Review – Meridian Incident – Istology – by Progradar

(Featured image by Fotodog)

Formed in 2010 by former members of Drift Effect and Morning Society, Meridian Incident (comprised of Ray Smart, Marc Hedman-Dennis, Adam Schmid and Tom Trenka) is a progressive rock group with a longstanding history of playing together on some of the Twin Cities’ most prominent stages. With a sound reminicent of A Perfect Circle, Tool, Porcupine Tree and a touch of Pink Floyd, MI is a tour-de-force of compositional and technical artistry.

I first connected with Meridian Incident through the positive power of social media. The band had shared a sponsored video for the track Yellow Wings on Facebook and I had a listen and thought to myself that I’d heard something just a bit special. I contacted the band and then things went on from there with me receiving their new album ‘Istology’ for review.

A concept album about an intriguing hero or heroine that lives in all of us, the forthcoming ‘Istology’ is based on a screen play (written by Ray Smart) that tells the story of Janey, a girl tormented by abuse as a child who embarks on an unbeaten path of self-discovery.  Subtly including iconic worldwide spiritual imagery, ‘Istology’ follows Janey through a journey plagued by shadows of self-destruction and loathing, to a place of understanding and acceptance of self.  The album tells Janey’s story as she evolves through a remarkable transformation: learning to overcome, learning to love, and finally learning to trust.

So, a complex story then but would the music actually be any good? Read on and find out…

Opening track Scene 13 is very much a scene setter with its laid back and measured introduction that you feel is just building up to something much more imposing. Layers get added to increase the complexity and the vocals begin, weaving their story into your psyche. Ray has a really good voice, complex and full of meaning and uses it to great effect throughout the album. The tension builds more and more as the tempo increases slightly and Ray gets more passion and even a hint of menace in his voice. The song begins to open up with Adam’s powerful drums and Marc hits us with some intense guitar work, Tom’s bass driving the whole thing. A really intense musical workout to get your synapses sparking.

Title track Istology opens with 90’s grunge inspired riffing and drums before Ray channels his inner Eddie Vedder and we are treated to a really classy track with an abundance of energy and dynamism. I was a huge Pearl Jam fan back in the day and this song reminds me a lot of those times with the lighter calmer verses being accompanied by the heavier chorus and that really addictive riffing. There’s a nice break in the middle where Marc gets to show off his technique to the full before some punchy riffage gets us back on course. It’s like 90’s grunge brought bang up to date and, to my ears anyway, works extremely well.

Yellow Wings is the song that got me interested in this band in the first place, I love its heartfelt lyrics and Ray’s voice delivers perfectly. An ardent track that bleeds sincerity, especially on the fervent and moving chorus. There’s a staccato backbeat running throughout, delivered by guitar and drums to give the song and edgy feel at times before the emotionally poignant chorus delivers its knockout blow and Marc hits us with a solo utterly infused with pathos and sentiment. Listening to the track while I’m writing this review just brings back the goosebumps I felt on first listen, a truly powerful and emotive song typified by the expressive guitar and vocals.

Let’s take a more mellow and benign route with In The Wake Of My Own, a laid back and chilled song that still has a lot of meaning and poignance underneath the surface. There is wistful feel to the music and Ray’s vocal has sentimentality at the core. Think of hazy summer days and sepia tinged nostalgia, a superbly calming influence runs throughout this amiable track and as it comes to a close you feel like a weight has been lifted from your whole being.

The album segues straight into Along The Shore, an intricate drum-led introduction leaves a haunting impression on my mind, the distant voices and vibrating guitars give a persistant edginess and disturbed aura to everything. It’s a restless and uneasy instrumental that leaves questions in your mind.

Where the previous track left an uneasy feeling, When The Tide Carries The Lotus is an utterly relaxing three minutes of instrumental bliss. Piano led, it is like a gently flowing stream finding its own course through your mind. I felt a feeling of beatific serenity fall over me as each note played out and, as it faded out, I was left with a smile on my face and peace in my heart.

Hallowed opens with a subtle guitar tone and the continuously impressive drums leading the way. Ray’s earnest vocals have something of a hazy feel to them. The track continues to meander gently along, tranquil and somewhat bucolic, an elegant piece of music with lasting emotion at its centre. A more serious tone seeps in as the guitar is unleashed with more ferocity and Ray’s vocal soars to join it before Marc let’s loose a powerful, stirring solo that leads to an impassioned close.

Yellow Wings (Reprise) is a more circumspect version of the track, opening in a judicious manner with a staccato riff and Ray’s almost indistinct vocals. The pace is turned down a notch and the sentiment increased to give it a pared back yet stylish feel. The powerful emotion of the original is replaced with something more subtle and considerate without losing any of the intent. There’s a dynamic instrumental section which, though short, injects some authority into proceedings and Ray’s excellent vocal is present and correct as ever. A refined and suggestive version that stands comparison in its own right and I love the way it closes out.

A pensive and somber guitar opens The Mirror Stares Back and Ray’s ominous vocal joins in to give a quite oppressive solemness to the track. It creeps along in a reflective and preoccupied manner leaving you almost mesmerised with the suspense. A clever use of music to affect your mood and immerse you in the storyline. As the volume increases so does the apprehension and tension, almost becoming unbearable before the song comes to a close and the shackles are unlocked.

