Live DVD Review – The Pineapple Thief – Where We Stood – by Emma Roebuck

Darran Charles, Steve Kitch, Jon Sykes, Gavin Harrison and, of course, Bruce Soord are the current touring version of The Pineapple Thief. On the 11th February 2017 they played the Islington Assembly Rooms, touring in support of their ‘Your Wilderness’ album. It was a packed audience and was a much anticipated tour and album.

The set list for the night was:

  • Tear You Up
  • The one you left to Die
  • No Man’s Land
  • Alone At Sea
  • That Shore
  • Reaching Out
  • In Exile
  • Take Your Shot
  • Show a little love
  • Fend For Yourself
  • Part Zero
  • Simple as that
  • Final Thing on my mind
  • Encores Snow drops / Nothing at best.

The show was recorded and will be released in various packages on the 6th October as ‘Where We Stood’.

First the limitations. I had no access to the package in itself with the multitude of mixes and vinyl stuff which Kscope have produced as a rather excellent showcase of a live band in full flow in front of a passionate audience. I will review what I have seen which is the concert DVD footage and the documentary footage. After all, this is the actual product they are selling in its many forms.

I am a music fan and believe the arena of the stage and live presentation is often the best judge of what a band is capable of in the purest form. A band can live or die on what it does on stage and putting out a DVD of a stage set is a brave thing to do for any band but it seems to be a common thing to do these days.

The set is mainly drawn from the recent album and shows the music in a new light with an additional dimension to the material. The band is completely together in this and are a very slick and tight outfit putting on a show worthy of a much larger stage and audience.

Visually it is a delight and it is also of a very high quality sound (which is available as a standalone live album). It comes as close to letting you be there during the actual performance as any DVD can. The band as individuals get fair shares of shots and it lingers on key musical moments like solos, licks or breaks.  High points for me are, obviously, Snow Drops and Take Your Shot but Exiles and the opening tracks Tear You Up and The One You left To Die also deserve special mention. The set flows like water and is a fine surrogate for those who missed the tour and also as a souvenir for those who have seen this line up recently.

Bravely the new album fills the set list but has a different tone and quality to the studio version. Gavin brings a new feel to the older songs and adds to the live versions. Bruce is a great front man and connects to the audience well. This brings me to a couple of frustrations which I hope can be resolved with the DVD menu manipulations. The show is interspersed with interviews with the guys which ruins the flow of the concert. They could as easily been dropped into the additional 15 minute documentary of the back stage, pre and post show scenes.   Instead I would have let the whole gig play and get the interactions of the band with the audience. I want to feel like I am at the gig and that gets broken up.  Having said that it is relatively minor gripe for what is a great visual presentation of a great band in full flow.

For fans it is an essential purchase but also if you have even a slight interest in good intelligent music then buy it and see what ‘good’ looks like as well as sounds like.

Released 6th October 2016.

Order all formats from the Kscope store at Burning Shed

(Featured image credit: DIANA SEIFERT)

 

 

NEW TOUR DATES ANNOUNCED FOR THE PINEAPPLE THIEF, FEATURING GAVIN HARRISON

The Pineapple Thief have announced the second leg of their European tour in support of the critically-acclaimed album Your Wilderness. The new dates will see the band venture into Poland and Switzerland along with shows in Germany, Czech Republic, The Netherlands and UK. See a full list below.

The band will again be joined by virtuoso Gavin Harrison (Porcupine Tree, King Crimson) on drums and Darran Charles (Godsticks) on guitar. As anyone who witnessed the shows earlier this year will attest, the new five-piece line-up has allowed Bruce, Steve and Jon to expand upon their signature sound, enabling the band to truly shine on stage.

For a glimpse of what to expect, fans can watch clips of the band’s sparkling performance at London’s Islington Assembly Hall here:

Tour dates

Wednesday, 6 September 2017 – Dresden, Alter Schlachtof

Thursday, 7 September 2017 – Warsaw, Progesja Music Zone

Friday, 8 September 2017 – Krakow, Kwadrat Music Club

Saturday, 9 September 2017 – Czech Republic Brno – Melodka

Sunday, 10 September 2017 – Munich, Backstage Halle

Monday, 11 September 2017 – Zurich, Dynamo

Tuesday, 12 September 2017 – Stuttgart, Universum

Wednesday, 13 September 2017 – Cologne, Luxor

Thursday, 14 September 2017 – Zoetermeer, De Boerderij

Saturday, 16 September 2017 – London, ULU

Sunday, 17 September 2017 – Bristol, Bierkeller

For more information and ticket details – http://pineapplethief.com/tour

Following a triumphant first leg, with several sold out shows, The Pineapple Thief has emerged as one of the most exciting live progressive rock acts on the circuit and a force to be reckoned with. Prog Magazine described the show as “a dynamic, dramatic experience” while Manchester Rocks commented that it’s “The Pineapple Thief, like you’ve never heard them before”.

