Review – Nosound – Allow Yourself – by Progradar

Nosound have come a long way since their humble beginnings as a solo project of main man Giancarlo Erra. Six studio albums along with the odd EP and live CD/DVD have seen them hailed as one of the most interesting up and coming alt/art rock bands in Europe. Nosound inventively combines influences from ’70s psychedelia, ’80s/’90s ambient and contemporary alternative and post rock.

The follow up to 2016’s ‘Scintilla’ sees the band forging a different sound. “Allow Yourself’ is a new phase for Nosound. Finding a new balance between organic and electronic sounds. stepping away from rock structures and ditching guitars to have more space for experimentation.”, says Giancarlo, “It is a stripping back of what we have known before, and its inspirations are in a different field altogether, finding the band in a new space once more, wholly embracing Alternative/Electronic influences.”

So is the new sound of Nosound (sorry, couldn’t resist that!) a step in the right direction. Well yes….and no…

There are times when you bemoan the absence of the lush chords and wonderful orchestrations of the previous albums, especially ‘Afterthoughts’ and ‘Scintilla’ and, to my ears, some tracks that just don’t work at all. However, at other times, it’s minimalist feel and heartrending simplicity is painstakingly beautiful.

The highlights of the album are the wonderful, ethereal sounding sheltermy drugthis night and saviour, four tracks where the band’s desire to take the stripped back route works just about perfectly, leaving you with a feeling of whimsical, melancholy delight. The slow burning desire of at peace works particularly well, all the pent up desire burning under the surface but never allowed to break free.

The less is more approach works less well on ego dripdon’t you dare and weights, all good songs but just lacking that spark I have come to expect from this band. I just cannot get into growing in me and defy at all, I’ll just leave it that they are not my cup of tea.

So, overall, I have to say that I was a little disappointed with the new album. I always applaud a band’s desire to progress and change, that is the lifeblood of music but, for me, there is just too much pared back minimalist style on the album. The good tracks are very, very good indeed but they don’t quite make up for the others. It is by no means a bad album but the change in direction just doesn’t fit with my musical ethos.

Released 21st September 2018

Order the album from Burning Shed here

 

 

 

 

Review – Lathe of Heaven – Now There’s No Room – by Progradar

“Lathe of Heaven sounds religious doesn’t it?  And it is, sort of.  Vaguely.  Well, almost entirely unlike religion as it turns out.  To explain…

A favourite novel of mine is The Lathe of Heaven, by Ursula Le Guin.  While writing the book, she was apparently very taken by some Taoist verses by Chuang Tse XXIII, which she used here and there in the story.  The book title is from one in particular:

‘ To let understanding stop at what cannot be understood is a high attainment.  Those who cannot do it will be destroyed on the lathe of heaven.’ 

Years after the book was published, Le Guin discovered that this is a terrible translation of the original writing, but it was way too late to do anything about it.  She still liked the sentiment though, and so do I.  I take it to mean something like, ‘To know that something is unknowable, but still struggle to understand it, is a path to madness.’

So why did I call this project Lathe of Heaven?  I’m not letting on, but if you think about it hard enough, perhaps one day you will understand.”

Songs about lust for power, mass extinction, chocolate, apathy and the Voyager spacecraft – Lathe of Heaven is a solo music project by Martin Giles from Hampshire, UK. Martin spent 30 years in the music industry, first as a recording engineer, and then mastering at CTS Studios and then Alchemy Shoho in London.

‘Now There’s No Room’ is a statement about the world we live in and how humanity is impacting on that world.

Martin quotes in his blog on the Lathe of Heaven website:

“So these days, I’m preoccupied with all the ways we’re screwing things up, and all the forces that conspire to maintain this catastrophic momentum. On the other hand, there are a few signs of hope, a few people who make a noticeable change for the good, and I write about them too.”

