.
Pre-order ‘Awake & Dreaming’, buy event tickets or the combined bundle at the links below:
Here is a little taster of The Gift – live at Summers End
Mighty British melodic hard rock group Magnum are set to release their magnificent new studio album ‘Sacred Blood “Divine” Lies’, on Steamhammer / SPV on February 26th, as a limited edition DigiPak CD (with bonus DVD), standard Jewel Case CD, double gatefold vinyl with printed inner sleeves + CD (in paper sleeve), and download.
‘Sacred Blood “Divine” Lies’, a hugely stirring, uplifting opus, is a notably heavier, harder offering than its much acclaimed predecessor, ‘Escape From The Shadow Garden’, and is packed with even more of Magnum’s massive trademark rousing rock melodies. The band have also lined up a 15 concert headline UK tour in support of the album, from May 11th through to May 30th; dates are:-
11th May SOUTHAMPTON The Brook
12th May CARDIFF Tramshed
13th May LONDON Islington Assembly Hall
14th May OXFORD 02 Academy
16th May NORWICH Waterfront
17th May NOTTINGHAM Rock City
19th May BIRMINGHAM 02 Institute
20th May HOLMFIRTH Picturedome
21st May MANCHESTER Academy 2
22nd May NEWCASTLE 02 Academy
24th May ABERDEEN Garage
25th May GLASGOW Garage
27th May BELFAST Limelight 1
29th May BRISTOL 02 Academy
30th May LEAMINGTON SPA Assembly
Magnum mastermind Tony Clarkin started working on the resounding new album even before ‘Escape From The Shadow Garden’ crashed into the UK Album Chart at 38, (the band’s first top 40 album chart position for over 20 years), on release in March 2014.
“I usually start composing for our next album immediately after the release of the previous one,” Clarkin recalls, continuing “When ‘Escape…’ arrived at the stores in March 2014, my thoughts had already turned to our next recording.”
Clarkin was inspired to write 25 new songs during and after the subsequent triumphant European tour, the most outstanding 13 of which were selected for ‘Sacred Blood “Divine” Lies’. Ten of the numbers made it onto the standard album CD and another three onto the DigiPak bonus DVD, which also contains videos for three of the brand new songs on the album.
The epicentre of this soundquake features, along with frontman Bob Catley’s charismatic voice, Clarkin’s awesome riffing and hard driving lead guitar licks, which provide the all-important substructure to each of the ten gems of songs on the album.
‘Sacred Blood “Divine” Lies’ counts without a doubt among the group’s most dynamic releases; Clarkin states that “I’ve always been into rock numbers. But it isn’t necessarily that easy to write really good rock material. It’s much more simple to compose a ballad. But that dynamic pace suits Magnum perfectly.”
Nowhere is this more evident than on the title track and album opener; “I feel that Bob delivered it really well,” Clarkin praises his vocalist Bob Catley. “As far as I am concerned, ‘Sacred Blood “Divine” Lies’ is definitely likely to join the ranks of great Magnum classics.” So it comes as no surprise that ‘Sacred Blood “Divine” Lies’, with its significant message, became the album title.
Among the other multiple highlights on this thoroughly powerful recording, mention must be made of the anthemic ‘Gypsy Queen’, which Tony was inspired to write after a concert in St. Petersburg, a city which deeply impressed him with its unique atmosphere.
By no means less memorable is ‘Your Dreams Won’t Die’ which is based on a cascading piano chord sequence, reflecting the song’s poignant philosophical message. “To me, the title and lyrics have an almost religious depth,” says Clarkin. “There’s a saying that somebody is not forgotten if their name is remembered.” A successful rock group like Magnum should be entitled to eternal renown, shouldn’t it? Says Clarkin: “You want my honest opinion? I don’t think that far ahead, but of course it’s a nice notion that this band may always be remembered because so many people love our music.”