“We can’t wait to get back on the road again!” explains band leader Bruce Soord. “Personally, I am really excited that people will have another opportunity to see and hear this fantastic line-up. Darran and Gavin have brought a whole new dimension to this band.”

The band will be performing Your Wilderness plus a string of re-imagined favourites from their back catalogue. These will be the last tour dates this year, and the final opportunity for fans to witness this line-up performing Your Wilderness in its entirety. Special guest support is from Kscope label mates Godsticks, who will be performing brand new material from their upcoming fourth album.

Your Wilderness is the 11th studio album from The Pineapple Thief. For the first time, the band brought in several special guest performers: Gavin Harrison (Porcupine Tree) contributed drums throughout the album, John Helliwell (Supertramp) some beautiful clarinet parts, and Geoffrey Richardson (Caravan) provided a string quartet. They were also joined by a 4-piece choir and to cap it all off, Darran Charles (Godsticks) added some jaw dropping guitar playing.

One of the most exciting bands to come out of the UK progressive rock scene in recent times, The Pineapple Thief was formed in 1999 by founder and chief songwriter Bruce Soord. The band has steadily evolved and refined its sound with the bass playing of Jon Sykes and the production and keyboards of Steve Kitch vital ingredients of the unmistakable TPT sound.

The Pineapple Thief online:

Website: www.thepineapplethief.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/thepineapplethief

Twitter: www.twitter.com/pineapplethief

Instagram: www.instagram.com/thepineapplethief

Spotify: https://play.spotify.com/artist/4lrBMUSk8PiNnCEZfsmPAk

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLE6401DB011BD837E

Apple Music: https://itunes.apple.com/gb/artist/the-pineapple-thief/id278648772

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

 

 

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

Tim Bowness To Release New album, Lost In The Ghost Light, In February

tim-bowness-lost-in-the-ghost-light

Tim Bowness will release his fourth solo album, ‘Lost In The Ghost Light’, through InsideOut on February 17.

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.

When I spoke to Tim about the new album a month or so ago,  he said,

“The new album’s just been finished. We’re looking at a mid-February release. 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. That said, it still sounds a lot like me.”

The album is now available to pre-order from Burning Shed, including an exclusive hand numbered gold vinyl LP + CD limited to 400 copies. All orders will receive a signed artwork postcard.

Review – Fire Garden – Far and Near – by Progradar

cover

“I’ll keep evolving and put that into my songs.”
Alanis Morissette

One of the great pleasures of being a music journalist/reviewer is watching an artist mature from their initial early steps and through their growing career. You see how the raw musical talent becomes focused and more mature to give ever impressive musical releases.

One such artist, for me, is Chicago native Zee Baig and his musical project Fire Garden. From hearing 2012’s debut E.P. ‘The Prelude’ (where I initially became friends with this engaging musician) through 2014’s first full length release ‘Sound Of Majestic Colours’ to this latest album ‘Far and Near’, you can see the increasing skill and artistry, not only in the music but in the songwriting too.

Zee is the mastermind, songwriter, guitarist, lyricist and a founding member of Fire Garden. He is self-taught musician. His main influences are the music of late 60s and early 70s and bands like Dream Theater, Pink Floyd, King Crimson, Opeth, Porcupine Tree, Steven Wilson and classic bands like The Beatles, Led Zeppelin and many more.

Zee has called on the undoubted drumming skills of Jimmy Keegan (Spock’s Beard) on the new release, which also features Jordan Rudess’ keyboard wizardry and is mixed by Bruce Soord. The spectacular artwork is from the feverish mind of the legendary Travis Smith.

Frank Lucas (piano, keyboards, synths), Marc Malitz (bass) and Barry Kleiber (bass) make up the rest of Fire Garden and each adds their own considerable expertise to the melting pot.

binoculars

The album opens with title track Far and Near which is a haunting two minute instrumental that drips with pathos, feeling and intense emotion. Dominated by a sentimental piano note, it really strikes a chord with me, leaving me feeling slightly melancholy, but in a good way. There’s Something begins with a delightful strummed guitar before the drums become the driving force. Zee’s vocals lull you into a state of grace with their lush tone before the riff gets a little heavier and the song takes on a more serious feel. The chorus has a great hook and you just seem to be carried along on the wave of sentiment that the track engenders. There’s a slight interlude in the middle of the song, an ominous feeling that we are working up to something as everything slows down to a meditative pace. It’s a laconic and laid back, if intricate, build up to a slow burning guitar solo that hits you in the solar plexus and holds you in place while stripping your soul bare. A nicely judged and intelligent song that shows just how far Zee has come as a songwriter. A thunderously powerful riff is the opening to A New Day, a song that has the feeling of U2 but as if it was played by Metallica, the imperative verse drives on with the urgent vocals and dynamic drums. There’s a mesmerising feel to the heavy riffing and eerie organ note that adds to the wall of sound that is being generated. The slow build to the solo really sets you on edge and then Zee’s coruscating guitar really burns bright. A really compelling and forceful track that holds your attention to the explosive end.

