Archive Review – Abel Ganz – Abel Ganz from 2014

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 stool.

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!

Released July 8th, 2014.

Order the album from bandcamp here:

https://abelganz.bandcamp.com/album/abel-ganz

PSYCHOTIC WALTZ – Launch new song “Devils And Angels”

Pre-order for upcoming studio album ‘The God-Shaped Void’ now open!

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: 

https://psychoticwaltz.lnk.to/TheGodShapedVoid

PSYCHOTIC WALTZ line-up:

(Left to right on featured image by Axel Jusseit)

Dan Rock – guitars & keys

Devon Graves – vocals

Ward Evans – bass

Norman Leggio – drums

Brian McAlpin – guitars

IAMTHEMORNING SINGER-SONGWRITER – MARJANA SEMKINA PREMIERES NEW TRACK & VIDEO FOR “EVERYTHING BURNS”

TAKEN FROM HER DEBUT SOLO ALBUM – SLEEPWALKING  
(KSCOPE – 14TH FEBRUARY 2020)

With Marjana Semkina,Iamthemorning’s lyricist, singer and co-songwriter, set to release her spellbinding debut solo album, Sleepwalking on 14th February 2020 through Kscope, she has premiered the video for the track “Everything Burns”.

“The song ‘Everything Burns’ focuses on the demons that you take with you no matter how far you try to go; the fact is you just can’t run away from them. No matter how hard you try to change everything around you, they will stay with you unless you realise that the most important change, the one that is by far the hardest to achieve – the one that happens inside of you” Semkina explains the meaning behind the song. 

She continues by reflecting on how the clip, produced together with the long term collaborator of iamthemorning Eggor Kree, refences this side of the struggle “these toxic situations that we find ourselves trapped in seemingly, with no escape, you just have to find strength within yourself to put an end to it, even if this means you have to destroy something familiar & precious that you’ve been building for a while . Stepping into the unknown can be scary, but sometimes it’s (metaphorically) necessary to burn everything to the ground and start anew and work very hard to not fall into the same old patterns in this new life of yours.”

Sleepwalkingis available to PRE-ORDER HEREon CD / LP and digitally (with “Everything Burns” available as an instant download on digital pre-orders). Note to fans – Sleepwalking will be released under an alternative spelling – Mariana Semkina.

Sleepwalking will be available on CD / LP and digitally and is available to PRE-ORDER HERE

Sleepwalking tracklisting 

1. Dark Matter [03:12] 

2. Am I Sleeping Or Am I Dead [04:27] 

3. Turn Back Time [04:06] 

4. Ars Longa Vita Brevis [03:03] 

5. Invisible [03:07] 

6. Lost At Sea [04:59] 

7. Skin [04:52] 

8. How To Be Alone [02:50] 

9. Everything Burns [03:14] 

10. Mermaid Song [04:32] 

11. Still Life [04:08] 

Marjana Semkina is currently performing as Iamthemorning in support to The Flower Kings, in promotion of the band’s recent album The Bell.
10/12 – Columbia Theater, Berlin, Germany11/12 – Amager Bio, Copenhagen, Denmark12/12 – Brewhouse, Gothenburg, Sweden14/12 –  Kraken, Stockholm, Sweden 

Review – Human Pyramids – Power Pose

“Music is an outburst of the soul.” ― Frederick Delius

I absolutely adored the second album from Human Pyramids, the cinematic, orchestral supergroup from Glasgow, Scotland. Released in 2017, ‘Home’ was uplifting, inspiring and a salve to the soul, all delivered with a touch of fun and humour in one undeniably wonderful package.

So I was definitely a happy bunny when I received an email about a follow up to that bundle of joy. Led by Composer/Producer Paul Russell, ‘Power Pose’ features musicians from Axes, Suicide Bid, Admiral Fallow, Scottish Ballet and Puff Uproar.

Their third album was recorded all over Scotland, London and Berlin. With luscious strings, rousing horns, shimmering woodwinds and bubbling synths, the album expands upon their trademark euphoric sound from the first 2 records which have sound-tracked countless TV shows, documentaries and films. The album was mastered by Joe Lambert (Dirty Projectors / Animal Collective) in Jersey City.

Paul Russell

A musical experience like no other, Human Pyramids give us instrumental music that appears to come from a world where children’s TV could provide the soundtrack to life, an innocent joy abounds throughout the the twelve engaging and compelling tracks, opener 4000 Miles using strings and brass to wondrous effect. Like a glorious sunrise rising on a virtuous, unblemished world, it lifts your heart and makes your soul soar.

