Review – Kaipa – Sommargryningsljus – by John Wenlock-Smith

‘Sommargryningsljus’ is the 15th, and latest, from Swedish outfit Kaipa who have been in existence for over 50 years. Whilst they may now have been active for all 50 of those years, when they do regroup and re-emerge, they offer something new and fresh. This new album is a step further for the band after the excellent ‘Urskog’ from 2022, which I reviewed favourably for Progradar, being captivated by its lush symphonic textures and sounds. ‘Sommarskymningsljus’ continues this in a similar vein and sounds really lush, fans of Swedish symphonic prog will find much to appreciate here.

The album begins gently with Sommarskymningsljus, the beautifully clear and expressive voice of Aleena Gibson rising over an expressive melody from Hans Lundin, it is an engaging number that leads us into the equally captivating epic Seven Birds, which builds in a very satisfying way. Layers of sound make for an interesting track with excellent vocals from Aleena again, the mid section has a fine, lengthy keyboard excursion leading into a brief but exciting guitar break from Per Nilsson. A second longer solo occurs later in the song, where Per and Hans play in tandem delivering a great sounding track. Like Thousand Dawns is greatly enlivened by the excellent bass playing from Jonas Reingold, who is very busy on this, track adding foundation and definitions to the track. The song has another stellar vocal from Aleena Gibson, whose powerful vocal is actually a thing of beauty here. The mid part of the track has a twisting, turning part which, again, gives bassist Jonas a chance to impress and he does admirably, leaving room for a few short but dynamic guitar fills from Per Nilsson. It’s another epic song from Kaipa, proving, once again, that their brand and style of progressive rock is both worthwhile and entertaining.

It’s worth pointing out that of the albums 9 tracks, Six are over nine minutes in duration. This means this is an album that will require your involvement and an investment of your time that you will not regret one bit, for this album is full of superb tracks with some excellent extended musical passages featuring the expressive and poignant violin of Elin Rubinsztein and the recorders and whistles of Frederick Lindquist and it greatly benefits from these guest appearances.

Chased by Wolves And Burned By The Sun is another lengthy track with more great violin parts, giving a slight tone of Kansas to proceedings (no bad thing to these ears!) and another chance for some muscular bass lines from Jonas whilst Per provides the insistent riff that underpins the song. I really like the dynamics of this track as it uses the counterpoint of the instruments to really allow the track to evolve and shine, it really is utterly engrossing. Spiderweb Train dates from the 1990’s, as does second track Seven Birds, Hans had to do some extensive reworking of these songs to bring them into today’s age. Spiderweb Train is  the albums longest track at over fifteen and a half minutes. This means it has lot of room for improvisation and for the various parts to emerge. There’s an almost Gothic tone in places and parts that really makes it an interesting and exciting track.

This is followed by the album’s last long track, Songs In Our Hands at just shy of Thirteen minutes, before the shorter title piece Sommargryningsljus. The former track features some very impressive vocals from both Patrick Lindqvist and Aleena Gibson, along with some great synth lines from Hans Lundin, another excellent track from the band. The album closes with a longer take of Sommargryningsljus, allowing the full version of the song to be heard as it was originally envisaged.

The album takes us on an interesting journey through the dark and the early hours before dawn with dawn finally emerging and the darkness falling away. The first two tracks representing Twilight and the last two representing Dawn. As always the artwork is excellent and definitely fits the theme of the album well.

Overall, this is another excellent album from Kaipa who are now a studio band only as they have finished with live performances now. Fans of symphonic progressive music will find much to enjoy herein, it is a wonderful release that is most definitely worthy of investigation.

Released 28th June, 2024.

Pre-order the album here:

Sommargryningsljus (



Vincent Cavanagh’s ‘The Radicant’ project showcases the adept musicianship and expressive voice that he honed over 11 albums with the legendary alt-rock band Anathema. This year, Cavanagh will share his first music under The Radicant moniker with the highly anticipated debut EP We Ascend. Today, Kscope are excited to share the first single from that EP – ‘Zero Blue’.  Speaking on the new single, Vincent shared “I’ve waited for this day for a long time. After years of composing with (and for) visual artists, I’m excited to release my own music as ‘The Radicant’. Big love to the Kscope fam and everyone involved.”



