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All posts for the month April, 2017

This news story was originally published here: http://www.prog-sphere.com/specials/steven-wilson-shooting-video-chile/
STEVEN WILSON Shooting Video for Song From Upcoming Album

There isn’t still much information about the release date of Steven Wilson‘s upcoming, fifth studio album which will be released via Caroline Internation, but the English musician issued an update recently that a “a major announcement will be made soon.”

As in the past there will be a very limited special edition with exclusive audio, visual and text content,” it’s written on Wilson‘s official website.

A photo Steven shared yesterday via his official Instagram account shows that he is currently in Chile, shooting a video in the Atacama Desert for a single from his upcoming album with his long-time collaborator Lasse Hoile.

The full update can be seen below.

This news story was originally published here: https://www.prog-sphere.com/reviews/the-fierce-and-the-dead-field-recordings-review/
The Fierce and the Dead - Field Recordings

I’ll make a bold statement here and say that London-based Prog Rock quartet The Fierce and the Dead are one of the best contemporary Prog bands out there. The English band has two studio albums, and two EP’s released under their belt.

Field Recordings is TFATD‘s first live album which was recorded during the band’s performance at the Ramblin’ Man Fair on 24th of July, 2016, and according to the six songs they performed that day, this band is killing it live.

Hearing mind-bending arrangements conjured in-studio goes far enough, but there’s always the nagging knowledge that the various layers were recorded one at a time; each musician’s individual proficiency is strained to its limits, but there’s little telling whether they would ever be able to pull it off live. The ultimate measuring stick of musicianship is the live arena. With that in mind, Field Recordings is, in many ways, a confirmation of what was only ever implied by The Fierce and the Dead‘s studio recordings. By some miracle of organization, TFATD were able to replicate the wild instrumental eclecticism; whatever changes they’ve made to the arrangements were done to make it refreshing rather than convenient.

The band also performed a new song at the show, titled “Verbose,” from their upcoming studio album which, according to this live version, promises a lot when it comes to the upcoming release. The inclusion of Hawkwind‘s “Brainstorm” at the end of their set is a great move, and it sounds absolutely amazing.

Although short, there are plenty of moments on Field Recordings that leave me with a sense of awe and wonder: how in the hell did they do some of this stuff? The Fierce and the Dead demand respect on the merit of their technical capacity, and I don’t think any other release of theirs demonstrated it quite so well.

Field Recordings is available from Bandcamp here. Follow The Fierce and the Dead on Facebook.

Tracklist:

1. Magnet In Your Face
2. Ark
3. Dancing Robots
4. Verbose
5. Palm Trees
6. 666…6

Line-up:

Matt Stevens – guitar/loops
Steve Cleaton – guitar
Kev Feazey – bass
Stuart Marshall – drums

This news story was originally published here: http://www.prog-sphere.com/reviews/the-fierce-and-the-dead-field-recordings-review/
The Fierce and the Dead - Field Recordings

I’ll make a bold statement here and say that London-based Prog Rock quartet The Fierce and the Dead are one of the best contemporary Prog bands out there. The English band has two studio albums, and two EP’s released under their belt.

Field Recordings is TFATD‘s first live album which was recorded during the band’s performance at the Ramblin’ Man Fair on 24th of July, 2016, and according to the six songs they performed that day, this band is killing it live.

Hearing mind-bending arrangements conjured in-studio goes far enough, but there’s always the nagging knowledge that the various layers were recorded one at a time; each musician’s individual proficiency is strained to its limits, but there’s little telling whether they would ever be able to pull it off live. The ultimate measuring stick of musicianship is the live arena. With that in mind, Field Recordings is, in many ways, a confirmation of what was only ever implied by The Fierce and the Dead‘s studio recordings. By some miracle of organization, TFATD were able to replicate the wild instrumental eclecticism; whatever changes they’ve made to the arrangements were done to make it refreshing rather than convenient.

The band also performed a new song at the show, titled “Verbose,” from their upcoming studio album which, according to this live version, promises a lot when it comes to the upcoming release. The inclusion of Hawkwind‘s “Brainstorm” at the end of their set is a great move, and it sounds absolutely amazing.

Although short, there are plenty of moments on Field Recordings that leave me with a sense of awe and wonder: how in the hell did they do some of this stuff? The Fierce and the Dead demand respect on the merit of their technical capacity, and I don’t think any other release of theirs demonstrated it quite so well.

Field Recordings is available from Bandcamp here. Follow The Fierce and the Dead on Facebook.

Tracklist:

1. Magnet In Your Face
2. Ark
3. Dancing Robots
4. Verbose
5. Palm Trees
6. 666…6

Line-up:

Matt Stevens – guitar/loops
Steve Cleaton – guitar
Kev Feazey – bass
Stuart Marshall – drums

This news story was originally published here: https://www.prog-sphere.com/specials/porcupine-tree-live-albums-ranked/
Porcupine Tree live

We have already written about Porcupine Tree‘s studio work, but with this post we went on to check the band’s live releases. Over the years, Porcupine Tree tree released ten studio (audio) albums. We tried to rank them based on different criteria, and below is the result.

Spiral Circus (1994)

Spiral Circus is the first live album released by Porcupine Tree in 1993, the period of Up The Downstair and is the first album to include the band as it was then all playing together on their first ever tour. The album name is a reference to the song “The Sky Moves Sideways” despite the song not being on this album however that may be due to the fact that their next album The Sky Moves Sideways had not been released yet.

This album is for collectors and hardcore fans only because of its poor sound quality. This album sounds like an unofficial bootleg recording rather than a genuine album from Porcupine Tree and does not nearly sound as good a quality as Porcupine Tree would later introduce to their albums including their live ones. However this could be due to the fact that these are recordings from their first tour and are also playing together as a proper band for the first time.