There’s playfulness and candour in the pared back delight of tracks like Volcano and Treacle and pomposity and fun in the catchy drive of Boxing Day. I always felt there was a childlike awe at the heart of ‘Home’ and that perception continues with the excellent Confetti and in the staccato strings of Hospital Radio.

‘Power Pose’ sees the collective deliver more maturity without losing the spontaneous touch inherent on the previous album. The enchanting and captivating music continues through Memory Map, the off- kilter, sometime country blues aura of Wisdom Teeth and Hanlon’s Razor and culminates in the incredible fun-filled high energy brass of the funky The Mighty Atom and the more laid back final track Trouble.

I think Paul and the rest of Human Pyramids have given us what is possibly the most playful, captivating, bewitching and beguiling album of 2019, it’s like a celebration of all that is good in this world delivered wrapped up for you to open on Christmas Day (Yes, that is the release date!). By golly, we really must all have been very good this year…

Released 25th December 2019

Pre-order, and listen to 4000 Miles, from the link below:

https://humanpyramids.bandcamp.com/album/power-pose

Toundra announce new album ‘Das Cabinet des Dr.Caligari’to be released on 28th February 2020 via InsideOut

‘Das Cabinet des Dr.Caligari’ is the latest musical initiative of TOUNDRA, the intrepid instrumental rock band from Spain, that once again showcases their mutable capability to approach new projects and reinvent their art. This is not just an exceptional soundtrack to the quintessential German silent horror film directed by Robert Wiene that turns exactly 100 years old in 2020, it’s also a dialogue with the listener with the intention of questioning ideas like manipulation, freedom and human nature itself. The album will be released by InsideOut/Century Media on February 28th 2020.

To get a glimpse of the magic of this amazing soundtrack the band has just presented an appetizer of what’s soon going to be premiered as the first video & single, that will be available next week:

The band states, “‘Das Cabinet des Dr.Caligari’ is a movie with a very strong visual energy. It’s a film that takes elements of the terror movies to speak about authoritarianism. About how ideas can be controlled and eventually lead a human individual to do the worst things. It was premiered in between-war period, and it represents an advice about the real danger of some ideologies that nowadays are getting a new life across Europe; ideologies based in intolerance. That’s why we like to see this film as historical document that invites to some conscious thinking rather than let ourselves go where intolerants want to take us.”

The artwork has been done by Riki Blanco and it features all the iconic elements of the movie.

There will be a tour to present the album live and dates will be announced very soon, so stay tuned.

TOUNDRA took the world by storm with their personal instrumental rock on 2007. Since then, they have toured Europe intensively to the point of being considered one of the continent’s most exciting rock acts and have also taken their challenging music to places like Mexico or the United States. They have released three albums independently and two under the imprint of InsideOut/Superball and championed charts crossovering countries and genres, and they even formed the project Exquirla, which blends flamenco and rock. 

Review – Dreaming Madmen – Ashes of a Diary

Dreaming Madmen is a Progressive Rock duo formed by two Lebanese brothers Mathew & Christopher Aboujaoude in their home studio in their hometown Deir El Harf, Lebanon and based in Austin, TX.

They began their musical careers at the young ages of 7 and 9. Mathew starting out with keyboards, then picking up the electric guitar at the age 9, and playing bass guitar as well. Christopher starting out with saxophone at the age of 9, bass & drums at the age of 14, and moving on to keyboards as well, at a later stage.

They are greatly influenced by Pink Floyd, Rush, Yes, Porcupine Tree, King Crimson and the band’s sound revolves around the Progressive Rock/Progressive Metal/Art Rock milieu.

The band released its debut LP ‘Ashes of a Diary’ on September 14, 2019. It is a concept album that delves into the psyche of an elderly man, who discovers an old journal of his, filled with writings detailing a life of pain, obsession, love, hatred and regret.

If you like your progressive rock in a mesmerising and hypnotic style then you need look no further than these hugely talented brothers. Scintillating guitar work abounds throughout the album with solos reminiscent of the great David Gilmour but they are part of the structure of the music which is intelligent and thought provoking.

The wonderful, dreamlike music leaves tendrils of perception touching your mind as the elegant guitar and keyboard solos trace a creative path across your soul. There’s a pleading, plaintive quality to the soulful vocals that take you on this often harrowing journey.

