Haken launch video for ‘Canary Yellow’ / Second single taken from ‘Virus’

Progressive rockers Haken recently revealed their new studio album ‘Virus’, the follow-up to 2018’s acclaimed album ‘Vector’, will be released 5th June 2020. Now they are pleased to launch the video for the album’s second single ‘Canary Yellow’, a striking animated clip created by Crystal Spotlight. Watch it now here: 

The band comments: “For Canary Yellow, we went in a more alternative direction, since we’re all big fans of bands like Radiohead, Elbow and Peter Gabriel. Those are artists who can portray quite dark subject matter through really beautiful music. Since the ‘Virus’ album is intended to be a metaphor for various negative tropes of society, we wanted to explore this idea in a variety of ways.

Canary Yellow deals with the suppression of physical and mentally abusive relationships; something that can often remain hidden behind a seemingly happy facade. 

We once again returned to long time visual collaborators ‘Crystal Spotlight’ for this ambitious animation and we’re absolutely thrilled with how well the visuals complement and enhance the atmosphere of the song. The video shows a seemingly idyllic family environment, but with a sense of sadness beneath the surface and absolute devastation looming on the horizon. They go about their day oblivious to the fact that they are mannequins living in a 1950s style ‘Doom Town‘ experiment.”

he video for the album’s first single, ‘Prosthetic’, has reached over 200,000 views so far and the song has over 300,000 streams. You can watch the video now here: 

The band recently started broadcasting from their new Twitch channel, and they will be going in-depth on how ‘Canary Yellow’ was written and produced on the 8th May at 6pm UK time. Watch here: 

https://www.twitch.tv/hakenofficial/

By way of introduction, the band recorded a special video message to give some background to the new record: 

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:

1.     Prosthetic

2.     Invasion

3.     Carousel

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”. 

HAKEN are:

Ross Jennings

Richard Henshall

Charlie Griffiths

Diego Tejeida

Conner Green

Ray Hearne

Review – The Bardic Depths – The Bardic Depths by John Wenlock-Smith

The Bardic Depths is an all new progressive rock project formed from the writing team of multi-instrumentalist, Dave Bandana with lyrics and concept from Bradley Birzer. The self titled debut album releases in March 2020 and features performances from Peter Jones – Saxophone/ Vocals (Camel/ Tiger Moth Tales), Tim Gehrt – Drums ( Streets/ Steve Walsh), Gareth Cole – Guitar (Tom Slatter/ Fractal Mirror) and Robin Armstrong (Cosmograf) amongst a host of other amazing musicians from the progressive rock community.

To say that this is an unusual album is nothing odd, but such is the way of modern music making in that this one stands out for being very different, especially when you consider that this collective has never actually met in full or in person, as yet. In fact, up to a few weeks ago Dave and Brad had not even spoken by phone, skype or similar, this despite them having collaborated on two of Dave’s previous albums.

This group or project came to be because all involved are “Passengers”, the collective noun used by fans of the group Big Big Train for their Facebook group forum. When Lanzarote / Canary Island based musician Dave Bandanna put out a message looking for some musicians to help him with a new project, The Bardic Depths came into being, albeit it through the virtual world of file swapping and editing..

Dave, whose normally work entails entertaining holidaymakers by providing music in the evening at various holiday resort and hotels (he also feeds the islands large stock of feral cats) was inundated with great responses. These came from the likes of Gareth Cole, Peter Jones and Professor Bradley Birzer of Hillsdale College, Michigan among others, with Robin Armstrong (Cosmograf) acting as a producer. This album is certainly different because of all these factors.

The album itself is a celebration of the friendship between C.S Lewis and J.R.R Tolkien, both of whom were members of the Oxford University literary group The Inklings, where they would meet to talk about their writing projects and read to each other.

This album explores that friendship across its seven lengthy tracks.  The music wears its influences openly with a touch of Pink Floyd and snatches of latter-day Talk Talk’s prog sensibilities, to name just a couple. All are very lovingly collated together to create a highly impressive, moody and emotionally moving musical collage of ideas, influences and performances that, when taken together, merge to create a series of epic pieces reflecting on friendship through the storms of one’s life.

