Review – Tim Bowness – Lost In The Ghost Light – by Progradar

“Look around you. Everything changes. Everything on this earth is in a continuous state of evolving, refining, improving, adapting, enhancing…changing. You were not put on this earth to remain stagnant.”
Steve Maraboli, Life, the Truth, and Being Free

Yes, everything changes but, in music, sometimes that change either takes what seems like a lifetime or never happens at all. Some of the more established acts could be said to have congealed into their final selves. To be fair, they can often still produce great music but you always know what to expect and that means no more surprises and I for one like a few surprises in my musical journeys.

Tim Bowness has admitted to me himself that he does have a signature sound and it is one that can be heard as the foundation on his previous three solo releases ‘My Hotel Year’ (2004), ‘Abandoned Dancehall Dreams’ (2014) and  2015’s ‘Stupid Things That Mean The World’. 2017 sees him return with a new album, ‘Lost In The Ghost Light’, and a new approach.

Here’s Tim’s thoughts:

“This new album, in some ways, it is quite a departure. There are lots of flutes on it and due to the nature of ‘the concept’, it’s definitely the most traditionally Progressive album I’ve made. It was very much a labour of love and like you say, it ‘felt’like a Tim Bowness album while taking the music into some uncharted places (for me).”

‘Lost In The Ghost Light’ is a concept album revolving around the onstage and backstage reflections of a fictional ‘classic’ Rock musician in the twilight of his career. It is a grand statement about a grand era of music making and an undoubted highlight of Bowness’s career.

Lyrically, the album addresses how the era of streaming and ageing audiences affects creativity, how a life devoted to music impacts on real / family life, and how idealistic beginnings can become compromised by complacency and the fear of being replaced by younger, more vital artists.

Though firmly focused on Bowness’s distinctive voice and musical approach, the album also draws inspiration from the period the concept covers and contains a notable 1970s Symphonic/Progressive Rock influence.

Mixed and mastered by Bowness’s No-Man partner Steven Wilson, ‘Lost In The Ghost Light’ uses a core band comprising Stephen Bennett, Colin Edwin (Porcupine Tree), Bruce Soord (The Pineapple Thief), Hux Nettermalm (Paatos) and Andrew Booker (Sanguine Hum), as well as guests including Kit Watkins (Happy The Man/Camel), Steve Bingham (No-Man) and the legendary Ian Anderson (Jethro Tull). Andrew Keeling (Robert Fripp/Hilliard Ensemble/Evelyn Glennie) arranges for string quartet and flute on three of the album’s
songs.

Jarrod Gosling (I Monster / Cobalt Chapel) provides the fantastically detailed artwork, which includes a visual history of the career of the concept’s subject. Mixed and mastered by Steven Wilson, the special cd/dvd edition also features a 5.1 mix by Bruce Soord.

Tim certainly knows how to start things off with a bang. Opener Worlds Of Yesterday is hypnotic, immersive and mesmerising from the first note, a song that draws you into its soporific embrace to deliver its undoubted charms. The gentle background music has a plaintive guitar note overlaid before Tim’s distinctive vocals begin. His voice is calming and spell-binding at the same time and the beautiful strings that back the chorus work in perfect harmony. The music is full of refined grace and yet the probing guitar that you can hear throughout gives it a questing edge as well. The sedate, ambling keyboards are a delight and the flute just adds another layer of undoubted class, You just have to listen to the run out of this elegant track, it is a brilliant way to close out a song. One for late nights, lights turned down low and something full bodied and red to drink…

Moonshot Manchild opens with a laconic feel, typical Tim Bowness, all laid back vocals and subdued music that gets under your skin in an addictive fashion. There’s a subtle incisiveness running underneath though as the mellow and unhurried music washer over you. Classic 70’s keyboards give a real feeling of wistful nostalgia and a melancholy undertone to the ongoing tale. Tim’s voice has never sounded so good and he really has one of the most serenely relaxed vocal deliveries around. There’s a great keyboard interlude in the middle of the track, pensive and thoughtful asking you to reflect for a moment before the song blossoms out again with a wonderfully carefree and composed instrumental section. Once again we are treated to another impressive lead out, something that seems to be coming stock in trade for this great musician, it ebbs and flows brilliantly, demanding you follow it right to the end of the musical journey.

Wow! The next track is a real departure for Tim. All full of angst and pent up rage, Kill The Pain That’s Killing You opens with frantic drum beat and a caustic guitar riff. There’s a real nervous energy about this song, a pleading uneasiness that has a real catchy note to it. Tim’s vocal seems more direct and urgent and that acerbic guitar note really does make you sit up and take notice. The staccato chorus only adds to the offbeat tone, this is something very different and enjoyably so and, coming in at under four minutes, this frenetic song never outstays its welcome.