And we segue straight into the heavy riffing opening to Shadows, the Soothsayer. A quite hypnotic guitar and drums leave you in a trance like state as the short instrumental gets under your skin, insinuating itself into your very being. A high energy, almost manic close-out leaves you breathless.

Alternative and grunge combine to good effect on Echo In The Water. A low key opening very reminiscent of Porcupine Tree in the early days catches your attention with its subtle complexities. There is some great bass playing and the guitar and drums combine to lead the story on as Ray adds nuances to his vocal delivery. A perceptive and probing track that scores on many levels. There’s a great guitar solo full of meaning and significance and the song breaks out into a hard rocking finish that leaves you properly sated.

There’s no break before we rush headlong into Wind Through The Bodhi Leaves, a potently compelling two minutes that just blows you away as it increases in force and demeanour before blowing out like an almighty backdraft and leading in the composed and sedate Mer De Lumieres, the antithesis of the chaos that came before. It calms your fevered brow and lowers your heart rate before we come to the last track on the album.

Wistful and winsome, Diaspora, Under A Red Sky is a sea of calm serenity that just washes over your tortured soul. From the sublime guitars and gentle drums to Ray’s ethereal like vocals, it has an almost ghost-like and intangible feel, like something just out of reach, a musical mirage that teases you with its benign and soothing tranquility. Graceful music and vocals combine to deliver just under five minutes of music that restores and invigorates your very being.

‘Istology’ is a musical drama and journey that ebbs and flows over it’s sixty minutes to leave the listener completely sated. There’s a subtle intelligence at the core of this release and it is delivered by four musicians at the height of their powers. It should be taken in one complete listen to get the full experience and you will come out of the other end an altogether better and happier person for it.

Released February 2017.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LEVIN BROTHERS 2017 TOUR feat. TONY & PETE LEVIN with ERIK LAWRENCE & JEFF SIEGEL

Tony Levin is currently on tour with his progressive avant-rock band STICK MEN (heading in a few days to the Cruise To The Edge, followed by the trip to Japan), and in March and April, his jazz band, featuring his brother PETE LEVIN, will hit the road, performing in Chile, Uruguay, Argentina, Bolivia, El Salvador and the USA.
Here are all confirmed dates:
March 4 – Rosendale, NY, USA (Rosendale Cafe)
March 10 – Santiago, Chile (Teatro Teletón)**
March 13 – Montevideo, Uruguay (Las Trastienda)**
March 15 – Mar del Plata, Argentina (Teatro Colón)**
March 16 – La Plata, Argentina (El Teatro Sala Opera)**
March 17 – Rosario, Argentina (Teatro Sala Lavardén)**
March 18 – Buenos Aires, Argentina (ND Teatro)**
March 21 – La Paz, Bolivia (Teatro Municipal)**
March 24 – San Salvador, El Salvador (Scenarium)**
March 29 – Pawling, NY, USA (Daryl’s House)**
March 30 – Natick, MA, USA (Natick Center For Arts)**
March 31 – Schenectady, NY, USA (The Van Dyck Lounge)
April 1 – Rochester, NY, USA (The Lovin’ Cup)
April 2 – New Hope, PA, USA (Havana)**

April 3 – Piermont, NY, USA (The Turning Point)
April 4 – New York, NY, USA (The Iridium)**
TONY LEVIN – upright bass, cello
PETE LEVIN – piano, organ
ERIK LAWRENCE sax, flute
JEF SIEGEL – drums
** Dates with Leonardo/MoonJune..
On this tour, Levin Brothers will perform as well several specially  arranged tunes for the Latin American market, in addition to the material recorded on the debut album.

Citizen Cain’s Stewart Bell presents The Antechamber Of Being (PART TWO)

F2 Music have announced that they are the exclusive worldwide distributor of the second solo CD by Citizen Cain’s keyboard player Stewart Bell. The album, called “The Antechamber Of Being (Part 2) – Stories From The Antechamber” is released on 27/02/2017 and is a Prog Rock opera featuring contributions from five vocalists; Simone Rossetti (of The Watch), Arjen Anthony Lucassen (of Ayreon), Phil Allen (of Citizen Cain), Bekah Mhairi Comrie and Stewart Bell himself. Each of the vocalists play a different character in the story.

In this second part of Stewart Bell’s epic trilogy of concept albums we are once again taken on a journey through the inner realms alongside the main character, The Dreamer and his mentor, The Teacher. Taking place during the same time period as ‘The Antechamber Of Being (Part 1)’, which was released in 2014, the story follows the main characters as they continue to explore the amazing experiences made possible through lucid dreaming; the weird phenomena inherent with this type of conscious exploration of one’s mind; the questions that arise through encounters with seemingly independent dream beings and; the realisations and conclusions that are ultimately reached after a lifetime of dreaming awake.

Stewart has been the main composer/ keys player in long running progressive rock band Citizen Cain since the early 90s, and in 2012 he decided to pursue a solo career, starting work on a trilogy of concept albums entitled The Antechamber Of Being. The story is autobiographical and is based on Stewart’s lifelong experiences with lucid dreaming – which is something he learned at 6 years old, when his older brother taught him how to be aware while he was asleep and dreaming in order to help him overcome recurring nightmares.