This is an album full of melodic, song-based tunes, a truly progressive album in the sense of the word. Martin Giles is a very accomplished musician and his obvious production and mastering skills are evident in every note. The Sibylline Books is a gentle and elegant piece of music that sets the tone for the whole record, the impressive vocals are measured and smooth and lend an authoritative hue to the track, ‘You don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone.’ Never a truer word…

Now There’s No Room is a melancholy and yet almost spiritual song, its pensive mood belying the graceful delivery of the vocals and ethereal music. As it comes to a close it leaves a burning emptiness inside you. How long until all the figures of speech we have that allude to animals are made permanently obsolete? Misunderstood takes the hard rock root with a stylish riff and gravel edged vocals that would have made Joe Cocker proud. It’s jaunty, devil-may-care feel is infectious, it’s all about how to avoid worrying about anything.

There’s a sparse, oriental feel to the minimalist beginnings of  Suit (some of the villains of the piece). It has a meandering, spacey jazz feel running throughout with the laid back drumming and stylish guitar. This is music for the mind, it encourages and instigates discussion and thinking. The Barefoot Chocolate Maker is, by way of contrast, a true story about a good man who really made a difference. To my ears there is a feel of ‘Wish You Were Here’ about the track. It’s simple delights bewitching, the story is all you need, no embellishments. The wonderful extra track Theme is a musical palate cleanser and enthralls with its childlike innocence and uncomplicated delights.

Marionettes has a slow buring beginning that blossoms into another effortless piece of music. I have to mention the vocals that, throughout this album, have been very impressive and lend a mature feel, an agelessness beyond our years, tot he music. The wonderful keyboards and acoustic guitar again giving a nod to Floyd, ‘The puppets refuse to return to the box’. This album just keeps getting better, Martin has proven himself as a very intelligent songwriter throughout and Panopticon/Rome Burns is no exception. Perhaps darker than the other songs with a very profound and influential feel to it, it showcases the subtle and discerning side to Martin’s skillset and asks the question ‘How much do we really know, and how should we respond?’

This thought provoking album comes to a close with The Last Song that subtly says, ‘We certainly won’t be around in a million years. Will there be anything at all to hint that we were ever here? Calmness personified with the delicate guitars and hushed vocal, it certainly leaves you in a very thoughtful frame of mind.

Intelligent, inventive and perfectly crafted, ‘Now There’s No Room’ is a captivating and utterly absorbing fifty-four minutes of intriguing and provocative music and an album that Martin Giles should be immensely proud of.

Released 8th September 2018

Order direct from the Lathe of Heaven website here

 

 

Review – Martin Barre – Roads Less Travelled – by Progradar

“I’ve concentrated on improving my songwriting over the last few years and as a result, I am really pleased with this new CD. Although my playing has a lot of space in the music, I’ve worked a lot harder on the arrangements and lyrics.

My goal is to have a CD that keeps the listener from beginning to end. ‘Roads Less Travelled’ reflects my belief in taking music somewhere new.”

So says legendary guitarist Martin Barre of his new solo album. Best-known as guitarist in Jethro Tull – one of the biggest selling prog bands of all time, Barre has developed his own distinctive style within the framework of Tull, and his instantly recognizable and original sound form the basis of this album. ‘Roads Less Travelled’ features 11 original tracks by Barre, which reflect the last 50 years of his esteemed musical career.

While all the songs showcase his exceptional electric guitar, acoustic guitar and mandolin playing, the Martin Barre Band also shine throughout. A long-time resident of Devon, Barre’s band features several local musicians :-

Dan Crisp (vocals), Alan Thompson (bass/fretless bass), Darby Todd (drums), Becca Langsford (vocals/backing vocals), Josiah J (Percussion/Hammond), Aaron Graham (drums), Alex Hart (vocals/backing vocals) and Buster Cottam (‘stand up’ bass).

The new album invokes a nostalgic 70’s sound that will resonate with people of a certain age and yet it feels really fresh too. Barre’s songwriting skills are evident on this really diverse collection of tracks from the hard rock opening of Lone Wolf through the edgy, Tull influenced, Out of Time (check out the stunning solo) to the scorching blues of Badcore Blues.

