TRANSATLANTIC announce ‘The Final Flight: Live at L’Olympia’ for release 17th February 2023

TRANSATLANTIC – the Prog Supergroup of Neal Morse, Mike Portnoy, Roine Stolt & Pete Trewavas – are pleased to present a new concert set entitled ‘The Final Flight: Live At L’Olympia’. It was recorded and filmed in France on the last stop of a tour to promote the band’s fifth and most audacious album to date, ‘The Absolute Universe’. This was the multinational group’s first outing in eight years. 

Watch the band performing ‘Owl Howl’, a highlight from ‘The Absolute Universe’ album, here:

Released in February 2021 to unanimous praise, ‘The Absolute Universe’ came in two alternate formats; an abridged 64-minute record known as ‘The Breath Of Life’, and a companion piece entitled ‘Forevermore’ that added a further four songs, clocking in at an hour and a half. Though the foundations of both were shared, each format featured lyrics and music independent of the other. 

However, when Transatlantic finally hit the road they opted to perform a third format of the album, a full-bells-and-whistles, 96-minute Blu-ray culmination of both takes known as ‘The Ultimate Edition’ that had been released in 5.1 surround sound. Following that segment of the show Transatlantic took a short intermission and returned to the stage for a rollercoaster trawl through the remainder of their lavish catalogue. From the first note of ‘Overture (The Absolute Universe)’ through to the medley based around the first two Transatlantic albums that closes the evening, the performance comprised 3 hours of music in total.

“Ever since the start of this band we have played for three hours, so that’s something we’re all used to,” states drummer Mike Portnoy, who grins whilst describing his own experience as “butt-numbing”. However, Roine Stolt is ready to admit that this time felt very slightly different. 

“It was a great tour,” acknowledges the guitarist and multi-musician, “but when you include our spot at Morsefest [where besides performing ‘The Absolute Universe’ the band also revisited their 2009 album ‘The Whirlwind’ and revised a cover of Procol Harum’s ‘In Held (’Twas) In I’ that had featured on their debut from 2000, ‘SMPTe’] I felt the challenge of learning, or re-learning, three-and-a-half hours of music before leaving Sweden. Now that I am getting slightly older, I was a little worried about playing for that long – it requires a lot of concentration: ‘Is this one in 7/8 or 9/8? Maybe we’ll play it in 13/8 and in a different key?’ But of course, once we got out there onto the stage, those thoughts went straight out of the window.”

With a chuckle, vocalist and keyboard wizard Neal Morse reveals that as the tour found its feet Transatlantic threw an additional curveball. “We started playing songs slightly differently to the way you’ve heard them on ‘The Ultimate Edition”, he grins. “So what you get with this live album is similar, but essentially it’s a fourth version [of the record]. When you play live, from night to night it helps to keep things fresh by jamming a bit and changing things up as you go. There are a few examples of that, for instance, the beginning of the last section that starts with ‘Belong’ is quite different than the record – partly because we couldn’t remember it! So we made up a new structure.”

“We’re always as well prepared as we can be but in a way Transatlantic is kind of a show band” points out bassist Pete Trewavas. “Playing alongside Mike who is a powerhouse on the drums, there is this raw power. If he wants to raise the energy that’s what we do. We’re all taking solos here and there, though we get the songs across we’re all showing off as much as we can”.

Filmed by Paul Green (who also shot their ‘Whirld Tour 2010: Live in London release), and mixed by longtime collaborator Rich Mouser, this set will be available as a Special Edition 3CD+Blu-ray Digipak (incl. 5.1 surround sound) & as a Gatefold 180g 4LP release. Both feature artwork by Thomas Ewerhard & photos by Nidhal Marzouk. Pre-order now here: https://Transatlantic.lnk.to/TheFinalFlight-LiveAtLOlympia

Tracklisting:

1. The Absolute Universe Intro

2. Overture

3. Reaching For The Sky

4. Higher Than The Morning

5. The Darkness In The Light

6. Take Now My Soul

7. Bully

8. Rainbow Sky

9. Looking For The Light

10. The World We Used To Know

11. MP Intro

12. The Sun Comes Up Today

13. Love Made A Way (Prelude)

14. Owl Howl

15. Solitude

16. Belong

17. Lonesome Rebel

18. Can You Feel It

19. Looking For The Light (Reprise)

20. The Greatest Story Never Ends

21. Love Made A Way

22. The Whirlwind Suite

23. NM & RS Intro

24. We All Need Some Light

25. The Final Medley

Line-Up (on this recording):

