Review – Great North Star – II

When, disturbed, a grouse hiccups into flight
Low through the mists which are thick with light;
When this could be some damp city alley
Where children and drunks meet principally

For love, and to solemnly keep their trysts
For all that the outside world still exists –
Know this, the old walker you overtake
Is yourself, setting a different pace.

Taken from the poem ‘The North York Moors’ by Christopher Woodall

Music can be a soundtrack for many things and the ambient, chilled out and sparse soundscapes delivered by Great North Star remind me of wild places and, coming from Yorkshire as I do, they don’t get much wilder than the North York Moors so this insightful poem really resonated with me when listening to the insightful duos latest album, imaginatively titled ‘II’

Great North Star are Dean Thom (guitars) and Phil Considine (production), two seasoned musicians from the UK progressive and alternative music scenes. Each brings to the table a wealth of writing, recording and live experience. Through a deep understanding of each other’s compositional strengths, honed through many hours of performing together, the music they create rewards the listener with a complex tapestry of rich textures and shifting moods.

Hailing from the wild moorlands of Northern England, Great North Star mould intricate guitar and muted electronica into a unique whole: haunting, introspective and expansive. Their sound draws from progressive and post-rock, electronica, krautrock and ambient influences to produce a panoramic and cinematic soundscape, the perfect soundtrack for long, lonely walks over rolling hills under brooding skies. Great North Star invite you to explore the lesser trodden path.

Before we delve a bit more into the album itself, more on that title from Dean himself; “I do tend to have a picture of a time and place or a feeling/emotion in my head when I’m writing music, so I find it’s not too difficult to name individual pieces, but as for naming an album it just seemed odd to us to give a collective name to the eight pieces, so we figured calling it ‘II’ was just fine on the reckoning that it was ok for the mighty Led Zep and Queen.

‘II’ is a musically concise release coming in at a mere forty two minute running time but Dean and Phil manage to fit a lot into that forty minutes. A wide and expansive soundscape where it’s often what’s between the notes that counts, as much as the notes themselves. Nothing is wasted, there’s no filler, any piece of music is there intentionally, down to the last note and this makes for a wonderfully immersive listening experience. Central to this is Dean’s wistful, delicate and eminently expressive guitar playing. Just sit back and listen to tracks like Towers Will Fall, Beginnings and Seven Stones on Hordron Edge with their deeply meaningful feeling, the guitar is like a nostalgic voice going back in time to regale us with tales once lost in the mists of time. Tales of wistful melancholy and sombre reflection that draw the listener into their welcoming embrace.

The ambient soundscapes created by Phil add the requisite mystery and contemplative yearning, especially on opener A Nightime Storm at Sea with its theramin style opening and staccato percussion before the delightful guitar joins in. The intelligent and insightful songwriting is at the core to everything that you hear and creates an ocean of harmonious serenity which comes to place perfectly on the closing piece Northlands, a brilliantly constructed beacon of calm attunement that left me chilled out and at one with the world.

Great North Star create wide, expansive soundscapes that speak of the wild and carefree, of places that our sensitive souls would rush to in a heartbeat, a musical oasis, so to speak and, with their sophomore effort, they have delivered an antidote to the mundanity and horror of the modern world in which we live.

Released 6th October, 2023.

Order from bandcamp here:

Great North Star II | Great North Star (

Progradar’s Review of 2021

I’ve had a little time to digest what was a rather wonderful year of music in 2021. Here is my review of the year with my favourite albums, in no particular order barring my number one!

Transatlantic – The Absolute Universe – Forevermore

A true return to form for the prog supergroup with melodies, tunes and overtures galore. Transatlantic gave us their best album since ‘Bridge Across Forever’.

Lifesigns – Altitude

I really think that Lifesigns have taken a massive step forward with this album, good as ‘Cardington’ was, this release is so very much better in my opinion.

Echoes & Signals – Mercurial

‘Mercurial’ trades some of Echoes & Signals’ signature post-rock sensibilities for a darker journey into the kind of prog-metal embraced by the likes of Tool and this new direction is one that I feel suits them perfectly. 

Cosmograf – Rattrapante

At the time, I said, “At this moment in time there is nothing I would rather listen to than this incredible new album from Cosmograf, will Robin’s latest pièce de résistance still be up there at the end of the year? Most probably but, here and now, it just does not get any better than this!” And here it is!

League of Lights – Dreamers Don’t Come Down

Not only a nod to the past but also a completely relevant piece of music in these present times, ‘Dreamers Don’t Come Down’ is a perfectly crafted collection of pop and electronica infused songs that really hit home.

Ana Patan – Spice, Gold and Tales Untold

Wearing her many influences proudly on her sleeve Ana Patan has just allowed the music and her excellent vocals to tell her many intriguing and involving stories and this has allowed them to breathe and come to life quite spectacularly. An album that has surprised me in its simple brilliance and one that, if you let it, will enrich your life in a myriad of ways.