The overriding sound is that of Barre’s distinctive guitar and this guy is as good a player as they come. To many, his guitar playing was the definitive sound of Jethro Tull and his solo on Aqualung is frequently quoted as being one of the best of all time.

His supporting cast of vocalists aid and abet with fulsome aplomb, Dan Crisp’s vocals are soulful and hard edged, Becca Langsford gives a superb whiskey soaked edge to Badcore Blues and Alex Hart’s ethereal rendition of You Are An Angel is just heavenly.

This in album that you fall into like the comfiest of chairs, these songs are like old friends who have come to visit and share a dram with you on a cold night, in front of a roaring fire. On My Way brings Barre’s legendary guitar skills to the fore while Roads Less Travelled  with it’s driving riff, pulsating rhythm section and superbly harmonised backing vocals is a classic hard rock track in the making, as is the swirling Hammond organ backed blues vibes of (This is) My Driving Song. Martin shows us his elegantly applied acoustic skills on Trinity and the album comes to a more than satisfactory close with the jazz/blues cool of Becca Langsford’s vocals on the ever so classy And The Band Played Only For Me, all superbly backed by Martin’s acoustic guitar and Josiah J’s Hammond.

Whether you’re a Tull fan, a fan of 70’s hard rock or someone who just loves music, this release should definitely be on your radar. Excellent songwriting combined with superb musicianship has given us that rare commodity, an album that appeals to the past, the present and, most likely, the future. Martin Barre is still a rare talent nearly 50 years after he first played a note with Jethro Tull.

Released 5th October 2018

Order from Amazon here

 

Review – Glass Hammer – Chronomonaut – by Progradar

“It’s being here now that’s important. There’s no past and there’s no future. Time is a very misleading thing. All there is ever, is the now. We can gain experience from the past, but we can’t relive it; and we can hope for the future, but we don’t know if there is one.”
― George Harrison

There’s times when we have all probably wished we could go back in time to change something but there’s no such thing as a time machine, right?

Glass Hammer’s new concept album ‘Chronomonaut’ answers the question ‘what if?’. The new release is a stand-alone album but also acts as a Part Two for the highly successful 2000 release ‘Chronometree’.

Bassist Steve Babb says the new concept album tells the story of “the ultimate prog fan.” Babb elaborates, “Our album deals with time travel, nostalgia and the love of prog-rock. ‘Chronomonaut’s’ protagonist, Tom, starts his own band and then makes the attempt to go back to the seventies in hopes of becoming a prog-god. It’s all in fun and is really a very tongue-in-cheek look at how our favorite music can take us back in time.”

Long been known as being proponents of classic progressive rock with influences from the 70’s, Glass Hammer make a bold new statement with ‘Chronomonaut’, a new direction that gives them a definitive sound of their own. I’m always excited by the announcement of a new album from this band but, this time, they have gone more than the extra mile.

The band has been engaged in a buzz-creating viral marketing campaign which NJ ProgHouse Media Manager Jon Yarger describes as “pure genius”. “We not only have an epic music video set for release, we have also been releasing found footage from Tom describing his band’s expoits and his odd theories on time,” explains Babb. Fans have been following Tom’s escapades for weeks before the album was announced, and are eagerly anticipating the ‘Chronomonaut’ release. The gorgeous digipak design incorporates Tom’s story and lyrics. The striking cover design is by Xaay, a fairly well known death metal guitarist / vocalist from Poland.

There’s a narrative running through the album and reading the booklet along with the tracks is a must, the powerful opening instrumental The Land of Lost Content introduces a more heavier sound before Roll For Initiative opens Tom’s story, ‘he could hear voices in the music; voices the rest of us could not, voices which instructed him in the science of time travel.’ Already you can hear the new direction that the band are forging, there’s a great jazz rock vibe coming across, especially with the brass section. Steve Babb’s bass is as elegant as ever giving depth to the music and the drums are a guiding light.