After that unexpected but thoroughly enjoyable onslaught, Nowhere Good To Go sees us return to the refined, simple grace of the first two tracks but there is definitely something evolved about Tim’s sound on this album. Soothing and tranquil, the music seems to lull you into a becalmed state and then open up into something just a little different with the dulcet tones of a Hammond organ combining with the strings to add subtle sophistication to what is already quite an imposing sound. Again the vocals are delivered with silken finesse and the ethereal flute adds a winsome feeling to this lissome song.

There is one of the best openings to any recent progressive song on You’ll Be The Silence. All pastoral with a lovely piano sound and the delicate heavenly flute, it really did impress me on first listen and left me transfixed with its rarefied quality. Tim’s voice has a little catch to it, an almost sentimental regret at the heart of it and it gives the song a dreamlike atmosphere when combined with the simple charms of the wistful music. The longest track on the album at nine minutes long, you are enraptured throughout this unapologetically sentimental and yet slightly rueful piece of music. You have to take the time to listen to this song (and, indeed, the whole album) with a decent pair of headphones on and just become immersed in its spellbinding orchestral reverence. Music as good as this can take you to a place of calm reflection, where the world cannot harm you and everyone needs that now and again, an utterly captivating song that ends every bit as brilliantly as it begins, the guitar and flute leading you on a seductive voyage home…

Lost In The Ghost Light is quite a dark interlude with a menacing undertone. Tim delivers his vocal in a spoken word fashion and that adds even more suspense and uncertainty. The music is atmospheric and bleeds tension directly into your system.

That slight feeling of doubt can be felt at the start of You Wanted To Be Seen and adds to a cautionary tone to deliver a deliberately pensive and sombre tone to the song. Tim’s vocal is thoughtful and sad and the music has a plaintive and pensive edge to it. The violin that can be heard in the background is a fine touch and adds a longing, surreal edge to the track before things change tack with a restless and skittish air that adds tension and a disquieting unease. Another great song that has an imposing end with some great guitar playing.

Onto the final track of the album, Distant Summers, a mournful violin opens this mellow and cultured song and imbues it with a really plaintive plea for days gone by, Sepia tinged nostalgia drips from every wistful note and the exquisite flute playing is tempered by a trite ennui. The vocals have a touch of anguish at the core of them and the whole song has a fragile dignity deep at its core, one that is made up of beauty and remorse in equal quantities. Despite the forlorn mood that runs throughout the song, I still feel that there is hope emanating from Tim’s expressive voice and that is the overriding feeling that I will take away with me.

I’ve always been a fan of Tim Bowness and this new album has only exacerbated that. He has added something different and distinct to his music to evolve and progress it to something that, while recognisable as his work, has seen him mature into one of the best and most involving progressive artists that we have. There are added layers and nuances that just lift this album above similar fare on offer at the moment and I can see this being on my playlist for a long time to come.

Released 17th February 2017

Order ‘Lost In The Ghost Light’ from Burning Shed

 

 

With Our Arms To The Sun Announce Pledge Music Campaign for New Album ‘Orenda’

Instrumental heavy rock band With Our Arms To The Sun have announced a pre-order ‘Pledge Music’ campaign for their fourth release ‘Orenda’ with a mooted release date of 21st April 2017. Pledgers can receive an immediate digital download, CD’s, Vinyl, limited edition artwork, merch, etc.

With Our Arms to the Sun is a rock band formed in the desert of Arizona. Their live shows are unique and emotional, bringing back the energy of the punk rock and grunge bands of the past who used to play to basements and art galleries packed full of kids. The music is cinematic and expressive with elements of conceptual album rock and modern electronics.

Orenda n. [aw-ren-duh]
1.           A supernatural force believed by the Iroquois Indians to be present, in varying degrees, in all objects or persons, and to be the spiritual force by which human accomplishment is attained or accounted for.

A dormant potential to create exists within all human beings. It unconsciously binds the species at large. Most people just never unlock it. With Our Arms To The Sun examine that precious and potent power on their 2016 full-length concept album, ‘Orenda’ [Fade To Silence Records]. Painting in hues of rock, alternative, and metal, their cinematic sound blankets a curious canvas of Arizona Desert, weaving together a sonic journey to self-actualization for the quartet—Josh Breckenridge [vocals, guitar], Joseph Leary [guitar, programming], Joseph Breckenridge [bass], and John McLucas [drums].

Orenda is that hidden power inside all of us,” says Josh. “The character in the album is discovering it. You can’t really transcend your own ego, shadow, or bullshit unless you make a connection with what whatever that obstacle is inside of you, eliminate it, and move past it. That’s what the new music is about.