Neal Morse – Keyboards, Acoustic Guitar & Vocals

Mike Portnoy – Drums & Vocals 

Roine Stolt – Guitar & Vocals 

Pete Trewavas – Bass & Vocals

With:

Ted Leonard – Guitar, Keyboards, Percussion & Vocals  

Melancholic metal masters KATATONIA Unveil Second Single “Austerity” + Official Video

Spellbinding New Album, Sky Void of Stars, out January 20, 2023 via Napalm Records | Pre-Order HERE!

With eleven full-length records under their belts, Swedish melancholic metal masters KATATONIA don’t need to prove anything to anyone. Yet, it comes as no surprise that the band is about to impressively solidify their unique stance in the world of metal and beyond once more with their 12th album, the hauntingly beautiful Sky Void of Stars

Today, KATATONIA unveil the second single and Sky Void of Stars’ album opener “Austerity”, along with a visually palpable video. The heartfelt offeringcrashes through the dark with memorable, mind-bending rhythms as it shifts with elaborate guitar riffs that perfectly showcase the musical expertise and experience of the band. Topped off by the dark, conjuring voice of Jonas Renkse and mesmerizing lyricism, the gloomy mood for the album is set. The song is now available via all digital service providers worldwide. 

KATATONIA on “Austerity”:

“We hereby present you our new single and the opening track of Sky Void of Stars – ‘Austerity’. Energetic and dark, stern and disenchanted. Enjoy.” 

Watch the official video for “Austerity” :

“Melancholy at its best! Already one of the best Doom albums of 2023!“ (EMP) 

“Another heartfelt offensive by KATATONIA (Metal Hammer, DE)

“…Katatonia hit with highly energetic atmosphere, holding a gloomy ambience with epic sounds and poetic lyrics to get lost in.” (Prog Report)

Founded in 1991, KATATONIA have continually embraced the dark and the light alike, and, living through genre evolutions beyond compare, ripened their own particular form of expression. From doom and death metal to soul-gripping post rock, they’ve explored endless spheres of the genre, accumulating only the very best aspects.

Emerging from the gloom, KATATONIA is a beacon of light – breathing their unique, never stagnant, atmospheric sound through this new 11-track offering, all written and composed by vocalist Jonas Renkse. Significantly shaping the genre while still staying true to their own musical values, they orbit the musical universe – leaving their imprints on the scene. Projecting their sound to the endless realms, Sky Void of Stars shines bright in metal and beyond! 

KATATONIA on the new album, Sky Void of Stars:

“Our 12th album, Sky Void of Stars, is a dynamic journey through vibrant darkness. Born out of yearning for what was lost and not found, the very peripheries of the unreachable, but composed and condensed into human form and presented as sounds and words true to the KATATONIA signum. No stars here, just violent rain.” 

Pre-Order Sky Void of Stars HERE:

KATATONIA is one of a kind in a state of perpetual evolution. With their previously released first single, “Atrium”KATATONIA hit with a highly energetic atmosphere, holding a gloomy ambience with epic sounds and poetic lyrics to get lost in. Songs like down- tempo “Opaline” and moody “Drab Moon” fully embrace their melancholic sound while fragile “Impermanence” is accented by the original doom metal roots of the band. Like a dark star, these pieces relume the dreariness, creating an ambient auditory experience with memorable hooks while still inducing the crashing sounds of hard guitar riffs and pounding drums. The experimental mastery of the quintet and their atmospheric approach is purely vivid, making this album a thrilling sensation. With “Birds”, the artists show off their explosive potential with a quick and energetic sound, proving their genre-defying style.

