2018’s Top Ten Albums – Part 1 – Progradar’s Picks

So, it’s that time of year where us journos pick our top albums of the year. It’s been another stellar year for new releases and there have been some absolutely wonderful albums that have crossed our paths here at Progradar.

Both myself and James R. Turner will give you our selections and we are starting with mine. The first nine can be taken in any order but the final album is my definitive top release of 2018!

Haken – Vector

The prog-metal trend setters returned with their most visceral and intense offering yet. Just over 40 minutes of powerful, bruising music with a definitive melodic edge that saw Ross Jennings at his powerful best as a vocalist. 

Not everyone’s cup of tea but to most ears, mine included, Haken delivered one of the sonic experiences of the year!

Haken – Puzzle Box

Order the album here: https://haken.lnk.to/Vector

Kingcrow – The Persistence

The masters of Italian prog-metal released their most complete album yet. 10 lovingly crafted compositions of raw, unfiltered emotion that took the band’s bass, heavy roots and built on that foundation to deliver a stand out release of maturity and gravitas.

Kingcrow explored and developed their sound to become, as band member Diego Cafolla explains in the band’s press release, ‘a dark ambient, more modern vibe’ that fits beautifully with their existing heavy rock persona.

Kingcrow – The Persistence


https://lasersedge.bandcamp.com/album/the-persistence

Riversea – The Tide

The long awaited second album from Riversea, the on/off musical project of my good friends Marc Atkinson and Brendan Eyre.

There’s been some good music released this year already and also some utterly outstanding albums and ‘The Tide’ definitely falls into the latter category. Marc and Brendan have lovingly crafted twelve pieces of music that come together to create a release of beauty and refinement and one that will stay in your heart for a very long time. It’s not just music, this is something that is actually life-affirming and I can’t give it higher praise than that.

Riversea – Shine


http://riversea-band.com/?page_id=129

Talitha Rise – An Abandoned Orchard House

Following on from the beautiful EP ‘Blue’, Talitha Rise released her debut full length album ‘An Abandoned Orchid House’ on June 1st. It is a release full of captivating, wistful songs wound around themes of isolation and abandonment.

In my humble opinion everybody needs music to complete their life, to give you a reason to get up every morning and go out to work and Talitha Rise has delivered one of those perfect moments in time, an album of songs of such rare quality, delivered by the most wonderful voice, that stands out like a ray of light in the darkening world that increasingly surrounds us. My music loving friends it just doesn’t get any better than this!

Talitha Rise – The Lake


https://www.talitharise.com/store.html
Lux Terminus – The Courage To Be

Well, what can I say, it really does take something special to get me waxing lyrical about a new release nowadays but ‘Courage To Be’ is one of those rare albums that excites and inspires from the first listen but that will also have the longevity to keep you listening to it in many months to come. Virtuoso musicianship along with intelligent, involving songwriting, Lux Terminus have surely seen the light of the tunnel with this utterly captivating release.

Lux Terminus – Electrocommunion

https://luxterminus.bandcamp.com/releases

Riverside – Wasteland

One cannot truly appreciate the light unless one has first walked in the dark. We talk of the light at the end of the tunnel, you see this through the dark and it is the ultimate goal, you must, however, travel through the dark to reach the light.

Simply put ‘Wasteland’ is two things, a triumph of the light over the dark and a fitting tribute to Piotr Grudziński (Riverside’s guitarist who died suddenly). A compelling and engrossing musical journey through darkness, grief and loss to emerge into the light. A spiritual catharsis that sees a new chapter in the life of Riverside and puts them back at the forefront where they truly belong.

Riverside – Vale Of Tears


https://burningshed.com/tag/Riverside
Glass Hammer – Chronomonaut

Albums like ‘Chronomonaut’ are the reason why I love music so much and it has become part of my life. It sees a band I love unafraid to take a relatively new direction, organically progressive if you like. While not completely straying from their roots, Glass Hammer have taken a path less trodden and delivered what is, without a doubt, their best album yet and a fantastic new direction of power, precision and downright soul.