This will appeal not only to existing Citizen Cain fans but also to a much wider audience as Stewart continues to delve into elements of Prog metal, experiments with new soundscapes and brings his unique storytelling gift to the lyrics, in which he also shares his extensive knowledge of lucid dreaming. It will be sure to please any lover of progressive music while the intriguing, amusing and, at times, touching storyline may even inspire the listener to take control of their own subconscious mind and experience lucid dreaming for themselves…

There’s a limited special edition artbook version of the album and digital download also available from the Citzen Cain website here:

Stewart Bell – The Antechamber of Being Part 2 Limited Edition

And don’t forget, Part 1 of the trilogy is still available exclusively from F2 Music Ltd…

 

 

Interview With Tim Bowness by Progradar

After my review of Tim Bowness’ excellent latest release i got together with the man himself to ask him some probing, journalistic type questions…

1.    Your new album ‘Lost In The Ghost Light’ is due to be released 17th February, how would you say this differs from your three previous solo releases?

I think the main difference is that I was working towards fully realising the story, rather than making a Tim Bowness (or No-Man) album.

‘Abandoned Dancehall Dreams’ emerged out of demos I’d written and compiled for a follow-up to ‘Schoolyard Ghosts’.  Steven (Wilson) was too busy to commit to a No-Man album so he offered to mix what I came up with. I was forced to make a solo album (or my idea of what a No-Man album could sound like). The reaction to the album was very positive, so I embarked upon making an album that came out of ‘Abandoned Dancehall Dreams’, but accentuated the extremes and what it was I thought was ‘Tim Bowness’. I see ADD and Stupid Things as strongly linked, whereas my debut solo album (‘My Hotel Year’ from 2004) always felt like a patchwork compromise as it comprised offcuts from several separate projects I was working on.

‘Lost In The Ghost Light’ is as much a themed and coherent album as ADD and Stupid Things are, but it sprung entirely from the concept and the music was written to enhance the lyrical themes. In some ways, it’s my version of a Moonshot album!

Because the album deals with someone who made classic ‘Progressive’ music, it gave me an excuse to take the bits of that music that I still love and integrate them into my own music.

2.    The album was mixed and mastered by Steven Wilson, how involved were you in the process and who makes the final call on when the album is considered finished?

I make the final call. Basically, I give Steven the material and some instructions and he weaves his audio magic. All creative decisions regarding arrangements and how the album should sound and flow are mine though. Steven’s great to work with in that he’s very quick, very good and knows what I like / want.

3.    We have both agreed that there is a definitive ‘Tim Bowness’ sound, would you say this has been there from the start or developed over the  years and the different releases?

I think that my ‘signature’ vocal approach and sound has been there since the early days of No-Man. It’s a blessing and a curse in that it’s an instant identifier, but one that’s strong in a way that people either love or hate.

I would say that vocally and lyrically I’ve subtly developed over the years, while the contexts I sing over have often frequently changed.

4.    Where did the ideas for the album come from and how do you go about writing the songs?

As I say in the Album Notes for the album, I’ve always been fascinated by the iron grip holds over fans and musicians alike, and how supposedly adolescent obsession can become a lifetime’s prison sentence for some of us.

It‘s a requiem for a type of music, a type of musician and a particular form of music production (the album).

I was interested to know how the fact that people don’t financially or culturally value music as much as they did in earlier eras impacts on musicians who grew out of the 1960s revolution (where music was vitally important on so many levels and in so many sectors of society). Also, I’m interested to know how playing to an older audience just wanting ‘the hits’ affects a musician who once believed they could change the world with their music. Of course, some of my own fears are wrapped up in the story.

5.    Do you have a personal favourite track on the album (mine is ‘Worlds of Yesterday’) or is that like asking a parent which of their children is the favourite?

In this case, it’s more difficult than most, because I think it works as a whole album as much as anything else. I suppose my favourites would be Worlds Of Yesterday because of the solos by Bruce Soord and Kit Watkins, and You Wanted To Be Seen because of its unpredictable shift. I also really like Bruce’s solo at the end of You’ll Be The Silence and Ian Anderson’s stunning contribution to Distant Summers.

6.    When you finish an album is it consigned to the past as you move on to the next project or are they more than just musical compositions to you?

They are more in that I’m completely obsessive and immersed in my albums when making them and some of those albums remain very close to me. That said, I do tend to immerse myself in a project, and once it’s out listen to the official release all the way through on headphones and then move on to the next obsession/album.

7.    Do you prefer the process of making a solo album to collaborations like No-Man?

I enjoy both. I really like seeing where I can take my music as a solo artist, but I also like the collaborative aspects of No-Man, Memories Of MachinesBowness/Chilvers and other projects. Alternating between both works because it means there’s a sense of constant movement, rather being stuck in the same groove.

8.    How did you come to sign with InsideOut for your solo releases?

I was really lucky that a few labels liked the album and wanted to release it. I went with Inside Out because the core people at the company were so enthusiastic. Kscope were very positive about the album, but admitted they wouldn’t do much with it in terms of promotion and that they’d just market it as a No-Man offshoot. By comparison, Inside Out (who have a slightly different audience from Kscope) said they’d put it out, do their best and see what happens. In other words, it was less predetermined. They’re really easy to work with as well as being proactive, so I don’t regret the decision.

