sleepmakeswaves share new track ‘Into the Arms of Ghosts’ / Added to ArcTanGent Festival

Post-rock trailblazers sleepmakeswaves have continued their massive start to 2017 by sharing another new track from their upcoming album “Made of Breath Only” set for release on Friday 7th April through Bird’s Robe Records. Speaking about ‘Into The Arms of Ghosts’ guitarist Otto Wicks-Green comments:
 
“This track was one of the last songs to come together on the record, despite comprising some parts that were amongst the first to be written (the lead melody for instance). It’s one of the darker and heavier moments on the album and deals more directly with feelings around loss and adjustment to that. The soaring lead lines made our producer Nick joke that it should be the soundtrack to someone jumping off a mountain in a parachute before landing in a stadium with a guitar. We should really try and get that happening.”

sleepmakeswaves recently wrapped up a massive sold out tour with reunited alternative rock legends COG, as well as touring extensively across North America and their own headline tour in Australia, clocking up 54 shows in support of the single and video ‘traced in constellations.’
The band’s busy schedule follows their epic 55-date, 22-country ‘Great Northern’ tour of 2015 and 10 Australian tours, 4 European tours, 2 US tours and shows across Asia and New Zealand since their release of their debut album ‘…and so we destroyed everything’ in 2011. In 2014, they successfully raised $30,000 in pre-orders to help fund the recording of ‘Love of Cartography’. Currently on tour in China the band have also been added to the line-up for this year’s ArcTanGent festival in August.
New album “Made of Breath Only” is out 7th April in the UK.
sleepmakeswaves China headline tour
Thu March 9 – Mao Livehouse, Hangzhou CHINA
Fri March 10 – Mao Livehouse, Shanghai CHINA
Sat March 11 – Yugong Yishan, Beijing CHINA
Sun March 12 – Ola Space, Nanjing CHINA
Tue March 14 – Nuts, Chongqing CHINA
Wed March 15 – Little Bar Space, Chengdu CHINA
Thu March 16 – Vox, Wuhan CHINA
Fri March 17 – Fei Livehouse, Guangzhou CHINA
Sat March 18 – B10, Shenzhen CHINA
Sun March 19 – Hidden Agenda, Hong Kong CHINA
sleepmakeswaves Australian headline tour
Fri March 24 – Metro Theatre, Sydney NSW
Sat March 25 – Max Watt’s, Melbourne VIC
Thu March 30 – ANU Bar, Canberra ACT
Fri March 31 – Cambridge Hotel, Newcastle
Thu April 6 – The Gov, Adelaide SA
Fri April 7 – Badlands, Perth WA
Sat April 8 – Max Watt’s, Brisbane
sleepmakeswaves Australia & New Zealand tour w/Devin Townsend Project (CAN)
Thu May 18 – Powerstation, Auckland NZ
Sat May 20 – The Triffid, Brisbane QLD
Mon May 22 – Enmore Theatre, Sydney NSW
Wed May 24 – 170 Russell, Melbourne VIC
Fri May 26 – Capitol, Perth WA
Tickets for all shows from www.sleepmakeswaves.com

Review – Alan Reed – Honey On The Razor’s Edge – by Kevin Thompson

Meteorological Spring is in the air and there is a buzz around the Progressive music scene which is currently a veritable hive of activity.

Music in general has seen an influx of singer/songwriters, some more of the worker bee type, scattered like pollen among the genres and trying to stick to a secure career, whilst others clearly stand out from the crowd as prime males with honey sweet tunes fit to serenade a Queen, the two recent releases from Marc Atkinson and Lee Maddison being fine examples.

Into the honeycomb flies Alan Reed with sophomore album ‘Honey On The Razor’s Edge’ and this time there’s a grittier, more assertive edge reminiscent of his work with his previous band and with echoes of solo outings by a certain fellow Scotsman nearing the twilight years of his musical output.

I have to admit that whilst I like Alan’s first solo outing it felt like it didn’t have his full confidence and was maybe reflecting in his situation at that time. With this album there is no hesitance and it’s straight in with up-tempo rippling keyboards and electric riffs on first track My Sunlit Room. Alan sounds in fine fettle blowing away any faint concerns as his vocal pipes dance a highland fling through the melody in this rousing starter that crashes to an end.

Now I mentioned another of Alan’s fellow countrymen and I have to say the main riff on Razor is very reminiscent of his output, but Alan adds his familiar style and harmonica flourishes (courtesy of  a certain Mr Steve Hackett no less), as he argues with himself and exorcises demons. There is a great video release of this track on YouTube to enhance your listening pleasure on which Alan shows he’s moving on not looking back. My inside sources tell me he may have had sore skin after filming numerous takes for the video. Ah, the sacrifices a man makes for his art.

Cross My Palm with silver and I’ll be only too happy to tell you this is a man who is not sitting on his laurels as he warns of treachery in the big smoke, but there’s no need to worry,  with some nifty guitar soloing from Jeff Green and the keyboard flourishes of Mike Stobbie building to a crescendo finish it’s another belter.