Sky Void of Stars track listing:

1    Austerity

2    Colossal Shade

3    Opaline

4    Birds

5    Drab Moon

6    Author

7    Impermanence (feat. Joel Ekelöf)

8    Sclera

9    Atrium

10  No Beacon To Illuminate Our Fall

11  Absconder (Bonus Track)

Sky Void of Stars is now available for pre-order in the following configurations here:

Ltd. Deluxe Wooden Box (incl. Mediabook + Digipack Atmos Mix BluRay + Crow Pendant + Star Chart Artprint + Pin) – Napalm Records exclusive

Die Hard Edition 2LP Gatefold Ink Spot / FOREST GREEN (incl. Slipmat, Patch, 12 pages poster) – Napalm Records exclusive – SOLD OUT!

2LP Gatefold DARK GREEN – Napalm Records exclusive – SOLD OUT!

2LP Gatefold MARBLED TRANSPARENT/DARK GREEN – OMerch exclusive

2LP Gatefold MARBLED CRYSTAL CLEAR/BLACK –  OMerch exclusive

2LP Gatefold BLACK

1CD Ltd Mediabook (incl. Bonus Track)

1CD Jewelcase

Digital Album

[Ltd. Deluxe Wooden Box (incl. Mediabook + Digipack Atmos Mix BluRay + Crow Pendant + Star Chart Artprint + Pin)]

Experience KATATONIA Live 2022/23 

2022 North American Tour

w/ The Ocean Collective and Cellar Darling

02.12.22 – Los Angeles, CA / 1720

03.12.22 – San Diego, CA / Brick by Brick

04.12.22 – Mesa, AZ / Nile Theater

06.12.22 – Austin, TX / Come and Take It Live (+Soen as direct support)

07.12.22 – Dallas, TX / Amplified Live (+Soen as direct support)

09.12.22 – Atlanta, GA / Hell at The Masquerade

10.12.22 – Tampa, FL / The Orpheum 

2023 UK & Europe Tour

w/ Sólstafir and SOM

20.01.23 FI – Tampere / Tampereen Tullikamari (Pakkahuone & Klubi)

21.01.23 FI – Helsinki / Kulttuuritalo

22.01.23 EE – Tallinn / Helitehas

24.01.23 PL – Warsaw / Klub Stodoła

25.01.23 DE – Berlin / Huxleys Neue Welt

26.01.23 DE – Cologne / Essigfabrik

27.01.23 DE – Stuttgart / LKA Longhorn

28.01.23 CZ – Prague / ROXY Prague

29.01.23 AT – Vienna / Arena Wien

31.01.23 HU – Budapest / Akvárium Klub

01.02.23 DE – Munich / Backstage Werk

02.02.23 CH – Zurich / Komplex 457

03.02.23 IT – Milan / Live Club

04.02.23 FR – Lyon / Ninkasi GERLAND

06.02.23 ES – Madrid / Kapital

07.02.23 ES – Barcelona / La Salamandra

08.02.23 FR – Toulouse / Le Metronum

10.02.23 GB – London / O2 Forum Kentish Town

11.02.23 GB – Manchester / O2 Ritz Manchester

12.02.23 GB – Bristol / Marble Factory

13.02.23 GB – Glasgow / The Garage

14.02.23 GB – Wolverhampton / KK’s Steel Mill

16.02.23 DE – Frankfurt Am Main / Batschkapp

17.02.23 NL – Haarlem / Patronaat

19.02.23 FR – Paris / Le Trianon

20.02.23 LU – Luxemburg / Rockhal

21.02.23 BE – Antwerp / Muziekcentrum Trix

22.02.23 DE – Hamburg / Gruenspan

23.02.23 DK – Copenhagen / Amager Bio

24.02.23 NO – Oslo / Rockefeller Music Hall

25.02.23 SE – Stockholm / Fryshuset Arenan

KATATONIA – 2023 Latin American Tour

17.03.23 MX – Guadalajara / C3 Stage

18.03.23 MX – Monterrey / Cafe Iguana

19.03.23 MX –  Mexico City / Cafe Auditorio

22.03.23 CH – Santiago / Club Chocolate

24.03.23 AR – Buenos Aires / El Teatrito

25.03.23 BR – Sao Paulo / Carioca Club

KATATONIA are:

Jonas Renske – Vocals

Anders Nyström – Guitars

Roger Öjersson – Guitars

Niklas Sandin – Bass

Daniel Moilanen – Drums

Nine Skies announce their new concept album ‘The Lightmaker’ with a magnificent teaser and the story. Coming in 2023

Following the success of their acoustic album ‘5.20’, Nine Skies announce their new concept album ‘The Lightmaker’ with a magnificent teaser and the story.