windmill

Now to my favourite song on an album of great tracks, Life of a Drifter is a whimsical and nostalgic song that brings out feelings of hope and regret deep from your soul. The laid back chorus is gentle and touching breaking into a softly sung but heartfelt chorus. There is a sense of not wanting to look back at a sepia tinged past so that some sort of pain or less can remain hidden. Don’t look back, just focus on tomorrow, it really touched a nerve with me and I am moved every time I listen to it. The serenity is broken by clashing drums, guitar and keyboard, a maelstrom that leaves you breathless with its ferocity before a more focused and powerful rendition of the chorus is sung. This is all leading up to an absolute monster of a keyboard outro by the legendary Jordan Rudess, given free rein to let loose his mind-bending virtuosity. Turst me, you’ll be left slack jawed by the brilliance! The slow brooding A Thousand Lost Souls is a superb instrumental that seems to just be boiling under the surface, leaving the tension readily apparent. I love the way it makes the hairs on your arms stand up with its intensity and focus. Once you’ve heard the first note, you daren’t turn it off, it is like it is talking to you in a mystical musical code. War and Peace is a darkly powerful prog-metal track that feels like it has clawed its way up from the bowels of the earth, elemental and alive. The repeated, singular, words, are delivered in a menacing chant before the industrial riff and deliciously evil guitar threaten to take over your mind, leaving you a slave to the rhythm.

compass

Faint Shadows follows that seriously heavy prog-metal direction with a riff that could topple mountains, primordial and destructive. There’s a feeling of barely controlled chaos that is bubbling under the surface before the ever more potent drumming of Jimmy Keegan breaks free. The vocals begin, almost shamen-like in their delivery, as if they are speaking an incantation and one that draws you in close. You know that something is lurking in the shadows but know not if it is of the darkness or the light, however, you have to follow your instinct and find out. It is a really vivid and dominant song that brooks no argument. Heartfelt, sombre and slightly mournful, the opening notes to Whitelight just leave your heart in your mouth. This is a passionate plea of a song that seems to linger in your subconscious. Zee’s vocals are wistful and dreamlike and you just find yourself left in a trance, able neither to move forwards or back, your attention on every word that you hear. The delicate guitar and keyboards just add to the atmosphere, a song powerful in its contemplation. The mood is broken by a dark-edged riff and frenzied drumbeat before a hypnotic piano brings a feeling of tension and the close of the song. At nearly eleven minutes, Diary Of The Blood Moon is the lengthiest track on the album and hits you straight away as being the most progressive of the songs too with an intricate play off between the drums, guitar and keys. Driven along by Jimmy’s expansive style and Zee’s brooding guitar it is a hectic ride for the uninitiated. Interspersed with interludes of calm and reflection, it is an intense crucible of musical majesty that bestrides this album like a colossal behemoth. The last two minutes raise the bar even higher with a build up of momentum that intensifies with a fiery guitar solo and dominant rhythm section to just leaves you open mouthed in admiration.

So Zee and Fire Garden have raised the bar even higher with this latest release. ‘Far and Near’ is a magnificent album that never loses focus or intensity and, while it is great to see Jordan Rudess and Jimmy Keegan giving their considerable talents to this enterprise, it is very much the product of Zee Baig and Fire Garden’s consummate skill set. Trust me, as an all consuming listen from beginning to end, this is a definite must buy for your music collection.

Released 21st October 2016

Buy ‘Far and Near’ direct from Fire Garden

 

 

 

 

THE PINEAPPLE THIEF – ANNOUNCE HEADLINE YOUR WILDERNESS TOUR FEATURING GAVIN HARRISON

Your_Wilderness_cover

The Pineapple Thief have announced a string of European dates for early 2017 in support of their highly acclaimed new album, ‘Your Wilderness’. The band will be joined by virtuoso Gavin Harrison (Porcupine Tree, King Crimson) on drums.  

 “We always said that we couldn’t imagine touring the material live without Gavin on stage’, explains band leader Bruce Soord, ”We’re so excited that we have made it happen. It’s a real once in a lifetime event.” 