Glass Hammer – Melancholy Holiday


http://glasshammer.com/official-store/
The Tangent – Proxy

‘Proxy’ is a joyous celebration of music, done in The Tangent’sinimitable style. It’s an album that truly bears repeated listens, I’m sure Andy has left little chestnuts and references in there for people to pick up on. What we’re hearing is a true progression of the band’s sound that, while keeping what has always made them who they are, now resonates even more clearly with the world we live in. Music to make you think and music to lift your soul, what more can you ask for?

The Tangent – A Case Of Misplaced Optimism


https://www.thetangent.org/
Oak – False Memory Archive

I have loved music for many years, it has been with me through the highs and the lows  and my life would not be complete without it. My life is now also complete with this incredible album from Oak. Albums like ‘False Memory Archive’ are the reason that music was created in the first place, they bring peace to your soul and joy and love to your heart and the world is a better place for them. I cannot give any higher praise than that.

Oak – We, the Drowned


https://oakinoslo.bandcamp.com/album/false-memory-archive

And so to what is my number one, favourite album of 2018. I don’t think it will come as any surprise to most of you that I have gone with this incredible release…

Southern Empire – Civilisation

Truly cementing themseleves as Progressive Rock’s Kings of Pomp and Circumstance, Southern Empire returned with their sophomore release. Four songs that are brim full of emotion, joy and pizzazz, all delivered with true Antipodean swagger, verve and joie de vivre.

‘Civilisation’ was one of the early contenders for album of the year for me, one first listen it was a tremendous release that hit all the right notes and finally saw joy and elation return to the creation of music. It’s as close to a must buy as anything else I’ve heard this year so far. Right, that’s it, I’m off for another listen…

The band cemented their place at the top of my list with an incredible live performance as this year’s HRH Prog in North Wales, proving that they are even better live than on record. They brought the tracks to life and added another dimension.

Southern Empire are very worthy winners of my album of the year award and are already working on album 3. I, for one, just cannot wait!

Southern Empire – Goliath’s Moon


https://www.gep.co.uk/store/southern-empire-c-1_5/southern-empire-civilisation-p-32.html

So that’s my choices, please keep an eye out for James’ selection which will be up shortly!

Review – Lazleitt – On The Brink – by Progradar

Lazleitt is an eclectic progressive rock musical project conceived by Washington, DC songwriter, composer, and multi-instrumentalist Alex Lazcano, in collaboration with drummer Jorge Cortes Cuyas, flautist John Pomeroy, and special guests.

Lazleitt’s debut album ‘On The Brink’ consists of one long epic track clocking in at thirty seven minutes and twelve seconds, seamlessly divided in thirteen movements. The track runs the gamut in styles, dynamics, mood, tempo, time signatures, and key changes. The album was written, arranged, and produced by Alex, with drum arrangements written and recorded by Jorge. The album is the result of stream-of-consciousness writing, resulting in one continuous piece of music with recurring themes and motifs. Cuyas’ input was crucial determining the direction of the music, written and arranged by Alex. The album features guitar virtuoso Eric Gillette on lead guitar, who also mixed and mastered it.

You could be forgiven for thinking ‘oh god, not another progressive rock concept album’, as that can often strike fear into the heart of any listener but, take away some of the more self-indulgent elements and you have a nicely constructed and performed piece of music that never outstays its welcome.

Alex’s vocals suit the mood of the music being dark and forthright and Eric Gilette is a virtuoso as ever with his occasionally outrageously complex guitar playing. The best way to listen to this album is as one thirty seven minute piece and let all the thirteen different movements take their natural flow, then it all makes perfect sense. When Pomeroy’s flute joins in you get a folk, almost medieval, edge to the music and that adds yet another intriguing facet.

It is a musical work that requires, and deserves, extended listening, to understand all the complexities and, when you do, you will be rewarded richly. Cuyas’ drums bear particular mention for there intensity and skill, they add real depth and solidity to the music but it’s the way that everything gels together to create this intriguing whole that fascinates me the most so, like all the best albums, you are always coming back for more.

‘On The Brink’ is not for the faint hearted. I’m not saying it’s an album aimed more at musicians but, in my opinion, it’s musical theatre for those that love complexity and albums that make you think deeper about everything, including yourself.

