July 2020 sees the publication of A Genesis In My Bed – the long overdue autobiography from guitar great and former member of Genesis, Steve Hackett. As with his music, Steve has written a highly detailed, entertaining and embracing tome that charts his life in full, but with a firm emphasis on his years with Genesis that saw the band’s meteoric rise to become one of the most successful British bands of all time.
Steve talks candidly
about his early life, his time with Genesis, and in particular his personal
relationships with the other four band members, with great insight into the
daily goings on of this major rock band.
Naturally, A Genesis In My Bed also regales stories of Steve’s career since leaving Genesis and the many different journeys that it has taken him on. With his flair for the creative, and a great deal of levity, A Genesis In My Bed is also a riveting read. Indispensable for Genesis fans but also essential for general music lovers and avid readers of autobiographies full of heartfelt and emotive tales.
1,000 copies individually numbered and signed by Steve are available to pre-order directly from the publisher
& the artist:
Polish progressive Rock masters RIVERSIDE are happy to share line-up news with all of you:
Riverside are a quartet again!
Dear friends, this is an incredibly important moment in the history of our band. From the beginning of February 2020, Riverside are officially not a trio any more, we are a quartet! It is with incredible joy that we would like to announce that the fourth official member of the band is…
Well, you can’t have expected anyone else? 🙂
He’s been with us for over three years. He let us recover from the tragic loss we have all experienced, he helped us survive and become, from year to year, a better and better live band. He has been our friend and our brother. We are welcoming him in our midst with great joy, in which we hope you will also share!
Ladies and gentlemen, on the guitars in Riverside: Maciej Meller!
Being a good guitarist and loving music is one thing, but being able to fit in with your personality, incredible modesty and humility, that’s an incredibly important thing in our band. Maciej meets all the criteria and we are truly happy that he wants to continue our journey with us.
We still remember. And we still go back to the moment when, after we lost Piotr, in 2016, the massive amount of your support made us continue as Riverside. We were not ready to invite anyone to our family at that time. “Wasteland” had to be recorded as a trio. We simply had to cope with the loss on our own.
Now, it’s high time for Riverside to have a guitarist in the line-up again, not only during live shows but also in the studio, when working on new material. So we are really pleased to let you know that after coming back from the final, spring edition of the Wasteland Tour 2020, together with Maciek, in the new line-up, we will start working on the eighth album.
The upcoming spring concerts will have a different character, a different tone, and Riverside will sound mightier than ever before. We would really like to see you there!
Last but not least – Piotr Grudziński will always be in our hearts, we all still love him and we will never forget him. But we have to move on. We are on a journey, they are waiting for us. There is more to create in this life, more to see, more to know, more to save. We hope that you will decide to stay with us again and that you will let us help one another through all of this.
We are here with you and for you.
RIVERSIDE’s next touring run starts later this month and includes dates across Europe as well as an appearance at the Cruise To The Edge and shows in Latin America as follows:
RIVERSIDE – Wasteland Tour 2020 26.02. Madrid (Spain) – MON Live 27.02. Barcelona (Spain) – Salamandra 1 29.02. Milano (Italy) – Legend Club 01.03. Treviso (Italy) – New Age Club 03.03. Lubljana (Slovenia) – Kino Šiška 05.03. Zagreb (Croatia) – Tvornica Kulture 06.03. Novi Sad (Serbia) – Pozorište Mladih 07.03. Thessaloniki (Greece) – Principal Club Theater 08.03. Athens (Greece) – Gagarin 205 Live Music Space 10.03. Istanbul (Turkey) – Zorlu PAC 11.03. Sofia (Bulgaria) – Music Jam Club 12.03. Bucharest (Romania) – Quantic Club 13.03. Cluj-Napoca (Romania) – /FORM SPACE 15.03. Budapest (Hungary) – Barba Negra 27.03.-01.04. Miami (USA) to Belize & Honduras – Cruise To The Edge 2020
02.04. Mexico City (Mexico) – Auditorio Blackberry 04.04. Guadalajara (Mexico) – C3 Stage 07.04. Santiago (Chile) – Teatro Nescafe 09.04. Sao Paulo (Brazil) – Carioca Club
RIVERSIDE most recently released a special edition 2CD+DVD version of their current and highly successful studio-album “Wasteland” via InsideOutMusic. The ”Wasteland – Hi-Res Stereo and Surround Mix” 2CD+DVD comes as Digipak format with an additional Slipcase and includes a DVD bonus disc of “Wasteland” as Hi-Res Stereo 24bit version and as Surround Mix (4.1), plus 3 video clips. This edition also contains 5 previously unreleased acoustic tracks/versions on a separate CD.