Notable for their relegation until now, up pop the familiar acoustic strings on Leaving (no cause for alarm, he’s not just yet) as vocals wrangle, with lovely female harmonies on the chorus, over a twisted relationship. Now I might be mistaken but ageing ears cannot distinguish whether this track is bolstered by the stunning sound of the one and only ‘Leode’ from none other than Lazuli’s Claude Leonetti or an Ebow, either way c’est formidable.

I must also point out that Alan has an enviable trio of fine female singers assisting him on this album in Magenta’s Christina Booth, Harvest’s Monique Van Der Kolk and Weendo’s Laetitia Chaudemanche adding the cream on top of some tracks here, giving him vocal riches beyond avarice.

Not content to let the lady leave he begs she stay to the Other Side Of Morning, as he reasons with her over their differences and similarities, the good must surely out-way the bad times and Mike gets to bare the whites of his keyboards as stalwart drummer Scott Higham more than ably keeps the rhythm and beating heart of this track pumping, as he does throughout the album. This, the longest track on here builds to a fevered climax that is completed with one last gasping ‘stay’.

History lesson time, as this next track is about The Covenanter. Covenanters were Scottish Presbyterians who in 1638 signed the “National Covenant” to uphold the Presbyterian religion, and the “Solemn League and Covenant” of 1643 which was a treaty with the English Parliamentarians. The Covenanter’s made a stand for political and religious liberty that led to almost a century of persecution and their widespread migration to Ulster and the American colonies.

But their role in history was not as simple as that, as they were the children of the Protestant Reformation in Europe and sought to have the church of their belief, according to the Scriptures. Above all, there was but one Head of the Kirk – Jesus Christ, and they refused to accept the King in that role. From this opposition to the King all their troubles arose. Ushered in by the sounds of unrest, Alan protests with righteous indignation and berates the persecutors and liars throughout, casting light on Celtic roots at the heart of much of Alan’s musical heritage.

Alan is a gifted poet and romanticist, with the ability to touch the hardest of hearts, as on the penultimate track, recalling a love lost who ‘looked at me, like I Used To Be Someone. With  a   beautiful instrumental introduction and beat me with a haggis if I’m wrong but it may just be flowing from the lovely ‘Leode’. Tinkling ivories and guitar loops sway like smitten lovers on the dance floor in time to Alan’s lyrics. For me he never sounds better than on tracks like this, as the emotion he injects into his voice feels so genuinely heartfelt. The music swells and the wonderful sound from the beginning floats in again before the vocals tug gently at the heartstrings one last time to float delicately away on fading notes.

Alan’s work may take him away from his homeland, but whilst you can take the wee laddie out of Scotland, you can’t take Scotland out of the man, as he looks to the Northern Light on the final offering of wistful musicality which midway through turns into an instrumental clash of clans before the keyboards kick thistles into the faces of the rest and triumphantly lead us out.

This is an album through which threads of tartan tinged tunes dance a merry jig with modern rock forces, and Alan has surrounded himself with an array of accomplished musicians to enhance the tunes pushing him firmly to the fore among his peers. I mentioned a certain fellow Scot earlier and Alan’s physical stature may not match the  Big Man’s but this album proves he could well fill  upcoming vacant boots.

Having had the great pleasure of meeting Mr Reed a couple of times he is a most affable chap, always willing to take the time to chat. Whilst in conversation with one of his colleagues on this album,he was described as very difficult to work with, but it was said with a wry smile and bundles of affection, because that’s the effect he has on you.

Alan is one of the nice guys in this business and he deserves every success with ‘Honey On The Razor’s Edge’, it’s a braw album. Slange!

Released 14th March 2017

Buy ‘Honey On The Razor’s Edge’ from The Merch Desk

 

 

Rikard Sjöblom’s Gungfly Sign To InsideOut For New Album ‘On Her Journey To The Sun’

Following last years disbanding of Sweden’s much-loved progressive rockers Beardfish, vocalist and driving force Rikard Sjöblom has turned his attention to his solo project Rikard Sjöblom’s Gungfly, and signed with InsideOutMusic for the release of their next album ‘On Her Journey To The Sun’ on 19th May 2017.

Rikard had this to say: Gungfly was born out of necessity, songs came to life whenever there was downtime with Beardfish or if a song didn’t quite fit within Beardfish’s (otherwise quite broad and eclectic) frame of styles. I basically started recording songs, mainly pop-oriented material, but being the type of songwriter and musician I am, some prog slipped through the radar as well. With the break-up of Beardfish all of the prog-related material I write needed to go somewhere and Gungfly was ready and able for this step!”

Band photo by Peder Andersson.

Review – Steve Hackett – The Night Siren – by Rob Fisher

The bewitching call of the Sirens is reported to have been irresistible. Mesmerised by the enchanting beauty of their songs, sailors were lured to their inevitable destruction on the rocks surrounding Scylla and Charybdis. Only two people are recorded as having escaped the compelling singing of these beautiful hybrid creatures: Odysseus returning home from the Trojan War who ordered his men to fill their ears with wax whilst lashing himself to the mast of his ship and Jason, leading his Argonauts to find the Golden Fleece, who overcame their siren call with the equally enthralling playing of Orpheus.

