Taking music written and recorded over thirty years ago and rewriting, rerecording and reimagining it can be said by some to be a cynical marketing exercise and I must admit I wasn’t entirely convinced when I heard that prog scion Robert Reed was resurrecting his old Cyan band name and doing just that with the original material.
To be fair to Rob, I had to listen to the album and make my own mind up and, after just a couple of listens all the negative connotations disappeared. Whether it helped that I had never heard the material before, I don’t know but this ‘new’ album is like a breath of fresh air, the songs are wonderfully created and performed by this stellar collection of progressive rock stalwarts.
You will never go wrong when you have the dulcet tones of Peter Jones ( and his superb flute playing) gracing your album, add in the searing guitar talent that is Luke Machin and the stylish bass of Dan Nelson then you have the beginnings of something special. Take that trio and add the unique talent that is Robert Reed and you take everything up another notch and on this album they create something quite remarkable indeed.
A beguiling musical journey from the powerful and compelling The Sorceror to the emotive highs and lows of the incredibly moving title track For King And Country, I have never stopped smiling through my multiple listens to this outstanding achievement. There are some highlights, like the amazing Snowbound and its dazzling display of instrumental brilliance, the warm and tender wistful tones of I Defy The Sun, the epic and intricate scope of Man Amongst Men and the joyous strains of the beautiful Call Me, but every track is a sweet-sounding gem and whenever the amazing voice of Angharad Brinn blends seamlessly with Peter Jones then the symmetry is just perfect.
Rob Reed: “Little did I know in 1983, sitting at the school piano writing these songs, that almost 40 years later those same songs would sound like they do on this album. I remember the original Cyan, made up of school mates, pooling our money, £35 to record them at a local 4 track studio with basic equipment. It’s been amazing to finally hear the songs at their full potential, with modern recording techniques and an amazing line up of players.”
I never mind admitting when I am wrong and my initial thoughts about this release were so wide of the mark that they were downright embarrassing. Robert Reed has looked to the past to create something that is definitively of our time now. A masterpiece of intricate melodies, mellifluous vocals and intelligent songwriting, ‘For King And Country’ delights on every level and makes you smile. You can’t really ask for much more than that, can you?
New album ‘For King and Country’ due out on Sept 24th
Keyboardist and composer Rob Reed, known for his work with Magenta, Kompendium and Sanctuary solo albums, is pleased to announce a brand-new album from Cyan – For King and Country, due out on the 24th of September 2021.
Prior to Magenta, almost 30 years ago, Reed release three albums with his then band Cyan. Out of the ashes of that band, Magenta was borne. Now, on this new Cyan album, Reed has rewritten, rerecorded and reimagined material from the early days of Cyan, and this time with a brilliant new lineup. The group features vocalist Pete Jones (Camel, Tiger Moth Tales), guitarist Luke Machin (Maschine, The Tangent), and bassist Dan Nelson (Godsticks, Magenta). The band will be playing their first show at Summers End Festival, Sunday, Oct. 3rd.
Watch the video for the 15-minute opening track and first single “The Sorceror” here:
Rob Reed on the new album: “Little did I know in 1983, sitting at the school piano writing these songs, that almost 40 years later those same songs would sound like they do on this album. I remember the original Cyan, made up of school mates, pooling our money, £35 to record them at a local 4 track studio with basic equipment. It’s been amazing to finally hear the songs at their full potential, with modern recording techniques and an amazing line up of players.
“I’d held off releasing this album because I couldn’t find a vocalist to do it justice. Meeting Pete ticked that box, as soon as I heard him sing the first track. His voice just blends so good against Angharad Brinn, who I’d worked with on the Sanctuary solo albums. Having Luke play the guitar parts was just the icing on the cake. He is such a great player, with technique and feel. What a line up!”
Pete Jones had this to say about the project: “I had known about the reworking of For King And Country for a while, so it was a great thrill to be asked by Rob to work with him on the project, alongside the other amazing musicians such as Luke and Angharad. The songs are fantastic. They have a youthful and yet vintage quality to them, as well they might, given that they were first done in the early 90s. But with the benefit of Rob’s experience, they have been reworked into an album which I feel is right up there with the classics.”
