Review – Pain Of Salvation – Panther

Pain of Salvation have been firmly at the forefront of the progressive
rock and metal scenes for nearly three decades now. Led by mercurial multi-instrumentalist Daniel Gildenlöw, the Swedish band have consistently demonstrated a sincere passion for moving their own extraordinary music forward, while always remaining lyrically enlightened and ferociously intelligent.

The leaders in thoughtful, pained and poignant progressive-metal music, the band have had a stellar career that has produced ten studio albums and included such highlights as ‘Scarsick’, ‘Remedy Lane’, ‘Road Salt One’, ‘Road Salt Two’ and their brilliant previous release ‘In the Passing Light Of Day’. From elaborate and pointedly metal early classics through obtuse wizardry and genre-blurring mischief, Pain of Salvation’s all-encompassing musical vision has delivered some of contemporary prog’s most brave, bold and startling moments.

The band returned this year having deftly weathered the departure of guitarist Ragnar Zolberg, discovering a newfound enthusiasm for what happens next in the process.

“We did In The Passing Light Of Day and that ended with the departure of Ragnar from the band,” Gildenlöw recalls. “In the past, 10 or 20 years ago, that would probably have made me doubt the future of the band and all of that. I went through that a lot in the past with members leaving or things not turning out in a good way! It’s always difficult and it’s always something that makes you sad, when your little band family is disrupted, but I never came to the point where I doubted where to go or what to do. The other band members were pushing us on to continue, so I just kept writing music.”

The result of that sustained surge of creativity is ‘PANTHER’, the eleventh Pain of Salvation album and a very obvious landmark release in a career full of them. ‘PANTHER’ is a concept piece that delves into the conflicts and contradictions between so-called normal people and those who are wired entirely differently.

This is an album full of creativity and power, a simmering melting pot of brooding desire and thunderous riffs that creates a body of work leviathan in scope and content.

The edgy, almost funky opening track Accelerator gives a restless, tense feel to the music before opening into a sparse soundscape dominated by Daniel’s vocal before the stark, blasted landscape of Unfuture hoves into view, hewn from granite and taking no prisoners, “Welcome to the new world…”, indeed…

Gildenlöw has always been the master of simple, severe beauty and that is delivered in spades on the sublime Restless Boy, a song thats rawness is there for all to see. “This is not a test..” Pain of Salvation have a knack of producing songs that drip with bare emotion and Wait drops perfectly into that category with a simple piano note and acoustic guitar laying the foundations for a wistful and nostalgic piece of music that lives long in the memory. As graceful a song will be hard to find on any progressive-metal album.

So, who fancies a bit of electro-ambient progressive rock? Sounds an odd combination doesn’t it but PoS make it work brilliantly on Keen to A Fault, a fast paced, stylish track that works amazingly well. Fur is a short interlude that speaks to me of Eastern European 50’s film noire and segues into the title track. Well, what can I say about PANTHER? It’s superb, a complete melding of rap, oriental sounds and electronica that sounds like nothing else the band have ever done. It’s more akin to Linkin Park than anything else and, well, it’s just brilliant!

The final two tracks are Pain Of Salvation at their very, very best. The slow burning, monolithic power of Species has a simmering build up to a crescendo of crushing guitars and heartfelt vocals and then Icon closes the album out with humility and style in a similar vein to the title track from ‘In The Passing Light Of Day’. At once intense and dynamic, then calm and thoughtful, this is a song that contains all that is best about the band and showcases Daniel Gildenlöw’s consistent ability to write masterpieces of music.

One of the highlights of the year and an album that could become a seminal progressive-metal release, Pain Of Salvation have created a piece of music that could well be their finest yet.

Released 28th August 2020

Order PANTHER here:

http://painofsalvation.com/store/

Review – Tim Bowness – Late Night Laments

There’s nothing else that sounds like a Tim Bowness album, they have such a unique palette of sound and a feeling that the music is washing over you with Tim’s soothing vocal deep at the core.

Tim is primarily known as the vocalist and co- writer with the band no-man, a long-running collaboration with Steven Wilson. Tim’s recent quartet of solo releases on InsideOutMusic/Sony have entered the official UK Top 5 Rock, Progressive, and Vinyl charts, as well as the official Scottish charts. Along with Steven Wilson, he is also the co-host of “The Album Years”, which has reached the Top 5 Music Podcast charts in over 25 countries (#1 in 10).

I’ve been a fan of Tim’s solo work since his first release with InsideOut/Sony – ‘Abandoned Dancehall Dreams’ about which I said… Tim Bowness is not a slave to his art, he has added soul to the creativity and invention and has delivered an album that engages the listener on all levels.”

