NEW PROG ROCK GROUP FEATURING MEMBERS OF YES & SOUND OF CONTACT – DEBUT SINGLE & VIDEO ‘YOU MAKE IT REAL’ OUT NOW
Frontiers Music Srl is excited to announce the release of ARC OF LIFE’s self-titled debut album on February 12, 2021. Arc Of Life is a new progressive rock supergroup featuring three members of the current YES line-up, vocalist/guitarist Jon Davison, bassist/vocalist Billy Sherwood, and additional drummer Jay Schellen, one of the most interesting talents in the “new” progressive rock scene in the US, Dave Kerzner (Sound of Contact) on keyboards, and Jimmy Haun (also featured on YES albums in the past) on guitar. Fans can get their first taste of the band’s forthcoming debut with the new single and video, ‘You Make It Real’.
The concept behind Arc of Life is, in keeping with the progressive rock philosophy, to craft creative, challenging, and ear-pleasing music that pushes boundaries.
Billy Sherwood describes the music as, “interesting, with well-crafted songs, performed with precision and grace. All songs feature memorable melodies and lyrics that take the listener on a sonic adventure. Dynamic arrangements with peaks and valleys… it’s all there.”
The other idea behind the band is that YES would be a clear point of influence. But while YES is clearly the main point of comparison, a lot of musical similarities can be drawn to describe Arc Of Life’s grandiose and epic approach to music.
In Jon Davison’s words, “Each YES member understands and supports when others may desire to explore and thrive along new artistic avenues. We then each find further inspiration to bring back to the YES fold.”
But all the descriptions are best left to the listeners to discern for themselves as repeat listens will reveal more layers.
Arc Of Life is a true garden of delight for progressive rock fans and the band is looking forward to performing live. “Once the world gets over the COVID hump, Arc Of Life will be planning as much touring as we can fit in between YES and our other projects. Quite honestly, we’re all chomping at the bit to be out performing again!” concludes Jon Davison.
I think most people will concede that 2020 has been a somewhat challenging year, especially with the world wide impact and devastation that Covid 19 has bought, along with the subsequent lockdowns that have been enforced on different countries, affecting both world trade and travelling in particular.
Musically, tours and shows have been cancelled or postponed; often indefinitely. However, this has allowed artists time to record new music, albeit socially distanced or even remotely.
Yes were to have been performing their latest run of complete albums featuring ‘Relayer’ but that has inevitably fallen by the wayside and been postponed till 2021. To whet the appetite, they have elected to release a new live album recorded at the Hard Rock Hotel in Las Vegas, documenting last year’s Royal Affair Tour .
This is a single disc affair but with a new Roger Dean cover and an interesting set list including Yes’ own version of John Lennon’sImagine (a song Alan White actually performed on prior to joining Yes), the track also includes John Lodge of The Moody Blues on guest vocals. The balance of the tracks are staples of the Yes canon, mainly focused on their prime years i.e. pre 1980’s, although time is made for a rare version of the Simon and Garfunkel classic America, which gets a decent dusting down here.
The album opens with No Opportunity Necessary, No Experience Needed, which also includes the main theme from The Big Country (which is an interesting twist). It sounds very impressive and allows Steve Howe to vamp things up a little. The band sound on good form, relishing the experience and playing very competently indeed, in fact seldom have Yes sounded as on form as they do on this recording.
Geoff Downes’ keyboards continue the theme with lots of orchestrated sounds filling the sound scape out before Steve Howe delivers a fiery solo. But this album is more about ensemble playing than solo flights and those excesses are tightly reined in, this album is about Yes as a band it and plays to that strength very well.
Next track is the powerful Tempus Fugit from the ‘Drama’ album. Again, it is delivered with much bite and flair, Billy Sherwood’s bassline sounding especially muscular and fluid throughout, Steve is on on rampaging form too with strong drum support. This performance reveals just what a monstrous track Tempus Fugit really is and how its status has grown as the years have gone by, so much so that now it is an integral part of any Yes show and rightly so too. Next comes a familiar pedal steel lick that heralds Going For The One with Steve’s interjections taking this song soaring to the heights as it plays as another fabulous performance. Strangely the audience do seem a bit restrained here and they do not really roar like a great Yes crowd can, thank goodness that this performance was captured on tape and is now available for us non-Americans to enjoy at our leisure.