Released 31st August 2018.

Order from this link here

Review – Damanek – In Flight – by Progradar

“Who hears music, feels his solitude Peopled at once.”
― Robert Browning, The complete poetical works of Browning

Damn, 2018 has been a stellar year for some great new releases and another one has found its way to Progradar Towers!

Damanek are a sort of Prog Rock supergroup formed by fellow Yorkshireman Guy Manning (vocals, keyboards, percussion, guitars, bass), Marek Arnold (saxes and seaboard), Dan Mash (bass) and Sean Timms (keyboards, guitar, backing vocals & additional programming). This talented quarted is joined by a plethora of stellar musicians including Antonio Vittozzi, Luke Machin and Tzan Nico on guitar and Brody Thomas Green on drums.

Described as ‘a genre-defying collection of sophisticated songs..’, ‘In Flight’ is the follow up to 2017’s well received ‘On Track’. Once again Sean Timms’ sleek production adds to the overall sense of quality and class.

There’s a shiver of anticipation running through me as the opening notes of Ragusa break out, there’s already a feeling of class and quality shining through. Guy has one of those voices that speaks to you through and beyond the music, a familiar cultured tone that puts you at ease immediately. The music itself is impressively stylish and smooth and just adds to the feeling of sophistication. The guest guitarists add even more sparkle and inspiration, this is going to be one enjoyable journey. Oooh, jazzy piano and percussion, the opening to Skyboat is joyful and upbeat and, as the track opens up with gusto, we are sent on a rollocking musical ride. Funky guitar and edgy percussion, along with an ever so cool hammond organ, add to the feel-good factor and the grin spreading across your face. This is music at its inspiring best and music that brings joy to your soul.

The Crawler opens with a deliciously dark melody and feel, a mature and sophisticated aura permeates the song with Guy’s distinguished vocal adding layers of class. The captivating chorus with its elegant sax sends shivers down your spine. Sean’s production can be felt most here, giving us a stand out piece of music on what is becoming an evidently impressive album. There’s a levity to Moon Catcher, a lightness of soul and featherlight touch to the music. The sparsity of the production and laid back approach to the vocals, along with the meandering sax, leaves a whimsical feel, a really classy piece of music.

Catchy, addictive and upbeat from the first note, The Crossing is a jazz-infused delight, the carefree tinkling of the ivories a particular highlight. Add in some more of the impressive sax and Guy’s vocals and you are onto a winner. The 3 part epic Big Eastern closes the album, taking the listener on an emotive journey from East to West: from the poorest rural lands of China to the West Coast of the USA. Grand in conception, and inspired in execution, it’s a journey that you become deeply involved in and one that takes you across the whole galaxy of progressive music, visiting every nuance on its way. At just shy of thirty minutes it is a true epic but never outstays its welcome, every note and every word is there for a reason and that reason is to give the listener the best and most joyous experience ever when it comes to music.

‘In Flight’ is an album I haven’t remotely got bored of, even after multiple listens. A compelling, engaging and stimulating listening experience that leaves you high on music and life. Every absorbing minute of music is a minute that will bring a smile to your face. This year there have been some fantastic releases, releases that are finally bringing the joy back to music and Damanek’s ‘In Flight’ should be considered up there with the best of them.

Released 5th October 2018

Buy In Flight from GEP here

Listen to ‘Ragusa’ from ‘In Flight’ here

 

Review – Sleeperman – Don’t Get Carried Away E.P. – by Progradar

Ah, that lovely sound of the letterbox clattering in the first days of every month as Stephen Skinner, bearded bassist of local cheeky chappies and erudite songsmiths Sleeperman, drops the latest instalment of the band’s monthly E.P. through, I never get tired of it.

August sees the band taking on a more thoughtful and mellow note with the lovely charms of Don’t Get Carried Away, a wonderfully nostalgic and wistful three minutes complete with John Hilton’s signature lyrics.