And last but not least: ‘Sacred Blood “Divine” Lies’ closes with a song which surprised even Clarkin; “I liked the general sound of ‘Don’t Cry Baby’ from the start,” he remarks. “Although I initially didn’t have a lyric, the melody kept going through my head, as well as the chorus with acoustic and e-guitars plus piano. We even kept the drums from the demo version because our drummer Harry James liked them so much. He said: “I love it the way it is. We shouldn’t change a thing about it”.”
‘Sacred Blood “Divine” Lies’, the cover of which has once again been designed by renowned fantasy artist Rodney Matthews (Nazareth, Asia), is a stupendous record, packed with soon-to-be-proclaimed-classic, majestic hard rock compositions.
Progressive Rock innovators Gandalf’s Fist are delighted to announce “The Clockwork Fable”, a Prog-Rock Mind Movie in three oscillations.
As a follow-up to the acclaimed “A Forest of Fey”, they’ve gone all-out, creating a truly epic *TRIPLE* concept album.
Set in the fictional world of “Cogtopolis”, each CD of the record serves as a different “act” of the story, with Dean Marsh and Luke Severn, along with to-be-announced guest vocalists, providing the singing voices of the inhabitants. However things don’t end there; the characters are also brought to life by a 50-page script that has been professionally recorded by a range of hugely talented actors.
A far cry from a musical, where characters burst into song at the drop of a proverbial hat, ‘The Clockwork Fable’ serves as a sprawling motion picture that will play out in your Neocortex with Gandalf’s Fist, of course, providing the soundtrack.
Aside from the depth of story and characters, the band have also fully developed the world of Cogtopolis. From geography, religious doctrines, even down to the fictional language of Cypheridia… the amount of work that’s been put into this conceptual piece is staggering.
Dean adds: “It’s a sprawling record with so many different styles. Conceptually it’s War of the Worlds meets Monty Python, but musically there’s everything from Van der Graaf Generator to Black Sabbath in there. We’re extremely excited for everyone to hear a suite of songs based around the character of “The Lamplighter”, the first of which is the longest song we’ve ever written… and that’s only part one!”
But that’s not the best of it.
Gandalf’s Fist truly believe that this is the finest musical work that they have ever created. There’s a mix of all of their influences and, were you to put all of the best bits of our discography into a huge melting pot, you’d end up with something quite close (but not as awesome) as what the guys have created! But don’t just take their word for it – head over to the pre-order store and have a listen to a whopping 10 minutes of audio previews!
Cinematic progressive rock band Proud Peasant (Austin, TX, USA) will release a 7″ single on acclaimed UK vinyl-only label Fruits de Mer Records. ‘Cosmic Sound’ will be released as a part of the label’s April 2016 releases and will feature covers of songs by Eloy and Manfred Mann’s Earth Band.
Cinematic in scope, Proud Peasant’s debut album ‘Flight’ was called an “aptly titled escape into musical fancy that masterfully knots together British folk, cinematic symphonic rock, Elizabethan prog, Gentle Giant-ish vocal fugues and even videogame-score-like whimsy.” (Progression Magazine) Their sound has drawn comparisons to Mike Oldfield, Gryphon, Wobbler, and King Crimson, with classic and modern sounds residing comfortably beside one another.
Fruits de Mer Records, the “world’s smallest vinyl-only psych/prog/acid/folk/ krautrock/spacerock record label”, occupies a rare place in the musical world. The majority of its releases consist of classic and obscure tracks from the late 60s/early 70s, reinterpreted by current bands. They have been called “a national treasure” (Shindig) and “one of the great labels that comes along now and then” (Mark Radcliffe, BBC Radio).
KingBathmat frontman, and the mastermind behind the Arcade Messiah project, John Bassett has announced the follow up to the first, self-titled, release….
“Hi everybody, I will soon be releasing the follow up to last years Arcade Messiah album. ‘Arcade Messiah II’ will be released end of November/early December
There will be a Pre-Order for both digital download and CD starting next week…”
John has just recently posted a two minute preview video of the forthcoming release:
In a great exclusive for Progradar, the eclectic Dutch band Fractal Mirror are due to release their third album ‘Slow Burn 1’ in February 2016 and I was extremely lucky enough to catch up with band member Leo Koperdraat this morning and find out more details about this highly anticipated release.