20.01 Patronaat, Haarlem NL
21.01 Uden, De Pul NL
22.01 Zwolle, Hedon NL
24.01 Aschaffenburg, Colos Saal DE
25.01 Oberhausen, Eisenlager DE
26.01 Berlin, Frannz club DE
27.01 Prague, Futurum Music Bar CZ
28.01 Dresden, Tante Ju DE
29.01 Hamburg, Knust DE
31.01 Maastricht, Muziekgieterij NL
01.02 Paris, Le Divan Du Monde FR
09.02 Glasgow, ABC2 UK
10.02 Manchester, Sound Control UK
11.02 London, Islington Assembly Hall UK

For more information and ticket details – http://pineapplethief.com/tour

The band will be performing Your Wilderness plus a string of re-imagined favourites from their back catalogue, and with an expanded 5-piece line-up including Darran Charles on additional guitar duties, this will be a live show not to be missed.  Special guest support is from Kscope label mates Godsticks.

Your Wilderness, their 11th studio album, showcases the band performing without any inhibitions providing a springboard for the ongoing creative growth of The Pineapple Thief. 

For the first time, The Pineapple Thief brought in several special guest performers: Gavin Harrison (Porcupine Tree) contributed drums throughout the album, John Helliwell (Supertramp) some beautiful clarinet parts, and Geoffrey Richardson (Caravan) provided a string quartet. They were also joined by a 4-piece choir and to cap it all off, Darran Charles (Godsticks) added some jaw dropping guitar playing. 

Seen as one of the most vital rock bands the UK has produced over the last two decades, The Pineapple Thief was formed in 1999 by founder and chief songwriter Bruce Soord. The band has steadily evolved and refined its sound with the bass playing of Jon Sykes and the production and keyboards of Steve Kitch vital ingredients to the unmistakable TPT sound.

Your Wilderness has been released by Kscope on CD / LP / Digital and as a Deluxe hardback book 2 CD+DVD set: www.kscopemusic.com/store

WATCH THE VIDEO FOR “IN EXILE ” HERE

The Pineapple Thief – In Exile (from Your Wilderness) – YouTube

The Pineapple Thief – In Exile (from Your Wilderness) on Vimeo

WATCH AN  ACOUSTIC VERSION OF “TEAR YOU UP ” RECORDED AT SOORD STUDIOS HERE:

https://youtu.be/l-1awi26pBs

https://vimeo.com/181043820

The Pineapple Thief online:

Website: www.thepineapplethief.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/thepineapplethief

Twitter: www.twitter.com/pineapplethief

Instagram: www.instagram.com/thepineapplethief

Spotify: https://play.spotify.com/artist/4lrBMUSk8PiNnCEZfsmPAk

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLE6401DB011BD837E

Apple Music: https://itunes.apple.com/gb/artist/the-pineapple-thief/id278648772

Review – Your Wilderness – The Pineapple Thief – By Kevin Thompson

Your_Wilderness_cover

About fifteen years ago I was rooting through a ‘bargain’ box of CD’s and came across one called ‘Jet Set Radio’, by Vulgar Unicorn, intrigued by the name and attracted by the price it found a place in my growing collection.

Then there was a time I collected my children for an all too rare visit from their Mum’s in Yeovil, a place full of history but devastated by modernity. As I wound up a hill toward their dingy council estate, I passed a theatre on the side of which a poster advertised a band, The Pineapple Thief (TPT). Again intrigued by the name I sought out what information I could and acquired ‘137’ and ‘Variations on a Dream’, and to this day they have remained my favourite two CDs of this band’s output; until this day…..

I still marvel how I came across this band and the fact I never realised the link between Vulgar Unicorn and TPT until a number of years later whilst browsing the sleeve notes to find the name Bruce Soord appeared on both. Now an established and sought after producer, dabbling in Wisdom of Crowds (with Katatonia’s Jonas Renkse) and with a solo album under his belt that appears to have rejuvenated his musical intent he returns with the 11th studio offering under the TPT monicker, ‘Your Wilderness’.

Fresh from watching their stunning performance at Be Prog My Friend festival in Spain, as headliners on the Friday evening, (report available here on Progradar), I had mixed emotions about reviewing this. I have always really liked this band and rate them alongside Porcupine Tree (PT), though I have never agreed with the comparisons in music style that some seem to find.

That said, whilst brilliantly produced and lovingly packaged, I had felt the last couple of albums, despite credible reviews, had an air of frustration and the feeling of treading water. I had feared that as have others, their ascendency and Bruce’s rising popularity in the industry may turn them into mediocrity and (the only comparison I will draw) that they may fade and disappear like PT. You stupid boy, Thompson!

Band 2

The cover picture could be interpreted as being in a wilderness and facing a difficult summit to climb, but I should have more faith……

A drum beat introduction leads in to Bruce’s distinct vocals as he berates being In Exile and the one line repeated chorus of “Don’t be afraid to miss me” ensures from the offset this album is not going to go amiss.  As the music swells and the guitar riffs in identifiable TPT style dig in to your mind the song ends with notes from stalwart Steve Kitch‘s keyboards ricocheting into a distant canyon at the beginning of this musical pilgrimage.