Each release since has shown how Tim’s stock, as not only a songwriter but as an artist who paints pictures with music, has risen exponentially. He is a musician who sees what he does as art and each album is a carefully crafted masterpiece which, to this listener at least, deserves to be listened to on vinyl with no distractions and preferably in a darkened room with a glass of full bodied red wine to hand.

To me, progressive music, be it neo-prog, art rock or similar, has all the attributes of what constitutes art. The intricate and sometimes complex music that weaves convoluted soundscapes around our conscience that we are left to decipher and then revel in has often left me speechless and held in a thrall as my mind leisurely decrypts it for me to savour and appreciate.

To listen to the first few notes of a Tim Bowness solo album is to enter a world of beautiful creativity where every note has its place and every word is carefully selected and then curated into perfection by his warm and soulful vocal.

‘Late Night Laments’ is another collection of superbly created musical gems where, contrasting with the sensuous beauty of the music, the frequently dark lyrical themes include meditations on generational divides, ideologically motivated violence, social exclusion, and a much-loved children’s author’s descent into madness.

This is a complex and ever evolving musical journey that, once drawn into, you remain, hypnotised by the elegance and grace of songs such as Northern Rain, We Caught The Light and Never A Place.

Delivering complex, sophisticated music without leaving the listener somewhat bewildered is an art in itself. This emotionally rich album combines a plethora of musical styles to create an intense, poignant and impassioned entry into Tim Bowness’ increasingly impressive solo catalogue.

Released 28th August 2020

Order the album from Burning Shed here:

https://burningshed.com/store/timbowness

Pain of Salvation – New single/video “RESTLESS BOY” taken from upcoming album “PANTHER”

Sweden’s Pain of Salvation move another step closer to the release of their upcoming new studio album “PANTHER”, due out August 28th, 2020 worldwide via InsideOutMusic. 

Today, the Progressive Metal/Rock innovators launch their new single “RESTLESS BOY”, in the stunning video, scripted/directed by Lars Ardarve and Daniel Gildenlöw and filmed/edited by Lars Ardarve, which can be seen here: 

Pain of Salvation’s Daniel Gildenlöw commented about the song and video as follows:

We are happy and proud to present to you our newest video, for the song ‘RESTLESS BOY’, our second single from the upcoming album ‘PANTHER’. Once again, we have worked together with the wonderful and skilful Lars Ardarve, and we had a great time, as always. It’s so rewarding to work together with someone who you know so well since way back and with whom you share a similar mindset and creative drive, and we are all so happy with the result. 

Since the video also includes a stage setup, we got to hook up with our amazing crew for the first time in way too long, so it was in many ways the closest we have come to touring this year. Just as with the ‘ACCELERATOR’ video, we shot parts of this video in Skjulstahallen (Eskilstuna), and want to send lots of love and kudos to Lotta Nilsson at IKEG for helping us to arrange this! 

‘RESTLESS BOY’ may not be the most expected or given second single, but it felt important to give it that space, because of all that it is. And despite it’s few components, it is a grower. Live with it for a while and you’ll see. Also, it was a song for which a video idea just came to me so naturally. A video where every scene would be a play with time and speed. Experienced time versus reality. That feeling that has been with me through my entire life – that time is emotionally flexible and suddenly just bends around your mind and thoughts.

You see, ‘RESTLESS BOY’ is about myself and everyone else out there who feel that we are going through life at a different speed than our contexts and surroundings. Passion oriented people who daydream and shift pace depending on situation. F1 cars failing to meet the expectations of our small suburban community. Goal rationalists in a method rationalistic system. Panthers in a dog’s world. 

This song grew out of the song ‘Full Throttle Tribe’, just like the entire ‘PANTHER’ album did in many ways. The tribe that fills every page of every history book that you have ever read. The spectrum people. The brilliant, the crazy, the fools, the gifted and the troubled. The beautiful restless boys and girls!

The filming was intense and a lot of fun. Long hours and very little sleep. I specifically remember the second day of filming, when we shot all the scenes in the car with Léo driving. I had edited a version of the song that went to half speed between every vocal phrase, so that we could speed up the video between phrases. I heard that odd version of the song so many times that it increasingly started to feel like the normal version. (Lars actually got very hooked on that version, so I might have to make him a special mix.) Anyway, after a long day of sitting in the car and singing while we passed by the different scenes we had set up with Sandrian and Gabriel in dog masks outside the car window (they likely did not feel all that comfortable standing in dog masks in central Eskilstuna, holding an umbrella, but they were troopers), we needed some city night shots, so we headed for Stockholm. I still wonder what that one pedestrian was thinking, looking into our car as we stopped at a red-light well past midnight and I was throwing myself back and forth in the backseat wearing a german shepherd rubber mask that I was apparently trying to get off. Whatever he was thinking, he is probably still thinking it. That’s simply not one of those images you can get off your retinas easily. 🙂 

We really hope you like this video – we do, and we are very proud of it. We can’t wait for the world to ease back into something close enough to normality for touring to be possible again. Meanwhile, find comfort in these videos/singles and the upcoming album, and know that due to the lack of touring, a silver lining is that we can keep writing and recording even more new music for you all. Until we meet the next time!” 

