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!”
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
“Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art…. It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things which give value to survival.” ― C.S. Lewis
I have made so many friends through music and not short lasting friendships either, friendships that I hold dear and will last the test of time and for all time. You all know how much I love music but it is the stories behind a lot of those friendships that have made the music much more meaningful and enduring.
I have to thank my good friend and colleague at Bad Elephant Music, David Elliott for introducing me to the fantastic legendary Scottish proggers Abel Ganz through their incredible 2014 self-titled release which was a kind of rebirth for this seminal band.
The conclusion to my review of that album went like this,
“This is music that will stand the test of time and could become a legacy for this superb band. Abel Ganz has delivered what is bound to become a highlight of this already impressive musical year, I implore you to go henceforth and purchase this musical marvel!”
And those words led me on a fantastic musical and life affirming journey to seeing the band live quite a few times including four trips to Glasgow to see them at their own mini ‘Prog B4 Christmas’ festival.
Through those trips and the wonder of social media, I have come to know the band on a very emotive and personal level and I am very proud to call them all friends. Perhaps that close friendship added fuel to the foreboding worry of how they would follow up that wondrous collection of songs that made up 2014’s well loved release? All I know is that, when band leader, drummer and all round good guy Denis Smith sent me the music files in March of this year, I was both excited and slightly apprehensive about what I was going to hear…
So, first to the Press Release:
“A concept album comprising of six thematically linked pieces exploring our relationship with memory and loss. The liminal space between a fading ‘what was’ and an anticipated ‘what is to come’.
The album recalls the hazy technicolour of long remembered summers and the sepia of a love forgotten. A place where we blur the boundaries of returning and renewal. The lyrics chart the course through recollection to premonition. These words are both deeply personal and universal, hope for what is next and a lament for what we have lost.”
Denis told me that the band had deliberately set out to NOT make the same album as before and after dozens of listens I can honestly say that they have delivered something totally different but equally as wonderful as before, to be honest, it is better, in my opinion!
There is something utterly bewitching about this collection of seven perfectly crafted songs. Actually, I’d go further than calling them songs, they are stories, stories that bare their soul, stories of love and loss that can be at times amazingly uplifting and, at others, totally heart-wrenching but they are always beautiful.
This enchanting and captivating musical journey opens with the title track, The Life of the Honey Bee and Other Moments of Clarity, which opens the album with nearly thirteen minutes of enthralling, beguiling brilliance and the album never looks back from there. The song writing is thought provoking and the musicianship second to none with Dave King’s elegant guitar playing providing the ethereal stepping stones for Mick Macfarlane’s soft, Caledonian brogue to draw you in to this mesmerising song and the genius Chromatic Harmonica of Alex Partlin has to be heard to be believed. The masters of Scottish progressive rock are back and it has taken just one song to ease my worries, this is going to be one wondrous experience, I just know it!
As if that wasn’t superb enough then the incredibly moving exquisite grace of One Small Soul (can you tell I like this song?!) takes the bar and lifts it even higher. There are simply not enough superlatives for this ridiculously good piece of music. I always said that Thank You from the previous release was my favourite Abel Ganz track and I still love it but this consummate song has just stolen my heart completely. From the sublime guitar through to the delightful piano, it just touches my soul. The vocals are heartfelt and earnest and Mick’s interplay with acclaimed solo artist Emily Smith is a highlight of the whole album, add in the dazzling guitar solo and you have just about the perfect song.
Dave King took over from long time Ganz guitarist Davie Mitchell and has immediately become one of the family and his self-penned instrumental Arran Shores superbly evokes the image of a wind swept and scenic Scottish shoreline. Just under three minutes of instrumental music that you can just lose yourself in and forget all your worries.
Get the tissues out, trust me, there will not be a dry eye in the house after listening to the celestial strings and evocative vocals of Summerlong. A song with a depth of personal meaning that soars high with a melancholy, wistful grace. On Denis’ recommendation, the first time I heard this track I wore headphones and just stopped dead and listened to every word and every note intricately and I would advise you all to do the same. A thoughtful, yet plaintive song that leaves its mark on your heart and in your mind.
After the contemplative and reflective nobility of the previous track, the first ninety seconds of Sepia and White (written by stylish bass player Stephen Donnelly) has more funk than a New York disco in the height of the 70’s. It is utterly brilliant and put a huge smile on my face before the song segues into a thirteen and a half minute epic with elements of progressive rock, elements of jazz and an added touch of Americana just to mix things up. The guitar motif that runs throughout is a great piece of ingenuity, vocalist extraordinaire Mick Macfarlane really is on top form and Jack Webb’s keys are as accomplished as ever. Sit down with a wee dram or a glass of your favourite red and just enjoy a group of musicians on a creative high as this exceptional song gets under your skin and almost becomes part of your actual being, it really doesn’t get much better than this my friends!
What a wonderful surprise as the first notes of The Light Shines Out fade and the vocals begin, this refined and nostalgic song sees Denis Smith on the microphone and his slightly catching voice is just perfect for the gossamer like feel that the music engenders. Like the sepia tinged early morning dew of a spring day, there is a feel of awakening and rebirth about the whole song and it really stirs your emotions and is a fitting end to the album and I love the way the fading guitar ends the track.
Well I say end, we are actually treated to a radio edit of One Small Soul as things come to a proper close which, let’s face it, is no bad thing…
How to sum up my feelings? I have a very close connection with Abel Ganz but that has not made any difference to how I have reviewed this album. Put simply, it is not just the best album I have heard this year, it is one of the best albums I have ever heard in my 52 years. More than just a collection of songs or even stories, it is part of the band member’s very souls and when they put all of that into making a record, you are going to get something very special indeed.
Released 6th July 2020
Order the album direct from the band’s website here:
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).