9.    Your career started in the 1990’s, did you always want to be a musician, how did you get started and who were your early influences?

I was obsessed with music from my early teens onward. Along with books and films, it was a great escape from a pretty miserable adolescence.

I started singing at 18 with a band of friends and by 19 I’d moved on to a band of older musicians in Manchester and was making music of a more ambitious nature.

One of the most influential albums for me when I stated out was Peter Hammill’s Over. It gave me the belief that an audience could get something out of the music I wanted to make. For a couple of years, the Peter Hammill influence was strong, particularly on my singing style.

Outside of that I loved Kate Bush, Gabriel/Genesis, Pink Floyd, King Crimson, David Bowie, The Beatles, Roy Harper,10cc, The Who, Led Zeppelin, Gentle Giant, Yes, Al Stewart and some of the more fashionable bands of my youth such as Associates and Joy Division.

10. What’s different about being an artist now compared to then? Is it harder to get started in the music business nowadays?

Much, much harder (and it was never easy). When I started I could walk up to major DJs (Mark Radcliffe being one) and get my demos played on the likes of Piccadilly Radio. It did take a few years to get a decent deal and a foothold in the industry though.

11. What one piece of advice would you give to up and coming musicians?

Truthfully, I wouldn’t know where to begin as the industry has changed so much over the last two decades.

12. Which other musicians do you listen to now?

Too many to mention. I’m still an avid music listener and purchaser, so over the last few months even, I’d have listened to music old and new from George Gershwin to Arvo Part, Michael Chapman to Leonard Cohen, Opeth to Big Big Train, Elbow to Mark Eitzel, The Strawbs to Labi Siffre and so on.

13. The advent of the internet, streaming downloads etc. Do you think this is a good or a bad thing and why?

It’s both. I still buy physical items and love the intricacy and possibilities of album artwork, but I also use streams to discover music that I may want to buy.

I don’t feel streams encourage detailed listening or an engagement with music / ’the album’ as an art form. On a personal level, the move towards streams (and ‘single’ streams at that) pushes me even more towards making detailed artwork and sonically rich ‘album experiences’.

14. Your specialist online label/store Burning Shed that you run with Pete Morgan is considered a success story, how did you come to set it up?

It developed out of two things, No-Man’s Mail Order company (we sold exclusive releases to a mailing list and it operated from Steven’s and then my house), and an idea I had for a label (to make cost-effective, idealistic side project albums). It evolved into hosting No-Man’s and Porcupine Tree’s online stores and grew via word of mouth from there.

15. Is there one artist you would love to have on your label?

Lots! Elbow, Sigur Ros, Brian Eno, Lindsey Buckingham, Peter Gabriel, Kate Bush, Mark Eitzel, Arvo Part, Camel and dozens of others.

16. Will there be a tour to support the new album?

So far, I have a support slot to Marillion at the UK Marillion Weekend, but nothing else planned . As it worked so well in 2016, I might do some more co-headlines with iamthemorning. Outside of that, it would be great to do a full theatrical production of ‘Lost In The Ghost Light’ if there was interest in it.

17. Which do you prefer, making records or playing those records live?

I enjoy both experiences, but probably prefer the control of the studio environment and the thrill of coming up with something unexpected that inspires me.

18. Finally, what lies ahead for Tim Bowness?

There’s going to be a second Bowness/Chilvers album, which is a continuation of ‘California, Norfolk’ (from 2002) and quite different from ‘Lost In The Ghost Light’. There’ll also be an album with pre-No-Man band Plenty; an arty Electro Pop confection!

I’ve also written material with Kit Watkins and would very much like to follow on from ‘Lost In The Ghost Light’ on a solo level and see if I can take some of the sounds and ideas on the album further.

You can order ‘Lost In The Ghost Light’ here

 

Dave Foster Launches Kickstarter Campaign For Vinyl Version of ‘Dreamless’ Album

After much demand, renowned Panic Room and The Steve Rothery Band guitarist Dave Foster has launched a Kickstarter campaign to manufacture and release his latest solo album ‘Dreamless’ on vinyl.

You can support the campaign here:

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1096612854/dreamless-vinyl?ref=user_menu

Dave had this to say about the project:

“There have been so many requests to release the album ‘Dreamless’ on vinyl that it’s about time it happened. Its is one of those albums that deserves to be heard in all it’s glory on a turntable. Due to the albums length it spans four sides, so it very satisfyingly is a double album.

This edition of the album will feature some extra sleeve notes which are my notes about the recording and the origin of each track.

I hope that you guys really want this to be on vinyl as much as I do, it will sound ace. If the project doesn’t make it’s target, I don’t have the resources to fund it myself so sadly it wouldn’t happen…..but I think you guys will make it happen.”

I had this to say about the album when I reviewed ‘Dreamless’ on the 1st of June last year:

“The usually modest and self-effacing Dave Foster has stepped out of the shadows and onto centre stage to deliver his second solo opus and is to be applauded and admired for doing so. Such a variety of moods, styles and colours doesn’t always mix well but when it is done with consummate skill, like it is here, you are treated to a cornucopia of musical delights. While neither ground breaking or game changing, what it is is really rather good.”