The band arrived at this narrative following a whirlwind of touring behind 2014’s independently released ‘A Far Away Wonder’. Loudwire began championing the album very early on, spotlighting the underground group on an international scale. The site named ‘A Far Away Wonder’ one of the “20 Best Metal Albums of 2014” and “Tessellation” one of the “20 Best Metal Songs of 2014,” admitting to being “captivated at first listen.” As buzz grew, the group landed tours with the likes of virtuoso guitarist John 5 [Rob Zombie, Marilyn Manson] and Mushroomhead in addition to joining Tool, Primus, and Coheed & Cambria at the Monster Mash Festival in Phoenix.  In early 2016, the group retreated to Los Angeles with a batch of demos and began pre-production on what would become ‘Orenda’ with legendary The Melvins founder Buzz Osborne.

When we sat down with Buzz, it was a lot of refinement,” recalls Josh. “Having somebody who’s made a zillion albums listen to the ideas and give suggestions was invaluable. He’s a pretty brilliant dude, and he had some really wonderful ideas. We pieced it together from there.”

Working with With Our Arms To The Sun was refreshing,” adds Buzz. “They were receptive to my ideas, which doesn’t always happen. They were incredibly hard workers, and I think the results speaks for themselves.”

Josh and his bandmates holed up in a rental house “in the middle of nowhere Arizona” to track the music. They emerged with the 10 songs comprising ‘Orenda’. The first single “Macrocosm – Prometheus” begins with a warbling moan reminiscent of Alien before a clean guitar takes hold. Propelled by artful percussion, the hazy six-string swell rises into thunderous distortion and an overpowering chant.

It looks at the microcosm and macrocosm dichotomy,” he explains. “If you look at the universe and how huge it is, it’s this giant macrocosm. As human beings, we are a tiny microcosm of that macrocosm. Everything repeats itself in a beautiful outward pattern. The song is about the character coming to that realization he’s a piece of something bigger.

Opener “Disdain” outlines the protagonist’s frustration under a gust of wind, typing, and ominous riff punctuated by Josh’s screams. “This guy is referencing a lot of the stupid shit he’s seeing around him in the world,” he continues. “I thought it would set the tone perfectly for someone who feels confused, disoriented, angry, and bitter.

Everything culminates on “Homebound.” Amidst samples of loggers chopping down trees, the soundscape converges on one final melodic catharsis.

That’s a conclusion of transcendence,” states Josh. “He makes an exodus off this planet and out of this world. We all agreed this was the perfect ending.

Ultimately, ‘Orenda’ hints at something universal and essential.

We wanted to create a record that was more than just background music or a cog-in-the-machine,” he leaves off. “You can wrap your brain around it. It’s about going on that ride together.

Full details of the pledge-music campaign can be found here:

With Our Arms To The Sun – ‘Orenda’ – Pledge-Music

Here is a live version of ‘Disdain’ from the forthcoming album ‘Orenda’.

www.withourarmstothesun.com/

 

 

Summer’s End Festival announces (almost) complete 2017 line up…

We are delighted to announce the (almost) complete line up for Summer’s End 2017, to be held at the Drill Hall, Chepstow on October 6-8 2017.

Leap of Faith tickets have now come off sale and will be replaced by standard tickets on Tuesday 17th January.

• Hero tickets (including a t shirt and our very special thanks) priced £120
• Sponsor tickets (including a T shirt) priced £105
• Standard weekend tickets priced £85

A very limited number of day tickets will be available soon. The festival sold out quickly last year and we are already 50% to sell out just with LOF tickets, so very early purchasing is recommended. With one band still to announce, we are already very proud of what is our most varied and internationally-orientated line up yet!

Here’s the line up -with one major band still to announce. Day splits will be announced soon.

FROST* (UK)
www.frost.life

Our Saturday headliners are the inimitable Frost* making their first appearance at the festival since their remarkable performance in 2008. The line up of the band – Jem Godfrey, John Mitchell, Nathan King and Craig Blundell – is now stable and playing regular live gigs in support of last years’ excellent “Falling Satellites”,

THE TANGENT (UK / Sweden)
www.thetangent.org
KARMAKANIC (Sweden / UK)
www.facebook.com/KarmakanicOfficial/

As they did in 2014, The Tangent and Sweden’s Karmakanic will be touring in 2016 as an intriguing double act, comprising of (largely) the same members playing two sets, closing the festival on Sunday 8th October. The band(s) will comprise Andy Tillison, Jonas Reingold, Luke Machin plus Marie Eve De Gaultier and other members to be announced. The Tangent will be making their third appearance at the festival and release “The Slow Rust of Forgotten Machinery” in 2017, while Karmakanic released “DOT” in 2016 and last played Summer’s End in 2010.

FRANCK CARDUCCI (France)
www.franckcarducci.com

Those that have had the pleasure of seeing Franck Carducci and his superb band perform will know that they are one of the best – and most colourfully extravagant – live acts playing today. Mixing Prog with hard rock and just a touch of psychedelia, the band are sure to be one of the bands of the weekend following a successful UK tour in late 2016.