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:
When the first Pattern Seeking Animals album was released last year, such was its beauty that it easily made my albums of the year list. Its mix of style and deep lyrics made it a very worthy album indeed and, when I spoke to John Boegehold he’d remarked that they had already started work on this sophomore release.
Well that was last year and now, just about a year later, comes ‘Prehensile Tales’, the continuation of the Pattern Seeking Animals story, or sub tale really as the folk involved are predominantly the core nucleus of legendary US group Spock’s Beard, with PSA treading a slightly different path musically. It is still prog but PSA exist as a vehicle for material that John has written, but that he feels in not quite within the remit of Spock’s Beard.
At time of writing this does not mean the end of The Beard, it just means a further outlet is available to John, which I am sure you will agree is a good thing for listeners as, when that material is as fine as this, then there is really no issue, let’s just be grateful for this music.
We find a range of subjects tackled in these songs from finding a second chance in your life, vampires, shipwrecks and facing mortality. Another difference this time around is the wider musical palette that is employed to add more colours and timbre to the tones, these include violin, flutes, piccolo, trumpet, flugelhorn and cello along with saxophone and pedal steel guitars. This makes for an interesting and richly rewarding listen, although, as always, you will have to listen carefully for the magic to unfold around you.
The production by fellow bearder Rich Mouser is crisp and clear with clear separation of instrumentation across all the tracks, likewise the cover art is also highly arresting and intriguing,
The album starts with the Dave Meros rumbling bass on Raining Hard In Heaven this is interspersed with snatches of guitar from Ted Leonard, all ably supported by the keyboard work of John Boegehold and Jimmy Keegan’s solid drumming. The bass work from Meros is sublime and carries the melody wonderfully before a synth solo takes the song forward into a more upbeat section and then reverting to a quitter more measured pace with classic organ sounds and that bass moving the song forwards once again as it heads towards its satisfying conclusion. A great opener by any standard
This is followed by Here In My Autumn which features a sublime violin from Rini in the latter sections, giving this song a Kansas feel, and I mean that in a good way as this additional colour really adds to the dynamics of the song greatly, as indeed does the excellent piccolo and flute which are also very noticeable. Again, the bass work is of the highest standard and his support and playing is subtle and effective. The guitar break by Leonard yields another elegant and emotional track that really hits the mark. Ted’s vocals on this track are also extraordinarily strong, he really can take these songs and stamp his own identity on them. A second guitar solo takes this song to an epic conclusion in tandem with John’s keyboards.
Another stunning song, and were only at the start really! The next piece is Elegant Vampires which features some terrific drum patters from Jimmy alongside more solid bass from Dave and atmospheric keyboards from John, who plays a recurring motif that runs throughout the song. Another fabulous vocal from Ted carries this short song about the inevitability of death using the metaphor of vampires as symbolism. Again, an interesting song which leads us to one of the more unusual tracks of this set,
Namely, Why Don’t We Run? which features, believe it or not, a mariachi band! The track opens with what sounds like Chinese or oriental brass before an acoustic guitar ushers in the mariachi type sound and it gallops along most effectively. The instrumentation on this song is tremendous, highly evocative, and realistic, an acoustic guitar carrying the melody forwards till at the 3.35 mark the horn returns with its wail and Ted’s guitar takes brief flight. This may all sound very weird yet somehow it works and it all sounds magnificent, possibly my favourite song thus far.
We are then led into the albums longest and most epic song at 17:20 called Lifeboat. It is comprised of 5 parts, the first the first of which is an instrumental section, called Nearer Now To Heaven. It then switches to Ted emotive vocal telling the tale of the people on the lifeboat as the ship is going down, leading to another excellent bass part from Dave who really anchors the track together so that you can feel the despair that the hero is facing in an ocean of uncertainty. A plaintive trumpet voluntary takes the song forwards into Ted’s guitar solo after which the protagonist is pondering his mortality whilst crying out for someone to save him. Finally we are led into the closing section which deals with what happens when you die, in this instance we are left with an open ending to that particular question as the song ends with storms and the noise of oars, a brilliant track by any standards.
The album’s final track Soon But Not Today then follows with a musical mystery tour taking in reggae, surf and the Beatles in the tale of a man who gets chance to reassess his life and hopefully make changes to how he leaves the world. Again this song is concerned with one’s mortality and in this song we see just how solidly this band work as one to deliver stunning song after stunning song.
I loved the debut album and, guess what? I love this one too! ‘Prehensile Tales’ is very accomplished and engaging and a great piece of work that will make you glad that you heard it, I really recommend this to you all, it is really really fine piece of music.
I Am The Manic Whale deliver their third studio album with ‘Things Unseen’. The project is the brainchild of bassist and singer Michael Whiteman who hails from Woodley, Reading.
The band’s name actually being an anagram of his own name, Michael is joined in this endeavour by Ben Hartley on drums, David Addis on guitars and John Murphy on keyboards, all of whom have been on each previous Manic Whale album and this lends a continuity to the group’s overall cohesion and sound.
The album is a mixture of styles and sounds but, to these ears, there seems to be substantially more guitar this time around, the music is vibrant and lively, sprightly even, in parts covering various topics including urban myths, fantasy literature, ecology, celebrity and fame, a child’s smile, lego modelling, carefree days and finally the power ,brilliance and longevity of the Intercity 125 Train!
This music will take you on a journey that is very rewarding indeed, this group have skill and talent aplenty. Their music is positive and hopeful, along with being thought provoking and at times challenging. The musicianship is exemplary and fluid, this is an album that really grows on you, especially if you allow it time to percolate in your brain. I have found myself singing the chorus to The Deplorable Word to myself whilst boiling the kettle in recent days, so it definitely gets into your mind if you allow it to!