Check out Amitriptyline from the album:

(Featured Image Andy Hibbs Photography).

 

 

Progradar’s Interview With Matt Page of Dream The Electric Sleep

Ahead of their first ever London show at The Black Heart in Camden on February 8th, I got together with Dream The Electric Sleep‘s Matt Page.

Vocalist and guitarist Matt formed the band with Joey Waters (drums), and Chris Tackett (bass) in Lexington in 2009.  After two self-produced, independent releases, “Lost and Gone Forever” (2011) and “Heretics”(2014), Dream the Electric Sleep’s third album, “Beneath the Dark Wide Sky,” marked a clear shift in the band’s songwriting style and sonic quality which Prog Magazine hailed as ‘monumental’.

  1. You formed in 2009, how did you guys get together initially?

Joey, our drummer, and I are cousins and have played together for over 20 years so DTES has been in the making for a while! We played in other projects and kept trying to figure out what we wanted to do with our sound, our direction and the sorts of songs we wanted to write. We heard Chris Tackett was moving to town and he was a in a band we loved (Chum) from many years earlier and he contacted us to see if we wanted to try and put something together. After the first rehearsal we knew it was the sound we had been looking for and DTES started 🙂

  1. Which bands were the early influences on your style of music?

We each have some similar influences but also some very different ones. I think all three of us would agree Pink Floyd and Zeppelin would be the core set that we as a band constantly look back to, but that is really just the tip of the iceberg. I grew up on Rush, Metallica, Tool, U2, Peter Gabriel, Elton John, Tori Amos, Joni Mitchel etc… that was where I came from. Chris was into Swans, The Beatles, Black Sabbath, Queen, and Neurosis and Joey loved all of the above plus Soundgarden, Pantera and Alice in Chains.

  1. And who do you listen to now?

Its all over the map! St. Vincent, Beach Boys, The Life and Times, Gorgoroth, Buried at Sea, Dragged Into Sunlight, Tom Petty, Janis Joplin… no continuity as you can see! We try to let all these things come in and find a place in what we do. It makes this project so much more interesting to see how sounds will collide!

  1. You released your third album “Beneath the Dark Wide Sky” last year, how would you say this record differed from your earlier releases “Lost and Gone Forever” and “Heretics”?

I would say it is more deliberate. It was the first time we worked with a producer, and that was a great experience for us. Nick Raskulinecz was another lens to see the music through and he helped us tighten up the vision we had for the album. The earlier releases are more experimental, which I like and I think we will return to, but this time we wanted more focus to see what that would do to us, our writing, and the final product.

  1. I believe “Beneath The Dark Wide Sky” is about a historical moment in the US called the Dust Bowl? What inspired you to write about this?

“Beneath the Dark Wide Sky” is inspired by photographs taken of the Dust Bowl in the 1930’s by American photographer Dorothea Lange. Lange worked for the United States Works Progress Admiration and hoped her photographs could be used to educate the masses (via photo essays in major news publications and magazines) to the poverty and desperate living conditions of thousands of farming families and migratory workers who lived and worked in the drought-struck American Great Plains. Lange believed photographs had the ability to shine an objective light on issues of social justice and environmental degradation and could be used to persuade and motivate social and political change.

Much of what motivated Lange motivates me as the lyricist of the band. How does art inform the way we understand the world we live in and can it motivate us to challenge and change our assumptions? I am not sure there is an easy correlation, but I am very interested in those who try to bridge the gap between art and life.

  1. Prog Magazine described the album as ‘monumental’, do you actually consider yourselves to be a prog band?

That is a good question. I think progressive music has MANY definitions and we fit some of them but not all of them. I never set out to be in a particular genre and because of that, many influences found their way in. This diversity of sound made it harder to define the band and that pushed us further into the progressive community. That particular community wants music that at its core is difficult to define but also music that is searching for something and I would say we fit that bill. We see ourselves as coming out of the spirit of bands like Floyd or Zeppelin or Peter Gabriel or Queen. Those bands are loved by the progressive community and outside it… that is the space I think we are trying to occupy.

  1. Do you think there has been a resurgence in progressive music over the last couple of years?

I do. I think people are craving substance again in music. They want to hear an artist struggle, a reaching for something beyond their grasp, for artists invested in asking questions, thinking about the world, searching and seeking. I think progressive artists are more likely to be engaged in these frameworks and that is where the resurgence is coming from.

  1. Your gig at the Black Heart is your first ever London gig, how much are you looking forward to it?

It is something we have looked forward to for a long time! Most US bands hope to go meet their supporters in other countries and most of the time it never happens. For us to be able to go to London and meet our supporters face-to-face and shake their hands is a big honor. These are the people that have supported us for years and I want to personally thank them! I just want it to be fun for everyone in the room. Live music is a celebration and that is what I am doing, celebrating that moment together, band and supporters united!

  1. Who are your favourite live artists and what is the best gig you’ve ever been to?

I will speak personally here. For me seeing Roger Waters perform the Wall was a big one as well as Peter Gabriel on the 25th anniversary tour of SO. I know Joey recently went to see Devin Townsend and loved it as well as Ghost.