[embedded content]

We Lost the Skyline (2008)

We Lost the Skyline is a cornerstone for how acoustic sets should be done, by a band that usually features layers upon layers of different sounds within their complex music. This live album draws you in and captivates you as a listener. The stripped down versions of “Lazarus,” “Trains,” “Stars Die” and “Waiting” are beautiful, if nothing else.

With a band line-up pared down so dramatically for this performance, what may well once have been thoughtful and elaborate compositions are inevitably reduced to singer/songwriter fare.

[embedded content]

XM (2003)

XM consists mainly of material from In Absentia, with 3 songs from Stupid Dream. These songs are played live, but without audience. The songs are played with precision (especially the In Absentia ones – this was surely one of the first times they had played a set of these new songs and the band were determined to get them right). The selection of songs are some of the best from In Absentia and Stupid Dream, and hearing them live brings a different dimension to the music. These songs were made to be played live, and they sound fresh and crisp. It is an extremely well-played, well produced set of songs that continues to show why Porcupine Tree were a prog-rock force to be reckoned with.

[embedded content]

Ilosaarirock (2009)

This is a live album from the Fear Of A Blank Planet tour in 2007, made exclusively for the Porcupine Tree fan club members. Steven Wilson remixed it at the No-Man studios.

The music here is fantastic, featuring tracks from all the way back to their Lightbulb Sun album to their most recent release, Fear Of A Blank Planet. Many of the tracks are presented in a heavier format here, particularly Lightbulb Sun and Trains. The former no longer has the dreamy psychedelic sound and is instead presented as a rocker, but the track is still fantastic.

[embedded content]

Warszawa (2004)

With the success of XM, Porcupine Tree decided to delve into the archives again for a second release on their own Transmission label. Warszawa comprises a 70+ minute show that was broadcast on Polish radio in 2001. So no In Absentia here, but the majority of songs are from the nearest release at the time, Lightbulb Sun. The rest of the show is somewhat of a “Greatest Hits,” with songs such as “Voyage 34,” “Signify,” “Even Less,” etc. The Lightbulb Sun songs sound vibrant, and the older songs sound arguably better live than they do on the albums: “Slave Called Shiver” sounds especially powerful, and the guitar is more prominent in “Stop Swimming” which makes the song even more beautiful. The 70+ minutes of music showcases Porcupine Tree doing what they loved – playing live.

[embedded content]

XMII (2005)

While there is still much debate as to what the “best” Porcupine Tree recordings are, the question usually divides listeners into two distinct categories of PT fans. Those who prefer the atmospheric, ambient works of the nineties, and those more in-tune with the band’s more recent pop-oriented and straight-forward rock leanings.

XMII CD is tough to find, as it was sold exclusively at PT concerts at the time, and the small amount of remaining inventory was made available exclusively through the band’s own website. You may have to pay the big bucks from those eBay purveyors (aka leeches), but worth every penny.

Performed live, the band breathes new life into jams from Stupid Dream, Lightbulb Sun, Recordings, and Signify albums. The highlight is the rendition of “Fadeaway” from Up The Downstair featuring John Wesley‘s vocals. John is an extraordinary singer, songwriter and guitarist in his own right.

[embedded content]

Rockpalast (2005)

This double album is from a live performance Porcupine Tree did for a German TV broadcast on November 19, 2005. It was during the Deadwing tour and the majority of songs are from that album. The recording quality is great for a TV broadcast, and sounds wonderful any way you listen to it. The acoustic passages are fantastic, although the band really shines in their heavier sections on this one – the raw, live, metallic sound is brilliant.

The highlights include “Futile,” “Radioactive Toy,” “Mellotron Scratch” and “.3” — 4 killer studio tracks and absolutely stellar live songs. The rest of the setlist is mostly from the Deadwing era, and every track (bar those four) is available on the band’s DVD Arriving Somewhere…

[embedded content]

Octane Twisted (2012)

On September 15th 2009, I got to see Porcupine Tree. Driving down to Seattle to see them perform at the Moore Theatre, it was an incredible experience to see one of my favourite bands play live. Moreover, it was the first time Porcupine Tree had ever played The Incident before a live audience, making the experience even more significant. Listening to Octane TwistedPorcupine Tree’s latest live offering- I recall vivid memories of that experience. With that context, and hundreds of listens to The Incident now under my belt, this double album was an instant pleasure for me. Now with a fairly extensive catalogue of live recordings, there are few surprises here that fans of Porcupine Tree wouldn’t already expect. That aside, it’s The Incident in a live setting, and that’s more than good enough for me.

If you haven’t listened to The Incident already, I would humbly suggest you check it out at the nearest convenient time (or horribly inconvenient time, it still might be worth it!). Essentially a fifty-five minute epic split into fourteen parts, it’s an abstract conceptual piece with plenty of atmosphere, self-contained pieces and studiobound beauty that the band is famed for. Talking about the music based on its own merit might end up feeling like a review of The Incident rather than for this live record however. Although the second disc draws upon songs throughout Porcupine Tree’s career, the first disc is dedicated solely to their 2009 masterpiece. Something that I recall surprising me was how well Porcupine Tree managed to reproduce the sound of the album in a live space. Barring Steven Wilson’s decidedly rawer vocal approach here, the performance is incredibly similar to the studio release. Even particular sounds, samples and effects have been brought to bear. It may have been nice to hear Porcupine Tree take parts of The Incident down new, fresh routes for this live recording, but the fact that the band are able to so beautifully recreate the album live is a testament to their brilliance as a musical act.