Beautiful acoustic strumming and the inimitable airy vocals from Bruce take up the journey into No Man’s Land,  and are joined by Steve’s piano for the ride. Slight pause for effect then the percussive rolls of guest drummer Gavin Harrison, (I know, Porcupine Tree, but still no comparisons) kick in redefining the sound, with Bruce’s cries floating over the top as further guest Darran Charles’ (Godsticks) guitars burst in with spine tingling energy and the bass playing of third man in the core trio, Jon Sykes, more than ably drives the engine of this vehicle through the canyon of music.

It has to be said that not having a permanent drummer at the moment does not detract. In fact, whilst bringing their own individual skills to the table, all the guest artists knit neatly into the TPT signature sound, adding a refreshing impetus.

Acoustic chords and a burst of electric guitar shoot out and Bruce advises he cannot Tear You Up, before the guitar flashes a short burst again and leaves way to the piano and vocals before crashing in with a heavy riff adding more energy to the drive and it definitely begins to feel like all these currents run to you, as it ends abruptly on those words.

The rhythms and riffs weave in and out returning at intervals on this album, linking tracks and  connecting to the whole pathway of the album.

Band 3 - Rob Monk

A gentler electronic sound with rhythm loops, like the breeze stirring desert sands along a dried up river, drifting across That Shore that once teemed with life. As the layered harmonizing echoes round a moonlit sky and you pull in for a rest, contemplating the aural massage of notes soothing your brow as you watch the sunrise.

As the orb rises in the sky, light guitar chords spread across the track and the bass heats up,  Bruce encourages it’s time to make your move. You had best get under-way and Take Your Shot at the listening journey ahead as you are carried on another racing track, kicking dust in the face of non believers as you hurtle down the gravel road in search of musical pastures ahead and your tail-lights disappear into the early morning haze.

A feeling of calm guides you on acoustic guitar, keys and dreamy soundscapes as you wind down the car window and a cool breeze of clarinet from John Helliwell (Supertramp) gently ruffles the balmy air. You are all alone no one around in this wide expanse and you must Fend For Yourself  if you wish to discover what lies ahead. Calmly you make your way fingers drumming on the wheel to the gentle rhythm of the engine and a feeling of contentment with Bruce’s vocals imparting the details of where you are heading, to the woodwind.

Looping guitar chords fuel the drums as you make your way and Bruce urges you not to forget The Final Thing on Your Mind as the heat of the the music swells carrying you on, with orchestral lines guiding you down the straight track. The keyboards plot the course on the penultimate longest track, regret in Bruce’s  restrained vocals at a broken relationship gone cold. Hurrying strings set the pace, the guitar solo points you toward your destination and the ticking of your engine sees this out.

As early evening approaches acoustic guitar shows you a coast coming into view, the familiar lights of a city flickering on as the sun drops away, almost there and Bruce reminds us of  Where We Stood at the start, a warm but fading memory. The echoing guitar and final piano refrain guides us smoothly home.

You can stand in the musical desert, you can blink at the sun and not want to go anywhere, or wish you were back where it all started. On this album, for me, the band seem to have regained focus and direction, overtaking their recent output and whilst I look back to the grand canyons they have journeyed before, I am more than happy to take a ride with them and see what lies ahead. Join us if you wish, there’s plenty of room and the ride is sweet.

All bands pics – credit Rob Monk.

Released 12th August 2016 (19th August in France).

Buy ‘Your Wilderness’ from Burning Shed

 

BE PROG MY FRIEND! Festival 2016 – by Kevin Thompson

KF_Amorphis_PosterA1.eps

We’re English and we should be used to it, but let’s face it, there has been too much rain lately. An excuse, that’s what we needed. And then a poster appeared online for Be Prog, My Friend!, in Spain and the band list was just too tempting. Sun and great music has to be good and so Mrs T and I took the plunge, raided our piggy banks and booked gig tickets, flights and a hotel. Neither of us speaks Spanish, so armed with our little phrasebook we took off for warmer climes. This is not the story of our excellent weekend , but just the periods of the two days covering the festival, so I won’t be mentioning the delicious food, the wonderful Museum of Modern Art, or the exquisitely beautiful Sagrada Familia and the impressive Camp Nou. Nor will I mention the impressive buildings, statues, waterfalls or fountains at all.

We decided to recce the whereabouts of the the festival venue the day before, which turned out to be a very pleasant 30-40 minute walk from our hotel. This is not the first BPMF, though new to us and was to be held in the Poble Espanyol, an architectural museum in Barcelona, just a few meters away from the Fountains of Montjuïc.