Previously, the album’s opening track/single “ACCELERATOR” was launched in a video, also scripted/directing by Lars Ardarve and Daniel Gildenlöw and filmed/edited by Lars Ardarve, here:

“PANTHER”, the follow-up release to 2017’s “In The Passing Light Of Day” album, was recorded, mixed and produced by Daniel Gildenlöw with Daniel Bergstrand (In Flames, Meshuggah, Devin Townsend) and comes with a comprehensive artwork-theme with illustrations made by André Meister. 

Pain of Salvation – “PANTHER”:
Track-listing:

1. ACCELERATOR

2. UNFUTURE

3. RESTLESS BOY

4. WAIT

5. KEEN TO A FAULT

6. FUR

7. PANTHER

8. SPECIES

9. ICON

Next to the standard CD and the Digital Album formats, ”PANTHER” will also be available as limited 2CD Mediabook (Including expanded artwork and the following 4 bonus tracks on a separate disc: “PANTHER (demo)”, “KEEN TO A FAULT (demo)”, “FIFI GRUFFI” and “UNFOREVER”) and as 180g. Gatefold 2LP (Including the 4 bonus tracks on Side D and album on CD as bonus), in the following variations:

Black vinyl – Unlimited

Deep blood red vinyl – 100x copies from IOM Webshop Europe (Sold out!)
Transparent blue vinyl – 300x copies from CM Distro
Transparent green vinyl – 200x copies from EMP

Lilac vinyl – 200x copies from JPC

White vinyl – 200x copies from Pain of Salvation (Sold out!)

Transparent yellow vinyl – 100x copies from Pain of Salvation (Sold out!)

The pre-order for “PANTHER” in its various formats is available here:

https://PainofSalvation.lnk.to/Panther

Review – The Tangent – Auto Reconnaissance

Welcome to the post-Covid-19 world. My day job has got ridiculously busy and I have not been able to write any reviews so I’m going to alter my usual in-depth method and just give things to you straight.

The Tangent, the progressive rock group led by Andy Tillison, are set to release their 11th studio album ‘Auto Reconnaissance’ on August 21st, 2020.

The follow-up to 2018’s ‘Proxy’, sees them taking the band philosophy of celebrating the golden age of prog, whilst bringing it to the present and exploring new paths for the music to take in the future. On ‘Auto Reconnaissance’, they bend that philosophy to their will, taking in prog rock foot Stomping, sublime Jazz, humour, narrative, a modern R&B love song, funk/soul and a 28 minute long emotional epic about the band’s home country of England.

Andy comments: “I utterly refuse to accept that Progressive Rock Music is some kind of museum piece. It is actually a living and breathing movement that has a past, a present and above all, a future. It once had an album-chart-topping golden age, but the genre was never about that. It has subtly and virally kept itself alive for decades where many new musical genres have risen to glory and faded away.”

For this release, Andy is once again joined by long-time collaborator Luke Machin (who also helped produce the album), Jonas Reingold, Theo Travis, and Steve Roberts. Together they bring to life an album that has been influenced by the likes of ELP, The Isley Brothers, Steely Dan, Aphex Twin, National Health, Rose Royce, Squarepusher and Return To Forever amongst others.

Right, that’s the record label PR out of the way, what do I think of the album…

Simply put, Andy is at his acerbic and witty best when it comes to the lyrics, especially on the travelogue-esque track 2, Jinxed In Jersey where he regales us with his journey around New York and it is a brillaint, amusing and tongue in cheek clash of cultures between the largesse of the good ol’ U.S of A and your basic, down to earth Yorkshireman.

The wonderful, laid back jazz-infused soundtrack to Andy’s spoken word is superbly judged and takes you back to the 70’s. To be fair, the whole album has that sepia tinged edge of halcyon days gone by but given that ‘turd polishing’ skill that only Andy Tillison can do.

You want funky, you’ve got it, the five and a half minutes of opening track Life On Hold is as good as anything released recently with even a passing resemblance to the decade that gave us disco and corduroy flares! It’s a song that makes you smile and we all need some of that at the moment.