  1. With the advent of the internet, streaming and illegal downloads is recorded music being devalued and are live performances now the best way of connecting with your fans?

Really our best way of connecting with fans has been the internet and releasing albums in that way. In the US the live market is just terrible. I won’t get into the details, but its tough over here. To be able to reach into other parts of the world so easily, it made it possible for us to build a niche of support within the prog community that is spread out all over the globe. Live performances have been way less effective in getting this project where it is. That being said, I am hopeful we can find a way to utilize live performances to reach more people and this current tour is a test of that. We will see if it yields positive momentum!

  1. Do you consider Dream The Electric Sleep to be mainly a live band or a recording band?

I think we have always wanted to be both but as I said in the last response, the US live market is really anemic and scattered right now, at least for us. Because of this we have spent most of our time writing and recording albums as this seems to have been the most productive thing we can do to move the project forward.

  1. What advice would you give to new up and coming artists?

I would tell any band getting started to see this is a long haul process. Finding ways of building a sustainable project should be high on the list. Progress is made inch by inch.

  1. What’s next for the band?

After the tour its time to write again! I hope to take a little bit of a break to reflect on this project and what it needs to be going forward. We have poured every ounce of extra energy we have into this project and over time, you learn more about what you want out of it.

See Dream The Electric Sleep live at The Black Heart on Wednesday 8th February – Free Admission.

You can buy ‘Beneath The Dark Wide Sky’ direct from the band here

 

UNEVEN STRUCTURE SIGN WITH LONG BRANCH RECORDS

Long Branch Records is proud to announce the signing of the french progressive metal sextet UNEVEN STRUCTURE. Their new album La Partition, which they’ve worked on for almost four years now, will be released internationally in Spring 2017.

La Partition is a full concept album and the follow-up to the bands first EP “8” (2009) and their debut full-length “Februus” (2011) which both received great feedback and critical acclaim.

A truly exciting prospect for the future of heavy music, UNEVEN STRUCTURE disassemble and reconstruct the metal genre we all know and love by creating contemporary atmospheric movements that are all at once dripping with seductive cinematic ambience and groove-laden riffs.

Since their critically acclaimed debut album Februus in 2011, Uneven Structure have been hard at work touring, writing, touring and making videos. Although only their second album, the anticipation for La Partition and new material is at an all-time high.

Comments guitarist Igor Omodei: “While not being a fresh start, La Partition is a very different beast from what we’ve released in the past. So it made sense for us to move over to the SPV/ Longbranch Records team to back our evolution both as artists and individuals.  We can’t wait to see these five years of work to unfold over the next weeks. See you on the other side and cheers to you all!” 

See Uneven Structure live: 
25.02.17 –  Haarlem – Complexity Fest, Netherlands
01.04. 17 –  Sucy-en-Brie – Heart Sound Metal Fest, France
29.09.17 -01.10.17 – Cologne – Euroblast Festival, Germany

Get more Uneven Structure news and info at:

Facebook || Twitter || Youtube

ABOUT UNEVEN STRUCTURE:
Hailing from France, one of the biggest markets and breeding stock for bands within the Tech Metal and Progressive Rock scene, Uneven Structure was formed in may 2008 from the intention of Benoit Friedrich (bass) and Igor Omodei (guitar) to finally bring the technically enhanced and progressive music they had been working on for themselves alive. The sound they were aiming to create was a one of a kind merger of groovy polyrythmic guitar riffs with huge slick of ambient guitar leads, which they undoubtedly accomplished.

Since the release of the debut album “Februus” in 2011 the band did multiple European tours with tech metal and prog rock genre-leaders such as Protest The Hero, Textures or Tesseract and performed at festivals such as Brutal Assault or Euroblast. While listening to the new album “La Partition” you will hear and feel the progress and growing the band made since “Februus”, due to the fact that their sound is now even more complex and perfectly arranged, catchy, experimental and technically enhanced, but also groovy. A perfect combination of the hardness of metal with the elaborate techniques of prog and the atmospheric sounds of ambient.

Not only has the sound of Uneven Structure been growing and changing with this new album, but also the band internally. With Arnaud Verrier on drums (ex Zuul FX and Kadinja) and Steeves Hostin (Beyond The Dust) as guitarist the band is more than perfectly prepared to continue their legacy, but also to open a new chapter in their musical career by performing mindblowing live shows all over the world.

Line Up:
Arnaud Verrier – Drums
Benoit Friedrich – Bass
Igor Omodei –  Guitar, Production, Videos
Jérôme Colombelli – Guitar
Matthieu Romarin – Vocals, Production
Steeves Hostin – Guitar

Prog Duo JUPITER HOLLOW Announce Ontario Show Dates; Debut EP ‘Odyssey’ Out Now!

Band picture by Sandra Beatty

Barrie, ON’s ambient progressive metal / rock duo JUPITER HOLLOW announce they will be performing the following Ontario show dates in support of their debut EP ‘Odyssey’ recently released on Jan 13th. 