The parallels between the mythological narratives of the Sirens and Steve Hackett’s 25th solo album ‘The Night Siren’, are as fascinating as they are disconcerting. The two rocks, starkly framed on the album cover against the captivating aurora of the northern lights, may well be a nod to Scylla and Charybdis but it is also a clarion call to the need in these present dark times to carefully steer our way between the rocks and the hard places which threaten to engulf us.

Hackett believes that “it seems the world has been plunged into darkness. Wherever you look, extremism and intolerance are dominant, and people are getting fed up with politicians. They are losing faith in the way they behave.” We live in a time of discord, animosity, fighting and bitter divisions. ‘The Night Siren’ is a wake-up call, an unsettling shaking of the foundations on which we stand designed to open our minds, rouse us from our complacency and heed the urgent call to empathy, unity and peace.

Photo by Tina Korhonen © 2016, all rights reserved.

To that end, much like the Sirens themselves, the album is a hybrid mosaic of songs featuring instruments, collaborators and musicians from around the world. Indeed, the graceful, elegant beauty of T’he Night Siren’ lies precisely in the delightful diversity of its songs as well as the endearing variety of the instruments and sounds heard within each song. The sound of the Indian sitar, the strings of a Peruvian charango, Celtic Uilleann pipes along with the tar and oud originating from the Middle East all contribute to the wonderful montage of musical voices which inspire hope and the desire for peace.

The album openly elevates, celebrates and embraces our unity within diversity. Unlike other recordings on which he has worked, ‘The Night Siren’ took Hackett well over a year to make.  Recording took place in multiple locations, in a variety of different countries, using studios, rooms, wherever they could get the musicians together. “What I wanted to do was show that we can all communicate through the universality of one language – and that is music. It brings us all together.”

Making the album in this way not only adds greater flexibility to the music but also brings people together – and sometimes people who are unnatural allies – to demonstrate in a simple fashion that the multi-cultural approach offers us light in the darkness. Hackett is adamant that the album “represents a bird’s eye view of the world of a musical migrant ignoring borders and celebrating our common ancestry with a unity of spirit”. Bringing together singers and musicians from Israel and Palestine, the USA and Iraq he firmly believes the spirit of cooperation, collegiality and the bonds of friendship which can be formed through music make this his best album yet.

Photo by Tina Korhonen © 2016, all rights reserved.

It is hard to disagree. If the Sirens of war, division, destruction, envy, spite and brutality are seducing the world in which we live, Hackett’s performance on ‘The Night Siren’ is no less akin to the enthralling musicianship of Orpheus leading us through these troubled waters. Music, he believes, “breaches all defences” and there is no doubting that his playing exudes an assured, masterful confidence and authority which is as infectious as it is inspiring.

There is an exhilarating sense of anticipation in hearing the way his guitar work interacts with and responds to the unique and dynamic combinations evolving within each song. Even with all the different styles, rhythms and tempos, he displays a blistering, stand-out musicianship which is wholly organic to, and of a natural piece with, the flow and momentum of the music. It feels right. Each and every time, it feels so right, so perfectly suited to the context of the other instruments and immaculately aligned with the way the song unfolds.

This has always been Hackett’s singular gift; a magical combination of exceptional talent and a nuanced insight which allows him to draw on the momentum present in the natural flow of the music and then rise above it with a passion and brilliance that often defies imagination. At times his playing is simply sublime. The space opens up for the guitar to speak and he fills it with riffs and solos that are beautifully refined, deftly played and charmingly sumptuous. He brings an understanding to the music which is movingly perceptive, poignant and evocative.

When you listen to music which is this articulate, played in ways which carry an unrivalled eloquence and charm by virtue not just of the central figure but also because of the virtuosity of those who surround him, the message he wants to convey cannot but be heard – and heard with a persuasiveness that only music can achieve. Forget about the boundaries, the walls, the frontiers, the borders. ‘The Night Siren’ will shake the ground on which you stand and make you feel the world anew through music because of the coming together of people from across the world who show the way to us all exactly what humanity can achieve when we come together in the name of unity and peace.

Released 24th march 2017

Pre-order ‘The Night Siren’ from Hackett Songs

 

TELEPATHY SHARE NEW VIDEO FOR ‘SMOKE FROM DISTANT FIRES’

UK instrumental titans, Telepathy who will release their new album Tempest on 31st March have shared a new video for their track ‘Smoke from Distant Fires’. Bassist Teddy-James Driscoll comments, ‘We wanted something that would embody the concept of the album and represent the fundamentals of it visually’.