Dare I say that Under Your Spell has the feel of a 70’s love song? Almost as if Andy is channelling his inner Barry White (now there’s an image!). Whether you agree with me or not, what it is is a wonderful, classy and velvet smooth piece of music and there’s no arguing with that, just listen to the way Luke’s solo just oozes empathy.

There’s a sea change and a move to the 80’s with the edgy keyboard note of Tower Of Babel and it’s direct and in-your-face chorus. Think Huey Lewis And The News get down with Talking Heads and you won’t be far from the mark.

Lie Back And Think Of England could well be seen as Andy’s Magnum Opus and, in my humble opinion, it is the best piece of music he has ever written. Twenty-eight minute progressive rock epics are everywhere nowadays but this never fails to engage the listener and keep them under its captivating spell. The highs and lows and dynamic crescendos are utterly brilliant, taking you on an engrossing musical journey through all that is good about prog rock and one where every word and every note have their place.

Back to the 70’s and the funky, disco edge of soundtracks like Shaft and Starsky and Hutch, the bedrock on which The Midas Touch could have been built. There’s wah-wah pedal and tinkling of ivories galore in a song awash with the feel of lazy, hazy summers. The album closes with the bonus track Proxima, a twelve minute instrumental that could have come straight from a Tangerine Dream record.

The Tangent are a British progressive rock institution and every new album is eagerly awaited by the fans and, while every fan will have their own opinion, ‘Auto Reconnaissance’ is my favourite album from the band yet. Andy is on top form, his song writing is as sharp and clever as ever and he has gathered around him a group of musicians who seriously have no peers. A superb release and one which cements The Tangent’s already exalted reputation.

Released 21st August 2020

Order from Burning Shed here:

https://burningshed.com/the-tangent_auto-reconnaissance_cd

Review – Lonely Robot – Feelings Are Good – by John Wenlock-Smith

Lonely Robot is the name that John Mitchell (It BitesFrost*, Kino and Arena) uses for his solo projects, and this really is a solo album as it all performed, composed and produced by John himself with Percussive duties being handled by his Frost* colleague and drummer extraordinaire Craig Blundell. This is the fourth release to bear the Lonely Robot name, the previous three were his ‘Astronaut’ project (‘Please Come Home’, ‘The Big Dream’ and last year’s ‘Under Stars’). This time around the fare is far more Terra Firma focused and deals specifically with the events and memories that John says have made him who he is today. 

It’s been a few years since I last listened to John Mitchell’s music and I don’t know why that is really as he offers a decent brand of prog/pop crossover material that is really fine to listen to, so it’s me who has missed out really. This album will hopefully rebalance that scenario. 

‘Feelings Are Good’ is an emotionally revealing album that is not afraid to face some difficult times that John has been through and lessons he has learnt from these experiences. John refers to these moments as being the cornerstones, both good and bad, that he is back on planet Earth and has a personal lyrical axe to grind

The albums cover features closed eyes and a taped over mouth that represent how people are very guarded about their emotions. This album, however, is less guarded, far rawer and much more open about the emotions it addresses  You really must listen carefully to the songs to get the measure of what John is on about but, certainly, there are songs about broken relationships, night-time fears (spiders), small town life and grief and loss.

The album is generally Prog lite although it has touches of progressive metal in certain parts. It has excellent musical accompaniment and the sound is crisp and clear with good separation between instruments and, at all points, John’s guitar playing is very elegant and soars when the song calls for it. He has worked hard here to convey his emotions and backed it all up with powerful songs that will elicit a response from his listeners

Whether that response be anger, sadness, despair or hope is up to each person who hears this album and how this music makes them feel. No matter what your reaction may be, this is most certainly a well crafted and well written and recorded set of songs.

The songs them selves are very varied, all pretty much even tempo and most feature a guitar solo within them. John is very good at using his playing to accentuate the emotions within the songs. He also uses keyboards in a highly effective manner to further enhance these pieces and to add colours to the emotions and feelings that are so openly displayed.

His voice is strong and clear and he sings with real conviction and feeling, sometimes with force and anger, but always for the song and not just for effect. I commend John for being so open to all listeners. Doing so takes real courage and bravery, as some of these songs deal with painful moments for John, and yet he handles his emotions positively and without bitterness.