1.The Sorceror 2.Call Me 3.I Defy The Sun 4.Don’t Turn Away 5.Snowbound 6.Man Amongst Men 7.Night Flight 8.For King and Country
2020 with their new and most accomplished studio album, Inescapable.
Their mix of heavy rock, progressive and alternative metal with a dynamic range
of angular riffs and emotional depth will leave listeners reeling. The band’s
sound has refined over their releases on Kscope, beginning with the technically
astounding metal on Emergence to the more industrial and
progressive-influenced Faced With Rage. Now, with Inescapable,
the band have channelled their energy and technical ability into the melody,
phrasing and vocal performance, allowing emotion to take centre stage.
The band found themselves wanting a definitive theme running through Inescapable, without turning it into a concept album, of being more open, more personal and ultimately one that shines an inquisitive light on Charles’s struggle with inner demons which gave the songs a new level of intimacy.
“Lyrically, I’ve always shared personal thoughts, feelings and experiences but in a very ambiguous way. For Inescapable – in a conscious effort not to repeat ourselves – I thought I’d be a little more self-reflective and perhaps examine some of my inner demons. I have a strange relationship with music, and especially playing guitar. I would struggle to survive without either, but equally they have made my life mentally torturous because my own self-worth is completely wrapped up in them. I used to be very much a perfectionist in my early years, and whilst some people may wear that as a badge of honour, I eventually viewed it as huge heavy weight dragging down. It was a long time before I arrived at the realisation that perfection was impossible to achieve.” elaborates Darran Charles.
highlighting the album’s leitmotif, the band reveal their first single
“Denigrate”, “the writing of this song was a sort of analysis
of my ongoing battle with perfectionism and the general feeling that nothing
you do ever meets the impossibly high standards you set for yourself”. The
songfeatures additional vocals from
TesseracT’s gifted vocalist Daniel Tompkins to record vocal harmonies, adding
an extra layer of aggression and energy.
The shoot for the quirky video, directed by George
Laycock (Blacktide Audio/Visual) proved to be a memorable day for the band as Godsticks drummer Tom Price recalls “Everyone in the band
was so excited about the concept, but when we arrived on set and saw a large
table full of cakes, sweets, chocolate, sugar, sprinkles, honey and all manners
of confectionary, the magnitude of what we had all let ourselves in for finally
dawned on us! By the end of the shoot we were completely covered in everything
– it was like ‘The Great British Bake Off’ meets ‘Apocalypse Now’! It was so
much fun to make, but despite several spins in the washing machine I still
can‘t get that sweet sickly smell out of my jeans!” Charles chimes in
“It wasn’t fun, it was horrible!”
Inescapable was produced by James Loughrey (Skindred) and recorded at the
famed heritage Monnow Valley studio.
are supporting the new material beginning in April with a UK tour followed by
2/4/2020 – Cardiff – Fuel Rock Club 3/4/2020 – London – Black Heart 4/4/2020 – Edinburgh – Opium 5/4/2020 – Manchester – Gullivers Tickets available https://www.facebook.com/godsticks/
Inescapable will be released on CD, LP & digitally. (“Denigrate is available as an instant download on digital pre-orders) on 7th February through Kscope and is available to PRE-ORDER HERE NOW
Here’s a bit of that old serendipity doo dah that we often talk about. A few months ago at the behest of Good King Martin of Progradarshire I ventured forth on a cold wet Bristol Sunday evening to see Gavin Harrison and Bruce Soord steal pineapples in a German themed drinking den (which I’m reliably informed is larger than the feast) in the ensuing review which I am sure Martin will cleverly link to here, I discovered Godsticks for the first time.
My definition of a great support band is one where you enjoy the set so much you want to buy the album, I have discovered bands like Tilt and Jemima Surrender amongst others like this, and the only regret at the Godsticks gig was the fact that their set was heavily dependant on their next album ‘Faced With Rage’, which hadn’t been released yet.