The Poble Espanyol was built in 1929 for the Barcelona International Exhibition as the pavilion dedicated to art and was conceived as a real “village” in the heart of a city. The aim was to give an idea of what might be an “ideal model” of an Iberian village that would bring together all the characteristics of all peninsular villages. It was built in thirteen months and, curiously, had an expiry date, as it was supposed to last the same time as the Universal Exhibition: six months. However, thanks to its success, the Poble Espanyol still stands to this day, and some of the buildings have outlived the original ones to become one of the few monuments built for an International Exhibition that can still be visited.

The Festival is held in the central courtyard and is a beautiful setting with olive and palm tree lined  stone balustrade terraces, balconies draped with colourful plants and parakeets flying overhead. A far cry from soggy Glastonbury.

All your needs are catered for with ample eateries, bars and facilities and we never had to queue more than a couple of minutes for anything. It is the best organised festival we have been to and clean, as most people placed used food and drink containers in the bins provided when discarded, a few drunk ‘tourists’ being the exception and they were berated in to tidying up. There were even lockers available should you wish to offload items/garments and return to them during the day/night. Security was good and polite along with excellent service without hiked prices. The merchandise was plenty and I did indulge a little, again nothing was overpriced. So…….

DAY 1: Friday – 1700:

kEV 1

We arrived in good time and joined the line, people were friendly and my all over print PALLAS t-shirt drew quite a few admiring glances, there was quite a bit of t-shirt posing with everyone checking out each others. I got chatting to a guy in a Ltd edition Sanctuary 2 t-shirt and discovered he was a local and a big fan of Rob Reed. Entry to the Friday night was free if you had tickets for the Saturday, bargain!

We were soon through, into the festival and as we were some of the first, took the chance to get our bearings and map out the facilities, grabbing tokens for the food and drinks for both nights to save time and buying our merch. It was lovely and warm with a gentle, pleasant breeze circulating and the sun sat neatly at the edge of the courtyard roofs offering welcome shade. We found seating on some of the stone steps giving a great view, though standing and moving around at intervals was required to prevent ‘numb bums’.

Kev 4

Up first were local band, Exassens, (www.exxasens.com), formed in 2011, I’d describe them as an instrumental rock band, or post-rock, but with hints of progressive and space rock. A mix of different sounds, where guitars with long echoes, blend with synths and a powerful rhythmic base, displaying many influences such as Pink Floyd and The Cure, through to instrumental bands like Explosions in the Sky or Mogwai. The solar system backdrop videos adding to the atmosphere and they warmed the late afternoon crowd up nicely. Whilst mostly instrumental, Bruce Soord did make a surprise appearance to duet on vocals for one track raising a cheer from those watching.

Kev 2

As the venue began to fill we were joined by a bunch of Spanish lads and a lady (girlfriend) who explained they had grown up together in Barcelona and then gone their separate ways. The festival is their excuse to meet and catch up every year. They spoke fairly good English and we joked about our phrase book Spanish. They seemed to value our opinions on the bands and made for a very pleasant company throughout the evening. Konnie wasn’t complaining as the lads kept topping up her drinks!

Up next were Obsidian Kingdom, (www.obsidiankingdom.com) another local band with a hard-to-classify heavy sound with plenty of contrast, making use of multiple sound resources. Unfortunately the sombre and cryptic quality of the band’s lyrics and music coupled with muddied sound, brought the atmosphere down somewhat. I don’t have any live shots unfortunately as we had been led to believe no cameras were allowed (not true) and the heavy use of smoke in the early evening sun blurred my phone photos. Listening to them online now they sound better than on the day.

Plastic glasses refilled we were ready for the much anticipated Russian band, I Am The Morning and they didn’t disappoint. The captivating, angelic vocals of a barefoot Marjana Semkina as she floated round the stage, with the beautiful keys of classically trained piano maestro Gleb Kolyadin drifting around the square. They enchanted all and were ably assisted with strings and backing band. Flowers were thrown on stage and they won our hearts, someone even shouted out ‘Marry Me Marjana!”. They captivated everyone watching with a quite magical performance and deserve a wider audience.

Kev 3

By now the sun was beginning to set behind the buildings and the lamps in the square came on adding to the ambience as we discussed the music so far and waited for the next act.

Kev 5

On to the stage bounced the surprise of the festival for us, with much enthusiastic applause from our Spanish friends who had advised us ‘this band is brilliant, yes’. I had seen the current album cover but not heard any of the music from Icelandic band Agent Fresco (www.agentfresco.is) and what an awesome show. Think a male version of Bjork with a band coming from a Rage Against The Machine/At the Drive In angle and you’re some-way to describing them. The mechanics and rhythmic patterns unpredictably stutter, yet seamlessly stitch together into stunning compositions veering from blazing alt-guitar rock to piano ballads and stadium-size anthems, often in the same song, to decisive euphoric effect. All this with lead singer Arnór Dan Arnarson defying doctors orders after leaving hospital only 48 hours earlier, having been treated for pneumonia and told he had to rest. They left us breathless and wanting more and we hope Arnór is soon fully recovered and we get the opportunity to see them again.