Pure Reason Revolution recently announced the release of ‘Eupnea’, their first new studio album in nearly 10 years, for the 3rd of April 2020. Today they are excited to reveal the first piece of new music taken from the record, in the form of the epic 10-minute ‘Silent Genesis’, a track which Jon Courtney co-wrote alongside original PRR member Greg Jong.
The band comments: “With some tracks it’s blood sweat & tears to get them nailed, but “Silent Genesis” came together really quickly. While Greg & I worked on the music, Chloe was blasting out vocals in London. We had a lot of fun making this track; mangling synths, riffing & unexpectedly outroing with funk!”
‘Eupnea’ features the work of artist Jill Doherty on its front cover, and will be available as a Limited CD Digipak, Gatefold 2LP + CD (with etching on Side D) and as a digital album. Pre-orders are now available for both physical and digital here: https://PureReasonRevolution.lnk.to/Eupnea
The full track-listing is as follows:
1. New Obsession 05:09
2. Silent Genesis 10:20
3. Maelstrom 05:44
4. Ghosts & Typhoons 08:45
5. Beyond Our Bodies 04:28
6. Eupnea 13:23
Of the new album the band commented:
“We stuck to our manifesto of no musical boundaries and the result was ‘Eupnea’. We return to a more progressive sound with ferocious guitars, thunderous drums and the stacked harmonies that give us our signature sound. We’re excited to begin playing it live.”
You can watch an interview clip where Jon Courtney and Chloë Alper discuss the process of getting back together last year, and playing Midsummer Prog, here: https://youtu.be/sLlKj5u_SJ8
‘Eupnea’, the long-awaited return from the band, sees them harking back to their earliest days, while rolling in all of the musical experiments and experience they’ve gathered in the intervening years.
The cinematic soundscapes of Hammer and Anvil? Check. The dark atmosphere and synths of Amor Vincit Omnia? Check. The gauzy psych-prog of their debut? Ch-check.
It’s sprawling, with three tracks hitting the 10 minute mark and one notching up against 15 minutes. Sure, track length does not equal ambition, but still, it’s quite the statement of intent.
The band currently have two confirmed Summer festival dates, performing at Night Of The Prog Festival in Germany on the 17th of July, and Ramblin Man Fair in the UK on the 18th of July.
Pure Reason Revolution originally parted ways in November 2011 following touring in support of their 2010 album ‘Hammer and Anvil’. Since then, Jon Courtney started Bullet Height and released their debut album ‘No Atonement’ in 2017, while Chloë Alper began a new band called Tiny Giant as well as playing live with the likes of Charli XCX and James.
The band originally formed back in 2003, releasing their much-loved debut album ‘The Dark Third’ in 2006 via Sony BMG. They went on to release the albums ‘Amor Vincit Omnia’ in 2009 and ‘Hammer and Anvil’ in 2010.
“In days and nights of black and silver, the dead end king will come. From pieces of broken mirrors there will be a crown bestowed upon his head. In reflections of shattered glass not only the seasons will turn, but also the change disguised by the lapse of time. His mind will have to come to bear the weight of everything that was left behind and forgotten. Archiving the inaccessible. Celebrating the abandoned and mourning the destroyed. The city burials.” Anders Nyström
Katatonia, formed in 1991 by Jonas Renkse & Anders Nyström, and transitioning from early pioneers of the rising black/death/doom movement, to powerhouses of the progressive metallic rock genre. Surprising their legions of admirers by taking an unexpected break, following the conclusion of their 2016 haunting The Fall Of Hearts albumtour cycle. Joyously, 2020 brings the news that they are not only back, but newly armed with arguably their finest album to date, the enormously vivid and powerful City Burials.
With the winds of a new direction steering the band on their latest journey, City Burials stands as Katatonia’s new triumph of deep & enigmatic progressive rock – the fruits of a rejuvenating and profound chapter in the band’s legacy; a catalyst for its creators, with a collection of moments constructed out of the fragments of an ever-evolving life. Compiled into one of their most important modern works and statements to date, the finely-honed instrumentation provides a multi-textured backdrop with the voice of Jonas Renkse guiding us through these latest trials of loss and ruin.