The second disc feels less necessary than the first, but the songs are well chosen and the quality of performance is maintained consistently. Absent are the overplayed “Trains” and “Lazarus”, replaced instead by some of Porcupine Tree’s longer, proggier material. “Hatesong” is a brilliant showcase for Gavin Harrison’s precise style of playing, and Edwin’s bass groove is a real crowd pleaser for the live setting. “Russia On Ice” starts off fairly true to form, before diving into an excerpt from the middle of the incredible epic “Anesthetize.” Of course, the highlight of the second disc is “Arriving Somewhere But Not Here”, although I could have probably guessed that just by looking at the tracklist. It’s a wonderfully composed and performed tune, and it translates into the live realm perfectly.

The recording is up to par with what one might expect from Porcupine Tree– there’s an attention paid here for the sake of audiophiles, and any listeners using a high-definition sound system. At the heaviest moments of the set however, the mixing seems to rely on the bass a tad much, which tends to drown out some of the details in the performance. For the most part, Octane Twisted focuses in on the atmospheric, progressive side of Porcupine Tree, and in this respect, the recording is sublime. I’m not sure that this could compare to the near-perfection the band achieved in studio, but for the sake alone that it gives a slightly new light to The Incident, it’s worth a listen. It’s a solid live album, and though Porcupine Tree will always be best heard in their studio form, Octane Twisted goes to show how meticulous they were as a live performing act.

[embedded content]

Coma Divine (1997)

A stunningly deep and intense live album featuring everything unique and exciting about PT‘s early sound. Indeed, just about every track here sounds as good, if not better than they do on studio albums, delivering a throbbing energy throughout which really delivers the power of the show.

Steven‘s guitar sizzles, Edwin‘s bass pulses, and Barbieri‘s synths are almost as layered as they sound recorded. The album has a very eerie/mystical mood which compliments the songs nicely. The set is a perfect combination of highlights from this era in the band’s catalogue and I am always entertained with how the group blends pieces together into lengthy jams and dynamic shifts between songs.

[embedded content]

Atlanta (2010)

Opening with the title track of Fear of a Blank Planet, Porcupine Tree hit the stage at full throttle, with all the flourishes and quirks of the studio version intact but played with just a touch more venom than the original, with Steven Wilson’s vocals in particular having a more aggressive edge than the processed equivalent form the record although the guitars are less aggressive. “What Happens Now” from accompanying mini-album Nil Recurring is next sounding somewhat more spacey than the original thanks to a reverb-drenched sound before “Sound of Muzak” from the mighty In Absentia rings out and you realise how unified the theme of alienation has become on the more recent run of PT releases. The sequencing is perfect and the tracks flow together beautifully – a difficult trick when one considers how album focused Steven Wilson’s writing is. Back to FOABP, “Sentimental” gives the keyboards a chance to shine before rare track “Drown With Me” (from the In Absentia bonus CD) surprises you with a gentle burst of acoustic guitars and vocal harmonies. It’s a treat and a welcome addition to the set list, particularly for fans who may not want to have the same old tracks recycled across multiple formats as happens with some bands. Next up is a truly monumental “Anesthetize” – the highlight of FOABP (along with “Way Out of Here”) and of the live show with its multiple mood changes and full-tilt ending.

“Open Car” is, as always, a stuttering burst of uncharacteristically violent riffage before, joy of joys, “Dark Matter” form the excellent signify album meanders through your speakers. A fade out is helpfully inserted at the end of “Dark Matter” for those wishing to burn to disc and then we have the lovely “Cheating the Polygraph” from Nil Recurring which receives a note-perfect rendition but with greater emphasis on the guitar than on the EP version. Another dip into the band’s illustrious past sees them unveil “A Smart Kid,” the introspective ballad from Stupid Dream which is greeted like an old friend by the audience. “Blackest Eyes,” however, introduces a necessary change of pace with guitars and keyboards vying for prominence and the drums pounding away through that oh-so-recognisable opening riff. Another rare gem in the form of “Half Light” (which appeared on the Lazurus single and 2LP version of Deadwing) appears and reminds you of those Pink Floyd comparisons with a lazy, Hawaiian sound and atmospheric keyboards underpinning the gorgeous vocal. “Way Out of Here” is another epic moment from the excellent FOABP record that rivals “Anesthetize” for best track on the album although the queasy synth parts of “Sleep Together” sound even more monumental than before in the live setting and you can imagine them echoing around the theatre they were recorded in. Final tracks (and encores), “Even Less” and “Halo” are both classic tracks that round the set out in style.

So – what you have here are two CDs worth of prime Porcupine Tree, perfectly recorded and mixed and offering a feast of well-known tracks and rare treasures. This is a monumental release that deserves your attention from start to finish. Excellent.

[embedded content]

Cover photo by Claudia Hahn

This news story was originally published here: http://www.prog-sphere.com/specials/porcupine-tree-live-albums-ranked/
Porcupine Tree live

We have already written about Porcupine Tree‘s studio work, but with this post we went on to check the band’s live releases. Over the years, Porcupine Tree tree released ten studio (audio) albums. We tried to rank them based on different criteria, and below is the result.

Spiral Circus (1994)

Spiral Circus is the first live album released by Porcupine Tree in 1993, the period of Up The Downstair and is the first album to include the band as it was then all playing together on their first ever tour. The album name is a reference to the song “The Sky Moves Sideways” despite the song not being on this album however that may be due to the fact that their next album The Sky Moves Sideways had not been released yet.

This album is for collectors and hardcore fans only because of its poor sound quality. This album sounds like an unofficial bootleg recording rather than a genuine album from Porcupine Tree and does not nearly sound as good a quality as Porcupine Tree would later introduce to their albums including their live ones. However this could be due to the fact that these are recordings from their first tour and are also playing together as a proper band for the first time.