Kev 6

The night had drawn in and we settled down ready for the head-liners, the excitement was palpable and voices rose as the anticipation grew. The stage planning and crews had made smooth transitions between the different acts, removing and replacing equipment with practised ease showing very little delay, keeping close to schedule but allowing time for ample refreshments.

Kev 7

Enter head-liners of the night The Pineapple Thief to resounding applause, as they burst into a repertoire, which plundered their catalogue as far back as Variations on a Dream including a ‘shortened’ version of one of my favourites, ‘Remember Us’ with some great guitar soloing. An apt track as the crowd were not going to forget this performance for a long while. Konnie remarked how much they have grown in the ‘live’ environment, the last time we saw them was in a very small, intimate venue and tonight they looked so comfortable on the large stage, every bit the stadium head-liners.

Kev 8

A polished, rocking performance, holding the crowd in the metaphorical palm of their hand and our newly found Spanish friends couldn’t agree more. Great sound quality and lighting added to the performance and even though they played a couple of encore tunes we would of all happily stayed longer.

Kev 9

Buoyed by a great night’s entertainment we said goodnight to our ‘crowd’ and flowed out of the venue and into the streets, strolling toward the city, it was 0130 and everyone was chatting as they walked. We struck up a conversation with a young Frenchman man who now lives in New Zealand. He’d flown over to visit his Mum in France and then down for the festival before heading back to NZ. To say he had enjoyed the first night would be an understatement, amid the numerous enthusiastic expletives he enthused about the evening none stop until we parted company and steered ourselves contentedly toward our Hotel, tomorrow would be a longer day, but who knew what delights awaited us………..

Kev 10

Part 2 of Kevin’s BE PROG, MY FRIEND! experience is coming very soon…..

Review – Ghost Community – Cycle of Life – by Progradar

gcalbum

“You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.” – Maya Angelou

Let’s face it, nothing good in this world generally comes easy. We often have to endure hardship to see the light at the end of the tunnel and the gestation of ‘Cycle of Life’, the debut album from Cardiff based band Ghost Community, has certainly seen many trials and tribulations before, finally, coming to fruition.

In fact their own publicity information goes so far as to say,

“‘Cycle of Life’ was written through a maelstrom of adversity and sometimes you can hear it but not necessarily feel it, because this is an album of hope; and if we ever needed an album of hope, it’s right now.”

Band -Catherine Summerhayes

(this picture and featured image courtesy of Catherine Summerhayes)

Ghost Community is Matthew Cohen – bass (The Reasoning / Magenta), Simon Rogers – guitar (Also Eden), Jake Bradford-Sharp – drums (The Reasoning), Moray Macdonald – keyboards (Godsticks) and the band’s singer supreme, John Paul Vaughan (Unbroken Spirit).

Riversea vocalist Marc Atkinson was the original singer but was unable to commit to the project on a long term basis, however, some of his original vocals do appear on the album.

Matty Cohen says of Marc,

“We’re all in this together……. I am so glad he is on the album. He started this journey with us so, it was only right.”

With much crisscrossing the country through the years in various bands and with each person sharing the same stages, frequenting the same scene, and forging firm friendships, discussions inevitably began about creating something new together, as a band. With the wealth of experience they brought to the table, they knew they could make this band something that not only met the needs of their own musical desires but would also, be a band for everyone. Ghost Community is that band and that dream, come true.

Matty feels that the music community has come together  to support Ghost Community in their endeavour, he told me,

“This is what the music scene should be about. Everyone helping each other. That is the ethos behind Ghost Community. It is about every thing working because we all need each other to make it work.”

He continues,

“Trust me, music has saved me on more than one occasion. It drives me mad sometimes but, it’s in me and I never want to be without it. That is why this album is so important…”

With the brilliant Bruce Soord (The Pineapple Thief, Opeth & Katatonia) mixing / producing the album with the band, hopefully there is something special awaiting me.

Bruce Soord

Opener Rise Up seems to bloom from almost out of nowhere, a low key intro before the stylish bass and guitar power into view, dragging the impressive drums along with them. One thing is immediately apparent, John Paul Vaughan has a stunning voice and one that fits with the material perfectly. There is an urgency to the song, one that keeps you on your toes. It flies along at a fairly hectic pace but loses no quality at all. I’m put in mind of some of the recent stalwarts of British progressive music like The Reasoning and Also Eden (no surprise there) but the band give it their own polished edge and identity. Simon Rogers shows his zen like guitar skills with a fiery, burning solo and, basically, you are having a rollicking good time. Driving all of this along is the dynamism of Matty Cohen’s superb bass playing and Jake Bradford-Sharp’s pin sharp drum skills, Moray Macdonald’s vibrant keyboards are the glue that holds everything in place. There is a vocal piece towards the end that reminds me so much of Peter Nicholls of IQ fame, John Paul has a really distinctive voice and this track is a brilliant way to open the album, right, what’s next?