Stand out tracks like Your Possessor and the gently drifting Lock Thyself have a surreal and hypnagogic quality that leaves a lasting impression on you even as they fade away. The heavier soul of Enigma drives along with irrepressible force, keyboards and guitar firing away in unison and the album closes with the best Porcupine Tree track that Steven Wilson never wrote. Final Page is utterly captivating, the vocals heart-wrenchingly beautiful in their delivery and epitomising the fantastic songwriting skills that Mathew and Christopher have. The guitar solo is delightfully exquisite and had me in raptures, as elegant and graceful as they come.

I can’t be effusive enough about how good this album really is, for a debut release it is pretty astounding. The highest praise I can give it is that I’m pretty sure that Mr Wilson himself would have been happy to have released it. Beguiling and enthralling, ‘Ashes Of A Diary’ sees Dreaming Madmen enter the scene on an absolute high.

Released September 14 2019.

Download the alum at the link below:

https://store.cdbaby.com/cd/dreamingmadmen

AWARD-WINNING IAMTHEMORNING SINGER-SONGWRITER – MARJANA SEMKINA RELEASES HER DEBUT SOLO ALBUM SLEEPWALKING

Following the success of four highly praised albums with Iamthemorning, the lyricist, singer and co-songwriter Marjana Semkina releases her spellbinding debut solo album, Sleepwalking on 14th February 2020 through Kscope. The album will be released under an alternative spelling – Mariana Semkina.

Characterised by her composed and unique voice, complex melodic lines and poetic lyrics with literary references, Semkina has often compared favourably with Kate Bush. The new material draws from the Iamthemorning soundscape but exists fully in Marjana’s world; a compelling mixture of alternative folk, pop, drama, beauty and emotionally purging lyrics. 

Marjana explains the motivation behind releasing a solo album “It wasn’t my plan to ascribe any profound meaning or concept to creating Sleepwalking, it’s purpose was more personally therapeutic, it was supposed just to help me get through some dark times, and at the end of that period in my life I found myself, not only renewed but with a collection of songs that were too personal to release under any other name other than my own.”

She continues “I wanted to use Sleepwalking as a way to translate emotions in the most sincere and unrefined way. No sugarcoating, no filters, just creative, honest thought caught in the moment. Turning those dark times and feelings into pure creative energy, something beautiful, something that has purpose”

Sleepwalking is a musical blend akin to the darker folk of Aldous Harding, Marissa Nadler, Sumie and Florist. To aid her vision for Sleepwalking, Marjana invited renowned keyboardist, drummer and bassist Jordan Rudess (Dream Theater), Craig Blundell and Nick Beggs (Steven Wilson), as well as the St. Petersburg Orchestra “1703” and frequent collaborator Vlad Avy.

Marjana is teasing fans with a glimpse into what to expect with this trailer featuring four songs from Sleepwalking – “Am I Sleeping Or Am I Dead”, “Invisible”, “Turn Back Time”, “Mermaid Song” and “Still Life”. WATCH & LISTEN HERE

The stunning album artwork makes reference to Semkina’s love for classical art, unifying photography with the 17th-Century Vanitas movement; “I am a big lover of classical art, and with this cover I wanted to create some sort of a unity between medium of photography and the Vanitas  art movement, a genre of still life painting. The paintings of the genre usually contain collections of objects symbolic of the inevitability of death and the transience and vanity of earthly achievements and pleasures; it exhorts the viewer to consider mortality, which is extremely close to where this album came from.”

Sleepwalking will be available on CD / LP and digitally and is available to PRE-ORDER HERE

Sleepwalking tracklisting 

1. Dark Matter [03:12] 

2. Am I Sleeping Or Am I Dead [04:27] 

3. Turn Back Time [04:06] 

4. Ars Longa Vita Brevis [03:03] 

5. Invisible [03:07] 

6. Lost At Sea [04:59] 

7. Skin [04:52] 

8. How To Be Alone [02:50] 

9. Everything Burns [03:14] 

10. Mermaid Song [04:32] 

11. Still Life [04:08] 

Marjana Semkina will be performing as Iamthemorning in support to The Flower Kings in December, in promotion of the band’s recent album The Bell.