Leo, Ed van Haagen and Frank L. Urbaniak have released two previous albums, 2013’s ‘Strange Attractors’ and last year’s ‘Garden of Ghosts’, of which I said:
“Not just an album of songs but a journey into a world of profound understanding, ‘Garden of Ghosts’ is not for the fickle of heart or soul. It requires commitment and intelligence to fully benefit from its deeper connotations, once smitten though, you will never want to leave. Fractal Mirror are currently working on their third album and I, for one, cannot wait.“
Fast forward nearly twelve months and the band are about to release ‘Slow Burn 1’, what’s the main differences between the two records?
Leo Koperdraat: “The songs are shorter and to the point but we paid a lot of attention to vocal arrangements this time. The Progressive Rock influences are still very much in place (Patrick Farrell of Built 4 the Future even plays Rickenbacker bass on one song and Leo Blu Sky really shines with his bass on the Beatles meets Tears For Fears 8 minute closing track), but we do hope that ‘Slow Burn 1’ will also offer new things to the listeners.”
The band could also be looking at a Crowd Funding option to finalise the album.
I was also lucky enough to listen to one of the new tracks from the album called Numbers and it showcased the evolution of the shorter tracks with great vocal arrangements, add in some rather intense guitar work on show and it all augurs well for the new album.
‘Slow Burn 1’ features Brett Kull (Echolyn) again on every track and there are guest appearances (so far) from; Don Fast (guitars), Charlotte Koperdraat (backing vocals), Patrick Farrell and Kenny Bissett Sr (from B4tF on BV and bass), Jason Himmelberger (from Jhimm on BV), Peter Swart (guitars) and Leopold Blu Sky (From Unto Us/Mike Kershaw on Bass).
Larry Fast will be mastering again. The expected release date is February 2016.
The striking artwork is provided, once again, by Brian Watson.
I was really impressed by the one track I heard and, if it is representative of what is to come, I am sure that Fractal Mirror will deliver another outstanding and immersive musical experience.
MIKE KERSHAW JOINS BAD ELEPHANT MUSIC.
Press Release From Bad Elephant Music
“We are proud to announce that Mike Kershaw, well-respected British progressive rock musician, has joined our family of artists.
Blending strong textures with powerful lyrics, Mike’s haunting music can perhaps best be described as ‘atmospheric progressive rock’ but ever the iconoclast he regards this as a framework rather than a prison, and very simply takes the music where it needs to go.
Mike continues to develop his own style, and his latest album ‘What Lies Beneath’ is his most complete work to date. To supplement Mike’s prodigious talent there is an impressive roster of guest artists – Gareth Cole, Stuart Nicholson (Galahad), Leo Koperdraat & Frank Urbaniak (Fractal Mirror), Joshua Leibowitz (Leibowitz), Stuart Stephens (Whitewater), Clare Stephens, Marco A Vásquez L., and Tom Slatter. Leopold Blue-Sky (Unto Us) is at the mixing desk, as well as contributing bass, guitars and keyboards. Artwork is by Steven J. Catizone.
Mike Kershaw: “I am honoured and delighted to be joining Bad Elephant Music and its fabulous roster of musicians. I’ve worked with David Elliott on post-production with my last two releases and I’m over the moon to enhance our association. BEM is a unique, friendly label and I’m proud to be a part of it.
Bad Elephant Head of PR, Martin Hutchinson: “I’ve known Mike for quite a while now and have always been a fan of his richly rewarding music. Detailed and complex, it is a perfect fit with what BEM has become known for. Add in the fact he’s a fellow Yorkshireman and we can’t go wrong, can we?”
‘What Lies Beneath’ will be released through Bad Elephant Music in the second quarter of 2016. Check out the teaser video trailer below!
Picture of Mike courtesy of Scott Smith.