Twilight of the Godz is one of my favourites on the album, an ever so elegant track where Tom debates the merits of reliving the past with an old bandmate. Brian Brewer’s soulful blues guitar and Susie Bogdanowicz’s heartfelt and passionate vocals stand out on a song which, to my ears, channels late 60’s Beatles at its core, Fred Schendel’s ultra smooth Hammond and Steve Babb’s keyboards providing layers of class, and the guitar run out is a thing of sheer brilliance. We’re on a roll now, this excellent album continues with the silky smooth The Past is Past where the past reminds Tom of all that might have been. What a superb intro, never has a saxophone (take a bow Jamison Smeltz) been put to such good use since Baker Street and the vocals (from Discipline’s Matthew Parmenter, if my ears don’t deceive me) really fit the mood. Think singer/songwriter meets jazz band with a King Crimson fixation and you wont be far wrong, it is theatrical in its delivery and really gives the band a completely different feel.

This enjoyable romp through space and time continues with the stylishly delivered 1980 Something where, ‘Like an old girlfriend returned from decades ago, the past beckons..’ Susie’s vocals, some judiciously played guitar and Steve’s dextrous keyboards (he doesn’t just play bass you know!) imbue the song with timeless sophistication and refinement. A Hole In The Sky sees the story get serious, ‘Tom must make the attempt to go back in time.The past, nostalgia, whatever it is that’s calling him, he has to find it.’ The music definitely takes a trip back in time with a bouncing 60’s vibe that is really infectious. The vocals, guitar and, especially, keyboards invoke such feelings of that decade that you’re virtually transported there yourself, it’s a very clever piece of music.

A sci-fi inspired instrumental which could have come from Tangerine Dream (more of that later) Clockwork, with its 80’s sounding keyboards, is two minutes of musical dexterity which wouldn’t have been out of place in one of the Terminator movies. Haunting and spaced out in equal measure, Melancholy Holiday has far eastern edge to it, Susie delivering a wonderful vocal performance.‘Once through the portal, Tom finds himself adrift in the murky waters of time where he find the past isn’t what it used to be’. The languid tempo does make you feel like you are drifting in a vast expanse of nothingness, with no idea where you are or where to go.

It Always Burns Sideways is a two-part instrumental that is ying and yang. Pt.1 Same Thing Over Again is dark and dangerous, the heavy accentuated keyboards giving a Van der Graaf Generator undertone to the music and a daunting atmosphere. Pt.2 Headphones In Wonderland is a polar opposite with its uplifting feel and swirling keyboards. It’s like the band recruited Mike Oldfield for a cameo and played a jam session along with him. The classically stylish guitar is a superb addition and just left me feeling elevated and inspired.

Glass Hammer show that they can do the pomp and circumstance as well as Transatlantic or Neal Morse with the exhilarating Blinding Light. ‘Tom realises at last that the only way to get ahead is to go forward. And anyway, time only travels in one direction. It’s time to leave the past behind.’ The sumptuous brass section, dynamic drums and exalted keyboards give the track a vibrancy and inject it with heart and soul. Excellent vocals and subtle guitar are the icing on a rather tasty cake, one that emphasises the impressive new sound and direction that the band are taking. The Steve Babb composed & performed Tangerine Meme wears its German electronic instrumental heart on its sleeve and as a homage to that legendary musical collective, is nigh on perfect.

This incredibly infectious and hugely entertaining story is brought to a close with the ten minute near-epic Fade Away. Bringing the story round full circle, but leaving the door open for a further instalment, it’s an inventive and intelligent piece of music that touches your heart with its opening. A tender piano and subdued vocal taking the story up. Like all the best tracks it builds on simple beginnings to blossom into something quite magnificent. The vocals take on the role of storyteller and bard, the musicians giving them the canvas to paint on, building layers and layers of sophistication. This song is a totally immersive ten minutes that you gladly lose yourself in and it twists and turns and then gives you the ultimate reward at the end, a quite wonderful closing guitar solo from Reese Boyd.