There are several key songs on this album, Crystalline (which uses the words of winter to reflect emotional coldness as a metaphor for emotional feelings), Life Is A Sine Wave, Keeping People As Pets and the brief Grief Is The Price Of Love, which tells us that there is no there is no rainbow without there first being some rain. This track is a remarkably simple but emotional song, played on acoustic guitar with a single heartfelt vocal from John. This is a stunning short piece but one that has real gravitas to it. Armour for My Heart, which is about protecting your heart and how one must do this at times, is also another emotionally bruising song.

In summary this album is a marked departure from the science fiction that occupied his last three albums and takes on a far more down to earth, closer to home theme and all that that entails. This is an excellent album that is well worthy of being heard I recommend it highly.

Released 17th July 2020

Order the CD from Burning Shed here:

https://burningshed.com/lonely-robot_feelings-are-good_cd?filter_name=Lonely%20ROBOT&filter_sub_category=true

DEREK SHERINIAN – announces new solo album ‘The Phoenix’ for release via InsideOutMusic

World acclaimed keyboardist Derek Sherinian, (Sons of Apollo, Black Country Communion), one of the most significant keyboard players of the modern era, has signed to InsideOutMusic for the release of his new solo album ‘The Phoenix’ on the 18th September 2020, his first since 2011’s ‘Oceana’. Derek comments: “I truly feel that this is my best solo record to date. Simon and I put a lot of energy into the writing, and I am grateful to all of the great players that contributed to this recording.”

Once again, Sherinian has teamed up with drummer extraordinaire Simon Phillips, who not only plays drums but also co-produced and co-wrote the album: “It is always an amazing experience to be able to work with Simon. He’s been a hero of mine for ages, ever since I heard him playing on albums with Jeff Beck and Michael Schenker.  And he is such an invaluable part of the way this new record has come out.” 

There are a number of top line guests featured on ‘The Phoenix’, as has been the case in the past for Sherinian, on both guitar and bass. Some have become regular contributors to his solo sessions. People such as bassists Tony Franklin (“He’s been on all my albums to date”), Jimmy Johnson and Billy Sheehan (Sherinian’s bandmate in Sons Of Apollo). Plus guitarists Joe Bonamassa and Zakk Wylde. In addition, others are welcomed into the fold for the first time. For instance, there’s master guitarist Steve Vai. “Steve Vai has always been on my hit list. But it was when I played keyboards on the Generation Axe tour of Asia in 2017 that I asked him to play on my record, which he gladly accepted” Also present are Sons Of Apollo bandmate Ron ‘Bumblefoot’ Thal (Sons Of Apollo) and Kiko Loureiro (Megadeth).

“Kiko and I have known one another for about 20 years. But this is the first time I’ve had the opportunity to play with him.” 

The album features 8 tracks, including a cover of Buddy Miles ‘Them Changes’, and will be released as a Limited Edition Digipak CD, 180g LP + CD & as Digital Album. Find the full track-listing below:

1.     The Phoenix

2.     Empyrean Sky

3.    Clouds of Ganymede

4.     Dragonfly

5.     Temple of Helios

6.     Them Changes

7.     Octopus Pedigree

8.     Pesadelo

Derek Sherinian’s far ranging talents have been much in evidence through the music of Alice Cooper (who once called him “The Caligula of keyboards”), Dream Theater, Black Country Communion and current band Sons Of Apollo. Moreover, proving just how much he is demand to work with rock royalty, Sherinian has also toured and recorded extensively with KISS, and Billy Idol, proving his classic and hard rock pedigree, whilst also being voted #9 in Prog Magazines greatest keyboardists of all time.

Tim Bowness releases video and single, ‘I’m Better Now’ from forthcoming album “Late Night Laments”

On August 28th, 2020, Tim Bowness will release his sixth solo album, “Late Night Laments”, on InsideOutMusic. The album offers a collection of lush, atmospheric songs with a wide lyrical scope marking the most intimate yet universal of Bowness’s solo releases. As a first track, Tim Bowness decided to release the unsettling yet accessible ‘I’m Better Now’ (which presents an intriguing stylistic departure for Bowness). 

Bowness comments:

 ‘In some ways ‘I’m Better Now’ represents the flipside of the title song from my previous album, “Flowers At The Scene”.

‘Flowers At The Scene’ focused on the repercussions of a violent crime (the impact on the victim’s family and friends), while ‘I’m Better Now’ is written from the perspective of a perpetrator of a hate crime.

 For a variety of reasons, society has seemingly become increasingly polarised over the last half-decade and along with an rise in intolerance, there’s been a real sense of more and more people becoming disaffected and feeling ‘left behind’ or invisible. Sometimes, the consequences of that can be ugly.’