The proof of Jonas and Anders’ enduring artistic bond is displayed throughout City Burials absorbing 58 minutes of meticulously crafted melodies and inspired, idiosyncratic arrangements. From the spine-tingling dynamics of opener “Heart Set To Divide” through and the simmering menace of “Lacquer” to the wildly evocative sorrow-scapes of “City Glaciers” and the exquisitely delicate “Vanishers” (featuring a guest vocal from Anni Bernhard, of Stockholm art rockers Full Of Keys) Katatonia’s eleventh studio album is a showcase for a partnership that was magical from the very start.
Inspired by an injection of fresh blood into Katatonia’s creative brew, with their most recent recruit, guitarist Roger Öjersson, whose contributions have been extremely significant, City Burials is an album that sees the band reclaim part of their heavy metal roots, via several moments of exuberant, old school classicism, deftly woven into these new songs’ kaleidoscopic fabric. Although songs like “Behind The Blood” and “Rein” are as heart-rending and immersive as any in Katatonia’s illustrious catalogue.
The result is an album that looks certain to push the band ever further into the spotlight. With grand plans for extensive touring around the world in support of their latest and perhaps greatest album, Katatonia are wringing fresh hope from life’s gloom-sodden tapestry.
City Burialswas produced by Nyström/Renkse and recorded at Soundtrade Studios, Tri-Lamb Studios & The City Of Glass, throughout October & November 2019, with engineering work handled by Karl Daniel Lidén and mixing and mastering from Jacob Hansen, who states “Once in a while you end up working with artists that are special, and that particular session being something you’ll remember forever. This session is one of them, and only for good things! Proud to say I mixed and mastered the new Katatonia album”.
City Burials also sees the return to the Katatonia fold ofAnders Eriksson (Frank Default) beloved for his keyboard contributions to Night Is The New Day, Dead End Kings and various remixes.
Artwork appears courtesy of Lasse Hoile, the image itself representing the ongoing era of the Dead End King.
City Burials Tracklisting
1 Heart Set To Divide [05:29]
2 Behind The Blood [04:37]
3 Lacquer [04:42]
4 Rein [04:21]
5 The Winter Of Our Passing [03:18]
6 Vanishers [04:56]
7 City Glaciers [05:30]
8 Flicker [04:45]
9 Lachesis [01:54]
10 Neon Epitaph [04:32]
11 Untrodden [04:29]
Bonus Tracks available on various formats
12 Closing Of The Sky [05:26]
13 Fighters [03:37]
City Burials will be released on CD, deluxe mediabook CD with bonus tracks, black and coloured vinyl LPs with bonus track and digitally (Digital pre-orders receive “Lacquer” as an instant download) . Pre-orders available HERE
Look out for news on exclusive European ‘City Burials’ launch show and album bundle coming soon!
Katatonia will be appearing at various festivals in 2020 with details of headline tours coming soon.
Though Moonshot may not have reached the commercial and creative peaks of celebrated Progressive peers such as Genesis, Pink Floyd, Yes and King Crimson, they were arguably one of the best of the chasing pack and fully deserve to be named alongside the likes of Gentle Giant, Camel, Greenslade, The Yorkshire Parkin Experiment, BJH, Gryphon, PFM, Prawn, Ange and others ‘Worlds Of Yesterday‘ is a fine testament to a fine band.
From the Crimson-esque grandeur of The Sweetest Bitter Pill to the straightforward beauty of Before That Before, via the warped creativity of Lost In The Ghost Light and the engaging Pop ofStupid Things That Mean The World, this new compilation contains the band’s strongest work from 1971-1992.
I’ll let Tim Bowness give you his personal perspective on legendary Warrington Proggers Moonshot:
“My 2017 release Lost In The Ghost Light was a homage to the classic Rock album era. The album revolved around my interpretation of the contemporary musings of Moonshot leader Jeff Harrison, though the events in the songs took place between 1967 and 2017. During this period, Rock music had gone from a revolutionary force that defined the zeitgeist to the exact opposite (a safe and nostalgic reminder of a better time). Jeff’s career was of interest to me because he came from my home town and was born on the same date as me in exactly the same place (Victoria Park Maternity Home in Warrington as I’m sure you’re eager to know). It was 16 years earlier, but how could I not be curious?
In the 1970s and 1980s, there were no local musicians of note from the area, so (in both a good and a bad way) Jeff became something of a home town legend regularly played by DJs such as The Longford Lover.
On a personal level, I was interested in how Jeff and Moonshot had been passionately principled for its first 10 years, but seemed a little exhausted and compromised from that point on. Where did the inspiration / drive go? How was all relevance and credibility lost? Why did Jeff make the career choices he did?