The Lightmaker tells the story of Rudy, who is now living in 1001st and final life. 

The album retraces some of his existences through the view of several characters and the introspection of these various incarnations which undoubtedly encourage reflection on the human condition.

Nine Skies are a French progressive rock band inspired by many influences: rock, pop, progressive, classical and jazz.

They have released three full length studio albums and one live album.

Hungarian prog masters Kaltenecker-Marko share video for “Space Junk”

Kaltenecker-Marko, the Hungarian duo of Zsolt Kaltenecker & Adam Marko, released their debut album ‘Space Junk’ in April 2022. The album is a unique mixture of prog, modern jazz and other electronic styles which manages to impress and engage the listener at the same time.

Today, the duo are pleased to share the new video for the track “Space Junk ” which you can see now here:

Zsolt Kaltenecker & Adam Marko are among Hungary’s top musicians, and also members of the well-known instrumental band Special Providence who have toured with Haken, Spock’s Beard, and others. The duo invites the listeners to a special musical journey from prog, djent, downtempo to trip-hop and jazzfusion, many electronic styles are recalled live on two instruments, keyboards and drums. The minimal setup is really challenging and also gives air and space for the artists to showcase their abilities as musicians.

Tracklist:

1. Secret Shifter
2. Doubt
3. Higher
4. Space Junk
5. The 7th Wave
6. Unexpected
7. Wormhole
8. Bill Murray
9. Bunuel
10. Lemuria
11. Dharma Bums
12. Glitches
13. The Way 

Get the album here:  https://bfan.link/space-junk

RIVERSIDE – Release new single/video “Self-Aware (Single Edit)” off upcoming album “ID.Entity”; Announce North American Tour

Today, Poland’s pioneering and leading Progressive Rock band RIVERSIDE are pleased to present a second single for their upcoming studio album “ID.Entity”, to be released via InsideOutMusic on January 20th, 2023.

Check out the album’s closing track “Self-Aware” in its ‘Single Edit’ version and with an entertaining video clip directed by Marcin Zawadziński and Mariusz Duda here: 

RIVERSIDE’s Mariusz Duda checked in with the following comment about the new single: 
’Self-Aware’ is a song which summarises the entire album, and talks about how it’s difficult these days to live in a society and ignore all the social changes, how you can’t simply be passive, “shut yourself off”, or “hole up deep in the woods”. We need each other in order to change something in our lives. Not everything can be done single-handedly; “I have to be better than others, I have to be the best” is not a good mantra. We need cooperation to achieve goals. And it’s important that this message comes not from a solo artist, but from a band, whose success lies mostly in cooperation within the band and interaction with their listeners.”

“ID.Entity”, the group’s 8th studio album was recorded and mixed in two studios – The Boogie Town Studio in Otwock with Paweł Marciniak and in Serakos studio in Warsaw with Magda and Robert Srzedniccy -, mastered by Robert Szydło and produced by RIVERSIDE’s Mariusz Duda himself. The “ID.Entity” artwork was created by Polish artist Jarek Kubicki. 

A first single off “ID.Entity” was recently released via the track “I’m Done With You”, which can also be seen here in a video-clip animated and directed by Thomas Hicks / www.thomashicks.co.uk here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3q6XJfKxKb4

RIVERSIDE also launched a “Riverside Heavy” playlist featuring “I’m Done With You” as well as many other heavier tracks from the band’s comprehensive catalogue, which you can check out here:

 Here is the standard track-listing for the album: 

RIVERSIDE – “ID.Entity” (53:11)

Tracklist:

1. Friend or Foe? (07:29)

2. Landmine Blast (04:50)

3. Big Tech Brother (07:24)

4. Post-Truth (05:37)

5. The Place Where I Belong (13:16)

6. I’m Done With You (05:52)

7. Self-Aware (8:43)

The bonus material appearing on “ID.Entity” includes the instrumental tracks “Age of Anger” (11:56) and “Together Again” (06:29) as well as “Friend or Foe? (Single Edit)” (05:59) and “Self-Aware (Single Edit)” (05:29).