 Recorded, mixed and mastered at London’s Orgone Studios by lauded producer /engineer Jaime Gomez Arellano ( Ghost, Opeth, Paradise Lost, Altar of Plagues, Cathedral ), Tempest follows in the footsteps of Telepathy’s critically acclaimed 2014 debut 12 Areas and is very much a concept record.
Tempest depicts the harrowing journey of a person beset with grief and faced with total isolation after awaking from a great flood. The album guides the listener on a journey through awakening, desolation and finally acceptance.
Further showcasing the band’s no-holds-barred approach to songwriting, Tempest fuses elements of post-metal, sludge, doom and black metal with unorthodox and complex song structures, creating a cohesive and cathartic tapestry of unique instrumental metal. The inclusion of tortured vocals on the album’s centerpiece, Echo of Souls, shows a band un-afraid to travel into uncharted waters, further cementing their reputation as a forward thinking and unique group in today’s experimental metal
scene.
Where its predecessor 12 Areas was by intention a chaotic and furious exploration of sound, Tempest marks a shift towards a more balanced and open sonic pallette. More dynamic, spacious and refined than before, but with an added emphasis on sonic weight, unbridled heaviness, melody and emotional depth.
Telepathy spent the majority of 2016 stunning audiences up and down the UK with their immersive and intense live show, building upon their ever growing following. Highlights included appearances alongside fellow UK metal veterans Raging Speedhorn, Oathbreaker, American post-metal pioneers and labelmates Rosetta and most notably an appearance at the prestigious Desertfest in London.
The band recently completed a five date European tour in September 2016 which saw the band return to Incubate Festival in Tilburg for the second time. Tempest marks a brand new chapter in the band’s career, and with its definitive line-up in place — owing to the addition of new bass player Teddy-James Driscoll — Tempest showcases a ruthlessly punishing, heavy and emotionally demanding take on instrumental music.
The 2×LP comes with an etching on side D, download code and on 180 gr vinyl.
Released 31st March – Golden Antenna Records
Telepathy will tour the UK in April followed by an appearance at Roadburn Festival.
01.04 – MANCHESTER, Rebellion
02.04 – SHEFFIELD, Mulberry Tavern
05.04 – LEEDS, Temple Of Boom
06.04 – LONDON, The Black Heart
07.04 – BIRMINGHAM, Scruffy Murphys
08.04 – BRISTOL, The Louisiana
09.04 – NEWCASTLE, The Cluny
21.04 – TILBURG, Roadburn Festival

Review – Brett William Kull – Open Skies Exploding – by Progradar

Resonant Frequency – Musical instruments make great use of resonance frequencies. The strings of stringed instruments, for instance, vibrate at their resonance frequencies when plucked or struck, and their vibrations against the surrounding air produce sound. For horns and similar instruments, the resonant frequency is actually in the column of air contained in the instrument.

I think we are all tuned into different resonant frequencies when it comes to music and maybe that’s why we like and prefer different types of music.

I’ve been through some ups and downs over the last year and I’ve always turned to certain artists for music that can lift my spirits and that cloud of negativity that may be laying over me. Many a time I’ve found myself walking home after a night with friends (and some alcohol it must be said) when a track has come on and completely changed my mood and taken me to a better place, quite euphoric at times.

It always seems to be the emotive and moving music that brings out this reaction in me, artists like Big Big Train and Abel Ganz have always resonated (see what I did there?) with me in a big way. More recently Scottish indie-folk artists along the likes of Blue Rose CodeFindlay Napier and Norrie McCulloch (review coming soon) have stepped up to the mark and delivered the music that is becoming the soundtrack of my life.

However there has been one new release that I just can’t stop listening to and really has become a must listen album of choice for the good, as well as the bad, times and that’s ‘Open Skies Exploding’ by Brett William Kull.

Brett (William) Kull is a multi-instrumentalist, singer-songwriter, producer, and engineer from the United States. He is best known for being a founding member of the band Echolyn, and long standing member of Grey Eye Glances. Brett is also an adjunct college instructor sharing his love for audio engineering and sound design.

Starting on December 24th 2016, and where timings allowed, Brett started to release two songs a week from his new solo album ‘Open Skies Exploding’. Being a one-man music producing machine he produced, arranged, played, sung, recorded, mixed and mastered the whole album, except where noted on each track.

My review will go through the tracks in the order and number they were released.

The first two tracks on the album to be released were My House Is Loud and Three Walls on 24th December 2016.

As Brett explains in his accompaniment to the release, My House is Loud, includes the talents of my good friend and musical compatriot Chris Buzby. He played my Bostonian Ivers & Pond antique piano as well as my Fender Rhodes Seventy Three (not at the same time). On Drums is Jim Hines. I serendipitously met Jim during some studio session work and immediately knew I wanted to work with him on my own music.”

My House Is Loud is a bitter-sweet song, from the first note of the intro to the catchy guitar hook it is an uplifting and yet melancholy musical journey that just makes you feel like you are in the right place at the right time. Brett has one of those voices that is as smooth as velvet and has no rough edges at all. I find myself singing along and humming that addictive hook all the time. There’s a nostalgic feel to it, looking back at wonderfully happy times and how they have come full circle into the present and those memories are all that remain.

“My house is screaming in answers
My house is screaming in answers
The house is drowning in answers
The house is drowning without you

Just when I needed you most you said goodbye…”

That poignant look at the past is also central to the elegant Three Walls with its dreamlike intro and delicately strummed guitar that gives a sepia tinged look at the past through the wall-scribbled memories of a stranger from the past. The song ebbs and flows in your mind, the music like a gossamer shroud over which Brett’s thoughtful vocal is delivered.

“There’s a map that I stare at with my morning tea
The pushpins tell dusty stories
Marking great spaces between land and sea
But now only the distance between us…”

31st December 2016 saw the release of Dublin Rooftops and Hard Dying Time.