“The first memory I can remember, walking home in the dark of November…”

John’s vocals are contemplative and a touch melancholy and they seem to suit the mood of a dark winter month and the restrained guitar playing of Neil just adds a sombre and thoughtful note. I really like the lovely harmonised vocal on the chorus. It’s just a really nice track that brings back sepai tinged memories of a life gone by, Sleeperman really should be the next big thing.

Once again, the song is backed by an impressive ‘B’ side, this time a track that mirrors the tasteful, laid back appeal of the ‘A’ side (our younger readers may need to google that term).

“There you are…”

Review – Orions Belte – Mint – by Jez Denton

‘The sweat drips, slowly, incessantly from every pore. The heat stifles thought, inhibiting the dancing of your fingers over the battered typewriter that sits, mocking your inabilities to process the copy you have to wire straight away. You should be documenting the circus that surrounds you; instead you have become immersed in the madness, a willing participant in the debauchery of stinking, easy and accessible sins of the city you find yourself in. You need to sort your shit out, to straighten up and do what your being paid for. But the bottle of expensive cognac in front of you is alluring, its what you need, just a small snifter, you know – just enough to take off the edge, to calm the tremors, to bring you down from the hallucinations.

But it doesn’t. It just adds to the madness and paranoia, its strengthens your psycho-paralysis, its only serves to heighten the desire for the chemical of choice, all of which is readily available out there on the street, in the clubs, where the girls dance in the shadows and where you can fall into the safe zone of blissful oblivion. The hit is going to take you somewhere coddled, in a fog of dreamy who gives a fuck, a place that you desire with all your heart and soul, somewhere away from the pressures you’re being put under, a place that appears to welcome you with open arms…only that it always stay just out of reach. It mocks you and then it challenges you; you need to take more, to become more daring, to give less of a fuck than you already do.

And all the while, you can hear music. A soundtrack to your insanity. Music that is comforting yet disconcerting in equal measure. There are loops of beautiful psychedelic melody that cocoon you, that cover you, that have a soporific effect on you. But yet there is something not quite right. It’s hard to really judge but its as if you are playing a vinyl album that’s playing at 31rpm. Like the belt has stretched or a too heavy weight has been put on the stylus arm, and its ever so slightly screwing with your psyche.’

Orions Belte, the Norwegian musical inventors, have created an album, ‘Mint’, that invokes the alcoholic and druggie writings of a Hunter S.Thompson if he were to have found himself in the Philipines in 1971 when Joe Frazier, the subject of the fourth track, fought and beat the returning Muhammed Ali in the Thriller in Manila, The Fight of the Century. This is an album that plays like a film of that time, with all the kitsch cool of a beautifully hedonistic lifestyle. Bluesey guitar riffs float throughout the album heightening the dreamy nature that could easily develop into something more disconcerting, maybe even frightening. This album wires itself into your mind and plays games with it. It takes you on a trip somewhere amazing, that challenges your perceptions and that is exceptional in both its concept and creation. This is an album in which to lose yourself, but be careful – be prepared to go places in the deep recesses that perhaps should remain unexplored.

Released 17th August 2018

‘Mint’ will be released by Jansen records, check out the artists page here

 

Review – Galasphere 347 – s/t – by Roy Hunter

I’m old enough to remember that way back in
the 1960’s I loved a children’s program called
“Space Patrol”… The main characters flew
around the Solar System in a craft called the
Galasphere 347… And there ends any
similarity with this grand musical offering
from a new Anglo-Scandinavian band!!

The combined members of MotorpsychoWhite Willow and Änglagård (Ketil Vestrum Einarsen, Jacob Holm-Lupo & Mattias Olsson), along with Stephen
Bennett, have come up with a trio of super-melodic tracks here…

Track #1 – The Voice of Beauty Drowned (10:43) kicks us off quietly and
builds into a tour de force of symphonic prog beauty!! The “beauty”
here was never drowned… The mixture of harmonic vocals, guitars and
keyboards I find very uplifting – all held together with a melodic bass
line and measured drumming. KVE’s flute soars and searches out
tuneful heights, together with the “prog” ingredients of key-changes,
time changes, we have a special piece of music that I’m sure will be a
benchmark others will seek to emulate!