The album will be available in the following formats: 

–        Ltd. Deluxe 2CD+Blu-ray Artbook 
(Disc 1: Album, Disc 2: All 4 bonus tracks, Blu-ray: All main 9 album tracks in Dolby Atmos, 5.1 and 24bit HighRes Audio mix versions) 
-> Pictured above!

–        Ltd. 2CD Mediabook (Disc 1: Album, Disc 2: All 4 bonus tracks)
-> Pictured above!

–        CD Jewelcase

–        Deluxe Digital Album (Including all 4 bonus tracks)

–       Digital album

The album’s vinyl version comes as Gatefold 2LP (With the bonus tracks “Age of Anger” and “Together Again” on Side D) in the following variants:
– Black vinyl: All outlets
– Orange vinyl: All outlets

– White vinyl: 500x copies via JPC & Burning Shed
– Yellow vinyl: 500x copies via EMP & Just For Kicks
– Sky Blue vinyl: 600x copies via Laser’s Edge & CM Distro/Webshop Europe

The pre-order for “ID.Entity” in its various formats is available here:
https://riverside.lnk.to/IDEntity

“ID.Entity”, an album that extends and expands RIVERSIDE’s characteristic sound, but all in a revamped and more dynamic formula, follows 2018’s widely acclaimed ‘Wasteland’ album, which entered the charts in Germany at # 13, The Netherlands at # 28, Switzerland at # 23, Austria at # 39, UK at # 83, Finland at # 30, France at # 97, Czech Republic at # 59 and Poland at # 1. 

RIVERSIDE have recently also announced their return to North American stages in February/March 2023 in promotion of “ID.Entity”. Check out the band’s upcoming confirmed live-dates here:

RIVERSIDE – Live 2023:

North American Tour:
17. February 2023 Tampa, FL – The Orpheum

18. February 2023 Orlando, FL – The Abbey

19. February 2023 Atlanta, GA – Hell At The Masquerade

21. February 2023 Dallas, TX – Amplified Live

22. February 2023 Austin, TX – Come And Take It Live

24. February 2023 Mesa, AZ – The Nile Theater

25. February 2023 Pomona, CA – The Glass House

26. February 2023 Berkeley, CA – Cornerstone

28. February 2023 Vancouver, BC – The Rickshaw Theatre

1. March 2023 Seattle, WA – Neumos

3. March 2023 Salt Lake City, UT – The State Room

4. March 2023 Boulder, CO – Fox Theatre

7. March 2023 St. Paul, MN – Amsterdam Bar And Hall

8. March 2023 Chicago, IL – Bottom Lounge

10. March 2023 Toronto, ON – Lee’s Palace

11. March 2023 Montreal, QC – Corona Theatre

12. March 2023 Quebec City, QC – Imperial Bell

14. March 2023 Boston, MA – Brighton Music Hall

16. March 2023 New York, NY – Sony Hall

17. March 2023 Philadelphia, PA – Underground Arts

18. March 2023 Pittsburgh, PA – Thunderbird Music Hall

19. March 2023 Washington, DC – Black Cat

21. March 2023 Carrboro, NC – Cat’s Cradle
—————————-

15-16. April 2023 Eindhoven (The Netherlands) – Prognosis Festival
22-23. April 2023 London (UK) – Prognosis Festival 
https://www.prognosis-festival.nl/

More RIVERSIDE live show announcements and further details about “ID.Entity” coming soon…

RIVERSIDE line-up:
Michał Łapaj – keyboards and Hammond Organ
Mariusz Duda – vocal, bass
Piotr Kozieradzki – drums
Maciej Meller – guitar

Review – Downriver Dead men Go – Ruins

Downriver Dead Men Go is a cinematic post-rock band from Leiden, the Netherlands. Their highly anticipated third album ‘Ruins’ has just been released. DDMG previously released two critically acclaimed albums: ‘Tides’ in 2015 and ‘Departures’ in 2018, gathering a loyal and ever-growing fan base. Both albums feature a mesmerizing, atmospheric, melancholic sound, ranging from post-rock to touches of prog and dark wave.

I’ve been a long time fan of the band from my association with FREIA Music through my work with Bad Elephant Music and every DDMG album is a dense, imposing and highly melodic musical experience.‘Ruins’ takes that base and ramps up the tension to 11, a dark, brooding and utterly magnificent musical encounter that will linger long in the memory.