Peter Chilvers – who’s previously created visuals for Brian Eno – is responsible for the abstract video that superbly evokes the ominous and chilly mood of the lyric. The clip can be viewed here:

Musically, the track includes contributions from Knifeworld’s Kavus Torabi and Melanie Woods. Bowness says, ‘Kavus’s biting and twisting solo is a particular highlight of the song for me.’

Mixed by his longtime partner in no-man, Steven Wilson, and mastered by Calum Malcolm (The Blue Nile, Prefab Sprout), the album – co-produced by Bowness and Brian Hulse – combines electronic soundscapes, acoustic instrumentation and unexpected rhythms in a tightly focused and emotionally charged opus. The artwork is once again by Jarrod Gosling. 

“Late Night Laments” will be released as Limited Edition 2CD digipak including five additional studio recordings, as Gatefold LP plus CD, and digital album. 

Pre-orders are available now:

https://timbowness.lnk.to/LateNightLamentsID

An exclusive transparent blue edition (600 copies) plus signed art print is available only at BurningShed.com.

https://burningshed.com/store/timbowness

About Tim Bowness:

Tim Bowness is primarily known as vocalist/co-writer with the band no-man, a long-running collaboration with Steven Wilson.  

In addition to releasing seven studio albums and a documentary DVD with no-man, Tim has worked with popular Italian artist Alice (on her Italian Top 20 album “Viaggio In Italia”), Mercury Prize nominated Banco De Gaia, Robert Fripp, Peter Hammill, Roxy Music’s Phil Manzanera and many others. 

Tim recorded the album “Flame” (1994) with Richard Barbieri (Porcupine Tree/ex-Japan), co-produced/co-wrote the acclaimed “Talking With Strangers” (2009) for Judy Dyble (ex-Fairport Convention), and has had a long-term collaborative partnership with Peter Chilvers (Brian Eno/Karl Hyde). 

Tim’s recent quartet of solo releases on InsideOutMusic/Sony have entered the official UK Top 5 Rock, Progressive, and Vinyl charts, as well as the official Scottish charts. Along with Steven Wilson, he is also the co-host of “The Album Years”, which has reached the Top 5 Music Podcast charts in over 25 countries (#1 in 10).

The Tangent launch ‘Life On Hold’; first single from new album ‘Auto Reconnaissance’

The Tangent, the progressive rock group led by Andy Tillison, recently announced the release of their 11th studio album ‘Auto Reconnaissance’ on the 21st August 2020. The follow-up to 2018’s ‘Proxy’, sees them continuing the band philosophy of celebrating the golden age of prog, whilst bringing it to the present and exploring new paths for the music to take in the future. On ‘Auto Reconnaissance’, they bend that philosophy to their will, taking in prog rock foot stomping, sublime Jazz, humour, narrative, a modern R&B love song, funk/soul and a 28 minute long emotional epic about the band’s home country of England.

Today they launch the first track, titled ‘Life On Hold’, and you can listen now here:

Andy comments: “‘Life On Hold is  the cheerful up-tempo Prog Rock foot-stomper we chose to kick off our album. It sits alongside pieces we’ve done in the past like ‘GPS Culture’ and ‘Spark In The Aether’, ‘Crisis In Midlife’ etc and it’s a flavour we do like to return to now and then. This one is influenced by things like that first Asia album, stuff like Kansas and Boston, and the kind of thing that Transatlantic might bang out at you. It’s part of our genetic makeup, but of course only one part. Although there’s a fair amount of accessible tunes on the new album, there’s some seriously deep water around too.  And no, ‘Life On Hold’ has nothing to do with Lockdowns. It mentions Jean Paul Sartre, which is not normal in foot-stompers. Get it ON!! Bang, and the dirt is gone!”

‘Auto Reconnaissance’ will be available as a limited CD Digipak, Gatefold 2LP + CD + LP-Booklet and as a digital album. Pre-order now here: https://The-Tangent.lnk.to/AutoReconnaissance

 Andy comments: “I utterly refuse to accept that Progressive Rock Music is some kind of museum piece. It is actually a living and breathing movement that has a past, a present and above all, a future. It once had an album-chart-topping golden age, but the genre was never about that. It has subtly and virally kept itself alive for decades where many new musical genres have risen to glory and faded away.”

For this release, Andy is once again joined by long-time collaborators Jonas Reingold, Luke Machin (who  co-produced the album with Andy),  Theo Travis, and Steve Roberts. Together they bring to life an album that has been influenced by the likes of ELP, The Isley Brothers, Steely Dan, Aphex Twin, National Health, Rose Royce, Squarepusher and Return To Forever amongst others. 