Track #2 – The Fallen Angel (15:35) Perfection!! A relaxed beginning with
an overlay of chiming guitars and soothing keys… The lyrics narrate a
tale of loss and woe but aren’t depressing in any way… “Reach out”
they urge us and yes, the proggy formula of guitar and keys do just
that!! The inclusion of a sublime piece of brass sets the tune off to a tee!
More virtuoso key work interspersed with harmonies from this talented
gathering of musicians brings this longest track to a fantastic finish!

Track #3 – Barbarella’s Lover (15:18) A ballad of heartbreak and elation
together? “Passion always gets us in the end…” The tried, tested and
perfected combination of excellent musicianship, song-writing, and
delivery leave us wanting more!

I hope this is only the first of many more recordings to come from
Galasphere 347

This album, only in my possession for a few hours, has already
become a contender for my album of the year!!!

Released 20th July 2018

Pre-order the album from Karisma Records here:

Galasphere 347

Also available from bandcamp here

Review – Thorsten Quaeschning – Cargo (OST) – by Jez Denton

Reviewing a soundtrack album without having seen it in the context of the film it supports is an unusual process. How can you judge whether it is successful or not in achieving what the music sets out to do? It could be an amazing work, but not fit the film; or the opposite could be true, it could be awful music but fit the film fantastically. And indeed, taking the view of a filmmaker commissioning a soundtrack, how do you know whether a musician or composer will be able to support your work? How do you choose who will do that job for you the best?

Over the years there have been many artists, composers and musicians who’ve been able to work with filmmakers to create wondrous soundtracks that add to, compliment and help tell the stories in the films they accompany. At the time of the Oscar’s I wrote a blog on my own website:

Ten Movie Themes

about ten great movie soundtracks from the likes of Eric Coates, John Williams, Ryhuchi Sakamoto and Hans Zimmer who, over the years, have created some of the most iconic movie soundtracks of all time. To that list I should also have added German Electronic Techno-prog masters Tangerine Dream who, since their inception in 1970, have, along with their own original work, created soundtracks for films as diverse as The Sorcerer and Risky Business. Since original leader Edgar Froese’s death in 2015 the band has been led by Froese’s anointed successor Thorsten Quaeschning who was commissioned to write and perform the score for the new film Cargo.

Cargo, as described by writer and director James Dylan, is a taut thriller that tells a bleak but compelling story of a man trapped in a shipping container with just a mobile phone and 24 hours in which to raise ten million dollars to save his life. And though I haven’t yet seen the film, Quaeschning’s soundtrack does develop and soundtrack the emotions I’d expect the main character, played by Ron Thompson, to go through. Loneliness, despair, franticness, dashed hope and determination are all feelings that are explored by the minimalistic music created.

There is a sense of time slipping away slowly, a claustrophobic quality of being suffocated by the environment, around the main protagonist. This is a soundtrack that builds and builds, that reaches crescendo’s of hope only for those feelings to slip away in soft tumbles of quiet introspection. With knowing the premise of the story listening to this soundtrack allows the listener to imagine the story being told; like when I read a book I imagine which actor I’d choose to play the characters I’m reading about this album helped me build a picture of the visuals I’ll see when I do eventually watch the film.

As a fan of Tangerine Dream, as those of you who saw my review of their recent ‘Quantum Gate / Quantum Key’ album, the continuation of Edgar Froese’s vision by Quaeschning is work I really rate and this album is a fantastic continuation of that great legacy. But is that enough when judging it as a soundtrack album? For me the only question is, “Does listening to this album make me want to watch the film?” To which the answer is a resounding yes; I just hope the film can live up to the high expectations this fabulous work has given me.

Released 4th May 2018

Order the album from Amazon here

RIVERSIDE – Sign new deal with InsideOutMusic; Announce new studio album and European tour!

Progressive Rock masters RIVERSIDE have just signed a new deal with longtime partners InsideOutMusic and are pleased to announce their upcoming seventh studio album “Wasteland” as well as its corresponding first European tour for October/November.