The guitars have that monolithic feel, as heavy and hard as age old granite yet hauntingly melodic at the same time. The music has a timeless grace to it, a melancholic leviathan that has a different concept of time or space than we do and has just awoken from an ageless slumber. There’s a wistful, desolate beauty to the songs starting with the timeless elegance of title track Ruins and the sparse grandeur of Secret. The sorrowful and plaintive pain evident in Helpless and Line in the Sand gives the tracks a thoughtful and mournful stateliness and the widescreen, cinematic magnificence of longest track Cruel World is a heart-wrenching joy to behold. The album closes with the short hypnotic apprehension of The Lie and you left feeling almost bereft.

‘Ruins’ is an album of varying emotions, stark highs and solemn lows, it’s a reflective and meditative work of art that is the ultimate soundtrack to a cold and rainy day spent in front of a roaring fire and, in my opinion, is simply superb!

Released 24th November, 2022.

Order from bandcamp here:

Ruins | Downriver Dead Men Go (bandcamp.com)

The Tangent announce ‘Pyramids, Stars & Other Stories: The Tangent Live Recordings 2004-2017’ for January 2023 release

The Tangent are pleased to present ‘Pyramids, Stars & Other Stories: The Tangent Live Recordings 2004-2017’ for release on the 27th January 2023 via InsideOutMusic. Collecting together tracks from 3 line-ups of The Tangent, this 2CD & 3LP album collects together show recordings from 2004, 2011 & 2017. Band leader Andy Tillison comments: “A Triple Live LP is the stuff of Bucket Lists, dreamed of doing one of these since I was a kid”.

The album will be available as a 2CD Digipak, a Gatefold 3LP+2CD & LP-booklet, as well as digitally worldwide. Listen to the track ‘A Spark In The Aether’ recorded by the bands current line-up, and pre-order now here: https://TheTangent.lnk.to/PyramidsStarsOtherStories_TheTangentLiveRecordings2004-2017

Included in its entirety is the 2004 ‘Pyramids And Stars’ concert in Germany featuring the “Roine Stolt” lineup of The Tangent playing its way through the majority of the debut ‘Music That Died Alone’ album along with (then) new material from their second album ‘The World That We Drive Through’.

Added to that, there are tracks from the COMM era line-up of the band at a concert in the UK – plus music recorded in the USA in 2017 by the band’s current line-up. These originally appeared on the ‘Southend On Sea’ and ‘Hotel Cantaffordit’ fan releases respectively. 

All is presented inside a re-imagined Ed Unitsky sleeve, to create a package that fans are sure to love. 

“This is a real, proper, live album” says Tillison. “It’s candid, it’s spontaneous, it has mistakes and things that are a bit too loud and things that are a bit too quiet. It’s what happened on stage at three gigs at which “making a live album” never crossed our minds.”  

The full tracklisting is below:

Side One

1. The World We Drive Though

Side Two

3. The Canterbury Sequence

4. The Winning Game

Side Three

5. In Darkest Dreams

Side Four

6. The Music That Died Alone

7. Lucky Man

Side Five

8. A Spark In The Aether

9. A Sale Of Two Souls

10. Perdu Dans Paris

Side Six

11. A Crisis In Mid Life

12. Doctor Livingstone (I Presume)

The CD’s (included with the vinyl edition) also include all of the above with the addition of:

13. Titanic Calls Carpathia

14. Two Rope Swings

Andy Tillison – Keyboards & Vocals (all tracks)

Jonas Reingold – Bass Guitar (all tracks except 9,10,11,13)

Luke Machin – Guitars & Vox (Tracks 8-14)

Steve Roberts – Drums (Tracks 8, 12, 14)

Roine Stolt – Guitars & Vocals (Tracks 1 – 7)

Zoltán Csörsz – Drums (Tracks 1 – 7)

Sam Baine – Keyboards (Tracks 1 – 7)

Tony ‘Funkytoe’ Latham – Drums (Tracks 10,11,13)

Dan Mash – Bass (Tracks 10,11,13) 

The Tangent online:
www.thetangent.org

https://www.facebook.com/groups/alltangentmembers/

Review Phi Yaan-Zek – Interdimensional Garden Party – by John Wenlock-Smith

I first came across Phi Yaan-Zek as many others may have, through the pages and tracks on Prog Magazine, although at that time it didn’t really grab me. I was probably on a different musical phase ,as is often the way with me. However, I recently read a review of his latest album from a writer for The Progressive Aspect whose eloquent words piqued my interest, hence this review.