SOUTHERN EMPIRE (Australia)
www.unitopiamusic.com

Following his performance with Damanek in 2016 (and with Unitopia in 2010), Australian keyboard wizard Sean Timms returns to the festival with his current band Southern Empire. The band are riding high following the release of their superb debut album and will be touring Europe in late 2017 with Karibow.

MASCHINE (UK)
www.maschineuk.com

Few who were there will have forgotten the performance of a young band called Concrete Lake at Summer’s End 2011. Now called Maschine, guitar wizard Luke Machin‘s brilliant young band, which also includes bassist Dan Mash, released their magnificent second album ‘Naturalis’ during 2016 to great acclaim.

KARIBOW (Germany)
www.karibow.com

This well known German band have had an award winning, 20-year history. Led by vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Oliver Rusing, their powerful, crunchy, song orientated brand of Prog is often compared to Saga and It Bites. The band will tour Europe in 2017 with Southern Empire in suport of most recent album ‘Holophinium’.

ELEPHANTS OF SCOTLAND (USA)
www.elephantsofscotland.com

Following Phideaux, K2, Discipline and 3rDegree, Elephants of Scotland will become the 5th band from the USA to play the festival. Formed in Vermont in 2010, the band have 3 studio albums under their belts and played a triumphant set at the Rosfest festival in 2014 , later released as a CD and DVD set.

MIDNIGHT SUN (UK)
www.facebook.com/midnightsunprog/

Making their first appearance at the festival, but with several members that have played for us before are Midnight Sun, which comprises various former members of Unto Us and Also Eden in a combination which moulds the progressive and melodic textures of those bands with some heaver elements. Recording of the band’s debut album will begin in early 2017.

HALF PAST FOUR (Canada)
www.halfpastfour.com

Our first participants from Canada, Half Past Four have won a deserved reputation for their quirky, jazzy, playful take on prog. So strong was their 2016 third album ‘Land of the Blind’ that we knew that it was high time they made their debut at the festival.

WEENDO (France)
www.weendo.fr

This superb band from France – fronted by vocalist and keyboard player Laetitia – mix Prog with slightly more metallic textures. The band are currently working on their second album following their excellent 2011 debut ‘You Need to Know Yourself’.

More news soon!

Best wishes

Huw and Stephen
www.summersend.co.uk

Our facebook page:
www.facebook.com/…
Our facebook group: www.facebook.com/home.php#/group.php?gid=98170444873
One twitter: www.twitter.com/summersendfest
Email: stephen@summersend.co.uk

DREAM THE ELECTRIC SLEEP ANNOUNCE FIRST EVER LONDON SHOW

Dream the Electric Sleep, who released their 3rd album ‘Beneath the Dark Wide Sky’ last year, have announced a one off UK date as part of their upcoming European tour. Taking place at the Black Heart in London on 8th February the band will be bringing their expansive electric sound to the city for the very first time. Vocalist Matt Page comments:

“It has been an extraordinary year for Dream the Electric Sleep with the release of our third album, “Beneath the Dark Wide Sky.” We have moved forward in ways we never imagined possible and with the help of our fantastic team of partners in the UK and Europe, we are thrilled to be coming to play our first show in London at the Black Heart! We have pooled all of our resources together and worked feverishly to make this happen with the hopes of showing our tremendous gratitude towards those who have helped keep this band going all these years. The music industry is tumultuous these days and we see great bands come and go too often. Making this project long lasting and sustainable has been a high priority of ours and after nine years of writing and recording albums we are finally coming over to play a show and say thank you to our supporters in the UK, face-to-face, for helping keep this ship sailing for so many enriching years. See you all soon!”

The band was formed in Lexington, KY by Matt Page (vocals/guitar), Joey Waters (drums), and Chris Tackett (bass) 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’.
Wednesday 8th February – Black Heart, London – Free entry

Brett Kull – Open Skies Exploding – New Solo Album from Echolyn Frontman

Brett 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.

For his third solo release comprised of 10 new tracks, ‘Open Skies Exploding’, Brett decided to start releasing two songs a week starting on the 24th of December 2016 and has written a blog to coincide with these releases. When all ten songs have been released I will write a review of the full album but, in the meantime, here are Brett’s first three blogs…

Open Skies Exploding 1st Release – ‘My House is Loud’ and ‘Three Walls’

Here is the companion video for Three Walls:

Open Skies Exploding 2nd Release – ‘Hard Dying Time’ and ‘Dublin Rooftops’

Open Skies Exploding 3rd Release – ‘Railroad Self’ and ‘Punch of the Day’

Check out the video for ‘Railroad Self’ – Live at Chateau Fornance – 5 Jan 2017 here:

You can download the up-to-date songs from bandcamp here:

Open Skies Exploding – bandcamp

Brett is heading to England for a tour with Francis Dunnery, here it is in his own words:

“Speaking of a wild ride, I’m headed to England next week for a mini tour of sorts with my friend Francis Dunnery, but I’ll try and have a couple songs in the oven, ready to go to help keep our hearts and bellies warm during my cold absence. Wait a minute, oh right, I’m starting my master’s degree this week! Shyte, I forgot!! I need to tell my instructors I’ll be AWOL for the first classes. Thanks for the reminder! Damn, one more thing to put on the list… and less time to drink wine!