The Radicant – Zero Blue (NSS Mix) (

The We Ascend EP will be available on classic black 12” vinyl from 12th July.


The Radicant – We Ascend EP – out 12 July (

The Radicant embodies Vincent Cavanagh’s artistic philosophy. Inspired by a term used in botany and by art curator Nicolas Bourriaud, “radicant” describes organisms that create their roots gradually as they advance, allowing species to mobilize, adapt, and grow on any surface. The EP’s polished production is owed to the close collaborative relationship between Cavanagh and critically acclaimed French producer Ténèbre. Mastering by Sam John at Precise Mastering adds to the immersive experience, evoking vivid imagery and serving as an ideal accompaniment to the visual creations anticipated in a live performance setting. 

Currently, Vincent is collaborating on Homecoming, an interactive mixed-reality installation and dance performance with Georgia Tegou and visual artist Kristina Pulejkova, set to debut in selected theatres in 2025. 

Vincent Cavanagh is currently in the studio working on his debut album as The Radicant, set for release next year.

John Wenlock-Smith Interviews John Holden

Ahead of the release of John Holden’s fifth studio album, ‘Proximity & Chance’, John Wenlock-Smith caught up with John to have a chat..

JWS: This album is your fifth, did you ever envisage releasing a fifth album when you released ‘Capture Light’ in 2018? 

JH: I am not sure I ever set a target. I am really guided by producing high quality material. If I did not believe the music was of the standard that I demand of myself then it would not be released. So, there was no guarantee that I could come up with something after the debut. Although ,on reflection, I guess five albums in six years is quite prolific.

JWS: The way you record now has changed a lot over the five albums, why is this? 

JH: On the earlier albums I was still learning so much, especially the technicalities of production. It was quite overwhelming. I was fortunate to have someone like Robin Armstrong to guide me through the first couple. He instilled in me the attention to detail that makes a recording sound professional. Of course, you never stop learning but you do become more confident in the best way to achieve the vision you have for the finished piece. 

The realities of home recording mean you are not in acoustically treated rooms with £10k monitors so for ‘Proximity & Chance’ I changed to using Slate VSX. This system comes with specially designed headphones and software to recreate virtual studio simulations and environments such as high-end studios, headphones and even vehicles. I mixed and mastered everything without conventional monitors and just did some sanity checks at the end. From a production perspective this was really useful and I hope everything sounds pristine to the listener.

JWS: This album sees a definite shift in that you personally perform a lot more rather than having collaborators doing a lot of the soundscapes. Is there a reason for this?

JH: There was no real intention at the outset. It was really dictated by how the music evolved. There are some songs that have fairly complex (for me) orchestral arrangements. That is something I had to do myself as there was no way I was going to hire a sixty-piece orchestra! 

Having always done quite detailed demos that I then sent to others to add or replace elements, this time the initial parts I recorded sounded really good so I just kept them and just added the more technical/ virtuoso parts that were beyond my capability. One on song I had someone replace my guitar parts but it just sounded ‘wrong’ – maybe because I was so used to hearing the original. Of course, the one thing that I will always need is guest vocalists. 

JWS: You have gathered an excellent and exciting list of guests for this album. Who would you like most to work with given the opportunity?

JH: I have been blessed to work with such high-level artists and I always keep my eyes and ears open for potential future collaborators. I think it might be interesting to go a little left field maybe someone like Mariusz Duda (Riverside). So far, all my albums have been solely written by myself. It might be intriguing to try a writing collaboration as well.

JWS: How do you choose the subject matter for your songs? As some of these subjects are rather diverse.

JH: When I start a new project, it is a completely blank canvas, which is always daunting but also exciting as well. I have no preconception of what will end up on the finished album. Inspiration comes from many different places and it’s almost like a diary of my mindset for the year. I will be influenced by documentaries I have watched, books I have read. World events, conversations and emotions from my personal life, it somehow all influences what I write.

I do like to go down internet rabbit holes! A good example of this is the opening song ‘13’.I wanted to write about superstitions, this eventually led me to discovering ‘The Thirteen Club’ which was a gift for a song idea. Sometimes I end up writing something and I can’t even remember what the starting point was!

JWS: Is there any possibility of you ever being able to perform any of your albums live? If so, how soon could we hope for such an experience to happen? 