Although some critics still rate the band’s early albums (as do I), it’s fair to say that Moonshot’s reputation was sullied by years of playing ‘golden oldies’ to diminishing audiences. Jeff’s 1980s penchant for wearing leopard skin outfits (a la Rod) and his dismissive remarks about contemporary music (post Punk) also had an impact on his critical standing.
In recent years, Jeff’s vocal aversion to downloading and streaming came across as bitter rather than insightful (he sometimes made a good point, but there was no moderation in the way he expressed his views). His latter-day obsessions with President Putin t-shirts and the falling standards of rice pudding production were a little (endearingly?) odd by any standards.”
I confess to having never heard of Moonshot until bass player David K. Jones got in touch about me reviewing this second compilation of material and I’m glad he did, their idiosyncratic music really piqued my interest and I confess to now becoming something of a fan.
The brilliant album opener Moonshot Manchild with it’s edgy, almost reggae rhythm and swirling keyboards is a wonderful piece of music, the vocals driving the storytelling along at a fair lick. The modern and up-to-date feel continues with Stupid Things That Mean The World with a powerful and stripped back bass line giving strong impetus and more of the excellent keyboards acting like the conductor to the vocals that have more than a hint of a certain Phil Collins to them and, let’s face it, that’s not a bad thing is it?.
This band may have their roots in the late 1960’s but the music is definitely of this century. The dreamlike and dramatic wonder of Worlds of Yesterday is an absolute delight to behold with it’s cultured vocal and intricate keyboards, an absolutely wonderful piece of music that shimmers and glows giving joy to the heart and soul. Lost in the Ghostlight is all mystery and cloak and dagger, an edgy and dark song that leaves you on edge as it befuddles your senses in an arbitrary manner.
This contorted originality continues with the slow burning brilliance of Nowhere Good to Go as it builds the tension to almost unbearable levels, the brooding keyboards intensifying in the background adding a hard edge to the vocals, a really clever piece of music. Moonshot show their storytelling originality once again on the utterly mesmerising The Great Electric Teenage Dream, eight minutes of spellbinding musical excellence. A hushed opening and atmospheric vocals play over lush keyboards. There’s a wonderful sparsity that proves beyond doubt that less is very often more. the wistful tone to the voice and the elegant piano add a nostalgic, melancholy tone and the delicately strummed guitar adds contemplation to create something sublime.
A thoughtful and beautiful addition to this compilation, Before That Before is a delight that touches you with its simple grace and heartbreaking mournfulness that leads up to the classic splendour and unashamed pomp of The Sweetest Bitter Pill. Complex and grandiose in scope, this is intelligently crafted music that accompanies the listener on this fascinatingly baroque journey, transfixed and transformed as it comes to a close.
The final track on the album is the towering and imposing Distant Summers, a wall of dynamic sound that washes over you with its unrelenting and almost primeval urge, a towering close to a great compilation of fantastic songs…
…did I say final? If you get the CD then you, lucky listener, get two bonus tracks. The first bonus Track is an enchanting Moonshot version of the Tim Bowness track You’ll Be The Silence and the second, Shadows, is a staggeringly good instrumental that includes themes from the songs on the album along with a new piano theme. To quote David K. Jones:
“We were thinking of Los Endos by Genesis!!!”
So, how to sum up this rather stunning compilation? ‘Worlds of Yesterday’ is, to me, like one of those great lost albums that resurfaces after decades in someone’s attic. I’d never heard of Moonshot before this but, boy, do I wish I had! Brilliantly crafted and delivered songs that feel bang up-to-date and resonate on every level. Believe me, this album should be on everybody’s wish list, it really is that good!
Released 17th January 2020 on Plane Groovy Records.
Order both the vinyl and CD version from Burning Shed here:
Following the successful studio album ‘Liquid’ and the magical live CD/DVD at Loreley recorded in the pouring rain, Blind Ego are back with a new album. And boy is there a new storm headed your way.
A solo project of RPWL guitarist Kalle Wallner, I was very impressed with the first album where Kalle let his harder side loose on some classy hard and melodic rock tracks. This new album turns the knob up to the mythical eleven in style.
The album’s title ‘Preaching to the Choir’ has different meanings, on different levels. When applied to the band Kalle Wallner says, “It’s about blind understanding. When you get the right people on board, there is no need for lengthy explanations. You just hit the recording button. And when you then give the right musicians the right music … that’s when they help you take it to the next level.” He goes on to say, “No need to convince anybody, no discussions. And no compromises are necessary. You just pump it out.”
When it comes to writing the music for Blind Ego‘Preaching to the Choir’ takes on a different meaning. “A lot of bands stick to their comfort zone, giving their fans exactly what they’ve come to expect. The album’s title is a reminder to explore and trust my own development and not be afraid to challenge the fans.”