I know I say this about many of the albums I review, but I feel this really is a remarkable project and one that will be viewed very positively come the end of year listings. Well I certainly think that will be the case here, I know it will be for me. Once again this album will need some time for its treasures to become fully apparent for it is only with increasing familiarity that this will become clear. There is so much great music here for your ears to embrace and enjoy that this journey you take will be a most worthwhile and revealing one for you to both start and to appreciate.

Opener piece, The Trenches, refers to the first world war experiences that both C.S. Lewis and J.R.R Tolkien endured and it is very evocative. Greek literary characters are used to ask the questions about the decisions made, and what the impact of those choices had, on the average man in the trenches. Biting Coals, speaks of the writing group and how, as war survivors, they meet and discuss and talk things over. This song has a lot of atmosphere that is utilised to great effect creating both a safe and cosy environment for the conversation.     

Depths of Time is the first real epic, clocking in at 12:33 which gives this three-part piece lots of room for some very extensive instrumental sections. These include some fine, airy sax from Peter Jones amidst some fabulous rhythmic guitar playing from Gareth Cole. The music here is rather ethereal sounding in tone with lots of space surrounding it to give an open effect and a chilled and relaxed tone, all very impressive really. The next piece is Depths of Imagination which opens with spoken word from Brad Birzer and a strong pulsating bass line from Dave Bandanna along with some great keyboards from Paulo Limoli that offset Dave’s vocal delivery.

Depths of Soul follows, opening with some fiery lead guitar from Gareth and more spoken word from Brad. It’s all very evocative sounding and moves onwards fiercely, fuelled by the drums of Tim Gehrt drums and Dave’s fine bass playing once again. The End is another atmospheric piece that contains some great cello from Mike Warren, a fine piano melody from Paulo Limoli and some lovely flute from Dave. This song has a great melody which suits its gentle tone, the music has passion and depth and sounds exceptionally fine indeed. It is all very musical and tuneful with great melodies that really suit the tone of the songs.

The final song, Legacies, opens with bells and a powerful drumbeat. This piece is about what this friendship leaves in its wake and why it made a difference then and still does for us today. How these men lived, what they believed in and lived for still matters for us today and that is the legacy they left us.

What we live for is important, the final spoken words draw the circle to a close with the words and a truly epic guitar solo opened Gareth and finished by Robin. It is simply sensational and a stunning close to what has been an enjoyable album. One of the best of the year so far and one that you really need to hear for yourself.        

Released 20/3/2020

Order from bandcamp here:

https://thebardicdepths.bandcamp.com/releases

Steve Howe, YES guitarist, releases his solo album LOVE IS on 31st July.

Legendary Yes guitarist Steve Howe has announced he is to release Love Is on 31st July through BMG Records. Love Is is Howe’s first solo album since the all-instrumental Time in 2011 and has a balance of five instrumental tracks and five songs. 

The album will be available as CD – gatefold digi-sleeve with 12 page booklet and LP – Black vinyl 180gm with gatefold sleeve, liner notes and lyrics. 

Link to Steve Howe Official store pre-orders: https://SteveHowe.lnk.to/D2CPR

Link to Amazon pre-orders:https://SteveHowe.lnk.to/LoveIsPR

Steve Howe sings lead vocals and plays electric, acoustic and steel guitars, keyboards, percussion and bass guitar on the instrumentals while Yes vocalist Jon Davison provides vocal harmonies and plays bass guitar on the vocal tracks. The album also features Dylan Howe on drums.

Many years in the making, Love Is brings together a consistently strong and polished listening experience, forging the very best from the writing and playing throughout the album. This may well be considered the real ‘stand out’ album of Howe’s solo career. The instrumentals keep a highly progressive rock guitar style to the fore, with songs that explore stories of lives lived and lives only just begun. Love Is A River is the central longer song with several textural shifts, featuring a theme played on 12 string and steel guitars.

Portrait of English progressive rock musician Steve Howe, taken on February 3, 2020. (Photo by Will Ireland/Prog Magazine)

I called the album Love Is because it hints at the central idea that that love is important but also love of the universe and the ecology of the world is very important,” says Steve Howe. “Alexander Humboldt went around the world and recognised we are destroying the planet but that was 200 years ago! We are still destroying the planet and, I suppose, my songs show the yearning I have for the love of nature and how beauty, art and music all stem from nature. There is a theme about those things, love, beauty, ecology, nature and wonderful people.

