Review – Transport Aerian – Therianthrope – by Progradar

The review of this new release from avant-garde/art rock musician Hamlet’s Transport Aerian project has been a very difficult one to write. Hamlet is not afraid of talking and writing about difficult subjects and, in the case of ‘Therianthrope’, expressing his thoughts through his music.

‘Therianthrope’ is described as an album whose themes are dedicated to the emotions of the mind, torn by different assets of mental illness in the context of quickly developing world on the brink of the war, social and economical catastrophe. In the other worlds, it explores a twisted, ugly side of anyone of us in the modern world.

Not exactly warm and cuddly then? However music has always been there to explore all kinds of emotions and themes and it is how it does this that really matters.

The PR informations goes on to say:

“Besides the conventional music pieces, ‘Therianthrope’ also features The Abstract Symphony, a set of songs and instrumental pieces based on blind improvisation by the team of guest musicians. Nobody knew what the other musician would play, as they were only given a theme to describe and photographs to emphasize the visual in the sound. Such experimental approach is a manifest of modernity, an information field that contains the similar artistic concepts and thus allows any music to be created out of idea, without other forms of direct physical or intellectual interaction.”

The mood is set by the dark opening track Smirking Sirens which has a grating rhythm and seems to feed on your nervous energy. The music is harsh and Hamlet’s vocals are as direct and accusatory as ever. This is the singular style that I have come to expect from this unique musician and it carries on with the next track Pitchfork Martyrs. There’s almost a funereal tone to the music, a dark but actually enjoyable dirge. I’m still on the fence with this album but it is beginning to grow on me, insinuating its darkened charms into my soul. Let You Never Perish and Destroy Me carry on with the obsidian, sombre mood. These are songs that are written to convey the depths of twisted, darkened human minds where depression and insanity are never far away but they do so in a captivating manner. You find yourself unable to turn away, almost like the old days of hiding behind the sofa but wanting to sneak a peak at the horror film showing on the TV. It is clever and intelligent songwriting that keeps you right in the middle of the story.

The Abstract Symphony sections follow, woven through the standard tracks, and this sees such talented musicians as Marco Ragni, Peter Matuchniak, Rachel Bauer and Darren Brush join Hamlet in improvised sections of music where none of the musicians knew what the other was playing. It is a really ingenious way of creating music and left me intrigued as to what they would come up with.

I : Information Field and II: Saturate really stretch the listener, this is not music that you can lay back and let wash over you, it demands your attention but is never anything less than an absorbing listen. You will return to this album time and time again and come away with different impressions of these tracks, thought provoking and stimulating, they really do ask questions of you that you may not even want to answer. September appears like a light in the darkness, a veil lifted and a mind rescued from obfuscation. Hamlet’s vocals are intertwined with the more dulcet tones of Rachel Bauer and give the track the feel of an oasis in a sea of darkness, pain and confusion. Stefan Boeykens lead guitar is superb, however the ever present fog of confusion is never far away…

III: Lovemeat is another journey into the creative minds of the musicians and has a soundtrack atmosphere to it, like a quirky independent movie where you never quite know what is happening, tension and surprises at every turn. Hamlet is joined solely by Darren Brush’s Chapman Stick for the enigmatic and Delphian feeling Eternal Guilt, a powerful foray into madness and insanity in a musical form. A painful and harrowing listen but one which adds candour and honesty and a piece of music that had me on the edge of my seat and holding my breath throughout. The slow burning guitar solo is genius.

IV: Poor Things Need ( A Common Interest) is another inventive slice of music that actually has a real laid back feel to it, almost a folk/roots music style. There’s still a fragility at the core, a feel that this is a rarely seen period of lucidity where a cry for help can be given and understood. Lions is beautifully melancholy and sombre, Hamlet’s vocal imparting a vulnerability that cries out for help. I find myself getting lost in the music and the lyrics, there’s no darkness here, just a raw and open candor and pain. Marco Ragni and Peter Mantuchniak add brillaint guitars that just help this song be as humanly honest as possible.

The last Abstract Symphony V: Immortals brings these great sections of music to a close with a real jazz infused feel. Layers of guitars, dulcimer, Chapman Stick and keyboards contribute to an abstract piece that, along with Rachel’s narration, connects with you at a very basic level, the music infusing itself into your very soul. This deeply passionate album comes to a close with Last Years of Peace, an atmospheric and involving experience that leaves you in a reflective and contemplative frame of mind. There’s an almost oriental note to the music with its mesmerising, hypnotic harmonies and I actually feel myself  relaxed and calm as it comes to a close.