JH: John I am asked this in every interview with no new take on it! ☹

JWS: You must be proud of the fact that your music is so warmly received by prog fans?

JH: Prog fans are a discerning set of music lovers and not easily impressed. It’s a difficult genre in which to get credit as you are not just being compared to current music, you are also judged against the historical giants of the past. However, IF you manage to create something that is recognised as being worthwhile then you are embraced. I have been very fortunate in that from my debut to now I have had amazing reviews and wonderful comments from fans. 

I compose firstly for my own creative need, but the goal is ultimately for that music to touch others.

JWS: You have made some great working relationships with folks like Peter Jones and Sally Minnear how rewarding is that to you personally?

JH: It is always a joy to work with Sally, she is such a lovely person. I have recently seen that she is working with more artists such as Lifesigns and Pendragon, who obviously recognise her amazingly beautiful voice. Hopefully that will also be noticed by the wider prog audience.

As for Peter, well is there a more talented musician out there? I love Pete’s music and over the years we have become good friends and often talk for hours. We can relate to similar situations and provide each other support in our musical endeavours. I hope that our collaborations will continue and possibly get even stronger (no spoilers).

JWS: Your wife Elizabeth is crucial to all of your efforts, how does that work for you both?

JH: Libby is a vital part of what I do. She is always the first person to hear my initial demos and musical sketches. Never holding back, she tells it like it is! If she finds something too long or lacking focus, she will point it out and I will then look at things in a more considered way. During the writing the new album she had a lot of serious health issues but she still helped review and improve the lyrical content. As she says she is my ‘harshest critic but biggest cheerleader’!

JWS: What is next for you? 

JH: I have a few things that are going to keep me active for the rest of the year. I hope to contribute to some ideas other people’s albums. There is a small commission I am working on both musically and visually, which is quite exciting. 

I also want to write some new music for a project that will appear early next year. So, plenty to keep me busy!

John’s new album, ‘Proximity & Chance’, was released on May 29th, 2024.

You can order from bandcamp here:

Proximity & Chance | John Holden (

Review – VYÖNI. -The Tripoint

Music from the silent forests and the stormy seas…

VYÖNI is the studio-based playground for musician, composer and producer Kim-Frode H.Wøhni. Inspired by early 70’s progressive rock, jazz, post-rock, yoik and even more cinematic landscapes, many ingredients are thrown into the mix. All of the instrumental tunes are dynamically evolving around melodic themes and
grooves, both improvised and arranged, to create a truly unique blend!

Likened by renowned Scandinavian musician and producer Jacob Holm-Lupo to “a bit of Landberk or Finnish bands like Malady…”, Norwegian band VYÖNI have hit the sweet spot between classic Nordic prog and a more modern, post-rock influenced vibe. Sometimes dark and with a definite wry sense of humour deep at its core, ‘The Tripoint’ is a more cerebral listen and seriously smooth and intricate at the same time.

Kim-Frode H.Wøhni plays guitar, bass, field recordings, keys and programming: drums, rhodes, mellotron, clavinet, saxophone, vibraphone and strings, he is one mightily talented and impressive musician and this comes across clearly in the quality of the sound and the songwriting. At times it’s not for the faint hearted but those who have a deep love of the classic 70’s prog sound will lap this album up greedily.

‘The Tripoint’ is music for late nights, music to sit back and chill to and music to get deeply engrossed in. A dark, starry night deep in the woods in a cabin warmed and lit only by a log fire, mysterious, cryptic and enigmatic music filling the atmosphere with a mystical vibe which leaves you believing anything is possible. Shaky & Stirred is a perfect mix of classic 70’s guitar and mellotron with a jazz fusion background, title track The Tripoint almost arcane in its delivery, a subtle brass section adding an edgy jazz vibe, these tracks are just two out of nine incredible slices of nostalgia infused with a haughty touch of modernity.

This music would be at home in a smoke filled jazz lounge, a sip of whiskey and a cigar smoked as the erudite soundscape of Tales From The Ferries washes over you, especially the fantastic guitar solo that lights up this already brilliant track. There’s even a touch of 70’s classic rock in Steep Mountainside but whichever of these intense slabs of glorious music you listen to, you are going to be highly impressed by this absorbing, complex and captivating piece of work. ‘The Tripoint’ has catapulted VYÖNI immediately to the forefront of Nordic progressive rock.