01/12 – Bahnhof Pauli, Hamburg, Germany

02/12– Musik Zentrum, Hannover, Germany

03/12 – OK Andaluzia, Piekary Slaskie, Poland

04/12 – Klub U Bazyla, Poznan, Poland

06/12 – Burgerweeshuis, Deventer, Netherlands

07/12 – De Boerderij, Zoetermeer, Netherlands

08/12 – Scala, London, UK

09/12 – Piano, Dortmund, Germany

10/12 – Columbia Theater, Berlin, Germany

11/12 – Amager Bio, Copenhagen, Denmark

12/12 – Brewhouse, Gothenburg, Sweden

14/12 –  Kraken, Stockholm, Sweden


Godsticks announce new album ‘Inescapable’ and Share first single ‘Denigrate’ feat. TesseracT’s Daniel Tompkins

Godsticks open 2020 with their new and most accomplished studio album, Inescapable. Their mix of heavy rock, progressive and alternative metal with a dynamic range of angular riffs and emotional depth will leave listeners reeling. The band’s sound has refined over their releases on Kscope, beginning with the technically astounding metal on Emergence to the more industrial and progressive-influenced Faced With Rage. Now, with Inescapable, the band have channelled their energy and technical ability into the melody, phrasing and vocal performance, allowing emotion to take centre stage.

The band found themselves wanting a definitive theme running through Inescapable, without turning it into a concept album, of being more open, more personal and ultimately one that shines an inquisitive light on Charles’s struggle with inner demons which gave the songs a new level of intimacy.

“Lyrically, I’ve always shared personal thoughts, feelings and experiences but in a very ambiguous way. For Inescapable – in a conscious effort not to repeat ourselves – I thought I’d be a little more self-reflective and perhaps examine some of my inner demons. I have a strange relationship with music, and especially playing guitar. I would struggle to survive without either, but equally they have made my life mentally torturous because my own self-worth is completely wrapped up in them. I used to be very much a perfectionist in my early years, and whilst some people may wear that as a badge of honour, I eventually viewed it as huge heavy weight dragging down. It was a long time before I arrived at the realisation that perfection was impossible to achieve.” elaborates Darran Charles.

Perfectly highlighting the album’s leitmotif, the band reveal their first single “Denigrate”, “the writing of this song was a sort of analysis of my ongoing battle with perfectionism and the general feeling that nothing you do ever meets the impossibly high standards you set for yourself”. The songfeatures additional vocals from TesseracT’s gifted vocalist Daniel Tompkins to record vocal harmonies, adding an extra layer of aggression and energy.

The shoot for the quirky video, directed by George Laycock (Blacktide Audio/Visual) proved to be a memorable day for the band as Godsticks drummer Tom Price recalls “Everyone in the band was so excited about the concept, but when we arrived on set and saw a large table full of cakes, sweets, chocolate, sugar, sprinkles, honey and all manners of confectionary, the magnitude of what we had all let ourselves in for finally dawned on us! By the end of the shoot we were completely covered in everything – it was like ‘The Great British Bake Off’ meets ‘Apocalypse Now’! It was so much fun to make, but despite several spins in the washing machine I still can‘t get that sweet sickly smell out of my jeans!” Charles chimes in “It wasn’t fun, it was horrible!”

Inescapable was produced by James Loughrey (Skindred) and recorded at the famed heritage Monnow Valley studio.


Godsticks are supporting the new material beginning in April with a UK tour followed by summer festivals

2/4/2020 – Cardiff – Fuel Rock Club
3/4/2020 – London – Black Heart
4/4/2020 – Edinburgh – Opium
5/4/2020 – Manchester – Gullivers
Tickets available https://www.facebook.com/godsticks/

Inescapable will be released on CD, LP & digitally. (“Denigrate is available as an instant download on digital pre-orders) on 7th February through Kscope and is available to PRE-ORDER HERE NOW

Godsticks are:

Darran Charles: Vocals, guitars, keys, synths

Dan Nelson: Bass

Gavin Bushell: Guitars

Tom Price: Drums

Backing vocals on ‘Denigrate’ – Daniel Tompkins

Follow Godsticks:

Website: www.godsticks.co.uk

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/godsticks/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/godsticksmusic/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Godsticks

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/godsticksmusic

Review – Exploring Birdsong – The Thing With Feathers

‘Rarely are new groups as exciting, talented or unique as Exploring Birdsong, the piano-led guitarless trio from Liverpool who have announced their signing to German independent label Long Branch Records.

Having recently graduated from Liverpool’s Institute of Performing Arts, the young group have already caught the eyes Prog Magazine, Kerrang! Magazine, Kerrang! Radio and Classic Rock Magazine as well as achieved two Progressive Music Awards nominations in 2019. Having only released two singles at this point, Exploring Birdsong have been hand-picked to support Sleep Token, toured with proggers Godsticks, caught the attention of Florence and the Machine, and performed at HRH Prog. Unplaceable for the most part, the band bring to mind elements of Steven WilsonKate Bush, RushSleep Token, and Agent Fresco.