Brett’s notes state, “Dublin Rooftops came about like many of my songs – in the moments between putting the kettle on and hearing the kettle whistle. I turn my phone recorder on and “get lost” in these moments. Like all my “phone recordings” it ended up in a playlist of ideas waiting for attention. Eventually I booked a session with Jim Hines to play drums, not sure what I was going to do. I brought over three ideas to this session; this was one of them.”

Fragmented memories are at the core of Dublin Rooftops, a harder edges and more powerfully emotive track with Brett’s dynamic vocal central to the story. There’s a staccato feel to the drums and acoustic guitar, like an almost agonised cry for the memories that are lost and the plaintive vocal section that follows the chorus really makes you feel for the protagonist. The drums and bass really drive the track on and the guitar adds the required angst. Railing against a broken promise perhaps, it’s the most heartfelt and acerbic track on the album.

“Somewhere there’s a slide show
It wouldn’t play now, the device deceased, device deceased
But in a corner in my mind it plays all the time
Though only in fragmented bursting scenes

There’s a part where the rain came through the radio…”

“Hard Dying Time was initially recorded in the fall of 2012 during a free form recording session. I invited some friends over to Catapult Sound to see what would happen.  When you listen to this song (from the moment the drums come in) you are hearing how the song was played in an inceptive moment by Paul Ramsey on drums, me on electric guitar, Ray Weston on bass, and Jeremy Beck on piano. After the performance I immediately had Jacque Varsalona play acoustic guitar, I wrote the words and melodies, found the voice of the song, added the beginning section, and asked my friend Francis Dunnery to add a solo guitar… all the while not infringing on the initial feel of the song.”

With laid back and ambling intro, Hard Dying Time seems to have all the time in the world. The gentle perambulations of the musicians matched by Brett’s cultured and unhurried vocal. You sit back and relax and let the music wash over you. There’s an expansive feel to this song, in my mind I see the vastness of sun-baked prairies and a horizon that seems to be a million miles away. A song for untold millennia, for lives that seem to go on eternally, unreal and almost alien. Francis Dunnery’s solo seems to come from the very bowels of the earth yet it is as measured and nonchalant as the rest of this unruffled song.

“We’d light the rails and change the chase
We burned the house to roman glass
And shake the walls to wake the wolf
Ruminate remove the past
Into piles of hard dying time…”

Railroad Self and Punch of The Day first saw the light of day on 7th January 2017.

Railroad Self was a lingering chord progression, left over from my Last of the Curlews project. Recently I felt the need to throw it back into the coliseum of combat to finish it off. One way to enable spontaneity is to simply force yourself into a position where you need to react without planning. My friend Kevin Wiggins and I occasionally do this with great success in the realm of writing songs. We find meaning in this through our intent. Whenever we hang out, music appears where music was not. Kevin played drums to my acoustic guitar; the song happened. ‘Nuff said.”

A really jazzy song with an upbeat vibe Railroad Self could be allegorical with all sorts of hidden meanings in the lyrics. Is it exhorting you to be yourself and not pander to other people’s thoughts of who you should be? It’s a great little song with Brett’s smooth vocals and the funky drums and dancing guitar, it may be introspective in meaning but it is certainly very extrovert in delivery and it’s one of my favourites on the album.

“See how she goes away
See how she’s gone away
She’s a lonely sound and gone gone gone…”

Punch of The Day was written into existence with the help of Jeremy Beck then Francis Dunnery, (aka Big Des). The construction of this song is a bit longer than some of the other songs… but sometimes you have to work for it, or at least inject that which is not normally used.  Thinking about it, the lethal combination of Beck and Big Des has contributed to some of my personal favorites on this new album.”

One of the tracks I go back to most frequently and one that is full of emotion, Punch of The Day is a wonderfully affectionate and heartwarming song with one of the most memorable guitar hooks in it. A song of memorial it would seem, a heartfelt eulogy to a loved one perhaps, Brett gives another striking vocal performance of elegance and warmth and the music just adds layers and layers of pathos and sentiment to deliver a track that makes my heart bleed and the fragile beauty within, the solo is just a thing of wonder.

“Ride blind in your town tonight
To lean against some tide
Removing pieces of our love and longing
It feels so good and keeps you moving
Beyond the punch of the day…”

Song For Summer and Like Fading Stars – released 29th January 2017.

Song for Summer features Big Des once again on drums. Des crystallized the song for me by playing the big tom-tom groove. It immediately gave the song the rhythmic energy I was hoping for.  It is perfect! Leo Koperdraat from Fractal Mirror was kind enough to add his wonderful baritone voice for some backing vocal color.”

Song For Summer has a real singer/songwriter vibe to it, akin to Don Henley post Eagles. A song from the American heartlands about somebody escaping from a relationship but are they really escaping and are they really free? That’s what it seems to speak of to me. A repetitive rhythm from the drums is the core of the track. Brett gives a sultry vocal performance and the guitars occasionally break in to dominate proceedings for a while as the rest of the song treads water momentarily. An echoing beat holds sway as the story unfolds before you, it’s a story that will end but will it end well? Does it ever…?