‘Where is Tom now? None of us know. Did he finally make it back to “those blue remembered hills” of the seventies, that “land of lost content” where prog legends are still young and the genre is flourishing and alive with possibility? I hope that he did. Though were I to be honest, I suspect he’s found what most of us have – that you can’t really ever go back. Somewhere out there , just like the rest of us, he’s making his slow cautious way into the future only to find that once there, it’s just now.’

Albums like ‘Chronomonaut’ are the reason why I love music so much and it has become part of my life. It sees a band I love unafraid to take a relatively new direction, organically progressive if you like. While not completely straying from their roots, Glass Hammer have taken a path less trodden and delivered what is, without a doubt, their best album yet and a fantastic new direction of power, precision and downright soul.

Released 12th October 2018

Pre-order Chronomonaut from the official store here including the limited addition bundle shown above

 

 

 

 

Review – Hillward – System – by Progradar

Since the release of their debut album ‘Flies in Amber Stones’ in 2015, Hillward, the heavy progressive rock quintet from Quebec, has been fine-tuning its craft playing local shows including the well known Festival d’Été de Québec in 2016, as well as various opening sets for major bands such as Symphony X and Uriah Heep.

David Lizotte – Vocals & Guitars, Alexandre Lapierre – Guitars & Vocals, André-Philippe Pouliot – Keys & Vocals, Jean-François Boudreault – Bass and Antoine Guertin – Drums & Vocals deliver a brand of progressive rock that is at times brooding and intense and at others, cerebral and thoughtful. 2018 sees the release of their sophomore album ‘System’, which takes those attributes and really expands on them.

The slow building suspense of opener Foster the River is followed by the bombastic riffs and defiant drumming of Long Way Down to give a highly charged opening to the album. The pensive ambience of Haven gives way to the thunderous grandiloquence and musings of Hollow (a personal fave of mine). This is a well wrought collection of intelligent songs given life by the high octane conflagration of the music.

There’s intellect and perception in the violent guitar riffs of both Life in Serigraph and Flat Light, the wistful Fragile is a winsome delight and circle of calmness in the musical storm and everything culminates in the elemental, primeval forces of Behind the Silence.

‘System’ is a high quality release full of original and perceptive songs that come from a band whose minds are brilliantly creative. The music feels like it was spawned from the raging fires of the core of the Earth and gives vibrancy and a primal fervor to this impressive album.

Released 31st July 2018

Order the album on mp3 from bandcamp here

 

Review – Letitia VanSant – Gut It To The Studs – by Progradar

There are very few writers these days who are bold enough to bridge the gap between being both creatively and politically relevant. In her music as in her life, Letitia VanSant has always sought to wrestle with worth questions.

This is someone who has earned a degree in Human Rights & Humanitarian Issues, worked for the Obama campaign in Detroit, and then engaged in important environmental organising in Baltimore. Five years of work with a progressive advocacy group landed her in Washington D.C. where, on weekends, she reflected on the state of society through her songs, earning a regional following in coffee shops and clubs.

Upon weighing up the power of music to move and motivate, she ultimately left her nine-to-five job to become a full time musician.

Her debut album ‘Gut It To The Studs’ blends seamlessly with her life as an artist and the songs reflect this with the title track being an ode to her effort to feel comfortable in her new skin and literally having to look at her emerging life and ‘gut it to the studs’.

There’s a story behind every song but it’s the beauty inherent in the frailty of her vocals and the gracefully refined music that touches your heart. VanSant is a rare talent and her songwriting is testimony to not only an intense personal journey but also the changing political climate of a nation at a national and also more local level.

Taking Back The Reins is a charming track that reflects the notion that insecurities will follow you wherever you roam. Where I’m Bound shows the importance of persevering through a ‘land of broken promises and streets of fool’s gold.’ The wistful Dandelion echoes our generation’s keen interest in building communities that are nourishing and real and the only cover on the album, a haunting version of For What It’s Worth, stands the test of time as a protest anthem. Letitia churns out a powerful interpretation inspired by recent protests against police brutality.

The pared back sparsity of Sundown Town closes out the album and leaves the question, Do we need more straight talking right now? Listening to this wistful and wonderful collection of songs leaves me thinking that, perhaps we do, probably more now than ever…

Released 27th August 2018

Order the CD/LP or download direct from the artists website here

 

Review – CEREUS – Dystonia – by Progradar

CEREUS is a Post-Progressive band from Warsaw/Poland. Their music is the outcome of inspiration coming from post rock as well as post metal, with the elements of alternative and progressive climate (Caspian, ISIS, Russian Circles, Marillion).

‘Dystonia’ is an engrossing album with tracks representing eternal questions about our past, present and future, there can also be found stories about human’s fortune, from birth to death. Every tale is a search for a place in given space and time and a reason to exist…

I do like a mysterious press release, it really makes me want to delve further into the record and, with ‘Dystonia’, I’m really glad I did. On a basic level this collection of songs is, musically, like a cross between the Seattle grunge of Pearl Jam with the modern heavy progressive rock of bands like Earthside and Dream The Electric Sleep.

The thunderous riffing from Paweł Sikora and Patryk Woźniak on tracks like Kraken King and Cassiopea is enough to make your ears bleed (and just listen to the monstrous bass playing of Konrad Pawłowski) but it contrasts superbly with the more relaxed refrains of Icarus and Ocean.

Michał Dąbrowski has a really distinctive vocal delivery and it is a highlight of the album. His voice drips emotion, passion and vehemence when required, like a cross between Eddie Vedder and Scott Stapp and it adds real depth to the music. Maciej Caputa is a dynamo on the drums and drives every track on with enormous verve and gusto.

If you like your progressive rock with a distinctively heavy edge and feel to it, like it has ascended from the bowels of the earth with a mission to knock everyone twenty feet backwards, then ‘Dystonia’ is definitely for you. One thing that makes it stand out from the rest though is that is also has plenty of heart, soul and humanity and that comes through in every note.

Released 30th April 2018

Order the album from Amazon here

Review – Dwiki Dharmawan – Rumah Batu – by Progradar

Following on from 2016’s groundbreaking, internationally acclaimed ‘Pasar Klewer’, Indonesian icon and keyboard legend Dwiki Dharmawan has considerably upped the ante with his new album ‘Rumah Batu’ (The Stone House). Drawing from both his extensive jazz influences and rich cultural heritage, he is augmented by a stellar cast of players to deliver a mind-bending piece of work brimming with intricate and adventurous compositions.

There’s free-from jazz that really blows you away, fantastic traditional arrangements, haunting Indonesian vocals and music that stretches envelopes and ignores boundaries. Dwiki is unparalleled as a player, arranger and songwriter and his genius is such that you find yourself literally transported into his idea of what the musical universe should be like.

In places it is definitely not for the faint-hearted and will only give up its delights as a reward to your intensive listening and understanding of the culture from which this exhilarating musician takes his influence. The album chronicles its creation at the already infamous La Casa Murada. Situated in the tranquil, picturesque setting of the Catalonian wine region of Penedès, Spain, the recordings take on a definite life of their own.

Rumah Batu’ can be said to chronicle the continuing evolution and progression of jazz in the 21st Century, there’s definite elements of King Crimson style progressive rock in there too, you only have to listen to the Rumah Batu Suite in its entirety to understand that.

All in all, Dwiki Dharmawan has produced one of the most groundbreaking, innovative, but certainly perplexing at times, releases of 2018. It gets under your skin as it eclipses both progressive jazz and world music to be a relentlessly revealing listen.

Released 15th May 2018

Order the album from bandcamp here

 

Review – Gregory Page – A Wild Rose – by Progradar

Sometimes I just hanker for some music that lets me kick back, chill and let life move on around me while I take a rest from its trials and tribulations. Over the last couple of years it’s been roots and Americana music that’s provided my musical refuge the majority of the time and another release has arrived at Progradar Towers that could just fit the bill.

Gregory Page is a North London born Irish-Armenian performing songwriter. A third-generation musician, Page grew up surrounded by family members who performed and recorded traditional Irish music. His grandfather, Dave Page, was a master Uilleann piper whose early Parlophone recordings remain Gregory’s creative catalyst.

With its roots in Celtic and Americana music, some dry wit has described ‘A Wild Rose’ as aptly ‘Americeltic’ but he/she does have a point.

The promotional material goes on to say that ‘this album adds colour to a world that seems to have lost some of its shine…’ and ne’er has a truer word been said. There is darkness and light throughout the ten tracks that make up the album. The uplifting Americana of  I’m Alive contrasts perfectly with the melancholy and wistful lap steel infused I Say Adios.

Take the Celtic warmth of the uplifting title track and the fragility of Born With The Shakes Inside, a sharp look at the intangible truth of the human condition. This album wears its heart on its sleeve, the forlorn melancholy of Funny Trick and Goodnight Jack really hits home, taking you through the garden gate and back home again

Page has surrounded himself with an impressive cast of traditional musicians to deliver a truly flawless musical experience that leaves a warm feeling inside and hope where there maybe once was doubt and despair.

Released 6th August 2018

Check out the Gregory Page website here

 

 

 

Review – Circuline – Circulive: Majestik – by Progradar

“A deep well of musical wonderment is laid before you to drink from at will…”

That’s what I said about Circuline’s sophomore release ‘Counterpoint’ and this highly impressive progressive rock act went on to enhance that with what was by all accounts an outstanding performance at the 13th International Rites of Spring Festival (RoSfest). Captured live, this 2016 show has been released as the live DVD/CD, Blu-Ray/CD or just good old plain CD – ‘Circuline – Circulive: :Majestik’.

“What do you get when you take two theatrical lead vocalists, a keyboard player from Juilliard, a jazz-rock genius on guitar, a bass player from Monster Island and a drummer with progressive rock in his DNA? The modern cinematic ProgRock band Circuline.”

That’s the band’s tagline and describes them band down to a tee, for the RoSfest performance regular members Andrew Colyer (keyboards), Natalie Brown and Billy Spillane (those two ‘theatrical’ vocalists) and Darin Brannon (drums) were joined by new guitarist Beledo, guest bassist Harold Skeete and special guest Joe Deninzon on electric violin.

The setlist is taken majorly from ‘Counterpoint’ and opens with (DVD only) a subtly building version of New Day before particularly dramatic and powerful performances of Who I Am and Return. These dynamic tracks are followed by a bombastically brilliant version of personal fave Forbidden Planet, a performance that raises the hairs on the back of my neck.

The well shot DVD draws you in and makes you feel as if you are part of the whole experience, you feel every riff from Beledo’s expressive guitar work and the energy that Skeete puts into his bass playing. The two lead vocalists are at their theatrical and melodramatic best, the harmonies seemingly soaring to the heights of The Majestic’s roof.

They expertly run through the ten minute brilliance of HollowStereotypes and an especially vibrant version of Inception, including some seriously tasty guitar work. You can see why the performance was received enthusiastically, Skeete’s bass playing on America the Beautiful and Nautilus really gives added impetus and ‘snazz’ to the music and Colyer’s keyboards almost seem to have a life of their own as they drive everything on, all the musicians work together perfectly and seemlessly to deliver a polished and involving set.

Sat with my feet up watching the DVD at home gets me really absorbed in this spellbinding show, it’s not just a concert, it really is like going to the theatre to watch a musical extravaganza and Circuline really deliver that to the rapt audience. A mesmeric version of One Wish leads into a fantastic trio of closing tracks, the spellbinding Summit, a heartfelt rendition of Stay (Brown and Spillane virtually raise the roof on this one!) and this quite enthralling experience is brought to a close with the jazz/prog rock fusion inventiveness of Silence Revealed where Beledo is quite spectacularly let off the leash.

As live albums go this one has to be right up there with some of the recent best. Having excellent songs is a good start but to be able to translate those tracks into the live arena this well takes some real skill and Circuline have that in spades.

Released 18th May 2018

Order from CDBaby here