[embedded content]

We Lost the Skyline (2008)

We Lost the Skyline is a cornerstone for how acoustic sets should be done, by a band that usually features layers upon layers of different sounds within their complex music. This live album draws you in and captivates you as a listener. The stripped down versions of “Lazarus,” “Trains,” “Stars Die” and “Waiting” are beautiful, if nothing else.

With a band line-up pared down so dramatically for this performance, what may well once have been thoughtful and elaborate compositions are inevitably reduced to singer/songwriter fare.

[embedded content]

XM (2003)

XM consists mainly of material from In Absentia, with 3 songs from Stupid Dream. These songs are played live, but without audience. The songs are played with precision (especially the In Absentia ones – this was surely one of the first times they had played a set of these new songs and the band were determined to get them right). The selection of songs are some of the best from In Absentia and Stupid Dream, and hearing them live brings a different dimension to the music. These songs were made to be played live, and they sound fresh and crisp. It is an extremely well-played, well produced set of songs that continues to show why Porcupine Tree were a prog-rock force to be reckoned with.

[embedded content]

Ilosaarirock (2009)

This is a live album from the Fear Of A Blank Planet tour in 2007, made exclusively for the Porcupine Tree fan club members. Steven Wilson remixed it at the No-Man studios.

The music here is fantastic, featuring tracks from all the way back to their Lightbulb Sun album to their most recent release, Fear Of A Blank Planet. Many of the tracks are presented in a heavier format here, particularly Lightbulb Sun and Trains. The former no longer has the dreamy psychedelic sound and is instead presented as a rocker, but the track is still fantastic.

[embedded content]

Warszawa (2004)

With the success of XM, Porcupine Tree decided to delve into the archives again for a second release on their own Transmission label. Warszawa comprises a 70+ minute show that was broadcast on Polish radio in 2001. So no In Absentia here, but the majority of songs are from the nearest release at the time, Lightbulb Sun. The rest of the show is somewhat of a “Greatest Hits,” with songs such as “Voyage 34,” “Signify,” “Even Less,” etc. The Lightbulb Sun songs sound vibrant, and the older songs sound arguably better live than they do on the albums: “Slave Called Shiver” sounds especially powerful, and the guitar is more prominent in “Stop Swimming” which makes the song even more beautiful. The 70+ minutes of music showcases Porcupine Tree doing what they loved – playing live.

[embedded content]

XMII (2005)

While there is still much debate as to what the “best” Porcupine Tree recordings are, the question usually divides listeners into two distinct categories of PT fans. Those who prefer the atmospheric, ambient works of the nineties, and those more in-tune with the band’s more recent pop-oriented and straight-forward rock leanings.

XMII CD is tough to find, as it was sold exclusively at PT concerts at the time, and the small amount of remaining inventory was made available exclusively through the band’s own website. You may have to pay the big bucks from those eBay purveyors (aka leeches), but worth every penny.

Performed live, the band breathes new life into jams from Stupid Dream, Lightbulb Sun, Recordings, and Signify albums. The highlight is the rendition of “Fadeaway” from Up The Downstair featuring John Wesley‘s vocals. John is an extraordinary singer, songwriter and guitarist in his own right.

[embedded content]

Rockpalast (2005)

This double album is from a live performance Porcupine Tree did for a German TV broadcast on November 19, 2005. It was during the Deadwing tour and the majority of songs are from that album. The recording quality is great for a TV broadcast, and sounds wonderful any way you listen to it. The acoustic passages are fantastic, although the band really shines in their heavier sections on this one – the raw, live, metallic sound is brilliant.

The highlights include “Futile,” “Radioactive Toy,” “Mellotron Scratch” and “.3” — 4 killer studio tracks and absolutely stellar live songs. The rest of the setlist is mostly from the Deadwing era, and every track (bar those four) is available on the band’s DVD Arriving Somewhere…

[embedded content]

Octane Twisted (2012)

On September 15th 2009, I got to see Porcupine Tree. Driving down to Seattle to see them perform at the Moore Theatre, it was an incredible experience to see one of my favourite bands play live. Moreover, it was the first time Porcupine Tree had ever played The Incident before a live audience, making the experience even more significant. Listening to Octane TwistedPorcupine Tree’s latest live offering- I recall vivid memories of that experience. With that context, and hundreds of listens to The Incident now under my belt, this double album was an instant pleasure for me. Now with a fairly extensive catalogue of live recordings, there are few surprises here that fans of Porcupine Tree wouldn’t already expect. That aside, it’s The Incident in a live setting, and that’s more than good enough for me.

If you haven’t listened to The Incident already, I would humbly suggest you check it out at the nearest convenient time (or horribly inconvenient time, it still might be worth it!). Essentially a fifty-five minute epic split into fourteen parts, it’s an abstract conceptual piece with plenty of atmosphere, self-contained pieces and studiobound beauty that the band is famed for. Talking about the music based on its own merit might end up feeling like a review of The Incident rather than for this live record however. Although the second disc draws upon songs throughout Porcupine Tree’s career, the first disc is dedicated solely to their 2009 masterpiece. Something that I recall surprising me was how well Porcupine Tree managed to reproduce the sound of the album in a live space. Barring Steven Wilson’s decidedly rawer vocal approach here, the performance is incredibly similar to the studio release. Even particular sounds, samples and effects have been brought to bear. It may have been nice to hear Porcupine Tree take parts of The Incident down new, fresh routes for this live recording, but the fact that the band are able to so beautifully recreate the album live is a testament to their brilliance as a musical act.