“She wants to buy a world of wonder
She wants to write a song for summer
She gets to me cause I know that summer too
She gets to me cause I know that summer

I never wanted to be lovers that would call it an end…”

Like Fading Stars, features Jim Hines playing a beautifully understated groove for my song. I used my very old piano with a damper on the strings to lull the listener into the quietness of the song opening. These songs are deep and full of emotional triggers for me and I hope you can find your own meaning within them. I know I cried many times as these lines materialized into melodies. Maybe you’ll get something out of them as well.”

An almost carnival-like piano note opens Like Fading Stars, a quiet echo almost unheard in the background. Brett has a stillness and tranquility to his voice, there’s a fragile grace to every note of this dignified and graceful track. Innocence exudes from all corners, a love story that takes place up in the heavens, in the stars. I take my own personal meaning from this song, to me it is inspirational and thought-provoking and reminds me of my own journey of self-discovery.

“Me here, and you there, same fading stars
Somewhere, we were somewhere
Like same fading stars
Oh, you were somewhere like fading stars
Somehow, we were shining
Like fading stars…”

The last track, Light of Things, was released on 5th February 2017.

“The last track for this series – by unplanned motivation – is called Light of Things. It’s a good one folks. I hope you agree. The 1-2 punch of Jeremy Beck and Big Des elevated the recording you hear. Jeremy plays the perfect piano accompaniment. He added a truly unique color to this song with his piano work, as well as some powerful backing vocals that are transparent and sublime. There is nothing overwrought in this recording. It is simple and fitting for my words and melody.  I hope you find something in them; I know I have.”

A cultured and sophisticated song that just oozes warmth and bonhomie Light of Things wears its heart on its sleeve. A simple but evocative vocal and piano open the track before the drums join in and take it to another level. Brett’s voice takes the bittersweet, wistful lyrics and just lifts them to another level, things lost that will never be forgotten, looking back but not in any negative way. You get lost in this seeming personal journey as this remarkable musician opens his heart and soul to the gathered crowd. This elegantly subdued song leaves a mark on you that will never fade such is its impact.

“Now close as continents are away
The devil called at the end of your stay
As our burning time crashed to the sea
We were love that died in the air
From an arrow of secrets that you shared
Then the distance came in…”

A charming, captivating musical journey that will lead everybody on a different path ‘Open Skies Exploding’ is songwriting at its best. Uncomplicated and effortless, Brett Kull has that innate skill that the best musicians possess, the ability to make the listener forget themselves and be completely immersed in the spellbinding music that he creates. The man is a bloody genius, there’s no other word for it!

Released 24th December 2016 through 5th February 2017.

Buy ‘Open Skies Exploding’ from bandcamp

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Dying Bride Sign To Nuclear Blast

For 27 years, MY DYING BRIDE from West Yorkshire have been the voice of the hopeless and broken, combining haunting sounds with crushing misery and melancholy. With their signature sound they’ve shaped the doom metal scene like barely any other act and integrated both soft violin melodies and violent death metal growls into their music, whilst always staying strictly loyal to themselves. And since the early Nineties, the band’s masterminds and founding members Andrew Craighan and Aaron Stainthorpe forged beautiful grief into twelve studio albums with songs of epic length.

However for their 13th release, the band is now bound for new horizons and proudly announces their signing to Nuclear Blast Records!

Singer and lyricist Aaron Stainthorpe comments:

“It is with great pleasure that MY DYING BRIDE can announce they will be joining forces with the formidable Nuclear Blast Records in early 2017 and have already begun working on material for the next LP and singles. It is no secret that Nuclear Blast have continued to expand greatly over the years, signing epic bands from all corners of the world and giving them the chance they deserve to make something of themselves in the ever expanding metal scene. And it’s time that MY DYING BRIDE came along for the ride. We are hoping that this wedding between a very solid label and a well-established act will bear fruit of mighty proportions in the exciting years to come!”

 Since MY DYING BRIDE rarely leave their damp catacombs to perform live rituals, each show is a highlight in itself and on April 22nd, the group will expose their legendary album ‘Turn Loose The Swans’ in its entire length at Roadburn Festival. Together with Shaun ‘Winter’ Taylor-Steels on drums and a special backdrop lighting, the band will haunt the Dutch stage and deliver a truly unique experience.

MY DYING BRIDE live:
22nd April – NL, Roadburn Festival
15th July – POL,  Bolkow, Castle Party
1st October – UK, HRH Doom Vs HRH Stoner

More information:

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Review – IT – We’re All In This Together – review by Emma Roebuck

You know when you listen to an album and then look the band up and realise you have missed out a fair few albums and some cracking music?  Well that’s how I feel about IT and the album ‘W.A.I.T.T.’ (We’re All In This Together) after just a couple of plays. It is definitely an album of, and for, its time. 2017 is a time of flux politically with some scary things happening to everyday people everyday right now. This album is one that reflects that narrative very well.

Nick Jackson (mastermind No 1), Andy Rowberry (mastermind No 2), James Hawkins (Bass), Will Chism (Drums), and Ryan McCaffrey (keyboards/saxophone) form the band, each seem to have their hands in many pies but they still feel like a unit on this album. Check the website out for whom and what they are, it’s fascinating to see the influences they cite, no spoilers from me I promise.