Well, the good news for all you Godsticks fans, and all those who enjoyed their sets on the recent Pineapple Thief tours is that it’s now out, and I have been listening to it all week on my commute in, good job really, otherwise this would be a terribly pointless review (what’s new? Ed.).
Bit of history, Godsticks were formed in Cardiff back in 2008 the band has Darran Charles at the front, his guitar sound and vocals are an intrinsic part of Godsticks (and his work as touring guitarist for the Pineapple Thief also showcased his versatility) and he is ably accompanied by guitarist Gavin Bushell, bassist Dan Nelson and ‘new boy’ – drummer Tom Price.
Live, Godsticks are a mixture of power, aggression and melody, and the new material they played sounded like it had been part of the set forever.
On record there is obviously a more subtle dynamic at work, and it is refreshing to hear a four piece traditional style guitar band sounding on record like they do on stage, there is no technical malarkey tampering with the songs, these are songs designed to be played full tilt in the context of a concert, and the fact that they work so well in both arenas is a testament to the writing and production.
This is the bands 4th album, and they weren’t a band I had ever heard of prior to seeing them rip the stage up on tour with the Pineapple Thief, and I’ll hold my hands up here and state I had seen them described as prog metal, which to this listener is a bit of a turn off. A lot of the new prog metal stuff is just loud music that goes on too long.
I would not describe Godsticks as prog metal, they have the knack for writing a catchy tune, they have a dynamic twin guitar sound that propels the music forward, and they are probably at the heaviest end of the music that would appeal to me, but prog metal? No.
In layman’s terms Godsticks Rock! They have an impressive musical armoury, and certainly live having an extra guitarist to do some of the heavy lifting allows Charles to be the front man he so obviously is. His exceptional vocal range and guitar playing, in tandem with Gavin Bushells guitar work, is one of the many highlights of this album, and tracks that they powered through live, like Open Your Eyes or Guilt are superb examples of the finest hard rock sounds, whilst on longer pieces like the excellent Everdrive, this is the sound of a band pushing themselves and moving forwards.
Godsticks live are an energetic and impressive prospect, on record they reinforce that opinion and to their credit have created an album that wholly reflects who they are as musicians, with what sounds to me like no compromises.
Based on the live show I saw I was expecting to enjoy this record, having heard it, I absolutely love it, and it has snuck in under the radar at the end of the year as what could be one of the top ten albums of 2017.
Longevity in the music business is almost like the Holy Grail and those that find it do so because their music has the ability to endure, to evolve, to develop and to progress. In this internet age that is becoming harder to accomplish, every man and his Mac Book can produce music and have it playing around the world in no time at all.
I feel that the best music will always outlast these mountebanks and pretenders and rise to the top, it is just a case of weeding out the middle of the road releases to find the creme de la creme or, if I’m lucky, for it to find me.
Stephen Lambe (he of Summers End Festival fame) also represents some of the best acts in progressive rock today through his 1973 Artist Promotions and I have been fortunate that Progradar is one of the review websites that he has chosen to work with. Stephen’s latest offering was the hotly anticipated new album from British prog stalwarts Magenta. Did I want to review it? Do bears sh… you know the rest!
The long overdue new Magenta album ‘We Are Legend’ will be released on April 20th 2017.
Main man Rob Reed says:
“It was time to try something new, musically and lyrically. I’ve always kept to a small music pallet with the previous albums, but I felt that we’d reached a crossroads and wanted to try something new. Magenta have gone through a lot since the last album, especially Christina our lead vocalist, so we feel that we have something to prove with ‘We Are Legend’. So be prepared.”
‘We Are Legend’ features 3 tracks, opening with the 26-minute Trojan and two 11 minute pieces Coloursand Legend. As well as Christina Booth, Rob Reed and guitarist Chris Fry, the album also features new drummer Jiffy Griffiths and long-term live bassist Dan Nelson.