But seriously, If any of you are in close proximity to ancient Britannia (during the dates below) feel free to come out and say hello. I’ve been hired to sing a hell-of-a lot, play a few keyboards, and even less guitar. It’s a good gig with an amazing songwriter and musical force of nature – Mr. Dunnery. The band is amazing and we walk the edge of complete catastrophe and utter brilliance. You wont be able to turn away! Here are the dates and where you can get tickets. Hope to share a pint with some of you… well, I’ll have my own pint and you’ll have yours.

Cheers!

Brett”

Francis Dunnery – Vampires 2017 

 Friday, January 20th – Club Academy Manchester

http://www.ticketweb.co.uk/event/256899

 Saturday, January 21st – The Slade Rooms, Wolverhampton

http://www.ticketweb.co.uk/event/256903

 Sunday, January 22nd – Bush Hall, London.

http://www.ticketweb.co.uk/event/256881

 

 

 

Live Review – Maddison’s Thread – Sixty Minutes An Hour – Launch Gig at Hartlepool Cricket Club – 7/1/17

A huge thankyou to Howy White for use of his excellent pictures!

“Why will people pay £3 a time for a fancy coffee and yet complain about forking out £10 for a gig ticket for two hours plus of excellent live music?”

The definition of frustration for a music lover like me. The thought came to me on Tuesday afternoon as I sat in a motorway service station branch of Starbucks sipping my £3.20 Flat White that had lasted me less than 10 minutes. The previous Saturday evening me and my better half Sally had made the trip up to Hartlepool to see my good friend, and excellent folk musician, Lee Maddison perform to over 100 people at the cricket club and what a bloody superb night it was.

Not only was Lee performing tracks from his new Maddison’s Thread album, ‘Sixty Minutes An Hour’ (released the day before), but he was also playing with a full band including a string quartet. Yes! a string quartet! In Hartlepool of all places! For us it was a two hour drive up to the venue and then two hours back again in a pea soup like fog but, believe me, it was worth every minute spent on the road because live music, when it is as good as this, is what life is all about, well mine anyway!

The evening started with a catch-up with some of the great people I have met through music in the North-East. Brendan Eyre (he of Riversea and Northlands fame) was there and we had a good chin wag and me and Sally spent the evening in the company of long time supporters of Lee, Howy White and his wife Amanda. Howy is a well known photgrapher who takes Lee’s publicity pictures (and all the pictures of this live gig) and Amanda is a talented artist who has done the cover art for both the Maddison’s Thread releases.

Then, as the enthusiastic audience quietened down, Lee introduced the opening act, folk singer Edwina Hayes, who hails from my neck of the woods and also sings on this latest release.

Edwina has a delicate songbird-like voice which works perfectly with her pared back acoustic guitar to give a wonderfully fragile performance. She has also perfected the art of in-between-song banter and regaled us with some really funny stories. Hopefully, one day, her ‘stalker’ Martin (not me by the way!) will get his way and she will release another album but, in the meantime, if you get chance to see Edwina play live then do take the opportunity. Her thoughtful and insightful lyrics really hit a chord with the audience and I thoroughly enjoyed her performance, especially the refined version of Dylan’s Mr Tambourine Man with which she closed her set.

After a short break it was time for the main attraction and Lee had taken the decision to split his show into two sets. A first set of more laid back, acoustic music and a second with, as he put it, a bit more oomph!

Joining Lee to make up this night’s version of Maddison’s Thread were long time cohorts Stuart Hardy on violin (and who also arranged the strings) and Nigel Spaven on bass. To this considerably talented duo were added Darren Moore (Drums), Paul Donnelly (Guitars – Nylon string guitar in Thomas Hardy and Sixty Minutes) and Sue Ferris (Flute & Sax in Night Circus). Joining Stuart’s violin to make up the string quartet were Emma Fisk (Violin), Jill Blakey (Viola) and Fiona Beyer (Cello).