Love Is A River just seemed a very important track to me, a sort of quintessential track with lots of moods, lots of interesting things going on with steel guitars and acoustic guitars. Further tracks grew from time spent writing in my studio.

See Me Through looks at the idea that we get through life by not driving ourselves that hard but attempting to achieve things with people who help you along the way and Imagination is dedicated to my granddaughter Zuni. It’s about how I see some of the things she’s experienced in her short seven years.”

I invited Jon Davison to sing harmonies with me and add bass on the songs. If he was singing on the songs I thought why doesn’t he play bass as well and it turned out nice. He’s been with Yes for seven or eight years and he’s a great guy, great performer and a great interpreter of Yes songs.I’ve been singing for years, mainly in harmony but I’ve sung lead on lots of my own albums before and I feel that, as I’ve got older, I’ve got a grip on that and, hopefully, it’s improved over the years.

The album includes many distinctive Steve Howe signatures among the instrumental tracks from the delicate beauty of FulcrumBeyond The Call and Pause For Thought to upbeat rock, The Headlands, and the jazz-tinged Sound Picture.

The instrumentals are like a mood, a place I went to one day, thought this is nice and then I develop that to a point where it’s a finished track. There might be key ingredients that I thought about using musically that I like, that I’m drawn to, and then developing them into something.

Love Is was written, engineered and produced by Steve Howe with further engineering and mixing by Curtis Schwartz. “I write in my own studio and then go to see Curtis in his studio,” Howe explains. “We expand the tracks and put them on Pro Tools and everything starts to be possible. At some point, probably around 2 years ago, Dylan came down to Curtis’s studio and we recorded the drums on some of the tracks. I could see a balance of five instrumental tracks and five songs and there was a feeling that it was an album, sitting there, looking at me.”

The track listing for Steve Howe’s Love Is album is:

1 Fulcrum (instrumental)

2 See Me Through

3 Beyond The Call (instrumental)

4 Love Is A River

5 Sound Picture (instrumental)

6 It Ain’t Easy

7 Pause For Thought (instrumental)

8 Imagination

9 The Headlands (instrumental)

10 On The Balcony

Formats:

CD Catalogue No. 538608592 Gatefold digi leeve with 12 page booklet with liner notes by Steve Howe & lyrics

LP – Catalogue Number – 538608601180gm Black vinyl in Gatefold sleeve with liner notes by Steve Howe & lyrics

Release date: 31st July 2020


Link to Steve Howe Official store pre-orders: https://SteveHowe.lnk.to/D2CPLink to Amazon pre-orders: https://SteveHowe.lnk.to/LoveIsPR

Abel Ganz Announce First Track From New Album – ‘The Life Of The Honey Bee and Other Moments Of Clarity’.

Scottish progressive rock legends Abel Ganz have released a video of the first track to be taken from their forthcoming new album ‘The Life Of The Honey Bee and Other Moments Of Clarity’.

Arran Shores is an instrumental written by the band’s guitarist David King, the band tell us more…

“We just wanted to say another huge thank you to everyone that has so far taken part in the pre-sale for our new album ‘The Life Of The Honey Bee and Other Moments Of Clarity’. We have been nothing less than awe-struck at the response and it’s really incredibly humbling.

We would like to share a little video with you of one of the tracks from the album : Arran Shores.

This is a tune written and performed by our guitar player David King – inspired by the beautiful Isle of Arran. Please feel free to share – and please also be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel.”

You can still pre-order the new album, due for release on 15th June, from the link here:

LONG DISTANCE CALLING – ask ‘How Do We Want To Live?’

Launch new single ‘Hazard’

LONG DISTANCE CALLING, Germany’s most internationally successful instrumental rock act, have announced the release of their seventh studio album ‘How Do We Want To Live?’ for the 26th June 2020. 

Today also sees the launch of the album’s first single ‘Hazard’. Watch the video now 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)

3.     Hazard

4.     Voices

5.    Fail/Opportunity

6.    Immunity

7.     Sharing Thoughts

8.     Beyond Your Limits

9.     True/Negative

10.  Ashes

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

09.09.20 Hannover Pavillon

10.09.20 Bochum Christuskirche

11.09.20 Dresden Alter Schlachthof

12.09.20 Leipzig Parkbühne

13.09.20 Berlin Passionskirche

15.09.20 Köln E-Werk

16.09.20 Frankfurt Jahrhunderthalle Club

17.09.20 Mannheim Capitol

18.09.20 München St. Matthäus

19.09.20 Stuttgart Mozartsaal

The band recently released their first ever live album ‘STUMMFILM – Live from Hamburg (A Seats & Sounds Show)’. Filmed during a special run of dates in early 2019, it saw the band performing seated shows in some very special locations for a stunning audio-visual experience.