The young trio are comprised of drummer Matt Harrison, bassist and keyboardist Jonny Knight (capable of playing both instruments simultaneously), and topped by keyboardist and vocalist Lynsey Ward‘s stunning, otherworldly vocals.’

Some mighty impressive PR writing there but, having seen and spoken to this talented trio at HRH Prog in 2018, I know there is some substance to the claims.

The EP is broadly speaking a concept release, centred on the Seamus Heaney poem ‘Bye Child’ and the story of Kevin Halfpenny, one of the most bizarre cases of child cruelty ever recorded. This is mirrored in the EP title and cover art, with broken backbones becoming broken wings. The title itself also references Emily Dickinson’s “’Hope’ is the thing with feathers” poem, which itself is a call-back to the music found within. Good and evil are never too far from each other and you may never really fully be able to have one without the other.

These three met at University and started writing some of the material on the EP not long after and a direct result of that is a massive feeling of maturity to the music, a profundity you hear running throughout tracks such as The River and The Baptism.

There is power and deep emotion in the music, given release by the expert playing of Matt and Jonny, the keyboards and drums syncing perfectly to produce a veritable wall of sound on the more compelling pieces and yet being exquisitely ethereal and sublime where needed.

Lynsey’s vocals are utterly captivating, she has a voice that is porcelain smooth and yet seems to have endless depths of emotion, passion and empathy, almost operatic in places. You can just lose yourself to the enveloping welcoming embrace and warmth of songs like the incredibly elegant The Downpour.

The Thing With Feathers‘ is an utterly absorbing twenty-one minutes of music and delivers an undoubted new talent onto the music scene. Serene and graceful yet with a deep intelligence running throughout, I haven’t been this excited about a new artist in a very, very long time.

Released 29th November 2019

Order the EP from the link below:

https://exploringbirdsong.bandcamp.com/album/the-thing-with-feathers

Steve Hackett Announces Seconds Out Tour for November 2020

Off the back of his most successful solo tour yet, selling over 30 thousand tickets for his 2019 UK dates, Steve Hackett has announced that his 2020/21 World Tour will feature the whole of the 1977 Genesis live album Seconds Out in full, plus More!

Seconds Out was the hugely successful double album recorded on Genesis’ 1977 concert tour together with The Cinema Show, from their 1976 tour, and featured Steve Hackett on guitar alongside Mike Rutherford, Tony Banks and Phil Collins who had taken on the role of vocalist following the departure of Peter Gabriel. The tour included music from each of the six studio albums from Steve’s time in Genesis and marked his final recordings with the band as he left to pursue his solo career upon its completion.

The Seconds Out + More! Tour will visit some of the venues Genesis played on that 1977 tour. There will also be additional material, including Steve’s solo concert favourite The Steppes to celebrate the 40th birthday of his fourth solo album Defector.

Steve Hackett says:  “I’m thrilled to bring Seconds Out back to life, featuring Genesis material at its most exciting and virtuosic, this time with all numbers played in full plus additional surprises!”

Full UK tour dates are as follows:

please note – highlighted shows are same venues as 1977 tour

Sunday 1 November                        Brighton                     Dome
Monday 2 November                       Cardiff                        St David’s Hall
Tuesday 3 November                      Stoke                          Victoria Hall
Thursday 5 November                    London                      The Palladium
Friday 6 November                          London                      The Palladium
Sunday 8 November                     Edinburgh                Playhouse
Monday 9 November                     Dundee                     Caird Hall
Tuesday 10 November                    Carlisle                       The Sands Centre
Thursday12 November                 Newcastle                O2 City Hall
Friday 14 November                        Scunthorpe               The Baths Hall
Saturday 15 November                   Bradford                     St George’s Concert Hall
Monday 16 November                   Southampton          Mayflower Theatre
Tuesday 17 November                    Cambridge                Corn Exchange
Wednesday 18 November              Oxford                        New Theatre
Friday 20 November                       Guildford                    G Live
Saturday 21 November                   Bexhill-on-Sea         De La Warr Pavilion
Monday 23 November                     Birmingham              Symphony Hall
Wednesday 25 November              Manchester               O2 Apollo
Friday 27 November                      Leicester                  De Montfort Hall

Saturday 28 November                   Basingstoke              Anvil
Monday 30 November                    Liverpool                    Philharmonic
Tuesday 1 December                      Glasgow                    Royal Concert Hall

Tickets for the Seconds Out + More Tour go on sale at 10am on Friday 29th November from https://myticket.co.uk/ and venue box offices.