Show Dates:
Feb 26 – Toronto, ON @ Mod Club
March 3 – Barrie, ON @ The Foxx Lounge
April 15 – Toronto, ON @ Cherry Cola’s N Rock & Rolla Cabaret Lounge

‘Odyssey’ is a concept record featuring 5 tracks to introduce JUPITER HOLLOW‘s ambient experimental progressive songwriting plus will act as a prelude to their planned full length ‘AHDOMN’. The duo was birthed in 2015 and have already mastered the art of bringing their fans on an audio and visual experience. Their sound is usually referred to as spacey, experimental and refreshing, reminding listeners of bands like Tool, Pink Floyd, A Perfect Circle, Tesseract, The Contortionist and Rush. Consisting of two young, passionate and driven Canadian artists, Grant MacKenzie (21) and Kenny Parry (18), the pair perform with a dominating stage presence, while captivating their audiences with their unique sonic journey.

The EP is now streaming at www.JupiterHollow.ca plus on Youtube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x5H7zRhIx_s

The EP is available on iTunes, Amazon.

About the duo:

Grant, who plays guitar, bass and synth for the band started his music career 8 ½ years ago at the age of 12, sitting in his basement watching the movie Rock Prophecies. This movie was about legendary rock photographer Robert M. Knight, finding and transforming a young, unknown guitarist from a small town into a worldwide success. Inspired and motivated, Grant spent the next few years honing his guitar skills, writing music, and later learning the business side by attending college for business marketing. At age 20, Grant was invited into the Brotherhood of the Guitar, by founder Robert M. Knight, leading to endorsements with Ernie Ball Music Man and JH Audio.

While Grant was performing with another group at a local battle of the bands, he came across a mesmerizing singer by the name of Kenny Parry (vocalist, drummer and synth for Jupiter Hollow), who was almost performing as if he was possessed on stage, hitting notes that seemed impossible by any guy. Kenny Parry started music at the young age of 2 years old, setting up pots and pans like a drum set and banging away. This led to an obsession with music, and a discovery of his unique talent. In his teenage years, Kenny won himself the title “Best Drummer in Ontario” 3 years in a row. Around this time, Kenny started learning how to sing after being inspired by singers such as Maynard James Keenan, Mike Lessard, Dan Tompkins and Ian Kenny to name a few. Through years of strengthening his vocal abilities in choirs, bands and hours of dedication, Kenny has acquired an articulate vocal range, relentless endurance, and almost shocking performance through his uncontrollable stage presence.

Shortly after meeting, Grant and Kenny knew that their talents combined would create something truly unique, and Jupiter Hollow was born. Since then, the duo effortlessly created music in Kenny’s basement for months on end. The concept grew to be a two-man band, since Grant and Kenny wrote all of the music and wanted to keep it that way. The two musicians use technology to their advantage, allowing them to perform with a dominating stage presence, while captivating their audiences with their unique sonic journey.

1. Deep In Space (5:06)
2. Ascending (2:52)
3. Hades Heart (4:30)
4. Over 50 Years (5:05)
5. Odyssey (5:50)
EP Length: 23.26
For more info, please visit: www.JupiterHollow.ca.

Review – Slyde – Back Again E.P. – by Progradar

I have been listening to more laid back, contemplative music recently  and really enjoyed some great folk music as well but, every now and again, you need something to blow the cobwebs away.

An email came into Progradar Towers from my friend Matt Benton at Hold Tight PR

“After a two year hiatus, Canadian melodic proggers Slyde are back with their new EP ‘Back Again’. Four tracks of intricate, contrapuntal technical prog-rock, the band’s new release is set to land on February 17. For fans of Haken, Coheed and Cambria, Rush, Dream Theater, etc, Slyde‘s music is driven by the clean vocals of frontman Nathan Da Silva and the powering keyboards of Sarah Westbrook; a beguiling fourpiece with an impressive return to form.”

Being a massive fan of Coheed and Cambria and Haken, that was enough to get me intrigued so I decided to delve into Slyde‘s new four track E.P. ‘Back Again’ and see whether the reality could live up to the promise.

A concept EP, ‘Back Again’ continues to explore the links between environmentalism and the wider world, with a sci-fi twist. Following 2011’s EP ‘Feed The Machine’, which discussed the cyclical pattern of civilization between ‘The Machine’ and ‘The Consciousness’, and 2012’s EP ‘New World Sympathy’, which tackled oil industry and the injustices of mining companies, the new EP ‘Back Again’ traces a similar theme. Lead track Fading centres on the idea of extraterrestrial beings observing Earth and its civilization, but drawing back, due to humanity’s violent and destructive nature.  Similarly, the title track Back Again revolves around the Pale Blue Dot concept and the beauty of our world, which is often overlooked and uncherished by society.

Making up the rest of the band are Alberto Campuzano (bass guitar & backing vocals) and Brendan Soares (drums & backing vocals).

Fading gives no warning and no chance to catch your breath, the riff-heavy opening bars break into tight, if manic, and convoluted keyboard and guitar section before Nathan’s vocals join in and, yes, they do sound a lot like an early Coheed & Cambria but, trust me on this, that is no bad thing. Superb musicianship is at the fore here, just listen to the incredibly intense and intricate short-lived solo that rears up, incandescent and fiery before leaving you with seared eardrums. At times it almost verges on speed metal, such is the breakneck pace but it always has that progressive sensibility at the core. A visceral but incredibly enjoyable listening experience.