GODSTICKS – PREMIERE NEW VIDEO FOR “VICTIM”

TAKEN FROM THEIR NEW STUDIO ALBUM INESCAPABLE 

Having released their latest and most accomplished album to date Inescapable, to media and fan acclaim in February, Godsticks proudly present their new single and video “Victim”. 

Darran Charles explains the meaning behind the song “All of us seem to agree that this is our favourite song on the album. There is a definite progression from a light mood to a very dark and angsty vibe, which from a compositional standpoint was extremely challenging to achieve, but eventually very rewarding. To me the song is essentially about arguing with myself – looking inside and not liking some of the things I find. You can visualise the person you want to be but trying to change can also be a process just as hurtful as coming to terms with our flaws.” 

Godsticks’ drummer Tom Price expands on the creative process for the video  “For Victim’s music video, we decided to focus on another big visually impactful performance, so we simply had to work with George Laycock from Black Tide Audio Visual again because he did such a great job with our ‘Denigrate’ video. With the help of lighting engineer Laure, we dreamt up a light show to emphasize those two different moods in the song that Darran was talking about – shifting from low-key in the first half into high impact arena-show lighting in the second. Everything came together once again and we could not be more happy with the finished product!” he continues “We hope the new video will at least provide a little distraction to anyone gracious enough to view it during these crazy times; all 4 of us are certainly very proud of it. We hope everyone out there is staying safe and well and trust me when I say that the band is itching to get back out on the road as soon as possible!”

With Inescapable the band have channelled their energy and technical ability into the melody, phrasing and vocal performance, allowing emotion to take centre stage. Their mix of heavy rock, progressive and alternative metal with a dynamic range of angular riffs and emotional depth is leaving listeners reeling. On this release Godsticks found a definitive theme running through the songs, one of being more open and more personal; ultimately one that shines an inquisitive light on Charles’s struggle with inner demons which give the songs a new level of intimacy. Inescapable was produced by James Loughrey (Skindred) and recorded at the famed heritage Monnow Valley studio. 

A selection of some of the great reviews from the media on Inescapable:

‘A thrilling, agitated, uptight record’ Prog Magazine

‘Godsticks’ best album yet’ Classic Rock

– ‘A mighty powerful piece of work that could be as perfect as Godsticks are going to get. Savour the moment’ 9/10 – Powerplay Magazine

“an exquisite album that is without a doubt their strongest” Betreutesproggen.de

“The songs excited me, because there is so much to discover while listening to them.” Twilight-magazin.de

‘ a superb entry point and the band’s most grimly exhilarating emotional splurge yet’ Blabbermouth

“Inescapable” is thoroughly a solid work of great ingeniousness” 5/5 DrumHeads!!

Class A songs…a must-hear album…’ RockMuzine.nl

“inspired, rich and polished” Metal Obs (FR)

“a real success and their best album so far!” 4/4 Highlands Magazine (FR)

Godsticks are:

Darran Charles: Vocals, guitars, keys, synths

Dan Nelson: Bass

Gavin Bushell: Guitars

Tom Price: Drums

Backing vocals on ‘Denigrate’ – Daniel Tompkins 

DEVIN TOWNSEND – launches series of live streamed, fundraising shows in aid of healthcare workers

Music fans across the world are missing the thrill of going to live concerts, and Devin Townsend is here to help. Devinis hosting live concerts in his home studio this month, each one raising money for healthcare workers around the world. The first took place this past weekend in support of Vancouver’s General Hospital, selling close to 2000 tickets, and raising nearly 50,000 dollars. Devin has put together an impressive 4-camera rig for these streams, controlled using nothing more than an Xbox controller. You can watch a recording here:

The second will be in support of the NHS in the UK, and the third will be in support of hotspot hospitals in New York. Shows will last around 50 minutes, with different setlists each time. The top donors for each show will receive signed merchandise from Omerch, album goodies from InsideOut as well as several high-end products from a number of Devin’s gear companies such as Mooer, Fractal, Toontrack, Dunlop and |Fishman to name a few. All ticket buyers will also receive a (somewhat tidied-up) remixed version of the show’s audio recording. 