‘Therianthrope’ is not intended to be an easy listening experience, it is a thought-provoking and sometimes actually quite raw and painful musical journey that should be consumed in one listen to understand and get the most from it. It is an intense and intensely satisfying record that proudly steps away from the expected to deliver one of 2017’s more engrossing and stimulating releases.

Released 17th November 2017

Order ‘Therianthrope’ from MRR here



Review – Gekko Projekt – Reya of Titan – by Rob fisher

After his great review of Seven Steps to the Green Door, this time Rob Fisher passes his practiced ears over ‘Reya of Titan’ by Gekko Projekt.


The art of good storytelling is notoriously difficult. Telling a story in, and through, music raises that bar even higher. And when the music is prog and the story is a work of science fiction it would appear the odds of success become almost impossible. Yet this is exactly what Reya of Titan’, the second release from Californian based band Gekko Projekt, attempts to do – and does so with no small degree of style and panache.

The key is to understand exactly what this project is and consequently what it is you are listening to. Is it a concept album? Is it a rock and/or space opera? Actually, it really doesn’t matter, it’s a story and one which has been carefully considered, lovingly crafted and then beautifully expressed through a mesmerising array of diverse musical styles, changing rhythms and exciting musicianship.

This is dramatic storytelling at its very best where language and music come together to create a thoroughly enjoyable performance. If you want to call it anything, dramatic musical theatre would be perfect and certainly something you would want to go and hear from start to finish.

Indeed, this is exactly how you need to approach the album. The tale of Reya Jones requires a certain degree of concentration and, just like picking up a book, skipping a chapter here and there won’t work. There is important world-building taking place in each track and dipping in to odd tracks means you will literally lose the plot.

A careful glance at the 13 track titles confirms this: there is a well planned logical progression to the performance which drives the plot from Reya’s initial leaving earth behind and going on to do asteroid mining, the accident which forces her into a spacesuit and consequent abandonment for 24 years on Titan, the arrival of help and the promise of rescue,which she eventually rejects, and, in light of which, she stays and becomes Titan’s Queen.

Some tracks are even crossed referenced inside each other (for example, the Snow White reference reappears in North of Titan). The lyrics have been constructed with care and attention to detail so as to take us on the journey with Reya and, in the process, they make it easy for us to be fellow companions on the voyage.

band 2

However, the lyrics are only one element of the journey. The tremendously skilfull and, at times, deeply emotional music brings the story to life and envelops us in grand musical flourishes, changing tempo’s and alternating rhythms. The instruments playfully interweave with, and skilfully play off, each other, working in tandem with melodic and soulful vocals to paint vivid and provocative moments in Reya’s journey.

Each instrument gives off a bewildering range of tones and sounds, testament indeed to inventive and hugely talented musical accomplishment. Even more than this, each track itself is a unique musical style, giving you something different as it drives the story forward. It is a remarkable achievement and the band rightly deserve high praise for what they have achieved in creating this wonderful and insightful performance piece.

The absolutely beauty of ‘Reya of Titan’ is that, in the end, it gives you absolutely no choice but to get caught up in and carried away by the often scintillating musicianship on offer.

Peter Matuchniak (Mach One, Evolve IV) on guitars is a revelation throughout; 3 minutes into Snow White is the most delicious riff which will blow you away, unexpected as it is uplifting. Rick Meadows on bass (WZMG, Coot) is spellbinding; Frienda is an absolute joy, the jazzy lilting bass driving the music.

Vance Gloster (score for ‘The First Time’, WZMG, Coot) on keyboards lays down so many rich textures which permeate through each and every song. The synthesizer work soars above, and lends a clarion call, to the story whilst the Hammond growls away as the foundations which under-pin everything else.

Alan Smith on drums is the focal point of everything, orchestrating the movement and momentum of the story’s plot, astounding on Jovian Belt and 24 years of Solitude. And JoJo Razor (Jo Blackwood Martin –  known for her work on The After Hours Electric Prog Jam on Cruise to the Edge 2014 and 2015) brings dramatic force and emotional depth to the vocals; Grains of Sand is a delight, her voice conveying the sense of being lost, the promise of redemption, of hope, of despair. What a performance!

‘Reya of Titan’ is not without weaknesses. The mix, in places, is unfortunately uneven with the drums, at points, being too prominent and the keyboards, at times, being a little too overwhelming and domineering. What would also have helped is some kind of insert which could have outlined the plot in advance of listening to it and a lyrics sheet so the story could be shared as we listened. But these, ultimately, cannot and must not be allowed to detract from what is a superbly creative, musically inventive and thoroughly enjoyable 50 minutes of excellent dramatic storytelling.

Released 20th June 2015

Buy Reya of Titan from Melodic Revolution Records