Thematically the album is roughly the equivalent of “I am Daniel Blake”, the narrative of an austerity ridden country on the wrong end of one too many cuts and the impact these make on the key characters. In 10 songs we are taken on a journey cutting from the political voice to the personal voices of the characters. Opening with Power, a menacing bass line drags in a driving guitar riff with an urgent riff building tension relieved only briefly by spoken voiceovers, talking of the selfish power mad political masters.

Now, before I go any further I want to stop and reflect that the subject matter is dark and filled with insurrection and revolution. Although political in context this in no way makes this preaching or ranting in the way it delivers. Think of Pink Floyd’s ‘Animals’ or Steven Wilson with ‘Hand Cannot Erase’ as topical and full of insight but still damned fine albums rather than the protest songs that will be filling your minds from my first few paragraphs. Much has been said by Prog Fans about politics and music and how they should never mix. Although I fundamentally disagree with that, I accept that some think this and I do not want to prevent anyone from even trying to hear what I see as an excellent album.

Moving swiftly on, the music flows from one song to another and has been considered and crafted to have the feel of a single suite rather than 10 songs glued together in the name of a “concept”. The Working Man is catchy and has a rather gloomy, if eminently ‘singalong’, chorus line. “Living on a landfill of plastic and bone” is an ear worm if ever there was one, if a tad strange to anyone not tuned into to your headphones. This is melancholy in the mould of Porcupine Tree or Steve Thorne, at its best poppy & accessible but also with hidden depths.

Gamble The Dream is a real rock out with a  hard guitar riff driving the song, reflecting the pressure on the economy and the drive to achieve. In the gloomy Voices we find ourselves in the head of the protagonist of the album. A George Galloway speech slots in here assaulting Blair and Bush directly on the impact of the Iraq War and the aftermath. The most challenging song on the album but it is anthemic in its delivery.

The epic in length and content The Path Of Least Resistance, at just under 12 minutes, showcases the song writing and musicianship. The key and time signature changes with a wailing guitar solo are wholly worthy of a Guthrie or a Gilmour.

The album ends with Revolution, a thundering bass line with a malevolent tone and a Theremin (?) wailing in the background. The ultimate end to all corrupt systems or a desire change things in extreme circumstances? Again another riff and hook line here that you may well find yourself singing along to on the commute home.

This album has something for everyone – strong riffology, melody, song writing at its core and a tongue in it’s cheek throughout. If art is a reflection of society then this album is art. Fans of Pink Floyd, Dream Theater, Porcupine Tree or Steven Wilson will find something in this to delight in. This is the face of modern Prog shown in a bright light. It blows the cobwebs away stimulates the brain and challenges us to think.

As ever this is not a song by song review nor is it highlights but a whistle stop tease and my opinion of the Album.

Released 1st March 2017

Buy ‘W.A.I.T.T’ direct from the band here

 

Review – The Mute Gods – Tardigrades Will Inherit The Earth – by James R. Turner

The Mute Gods: ‘Tardigrades will inherit the Earth’

I had to do some googling to find out what a Tardigrade was, upon first reveal of the albums title I thought Tardigrades were what I achieved in my A levels all those dim and distant years ago, and it was ‘great my time has come’.

Upon reverting to the nearly always accurate Wikipedia it turns out a Tardigrade is not a D in media Studies but an odd looking water dwelling eight legged micro animal, sometimes known as water bears or moss piglets, it appears that these animals can survive in extreme conditions that would kill everything else, hence the title, which suggests that long after we’ve gone and done our damage to the worlds ecosystem, these little guys (no more than 0.5mm in length) will still be here.

Dark stuff indeed from the Mute Gods on their second album.

Following on from 2014’s ‘Do Nothing til you hear From Me’, Nick Beggs, Roger King and Marco Minneman have gone into even darker territory than on their debut.

Here Beggs and co are full of anger and despair at the current global situation, and this is reflected in some heavy musical passages, angry and impassioned vocals from Beggs and a musical sound that veers from outright darkness to shades of lighter music, where the mix of almost progressive metal turns on it’s head to a more melodic sound.

Having worked together as part of the Steve Hackett band, Beggs and King found a musical rapport that comes to fruition in the Mute Gods, and adding Minneman, who Beggs worked with in the Steven Wilson band, you find a musical collective who are so in tune with each other that it drives the music on.

Instead of utilising guest musicians, this record is firmly focused on the diverse and multi faceted approach that the three members bring to the table, a contemporary progressive power trio if you will. However there is none of the pomp and circumstance that you’d get from an ELP, or the look at me battle for supremacy that destroyed Cream.

Instead this is all about the music, and more importantly all about the songs on here. Tackling both his trademark Chapman stick and guitars on this album, as well as the vocals, Beggs is firmly at the forefront on this record, stepping away from the sideman role he does so well into the role of frontman, which he carries off with style and real musical presence throughout this record, the sublime sound of his guitar and bass on tracks like The Dumbing of the Stupid is one of the defining sounds of this record.