The Vicious Head Society – Extinction Level Event

‘Extinction Level Event’ is shaping up to possibly be the best prog metal album of the last few years at least, I honestly don’t think I’ve had a prog metal album hit me so hard since Haken’s ‘The Mountain’

Catalyst*R – self-titled

When everything that is happening around you is making your life jaded, just press play on this bewitching collection of songs, light the spark and let the music start to take your cares away…

Michael Woodman – Psithurism

A hugely impressive and admirably different collection of songs that shows Woodman’s impish creativity at its best. A musical breath of fresh air that will leave a smile on your face and wonderment in your soul.

Vestamaran – Bungalow Rex

Get your hands on this album and, when the sun shines, get the barbecue lit, an ice cold beer in your hand, put the stereo on, turn it up to 11 and just enjoy this incredible album for, as the press release says, “Life is not just bungalow all day long, it also includes a lot of rex in the evenings.”

Tillison, Reingold, Tiranti – Allium – Una Storia

Simple but perfectly formed and harking back to the days when music just put a smile on your face, this is one album that deserves success just because of how it makes you feel and I love it for that.

Big Big Train – Common Ground

Vibrant and upbeat, thoughtful, wistful and even melancholy at times, it is a collection of amazing songs that will touch you on a basic level and move you on many others. ‘Common Ground’ is the album that will make you fall in love with the band all over again and I can’t give it any higher praise than that!

smalltape – The Hungry Heart

I’m a massive fan of music that makes me think, music that doesn’t give up its deepest delights easily and ‘The Hungry Heart’ has that in spades. HungerBurning House, Dissolution, the list goes on, cuts of pure musical brilliance that showcase this young German musician as a seriously precocious talent and one to follow closely.

Giancarlo Erra – Departure Tapes

If music could tell a story of a life lived, lost and, deep at its core, loved then ‘Departure Tapes’ is it. I am along term fan of this intelligent musician’s brilliant work and this new release is another entry into his very impressive discography.

Great North Star – self-titled

Step out of this confusing and hectic world that we live in, if only for the thirty nine minutes running time, and allow your mind and your soul to recharge. A wonderful and insightful masterpiece that will stay with you for a very long time.

Three Colours Dark – Love’s Lost Property

‘Love’s Lost Property’ is an exquisite creation, nine tracks of wondrously charming music with Rachel’s honeyed vocals lifting this release well above what you may have heard already this year. I suggest you get your hands on it as soon as you can, it is definitely worth seeking out.

The Holy Road – An Unshakeable Demon

Never be afraid to challenge yourself and listen to something different, I found the eclectic and evocative wonder of ‘An Unshakable Demon’ really hit home with me.

CYAN – For King And Country

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?

Glass Hammer – Skallagrim – Into The Breach

Epic in scope, majestic in scale and blurring the lines between progressive rock and progressive metal, Glass Hammer have given us their best album of recent years and possibly their best release ever and it should be another monster success for this evergreen band.

Findlay Napier – It Is What It Is

‘It Is What It Is’ sees this fine musician and songwriter on a higher plane and is a must buy for anyone who appreciates and treasures original music with heart and soul.

And the top gong for album of the year goes to….

HFMC – We Are The Truth

This superlative gem of release is worthy of all the praise that is being heaped upon it and finishes 2021 on an utter high for this reviewer, the finest of a wonderful crop of albums released this year!

So, there you have it, my selection of some of the great albums that graced 2021 and I am sure that 2022 is going to be just as good!

Review – Great North Star – Great North Star

Great North Star is a project put together by Dean Thom and his buddy Phil Considine who’ve been in various bands together for over 30 years. The name comes from the duo’s shared interest in astronomy and all things space.

The initial reason for the project coming together, was Dean being approached by an audience member who worked in the film industry, who after watching a live performance at a festival, where his previous instrumental ambient project, A Knife That Fell From The Sky, were playing, asked him to produce some music with a view to providing music for film and TV. The duo started with that in mind but it’s since grown into a stand alone project.

Great North Star brings to mind the patience and quiescence required for ornithology; music for bird watching! As bracing as the chill winds blasting across the desolated hills of the Derbyshire Moorlands, Great North Star draws down influences from a deep pool of post rock, krautrock, electronica, progressive, folk and ambient vibes.’

Eleven chilled out, sparse but graceful musical pieces creating an expansive and enigmatic soundscape to a quieter, laid back life where contemplative solitude in wide open spaces (real or imagined) leads to an ethereal cinematic nirvana.

Once you start listening to this refined and contemplative artistic gem, you are gradually drawn into a mystical world of calm where you become a traveller into the deepest reaches of your psyche. Dean Thom’s rangy, pared back electric guitar stretches out wistfully over Phil Considine’s soft electronic flutter, creating a panorama where less is most definitely more.

I’ve not heard anything quite like this meditative and introspective masterpiece, ambient, chill out music doesn’t get much better than this. Step out of this confusing and hectic world that we live in, if only for the thirty nine minutes running time, and allow your mind and your soul to recharge. A wonderful and insightful masterpiece that will stay with you for a very long time.

I’ve said enough, only by listening to this sombre, thoughtful musical paragon yourself will you really understand the attraction…

Released July 23rd, 2021

Order the album from bandcamp here:

Great North Star | Great North Star (