With Kalle’s thunderous and yet expressive guitars the core of every track, the album opens with some gusto on Massive and the fantastic title track. A plethora of hard-edged riffs combine with the powerhouse drumming of Michael Christoph to give a monumental and elemental sound, a real hit to the solar plexus and the funky chorus just grabs you from the get-go making Preaching To The Choir one of the best hard rock tracks I’ve heard in quite a while!
Burning Alive gives a more melodic bent to proceedings and brings the excellent rock vocals of Scott Balaban to the fore. A pulsating and driving song with another killer chorus, I’m really getting into this finely crafted release. Things take a darker, funkier course on the mesmeric Line In The Sand with it’s grungy riff and harsher vocals. There’s real variety on show here and very impressive musical and songwriting ability on every track.
Dark Paradise, with its sense of melancholy and contemplation, takes the rock ballad and elevates it to a higher plane with some elegant guitar work and delicate bass and subdued drums which erupt, along with Scott’s powerful vocal, on the wonderful chorus. Polished hard rock returns with the invigorating and fast paced In Exile, a lesson in how to do an accessible rock track that doesn’t have to be obviously commercial.
Blind Ego are a rock band with all guns blazing, yet grown-up enough to take their finger off the trigger at just the right moments. There is no loud without silent, no hard without soft and this is all evident on the excellent Heading For The Stars with its combination of the subdued and the outspoken, one of my favourite tracks on the album. The anthemic, in your face and chest pounding Broken Land invokes The Scorpions to me. A straightforward, no-nonsense hard rock track that wears its heart on its sleeve and does so with pride.
A slow burning, thoughtful opening sees album closer The Pulse almost creep up on you but it is an intense, powerful and profound song that becomes almost all-encompassing and engrossing through its eight minutes plus running time. The music and lyrics ebb and flow with riveting skill, the piercing guitar solo a particular highlight.
‘Preaching To The Choir’ is a powerful statement of intent from this stellar musician and is a wonderfully crafted release. Hard rock of the highest calibre performed by musicians at the height of their game and working in perfect union. The bar just got raised even higher…
“There’s always room for a story that can transport people to another place.”
Hibernal is a sci-fi post-rock project created by Brisbane native and author Mark R. Healy where, along with long term musical partner in crime Rowan Salt, Mark interweaves sci-fi stories with instrumental music to tell a compelling storyline that unfolds throughout the course of the album. The aim is to take the listener on an atmospheric, immersive and thought-provoking journey with every production.
I have become an avid fan of Mark’s work and it is always an occasion filled with great anticipation when a new Hibernal album is announced.
‘Beyond’ is the fifth release from this accomplished musician and storyteller and, in my opinion, is his best release yet.
“It was meant to be a routine mission. A crew of two sent to investigate an anomaly in the Rigel system at the foot of Orion.”
Using the excellent voice talents of long time collaborators Scott Gentle and Faleena Hopkins, we are told a twisting tale of two people who pass through a void in space and find a sinister and mind blowing world on the other side.
I am not going to spoil the story by writing an in depth review of the album but, suffice to say, it is one of Mark’s most engrossing and spine-tingling tales yet..
“As I watch, a pale blue star seems to throb and grow larger. With each pulse, shafts of azure light illuminate around it like the strands of a spider’s web. I can’t decide if it’s beautiful or terrifying. Then the moment passes, and the murk drifts overhead, obscuring my view.”
Hibernal albums are amazing cinematic soundscapes that have you on the edge of your seat, you feel invested in the characters and your heart is in your mouth waiting to hear what is going to happen next, the music adding an incredibly detailed and suspenseful accompaniment to the absorbing and compelling narrative.
I’d liken Mark’s work to an audiobook with musical backing, these are works that need to be listened to in one sitting, from beginning to end. I played ‘Beyond’ in full for the first time on one of my daily runs and soon found myself totally immersed in the story and itching to find out what was going to happen with Blake and Aven next, with music like this it truly doesn’t get much better than that.
“You can’t leave me. We’re in this together, Blake. Right to the end.”
‘Beyond’ is another tour de force from the undoubted master of cinematic storytelling. It is an enthralling and utterly gripping piece of work that holds your attention from its fascinating start, through its intriguing plot and right until the chilling end.
Mark R. Healy, my friend, you have done it again and this time it is your very best release yet!