Released 24th April, 2024.

Order from bandcamp here:

The Tripoint | VYÖNI (


Argovia is a rock band from Bogotá, Colombia. It was founded as a project in 2013 by multi-instrumentalist Ani Guillén (Guitars, Drums, Bass, Vocals) and keyboardist and music producer Carlos Arminio.

The project began with the creation of an EP titled “Lost Letters” (2014), which earned them a nomination for EP of the year at the Unión Rock Show awards. In 2017, they produced their debut album “Distant Present” (2017) which was mastered by Toni Lindgren (Fascination Street Studios). “Waves,” the flagship song of this production, received radio play and was well-received by the local audience. “Distant Present” enabled them to tour several cities in Colombia, including Cali and Medellín, and solidify their participation in Prog In Motion 2017, the only local progressive festival. Furthermore, “Distant Present” was reviewed on various specialized music portals and allowed the band to transcend borders in terms of listeners.

At the end of 2022, Ani (Guitar and Vocals) and Carlos (keyboards) began producing their new studio material, citing influences such as Porcupine Tree, Riverside, The Gathering, VOLA, Steven Wilson, and Karnivool. Their challenge is to bring a rock proposal that can resonate with an audience not typically dedicated to progressive music, resulting in a completely renewed production that combines elements of progressive rock and modern metal. With this more mature and powerful sound, ARGOVIA recruits new members and collaborators. Felipe Candia, former drummer of the renowned Chilean progressive rock band Aisles, performed remote drum tracking for all tracks of this new production; Nicolás Paredes (The Vue) later joined the project.

ARGOVIA worked on their new production with Alejandro Londoño (Cultura Tres, Delain, Sepultura) handling the mixing and Steve Kitch, keyboardist of The Pineapple Thief, another flagship band of modern progressive, taking care of the mastering. This collaboration marked a shift from symphonic and digital elements towards a more mature, raw, and rock-oriented sound.

The band released 4 singles: Oceanborn, Who We Are, Crawling Is The Shape of Love, and The Devil You Are, as a prelude to their EP ‘WHO WE ARE,’ released 7th March, 2024.

The EP can be ordered digitally from bandcamp here:

Who We Are | Argovia (

The band has been reviewed and recognized by the largest progressive community in Latin America, “Nación Progresiva,” as “one of the great promises of Latin American prog.” The single ‘WHO WE ARE’ was nominated for the best Ibero-American single of 2023 in the Progressive Rock category. It has been featured on playlists selected by specialized curators of the genre such as The Prog Report, Progressive Latin America (curated by Felix Martin),, and Best New Prog Rock 2000-2023 (curated by Presagio Records).


Ani Guillén (Vocals, Guitar, Percussion) Carlos Arminio (Keyboards and Synthesizers) Nicolás Paredes (Bass) Mauricio Sanabria (Drums).


Spotify: artist/30eoDK4DOQuTQuzJeaqEJM?si=f9eXTlb6SSqtxCxtWIe8 7Q Bandcamp:

Apple Music:

RETURNED TO THE EARTH announces new album Stalagmite Steeple and single “Dark Morality”

Album available for pre-order now!

UK-based prog band RETURNED TO THE EARTH are pleased to announce the new album Stalagmite Steeple due out on June 14th via Giant Electic Pea.  The follow-up to the critically acclaimed “Fall of the Watcher,’ the new album is another intriguing journey through main man Robin Peachey’s particular take on life.

You can listen to the album’s opening track and first single “Dark Morality” here:

Robin Peachey on the new album:
“The writing for Stalagmite Steeple began in late 2020 during the recording of Fall Of The Watcher, my previous album. It’s been a 2 1/2 year recording process to get the album finished and I have worked again with Paul Johnston as producer/engineer/additional musician. Steve Kitch (The Pineapple Thief) has again mastered the album for me.

“‘Dark Morality’ is the opening track of the album Stalagmite Steeple and sets the scene for the album’s themes. “I saw a story about an elderly couple who were separated during the first Covid lockdown and unfortunately the lady passed away from natural causes. I found it incredibly sad that we couldn’t find a way to bring loved ones together in their final moments during this difficult period of our history. It seemed empathy and compassion were lost but the money spent for the privilege of being in the care home facility still rolled in. I didn’t want this event to be marked by just a single song so it formed the backdrop for the whole album.”