The second disc feels less necessary than the first, but the songs are well chosen and the quality of performance is maintained consistently. Absent are the overplayed “Trains” and “Lazarus”, replaced instead by some of Porcupine Tree’s longer, proggier material. “Hatesong” is a brilliant showcase for Gavin Harrison’s precise style of playing, and Edwin’s bass groove is a real crowd pleaser for the live setting. “Russia On Ice” starts off fairly true to form, before diving into an excerpt from the middle of the incredible epic “Anesthetize.” Of course, the highlight of the second disc is “Arriving Somewhere But Not Here”, although I could have probably guessed that just by looking at the tracklist. It’s a wonderfully composed and performed tune, and it translates into the live realm perfectly.

The recording is up to par with what one might expect from Porcupine Tree– there’s an attention paid here for the sake of audiophiles, and any listeners using a high-definition sound system. At the heaviest moments of the set however, the mixing seems to rely on the bass a tad much, which tends to drown out some of the details in the performance. For the most part, Octane Twisted focuses in on the atmospheric, progressive side of Porcupine Tree, and in this respect, the recording is sublime. I’m not sure that this could compare to the near-perfection the band achieved in studio, but for the sake alone that it gives a slightly new light to The Incident, it’s worth a listen. It’s a solid live album, and though Porcupine Tree will always be best heard in their studio form, Octane Twisted goes to show how meticulous they were as a live performing act.

[embedded content]

Coma Divine (1997)

A stunningly deep and intense live album featuring everything unique and exciting about PT‘s early sound. Indeed, just about every track here sounds as good, if not better than they do on studio albums, delivering a throbbing energy throughout which really delivers the power of the show.

Steven‘s guitar sizzles, Edwin‘s bass pulses, and Barbieri‘s synths are almost as layered as they sound recorded. The album has a very eerie/mystical mood which compliments the songs nicely. The set is a perfect combination of highlights from this era in the band’s catalogue and I am always entertained with how the group blends pieces together into lengthy jams and dynamic shifts between songs.

[embedded content]

Atlanta (2010)

Opening with the title track of Fear of a Blank Planet, Porcupine Tree hit the stage at full throttle, with all the flourishes and quirks of the studio version intact but played with just a touch more venom than the original, with Steven Wilson’s vocals in particular having a more aggressive edge than the processed equivalent form the record although the guitars are less aggressive. “What Happens Now” from accompanying mini-album Nil Recurring is next sounding somewhat more spacey than the original thanks to a reverb-drenched sound before “Sound of Muzak” from the mighty In Absentia rings out and you realise how unified the theme of alienation has become on the more recent run of PT releases. The sequencing is perfect and the tracks flow together beautifully – a difficult trick when one considers how album focused Steven Wilson’s writing is. Back to FOABP, “Sentimental” gives the keyboards a chance to shine before rare track “Drown With Me” (from the In Absentia bonus CD) surprises you with a gentle burst of acoustic guitars and vocal harmonies. It’s a treat and a welcome addition to the set list, particularly for fans who may not want to have the same old tracks recycled across multiple formats as happens with some bands. Next up is a truly monumental “Anesthetize” – the highlight of FOABP (along with “Way Out of Here”) and of the live show with its multiple mood changes and full-tilt ending.

“Open Car” is, as always, a stuttering burst of uncharacteristically violent riffage before, joy of joys, “Dark Matter” form the excellent signify album meanders through your speakers. A fade out is helpfully inserted at the end of “Dark Matter” for those wishing to burn to disc and then we have the lovely “Cheating the Polygraph” from Nil Recurring which receives a note-perfect rendition but with greater emphasis on the guitar than on the EP version. Another dip into the band’s illustrious past sees them unveil “A Smart Kid,” the introspective ballad from Stupid Dream which is greeted like an old friend by the audience. “Blackest Eyes,” however, introduces a necessary change of pace with guitars and keyboards vying for prominence and the drums pounding away through that oh-so-recognisable opening riff. Another rare gem in the form of “Half Light” (which appeared on the Lazurus single and 2LP version of Deadwing) appears and reminds you of those Pink Floyd comparisons with a lazy, Hawaiian sound and atmospheric keyboards underpinning the gorgeous vocal. “Way Out of Here” is another epic moment from the excellent FOABP record that rivals “Anesthetize” for best track on the album although the queasy synth parts of “Sleep Together” sound even more monumental than before in the live setting and you can imagine them echoing around the theatre they were recorded in. Final tracks (and encores), “Even Less” and “Halo” are both classic tracks that round the set out in style.

So – what you have here are two CDs worth of prime Porcupine Tree, perfectly recorded and mixed and offering a feast of well-known tracks and rare treasures. This is a monumental release that deserves your attention from start to finish. Excellent.

[embedded content]

Cover photo by Claudia Hahn

This news story was originally published here: https://www.prog-sphere.com/news/voivod-to-record-new-album/
VOIVOD to Start Recording New Album in August

Progressive sci-fi metal innovators Voivod have announced a new string of dates in support of their latest mini-CD, Post Society. The trek, which will kicked off in early June, will see the band playing festivals and club shows in Europe as well as selected dates in their Canadian home afterwards, including an appearance as support to Metallica in Quebec City.

Voivod drummer Michel “Away” Langevin stated: “The writing of the new album is nearing completion, but it is already time for us to fresh up the set list for the first leg of our European tour in June. I am especially excited to play Sweden Rock once more. When we played there in 2009, I got to watch UFO performing a stellar set. This time we are sharing the stage with other heroes of mine, Lucifer’s Friend!

We will come back home to play some cool shows in July, including the Quebec City Summer Festival with Metallica. In August, we will record the new album before playing the famous Wings Of Metal festival in Montreal in September. Then we will head for Europe again in the fall.