A nice 80’s synth inspired intro opens Join The Parade, a track that adds a funky, jazz feeling vibe to the technical wizardry. I really like Nathan Da Silva’s vocal delivery, it has a really unique sound, quite high pitched, that really fits the music. The musicians have turned down the intensity from 10, but only maybe to 8, and the vibe is more relaxed but only like a Tiger is relaxed if you sedate it. Powerful and intense instrumental sections show that this Canadian four piece are ploughing a not inconsiderable furrow with this new E.P. and their prowess is undeniable but what takes it up another notch is the intelligent songwriting which is entirely evident on this impressive track.

A thunderously entertaining song, Divide hoves into view like some elemental behemoth with its forceful and energetic riffs and compelling drumbeats. Like the bastard offspring of a union between early Rush, Haken and Coheed & Cambria it consumes everything before it. The vocals are edgier and more authoritative and the brilliant interplay between keys and twin guitars on the solo in the middle of the track is genius. A track that is immediately accessible but has layers of intricacy, it really does demand repeated listens, just listen to the solemn piano led close out!

The title track is a much more subtle and cultured affair, almost mainstream in its delivery. Back Again is more complex than it would first appear. Insightful lyrics and Nathan’s wistful and contemplative vocal give it a nostalgic feel. The staccato, slightly offbeat rhythm is a nice touch and , as you get further into the song, the music begins to remind me of Iris by The Goo Goo Dolls but with a lot more complexity. This song has layers and layers of impressive multiplicity from the energetic drums to the refined bass playing and it is all held together by the notably imposing guitar playing and Nathan’s signature vocals. A really sophisticated and refined ending to the E.P.

Not just an epic heavy prog-fest, Slyde have delivered an intelligent and compelling 4-track E.P. that hints at much promise to come from this Canadian four piece. It’s on my i-pod for repeated listens and I can see it staying there for some time to come. ‘Back Again’ should be the catalyst that takes this impressive band on the next step to the recognition they truly deserve.

Released 17th February 2017

Purchase from Slyde’s bandcamp page

 

 

 

 

Review – Van Der Graaf Generator – Do Not Disturb – by Emma Roebuck

I feel like I am playing catch up here to be honest. ‘Do Not Disturb’ has been on my ‘to purchase’ list for a while but something always conspired to prevent me.  I bought ‘Trisector’ the week it was released, like many in hope of a rebirth and a recharge of my passion for VDGG. I was disappointed, probably because expectation was too high, but I ashamedly did not rate it or give it the attention that VDGG’s music needs to have be appreciated.

Back to ‘Do Not Disturb’, though I have read other  reviews of it long before I knew I was going to look at it from my critic’s perspective. I will try not to let the views of others seep into my piece but parallels will be drawn.

Messrs  Hammill , Evans and Banton are past masters of Prog and Progression, ploughing their own furrow in a field of innovation and challenge. Peter Hammill famously being influential to the likes of Johnny Lydon and Fish, amongst others, in vocal style and lyrical content. They were the outsiders of the golden era of Prog even pushing the limits of rhythm and tone in an epic way.

The album comes out of the starting gate with a real shocker, Aloft, an ethereal and very open track that slowly bleeds into an urgent, intense examination of the avoidance of life by forever moving forward but never back. The fear that if you stop you will fall being the thematic key in this song, but fear not, the old intense rhythmic atonal VDGG kicks in from nowhere without missing a step, relieving any fear that they had given up on their identity.

Alfa Berlina comes straight from the past, Hugh Banton provides a silky Hammond backdrop that seems to speak of human frailty and what makes us human as a condition of the sum of our memories. I say seem as I am trying to interpret the lyrical content and I hesitate to second guess these guys. This is actually a sing-a-long VDGG with a discernible hook. A late 60s Psychedelia straight from the UFO club complete with oil slides, or maybe that’s just in my head?

Forever Falling is incredibly accessible with a chugging guitar riff carrying you along that could easily fit into an 80s King Crimson or Talking Heads bandwidth. It works because it’s not impersonation, it’s pure VDGG running with an idea to see what happens.

(Oh No! I must have said) Yes, What can I say about this track?  It’s a high point and stood out on the first play through. This is classic VDGG and stands next to the classic tracks of old. I ask how the hell do you write the organised chaos and drag it back through a jazz feel and back through entropy to tease the listener? It has been mooted that this is an exercise in Evans et al doing a VDGG history through one song but I kind of hope that it’s more like they found a groove and followed it to its natural end.

Go, the closing track, is the guys going down the route of old school Krautrock and putting a different spin on it. It’s all atmosphere with a stillness all its own.

The album has tonnes of light and shade and isn’t mired in the past or shackled by it. It has very tight production and, as you would expect, the musicianship is off the chart. I don’t think I heard a bar of 4/4 rhythm from Guy Evans or, conversely, any contrived attempts to be clever. It crosses genres from jazz to progressive and onto electronic.

If this is the end of studio music for Van Der Graaf Generator,as has been inferred by the band, then it is a fitting album to end on. Unlucky thirteenth studio album? Well I don’t think so at all.

Released 30th September 2016

Buy ‘Do Not Disturb’ from Cherry Red Records