All Good People follows in this fine set of crowd pleasers and, again, Yes deliver an excellent version of this great tune. I know the band have become a bit polarising these days, with lots of detractors but, let’s be honest, this version carries the flame just as well as any others do and they seem to still be enjoying performing these pieces, so, on that basis, long may it continue! Any Yes is better than none at all in my view. Back to the track, which is a genuinely great performance and one that allows some delicate guitar lines from Steve to work in concert with some thunderous bass and powerful drums.
Siberian Khatru follows and represents another classy example of the current line up, still having the classic Yes sound The band give an excellent reading of it, with all its excellent parts sounding as strong and good as they ever were. We are then treated to a short version of Onward from ‘Tormato’, an album where Yes faltered and fell apart, however, this was one of its better songs.
The audience are then treated to the first real epic in the form of the rarely performed (these day at least) America, made famous by Simon and Garfunkel. I first heard this song on an Atlantic sampler LP, ‘The New Age Of Atlantic’, where it shone out as a remarkable reworking of a great tune and it still has the power to impact some 48 years after first being released. I have always liked this song and here Jon Davison brings this song to life wonderfully. It is a fabulous retelling of a great song, Jon’s voice is strong and warm and he brings new life to this version. Some great guitar work from Steve and fine contributions from all quarters make this a superior version of a great song.
Imagine is a new version of the Lennon track performed by Yes with John Lodge on guest vocals. It is a more than adequate version but, really, adds nothing new to a well known and loved song. Then it is into the home stretch with Roundabout and Starship Trooper, both of which are well received. They are excellent versions, despite the fact that they had been covered many many times now. Then again, these are classic songs that everyone know and love and always want to hear played. It’s an excellent way to bring the show to a finish, everyone going home happy and the legend is preserved, credibility is maintained and Yes live to tour another day.
This album is a fine collection, nothing new or essential but certainly a fine and worthy memento of an interesting tour, all for less than the price of a T shirt! Highly recommended and certainly worth a listen in my view.
John Holden’s‘Rise and Fall’ has been in my possession for a while now and I was very gratified to be given access to this remarkable album some three months prior to its official release. I was also very pleased that I had been thanked in the album credits, that having been an ambition of mine for quite some time.
‘Rise and Fall’ is the second album from John Holden and features substantial input and assistance from several core musicians including Joe Payne, Oliver Day and Oliver Wakeman, Sally Minnear, Jean Pageau and Michel St Pere from Mystery, not forgetting the always remarkably impressive Peter Jones. If, like me, you enjoyed John’s debut release ‘Capture Light’ (still available from John via Bandcamp) then I’m sure you will love this one too.
The album consists of just seven pieces, they are, however, lengthy and
well written. It is also expertly recorded and produced by John himself while the
whole album was mastered by Robin Armstrong of Cosmograf fame.
The guest list of collaborators is impressive with each bringing their
own skills to bear. Especially worthy of note are the keyboard skills and
musical arrangements of Vikram Shankar, a
musician who is not very widely known yet. The album is a great place to
discover him for yourself, he certainly looks to be a musician with a bright
future awaiting him.
As a side note, the packaging on this release is again impeccable, as are
the extensive sleeve notes in the booklet which give a deeper insight into each
of these tracks.
So, without further ado, let’s dive right on in then shall we…
The opening track, Leap of Faith, features Peter Jones on vocals, recorder and whistles, in fact Peter
bookends the album with a further performance on the last track Ancestors and Satellites with both
tracks sharing a recurrent musical passage, albeit it in a different key.
Leap of Faith concerns
itself with the antics of Eilmer, A
Benedictine monk who lived at Malmesbury Abbey in the 11th century
and one who was fascinated by the flight of the birds and bats that lived around
the priory He had it in his mind to fly like they did so attempted (like Daedalus, the Father of Icarus of Greek
mythology fame) to fly using wings he had made attached to his back and arms. You
can read the story in the song lyrics but I can say that gravity prevailed! This
piece is very moving and very atmospheric with Peter Jones really
bringing the tale to life in his own inimitable way.
This is a fantastic opener that sets you up for all that follows, which, in this instance, is the superb Rise and Fall voiced by Jean Pageau of Mystery. This talented vocalist gives a very emotionally raw vocal delivery that makes you feel his anguish as he sings of the relationship that one has with both their addictions and the person they care about, who also suffers the brunt of this addiction. This is a very honest song and another classy piece of work.