In all the years of my life I have never really been a big fan of Frank Zappa, although I can clearly see his influence in this music. I certainly like it here, for sure, and definitely in the humour contained within these tracks. Phi is certainly a very fine musician and can play a very mean guitar line when required. He also enlists an extraordinary cast of collaborators, like Andy Edwards and John Jowitt of Frost* and he also has a couple of Aristocrats in tow to give this music much flair and finesse.

It has strong touches of psychedelia along with certain hippyish elements, but these are woven into the overall sound of the album. I am certainly highly impressed by all of this excellent and exciting music, it is all wonderfully produced with excellent guitar skills on display. The music also has jazz elements at times, giving the sound a definite jazz/fusion blend.

An outstanding track is track Wickety Wickety, which is a cross between a rumbling song, something like Nelly The Elephant but with brass embellishments. It is rather a fun piece but utterly engrossing and captivating. This whole album is different, it is definitely a positive sounding album and will imbue feelings of well being and contentment. Above all, this music is good fun and we should all be glad of that, especially at this time. Also notable is Anomaly Temporal with an almost reggae swing and spoken vocal from , this also has a touch of Star Trek to it and rounds out with an excellent instrumental finale.

I really enjoy the instrumental flourishes that abound throughout this very imaginative album, it really is a fascinating and captivating listen. Phi is a very fluid guitarist, think of folks like Steve Vai and you won’t be far off the mark, but he is also very melodic in tone and, whilst he can shred with the best, he works for the track, not just to stun.

This is clearly shown on My Favourite UFO which combines his fine guitar virtuosity with a strong tune to fine effect. This track has a dreamy type of sound and reminds me of 10CC in parts, it also has great bass from Bryan Beller of The Aristocrats. The song speeds up towards its conclusion and this proves very effective, as is the vocal from Ellie Williams. The next track Floating gives room for some free reign musical improvisation which is taken by Phi with Mike Keneally in tow, along with the fabulous and dynamic Aristocrats rhythm team of Beller and Marco Minneman. With Phi’s guitar floating over the top most efficiently and effectively, it really is a sublime piece of intent delivered really well.

Final track The Puffball That Ate My Village is another monster track with a similar pace to Wickety Wickety but with fiery guitar interjections and interplay between Phi and Chanan Hanspal, who play off against each other in a six string orgy of soloing. It’s all highly effective, especially with Andy Edwards‘ drums and Steve Lawson’s majestic bass playing that anchor it all together seamlessly. The song also features lots of guests adding chant type vocals, which really sounds good. When this track end there is a brief pause of about 2 minutes before A reprise of opener The Interdimensional Garden Party plays, this is a fitting close to an exceptional album but wait, there’s more as there is a brief untitled track that is basically the words spoken backwards deliberately.

This is a truly entertaining album with fabulous music and performances throughout. Definitely one of my album of the year contenders, outstanding. In a year that has seen so many really good albums, this one can truly stand tall and proud and I recommend it without hesitation, especially for its weirdness and sense of fun.

Released 7th October, 2022.

Order from bandcamp here:

Interdimensional Garden Party | Phi Yaan-Zek (pyzmusic.com)

VLMV – For Empire – Live At Tortington Church

Picture by Paris Grace

On one cold, wet and windy afternoon in early November VLMV, aka Pete Lambrou, brought VLMV’s live set up to a Twelfth Century Church on England’s South Coast.

The resulting video is a beautiful one-take-completely-live recording of usual set opener ‘For Empire’, taken from the latest album Sing With Abandon. For Empire’s title and general demeanour evoke an apprehensive anti nostalgia for the old world, and the lyrics are plainly critical, but throughout weaves a feeling of yearning: ‘I was hoping someone could turn this boat around’.