This time around both John and David have contributed songs for the album, Billionaire and Into The Blue respectively, with the remainder by Michael and, on the epic lengthy track Celebrity, his wife Esther.
Let’s investigate his fine album and see what treasures it contains shall we?
The album kicks off with John’s song Billionaire which opens with a gentle sounding piano melody and with Michael singing in a style that is very reminiscent of 10CC, no less. Around 1’17”, John switches up to what sounds like a sampled organ sound and the song shifts gear a bit with the introduction of drums and a graceful, fluid guitar line from David. The song is a good and interesting one to open proceedings with.
Next track, The Deplorable Word, has more than just a whiff of early 80’s Rush to it, especially in the guitar work from David Addis. The song is based on a chapter in the book The Magician’s Nephew by CS Lewis (he of Narnia fame), the song speaking of the evil queen Jadis and how she once ruled the land of Chand, killing its inhabitants so that she would not be beaten in battle.
This song is highly attractive as it has a lot of pace to it with especially fine guitar and keyboards throughout, although we are not told what the word was, just its effects. It is very strong with a terrific chorus that is effective and memorable. It also has some great bass runs, shimmering keyboards and some funky guitar from David, all wrapped in some highly effective drum patterns from Ben. This one is definitely a highlight of the album, hugely impressive, and will be brilliant in a live situation.
The David Addis penned Into The Blue is an ecological protest song that concerns itself with how we are abusing the earth (or were until Covid 19 came along, during which we have seen some major changes and a balance returning?). The track opens in a style that is reminiscent of Scarborough Fair with its flutes and gentle acoustic elements. David fires off a staggering guitar riff before reverting to a more acoustic trend again. The song has an important message and has great interplay between David’s guitar and John’s keyboards all with strong support from Michael and Ben.
The next song is the album’s lengthy epic Celebrity. Split into five sections beginning with Identity Crisis, this tells the tale of a wannabe who seeks fame and fortune despite his sheer lack of talent, sound familiar? Obviously this whole song is a critical swipe at the notion of fame for fame’s sake or being famous but not for any particular talent or ability. Yes, it’s taking a shot at reality TV and the “stars” that the genre throws up regularly. Think X-Factor, Love Island and The Only Way is Essex etc, car crash TV at its finest but TV that people actually watch regardless.
This is followed by Cultural Vampire (Who Am I) which deals with how one looks and the steps someone will take to be noticed. Part 3 is called Freak Show and is about getting onto those type of TV shows, the next part is called Heart and Soul and is where our hero (I use the term loosely) fails spectacularly to make any real impression and has his hopes dashed on the rocks of reality.
This leads him to part 5 in which he has an Epiphany where he realises that there are few shortcuts to success and that he has to go the hard way and actually become good and competent at something and be able to offer something that people actually want and value. The song has some very subtle piano lines and, at the sixteen minute mark, has a superb guitar solo from David, merging in to the melody that John is playing with a melodic synth line, before a further guitar line leads to song to a fine conclusion. This whole song is a very sharp and well observed critique of the fame game.
Smile is a sweet and simple song that is about a child’s smile and the effect and satisfaction that it brings. Simple but ultimately very profound, this is a song born out of the love of a parent for their child and is a very real and emotionally moving song. The next piece, Build It Up, is a joyous track that concerns itself with a certain Danish toy that is used to build things with and that allows free creative imagination to conjure up all kinds of edifices. Michael is obviously well versed in the world of Lego constructions and the subsequent destruction and rebuilding that such play entails. Well, if not him, his children certainly are and somehow this song really captures those emotions fully.
The penultimate song is the sweet and wistful number Halcyon Days, this song encapsulates so much of both days that have gone by and also of a long hot summer all seen through the eyes of a child. With terrific wordplay and imagery that evokes the setting richly, this song is another triumph for the band and leads us nicely into the last and most impressive song from I Am TheManic Whale…
The final track, Valenta Scream, is all about with the technological wonder that was the original Intercity 125 Diesel train that powered through the English countryside for nearly 40 years and was an icon of the rails. These trains were highly recognisable and well known for the scream of the Valenta engines that powered it through the decades.
As a rail enthusiast Michael sings of this innovative train with great fondness and was very familiar with its history. The song is a real stormer and it is a fitting close to the album, ending the record on a high note making this new release simply magnificent.
‘Things Unseen’ is chock full of superb songs with impressive attention to detail and fabulous music, all beautifully played, recorded and performed. This is a release to treasure, absorb and appreciate, Michael and the team really delivering something incredibly special and I urge you to check out this fantastic album for yourself.
Progressive rockers Haken are pleased to launch the video for their new single ‘Invasion’, the third track taken from their forthcoming new album ‘Virus’. Unfortunately, due to unforeseen circumstances beyond the label and bands control, the release date for the album has had to be postponed to the 19th June 2020.
The band comment: “Lyrically, Invasion deals with themes including but not limited to anxiety, depression and suicidal tendencies. We thought that the discussion of a “Virus of the mind” tied in well to the psychological themes touched upon in the sister record ‘Vector’ and lent itself to the character development of Virus’s manic protagonist.”
The new video for ‘Invasion’ was created by Crystal Spotlight, who also produced the video for ‘Canary Yellow’. Watch it now here:
Since releasing ‘Vector’ in October 2018, Haken have completed headline tours the world over, played sold-out shows across Europe and North America as support for Devin Townsend and picked up a Prog award for their efforts too! All the while, they have been quietly, secretly working on the follow-up album, entitled ‘Virus’.