Tour dates:

June 08 – Hamburg – Logo (Germany)
June 09 – Sölvesborg – Sweden Rock Festival (Sweden)
June 10 – Rheine – Hypothalamus (Germany)
June 11 – Goes – Podium ‘t Beest (The Netherlands)
June 12 – Aalst – Cirque Mystic (Belgium)
June 13 – Norwich – Waterfront (UK)
June 14 – Glasgow – Audio (UK)
June 15 – Newcastle – Riverside (UK)
June 16 – Leeds – Temple Of Boom (UK)
June 17 – Nottingham – The Dog House (UK)
June 18 – London – Underworld (UK)
June 19 – Essen – Turock (Germany)
June 20 – Dresden – Scheune (Germany)
June 21 – Tilburg – Little Devil (The Netherlands)

Post Society tour poster

[embedded content]

This news story was originally published here: http://www.prog-sphere.com/news/voivod-to-record-new-album/
VOIVOD to Start Recording New Album in August

Progressive sci-fi metal innovators Voivod have announced a new string of dates in support of their latest mini-CD, Post Society. The trek, which will kicked off in early June, will see the band playing festivals and club shows in Europe as well as selected dates in their Canadian home afterwards, including an appearance as support to Metallica in Quebec City.

Voivod drummer Michel “Away” Langevin stated: “The writing of the new album is nearing completion, but it is already time for us to fresh up the set list for the first leg of our European tour in June. I am especially excited to play Sweden Rock once more. When we played there in 2009, I got to watch UFO performing a stellar set. This time we are sharing the stage with other heroes of mine, Lucifer’s Friend!

We will come back home to play some cool shows in July, including the Quebec City Summer Festival with Metallica. In August, we will record the new album before playing the famous Wings Of Metal festival in Montreal in September. Then we will head for Europe again in the fall.

Tour dates:

June 08 – Hamburg – Logo (Germany)
June 09 – Sölvesborg – Sweden Rock Festival (Sweden)
June 10 – Rheine – Hypothalamus (Germany)
June 11 – Goes – Podium ‘t Beest (The Netherlands)
June 12 – Aalst – Cirque Mystic (Belgium)
June 13 – Norwich – Waterfront (UK)
June 14 – Glasgow – Audio (UK)
June 15 – Newcastle – Riverside (UK)
June 16 – Leeds – Temple Of Boom (UK)
June 17 – Nottingham – The Dog House (UK)
June 18 – London – Underworld (UK)
June 19 – Essen – Turock (Germany)
June 20 – Dresden – Scheune (Germany)
June 21 – Tilburg – Little Devil (The Netherlands)

Post Society tour poster

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This news story was originally published here: http://theprogressiveaspect.net/blog/2017/04/28/steve-hackett-4/

Whilst having an ever active schedule, Steve Hackett, the former Genesis guitarist, graciously took time out to talk to TPA’s John Wenlock-Smith about his latest album, The Night Siren and his current U.K. tour (which started tonight in Cardiff), also of his future plans and the progress of writing his memoirs that is currently underway…


Good afternoon Steve, how are you doing?

I’m doing well, very busy though but that’s better than the alternative!

Lets talk about The Night Siren album for a moment, how has it been received?

Very well indeed all told, it’s been in the U.K. Chart, the Germany chart and the Italian chart, and I’ve just found out its doing well in Holland too.

I was in Holland myself recently seeing Marillion, they love their music over there.

Indeed they do. I played at a club called Boerderij in Zoetermeer in the middle of Holland. It’s a lovely club that holds about 2,000 people and it’s always a good crowd there too. It’s the heartland of Dutch music.

I’ve seen it advertised in Prog magazine, they seem to have great shows on there regularly.

Yes indeed, it’s a fantastic institution. It’s great, truly wonderful.

Steve Hackett - The Night SirenI reviewed The Night Siren for our site and felt it was a complete distillation of all your work and your talents, and a good summation of your releases over the last few years. I really liked it.

Yes there’s a lot of things on it, a lot of instruments that some people wouldn’t recognise, but I think the album was a product of having made 20 odd friends from all around the world and using different instruments from all around the world in an attempt to broaden rock’s shoulders and to go non-formula if possible. And to allow some protest material to appear as well, I’m particularly proud of it really.

It seems as if there have been other things to talk about, other than just the music with the little bit of the story and theme of musical migrants who ignore borders and just demonstrate that it’s possible for people to get on and with people from Palestine, Israel, Azerbaijan and recording all over in Hungary, Sweden, Bulgaria, with stuff recorded in Miami, London, also some of it was recorded in Sardinia, so there is an Italian influence on there too. Some of it databased, if you know what I mean, some of it not in time and sometimes they were just drum tracks. There have been a couple of albums that have come from the base material.

Djabe, for example, have done an album from the source material that was recorded in Sardinia, and it sounds great, rather ambient jazz with ethereal trumpets, and with Gulli Briem from Iceland on drums creating a kind of Weather Report vibe like on A Remark You Made from the Heavy Weather album with the bass player having played with a Jaco Pastorious feel, it’s good stuff. It’s all put together from jams, very laid back but beautiful stuff, I have some shows with them soon aside from my regular touring band.

Steve Hackett - UK Tour posterSo how’s the tour going?

It’s been good, we’ve done a Caribbean tour, the States, Scandinavia and played Europe and a few hot spots. We were in Stockholm just after the bomb went off, thankfully we weren’t there when it happened otherwise the show would have been cancelled, but it was on the next day so we played a few streets away from where it happened, and it’s Nad Sylvan’s hometown so it was a very special show.