From the first self-titled Maddison’s Thread release, a beautiful rendition of Where Eagles Fly got proceedings of to a perfect start. Lee has a very unique voice and he was totally on form this evening and the added immediacy of a live peformance gave an added touch of vivacity to the songs. In a live setting The Fledgling from the new album had such meaning it left a lump in my throat and the flute was just wonderful. The audience were just rapt and carried on by a wave of emotion as Lee carried on with the simple, wistful charms of Weightless, a song that seems to have its childlike innocence exacerbated when performed in front of an enthralled audience. The nostalgic feel was lifted by the jaunty feel of Making The Morning Last, feet were tapping on the floor, heads were nodding in time with the music and those who knew the words (quite a lot, surprisingly) were singing along with the chorus. The impish and perky strings (especially Stuart’s expressive violin) gave a real playful feel to the song and the applause that followed was thoroughly deserved. Lee was keeping the audience entertained with a few anecdotes between tracks (mainly while he kept having to re-tune his guitar!).

Next up we were reintroduced to the dulcet tones of Edwina Hayes as she joined Lee on stage for an engaging version of the country music tinged Love Like Autumn from the new record and there was a great rapport between the artists as they performed a delightful vocal duet backed by the ever impressive strings. A bewitching performance of perennial favourite The Viking’s Daughter (possibly the first track I ever heard from Maddison’s Thread) came next. Hauntingly sincere, Lee’s vocals have never been better and Stuart’s violin graced the track with its stylish and elegant brilliance. The first set was closed out with the childlike innocence of Jessica, dedicated to his daughter, a simple yet captivating song that lifted your heart and soul and the final track Don’t Say Goodbye. A slightly melancholy piece of music that was exquisitely performed and pulled on your heartstrings all the way through and then it was time for the interval, where had that hour gone? An utterly absorbing sixty minutes of sublime, delightful music that came directly from the heart and was applauded with utmost gusto.

The second set opened with the funky jazz style of Night Circus, one of my all time favourite songs and it was immediately apparent that this part of the evening was going to upbeat and punchy. A really catchy tune that, played out in a live setting, was just about perfect. Lee’s voice took on a husky tone and the sax playing from Sue Ferris put a huge grin on my face. The evening was really rocking now. A song of highs and lows The Flycatcher had a subdued grace which blossomed into a powerful statement and was really intense live, leaving you in a thoughtful mood. Lee has the knack of writing some incredibly infectious songs and the title track from the new album is one of the best. Sixty Minutes An Hour really got under your skin, the haunting vocal and descriptive violin giving it almost a life of its own. I remember catching Howy’s eye and us just nodding at each other in quiet affirmation that Lee was ‘on it’ tonight, so to speak! The audience were clapping and singing along and the cheers, applause and whistling was increasing in volume at the end of every track. Whimsical, wistful and nostalgic, One Day is a song that seems to occupy a different time zone to the rest, the live performance took us to a place of repose and quiet contemplation where your worries just melted away. Lee’s voice was almost hypnotic in its delivery and the utterly chilled guitar playing contemplated it perfectly, utterly divine.

From the divine to the acerbic, Lee’s voice took on a more edgy tone with the tale of ne’er do wrongs that is Charlatan’s and Blaggers. A tongue in cheek performance with more than a hint of cynicism, the barely held back vitriol was evident in the harder edged vocals and sardonic tone of the violin, a really great tune to hear live. That laconic, sarcastic feel carried on with Tumbleweed and it was delivered in a style not too far apart from Bob Dylan and Neil Young, Lee letting a feel of world-weary pessimism creep into his voice perfectly. Stuart matches that irony with his staccato violin playing, almost derisive in places, I loved it. I know Lee Maddison is extremely proud of the track A Thomas Hardy Evening and rightly so. Played live to a receptive audience it was one of the highlights of a memorable evening, the subtle splendour of the vocals and the refined dignity of the music really come through and I was left a little open mouthed at the end.

Serious and thoughtful, Lines On A Fisherman’s Wife was another highlight of the evening for me. A traditional folk tale, Lee infused it with a somber, downcast and yet sweetly earnest tone. The audience greeted it with a hushed reverence, listening to every word. A really exquisite performance of what is such a dignified and reverential song. Paul Donnelly’s superb guitar is what I immediately noticed when Chasing The White Dove began. A slightly frenetic song that careered along at its own pace and one to which you couldn’t help but tap your foot. The evening was really in full swing now and the audience were lapping up what was being presented to them, some of them were even dancing at the back. One of Lee’s most biting and satirical tracks, Parasiteful was given even more caustic acidity in the live arena. Biting lyrics delivered in a hard and unforgiving manner, you see the other side to this usually affable man’s nature and it went down a storm with the audience. This lengthy and utterly brilliant set came to a close with the upbeat Wonderful Day, a song that gets you singing along and bouncing in time with the music and the musicians were all on top form as they delivered a great crowd pleasing rendition. Everyone was one their feet cheering but, as you already knew, it didn’t finish there as shouts of ‘More, more…!’ echoed around the room, yep, it’s time for the encore!

Lee knew he wasn’t going to get away with just one encore song and delivered two emphatic encore tracks, following Come Friday Night with a resplendent version of Lindisfarne‘s Lady Eleanor that had everyone clapping and singing along and the dancers at the back were up once more! What a brilliant end to a wonderful evening of live music.