Drummer Ray Hearne reveals, “since releasing ‘The Mountain’ in 2013, one question has been asked of us time and time again, ‘who is the Cockroach King?’. This is something we were interested in exploring more deeply too, so we essentially did that through our music; elaborating and expanding upon the intervallic, harmonic, rhythmic and lyrical themes of that song. The end result is in an arc which spans across two albums: ‘Vector’ and ‘Virus’”.
Once again, Adam ‘Nolly’ Getgood has mixed what is perhaps the most eclectic Haken album to date, with the 7 tracks revealing hints of influences from multiple genres, all intertwined with Haken’s own recognisable sound. Guitarist Richard Henshall had this to say about the production, “Using Nolly again was a no-brainer, as we wanted the two albums to be sonically connected. But having just spent a day mixing with him in his studio, it’s obvious that this album will be an evolution of the ‘Vector’ sound. These songs seem to allow a lot more freedom of creativity with the production, so we’re excited to see where it leads”.
Longtime Haken collaborators, Blacklake, have designed the visuals and artwork and the album will be available as a Limited 2CD, Standard CD, Gatefold 2LP + CD & as Digital Album. Pre-order now here: https://haken.lnk.to/Virus
The track-listing is as follows:
4. The Strain
5. Canary Yellow
6. Messiah Complex i: Ivory Tower
7. Messiah Complex ii: A Glutton for Punishment
8. Messiah Complex iii: Marigold
9. Messiah Complex iv: The Sect
10. Messiah Complex v: Ectobius Rex
11. Only Stars
‘Virus’ is the culmination of a musical thought experiment which started with the ‘Vector’ writing sessions in 2017 and holds intriguing potential for the band’s future, as vocalist Ross Jennings explains, “whilst ‘Virus’ can absolutely be enjoyed as a stand-alone work, it is thematically and conceptually linked with ‘Vector’, so our intention is to perform both albums back to back for a special performance someday”.
With FROST*’s latest album, “Falling Satellites”, dating back to 2016, it was about time, mastermind Jem Godfrey teamed up with Nathan King and John Mitchell to continue forging daring and dynamic progressive music. After announcing the 32 minutes long “Others – EP”, now the time is nigh to reveal a brand-new track ‘Exhibit A’.
Jem Godfrey states: “It’s good to be back with a cheerful song for these cheerful times! This is about being careful what you wish for when playing the fame game”.
Completed already back in 2019, Jem has the following to say about the “Others – EP”:
“Others” is a 6 track EP containing 6 songs that were written at the time of the “Falling Satellites” album. Initially the idea was that “Falling Satellites” would be a double album, but it felt more focused and concise as a single album by the time we’d finished making it, so these half completed songs were put to one side. Now finished and mixed, they are ready to see the light of day!
The EP will be released digitally on June 5th, 2020 and will be released as part of the limited “13 Winters” anthology-artbook physically later this year.
LONG DISTANCE CALLING, Germany’s most internationally successful instrumental rock act, recently announced the release of their seventh studio album ‘How Do We Want To Live?’ for the 26th June 2020.
Today they launch the striking new video for the track ‘Voices’, a short film exploring the relationship between a human and AI. The video was created by AVA Studios and you can watch it now here:
The band comments: “This the video for our new single “VOICES”.
The song has a very meditative vibe and sounds like a soundtrack by LDC.
As some of you might know „How Do We Want to Live?“ is a thoughtful and thematic record and it deals with the coexistence of humans and machines.
So we are very proud to present you this short movie.
We think it’s by far the best LDC video to date and it traces the layered story of a relationship between a human and an AI!
Please watch this video carefully, share it with you friends and let us know your thoughts and comments!
A little warning at the end: the video contents some explicit parts and therefore it’s NOT for children!
Peace & Love from LDC!”
Watch the video for the album’s first single ‘Hazard’ here:
The band comments on the new album:
“We are all going through crazy times right now and we were thinking about postponing this news for a couple of months. But we have the feeling that our new album, “How Do We Want To Live?”, is a great companion for the current situation and our lives. We started recordings back in February and finished it during the lockdown. This alone makes it a special chapter for us, but we also expanded our musical cosmos without neglecting our well known trademarks.
The album deals with the coexistence of man and machine, shining light on some currently (frightening) relevant aspects. We are incredibly proud of what we have achieved and we say thank you to everyone involved on this journey. Many of you have already asked how you can support us. We have a pretty simple answer: get the new album! We put a lot of love and effort into this baby and can´t wait to finally share it with you. Stay healthy! Peace LDC”
‘How Do We Want To Live?’ sees the band forging a sharply defined & artistically tight exploration of the relationship between humanity and artificial intelligence, and the state of digital progress. Comprised of 10 tracks which contain all the classic LDC-trademarks whilst also bringing something completely fresh and unexpected to the table with their ambitious use of electronic sounds, a perfect symbiosis between man and machine.
‘How Do We Want To Live?’ will be available as a Limited Edition CD, Gatefold Black 2LP + CD & as Digital Album. A limited deluxe box-set will also be released, containing a special coloured edition of the album, an exclusive 7inch featuring two remixes, a beautiful poster featuring the albums stunning artwork by Max Löffler, and 4 individually signed art-cards all contained in a lift-off box. Pre-order now here https://longdistancecalling.lnk.to/HowDoWeWantToLive
The full track-listing is as follows:
1. Curiosity (Part 1)
2. Curiosity (Part 2)
7. Sharing Thoughts
8. Beyond Your Limits
The track ‘Beyond Your Limits’ continues the band´s tradition of having one track with a vocalist, and features the talents of Eric A. Pulverich of the band Kyles Tolone. As the band comments: “We got to know him over our producer Arne Neurand. We were instantly fascinated by his voice and we wanted to show the quality of his voice and melodies.”