The next track, The Golden Thread, I consider
a truly beautiful song, one that has extra depths to it as it is a requiem
written by John’s wife Elizabeth who is a cancer survivor. She wrote this to
express her deep love for John and also so that, if she were not around, the
song and her memory would live on as a musical legacy of her life and struggle.
This piece of music is very gentle with an almost classical tone to it and is
sung by the remarkable talents of John Payne and Lauren Nolan as a duet, not being written as such initially but
Lauren’s voice worked so well with Joe’s that adaptations were made to make it work
in this way. The sentiments that this song espouses and expresses are both very
warm, loving and deeply profound indeed with Oliver Wakeman and Vikram Shankar playing on the song to magnificent effect.
The music reaches a crescendo before fading away to the harder edged Dark Arts on which Billy Sherwood provides a bass part in the style of the late great Chris Squire, playing the sort of bass runs the great man would have done whilst alive. The track also features a spoken excerpt of Francis Urquhart of House of Cards fame, setting the tone for a politically charged song about the abuse of power by those in charge. Once again Joe Payne vocalises with real passion and power to deliver a truly remarkable track along with more fine keyboards from Oliver Wakeman. I heard this song in an unmixed state six months ago and was suitably impressed then, and still am, by its magnificent, powerful delivery and content that is right on point.
The next track is Hereticwhich speaks of how ISIS destroyed lots of priceless artefacts in Palmyra
in Iraq after killing the 82 year old custodian Khaled Al-Assad at the
site and smashing 3000 year old plus pieces in a show of cultural terrorism. He
was beheaded in front of his family and his body was then hung in the central
square. Again, whilst a dark song, there is hope that the displaced peoples
will one day return and, as John says, “Empires rise and fall, ideologies
are replaced but still the healing power of love endures.”Sally Minnear’s vocals are excellent on this too as she sings in
tandem with Joe Payne.
After the Storm is about a
journey one woman takes and utilises the weather outside as a metaphor for
storms in her life and the ultimate realisation that, eventually, the storms
both outside and inside her will pass leaving a calmer and clearer path ahead.
This is mostly an acoustic piece and that adds a good contrast for the album
with some fine playing from Oliver Day.
The final song, Ancestors and Satellites, returns
to the opening section of Leap of Faith as Eilmer
saw Haley’s comet twice in his lifetime with John using this comet theme again
to show how little we’ve learnt in the days gone past. This song has vocal
contributions from Peter Jones, Joe Payne, Sally Minnear and Lauren Nolan but mainly its Peter who sings this so delicately
and with real warmth and all set to suitably atmospheric keyboards from John,
and Vikram Shankar.
The song talks about cave paintings over 40,000 years ago and also of the Apollo mission that landed on the moon in July 1969 and of the footprints they left there for ever. There follows an ensemble of synthesizers playing a multi tracked passage to great effect and the massed vocals singing the chorus once again before the comet melody returns once again to bring the song towards its impressive finale. Another thing of note is the fantastic and powerful drum work from Nick D’Virgilio. On this track and throughout most of the album Nick adds his magic and his drive to power these pieces along in a most delightful and satisfying manner.
The vocals are impassioned and strong and Michael St Pere’s epic
guitar line is heard, along with a bank of synths, sounding very epic and majestic
to bring this fantastic album to a fine conclusion.
To think that this is only the work of John, Elizabeth and a few select friends funded from the sales of his earlier album and without and label support is remarkable. It shows John Holden to be a man with both vision and a purpose. I for one applaud him hugely for his fine efforts on this most excellent album. This is going to be one of the albums of the year for those who take notice.
YES, one of the most innovative of all prog-rock bands, and true legends of the genre, have announced a 8-date UK tour for May and June of 2020. The Album Series 2020 Tour will feature their 1974 Relayer album in its entirety together with a selection of other classic YES favourites. An extensive European tour will be announced soon.
This tour follows their 2018 highly successful #YES50 Anniversary tour and again features the line-up of Steve Howe (guitars), Alan White (drums), Geoff Downes (keyboards), Billy Sherwood (bass guitar and backing vocals), Jon Davison (vocals) and Jay Schellen (additional drums and percussion).