There was a letter in Prog magazine from a guy who saw you in San Sebastian in Spain and he said he felt that you were very underrated in general, and you are so mentioned in the Wind and Wuthering article. And there is a six-page piece on you in there too.

I hope I said nice things about the others! Well I guess being away so much I’ve missed that one so I will have to get that.

And the U.K. Tour starts on Friday?

Well we play in Dublin on Wednesday and then the U.K. after that.

I’m hoping to be able to see you this time around, possibly in Manchester with Sue as she wants to see you again.

Well It will be great if you can and I can promise you it’s a good show. We do three songs from The Night Siren and most of Wind and Wuthering, including Inside and Out which should have been on the album, and always appears in my version of the album at least.

Steve Hackett with Gary O'Toole & Nad Sylvan - photo by Christian Arnaud

You mentioned in your interview that you are writing your book now.

Well I am writing it slowly, and I’d love to write half an hour every day but I’m so busy that it’s easier said than done. To get that I’d have to give up sleep but it will get written eventually.

I’ve just read Phil Collins book (Not Dead Yet).

What did you think of it?

I enjoyed it but I thought he had a bit of a downer on you though.

Yes, he did a bit really and I don’t know why.

I get the impression that he fits in better with the other two – The Charterhouse set – than you did.

It’s odd, I’ve heard Phil say that Genesis were over when Steve left and heard him say the opposite at times too, so there seems to be some inconsistency there. I think there must be a reason why that era is held in such esteem and why there are over 100 tribute bands who focus on that era.

I think Tony (Banks) may be a bit of an awkward bugger at times and he is very chordal and likes his Rodgers and Hammerstein twinkly parts.

Well here’s an interesting thing. I think there is nothing wrong with Rodgers and Hammerstein, or Rodgers, and love one and the other. I’ve been listening to some of those old soundtracks again and when you listen to some of those melodies they wrote and listen to what is going on, you have to have an open mind. If you don’t listen to Bach you’re missing out. If you don’t listen to blues you’re missing out. Musically in there it’s very interesting indeed, and also Phil tended to vote along with the other two and Mike always sided with Tony and he bossed Tony about too. I think they’ve always had a love/hate relationship.

It was always about alliances and having a strong voice in a vote. For example, I put forward the opening to I Know What I Like several times before they ran with it; sometimes they’d throw the baby out with the dishwater, as it were.

I think I must be the Black Sheep of Genesis, sometimes they speak favourably of me and at other times less so, but composition by committee has its failing and I think Phil still sees himself as the new boy! I am very proud of what I did with them and the band they became. They seem very keen to forget the spotty youth era for some reason which is very sad as it is their history, although that said, if they ever wanted to reform with me included I’d be there like a shot, but I think even if I had the skills of Hendrix and Andrés Segovia they still wouldn’t want me.

I guess they’d want to revisit the pop era and do stuff like Abacab and Mama again. Sue and I laugh about that album, I tell her if she misbehaves I will play her Mama and that keeps her in line.

Well there is nothing wrong with having “Hits”, and I had that with GTR with Steve Howe, we were in the charts in the U.S.A. with When the Heart Rules the Mind for instance, but I guess they won’t contact me anyway. There is a science to having a hit, but I decided not to chase that as I think it can undermine an album because each album has its own journey really.

So what’s next for you?

Well I’ve got the stuff with Djabe and then I will reconvene with my band, if I can call them that, and we will be off to Australia and New Zealand, Singapore and Thailand and then more Italian dates too. I love playing in Italy.

Last time we spoke we talked about another blues album.

I was asked by Malcom Bruce (Jack Bruce’s son) to play at a show at the Shepherd’s Bush Empire and I jumped at the chance as I love blues. There were about 40 musicians up there including Paul Young and Lulu, I played Spoonful and I was on fire, I absolutely loved it.

I love blues but it must be live as I don’t feel studio recordings capture it somehow, plus I was playing Gary Moore’s guitar.

His Les Paul Gold Top?

No, this was his Gold Top Fernandes that was made especially for him. It sounds fatter than mine does.

How did you get that?

A guy called Graham Lilley, who is my Guitar tech at times, was Gary’s full time tech and he is involved with Gary Moore’s estate and he bought it to me as a spare for me and I said if it ever comes up for sale give me a shout and he did, so I bought it. You can hear it on that last piece on The Night Siren album (The Gift).

Excellent. Well Steve, my time has gone so I’ll let you go. Thanks for talking with us, I wish you well with the tour and everything and I hope to see you on the road soon.

Thank you for talking to me too. Keep well.

Steve Hackett - photo by MichaelAarons


[You can read John Wenlock-Smith’s review of The Night Siren HERE.]


LINKS
Steve Hackett – Website | Facebook

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This news story was originally published here: http://theprogressiveaspect.net/blog/2017/04/28/isildurs-bane-steve-hogarth-colours-not-found-in-nature/

When it was announced that Swedish progressive music pioneers Isildurs Bane and Steve Hogarth, Marillion’s vocalist, had come together for a musical collaboration my interest was notched up quite a bit. Isildurs Bane have been around in progressive music circle since the Seventies with their rock based chamber music, employing strings, brass, woodwind along with traditional rock instruments. I have been aware of them for some time but to my shame have not investigated their musical world; this collaboration with Steve Hogarth seemed too good to miss.