Saturday April 25th – Noon PDT / 20:00 BST / 05:00 AEST

Saturday May 2nd – Noon PDT / 20:00 BST / 05:00 AEST

Get your tickets here: www.stageit.com/Devin_Townsend 

The release of ‘Empath – The Ultimate Edition’ was recently announced for the 5th June 2020. This comprehensive version of 2019’s acclaimed album contains the original record and bonus disc across 2 CD’s, plus 2 Blu-Ray discs. The first blu-ray contains the 5.1 Surround Sound mix by Devin, with visuals for the full record, plus a stereo visualiser. You will be familiar with some of the visuals including the stunning video for the uplifting single ‘Spirits Will Collide’: https://youtu.be/AdHJurX0yVA 

The second blu-ray contains a raft of bonus material, including ‘Acoustically Inclined – Live in Leeds’, a recording from his April 2019 acoustic tour where he performed tracks including ‘Love?’, ‘Deadhead’, ‘Thing Beyond Things’ & more. 

It also features the full Empath Documentary, a ‘Genesis 5.1 Mixing Lesson’, a full album commentary & more. The four discs sit inside a beautiful art-book that contains new liner notes and images from the making of the album.

Pre-orders are now available here: 

https://www.omerch.eu/shop/devintownsend/

https://Devin-Townsend.lnk.to/Empath-TheUltimateEdition

Review – Jack Hues – Primitif – by John Wenlock-Smith

Jack Hues is not a name that most will be familiar with really, that is unless you are conversant with the band Strictly Inc. that he was  part of along with Tony Banks of Genesis or with the new wave outfit Wang Chung with who had a big early 1980’s hit with Dance Hall Days. Since those days Jack has kept himself busy with The Quartet and also been working with the boys from Canterbury Prog outfit Syd Arthur. All of which bring us to this new album ‘Primitif’, which is actually Jack’s first ever solo release. It is a double album of some 16 songs of various lengths and styles, including a covers of Bacharach and David’s The Look of Love and Lana Del Ray’s Video Games.

The record covers several different styles and moods, its lyrics can be somewhat bleak and desolate at times but this is not a bad thing, rather it shows incredible honesty and bravery by showing us his raw feelings. There is also something of a philosophical slant to some of these tracks as Jack contemplates mortality, fate and free will and how these could affect our lives.

This is generally an acoustically led album, although several song are fully electric, there are some very interesting guitar lines and parts to several of the songs and the mood is generally hopeful. It took me quite a few listens to start to make sense of this album as it is one that you will have to persevere with to fully appreciate but that actually makes it a far richer experience in my opinion.

The disc opens with the aforementioned Bacharach and David cover and it is a jaunty romp through a classic song with good use of keyboard orchestrations and a strong bassline holding it all together as Jack’s strong vocal lines bring the song home with aplomb. This is a fabulous opener that leads into the more melancholy Whitstable Beach which reflects on the bleakness of the northern Kent shoreline, this despite the track having a driving beat to it. The song has an excellent refrain in the closing section, again this is another powerful song.

The third track, A Long Time, is an acoustic shuffle with the guitar punctuating the song with clipped tones. This piece is all about letting go and almost feels cathartic for Jack as he sings of the difficulties in closing a chapter in your life. The next song is called Cut and is a shorter but still highly percussively driven acoustic instrumental piece.

These two songs are followed by the lengthy and epic track Winter, which is the longest track on the first disc. Winter is a deceptively enthralling track with its very clever use of guitar tones building the emphasis of the song, the finality of things and how death stops growth completely. The mid section has some very interesting musical elements at play, a sudden bass and burst of guitar and discordant rhythms being employed that sound unsettling and the bleak call to let me think of nothing that closes this somewhat sombre piece.

Diamond Ring is next, another gentle acoustic song that speaks of a ring that has been lost but the memories it held still remain in the singers mind as he recalls the wearer and the events that it represented.