Philadelphia- duo Rise Twain released their debut self-titled album last year on InsideOutMusic. The union of Brett William Kull (producer, audio engineer, and member of Echolyn, Grey Eye Glances, and Francis Dunnery’s New Progressives) and J.D. Beck (The Scenic Route, Beck-Fields, author & playwright) bring their collective years of direct and varied experience in writing, performing and recording music together for their impressive first album.
Today, the band have launched their first ever official video for the beautiful ‘Prayers’.
The band comments: “Prayers is an elegy for love to come down from a forbidden height, to call from the night, to remember, wake, and live again. It sings a desperate melody to the lost so that they may find their way home.”
1. Everspring 2. Golden 3. The Range 4. Lit Up 5. Death of Summer 6. Oh This Life 7. Prayers 8. Falling Skies 9. Into A Dream 10. That Is Love
Talking of how the duo came together: “I produced an album for J.D.’s original band, The Scenic Route”, says Kull, describing his first meeting with Beck in 2007. “They were a rocky, progressive kind of band, like a Jeff Buckley kind of thing. I was immediately drawn to his vocals. He’s such a strong singer.” Kull says he and Beck immediately hit it off, what he describes as an “inevitable connection.”
Adds Beck, “I just knew I had to work with Brett on a higher level. When I came in to cut the vocals on the Scenic Route album, the way we worked together…some people you just gel with, and then some people you have a barrier with. Brett and I gelled.” They spoke of one day collaborating on their own project, which finally surfaces as Rise Twain.
Discussing the album’s musical direction, Beck notes, “There’s not a typical structural theme that we use over and over and over. ‘Organic’ is a word that comes to mind. Seeking openness through simplicity and allowing the complexity of music to exist without the necessity of overly packing it or overly processing it. With that we were able to achieve such a broad spectrum of sound, and a colossal sense of its existence, without having to have a billion guitars and a billion things put over top. There’s some colouring with strings and other embellishments, but it really is something very simple and stripped down, and it’s awesome.”
Kull adds, “There’s a lot of complexity in this, but it’s not overt in the least bit. But yet, when you get into it, there’s all this really rich harmonic and dynamic stuff going on.”
RISE TWAIN are: J.D. Beck: Piano, lead and backing vocals Brett William Kull: Guitars, bass, keys, percussion, lead and backing vocals
We have spoken a lot recently about great albums from the last decade and I announced that Progradar’s choice was Big Big Train’s English Electric – Full Power but there was also an album that was a very, very close runner up and I still love it to this day.
I have a very close emotional connection to the album through the band and they have become great friends of mine. So here is my review of Able Ganz’s incredible self-titled release from 2014, kindly reproduced with the permission of Lady Obscure Music Magazine where it was first published.
When I first started to formulate this review my intention was to base it around the announcement of the so called ‘new’ Pink Floyd album and how we should really be encouraging new music and not collections of old material left metaphorically laying around on the studio floor, given a new coat of looking at and then released to the expectant public, no matter how honourable the intentions.
Instead I am going to concentrate on the music on this new
album and how it has totally enraptured me and reinvigorated my sometimes jaded
view of the music industry in these modern times. I have often talked about how
music has made my more complete, how it has helped me through difficult
situations and, sometimes, how it can just be so damn good and life affirming.
You should all know by know how I view mainstream chart
music with more than a modicum of displeasure. Corporate crap to appease the
masses and increase the bank balances of the music executives with no
creativity or soul in any way, shape or form. Then, occasionally unexpectedly,
an absolute gem of an album that contains the artist’s heart and soul will come
along, one that will have taken a long time to come to fruition.
Music like this is what gets me out of bed in a morning, music
that I have to wax lyrical about and spread the word to as many people as
possible. To this reviewer, the music industry, at the sharp end, has lost its
soul and its understanding that it is there for people to enjoy and to make
these people’s lives a better place to be. Now it is just a vast, money making
machine, bloated and pointless. It is these smaller, independent artists and
labels that hold the true meaning and the future of the music industry.
I have been aware of the Scottish band Abel Ganz for quite a while and heard the odd track that has quite
impressed me. However, it is this latest release, self-titled, that has really
caught my attention.
First, a quick catch up.
After a very lengthy
hiatus Abel Ganz re-emerged in 2006
with the release ‘Back from the Zone’ – a compilation of 1980s material plus
two, new recordings. Original members Hew
Montgomery and Hugh Carter were
joined on this release by long-time collaborator and drummer Denis Smith.