It was recently announced that the band have been nominated for the GEMA Musikautorenpreis 2020. This is an integral part of the German music landscape and unique in its focus on music writers. GEMA has been honoring composers and lyricists for their musical work in this way for 12 years, and is representative of the great diversity and the enormous range of fascinating works across genres.
LONG DISTANCE CALLING will return to the ‘Seats & Sounds’ format for a German tour in September 2020.
08.09.20 Hamburg kleine Elbphilharmonie – SOLD OUT
In the run up to the release of Haken’s sixth studio album, ‘Virus’, I got the chance to have a chat with guitarist Richard Henshall about the album’s creation and gestation, the band’s career to date and about how he is coping with the lockdown:
Progradar: It’s nice to put a voice to someone who I have followed on social media for quite a while, before we get onto the interview proper, how are you coping with the lockdown:
Richard: It’s a bit of a surreal situation to be in to be honest, we were on tour with Devin Townsend. It was right in the middle of the tour and we woke up to a message that the tour’s over, cancelled.
Donald Trump had done a speech the night before saying that all flights into the U.S. had been cancelled and there was a chance that all flights out would be too. We realised that we were going to have to do something about this, suddenly the tour is cancelled and we’re going to have to go home the next day. I’ve been at home ever since really…
Progradar: I have noticed that you have been doing guitar lessons online via Skype…?
Richard: Yes, as we’re not going to be touring for a long time by the looks of it, I’ve been doing a bunch of Skype lessons, I did one this morning actually and the signal was terrible which made it really awkward. Generally, though, they have been going really well.
I’ve just been trying to engage with the fans as much as possible, talking through Haken songs, playing through some compositional ideas and just discussing music, which has been fun.
We’ve also been doing some Twitch Q&A’s sessions which we’ve never done before. We saw that a lot of other bands had been doing this so we thought we ought to jump on the wagon and see what it’s all about. It’s a streaming platform, basically, that allows us just to chat to people.
We’ve been talking through the song Prosthetic and we actually had the guy who did the video, Vicente (Cordero) on there with us talking through how he made the video which was good fun.
Progradar: I’ve just had the promotional email come through about the new video for Canary Yellow.
Richard: Yes, we’ve been chipping away at the video for a while actually. it was done by Crystal Spotlight, they’re a Uk based company and they really went to town on the video. It’s an animation, which we have done before, and I think they spent countless hours on this and it really came across well.
Progradar: In the video that Ross (Jennings) has done in the run up to the release of ‘Virus’ he says that it is loosely connected to your previous album ‘Vector’, having listened to the album 3 or 4 times already, I feel the artwork is connected and there is more of a similarity between the two. You say ‘Virus’ is more eclectic, do you feel there are similarities between the two and they follow on?
Richard: Well they were always supposed to be a double album. In fact, when we were writing ‘Vector’, we knew we were going to be writing another album which was going to be connected. We had the name ‘Virus’, which is looking back in hindsight, a bit unfortunate.
The timing couldn’t have been worse, the only time we’ve ever had a pandemic in my lifetime is the same time as we are releasing an album called ‘Virus’. It’s bad timing but we had the title in mind and in place for the last two years.
I’d say the music on the album is more eclectic. There’s influences from the likes of Radiohead and Elbow on there but there’s also the heavier stuff we do on there which is Fear Factory-esque and there’s Dream Theater, a big influence over the years. So that’s all still in there but I feel like we’ve got a broader range on this album, maybe more so than ever before.
I think with ‘Vector’, the album was generally geared towards the heavier side of our soundand it kind of stuck with that for the most part. On every song there’s at least one or two heavy moments or some songs are just heavy throughout whereas on this album, ‘Virus’, there are some songs that are completely straying away from that.
Progradar: This isn’t a question I’d written down but I’d like to ask you if you thought ‘Vector’ had split your audience a bit? There’s a few people I know who were fans of albums like ‘Aquarius’ and ‘The Mountain’ who have said it was a bit heavy for them.
Richard: I reckon so, it’s always a bit of a risk when you try something new in a band , or anything that you do. There’s bound to be people who aren’t really engaging with the music or are into what you’re doing. Especially if they’re into the previous stuff which is sounding different to the stuff we’re working on now.
I guess it’s important for people to keep an open mind as much as possible, you can always listen back to our old stuff and, with the new stuff, you can hear how we’ve evolved and the similarities between the two different sounds.
Hopefully people can see that but, for me, when I’m writing stuff I actually prefer it if you get a love or hate reaction from it. I feel that that’s a good sign of something that’s got depth or value. If some people are going to hate it then, fair enough.
Progradar: I feel that Haken has progressed (in the proper sense of the word) quite a lot from ‘Aquarius’ right through to ‘Virus’, would you agree?
Richard: Yes, a lot of people always say to us, how do you categorise the music, what are you? Are you a metal band, are you a prog band? I always say that we are a progressive band. If you are progressive then your sound should evolve, you should be exploring new sounds and fully celebrating all all of your influences as much as possible.
I feel that, across the band, we have a whole bunch of inspirations and influences between us, now that we are all writing together the music is, as a result, very eclectic. There’s a bit of all all of us in there, all of our influences, I love stuff like TigranHamasyan and then also Elbow.
There’s a UK band called Everything, Everything, they’re like an indie-rock band but they also have these progressive influences but they like a pop/indie kind of sound. I like stuff like that as well as all the heavier stuff. Across the band, though, there is so much variety to what we listen to, it really does amount to the diverse sound that we’ve got.
Progradar: To my ears, you’re a very technical prog metal sounding band now whereas ‘Aquarius’ was very similar to early Dream Theater, it sounded a lot like ‘Images & Words’ did to me when it first came out. As you’ve carried on, your sound has got a lot more precise and technical, would you agree with that and is that down to influences or just a natural progression?
Richard: We weren’t really expecting the reaction we got to ‘Aquarius’, we sent out our demo (‘Enter the 5th Dimension’) and got a bunch of responses but no one was really up for signing us apart from Sensory Records. A guy called Ken Golden runs it and he was the first guy who showed any real interest in our sound and he offered us an advance to make an album.
At that point I decided to just go for it and dedicate all my time to writing an album so I locked myself away and didn’t leave the house for about eight months or so and we were all really happy with the result we got.
I don’t why people latched onto it, I guess there were a lot of contrasting influences on the album, a lot of quirky, almost circus-like, passages among some heavy riffage and there’s a lot of juxtaposition.
Maybe that’s what made it stand out to people but we’ve really developed, I feel, as writers over the years and I feel our sound is a lot more concise now than what it was back then. The writing process would’ve been more reckless and there’s arguably less logical thought into it maybe? It was just like throw the ideas in and see where this song ends up.There’s more logic to it now and it’s definitely more concise, I feel.
Progradar: I got the same buzz from ‘Aquarius’ that i got the first time I listened to ‘Images & Words’ and ‘Awake’ from Dream Theater, I had to listen to the album again straight away to register what I’d just heard, I thought it was amazing.
Richard: I had the same sort of reaction the first time i listened to ‘Awake’, Metallica were my favourite band at the time and Kirk Hammett was the best guitarist in the world but a friend asked me if I’d heard Dream Theater or John Petrucci, which I hadn’t (and I thought he couldn’t be better than Kirk Hammett!).
So the next day I went out and bought ‘Awake’, I was sitting down (I think I was actually with Ross at the time) and was like 15 or something and I put on the album and listened through it and I got to Erotomania, the guitar playing just melted my brain and opened me up to a whole new way of thinking when it came to playing guitar and writing music. They were a massive influence on us as a band, definitely.
Progradar: Has the continued success of the band surprised you or, when you first picked up a guitar and got together with Ross and the rest of the band, is this where you expected to be?
Richard: It’s always extremely humbling and surprising to get any recognition from anything. The more you do it, the more you take it for granted but I still do appreciate every kind word that we receive from people when they hear an album or a song, especially on this album that we’re about to release.
We’ve released two songs already and the feedback has been crazy, we’ve never had such a positive response from singles we’ve released. I think it’s important to never be complacent and take things for granted but I think the band started to gain a lot of momentum around the time we released ‘The Mountain’, our first album with InsideOutRecords.
They just pushed us into a whole bunch of new markets and I reckon that’s the album that most people heard first from us and it was like a special album for us and for a lot of our fans as well.
Progradar: I bought ‘Vector’ on vinyl and I’ve ordered ‘Virus’ and I even managed to find ‘Aquarius’ on Amazon the other day, I think most fans would say that it’s been an amazing journey following your from ‘Aquarius’ to where you are now.
Richard: Yes, it’s really exciting, I just love writing music and since ‘Affinity’ we’ve been writing together and we’re really honing that skill of writing as a band. I really enjoy it and it’s almost like an adventure, every album we write you discover more about yourself and your bandmates and there’s new colours and moods to get out there. The whole process is massively enjoyable for me so I’m looking forward to taking it further.
Progradar: Obviously, you can’t play live at the moment but, in an ideal world do you prefer creating music or getting out there, giving it life and playing it live?
Richard: I feel that my natural habitat is sat in front of a computer or with an instrument and writing music, that’s where I feel most relaxed and the most at home. I was quite young when I first started playing music, I was six or so when I was playing the piano but then I started guitar at the age of ten.
When I was first heavily into practising I was all focused around being proficient at my instrument but as I grew older I got more passionate about the compositional side of things. For me that’s the biggest passion in music and it’s stuck with me.
I do love playing live as well and they kind of go hand in hand really. We wouldn’t be able to continue writing music if we didn’t go out there and support the music in a live context. We do get a buzz out of playing live, seeing people come to our shows and sing along to the lyrics and do air guitar to our solos!
Progradar: What I love about your music, and you even get it on the last album and the new one, is you always get an excellent chorus that you can sing along to, there’s always something in your music that has that connection with whoever is listening to it. Whether you’re at a concert, in the car or listening to it at home, there’s always something there.
Richard: That’s always been our primary focus when it comes to writing, getting that big chorus. There needs to be a sense of balance in the song so the verses, for the most part, will generally be more stripped down and held back and the the chorus’s have this kind of explosive feeling.
The hooks and melody lines are always a strong part for us, we’re always spending the most part making sure we’ve got the best possible line for the chorus because that’s going to be the part that people sing along to and they latch on to.
When it came to‘Virus’we had the album pretty much mapped out in terms of the structures and the instrumentation, the rhythm and the guitar parts etc. but when it came to the Devin (Townsend) tour we went on in Europe, we had a whole month together.We were sitting in the bus for quite a long time each day because we were the support band and we had a lot of free time.
We used that time to map out all of the vocal parts and get lyrical ideas down. That was a really cool experience for us because we’re usually in different parts of the world working independently in our studios. For this whole month we were together, passing the microphone around, singing into the Logic Projects and just coming out with the some of the best lines that we wanted to at that point.I feel that it has really paid off on this album especially.
Progradar: Is that something that you would like to do for the next album, get together to write like that again?
Richard: I 100% think we should because it’s a perfect time to do it. A few of us live in London so we will meet up and jam through certain sections and ideas to see where that goes but we’ve never all really been together in a structured manner like every day for a month.
We were waking up on the bus and just working on it all day, playing a show and just going back there after and working until the early hours of the morning, literally every day. It was amazing, we actually made a makeshift studio in the bus and we were able to record demo ideas.
The whole process was very fluent, it was like a team bonding experience or something.