Pete Lambrou on the setting:

“This had to be recorded and filmed in an old Church; being one of the absolute pillars of old empire. The older the better. Not all the songs from the album were written in the midst of lockdown. A couple were performed live on the last tour before the pandemic hit, including For Empire. But their roots are in the aftermath of Brexit, and this feeling of abandonment I’d felt throughout, and then the realisation that your neighbours aren’t who you thought they were.”

The Churches Conservation Trust:

“Tortington, the homestead of Torhta’s people, is recorded in Domesday Book (1086). The entrance to this twelfth-century flint church looks like something out of a mediaeval fantasy – three rows of Norman carvings arch over a thick wooden door set with ornamental hinge straps. Inside, creatures unlike anything found in nature peer down from the chancel arch. They are called ‘beakheads’ – boggle-eyed monsters with beaks, tongues and squid-like  tentacles that frown and glare at visitors below. Once they would have been painted in bright colours to entertain – or terrify – worshippers.”

VLMV (pronounced and formerly known as ALMA) is a self-proclaimed ambient-ish post-something singer-songwriter / producer from London. Part of the illustrious Erased Tapes family, VLMV have released 2 albums on Fierce Panda Records, alongside 2022’s Sing With Abandon out on Pete’s own label, Nice Weather for Airstrikes. Live, VLMV deploy loop stations, multiple delay pedals, piano and strings to create a slow-moving, high-flying soundscape of luscious gravitas.

“Building atmospheric and quietly epic soundscapes that creep up on you unannounced….like a beam of light through a dark, cold night.” – Lauren Laverne BBC6 Music

“As worthy of your love and admiration as anything Sigur Rós or Explosions In The Sky have released” Team Rock

Featured image by Jess Robinson

Review – 25 Yard Screamer – Nemesis

‘Nemesis’ is the eighth studio album from Welsh Progressive Rock band 25 Yard Screamer. Released three years after their ‘Natural Satellite’ album, and twenty years after their inception, this new release takes key elements of the band’s past and combines them with a fresh modernity to produce a new musical voice to take them into their future.

25 Yard Screamer was formed in 2002 following Matt Clarke (bass) and Donal Owen (drums) assisting Nick James with a showcase gig for a music management company. The experience through rehearsals for that show, gave an indication to all three that there was a future in their collaboration. 2003 saw their first album ‘The Pictures Within’, 2011 brought the fourth album ‘Until All Are One’, a band favourite. This marked the bands first association with WhiteKnight Records, the label owned and run by Will Mackie and Rob Reed.

With their backing the international market opened up and the band started distributing and selling in the UK and around the world. Since then the band have released three more albums through WhiteKnight, 2013’s concept album ‘Something That Serves To Warn Or Remind’, 2016’s partial retrospective ‘Keep Sending Signals’, and 2019’s ‘Natural Satellite’.

‘Nemesis’ is my first experience of the band and it has made quite a big impression on me. Intelligent, insightful and thoughtful progressive rock with, at times, a distinctly harder edge. The band quote a variety of influences combining on this album, from Steven Wilson to King Crimson and The Mars Volta but also things such as the Conceptual and Performance Art of Marina Abramovic, the attitudes and relationships of people towards life and technology and how, as a society, we are choosing to exist today.

25 Yard Screamer deliver nine tracks of brooding, sparse music imbued with a dark melodic feel. I’m a particular fan of Incident, The Vibrations Of Speech and the haunting power of Giving Away My Last Secret with it’s harsh but brilliant guitar solo but the whole album is a mature and assured journey into a band who are confident of where they stand in the world and where they are heading. Dynamic, often crushing, riffs combine with thunderous drums, soaring keyboards and charismatic vocals to deliver a sound that, while familiar, has nuances all of its own. The final track on the album, Fragility Of Angels is exquisite, thoughtful vocals combine with sublime and wistful music to give us a hypnotic and mesmerising masterpiece resplendent with one of the best solos you will hear this year.

‘Nemesis’ may be my first step into the world of 25 Yard Screamer but it will definitely not be my last. This latest album from the Welshmen is a rather sublime slice of modern progressive rock complimented by hard rock sensibilities and deserves all the success it can garner.

Released October 7th, 2022.

Order from White Knight Records here:

25 Yard Screamer – Nemesis CD (whiteknightshop2.co.uk)