A brand new album ‘Shooting
Albatross’quickly followed in 2008 on the band’s own, newly
created record label and was very well received internationally. New, full time
members Davie Mitchell (lead guitar),
Mick Macfarlane (lead vocals,
guitar), and Stevie Donnelly (bass)
came on board to complete this album and flesh out the band’s reinvigorated
line up with Denis Smith taking on
major recording and production duties for the band as well as filling the drum
After two years of gigging and promoting ‘Shooting Albatross’the band
began making preparations to record their next album. Shortly after work began,
Hew Montgomery made the decision
that the time had come for him to pursue solo interests and so bowed out. He
was replaced by virtuoso Jack Webb (keyboards)
who had contributed to ‘Shooting Albatross’as a session musician. Nine months later as recording had only just
begun in earnest Hugh Carter also
retired from the band for geographical reasons.
With work on new album freshly started the decision was made
to carry on write and record new album with the blessing and encouragement of
Montgomery and Carter. With all parts of the album virtually completed and
mixing sessions begun the role of keyboards player changed hands once again
with new full time member Stephen
Lightbody joining the band.
Entitled simply ‘Abel Ganz’ the new album makes a deliberate
effort to take in new influences and mix them with the old. A genuine attempt
has been made to try new things and explore potential new directions. In short
– to try and ‘progress’.
Many guest musicians appear on the new album but the band are particularly proud and excited to have worked with the legendary Jerry Donahue and Malcolm Jones [of Scottish folk-rock band Runrig] on the track ‘Thank you’.
Delusions of Grandeur
is a delightful introductory piece to the album with oboe, violins and
violas accompanying the piano to almost freshen your musical palate ready for
the main event. What follows next, the five-part Obsolescence is as good a piece of music as I’ve heard all year.
Starting with Part i Sunrise, which
is truly captivating, it has an ethereal mix of acoustic guitar, piano,
recorder and effortlessly harmonised vocals, almost religious in its delivery.
It gently segues into Pt ii Evening which
increases the tempo but retains the innocent wonderment of what has gone
before. There is a gentle folk edge to the song and it just fills me with an
effortless flow of good feeling, truly enchanting, the steel guitar being a
touch of genius. A feeling of urgency pervades all as Pt iii Close Your Eyes begins. This part of the piece has more of a
mainstream progressive style to it, bass heavy with clever drumbeats. The
delectable swathes and swirling drops of Hammond organ are an added nod to the
seventies prog stalwarts. What is becoming increasingly clear is the quality of
Macfarlane’s vocals. He truly has an impressive voice. The different time
changes and signatures lead you on a musical journey that entertains at every
turn. A flute that flitters around like a dancing bird is the entrancing
introduction to Pt iv The Dream. It
has a slow and measured rhythm that entices you into its musical web and holds
you transfixed. You are treated to an aural cornucopia of flutes, guitars,
tubular bells, double bass and church organ that builds up to an almighty
conclusion to this amazing musical delight, Pt v Dawn. This instrumental finale has a depth of feeling that
strikes into your psychological core to an emotional extent. The soaring guitar
bleeds empathy as it reaches heights of feeling and fervour, a solo full of
passion and ecstasy.
Take a moment to get your breath back after that musical
extravaganza and then let the graceful and divine calm of Spring wash over you in a cathartic fashion. On this track
Macfarlane shows his prowess with the acoustic guitar. The low hum of crickets
calling is accompanied by a mellow acoustic guitar and a great brass section on
Recuerdos. A soft vocal full of
emotion adds a serious note to this amiable song. It is as you get this far
into the album you realise the number of differing musical styles that the band
can intertwine with aplomb. It doesn’t detract from any enjoyment of the album.
In fact it just adds another layer of delight to it. Heartland begins with the muted sound of children playing before a
very oriental sounding note emanates from the keyboard. Vocals on this song are
provided by Joy Dunlop and the band
takes another ninety degree musical turn as keyboards and programmed percussion
deliver a sound not unlike an ambient dance track. It is tranquil, calming and
subdued despite coming straight out of left field. There is a smidgeon of
Celtic folk song to it but you are never quite able to grasp it fully as it
lies just out of earshot. It is different and intriguing, yet very good.