The collaboration came about after keyboardist Mats Johansson invited Steve to join them after his appearance at Isildurs Bane’s annual concert at Halmstad in 2013, where he was a guest of Richard Barbieri. Mats wrote the songs with Steve in mind, and when he had agreed to come on board Steve contributed further ideas which expanded the album. Steve states that the invitation came at an extremely busy time for him but he was intrigued by Johansson’s writing and became engaged with the project. Colours Not Found in Nature is the first full album for Isildurs Bane since 2005’s MIND Vol 5: The Observatory as since then they have concentrated on their successful IB Expo concerts, educational workshops and theatre projects. Johansson felt that the biggest personal challenge was to find out if he could still write music, and if Isildurs Bane as a band were interested in working on a new album. As for Hogarth, he relished the opportunity to work outside Marillion, using more diverse topics for his lyrics, as he puts it, “as a creative artist I get to work with the kind of instrumentation and ensemble that I don’t normally work with. It’s a beautiful thing to be part of. I would jump at the chance to do it again.”

Indeed this album is a beautiful thing, Hogarth’s lyrics sit so well with the instrumentation of Isildurs Bane which support and enhance them while they weave their stories. The performances are all top notch here; special mention should go to Samuel Hällkvist whose guitar contributions are superb, adding colour and texture without dominating the other instruments.

The album has six tracks totalling 41-minutes of music, the perfect running time which leaves you wanting more and invariably leads to you hitting the ‘repeat’ button. The slightly discordant opening leads quickly into the guitar which kicks off the up tempo, lively riff of the first track, Ice Pop, the keyboards and guitar taking the lead ably supported by some great trumpet here and there. Towards the end the strings come in as the tempo slows to accompany Steve’s vocals along with a piano before the song segues into The Random Fires, a Beatles influenced pop/rock song, bright and almost cheerful.

This album at times has a big, varied sound with lots of instruments but they never seem cluttered, there is always space between them to ensure each is heard and no individual dominates proceedings. Each of the songs is superbly constructed, dynamic with quite an emotional or passionate feel, holding ones attention throughout.

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The track The Love and the Affair has Hogarth listing mundane and everyday tasks which are done in the name of “love”, the lyrics later in the song suggesting that something is missing and the consequences of this feeling, on this the album’s longest track at over 10-minutes. This follows the wonderful ballad-like Peripheral Visions, a beautiful song where the strings blend and weave around Hogarth’s voice, which appears at its best on this album. The lovely melody of Diamonds and Amnesia, which is provided by the strings and synths, gives way to the tour de force that is the album closer, Incandescent. Here the ensemble’s energy takes us on a turbulent and skillful ride, from a twinkling almost gentle start instruments are added as the song develops before it takes off at around three minutes with some great guitar supported by some brass, ebbing and flowing in a much more angry way than what has gone before.

The level of song writing and performance is top notch, with each contribution as important as the next. The songs appear to have a natural flow through the album, complex and dynamic blending together effortlessly elements of rock, prog, jazz and contemporary classical music into a cohesive whole. This has been a great collaboration, one which I hope they will do again. Give it a listen, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. I certainly wasn’t.

TRACK LISTING
01. Ice Pop (6:23)
02. The Random Fires (5:16)
03. Peripheral Vision (7:00)
04. The Love and the Affair (10:33)
05. Diamonds and Amnesia (5:18)
06. Incandescent (6:50)

Total time – 41:20

MUSICIANS
Steve Hogath – Lead & Backing Vocals
Katrine Amsler – Keyboards, Electronics
Klas Assarsson – Vibraphone, Marimba, Percussion
Luca Calabrese – Trumpet
Axel Crone – Bass, Clarinets, Saxophones, Flute, String Arrangements
Samuel Hällkvist – Guitars
Mats Johansson – Keyboards
Christian Saggese – Classical Guitar
Kjell Severinsson – Drums
~ Additional Musicians:
Liesbeth Lambrecht – Violin & Viola
Pieter Lenaerts – Double Bass
Xerxes Andren – Drums
John Anderberg – Choir Vocals (on The Love and the Affair)
Anneli Nilsson – Backing Vocals (on Peripheral Vision)

ADDITIONAL INFO
Record Label: Ataraxia
Catalogue#: ATX4CD
Date of Release: 14th April 2017

LINKS
Isildurs Bane – Website | Facebook
Steve Hogarth – Website | Facebook

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This news story was originally published here: https://www.prog-sphere.com/compilations/progotronics-3-launched/
Progotronics 3

After almost a month and the release of Progotronics 2 sampler in March, we are back once again with the third iteration of the series and our biggest Progotronics sampler yet.

Progotronics 3 features 18 tracks in total, and with this one we think that we’ve made the best one. We are not saying that the previous samplers lacked quality, it’s quite the opposite actually, but with Progotronics 3 we succeeded in bringing the most varied compilation. Whichever Prog you enjoy mostly, we think that you will definitely find something that will satisfy your appetite with this sampler.

From the classic Prog-Power Metal, to Post Black Metal with Prog influences, Djent, Instrumental Jazz Fusion-driven stuff to Psychedelia and everything in between, Progotronics 3 is quite a joyful experience.

Stream, download and share if with your friends; let the music be heard. The submissions for Progotronics 4 are now open; the sampler will be released on May 26th. Download our Android app from Google Play Store here.

Progotronics 3 Track Listing:

1. Theory – Sea of Damnation
2. Breag Naofa – The Morning Of
3. Tone Puppets – A Place to Find
4. Sam Lenhardt – Tidepools
5. Oro Cassini – Blank Faces
6. From the Dust Returned – Echoes of Faces
7. Leviathan Owl – Everything Will Be Fine
8. Gloson – Fabulist
9. Lucid Lynx – Crystallized
10. shetz – Chameleon
11. Shaping Motion – Making the Best of It
12. Colombian Necktie – Untitled
13. The White Flies – Chaser
14. Abiogene – Satori
15. Donella Drive – Silence
16. Justin Enriquez – December
17. Centroid – The Divide
18. Lucerne – Lysithea