Roger Kings keyboard, guitar work and production make this a sonically adventurous release, with some real beautiful musical peaks, this is not a record for the faint hearted by any stretch, if however you want your horizons broadening and your music and lyrics full of inconvenient truths, then this is for you.

Drumming powerhouse Marco Minneman is the driving force on this record, his mighty drum sound thundering through like the hammer of Thor, as tracks like the first single We Can’t Carry On demonstrate.

The heaviness is reined in on tracks like the Early Warning, which has a melodic feel to it, not dissimilar to Lifesigns debut (which Beggs was an integral part of).

The title track has an 80’s vibe to it, with a fantastic guitar line some classic synth sounds and great vocals by Beggs, this is probably the closest to a single on the album, and one which mixes Beggs pop and prog sensibilities to create a superb song. Highlight for me on the album has to be the wonderful The Singing Fish Batticaloa with its superb vocals, and the way it grows into a moving anthemic modern prog song, is sheer ecstasy for the ears.

This album pulls no punch when it comes to painting a picture of the state of the world currently, and there are some people out there (mainly on Facebook & twitter) who think that artists shouldn’t comment on what’s happening in the world, I say why not? Some of the greatest art and music has come from a time of trouble and darkness in the world, and there’s no point our musical heroes going all ostrich on us and ignoring the current global climate of hatred and fear.

This makes this album an uneasy listen, but when it’s wrapped up in such intense and well crafted music and a superb production that allows the songs to shine, this is something you have to hear, whether you like the message or not.

Released February 24th 2017

Buy ‘Tardigrades Will Inherit The Earth’ from Burning Shed’s Inside Out Store

Review – Telepathy – Tempest – by Kevin Thompson

There’s a storm brewing and it’s name is not Doris.

Welcome to the world of Telepathy who’s sound is self described as ‘furiously played progressive sludge, intricate soundscapes and a bucketload of riffs’. Their new album ‘Tempest’ is as heavy as your Grandad’s pit boots and blacker than the coal face he worked on, this is serious intelligent metal and your Granny better not forget it.

Formed in 2011 this Colchester, ‘almost instrumental’ Quartet comprising of, Piotr Turek, Albert Turek, Richard Powley and Teddy-James Driscoll, are loud and furious balanced with lighter passages and awash with melody, setting them apart from many contemporaries. I’ll enlighten you on the ‘almost’ later.

 There is a huge variety of riffs bursting from every track of this, their sophomore concept album which is based around the harrowing journey of a person tormented with grief and facing total isolation on awaking after a great flood.

The album leads you on a journey from the awakening on First Light a delicate short piece with the peaceful sound of water lapping on the shore then the waves of emotion hitting you with force.

You rise dazed from the pounding and survey the devastation around you and see Smoke From Distant Fires, as the grimy tendrils rise in thick clouds of guitars, pushed skywards by the heavy beat of drums. You are teased by moments of light as the cacophony fades momentarily and you try to recover your thoughts and bearings, mind swirling with cloying dark thoughts like the smoke blotting out the sky.

With the realisation of what has occurred, you stumble forward, faced with Mother Nature’s Celebration Of Decay everywhere you turn, tortured walls of sound painting a grim picture as you tread a path through the desolate landscape.

The ebb and flow of the waves recedes as you clamber over broken buildings and is blotted out by the Echo Of Souls from the shattered bodies strewn like beached fish after the waters returned to Neptune on bitter sweet echoing notes. It is here where the tortured background vocals put paid to the instrumental sway.

Screams of the injured instruments and damaged limbs like an Apparition from Hell as people whimper for help, trapped beneath the rubble. People stagger toward you blood soaked and mauled from the brutal phenomena. Closing in around you their cries for aid building and you push your way through in no state to help them as you are as much a victim.

This does not make sense, how did this come to be? The grief rises in you in terrible waves and Hiareth overcomes you, as you remember your family and the dawning realisation they may too have been caught in this. Are they still alive, are they injured, is anyone helping them? Your head spins with the music of suffering and panic raises nausea in you and you drop to the ground, retching in the muddy pools.

The recent memories flood in, The Water Divides The Tides, as pieces fall into place. Wiping your mouth with the back of your hand you push yourself to your feet the oppressive weight of guilt strapped to your back and you make for the road and head homeward, to find what you will find.

What caused this? Is it punishment for our sins, could we have done more? Have I been the best Father and Husband I could be? Retribution has been brought down upon us like a huge hammer, crushing everything underneath it. What can we do, just accept the aftermath and try to make amends? Is this what is expected of us, a Metanoia, repentance, to change our hearts?

The heavy price paid, must be earned back and not gambled on as a game of reckless roulette. All must atone or all will suffer and perish.

This is an album of structured complexity, a catharsis of experimentation and one you need to immerse yourself in, pulling yourself back to the surface to breathe then dive back in to listen again so you can fully appreciate the unbridled sonic tapestry.

Not music to be taken lightly and only to be approached if you can swim with the tide and stay afloat. Not for the faint of heart but numerous listens will reward on an album of superior metal.

If this is your type of music you won’t need telepathic persuasion to buy, it’s a must.

Released 31st March 2017

Pre-order ‘Tempest’ from Golden Antenna