RIVERSIDE checked in with the following words:

Well, we’re back in the game! We’re happy to tell you that our seventh album will be called “Waste7and” (Wasteland) and will be released at the end of September this year. It will be our first album recorded as a trio. Our music has become more serious and more mature, so get ready for a manly and emotional album. “Waste7and” is going to be a really accomplished one. It combines the emotional character of the first two and the production maturity of the latest two releases. If everything goes according to plan (as we’re still recording), the new Riverside album will simply d e s t r o y you 🙂

Also this year we’re going on the “Wasteland 2018 Tour” to promote the new album. Below you will find a list of the cities we’re going to visit in the autumn of 2018. Tickets go on sale this Friday, June 1st. More info soon!“

In regards to the extended co-operation via a new deal between RIVERSIDE and InsideOutMusic, Thomas Waber, label manager/A&R international InsideOutMusic, checked in with the following comment:

“We have been working with Riverside for a long time now and there is a lot of personal history. The InsideOutMusic family would be very different without them, so I am extremely pleased that the family is staying together. We all miss Piotr dearly, but i am looking forward to this new chapter. You are still with us, Grudzień!”

Here is a list of the upcoming shows by RIVERSIDE announced so far:

RIVERSIDE – Festivals 2018/2019:
21.06.2018 Konin (Poland) – Progressive Evening
23.06.2018 Valkenburg (The Netherlands) – Midsummer Prog Festival
13.07.2018 St. Goarshausen (Germany) – Night Of The Prog Festival XIII
04.-09.02.2019 Tampa to Key West & Cozumel – Cruise To The Edge

RIVERSIDE – “Wasteland 2018 Tour”:
12.10.2018 Gdansk (Poland) – B90
13.10.2018 Poznan (Poland) – Tama
14.10.2018 Wroclaw (Poland) – A2
16.10.2018 Katowice (Poland) – Miasto Ogrodów
17.10.2018 Lódz (Poland) – Magnetofon
18.10.2018 Torun (Poland) – Od Nowa
20.10.2018 Kraków (Poland) – Studio
21.10.2018 Warszawa (Poland) – Hala Kolo
30.10.2018 Berlin (Germany) – Kesselshaus
31.10.2018 Schorndorf (Germany) – Manufaktur
03.11.2018 Lisbon (Portugal) – LAV
04.11.2018 Madrid (Spain) – MON LIVE
05.11.2018 Barcelona (Spain) – Salamandra 1
06.11.2018 Lyon (France) – CCO
07.11.2018 Paris (France) – La Machine
09.11.2018 Manchester (UK) – Academy 2
10.11.2018 London (UK) – The Electric Ballroom
11.11.2018 Sint Niklaas (Belgium) – Casino
12.11.2018 Utrecht (The Netherlands) – Tivoli Vredenburg
14.11.2018 Hamburg (Germany) – Markthalle
15.11.2018 Oberhausen (Germany) – Turbinenhalle 2
16.11.2018 Pratteln (Switzerland) – Z-7
17.11.2018 Neunkirchen (Germany) – Gloomaar festival
More dates to follow soon…

RIVERSIDE had previously announced guitarist Maciej Meller to complete the band’s line-up for shows after taking a longer break from any live performances due to the tragic passing of founding member and guitarist Piotr Grudziński on February 21st, 2016.

Look out for more news on RIVERSIDE in the coming weeks…

 

Review – The Aaron Clift Experiment – If All Goes Wrong – by Progradar

“Intricate and subtle yet with raw passion at its heart, The Aaron Clift Experiment is one of the most exciting and interesting bands currently writing and playing music today.”

Now, I said those words about The Aaron Clift Experiment’s debut album from 2012, ‘Lonely Hills’ and the band went from strength to strength with their impressive follow up, 2015’s ‘Outer Light, Inner Darkness’ that increased the quota of high energy hard rock based progressive music.

2018 sees these Austin, Texas natives deliver their third album, ‘If All Goes Wrong’ and, after the increasing promise of the first two albums, it was one I was very much looking forward to hearing for the first time…

Formed in 2012 as the solo project of Aaron Clift, the band has since blossomed into a powerful live group.  The group’s multi-faceted sound is an innovative blend of classic rock, modern rock, and classical all anchored by the band’s dedication to high-quality songwriting and musicianship.