Andy comments of the current line-up: “In the past 6 years the line-up of The Tangent has become more stable than at the beginning. I think that the identity of the Tangent as a “Group” rather than a “Project” started to come together on the album ‘A Spark In The Aether’ in 2014. Essentially Luke, Jonas, Theo and myself have appeared on the last four albums, and we added Steve Roberts for the tour that supported ‘Slow Rust’ in 2017 and we’ve settled on this line-up. I hope for a while because I find this unit to be productive, in tune with the band’s purpose and manifesto and a lot of fun to boot. The new album ‘Auto Reconnaissance’ is the first time that the core band has been identical in structure to its predecessor.  For the first time I feel that everyone is totally onboard with the fusion of Jazz, Prog, Punkishness and electronica that The Tangent likes to cook up. We are a good group of friends and although we don’t meet up often, it’s a real blast when we do. I’ve always considered Ed Unitsky the cover artist to have been a recurring member of the cast – his artwork has been a huge part of our story and although we move away, we always return.”

‘Auto Reconnaissance’ will be available as Limited CD Digipak (incl. bonus track), Gatefold 2LP + CD + LP booklet & as Digital Album, all featuring the artwork of Ed Untisky, whose visuals have not been seen on a Tangent album since 2014’s ‘A Spark In The Aether’. The full track-listing can be found below:

1.     Life On Hold

2.     Jinxed In Jersey

3.     Under Your Spell

4.     The Tower Of Babel

5.     Lie Back & Think Of England

6.     The Midas Touch

7.     Proxima (Bonus Track)

The Tangent are the following players:

Andy Tillison – Vocals, Lyrics, Keyboards, Composer

Jonas Reingold (The Sea Within, Steve Hackett Band) – Bass Guitar

Theo Travis (Soft Machine, David Gilmour, Travis-Fripp) – Sax & Flute

Luke Machin (Maschine, Francis Dunnery Band) – Guitar

Steve Roberts (David Cross Band, ex Magenta, Godsticks) – Drums

Tim Bowness announces August release date and reveals cover for new studio album “Late Night Laments”

On August 28th, 2020, Tim Bowness will release his sixth solo recording, “Late Night Laments”, on InsideOutMusic. The emotionally charged and tightly focused album offers a collection of lush, atmospheric songs with a wide lyrical scope making it the most intimate yet universal of Bowness’s solo releases. 

Mixed by his longtime partner in no-man, Steven Wilson, and mastered by Calum Malcolm (The Blue Nile, Prefab Sprout), the album – co-produced by Bowness and Brian Hulse – combines electronic soundscapes, acoustic instrumentation and unexpected rhythms. Richard Barbieri, Colin Edwin, Kavus Torabi and Evan Carson are amongst the guest musicians. The artwork is once again by the award-winning Jarrod Gosling. 

The track-listing of the album can be viewed below and a first track will be released on July 3rd, 2020 along with physical and digital pre-orders.

TIM BOWNESS – Late Night Laments (38:50)

1) Northern Rain (4.49)

2) I’m Better Now (3.52)

3) Darkline (3.57)

4) We Caught The Light (3.56)

5) The Hitman Who Missed (3.21)

6) Never A Place (4.41)

7) The Last Getaway (4.55)

8) Hidden Life (5.05)

9) One Last Call (4.15)

“Late Night Laments” will be released as Limited Edition 2CD digipak including five additional studio recordings, as Gatefold LP plus CD, and digital album.

About Tim Bowness:

Tim Bowness is primarily known as vocalist/co-writer with the band no-man, a long-running collaboration with Steven Wilson.

In addition to releasing seven studio albums and a documentary DVD with no-man, Tim has worked with popular Italian artist Alice (on her Italian Top 20 album “Viaggio In Italia”), Mercury Prize nominated Banco De Gaia, Robert Fripp, Peter Hammill, Roxy Music’s Phil Manzanera and many others.

Tim recorded the album “Flame” (1994) with Richard Barbieri (Porcupine Tree/ex-Japan), co-produced/co-wrote the acclaimed “Talking With Strangers” (2009) for Judy Dyble (ex-Fairport Convention), and has had a long-term collaborative partnership with Peter Chilvers (Brian Eno/Karl Hyde).

Tim’s recent quartet of solo releases on InsideOutMusic/Sony have entered the official UK Top 5 Rock, Progressive, and Vinyl charts, as well as the official Scottish charts. Along with Steven Wilson, he is also the co-host of “The Album Years”, which has reached the Top 5 Music Podcast charts in over 25 countries (#1 in 10). 

Review – Kansas – The Absence of Presence – by John Wenlock-Smith

It’s now the third month of the Coronavirus shutdown. In efforts to conquer the virus and to stop its devastation of both our economy and, more so, of the peoples of the world, certain politicians, who should know better before talking, have suggested some strange solutions, bleach anyone, for instance!

