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All posts for the month April, 2017

This news story was originally published here: http://theprogressiveaspect.net/blog/2017/04/30/akku-quintet-aeon/

Another band following in the currently popular minimalist jazz fusion tradition, the Swiss group AKKU Quintet make music that is at one and the same time glacial and precise, yet human and emotional. The plaintive conversation between piano and guitar on Aeon Part I highlights this in addition to setting the scene for the track Aeon. Nominally split into three parts, but played as one piece of music, this beautifully constructed piece weaves its magic, the intertwined sax, guitar and piano crystalline in perfection. The gentle insistence of the piece builds in waves, and in Part III the tension, kept just below the surface propels the piece to its conclusion and the safe hearth of home. All of this is underpinned by the metronomic precision of the rhythm section, the whole thing arriving at a predestined point with an almost clichéd unhurried Swiss precision.

Unusually the drummer is the sole composer here, and Manuel Pasquinelli has continued his spacious groove from the previous album Molecules with style and grace. Polar witnesses more of guitarist Markus Ischer’s Eno/Fripp-esque sky-saw guitar as the piece unfolds in layers of icy calm, twinkling in the low but strong sunlight offered by Maja Nydegger cyclical piano figure that eventually breaks down to start again, rejoined by the ice-sheet guitar. This is a lovely piece of music, regardless of what convenient pigeonhole it may get put in.

Flying Low increases the tempo and uses repetition well to somewhat ironically create a hypnotically climbing piece, with clever and sparing use of electronic effects on the guitar and piano making for a fraught atmosphere as it zooms past your ears under the high tension lines. Markus Ischer is an impressionistic player in the European style, and his soundscapes – you can’t really call them solos – are enthralling.

The lengthy Satellite repeats the lesson that the space between the notes when used well is just as relevant as the notes themselves, the tune unfolding in its meditative stately fashion, subtly changing time signatures as it goes. We end with Waves and the longest is saved until last. The clue is in the title, as the piece, borne on Andi Schnellmann’s repeated high register bass figure, initially ebbs and flows with Maja’s piano. These waves are of the gentle, lapping variety, there is no storm here on this inland lake of contemplative vastness. The other lead instruments all get their turn in the groove, locking into the disciplined rhythmic structure, only to fall away again, and so it goes, and so it goes…

This is a triumph of composition and arrangement with which to end a fine album, and one that will bear repeated playing chez moi.

Much like Molecules, AKKU Quintet will not be rushed on Aeon and use the time well to reveal subtleties in musical patterns by way of precision playing. With Nik Bartsch and Sonar (of whom Manuel Pasquinelli is also a member) in their locality they are in very good company, and if you are partial to that kind of minimalistic compositional trait, then AKKU Quintet with its slightly fuller sonic palette will certainly get your cuckoo bouncing on its spring.

TRACK LISTING
01. Aeon Part I (1:49)
02. Aeon Part II (3:44)
03. Aeon Part III (9:25)
04. Polar (10:08)
05. Flying Low (9:42)
06. Satellite (12:10)
07. Waves (21:01)

Total Time – 68:02

MUSICIANS
Manuel Pasquinelli – Drums
Michael Gilsenan – Sax
Maja Nydegger – Keyboards
Markus Ischer – Guitar
Andi Schnellmann – Bass

ADDITIONAL INFO
Record Label: Morpheus Records
Catalogue#: MORPH013CD
Date of Release: 24th March 2017

LINKS
AKKU Quintet – Website | Facebook | Bandcamp

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This news story was originally published here: http://theprogressiveaspect.net/blog/2017/04/29/lonely-robot-the-big-dream-album-launch/

Sub89, Reading
Thursday 28th April 2017

I rather like Sub89 as a venue. Whilst the public image it portrays tends to focus on its use as a thriving night club, it is nevertheless quietly acquiring a growing reputation as a notable live music venue and becoming a welcome stopping point on the tours of many new as well as already established bands. The unassuming exterior gives no indication of the expansive and open space it offers with excellent acoustics and widely accessible views of the stage.

The atmosphere is warm and welcoming as a lively and receptive audience gathers for the launch of the second Lonely Robot album, The Big Dream. For a Thursday night, the sizeable numbers are a gratifying reflection on the increasing appeal this band is beginning to exercise. Nor is it entirely unexpected given the popular success of their debut album Please Come Home, released in 2015, along with the deep and widespread respect in the prog community for front man John Mitchell.

Louder Still
[Louder Still – photo by Rob Fisher]

First up are Reading based band Louder Still, who deliver a thoroughly accomplished and supremely entertaining set of pulsating, energetic and good old fashioned rock and roll. More than once I found myself drawing fondly nostalgic comparisons with Rainbow and echoes of Deep Purple. They bring an undoubtedly fresh and exuberant development to the classic hard rock sound. The enthusiasm and commitment of Craig Carlaw’s drumming is matched by the relentless intensity of George Twydell’s guitar, grounded in the driving, thrumming bass work of George Ives and lifted by the Gillan-esque vocals of Tom Rampton. Most enjoyable.

After a short break, Lonely Robot casually saunter on to the stage to a light smattering of anticipatory applause and launch straight into a feisty rendition of Airlock from Please Come Home. Immediately there is an intense sense of presence, even gravitas, and as the band continue with God vs Man and The Boy in the Radio it quickly becomes clear that a driving and determined vision is lying behind and directing the course of the music.