1. Dark Morality  7:19
2. The Final Time  5:00
3. Stalagmite Steeple  9:58
4. Meaningless To Worth  6:09
5. Die For Me  9:09
6. The Raging Sea  5:36

Pre-order ‘Stalagmite Steeple’ on CD here:

All songs written by: Robin Peachey
All music performed by: Robin Peachey & Paul Johnston

Tim Bowness Signs To Kscope

Tim Bowness has signed to London label Kscope (The Pineapple Thief, Porcupine Tree, TesseracT). A prolific singer, songwriter and producer, Bowness is known for his distinctive vocals and expressive style of songwriting and has worked alongside Steven Wilson (releasing seven studio albums with no-man) and, more recently, Nosound’s Giancarlo Erra (last week, Nosound shared their new single ‘Dogs’ featuring Tim Bowness). 

Speaking about the signing and hinting at new music, Bowness said, “With its eclectic roster and open-minded and adventurous approach to music and presentation, Kscope seems like a logical home for what I’ve been coming up with of late. I’m excited to see where it all leads.” 

Expect more news soon…

Review – Nordic Giants – Origins

Nordic Giants, the enigmatic musical duo known for their captivating soundscapes and immersive live performances have solidified their place in the alternative music scene through a rich history of sonic innovation and visual storytelling. A cornerstone of Nordic Giants identity is their mesmerising live performances, which over the last decade have earned them a devoted global following. Combining live instrumentation, visuals and theatrical elements, their shows are akin to a religious experience, transporting audiences to otherworldly realms.

‘Origins’ invites audiences to embark on a voyage of discovery, delving deeper into Nordic Giants past. This brand new release will combine three of the very first Nordic recordings – A Tree As Old As Me (E.P), Speed the Crows Nest (Single), Shine (Single), plus a bonus track, onto one compilation album. However this compilation offers the listener a new experience, with many of the original recording sessions being revisited and many of the main instruments re-recorded, re-mixed and re-mastered, giving the songs a whole new lease of life. A re-birth and celebration into the Origins of Nordic Giants.

I have been a fan of Nordic Giants since they released ‘Amplify Human Vibration’ in 2017. Their multi-layered, complex and cinematic music really resonates with me so I happily pre-ordered the vinyl before I even heard the promo and I haven’t been let down by this enigmatic duo.

The eight tracks are powerful and outspoken and come from the very heart and soul of Rôka and Löki and deliver a truly immersive musical experience from beginning to end. Their trademark stentorian voice overs are present, especially so on the powerful opening track Together and the thunderous rendition of Dark Clouds Mean War that closes out this release.

Up to date recordings of tracks, including a truly hypnotic and mesmerising version of Through A Lens Darkly (accompanied by live montage video of combining over 25 different Nordic Giants performances ranging from 2010 all the way through to Damnation Festival in 2023) and a vibrant and riveting take on The Seed (the latter featuring a heartfelt and truly personal vocal performance from Jake Reid), feature newly recorded live strings, drums, piano, synths and guitars to give a much better feel of the duo’s live experience.

The duo deliver refined and laid back beauty on Glass Skinned Girl, a haunting piece of music enhanced by a wistful, ethereal vocal from Freyja and an impish, eclectic left field atmosphere with Shine, where Cate Ferris channels her inner Icelandic vibe, sounding not unlike an early Björk. The vivid vitality at the heart of the band is shown to perfection on the addictive splendour of Speed The Crows Nest, a majestic reworking of the classic track and the uplifting, unhurried grace of B.O.A.T.S that benefits from the gorgeous vocals of Amdine.

‘Origins’ is a wondrous journey through all that is great about Nordic Giants. A collection of songs that have been fine tuned from the original to deliver an almost spiritual and addictive listening experience and one that will not just appeal to long term fans of this utterly compelling band but also to those lucky enough to be discovering them for the very first time.

Released 7th June, 2024.

Order from the band’s website here:

Origins Pre Order | Nordic Giants

Highway Prog All Day Festival 2024 Announced – Line up Includes Magenta

Al Winter of Yorkshire proggers This Winter Machine has announced the date, venue and line-up for the 2024 edition of the Highway All Day Progressive Rock Festival, ‘Highway ’24’.