The show will comprise two sets by the band with full production and a high definition video wall. The first will feature favourite classic tracks from YES’ extensive catalogue. The second will feature Relayer, the seventh studio album by YES, and one of the band’s most distinctive. Relayer marked a slight change in direction as Patrick Moraz replaced Rick Wakeman on keyboards bringing an edgier, avant-garde feel to the album. This was perfect for the opening track Gates Of Delirium, almost 22minutes in length, with its battle scene featuring the keyboard of Moraz and Steve Howe’s guitar. The battle gives way to the beautiful closing ballad Soon, a prayer for peace and hope.
The album continues with Sound Chaser, a prog-rock-jazz fusion experiment heavily influenced by Moraz’s style and To Be Over, a calm and gentle conclusion to the album, based on a melody by Steve Howe. Released in late 1974 on Atlantic Records, Relayer continued YES’ success reaching number 4 in the UK album chart and number 5 in the US Billboard chart.
“We are really looking forward to playing ALL of the Relayer album” says Steve Howe. “Having premiered The Gates Of Delirium this year, we continue by expanding our Album Series with all the tracks: The Gates Of Delirium, Sound Chaser and To Be Over.” Howe goes on to say: “During the first half of the evening we’ll be performing a refined selection from Yes’ enormous 50 year + repertoire. See you there!”
Alan White comments: “I always enjoy coming home to England so I’m especially looking forward to Yes’ upcoming “Album Series 2020” tour. “Relayer” I believe, is one of the most creative and interesting musical compilations in the bands repertoire. Challenging and extremely enjoyable to play, I’m happy to be bringing this music back to live stages throughout Europe. I hope all who attend our shows will enjoy these cuts as much as we like performing them for our audiences.”
UK dates are as follows: Tuesday 26 May Liverpool Philharmonic Hall
Wednesday 27 May Nottingham Royal Concert Hall
Friday 29 May York Barbican
Saturday 30 May Gateshead The Sage
Sunday 31 May Glasgow Royal Concert Hall
Tuesday 2 June Birmingham Symphony Hall
Wednesday 3 June Manchester Bridgewater Hall
Friday 5 June London Royal Albert Hall
Tickets go onsale at 10.00am Friday 11th October and are available from: 24hr Ticket Hotline: 0844 249 2222 bookingsdirect.com Meet & Greet packages available, for info go to yesworld.com Showtime is 8pm. Roger Dean will attend every show on the UK and European dates, and will have an exhibition of his iconic art, will be available to chat with fans front of house and sign merch, plus will be in the VIP meet and greets.
Formed in 1968 by Jon Anderson and the late, and much-missed, Chris Squire, YES have been one of the most innovative, influential and best-loved bands in rock music history. Their 1970s albums The Yes Album, Fragile, Close To The Edge, Yessongs (a triple live album set), Tales From Topographic Oceans, Relayer and Going For The One were ground-breaking in musical style and content. Their music also became synonymous with artist Roger Dean whose distinctive YES logo design and artwork adorned the lavish gatefold presentation sleeves of many YES albums.With sales of over 50 million records, the Grammy-award winning YES were inducted into The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in 2017 where they performed Roundabout from the album Fragile and the FM radio-friendly Owner Of A Lonely Heart from the 1985 album 90125.
“CIRCA: is a Progressive Rock band formed by veteran rockers Tony Kaye (original YES keyboard and organ player) and Billy Sherwood (who took ChrisSquires place after his untimely passing in 2015), with Ricky Tierney on bass and Scott Connor on drums.
The band was formed in 2007 by Tony Kaye and Billy Sherwood. The debut self-titled CD, “CIRCA:”, features also YES drummer Alan White and Jimmy Haun on guitar. The follow-up, “CIRCA: Live” DVD, archived the band’s first live performance.
In 2009, “CIRCA: HQ” was released with Jay Schellen on drums. CIRCA: “Overflow” is a collection of extra bonus material from the first and second recording sessions, available only as a digital download.
“And So On,” was the third studio CD by the band. A subsequent tour happened in 2011.
“Valley of the Windmill” the new album, includes several extended length songs, and can be described as “super proggy” with influences ranging from classic Yes and Gentle Giant, to Porcupine Tree and Marillion. And absolute must for all Prog Rock fans!”
“Valley of the Windmill” will be released by Frontiers Music Srl on 8th July 2016.