Lonely Robot - John MitchellMitchell, decked out in the spacesuit familiar from the two album covers, humorously quips they need to get the “old stuff out of the way” before they can move on to the new material. And whilst we get our first taste of the new album four songs in with In Floral Green, he quickly returns again to the first album for the bulk of the main set. It is not until the end, after an astonishing drum solo from the brilliant Craig Blundell, that we are treated to a fantastic performance of Everglow and the wonderful Sigma from The Big Dream.

Nor is this accidental. Far from getting things ‘out of the way’, one of the revelations of the evening is the sense of continuity, development and evolution that exists between the two albums. The key figure of The Astronaut acts as a core theme which is gradually being explored across different contexts and the music is an unfolding narrative of the journey being experienced. Starting the evening with an emphasis on the first album is a natural ‘setting of the scene’ for us to begin to understand what is happening in the new album.

Watching the band in full flow is an absolute pleasure and delight. Whilst Please Come Home featured a large number of guest musicians, The Big Dream sticks closely to the core members. Mitchell certainly seems a lot more settled and at ease and the music is both tighter and more creative as a result.

Lonely Robot
[Lonely Robot – photo by Rob Fisher]

Steve Vantsis has a precision and insight which makes the bass penetrating and powerful. Liam Holmes brings an incisive attack to the keyboards which fills the soundscape and adds plenty of bite and depth. Mitchell, as always, is phenomenal and it is hard to name another guitarist who possesses his timing, mastery and sublime touch. Craig Blundell continues to shine quite spectacularly, an effortless whirling dervish of supreme intensity disguising a steely discipline and tight control. We are also treated to a guest appearance from Kim Seviour who brings a lovely balance and harmony against Mitchell’s gritty vocals.

The net effect is a band who are now growing together, gaining in confidence as they interplay with each other’s skills and producing music which is compelling, direct and, at times, simply mesmerising. They leave the stage to thunderous applause, a chorus of whistles and the appreciation of a breathless audience who have experienced and enjoyed the very highest levels of musical creativity and musicianship. A great evening and a wonderful way to launch the new album.

Lonely Robot

[You can read Rob’s review of The Big Dream HERE.]

SETLIST
Airlock
God Vs Man
The Boy in the Radio
In Floral Green
Lonely Robot
A Godless Sea
Oubliette
Construct/Obstruct
Are We Copies?
Humans Being
The Red Balloon
~ Encore:
Drum Solo (Craig Blundell)
Everglow
Sigma

MUSICIANS
Craig Blundell – Drums
Liam Holmes – Keyboards
John Mitchell – Guitar, Vocals
Steve Vantsis – Bass

LINKS
John Mitchell – Website | Facebook | Twitter

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This news story was originally published here: https://www.prog-sphere.com/specials/roger-waters-performs-time/
Roger Waters plays Time

Roger Waters has recently announced the release of his long-awaited studio album titled Is This the Life We Really Want?, and also released the first single “Smell the Roses.”

The former Pink Floyd bassist played in at the Zocalo Square in Mexico City last October in front of 300,000 fans, and you can check a performance clip of “Time” below. ”Time” was originally released in 1973 on Pink Floyd‘s eighth studio album The Dark Side of the Moon.

Waters will kick off his massive US + Them tour in May, which will include 75% of material he co-wrote during his tenure with Pink Floyd.

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This news story was originally published here: http://www.prog-sphere.com/specials/roger-waters-performs-time/
Roger Waters plays Time

Roger Waters has recently announced the release of his long-awaited studio album titled Is This the Life We Really Want?, and also released the first single “Smell the Roses.”

The former Pink Floyd bassist played in at the Zocalo Square in Mexico City last October in front of 300,000 fans, and you can check a performance clip of “Time” below. ”Time” was originally released in 1973 on Pink Floyd‘s eighth studio album The Dark Side of the Moon.

Waters will kick off his massive US + Them tour in May, which will include 75% of material he co-wrote during his tenure with Pink Floyd.

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This news story was originally published here: https://www.prog-sphere.com/specials/pink-floyd-first-photoshoot/
Pink Floyd - first photoshoot

50 years ago in London, photographer Colin Prime took the first promotional photos of Pink Floyd. The photoshoot took place in Ruskin Park.

Nick Mason, Syd Barrett, Roger Waters and Richard Wright were sitting on the benches posing. Mason recalls:

“Photographer Colin Prime was commissioned by Blackhill to take some of our first publicity shots. This session took place in Ruskin Park off Denmark Hill. ”

Photographer Prime commented: “All the guys were in high spirits at the time (Syd was performing cartwheels) but quite laid back, so after some slightly more formal shots I experimented and came up with these images.

One of the photos from the shoot was also used by Barrett to create a silhouette illustration of the band which was used as the back cover of the group’s debut album The Piper at the Gates of Dawn.

Photos by Colin Prime

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pink-floyd-222

This news story was originally published here: http://www.prog-sphere.com/specials/pink-floyd-first-photoshoot/
Pink Floyd - first photoshoot

50 years ago in London, photographer Colin Prime took the first promotional photos of Pink Floyd. The photoshoot took place in Ruskin Park.

Nick Mason, Syd Barrett, Roger Waters and Richard Wright were sitting on the benches posing. Mason recalls:

“Photographer Colin Prime was commissioned by Blackhill to take some of our first publicity shots. This session took place in Ruskin Park off Denmark Hill. ”

Photographer Prime commented: “All the guys were in high spirits at the time (Syd was performing cartwheels) but quite laid back, so after some slightly more formal shots I experimented and came up with these images.

One of the photos from the shoot was also used by Barrett to create a silhouette illustration of the band which was used as the back cover of the group’s debut album The Piper at the Gates of Dawn.

Photos by Colin Prime

pink-floyd-111

pink-floyd-222