Lee Maddison and his fellow musicians had delivered a welcome antidote to the trials and tribulations that we deal with on a day to day basis. Believe me, if you get  a chance to see him play live then do anything you can to get there, even if it means selling your children, he really is that good!

And, on another note, please do support these amazing artists, they don’t do it for the money and, without us attending gigs and buying their music, they wouldn’t be able to do it at all!

You can buy ‘Sixty Minutes An Hour’ here:

‘Maddison’s Thread – Sixty Minutes An Hour’

 

Review – Last Flight To Pluto – See You At The End – By Craig E. Bacon

Last Flight To Pluto makes a grand entrance onto the prog scene with their debut album, ‘See You At The End’. Their energy is brash, raw, and engaging across six tracks and an hour of music—a deft alchemy of late 70’s Rush and late 90’s Massive Attack in roughly 65-35 ratio. Band leaders Alice Freya (lead vocals, guitar) and Daz Joseph (drums, vocals) put in years on the cover band circuit, while young lead guitarist Jack’o McGinty must have studied ‘A Farewell To Kings’ from birth to channel Alex Lifeson’s riffs and solos so naturally. The result is that this band, while young as a unit, are experienced, confident, and very tight.

The opening track, Heavy Situation, features many of the elements to which the band will return throughout the song sequence: doubled lead vocals, moody grooves w/electronic accents, classic-rock-power-trio athleticism, and programming-heavy dance-hall loops, all of it slightly tinged with the blues. The vocals are of immediate interest; a bit alt-rock and a bit bluesy, Gin Wigmore and Janis Joplin may serve as points of reference but even for a female prog vocalist, Alice Freya is a unique and multifarious singer.

While the album holds together well as a piece, House By A Lake is a clear standout and one of those ‘worth the price of admission alone’ kind of songs. Lyrically, the track centers on a carpe diem sort of theme, but the “She” who will “try to find me, to whisper in my mind” remains unidentified. As with Genesis’ The Lady Lies, this gives an otherwise straightforward metaphor a bit of a mysterious-fantasy feel. Musically, Last Flight To Pluto covers a lot of ground here, as they do throughout the album, but the composition is tighter and the transitions between sections more dynamic. If the verses and interludes are intriguing with their mix of bright piano, acoustic guitar, jazzy bass, and percussive accents, the chorus is absolutely arresting—and it just gets more explosive with every return. The song climaxes with a soul-shaking vocal from Freya and a fiery guitar solo from McGinty that goes beyond mere influence to actually rival Lifeson’s power and technique. I’d love to hear this performed live, to see whether an audience can manage to cheer through their dropped jaws. House By A Lake is the kind of song that the Prog Awards ‘Anthem’ category exists to honour.

Another highlight immediately follows; for those who want their progressive music to progress rather than retread, Red Pill demands attention. There are interesting bits of programming, keys, synths, and loops throughout the album, but this one wears its Massive Attack influence (and a bit of The Gathering, perhaps) on both sleeves. Opening with a bit of wah-wah and strange vocal FX that morph into a big, sticky beat and gang vocals, the track takes a bold left-turn into a middle section featuring a heavily effected and distorted rap. The result is more cool energy than cheese, but those who can’t dig it will surely enjoy the next left turn into a 1975’s Pink Floyd groove and guitar solo, or the left turn after that into stabbing synths and a menacing horror film voice-over.

The second half of ‘See You At The End’ continues in the eclectic direction of the first. On Lots of Swords, the level of cribbing from The Police distracts in places, but Freya’s emotive vocals give the verses a lift, and there’s a splendid interlude with frenetic bass and some trading off between a dualled guitar lead and a synth solo. Seven Mothers begins with a more acoustic meditation on humans’ disrespect for our Mother Earth, and centers on a truly beautiful lead vocal. The song builds with some organ and soulful guitar lead, returns to the chorus, then switches gears for some upbeat drums & keys programming and another guitar solo. ‘See You At The End’ signs off with Now Boarding, which features big ‘Hemispheres’ guitars and synths, a killer drum solo early in the track, then a more anthemic groove with some stratospheric vocals from Freya and another extended, David Gilmour-esque guitar solo.

While far from perfect—the production is a point of contention, being rather ‘garagey’ and frequently holding Joseph’s stellar drumming too far back in the mix—‘See You At The End’ is an impressive debut that should have received more attention by now. Given the energy and musical prowess on display here, Last Flight To Pluto is clearly a ‘must-see’ live act, and they show a lot of promise as composers. Thankfully, there’s a follow-up album in the works for Spring 2017, so give the debut a good spin now so you can say you were ‘in the know’ before they break big later this year.

Released 21st September 2016

Download ‘See You At The End’ from Amazon

 

 

Canadian Melodic Technical Proggers Slyde Return With Their New EP ‘Back Again’!