Al Winter: “After holding the successful Highway Prog all day festival in Hull for the last two years, this excellent day of progressive rock moves to Leeds for 2024. The heavy hitting line up consists of Paul Brunton (acoustic), Candacraig, Simon Godfrey (ex Tinyfish), Stuckfish, This Winter Machine and superb headliners Magenta.” Al continues, “The venue is the Eiger Studios on New Craven Gate, the doors will open at 1pm and tickets for the day are £25 in advance from See Tickets”.

Highway ’24 will take place on Saturday 21st September, 2024 and tickets can be purchased from See Tickets here:

See Tickets – Highway ’24 Tickets | Saturday, 21 Sep 2024 at 2:00 PM

This Winter Machine.

Review – Gallowstreet – A Trip Worth Making

Named for Amsterdam’s Galgenstraat (literally translated Gallows Street), Gallowstreet has grown from a street parade band to a show-stopping festival favourite in the Netherlands and beyond. The 8-man band of brass, saxes, and percussion, straddles the worlds of hip-hop and dance music with cinematic scores and hard-hitting beats. 

Explosive. Contemporary. Creative. Electric. Danceable. Often covered, never copied, seldom paralleled. All of the above are applicable to Gallowstreet, ‘A Trip Worth Making’ torpedoes the concept of brass groups straight into the 21st century. Blurring the lines of the genre, the Amsterdam-based group dedicates the record to over a decade of touring and setting dance floors on fire across Europe, blending brass, beats and electronics.

On ‘A Trip Worth Making’, Gallowstreet explores more electronics, different beats, and a radically different dynamic than on 2023 offerings ‘Laaglands’ and ‘Gallowstreet’ EP – truly, the group’s energy is about as high as their productivity.

When a lot of people in the UK hear ‘brass band’ they think of the colliery bands from mining communities, like The Brighouse And Rastrick Brass Band, made famous by legendary radio star Sir Terry Wogan and the film ‘Brassed Off’, starring Ewan McGregor so I was a little intrigued when the promo email for Gallowstreet landed in my inbox.

After having quite a few listens now, my intrigue has turned into outright admiration and wonder. ‘A Trip Worth Making’ has given me an appreciation for the amazing and intricate musicianship of this ever so impressive collective. When I first read ‘blending brass, beats and electronics‘, I cannot say I was excited but I am now utterly convinced by the music, it is energetic, upbeat, uplifting and just shedloads of fun!

The album is chock full of killer tracks where the energy never lets up, opener Assemble! gets the party started with infectious rhythms and beats and the ever so delicious sounding brass that marks Gallowstreet out as something exciting and different. Phoenix adds a cinematic element as it builds elegantly before becoming something uber-cool where jazz lounge sensibilities mix with a fresh sounding drum and bass vibe and then you get the musical punch to the jaw with the wondrous Proper Hired Guns that starts off with a poppy feel before turning into an addictive thrill ride that has a updated feel of the them to Hawaii 5-0 to these ears, I just love it!

These brass renegades hit you hard with the high energy beats of My Two Cents, an enigmatic, funk filled, dive into jazz and electronic beats. Consider It A Calling brings 70’s soul to the party, the brass intro like something from a Chic track before an edgy, irreverent vibe takes over, the uplifting brass adding heart and even more soul! There’s almost a storytelling element to the music of Hungry as it ducks and dives and jinks its way around you, jazz and brass surround-sound if you like, the brass talking to you in a wonderfully musical fashion.

A cinematic jazz live lounge emerges out of the intro to title track A Trip Worth Making, the music building in intensity as we get further in. Innovative and inspirational at once, it’s a wonderfully eclectic piece of music. Spirited Away is full of a soulful nervous energy that just seems to seep into your very being and become part of you, the music is uplifting and joyful and just makes you feel good! Everything comes to a close with On Borrowed Time, a laid back and low key track full of nostalgia, a wistful look at a life well lived or a journey well travelled.

With ‘A Trip Worth Making’ Gallowstreet have leaped straight into my musical affections,. It is such an infectious, upbeat and addictive experience that you forget just how technically impressive these musicians are because you are just enjoying the joyful brilliance that they bring to each of these compositions, the energy just free flowing and imbuing in you a fabulous joie de vivre.

Released 1st March, 2023.

Order from bandcamp here:

A Trip Worth Making | Gallowstreet (