Its last two albums, 2012’s ‘Lonely Hills’ and 2015’s ‘Outer Light, Inner Darkness’ were critically-acclaimed progressive rock achievements, landing on several year-end best album lists.  In 2017, the band had a star-making performance at RosFest, one of the largest progressive rock festivals in the world.

The core members are Aaron Clift – Vocals/Keyboards, Devin North – Bass and Tim Smith – Drums and Percussion and the new album sees contributions from some of the top guitarists in Austin, Van Wilks (a Texas blues and rock icon), Arielle (a student of Brian May of Queen and collaborator of legendary guitarist, Eric Johnson), and Dave North (of Austin psych rockers, The Cuckoos).

What I’ve always found with, and loved about, The Aaron Clift Experiment is the rock element to their music, varying from hard rock to a very fluent blues guitar style, it gives them a quite unique sound and added to Aaron’s husky and raw vocal delivery, you wouldn’t mistake them for anyone else.

The first two songs on this new release, Faith and Last Crash are full of that harder edged riffing guitar and dynamic drums that combine to give a high energy delivery. Where the former is upbeat, the latter has a darker hue to it, Faith taking cues from many almost balls-out rockers. You immediately get into the band’s mindset and groove with this really invigorating, raw feeling song. Last Crash subtly builds up the tension with some excellent synth and bass guitar work before a driving riff and high octane drums give it that impending feel of apprehension. Aaron delivers an immediate vocal, impassioned and edgy and the squirreling guitar breaks really add some zeal and animation to the organised chaos.

The band take on a more pastoral and progressive style for  Absent Lovers, a delightfully wistful opening blossoms into a compelling tour-de-force that ebbs and flows irresistibly throughout. The organic synth sound adds a real 70’s aura that blends perfectly with vocal harmonies and potent guitars to take you on an enthralling musical journey. Remember Ben Folds ? The truly addictive vibes of Better Off Before certainly remind me of that piano heavy, almost pop-prog sound. It’s a real feelgood sounding song with a a not particularly upbeat subject. A Brian May-esque guitar sound and the energetic rhythm section give it real polish and gloss and make it one of my favourite songs on the album.

Funky guitars, swirling keyboards and high-tempo drums all combine to give us the jazz-fusion intro to another grin inducing track. Castle In The Sky takes what I would call the signature Aaron Clift Experiment sound and adds even more zest and vivacity to deliver a high energy song full of catchy hooks and intricate melodies and one that showcases the musician’s skills perfectly. Have you ever wondered what would happen if Aaron Clift met King Crimson and they jammed together? Well, wonder no more for Savage In A Fancy suit will give you the definitive answer to that (never asked) question. An almost disorganised, chaotic frenzy of riffs and caustic Hammond Organ notes entwined with staccato drumming and a discordant bassline. It shouldn’t work really but it does and what a thoroughly enjoyably manic track it is.

Returning to the elegant and nostalgic pastoral tones, Dream Within a Dream is The Aaron Clift Experiment at their progressive best. Melancholic undertones give a pensive and sombre atmosphere to this impressive song. The music has an anticipatory feel and Aaron’s vocal almost pleads into the microphone. An intelligent and immersive eight minutes of music that hits the highs but also has an underlying seriousness that makes you take in every nuance and subtlety, oh and the guitar solo that closes out the song is pure genius! Fiery, edgy and with an almost pop-punk feel to it, Wild Hunters is an aggressive, lively and spirited track that fills a hell of a lot into its sub three minute running time. It’s almost like it rocks up, slaps you in the face, kicks you in the knee and then disappears into the distance laughing manically.

The final track on the album is a wonderful piece of music that just oozes class, warmth and emotion. Title track If All Goes Wrong really gets under your skin with its mournful vocal and elegant string-like synths. There’s a beauty to be found in its sorrowful and forlorn quality, the guitar solo just bleeds a melancholy passion that proves there is allurement even in sadness, it is a fantastic finish to the album.

‘If All Goes Wrong’ sees this impressive ‘Prog Ensemble’ rise to even higher heights. I’ve been a fan of The Aaron Clift Experiment since I heard their first album nearly six years ago and, like a fine wine, they just mature and get better and better as time goes on. They’ve enriched and diversified their already impressive songwriting and musical skills to make them one of the most impressive progressive acts currently on the scene.

Released 4th May 2018

If All Goes Wrong Pre-order Campaign

 

TANGERINE DREAM TO RELEASE QUANTUM GATE / QUANTUM KEY 2CD SET ON 20TH APRIL THROUGH KSCOPE

THE CELEBRATED STUDIO ALBUM CELEBRATING 50 YEARS OF TANGERINE DREAM NOW COMPLETE WITH QUANTUM KEY EP

(Artwork by Bianca Froese-Acquaye)

Following the release of Tangerine Dream’s latest studio album, Quantum Gate, Kscope are set to release the album as a 2CD set with the inclusion of the EP Quantum Key.

Quantum Gate released on September 29th 2017, to coincide and celebrate the 50th anniversary of the foundation of the band,  was the first studio album since the passing of Edgar Froese, Tangerine Dream’s visionary founder, by the remining band members Thorsten Quaeschning, Ulrich Schnauss and Hoshiko Yamane.

The Quantum Key EP preceded Quantum Gate, and both delivered an updated, contemporary development of their trademark sound: sequencer-driven electronica covering a wide range of moods and atmospheres from ambient soundscapes to energetic, upbeat moments. The Quantum Years material began as a concept and series of musical sketches by Froese before he passed away in 2015. Remaining band members Thorsten Quaeschning, Ulrich Schnauss and Hoshiko Yamane worked together to realize Edgar’s visions and expectations of a conceptual body of work that attempts to translate quantum physics and philosophy into music. New member Ulrich Schnauss comments: “at the moment hardly any other area of science questions our concept of reality (linearity of time etc.) as profoundly as research in Quantum physics – it’s no surprise therefore that Edgar was drawn to these ideas since he had always aimed at reminding listeners of the existence of ‘unopened doors’.”

This version of Quantum Gate with the inclusion of Quantum Key EP, brings together Edgar’s vision as a 2 disc set for the first time.

Tangerine Dream have been a fundamental influence on electronic and progressive music since their formation in West Berlin, 1967. Inspiring genres, musicians and other art forms, from The Future Sound of London to Porcupine Tree, the widely popular TV show Stranger Things (for which their music also featured in) to seminal video game Grand Theft Auto V (for which they helped to write the soundtrack). The group have also received seven Grammy nominations, written over 100 studio albums and were led by Edgar Froese, who developed an instantly recognisable synth-based instrumental music based on a meditative musical experience that came to prominence in the 70s and 80s.

The current line-up are currently supporting their latest material with a string of headline events in Europe, including a two-night booking at London’s Union Chapel plus the opening event for Amsterdam’s cutting edge electronic music summer festival, Dekmantel.

13/04 – DE, Halle/Saale – Georg-Friedrich-Händel-Halle

14/04 –DE, Dresden –  Philharmonie Im Kulturpalast

23/04 – UK, London, Union Chapel – SOLD OUT

24/04 – UK, London, Union Chapel

12/05 – DE , Duisberg – Theater am Marientor;

01/08 – NL, Amsterdam – Dekmantel Festival (http://www.dekmantelfestival.com )

04+05/08 – HU – Dádpuszta, O.Z.O.R.A. Festival ( https://ozorafestival.eu )

12.08.18- FI, Helsinki –  Flow Festival (https://www.flowfestival.com ) – first TD concert in Helsinki/Finland:

PRE-ORDER AVAILABLE HERE

Tangerine Dream online:

http://www.tangerinedream-music.com/newtd/

https://www.facebook.com/TANGERINEDREAM.OFFICIAL

https://open.spotify.com/artist/1BGN1IdyiSR0ZYrkoKNchl

https://soundcloud.com/tangerinedreamofficial2015

https://www.songkick.com/artists/16746-tangerine-dream

 https://twitter.com/QTangerineDream

Band picture by JIM RAKETE