The brief interlude of Spring follows, an acoustic and atmospheric instrumental piece that gradually builds in waves of increasing intensity and synthesizer noises that finally lead us to the epic closer of disc 1, Margate Train, a song that is full of memories that are exposed as the track continues. This is a very emotional song that deals with a mind full of memories that have surfaced, uncalled yet ever present in the singer’s voice and mind and that have gone away seemingly forever. The main refrain and synthesised strings return to close the song out on a very bleak line as the guitar reverberates away to silence, a remarkable track by any standards.

Disc 2 continues the journey, opening with the upbeat You Are The One I Love, probably the most straight forward pop song on the whole album and a very effective and memorable song too. Astrology speaks about free will and precession and predestination, Jack sounding similar to latter day Ian Gillan at times on a song that is lyrically challenging.

Summer is another short instrumental track segues into the song Stand In A Place Of Love, another angst driven acoustic outpouring that talks about Nietzsche (the German philosopher) whose influence on thinking and writings on good and evil  were used by the Nazi party in the 1930’s and 40’s, especially that of a superior race of men.

An Ordinary Man is a storming mid paced rocker that really surges along with a propulsive guitar line running throughout and a propensity of urgent drums, really there’s a lot going on here musically that combines make this a really rather fine song indeed. The next track, You Will Kill The One You Love, features an accordion alongside more standard instrumentation and this gives it a unique organic sound that is very full and interesting. This leads into the penultimate track, Autumn, another brief electric piece with shimmering guitar chords played in an arpeggio style and a reprise of The Look Of Love lyrics alongside stacked vocals, all done to great effect.

The final track and the final station on our musical journey is Video Games, a reworking of a track by Lana Del Ray that Jack has taken and rather electrified making it more like a Miles Davis piece replete with some heavy guitar lines and a driving backbeat. He uses clipped vocals to add punch before expanding it into a more mainstream delivered song with acoustic guitar. It this quite well known song a distinctive spin from the more recognised original.

Video Games closes the album in style and proves that it was worth the wait and also worthy of your time and consideration. As I said its not an easy listen but stick with it and you will find the treasure that lies at its core. This is a sensational piece of work and I heartily recommend this masterpiece to you all, it may not be progressive as such but the craft that is on display here makes this album worth all the plaudits that it gets, so dive on in, the water is lovely.        

Released 20th March 2020

Order the album from bandcamp here:

https://jackhues.bandcamp.com/album/primitif

Review – Time Shift Accident – Chronosthesia

‘Chronosthesia’ is the debut album by instrumental quartet Time Shift Accident from Nuremberg, Germany.

What began as a loose jam band founded by a couple of friends in late 2013 has over time developed into a prog fusion powerhouse featuring some very experienced musicians.

The rhythm section has been a mainstay of the band since late 2014: Drummer Paul Ettl, a student at the Nürnberg University of Music, combines effortless groove, taste and mastery of odd meters, while Bassist Michael Schetter (Relocator, ex-Seven Steps to the Green Door) provides driving and melodic bass lines as well as a good chunk of the band’s compositions.

Guitar duties are handled by Dave Mola (Effloresce), who joined in early 2017 and whose melodic sensibility and funky fusion approach will surprise those who so far associate him mostly with the heavy side of prog metal.

On keyboards, Günter W. Schmuck is the most recent addition, having joined the band in early 2019. After studying jazz piano at the Munich Jazz School, he went on to record with the Fred Drumski Trio and the SHS Trio, as well as lead his own jazz quartet and salsa band (Orquesta Mistica). Günter has also played with various latin, fusion, funk and soul groups (Papa Caliente, Salsa Fever, Soul7even, Jamdeluxe), and is presently the musical director of the Flames of Gospel choir band.

I’m a sucker for a good instrumental album as a lot of you well know, make it a jazz/prog fusion instrumental and all bets are off, as long as it’s a good one.

I think instrumental albums suffer most from the ‘keyboard in the bedroom’ curse of music making on the internet. It seems like anyone can rattle off a few tunes and then upload them for everyone to listen to, whether they should or not is often a moot point because they can…

However, when it is done with the proficiency, care and attention of an album like ‘Chronosthesia’ then it truly doesn’t get any better. You have four obviously highly skilled musicians who cannot only play a tune to an absurdly high level but compose one too!