Magenta have been around since 1999 and have released a litany of superb albums in their illustrious career to date, there high quality being one of the reason’s for the band’s longevity. Will ‘We Are Legend’ perpetuate that success? There’s only one way to find out…
It smacks of utmost confidence in your own ability to release an album with only three tracks on it, much like certain progressive rock legends from the 1970’s but ‘We Are Legend’ is every bit as fulfilling as a release with 10 or 15 songs on because every track is an immersive, involving journey of many parts and provides the listener with everything they need for forty nine minutes of intense musical pleasure. Opening track Trojan builds the atmosphere skillfully and artistically before blooming before your very ears into a wondrous piece of music with a myriad of subtle twists and turns. The high energy driving beat has things moving along at a hell-for-leather pace, the slightly distorted guitar taking an impressive lead and the stylish bass and drums providing the foundations upon which Rob’s keyboards guide us around this mesmerising musical tapestry. Christina’s voice has never sounded better, she has a powerful authority to her vocal delivery which grabs your attention immediately and never lets go. In fact, the first few minutes literally bowled me over with their energy and intensity. Just sit back and listen and enjoy the ride as these masterful musicians put on a breathtaking show for you to enjoy. All the time little nuggets of musical wonderment pop up to put a huge smile on your face, there’s a guitar solo about six and a half minutes into the song that I really enjoyed but you could pick out one of many moments of a similar nature. To be fair, this isn’t just a song, it’s a musical drama, a riveting narrative set to some rather impressive music and you will find yourself becoming lost in the whole captivating experience. Rob is right, this is a hugely expansive work that just gets better with each listen.
After the twenty-six minutes of musical spectacle that was Trojan there is no let up as the introduction to Colours storms into view, there’s an urgency to the music and tension and instancy to Christina’s voice and a whole melodramatic feeling of turmoil to the track. Where Trojan was a big theatrically inspired production, this song has a much more progressive feel to it. The calm, wistful interludes add a touch of class and style, the guitar playing is exquisite and just gives me a nostalgic shiver down my spine. Christina is, once again, showcasing her huge vocal talent on this track, she really is the epitome of her Twitter handle ‘Prog Queen’ and must have one of the best voices out there and not just in progressive rock circles either. Rob Reed’s elegantlylanguid keyboard playing is a delight to listen to and Chris Fry certainly knows his way around a six string, his guitar playing is tight, fluid and very absorbing. This song has some riveting, engrossing moments and then there are also some brilliant pieces where they seem to just go for it and the music takes over. Not once do you think that any of these tracks have gone on too long, in fact it is the exact opposite, you’re left wanting more and the the ending to Colours is a case in point, an uplifting, tumultuous overture that has prodigious amounts of raw emotion and soul, you can literally hear it in the Christina’s voice and Chris’ guitar and there, just in the background, the brilliant bass playing of Dan Nelson is the conductor bringing things to a refined close.
Adding a final climactic flare to the album Legend begins with a very serious undertone, the guitar all fire and brimstone and Jiffy’s drums a dominant driving force. There’s a lull and then Christina’s honestly heartfelt and yet slightly severe vocal joins in adding a sheen to this sombre tale. It’s a heartfelt and emotive track that has a darker underbelly, all mournful and forlorn. A ying and yang between the darkness and the light follows, the hauntingly memorable chorus trading shots with the more mournful and pensive verses. A fiery guitar solo lights up the darker elements and then a short-lived intricate,determined and resolute section takes centre stage before Christina’s delicate vocal adds an almost ethereal and engaging grace, added to by some elegant guitar playing, a moment of serenity among the drama and theatricals and yet one that emphasises just how good they are. Christina is centre stage on this song, she is the leader and the focus, her voice full of fervour and feeling and it just entrances you. Once again Magenta show they know how to close out a song with swagger and verve, an inspirational and almost spiritual end to what has been an incredible musical experience.
There’s a huge amount of pride in titling your album ‘We Are Legend’ but Magenta deserve to give that name to this excellent release. The longevity of nearly two decades in the business has given them well deserved kudos and they have built on that to give us three songs that inspire and stimulate the listener. This record is a sublime forty-nine minutes of musical bliss and sees Magenta back in the top echelon of progressive rock acts where they deservedly belong.
The CD will be accompanied by a DVD containing the whole album in 5.1 surround sound plus interview and performance videos.