Progradar: It’s definitely not what everyone would think was the rock and roll lifestyle on tour!
Richard: We are far removed from what people would think of as a rock band, we’ll drink a cup of tea, read a book and go to bed usually after a show!
Progradar: Talking abut creating music, for the first couple of albums was it yourself who did the majority of the writing?
Richard: I used to do the lion’s share of it back in the day and I would map it out using midi and on ‘The Mountain’ I mapped it out using midi and some sample libraries and demos from stuff. We took the midi songs and we learned the parts, for the first two albums and ‘The Mountain’, for the most part, we took them to a rehearsal space.
Luckily Ray (Hearne) was studying at The Guildhall for those three of four years so he had a free rehearsal space that we could use. We just went there during the writing process and played through the songs and gave them a sense of life. We made it sound like a real band rather than a computer playing it.
During that process the arrangements were tweaked a bit, we moved a verse here, moved a chorus there. After a few months we would be happy with the arrangements and take it to the studio and take it from there.
I feel like the whole process over the years has definitely been refined a great deal. When we recorded ‘Aquarius’ we didn’t even demo any real instruments, we were just using these midi demos. We went to the studio and we were just playing along with Ray as he was recording the drums for the final album which is something we just wouldn’t do now.
We spend so much time making these structured demos, almost like the real thing to be honest. Ray will record to these demos which are practically exactly as they’re going to be on the finished album.
Progradar: Do the ideas for the songs come from everyone in the band?
Richard: Yes, that’s the beauty of it, we’re all working together and it’s really paid off. I feel that the music’s gone off in a new direction and it definitely feels fresher than it was maybe ten years ago. We have evolved so much and that’s because we are all throwing it in there and it’s like a unified vision which has been great fun.
The way we do it is by using an online file sharing space and we all use the same programs (logic audio). One person may come up with an idea which could be just two or three minutes or it could be a more structured, fleshed out idea. They will then upload the project to the file sharing space and someone may say they have some ideas that could work with it. They’ll download it and work on it and re-upload it.
We just go back and forth, sharing a bunch of ideas in tandem until we have a bunch of finished arrangements that we’re happy with.
Progradar: It sounds a really good way to do it and the way the band and the music has developed, it’s obviously working for you guys?
Richard: I feel it’s really working out for us, the key is being able to compromise and to be open and prepared to let go of stuff. I always found it so hard when I was working on an idea for a year or so and then presented it to the band they were not really interested in it.
I’d be like,“What?!, I just spent a whole year on this, we’ve got to use it!”, sometimes you’ve just got to be open and willing to compromise or even throw stuff in the bin. It’s got to please everyone in the band, we’re all going to play it live. We’ve all got to meet in the middle somewhere.
Sometimes, though, it’s important not to compromise, I guess. I know it’s a contradiction but you’ve get to let that one guy just go with a vision and see where it goes and not dilute it too much. For the most part it’s all about working together and finding a unified vision that works for everyone.
Progradar: I’m now going to put you on the spot with this question, what is your favourite Haken album? Or is that like asking which one is your favourite child?
Richard: That’s a tricky one! I think for me, as I mentioned earlier, ‘The Mountain’ is a really special album. The message in the album resonates with a lot of people, it’s generally about the struggles that we all go through in every aspect of life.
We used it as a way of expressing the struggles of being musicians. It’s not that easy to make a success of yourselves when it’s such a saturated market, especially if you’re a prog band, generally the market is a bit niche anyway.It’s also about the general struggles in life.I guess that’s why it resonated with people, because everyone has struggles and they can relate to that whole concept.
Musically it really hits the spot with me but that album also broke us through to a new market. We were with a new label, signing to InsideOut was always one of the things that we’d aimed to do, one of those boxes that we had to tick. It was a massive deal for us so it’s always been a special album.
I know this is a very typical thing to say but the ‘Virus’ album, I really do have a great feeling about it. There’s something about the album which feels very complete and well balanced, I feel that, right now, it’s my favourite album that we’ve done. I know that’s obviously what I have to say but I genuinely do believe it.
I feel that the songs have come a really long way. Some of the ideas that we had on the album were songs that we were going to work on for ‘Vector’. We’ve been working on them for a really long time and given them enough time and attention to really grow into something special, I can’t wait to get it out there!
Progradar: Just to go on a bit of a tangent, can we talk about your solo album (‘The Cocoon’)? How did it come about? To me it has its roots in Haken but has gone off in a much more chilled and laid back direction.
Richard: That came about about at around the time we came together as a band in Haken and decided to work and write together. It was around the time of the ‘Affinity’ album and the ‘Restoration’ EP, it naturally freed up a lot of time for me.
I decided to work on some other projects, I actually formed a band with Dan Briggs called the Nova Collective and that was a lot of fun. I had wanted to work on the solo album but that went on the back burner for a bit then revisited it after Nova Collective.
I was just chiselling away at these ideas over the course of three years or so. Obviously I was busy with Haken and that was always going to be my main focus so i was doing it in my spare time between tours and albums.
Because it was over three years, the result is a real mix of sounds, a lot of jazz influences from the likes of Avishai Cohen and TigranHamasyan, there’s weird polyrhythmic atonal stuff in there but then there’s post-rock, ambient moments like Sigur Rós.
I threw everything in there, I didn’t want to hold back or focus it towards one particular sound. I just wanted to express all of my influences and celebrate as much of the music I love as possible. I ended up writing two albums worth of material and decided to have ‘The Cocoon’ as the first album and then I’ve got a bunch of songs that I’m going to work on and release as a follow up.