Time Shift Accident have produced an album of tracks that are complex but joyous to listen to, a wonderful cornucopia of music that does have jazz/prog fusion at its core in a symbiosis of Planet X and Liquid Tension Experiment-esque grooves but also has the flamboyance of pure rock and even the flair of Latin rhythms running through as the four musicians seem to be turning a jam session into something more technically proficient but oh so much fun.

Every track is superb but there are some absolute stand out moments like opener Cold Case with its funky, upbeat groove and a keyboard sound straight out of the 80’s, Ignalina Forest is just a seriously cool piece of music, jazzy as hell and something Herbie Hancock would be proud to have his name against, Wish is emotive, laid back and achingly cool and Pompei rocks like the bastard son of jazz/prog and heavy rock.

The stand out track (on an album of stellar tunes) for me though is the amazing The Hand of God, just over ten minutes of instrumental perfection, layers of perfectly crafted music that just takes your breath away. Every musician is at the height of their game, Dave’s guitar shines brightly, aided and abetted by the ever so elegant keyboard playing of Günter. Michael and Paul’s rhythm section lays down the grooves absolutely note perfectly creating a piece of music that just effortlessly flows along to its wonderful conclusion.

I will say it again, I am a big fan of instrumental music but it has to be really good to hold my attention. “Chronosthesia’ is such a beast, one of the best instrumental albums I have heard in a very long time, in fact and I hope it is just the start of things to come for Time Shift Accident because, if this album is anything to go by, they have an exceedingly bright future ahead of them.

Released 27th September 2019

Order the album from bandcamp here:

https://generationprog.bandcamp.com/album/chronosthesia

Caligula’s Horse launch video for ‘Slow Violence’, second single taken from ‘Rise Radiant’

Caligula’s Horse, hailing from Brisbane, Australia, a leading light in contemporary progressive metal worldwide, recently announced their fifth studio album ‘Rise Radiant’ for release on the 22nd May 2020. Produced by the group’s Sam Vallen, and mixed by Jens Bogren (Opeth, Devin Townsend Project, Leprous), the record is their most focussed and potent artistic statement to date. 

Today the band are proud to launch the video for the awe-inspiring second single ‘Slow Violence’, directed and produced by the band’s own Adrian Goleby & Dale Prinsse respectively. Watch the video now here:

Vocalist Jim Grey comments: “Our goal with Slow Violence was to create something more stripped back and minimal musically speaking, letting the guy’s performances speak for themselves. The result was something full of energy and with a powerful message that we’re all really proud of, and the hectic music video ended up capturing that explosive vibe perfectly. The idea for the themes in Slow Violence came out of my own frustrations with very visible hypocrisy in the face of a desperate need for change, and a youth that is crying out for unity in crisis. Slow Violence expresses that frustration along with the unifying message that one way or another, all are inevitably made equal.”

The band previously launched the track ‘The Tempest’, which Guitar World described as a “time signature-shifting guitar masterclass”. Listen now here: 

Guitarist Sam Vallen comments: “Rise Radiant is the album we’ve been working towards for almost a decade. It represents everything we love about Caligula’s Horse – the colour, the ferocity, the introspection, the extremes – all tied up together in a way we could never have managed until now. As a band, we’ve never felt tighter, more inspired, or more driven than in the creation of this record. We’re tremendously proud of Rise Radiant, and we can’t wait for you to hear it!”‘Rise Radiant’ is an uncompromising exploration of the human experience dressed in vivid musical colour and virtuosic performances. It is an anthem for the regeneration of self-belief, an exploration of the themes of legacy, and a rallying cry for survival. Comprised of 8 tracks, ‘Rise Radiant’ will be available as a limited CD Digipak, Gatefold 2LP + CD & as digital download. The formats also include 2 bonus tracks, covers of the Split Enz track ‘Message To My Girl’ & Peter Gabriel’s ‘Don’t Give Up’, which also features a guest appearance by Lynsey Ward of Exploring Birdsong. You can find the full track-listing below and pre-orders are available here: https://caligulashorse.lnk.to/RiseRadiant 

1.    The Tempest

2.     Slow Violence

3.     Salt

4.     Resonate

5.     Oceanrise

6.    Valkyrie

7.     Autumn

8.     The Ascent

Caligula’s Horse had previously announced their first ever North American tour, which has unfortunately had to be postponed to January-February 2021. Look out for more details on that soon.