End of Rain is another instrumental track that is like a tropical storm envisioned musically. It is full of highs and lows, powerful yet, sometimes, a calming influence. It is due to the bands undeniable skill that it stops short of just being an ambient background track yet, for this listener at least, it is the weakest track on the album. Maybe an experiment with a different musical direction that wasn’t entirely required. Just to prove they really do know how to mix several unlikely musical styles and make them work Abel Ganz deliver Country with aplomb on Thank You. I think this is a brilliant song and I don’t even like Country! It delivers its heart warming message in several different languages yet never loses focus or direction. The vocals are full of feeling and affection and the accordion and steel guitar add a layer of gloss to the whole track. It is captivating, full of charm and leaves a feeling of wellbeing and content wherever it goes. Mick Macfarlane takes the lead with the acoustic guitar once more on the instrumental A Portion of Noodles. Another dip into the well of folk influenced music, it dances across your aural receptors with a featherlight footprint. Ghostlike and almost intangible, it is beguiling and mesmerising.
Fourteen minutes of musical delectation now follows in the
form of Unconditional. Initially
sounding as if it comes from the American heartland and the pen of Springsteen
or the combined talents of The Eagles, it delves deeper into our collective
musical knowledge to deliver on all counts. You don’t have to wait too long
before some free form jazz is let off the leash. Muted trumpet played with
alacrity and a lilting piano note take the lead and you soon feel you are in a
smoky jazz lounge in New Orleans drinking bourbon and feeling at one with the
music. The slightly discordant note of the keyboards that follows takes you
down a more experimental route whilst keeping that jazz/fusion edge. The whole
song encourages you to sit down and unwind, let the sounds wash over you and
take you away from the stress of everyday life. Throw in some flashes of
scorching guitar that Joe Satriani would be proud of and things are just about
perfect. Hints of blues, jazz and progressive rock infuse to create something
quite exceptional on this song, it is another musical delight that deserves
wider recognition. The song comes around full circle to smoothly meet up again
with the classy feel of the introduction and you know you’ve just heard
something special. To close out the album you are treated to The Drowning. A luscious brass
arrangement lends added gravitas to Macfarlane’s husky and soulful vocal. It
has a wistful, if not downright melancholic feel to it but is extremely charming
in its own way. The flugelhorn solo is a thing of dignity and style and adds to
the aura of longing and loss.
I have just listened to a musical composition that goes further than just pleasing the senses. It is full of beauty and grace and manages to combine musical styles that are quite disparate and deliver a musical release that beguiles, bewitches and enthrals. 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!
US Progressive Metal pioneers and innovators PSYCHOTIC WALTZ return with their original line-up for their highly anticipated 5th studio album and first new music in 23 years. Entitled “The God-Shaped Void”, the upcoming new album and InsideOutMusic debut will be released on 14th February, 2020.
The first new track taken off “The God-Shaped Void” is being shared today. Check out the album’s opening track “Devils And Angels” in a lyric video by Cloud Music Typography:
PSYCHOTIC WALTZ commented about “Devils And Angels” as follows: “This was the second song we finished writing for the album, right after “The Fallen”. Brian had some chunky riffs to start with, then we all kind of added our own flavor of spices to it, some of which you can really pick up on headphones. It wound up being a lot more epic than we expected!”
The basic tracks for “The God-Shaped Void” were recorded with engineer Ulrich Wild in the band’s hometown of San Diego, then the rest of the recordings at Studio D in Austria and finally the material was mixed/mastered by Jens Bogren (Opeth, Devin Townsend, Fates Warning) at Fascination Street Studios in Sweden. Artwork (as also presented throughout the lyric-video) was created by longtime visual partner Travis Smith (Katatonia, Riverside, Nevermore).
Here is the tracklisting for “The God-Shaped Void”:
PSYCHOTIC WALTZ – “The God-Shaped Void” 1. Devils And Angels (06:29)
2. Stranded (04:49)
3. Back To Black (03:52)
4. All The Bad Men (03:59)
5. The Fallen (05:49)
6. While The Spiders Spin (05:49)
7. Pull The String (04:54)
8. Demystified (05:12)
9. Season Of The Swarm (05:57) *** Bonus Track
10. Sisters Of The Dawn (06:41)
11. In The Silence (05:16)
The album’s bonus-track “Season Of The Swarm” will be available on the limited Mediabook CD (which comes with expanded booklet and an exclusive logo patch), on the vinyl edition as well as on the Digital versions. A standard Jewelcase CD edition is available as well.
The vinyl edition of “The God-Shaped Void” comes as 2LP on 180gr. vinyl with gatefold packaging and with the entire album on CD as bonus in the following versions:
– vinyl, there will also be the following strictly limited coloured editions available:
– Black 2LP + CD: Unlimited
– Lilac 2LP + CD: 200x copies from IOM Webshop
– Transparent Blue 2LP + CD: 200x copies from Nuclear Blast
– Dark Green 2LP + CD: 300x copies from CM Distro
All formats are available for pre-order starting today here: