Review – Drifting Sun – Twilight – by Progradar

There is so much new music out there that sometimes I just don’t know where to start. Requests for reviews come in multiples and it is really difficult to keep up with them all. Thankfully the team here at Progradar manage to just about keep up with the plethora of new releases.

The issue with this is that some great releases may get missed or forgotten and that would be a crime. Persistence is the key here and my friend Pat Sanders, the keyboardist and main man behind melodic-progressive rock outfit Drifting Sun is the embodiment of the word!

He is tireless in his promotion of the band and dedicated to his work. I would have reviewed their latest release ‘Twilight’ anyway but Pat has made sure it is front and centre and I am glad he did!

Drifting Sun date back to the early 90’s when Pat moved to the UK from his native France and released their first eponymous album in 1996. There have been many line-up changes through the band’s history and ‘Twilight’ sees departing guitarist Dan Storey replaced with the virtuoso Mathieu Spaeter, previously of the Franck Carducci band. The rest of the band consists of Peter Falconer (vocals), Manu Michael (bass) and Will Jones (drums).

I think Drifting Sun evolve and progress with each record they release. Their roots are in melodic progressive rock and the opening, and title, track Twilight enforces that view perfectly. The sumptuous melodies and vocal harmonies are brilliant and the added dynamic of Mathieu’s fluent guitar playing just adds another layer of class to the music. The solo just makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up and yet it’s not just about the guitar, the whole band are gifted performers and the music is a joy to behold. Pat’s eloquent keys almost talk to you and the rhythm section is superb. Wings Of Hope is a very emotive song from the first notes of the keyboards and Peter’s voice has a touching timbre to it. It builds in layers of sonic complexity, all the while demanding your attention. The elegant guitar adds a classical touch to this symphonic feeling track. Once the blue touch paper is lit, the tempo rises and this stylish song opens up before you. The band’s music has the ability to move you and stir emotions inside and this track is a typical example with its complex sentiments and lush melodies. The segue into Mystery of Lies gives you a wonderfully restrained and stylish piece of guitar work from Mathieu, one that stirs the soul to leave a lasting impression. The hesitant feel continues with low-key voice over before Peter’s vocal breaks out in a demanding fashion, harmonies abound left, right and centre and Pat’s keyboards keep everything on track. It’s a clever contrast in styles that runs throughout the song. The interplay between guitar and vocals is tender and dignified and the whole song has a warmth and fragile innocence to it.

One of the first songs released from the album, Soldiers reinforces the inherent drama that all Drifting Sun songs contain. Well crafted in both lyrics and music, the emotions run raw through this mini-epic. Peter Falconer puts so much into his vocal delivery that you could imagine him treading the boards performing in a musical in the West End and it gives songs like this an edge that other bands don’t have. Mathieu Spaeter overlays this with his expressive guitar work, accompanied by the dancing keyboard fingers of Pat Sanders and it’s all held together by the uber-cool bass and drums of Manu Michael and Will Jones. This all comes together to give maturity to the songs that wasn’t always present before. Summer Skies is a full-blown ten minute-plus epic that enthralls from beginning to end. Mathieu’s slow burning opening keeps you on tenterhooks for what is going to follow. Soft, yet passionate vocals ramp up the tension even more, there’s anticipation evident in every word and every note that is played. The melody around the repeated chorus is very addictive and I find myself humming along, always the sign of a good tune! This is a thoughtful and articulate piece of music where every note has a place and every word is there for a reason, songwriting with the listener in mind. Pat’s graceful piano interlude in the middle of the song is a clever break and the track then builds up to a great outpouring of vocal and musical emotion, backed by the ever expressive guitar. The extended close out just leaves you feeling mellow and relaxed and satiated by a marvelous piece of music. A classical introduction to Remedy is enforced by the jazzy piano and guitar that gives a laid back mood to the song. The vocals are underscored by an ambient synth to give a cultured and sophisticated feel, reinforced by Peter’s most wistful vocal performance to date. A mellow vibe settles down over everything and you find yourself entranced by the calm nature that pervades each note as it plays out to a sophisticated close.

The dramatic opening to Outside has a real sense of melodrama to it and a theatrical overtone which is embellished by the smooth tones of Peter’s vocal. The musicians deliver another intense performance and Mathieu is let loose to showcase his evident prowess. This is a fantastic marriage of melodic, symphonic and progressive rock to give the music a life all of its own and it is really impressive, just listen to the fiery solo and you’ll see what I mean. The cultured keyboard skills of Pat are always there to give structure and roots to these virtuoso musicians as they deliver stunning note after note. The last track on this thoroughly entertaining musical journey is Remain, eight minutes of melodic inventiveness where the listener is taken on a harmonic roller coaster ride. A fast paced track with an urgent rhythm, the music is again the focus for the listener as you find yourself drawn in to the world of Drifting Sun. Another great extended guitar solo segues into some intricate keyboard playing to add another highlight before the song and album close out and I’m left with a knowing smile on my face.

Drifting Sun have perhaps added the final piece to the puzzle with Mathieu Spaeter and ‘Twilight’ is without a doubt the band’s most consummate and polished release to date. They deliver melodic progressive rock of the highest calibre and continue to mature and evolve into a very impressive musical outfit, I can’t recommend this highly enough.

Released 1st September 2017

Buy ‘Twilight’ from bandcamp

 

 

 

 

Drifting Sun Announce New Concept Album ‘Twilight’ Release Date and New Single ‘Eternal Cycle’

UK Progressive Rock act Drifting Sun have announced that they are in the final stages of completing their forthcoming new concept album ‘Twilight’ and it is now available as a pre-order ahead of a 1st September release at the band’s official website here:

Shop

To celebrate the release of the album Drifting Sun are offering a ‘name your price’ download of the track Soldiers from their bandcamp site here:

‘Name Your Price’ download of Soldiers

As a ‘thank you’ for pre-ordering ‘Twilight’, the band are giving away the new single Eternal Cycle with each pre-order. Once you have ordered from the website, you will receive a free download code direct to your email address.

Drifting Sun are a UK-based Progressive Rock studio project which dates back to the early 90’s when Keyboardist/Composer Pat Sanders left his native France for England with Bass Player Manu Sibona. Their music has been described as dramatic, theatrical, & atmospheric, in the true style of prog rock giants such as Dream Theater, Queensryche, Genesis and Jethro Tull, to name but a few of the bands that influenced their sound.

Drifting Sun’s eponymous debut CD was released in December 1996 to positive reviews from across the globe. Following line-up changes, ‘On The Rebound’, the band’s second CD was released in the autumn of 1998. After taking a long break from the music business during which time he pursued other interests, Pat decided to revamp his project, and, armed with a brand new line up, released their third opus ‘Trip The Life Fantastic’ in January 2015.

Pat, Manu, Peter Falconer (vocals), Dan Storey (guitars) and Will Jones (drums) recorded the previous album ‘Safe Asylum’ that was released on the 21st May 2016. This was the last record to feature Dan on guitars and his replacement, Mathieu Spaeter (of The Franck Carducci band) was recruited in time to record the new album ‘Twilight’.

 

Review – Tearing The Tour Apart (live DVD) – The Franck Carducci band – by Progradar

Music was always intended to be heard live, that’s how it started. There were no recording devices when the first minstrels and troubadours travelled far and wide singing their stories of incredible deeds and perhaps slightly embellishing them. It was passed by word of mouth and would be centuries before waxed discs, vinyl records, compact discs and digital files were even thought of.

Therefore, to me, live music is music in its natural form and the energy of a live gig has to felt to be believed. I suppose the next best thing to being there is to watch a good quality recording of that concert or show and I think that is why live DVDs and Blu-rays are as popular as they are nowadays.

I saw The Franck Carducci Band live at the Masquerade Festival last December and they were fantastic, a live experience like no other in fact and I’d had chats with Franck about him releasing a live DVD which finally came to fruition with the ‘Tearing The Tour Apart’ live DVD that was released towards the end of 2016 and which Franck graciously gave me a copy to review.

The live DVD was recorded at the Climax Club Legend in November 2015 and features tracks from Franck’s first two albums ‘Oddity’ (2011) and ‘Torn Apart’ (2015).

Pop the DVD in your player and the title menu appears asking you to choose 5.1 sound, stereo sound or pick a track. I got straight in with stereo and the visuals begin, instantly recognisable as being the work of Olivier and introducing the Franck Carducci Band – Franck Carducci (bass, 12 string guitar, vocals), Christophe Obadia (electric guitar, bass pedals, didgeridoo, vocals), Olivier Castan (keyboards, vocals), Mathieu Spaeter (6 and 12 string guitars, vocals), Mary Reynaud (rainstick, tambourine, vocals) and special guest Jimmy Pallagrosi (drums).

The fantastic entertainment begins with an utterly stunning version of the crowd favourite Torn Apart. Franck has always stated his appreciation of the visual art form and you are plunged straight into brilliant musical theatre with a stunning light show and incredible music. The camera work is exemplary and you really feel as if you’ve been transported right into the concert, especially with the close ups of each musician. The high energy blues/rock work out of the track comes across perfectly, you feel the fierce passion of the guitar solos and the funky edge to Olivier’s keyboards and Jimmy Pallagrosi is a modern day version of Animal from The Muppets. The appreciative crowd soak it all and give some serious applause. The elfin-like Mary Reynaud makes her first appearance on the edgey and thoughtful Closer To Irreversible and you can feel the heartfelt pathos and fervent melancholy blues coming across, once again, these musicians really know how to put on a show and this is one that has been honed into a well oiled machine but also one that never loses that required passion you want from a great live performance. Feel the guitar literally weep and the keyboards bleed sincerity as the notes literally leap from the screen and leave you transfixed. The thespian feel continues with the wonderfully melodramatic prog-fest that is Artificial Paradises. With the tense and dramtic keyboard playing of Olivier being central to the opening, the camera focused on his intense expression, you are drawn into the scene completely. The scene opens up with Franck and Mary the focus of attention. This is one song where inhibitions are left at home, a wonderfully thrilling and vivid display of musical excellence and portrayal by the singers. Almost like a three act play, you are caught on every note and nuance when the camera closes in on each performer.

Let’s change the intensity and ramp it up with the schizophrenic heavy rock of Mr Hyde & Dr. Jekyll, a real throwback to the excesses of the late 1970’s. A really energetic rock out that is as infectious as it is utterly enjoyable. You really want to be there in font of the stage headbanging and rocking away to the ferocious guitar work and Franck’s great frontman performance. Franck introduces Articifial Love as ‘something more psychedelic’ and he’s not wrong. The music, performance and light show is all a little tripped out and drags you willingly into the mood. Mary and Franck are quite transfixing front of stage as they deliver their psychotropic performance, I’ve said it once and i’ll say it again, it really is musical theatre and, to me, is how this music is at its best. At this point things get a bit more interesting with Mathieu and Olivier giving a really spaced out guitar and keyboard combo before Mary and Christophe ultimately blow your mind with a duel didgeridoo display that is as theatric as anything that has gone before and actually made the hairs stand up on the back of my neck, quite spooky and eerie actually. Next we have what can only be described as ‘Star Wars with swords’, the Achilles Sword Fight where Olivier and Christophe do (choreographed battle) to a soundtrack not too dissimilar from The Imperial March all bathed in an ominously ghostly red glow. This segues immediately into another leviathan prog track Achilles. An engrossing opening perfectly captured by the camera as Franck gets his twin necked bass out to play. The quality on this DVD is excellent, both in sound and picture, the close ups are sharply in focus and there is a smooth transition between shots, no jerking or jumping around. There’s a Genesis feel to the song both in the music and the vocal delivery and this is more a music performance than a theatrical one this time, just focus on the excellence of the performers and the blazing guitar solo from Mathieu Spaeter, music at its purest and played with skill and aplomb.

A Brief Tale Of Time brings a science fiction story to life and an allegorical tale of how life isn’t always greener on the other side (or in the future). A powerful central performance from Franck is the core to this track, proper progressive rock both in content and delivery. It’s a slow burner to begin with, wistful and dreamy with the lights down low and the shadowy musicians playing in the twilight, the skill and dexterity is the main focus here. Things get a bit more upbeat when Mary joins Franck at the front of the stage, a winsome musical journey which leaves a contemplative footnote as it wanders across your mind, the visuals enforcing this feeling. Some Wakeman-like keyboard ingenuity and finesse from Olivier ramps up the prog quotient even more and Franck’s edgy bass line joins the party as the stage is awash with a rainbow of light and you are treated to something that I’m sure even ELP would have been proud of. Add in the great little video (made entirely out of animated cartoon drawings by Olivier ‘Casoli’ Castan) and you couldn’t really ask for more. The last song (before encore) is The Last Oddity (from ‘Oddity’ funnily enough), another superb twelve minutes of progressive rock fused with Gallic flair. The musicians own the stage and Mary and Franck are the centre of attention with their earnest and fervent vocal performances. The camera wanders around the stage picking out the individual musicians in their reverie as this intricate and dreamlike song is played out before you. When the camera pans out to the audience you can see their rapt attention as they focus on every note and word. Christophe delivers a punky, truncated riff and the fuse is lit, get ready for the explosion! Off we go on a convoluted rock out, Mary’s waif like figure throwing herself around as things get altogether more funky and 70’s inspired, where’s my flares man??!! The atmosphere comes across as utterly electric as Franck decides to go for a wander off into the surprised audience, now where’s he gone? The trippy and psychedelic aura pervades all and leaves you wondering what illegal substance was slipped into your coffee as these musical artists deliver a completely demonstrative spectacle, the highlight being  the four-armed guitar playing performed by Christophe and Mathieu, you’ve got to see it to believe it, pure theatre! The band move straight into a spine-tingling four minute sequence from Genesis’ ‘Supper’s Ready’, nostalgia for the fans deep at its heart with Franck, as animated as ever, delivering a great homage to Peter Gabriel and Mathieu delivering a superbly emotive guitar piece. Franck goes round doing the obligatory band introduction to the audience and things come to a close, or do they?

Well there’s always got to be an encore hasn’t there? The camera sweeps around the incredibly appreciative, lively and passionate audience who have lapped up everything laid before them and then back to the stage. Franck is stood there with his Mad Hatter’s top hat on and we are going to be treated to The Franck Carducci Band’s way out version of Alice in Wonderland, Alice’s Eerie Dream. This is pure musical theatrics at their most extreme, almost like a circus sideshow from the 1930’s, titillating and thoroughly enjoyable and you can’t take your eyes of it. It’s an absolute blast from start to finish with its blues-rock roots and vivid visuals. Mary arrives as a very provocative Alice indeed and gives a real sensuous feeling to proceedings. Just let yourself go with the flow and enjoy this fourteen minutes of unabashed entertainment, guitar solos fly by, Jimmy is as ebullient as ever behind the drums and you just know that everybody is enjoying themselves to the utmost. As the song and performance come to a close you know they have left nothing behind and given everything of themselves during this thrilling, engrossing and captivating show.

This is how music should be consumed, the high energy performances of all the musicians are utterly addictive and leave you wanting more. There’s a primal force at play here and it comes across in every word and note as if the artists are giving something of themselves to the audience. Skillfully filmed with a superb light show and stunning sound, ‘Tearing The Tour Apart’ is a musical tour-de-force and should be on anybody’s wish list!

And just to spice things up, Franck has told me that there will definitely be a Blu-ray release of this wonderful gig.

Released 13th December 2016

Buy ‘Tearing The Tour Apart’ on DVD from The Merch Desk

 

Franck Carducci to release Live DVD – Tearing The Tour Apart – Crowd Fund Link Added

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Seems like things have been very quiet lately with the Franck Carducci Band but Progradar has learned that they have been busy like bees, working on the production of a live DVD of the “Tearing The Tour Apart” tour.
The recording for this DVD was made during 2 concerts at Climax Club Legend at the end of 2015 and will feature special guest Jimmy Pallagrosi (Karnataka) behind the drums! There’s no news yet regarding any release date but, suffice to say, we will keep you updated!

The band have released a teaser for the forthcoming release:

I spoke to Franck himself about the making of the DVD and he told me this:

“It’s an absolute delight to be able to release a DVD of our live show. For me, the visual aspect have always been a full part of live music. That’s why acts like Genesis & Peter Gabriel, David Bowie, Alice Cooper and of course Pink-Floyd have always been huge influences of mine. So a DVD was completely necessary to be able to share the full experience of our show and I do hope people will enjoy it!”

Franck Carducci has started a Crowd Funding Campaign for the new DVD, sign up at the link below:

Franck Carducci Band Crowd Fund at Kiss KIss Bank BaNK

You can buy Franck’s superb last album ‘Torn Apart’ (as well as his debut ‘Oddity’) on CD from The Merch Desk here:

The Merch Desk – Franck Carducci

And on digital from bandcamp here:

Franck Carducci – Torn Apart – Bandcamp

And here is what some sage music industry stalwarts have had to say about ‘Torn Apart’ :

franck-banner

http://www.franckcarducci.com/

https://www.facebook.com/franckcarducci/