After a 2-year hiatus, Canadian melodic technical proggers Slyde return with their new EP ‘Back Again’ (February 17). Four tracks of virtuosic contrapuntal songwriting exploring the relationship between environmentalism and sci-fi, ‘Back Again’ is a fantastically entertaining listen. 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.

Before their hiatus, Slyde played over 150 shows on the Eastern Canadian circuit, including shows with Protest the Hero and at Canadian Music Week (2013), IndieWeek (2011-2013), and Wacken Metal Battle (2013).

The First single from the EP is available to purchase now at bandcamp:

Buy ‘Back Again’ from Slyde’s bandcamp page

Check out a live performance of the single below:

Tim Bowness Releases Lyric Video For ‘You Wanted To Be Seen’ – Pre-order Links For New Album.

Tim Bowness has released a lyric video for You Wanted To Be Seen, the first single to be taken from his superb new album ‘Lost In The Ghost Light’, due to be released on February 17th via InsideOut Music.

‘Lost In The Ghost Light’ is a concept album revolving around the onstage and backstage reflections of a fictional classic rock musician in the twilight of his career. Ranging from the hypnotic opener Worlds Of Yesterday to the wistful climax of Distant Summers, via the thrilling rage of Kill The Pain That’s Killing You and the orchestral expanse of You’ll Be The Silence, the album features some stunning solos and harmonically rich compositions that represent Bowness’s most musically ambitious work to date.

Bowness utilises a core band comprising Stephen Bennett (Henry Fool), Colin Edwin (Porcupine Tree), Bruce Soord (The Pineapple Thief), Hux Nettermalm (Paatos) and Andrew Booker (Sanguine Hum), and is also joined by guests including Kit Watkins (Happy The Man/Camel), Steve Bingham (No-Man) and the legendary Ian Anderson (Jethro Tull). Andrew Keeling (Robert Fripp/Hilliard Ensemble/Evelyn Glennie) arranges for string quartet and flute on three of the album’s songs.

‘Lost In The Ghost Light’ can be pre-ordered at the following links:

Burning Shed: CD/DVD, limited gold LP+CD, black LP+CD: https://www.burningshed.com/store/noman/
Amazon: http://smarturl.it/TBownessLITGLAma

Pre-order the digital album and immediately get the single ‘You Wanted To Be Seen’:
iTunes: http://smarturl.it/TBownessLITGLiTunes
AmazonMP3: http://smarturl.it/TBownessLITGLAmaMP3

Threshold announce new tour dates + album title!

After ten successful years with the label Nuclear Blast, British progressive protagonists THRESHOLD have signed a new contract and extended their partnership with the label. Furthermore, they have also announced plans for their next release. THRESHOLD are currently recording their 11th masterpiece at Thin Ice Studios in England, a new concept album that will be called ‘Legends Of The Shires’. It is being produced by Karl Groom and Richard West and it’s scheduled to be released later this year. More information will be revealed soon.

But that’s not enough:the band is also announcing the dates for the ‘Legends Of The Shires’-Tour 2017 where you’ll be able to fully experience songs from the new album on stage! This European Tour includes a one-off UK date at London’s O2 Islington Academy on 10th December.
Tickets on-sale now and available here:
http://www.ticketweb.co.uk/event/YDH1012T?brand=o2academyislington&camefrom=AMG_ISLINGTON_thhld

Richard West comments: “It’s great to be announcing these tour dates so soon, we can’t wait to get on the road and perform for you. Our new album is coming together perfectly, we’ve got a lot of strong material so it might be our longest one yet.”

Catch THRESHOLD live here:
Legends Of The Shires -Tour 2017
(presented by ‘Rock Hard’, ‘Eclipsed’, ‘Rock It!’, ‘Blast!’ and ‘Wacken Radio’)
+ Special Guests
28.11.  NL       Bosuil – Weert
29.11.  GER     Hamburg – Markthalle
30.11.  GER     Berlin – Lido
01.12.  GER     Aschaffenburg – Colos Saal
02.12.  GER     München – Feierwerk
03.12.  CH       Pratteln – Z7
05.12.  GER     Stuttgart – Club Cann
06.12.  GER     Hannover – Musikzentrum
07.12.  BEL      Kortrijk – De Kreun
08.12.  GER     Essen – Turock
09.12.  NL       Zoetermeer – Boerderij
10.12.  UK       London – O2 Islington Academy

The last record of the band was their live album ‘European Journey’, which was recorded during the November 2014 ‘For The Journey’ tour and consists of 15 live tracks.

Order the live CD here with a signed insert:  http://bit.ly/ThresholdSigned

More on ‘European Journey’:
‘Watchtower On The Moon’ official live video: https://youtu.be/s8QN-lU4QbI
‘Lost In Your Memory’ official video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HrINbxutmH0