Progradar: I was going to ask if you were going to do another solo album…
Richard: I was going to follow up ‘The Cocoon’ with another album but I’ve actually been working on some ideas for a few months, especially the last couple of months while I’ve been stuck indoors with all this free time. It’s got more like an electronic influence in there so I’m hoping to get that done this year and see where that takes me .
Maybe I’ll release a single every few months and then release the album after a few singles or something? After that I’ll release the follow up to ‘The Cocoon’.
Progradar: Regarding the artwork, did Sevcan (Richard’s wife) offer to do that or is it something you asked her to do?
Richard: This album that I’m talking about right now is a joint project so Sevcan had this art exhibition that she was going to host and it was called The Wood Wide Web. It’s a really cool idea, an idea in which trees can communicate with each other through this big network of roots and funghi under the ground. They feed each other nutrients and they’re all connected and we can’t see it.
They’ve used it as a parallel to the world wide web, they’ve used that as a metaphor and I thought it would be really cool to write some music to go with what she was working on. All the songs are based around these different ideas within this overarching concept.
Progradar: Is there an intention to do any of your solo material live?
Richard: To be honest, I would love to do it some day but the whole idea of it is very daunting. I feel comfortable and happy just hiding behind my guitar and not having to front anything. The idea of having to stand at the front of the stage and chat to people, and the idea of singing live, is just the worse thing!
If I made this next album and instrumental album, it would be a lot easier! I love the idea of it (playing the album live) but it’s the whole logistical side of touring as well, which is a massive ball-ache (sic). It requires a lot of attention to detail, time and investment.
Progradar: Here’s a money saving idea for you then, the next time Haken go on tour as a headliner, you could just be the support act?
Richard: That would be cool, I’m totally open to that. Maybe one day because I’d love to take it to the stage, I feel that the songs would really take on another dimension and also it would be great to get Matt (Lynch, drums) to play as well.
Obviously Conner (Green, Haken bassist) is doing a lot of stuff with Haken but he plays a lot of shows but Matt doesn’t play as much as he should do. He’s one of the greatest drummers I’ve ever heard and he should be playing more live, it would great to get out there on stage with him and just play some music!
Progradar: Looking forward, ‘Virus’ is released on the 5th of June, have you been working behind the scenes and looking at, when lockdown ends, taking the album on the road and playing it live?
Richard: We had plans to do some touring this year but that’s all up in the air at the moment, unfortunately. I guess it’s the same for all bands, we just don’t know how it’s going to pan out. I feel that, even if governments allow it, I just don’t see that most people will be up for doing that, being thrown into a room with five hundred sweaty people. Maybe we could play bigger venues with fewer people in?
Progradar: I know ‘Virus’ hasn’t even been released yet but, have you already started out with any ideas for the next album?
Richard: We haven’t begun penning down anything for the next album yet. The reason that ‘Virus’ and ‘Vector’ were so closely released was because they were always supposed to be together. We want to give a bit of space for the album to breathe.
Its’ worrying because the first thing that you would always do is to go and tour an album. We’re going to release this and the realities are that we are going to be sitting on it for at least six or seven months until we actually get to play it live.
Progradar: Have you and the record company had any discussion about what you can do to promote the album without taking it live?
Richard: As I said, we’ve been doing this Q&A thing on Twitch so that’s a way of keeping in contact with the fans, engaging with people and letting them know we’re still alive, which is important. We can use that as a way of doing masterclasses or talk throughs of the songs, or even getting to the stage where we can play the songs and stream it.
We actually took the middle section of the song Architect from ‘Affinity’ and we turned it into like a free acoustic jazz song lasting three or four minutes and we’re all about doing stuff like that for the next three or four months as there’s no chance of playing live.
Although, having said that, I was speaking to the booking agent and he mentioned that there’s this new thing that’s possibly going to happen in Europe. It’s like a car cinema where there’s people roll up in their cars and then watch the show inside their car.I don’t know if it would take off but, if it did, we’re open to stuff like that.
Progradar; We briefly touched on this at the start, did you and the record company have any discussions about changing the album title in view of the current situation?
Richard: The worst timing to release an album, we had the title for the last two years and we’d been hinting at it in the lyrics of ‘Vector’ and in the booklet as well. By the time the pandemic actually hit we’d already got the artwork done and the masters were pretty much in place.
The video was done for the song, everything was already in place, it was just too late by that point to change things without causing a massive hiccup. We just went with it and we just hope that people understand that they are two entirely separate things, it’s the worst possible thing to think that people get the impression we’re trying to capitalise on things.
Progradar: I’m positive that the majority of people would realise that and would know that an album is years in the making, it’s not an overnight decision.
Progradar: And here’s a nice easy question for your final one, recommend me one album, it could just be the one you’ve listened to most recently, apart from ‘Virus’, obviously…
Richard: I’m going to try and link it into the recent tour we’ve done. We’ve just played with Devin Townsend in Europe and America, which is a massive deal for us, all being huge fans of his for years.
When I was a teenager, there was one album that really inspired me as a writer and as a guitar player as well. That was ‘Terria’, which was one of his earliest albums and the layers in that album are amazing, you can hear dogs howling in the background. The depths and the layers of his music have always hit the spot for me so I’ll go with that one!
Progradar: He’s an artists that always seems to be reinventing himself, he never stands still.
Richard: He’s amazing, when you listen to ‘Terria’ and then you listen to ‘Ziltoid’, which is very much a comical thrash metal album, they’re totally different. Then you’ve got his latest album which is just totally mind blowing, the fact that he’s still releasing stuff like that after so many years. He’s never complacent and is always exploring new ideas, which is very inspirational.
Progradar: All that is left is to thank you for your time and, hopefully, we can catch up at a live gig in the future.
Richard: Thank you and it definitely would be great to see you at one of our gigs!
‘Virus’ is released through InsideOut on 19th June 2020.