There is some light at the end of this dark tunnel, however and, for me, this has been the fine music that has made each day a little better. So it was great news to hear that American legends Kansas had a new album nearing completion for release at the end of June 2020. That album is called ‘The Absence of Presence’ and it is certainly very welcome in these strange times.

Everyone should have a little Kansas in their collection (and their lives) as their impressive history and collection of fine progressive rock deserves a place in every home. Well, I am glad to report that the album does not disappoint, in fact it bristles with real vigour and presence. This is the second record the band have released in three years and is a worthy follow up to ‘The Prelude Implicit’, which was the first album with new vocalist Ronnie Platts (who has replaced Steve Walsh after the latter’s 41 year tenure with the band). We are also introduced to Tom Breslin (formerly of Yes and Camel) who joins on keyboards.

The album begins with title track The Absence of Presence which opens with a few of Tom Breslin’s piano notes before a violin sweep from David Ragsdale plays a main theme before returning to a gentle piano backed melody as Ronnie Platts’ vocal is introduced. The song appears to be speaking about one who has left but whose presence is still very much felt, maybe in memories but is still tangibly missed.

The song is somewhat of an epic song from Kansas with a running time of 8 Minutes and 22 seconds and that time is wisely used to show the not inconsiderable talents of the current band with some lush symphonic sounds and some hard edged guitars and drums and that graceful violin. This is an extraordinarily strong and dynamic opener, you certainly know it’s Kansas as there are none that sound like they do and that makes a new album a welcome event indeed.

Throwing Mountains follows which has an awesome video (you can watch it at the end of the review) that you really need to see as it captures the excitement of a live Kansas performance wonderfully.

The third single from the album is next, called Jets Overhead. This track opens with some graceful piano before a hard guitar riff and violin lines are introduced, all sounding very strong and appealing. The song has some fabulous drum patters from Phil Ehart and a soaring violin part at the 2:58 point that really adds to the power. It shows Kansas are not prepared to simply rehash old ideas but carry on striving to bring us more worthy music as they head towards their 50th anniversary.

The brief track Propulsion 1 swiftly follows, an instrumental song propelled by some sturdy drumming and some fine keyboards. This segues nicely into the rather excellent Memories Down The Line which is the second single from the album again with another powerfully emotive video.

I know Kerry Livgren is no longer involved with the band yet, somehow, his presence still remains in these emotionally formed songs that could so easily have flowed from his hands. That is one of the great strengths about Kansas, the emotional connection between the words and the music and in this song they certainly have caught that connection beautifully and it is one of the standouts on this sublime album.

Circus of Illusion is next, and this features a more muscular variant of the band firing on all cylinders with some strong surging basslines from Billy Greer anchoring the song to its rhythm section and letting it fly loose.

This is followed by Animals On The Roof, which has another fine Platts’ vocal and yet more strong propulsive drums sat among some fiery guitarwork from Richard Williams and Zak Rivki. This mid paced rocker plays to all of the strengths of the current band and is another excellent excursion for all with a great violin part at the 2:42 point before reverting back to the vocal again. There is top-class stuff on offer here, hopefully we will be able to see these guys in London next year and, if so, you can definitely count me in for that!  

The penultimate track is Never which again opens with Tom Breslin’s fantastic piano before a violin line from Ragsdale begins. This is a far more gentle and softer offering than what has gone before but that gives room for the vocals to soar across the song, meaning you can really feel the warmth in this lovely song.

The album closes with The Song The River Sang which gives the whole band a window to show us their wares brilliantly and, with a fine vocal from Ronnie Platts to support everyone’s efforts superbly, this track works as a fine conclusion to what is an album of classy songs, expert musicianship, strong melodies and fine performances. As Geoff Barton of Sounds said in 1977, “Pomp Rock Lives Run For The Hills…”, he was right then and he’s still right now, I urge you all to listen to this masterful album for yourselves.

There is a common theme to many of these songs of time passing and the change that brings to us all, maybe as we are all getting older Kansas are beginning to both realise and appreciate the value of the time that we have available to us. However, whatever the thinking behind these songs, they certainly never fail to impress. The band have delivered an album that is a wonderful representation of modern day Kansas and I, for one, am very glad of that. Having been a fan for over 40 years, I am glad to still have the band in existence.

Released 26th June 2020

Buy ‘The Absence of Presence’  from Burning Shed here:   

https://burningshed.com/kansas_the-absence-of-presence_cd?filter_name=Kansa&filter_sub_category=true