John Paul

(John Paul Vaughan)

Distinctive guitar, gentle but insistent, opens Mirror Lakes, a more laid back track than the previous. The vocals are key at the start of this song, giving a focal point around which the languid music can flow with ease. Then the powerful drums and bass hit you hard along with a powerful riff from Simon’s guitar. There’s an ebb and flow between the relative calm of the verse and then the in your face potency of the catchy chorus which is actually quite addictive and has you singing along with gusto. I find myself picking out the individual instruments at times, the drums almost have a life of their own, the guitar playing is really quite sublime and the keyboards give added verve and fervour. On this track, what really stands out at times though is that driving bass line, almost with a mind and will of its own and all these impressive musicians segue together to provide a stylish run out to end the song.

Jake

(Jake Bradford-Sharp)

Anything and Everything has a pensive opening, almost sci-fi in feel, with the industrial synth sounds. The drums dominate the soundscape with the guitar adding gloss before the vocals begin, low-key and contemplative. There’s a feel of melancholy running through the song even as the pace picks up and the track gets more urgency, it s a darker, more sombre song that leaves you in a thoughtful mood. Just out of reach, but very evident, there’s an 80’s synth pop party going on, Midge Ure and Ultravox have turned up to jam with the Ghost Community boys and Moray’s keys get a real extended workout on this track. For a child of that decade there is nostalgia to be heard and felt at every turn and wry and wistful smile never leaves my face. A great song that is surrounded by a wistful aura throughout.

Moray

(Moray Macdonald)

There is a delicate fragility to the opening to Blue December Morning, you can almost imagine a cold, frosty day with the icicles hanging from the sparse branches, bleak but beautiful. John’s vocal is affectingly humble and sincere and the music adds its own gravitas with lush string-like keyboards and an elegant piano giving a pared back ambience to the whole song. There is an almost heavy-hearted and poignant feel to the lyrics but the song shows there is beauty even in tribulation as a darkly magnificent solo flows organically from Simon Rogers’ eloquent guitar to leave you lost in your own thoughts. The vocals become more impassioned and the music stimulates you even more as this intelligent and potent track comes to a stirring close.

simon

(Simon Rogers)

Heartening and uplifting, the organ, vocals and guitar that open Ghost Community are full of hope and optimism and this feel-good track carries on in that vein to give an atmosphere of confidence and belief. An influential and charismatic rhythm section give real impetus to the music and the vocals have a compelling tone to them, one that makes you sit up and take notice. There is energy aplenty running through this song with hooks firing from left, right and centre. The absorbing lull in the middle of the song brings a note of seriousness to proceedings, hope and optimism are all good but nothing comes easy in this life, you have to work for every positive outcome. That mantra is drummed into you as the song comes to an intricate close.

Matty

(Matty Cohen)

So it all comes to this, the final track on the album and the title track Cycle of Life. With a title like that it should be an epic shouldn’t it? Well, for starters, it’s nearly sixteen minutes long and starts with an ominous voice over so that’s a couple of boxes ticked already! An unpretentious acoustic guitar and John Paul’s deferential vocals add serious dignity to the song before Matty’s pulsating bass and Moray’s keyboards lay the foundations for the track to move up a notch or two with an energetic riff and sweeping keyboards taking the baton and running with it. Jake’s drums get to shine again and all the components are present and correct for something rather special. Like all the best extended progressive tracks, it seems to flow seamlessly from section to section, sometimes showcasing the exceptional guitar work and , at other times, allowing the uber-tight rhythm section to take centre stage. John Paul Vaughan’s singular voice repeatedly requests that,

“Passengers get on board, welcome to the Cycle of Life….”

Before the voice-over precedes an undulating lull in proceedings, everyone treading water before the mantra is repeated again. It’s easy to get lost in the wondrously labyrinthine twists and turns that abound in this dramatic and profound song but the band will always guide you back to safety. An acoustic guitar returns us to place of calm and serenity, the cultured vocals soothing any troubled souls as you sit on a metaphorical shore of endless possibilities, it only takes a second to change your life so what are you waiting for? A rather inventive and perceptive instrumental section brings us to the close of this creative track and, as the last note resonates into the distance, you sit quietly to ruminate on what the last fifty-one minutes has given you.

‘Cycle of Life’ is a thought-provoking, beguiling and fulfilling musical journey that excites and satisfies at every turn. Ghost Community may have had to endure trials and tribulations while making this record but the experiences have enabled them to deliver something quite magical and rewarding that will stand the test of time, worthy of a place in anyone’s musical collection.

Released 24th June 2016

Buy ‘Cycle of Life’ direct from the band at the link below:

Shop