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This news story was originally published here: http://theprogressiveaspect.net/blog/2017/05/31/aquaserge-laisse-ca-etre/

The fizzing French confection Aquaserge, makers of highly individual left-field pop-prog that explodes on your tongue like sherbert dip (Google it, non-Brits!), released their second album earlier this year. It is a joyous and celebratory affair, and a welcome tonic when all around us is fast turning to shit, as we enter the Age of the Slough of Despond. The fact that the French saw fit to send the appalling neo-fascist Le Pen packing is an indicator that the large majority of our nearest Euro neighbours have their heads and hearts in the right place, further exemplified by the five young sons and daughters of Joan of Arc grooving about on this fun record. This can but give one hope for the future, of music, and indeed humanity.

Laisse ça être (Leave it be) is the group’s second album, their debut À L’Amitié arriving out of nowhere some three years ago now. That debut displayed much promise, which is realised and then some on this otherworldly mix of French cabaret, pop, and jazz, all cut through with that indefinable Gallic charm, and rendered woozy by off-kilter rhythms. The lyrics to a few of the tracks have accompanying English translations with their videos, all gathered together on the band’s website. The band use automatic writing techniques and coded messages in their lyrics, but if like me your French is somewhat lacking and you are not inclined to be glued to a video while listening, then you will be pleased to hear that the music is strong enough on its own to draw you in.

The opening track sets the scene. Tour du monde, with its irrepressible groove and faux-disinterested singing, will have you finger poppin’ like Serge Gainsboro on a TV special. It’s not all wacky fun though, for just below the surface a lot of these tunes have an underlying studied seriousness, a contrast that means you can indulge this record in any number of moods.

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L’ire est au rendez-vous has a video that includes an English translation of its impressionistic lyrics, which apparently deploys codes as used by the French Resistance in WWII. See, I told you it was serious! As the cryptic lyric unfolds, images of war, insurrection, and imprisonment belie the calm and stately progression of the music. Aquaserge still have the Canterbury feel from the debut album, especially when Julien Gasc’s deadpan vocal delivery is upfront, and on Tintin on est bien mon loulou they sound like an updated version of early Soft Machine at their most psychedelic. For all that, they have refined their sound into something that is definitely theirs.

Charme d’Orient has the latent danger yet still enticing qualities of the twisting back alleys of a disreputable souk. Closing track Les yeux fermés (Eyes closed) is what the house band in a Parisienne jazz café might play as the waiter stacks the chairs in the small hours, the last punter having just left. The band, left to its own devices and playing to itself, hits on a strange groove, the bartender smiling wryly in their direction.

Yep, quite enjoyed that…

TRACK LISTING
01. Tour du monde (4:04)
02. Virage Sud (4:01)
03. Tintin on est bien mon loulou (6:00)
04. Si loin si proche (8:18)
05. C’est pas tout mais (5:37)
06. L’ire est au rendez-vous (5:39)
07. Charme d’Orient (5:28)
08. Les yeux fermés (6:36)

Total Time – 45:43

MUSICIANS
Benjamin Glibert – Guitar, Vocals
Julien Gasc – Keyboards, Vocals
Audrey Ginestet – Bass, Vocals
Manon Glibert – Clarinets
Julien Chamla or Julien Barbagallo – Drums
~ With:
Sebastien Cirotteau – Trumpet
Olivier Kelchtermans – Saxes

ADDITIONAL INFO
Record Label: France – Almost Musoque/Rest of World – Crammed Discs
Catalogue#: CRAM278
Date of Release: 3rd February 2017

LINKS
Aquaserge – Website | Facebook | Bandcamp

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This news story was originally published here: http://www.prog-sphere.com/specials/david-gilmour-live-at-pompeii-at-cinemas/
DAVID GILMOUR's "Live at Pompeii" Comes to Select Cinemas on September 13

David Gilmour‘s new film, Live At Pompeii, will be launched worldwide at select cinemas on September 13th, and it will be a one-night event only.

The film was shot at the legendary historic site of the ancient Roman amphitheatre on July 7th and July 8th last year, where Gilmour performed 45 years after Pink Floyd played a set there for the Pink Floyd Live at Pompeii film directed by Adrian Maven. The last year’s performance also marks the first ever live rock concert performed at the venue in front of the live audience.

David Gilmour Live at Pompeii includes songs from his last two studio albums: 2006′s On an Island and 2015′s Rattle That Lock, but it also includes Pink Floyd‘s compositions such as “Wish You Were Here,” “One of These Days,” “Comfortably Numb” and “Great Gig in the Sky.” The new film was directed by Gavin Elder.

Tickets for the screening of the one-night event are on sale, with more cinemas to be added soon. For more info visit http://www.davidgilmourcinematickets.com/.

David Gilmour - Live at Pompeii

David Gilmour live at Pompeii

David Gilmour at Pompeii

This news story was originally published here: http://www.prog-sphere.com/compilations/avandra-tymora-album-review/
Avandra - Tymora

As Christian Ayala admits it on his own, Puerto Rico is not a “place not thought of as being a mecca of progressive metal and progressive rock.” But it is always a great pleasure to come across a band hailing from a country that is not associated with the genre. We were previously introduced to the work of Zafakon, who also come from San Juan in Puerto Rico, and who were chosen as an opening band for Metallica when the US metallers played there recently. But let’s not digress too much.

As hinted, Avandra is a one-man progressive metal band of Ayala, who also goes by the name Volteau, and Tymora is his debut full-length album. There are 14 songs here in total, the first seven being the regular versions, with the remaining seven being fully instrumental tracks. Kicking off with an instrumental prologue aptly titled “Intro(spection),” Tymora marches forward with 8-odd-minute “Threshold of Evolution,” a number that was included as one of the songs on the Progotronics 4 digital sampler. While it starts out a bit slow it’s certainly forgivable, because it picks up fairly quickly. During its playtime the song is changing moods, making it for an amazing experience, overall.

Christian Ayala

Probably one of the most standout factors of any Metal recording is the riff work. In many cases—more so with Progressive Metal than anything—the riff work is at the forefront of the music in a very obnoxious manner, and it overshadows the rest of the things going on in a song. With Avandra this isn’t the case; Ayala seemingly takes a Progressive Rock structure and blend it with elements of Metal to produce what I find the sound of Progressive Metal SHOULD be. In his case, the guitar is used pretty regularly, but it’s never obnoxiously placed at the forefront of the music, and instead falls into place with everything else that’s going on. Between the catchy riffs, melodious leads, and everything else that is happening on Tymora, Ayala’s riff work is definitely worthy of praise. Take for example “Chimerical Visions.” Christian delivers tons of great riffs, harmonies and solos, but it doesn’t stop there. Although he certainly is not the best prog metal singer out there, his voice does a fairly good job accompanied with the instruments that are present in the mix. A symphonic touch in the second part of “Chimerical Visions” is a well-thought move, one that hints that more experimentation is yet to come.

A lush interplay between Ayala’s acoustic, his voice and string arrangement in “Reveries” does give the album well-needed heterogeneity. And just as you’re lulled in with it, Avandra drops a masterful creation in the shape of “Ubiquitous,” a number that sees Ayala letting his vocal chords into the upper registers, all along with a guitar solo that is all over the place—something that displays how greatly non-predictive this record is. And if it’s not prog enough for your taste, you get yet a Hammond organ godsend solo, which would certainly be appreciates by likes such Rick Wakeman, or Jon Lord (RIP).

Following “Alma Matter” has a cool, spacey vibe to it at the beginning which sounds as a soundtrack through the cosmos. Tymora keeps its best for the end; 10-minute “Garden of Remembrance”does so much for the record weaving through a progressive maze of intricacy.

In conclusion, Tymora is something that everybody who listens to Progressive Rock or Progressive Metal on ANY scale should listen to, hands down. I believe the term “the best band you’ve never heard of” comes into play here, and with an album this good, it’s incredibly easy to say. In a scene where there are numerous clones and rehashes, this album is a breath of fresh air.

Tymora is out now; order it from Bandcamp. Make sure to follow Avandra on Facebook. You can also download the Progotronics 4 sampler which includes one song from Tymora.

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This news story was originally published here: http://www.prog-sphere.com/specials/10-best-prog-albums-of-1987/
Best Prog Albums of 1987

1987 will be remembered by new albums of the bands that years ago put the foundation of the Progressive Rock genre. A year with new releases from Rush, Yes, Jethro Tull, and Pink Floyd a decade ago would possibly result in something of epic proportions, but in 1987 that didn’t seem to be the case.

The mentioned groups were arguably reaching to their very bottoms, except maybe Rush, who were keeping it under control in one way or another. Big Generator by Yes, Crest of a Knave by Jethro Tull, and A Momentary Lapse of Reason by Pink Floyd are among the groups’ weakest moments in their respectable careers.

However, 1987 still gave birth to some great records, and below is a list of 10 albums that, in our opinion, left a significant mark on the year.

10. Art Zoyd – Berlin

Le Mariage du Ciel et de l’Enfer (1985) announced a transformation in Art Zoyd‘s sound, a move away from acoustic instruments, replaced by multi-layered keyboards. Two years later Berlin confirmed the new direction, establishing a sonic framework that would remain unaltered for more than a decade. Exit trumpeter Jean-Pierre Soarez and saxophonist Didier Pietton. André Mergenthaler fills the gap with his cello, alto sax, and percussion, thus bringing the group to the size of a quartet with Patricia Dallio, Gérard Hourbette, and Thierry Zaboïtzeff. Cello, violin, and saxophone still have a place in the picture, but they are constantly dominated by the keyboards, which serve as both the rhythmical and harmonic purveyors — except for a few passages of snare drum and tom-toms, the role of percussion has been reduced considerably. Berlin is not Art Zoyd‘s best effort—the film trilogy (Nosferatu, Faust, Haxan) would achieve better results with the same ingredients. Yet, even though the music has slightly ossified, it remains genuine Art Zoyd music: doom-laden, disquietingly martial, the chamber music of hell if Satan were a Nazi. The album takes the form of two 20-minute suites and five shorter pieces. “Epithalame,” the first suite, moves about slowly but has a few nice shifts that keep it interesting. “A Drum, a Drum” includes lyrics (taken from Shakespeare) sung by Mergenthaler and presents in 20 minutes what the horror film trilogy would rework in three hours. Hourbette‘s “Petite Messe à l’Usage des Pharmaciens” (Short Mass for Pharmacists, in three parts) introduces a lighter side, but it hardly manages to be more than filler material. A decent album nevertheless, Berlin does not deserve to be overlooked.

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09. Rush – Hold Your Fire

Hold Your Fire is an album in the purest sense; infinitely greater than the sum of its parts, it gradually draws in the listener by slowly revealing its nuances and secrets. While the use of keyboards is still overwhelming at times, Geddy Lee employs lush textures which, when coupled with a greater rhythmic and melodic presence from guitarist Alex Lifeson, results in a far warmer sound than in recent efforts. Of course, drummer Neil Peart is as inventive and exciting as ever, while his lyrics focus on the various elements (earth, air, water, fire) for much of the album. Opener “Force Ten” is the band’s most immediate number in years, and other early favorites such as “Time Stand Still” and “Turn the Page” soon give way to the darker mysteries of “Prime Mover” and “Tai Shan.” The multifaceted “Lock and Key” is quintessential Rush, and sets the stage for the album’s climax with the sheer beauty of “Mission.” As was the case with 1976′s 2112 and 1981′s Moving Pictures, Rush always seem to produce some of their best work at the end of each four-album cycle, and Hold Your Fire is no exception.

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08. Pip Pyle – Equipe Out

Recorded in 1985 and originally released on a tiny French label in 1987 before finally becoming widely available through the progressive reissue label Voiceprint in 2000, Pip Pyle‘s first solo album is a Canterbury Scene supergroup outing, starring Pyle on drums, the Soft Machine‘s Hugh Hopper on bass and Elton Dean on saxophones, Pyle‘s former Gong bandmate Didier Malherbe on flute, and French keyboardist Sophia Domancich. Unlike most ’70s progressive artists who ran out of ideas sometime around the turn of the decade, Pyle and his cohorts create an impressive set of seven tunes that are as vital and interesting as much of their earlier work. (Equipe Out is a true collaboration, with all five participants contributing to the songwriting.) The saving grace of the Canterbury Scene, even in its most ponderous moments, was a sly sense of humor that comes through even on instrumentals like the witty, Ashley Hutchings-like dance tune “Foetal Fandango,” which features a wonderful lead melody played in unison by Dean and Malherbe. Equipe Out is clever without being precious, challenging while remaining accessible (for all the tricky time signatures and abrupt tempo shifts, this is not “difficult” music), and hugely entertaining.

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07. Voivod – Killing Technology

Voivod‘s third release, Killing Technology, still has elements of the band’s early extreme metal sound, but they show hints of things to come—namely, more mature and interesting songwriting. All you have to do is listen to the beginning of the appropriately titled “Tornado” to hear the young metal band grind and thrash with the best the ’80s had to offer. There are several tracks that stretch past the six-minute mark (the opening title track, “Forgotten in Space,” and “This Is Not an Exercise”), but Voivod knows how to hold interest during these extended pieces. The group is comprised of excellent musicians who have no problem whatsoever with the challenging song structures and odd time signatures that arise on Killing Technology. One of the band’s all-time classics, “Ravenous Medicine,” resides on this album, which makes it an essential purchase for Voivod fans. The group was still developing on Killing Technology, though—vocalist Denis Belanger relies a bit too often on screaming rather than singing, something that he would work out on future releases. An interesting metal album nonetheless, one that doesn’t sound too shabby years after its original release, something that’s all too uncommon for the majority of metal acts from the ‘80s.

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06. Tony MacAlpine – Maximum Security

Guitarist/keyboardist Tony MacAlpine really hits his stride on Maximum Security. While it’s not all that different from his first album, Edge of Insanity, it’s just much better. The album’s captivating neoclassical/fusion forays are filled with plenty of beautiful melodies and hair-raising solos; MacAlpine simply lights up the fretboard —and the keyboard, for that matter. Opening with a stormy harpsichord motif, the album’s leadoff track, “Autumn Lords,” sounds promising from the start. The piece soars with dramatic classical precision and features some truly breathtaking guitar/keyboard interplay. The album rarely falters from there; the flash guitar workout of “Hundreds of Thousands,” which moves at warp speed, gives way to the gorgeous “Tears of Sahara,” featuring guest solos by George Lynch. MacAlpine‘s penchant for dramatic soundscapes gives his pieces a rich, cinematic feel. The variety of textures on this album—not to mention a wealth of beautiful melodies—keep it continually interesting. Other highlights include “Porcelain Doll”—its lilting melody borrowed from Chopin—and MacAlpine‘s verbatim recital of Chopin‘s “Etude #4, Opus #10.” Maximum Security is essential listening for anyone interested in instrumental guitar music.

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05. Swans – Children of God

Kicking off with “New Mind”—which, while having the same general pace of most earlier Swans songs, also sounds distinctly different with its clearer, inventive arrangement, call-and-response vocals, and Gira‘s declamatory but not screamed lead vocal—Children of God finds the band making their own particular great leap forward.

The simmering changes that were apparent in the albums just before this one’s release fully come to the fore, as Swans take the courage to explore both their huge-sounding, bombastic side and gentle, if often still disturbing, delicacy (due credit especially to Westberg, Kizys, and Parsons, possibly the best musical lineup Swans ever had until the final years). The results are fascinating, ranging from the spare piano melting into ambient feedback of “In My Garden” and the twisted gospel blues of “Our Love Lies” to the acoustic guitar and organ on “You’re Not Real, Girl” and the raging pounder “Beautiful Child.” Equally importantly, if not more so, Jarboe now assumes a full role with Gira as co-leader of the band; while all lyrics are still Gira‘s, the two share lead vocal duties (though aside from the title track, no duets) throughout the album. The weary, evocative croon which Gira developed into his major vocal trademark here emerges to full effect (though he can still roar with the best of them at points) while Jarboe‘s cool, rich tones are simply astounding, as evidenced on an even more compelling version of “Blackmail,” originally from the A Screw EP.

Though Children is dedicated without any apparent irony to Jesus Christ, Gira‘s words remain as irreverent, challenging, and obsessed with overarching issues of religion, power, sex, love, and control as before, but with an ever-increasing depth and beauty to match the lusher musical textures. With flute, oboe, and strings adding further texturing to the often quite lovely songs created by the band, Children remains perhaps the key album of Swans‘ career—the clear signpost towards their ever-more ambitious albums in the future.

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04. John Zorn – Spillane

Using his “file card” technique to create the title piece “Spillane” (whereby musical ideas written on note cards form the basis for discreet sound blocks arranged by way of a unifying theme), John Zorn forges an impressionistic narrative out of stretches of live-music jazz, blues, country, lounge, thrash, etc., and a variety of samples and spoken dialogue inspired by Mickey Spillane‘s Mike Hammer detective novels (recited by John Lurie). Like he did on his Ennio Morricone tribute The Big Gundown, here Zorn blends a disparate array of sound sketches into a pleasing, if not especially determinate or always logical whole. (In his self-penned and expansive liner notes, Zorn says that the text and his overall conceptual take on Mickey Spillane‘s work form the thematic structure of this piece.)

Clarity aside, Spillane comes off as an exciting and atmospheric evocation of the clipped prose, seedy dives, and back alleys found in hard-boiled Spillane books like Kiss Me, Deadly. Sticking to the disc’s tribute theme, Zorn uses Japanese actor Yujiro Ishihara as the inspiration for “Forbidden Fruit.” Working with the Kronos Quartet, turntablist Christian Marclay, and Japanese vocalist Ohta Hiromi, Zorn concocts an exotically frenetic, atonal cut-up piece to evoke the actor’s films from the ’50s. And bringing things back home, so to speak, Zorn features Texas blues guitarist Albert Collins on the lengthy and slightly abstract blues jam “Two Lane Highway.” Helping “The Iceman” out are organist Big John Patton, bassist Melvin Gibbs, and drummer Ronald Shannon Jackson, among others. In addition to these veterans of past Zorn recordings, the likes of keyboard player Anthony Coleman, guitarist Bill Frisell, and drummer Bobby Previte contribute to the Spillane disc as well. Spillane is not only one of the highlights in Zorn‘s catalog, but also makes for a fine introduction to the composer’s vast body of work.

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03. Marillion – Clutching at Straws

Written and conceived during a period of inner-band turmoil, Clutching at Straws would prove to be Fish‘s swan song, and perhaps Marillion‘s most unheralded masterpiece. Teaming up once again with producer Chris Kimsey, Clutching at Straws showcases some of the band’s most satisfying compositions, including the magnificent “Warm Wet Circles” and “That Time of the Night (The Short Straw).” Bookended by Fish‘s disgust with not only himself, “Torch Song,” but also with the burgeoning neo-Nazi uprising in Europe, “White Russian,” the great Scot delivers an inspired condemnation. The commercial pomp and circumstance of “Incommunicado” also gives way to a self-parodying confessional inspired by Fish‘s inability to see himself as a bona fide rock star and celebrity (“I want to do adverts for American Express cards, talk shows on prime time T.V.“). Tour opener “Slainte Mhath” is simple and elegant, building to its dramatic crescendo only to be upstaged by “Sugar Mice”—quite simply, one of Marillion‘s best commercial singles ever. The album’s stunning closer, “The Last Straw,” is Fish‘s self-realization that yes, the band is not only over, but that in his mind, it’s null and void (“and if you ever come across us, don’t give us your sympathy“). Steve Rothery‘s blinding guitar solo brings the whole thing down to a crashing finish (prophetically, announcing his arrival as the band’s true musical instigator on subsequent Fish-less records).

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02. David Sylvian – Secrets of the Beehive

Streamlining the muted, organic atmospheres of the previous Gone to Earth to forge a more cohesive listening experience, Secrets of the Beehive is arguably David Sylvian‘s most accessible record, a delicate, jazz-inflected work boasting elegant string arrangements courtesy of Ryuichi Sakamoto. Impeccably produced by Steve Nye, the songs are stripped to their bare essentials, making judicious use of the synths, tape loops, and treated pianos which bring them to life; Sylvian‘s evocative vocals are instead front and center, rendering standouts like “The Boy With the Gun” and the near-hit “Orpheus”—both among the most conventional yet penetrating songs he’s ever written—with soothing strength and assurance.

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01. David Torn – Cloud About Mercury

This 1987 production signifies experimental guitarist David Torn‘s second effort for Germany-based ECM Records. Here, the artist exhibits a sound, style, and methodology that are clearly his own, amid superb support by Bill Bruford (drums), Tony Levin (Chapman Stick/bass), and Mark Isham (trumpets). Torn generates gobs of excitement via his cunningly articulated phraseology, while also incorporating North African and East Indian modal concepts into these power-packed performances, fabricated upon climactic opuses and steamy crescendos. The guitarist’s rippling harmonics and off-kilter voicings make for an engaging listening experience, especially when he trades sprightly fours with Isham atop the often-circuitous rhythms. Simply put, Cloud About Mercury looms as one of the finest jazz fusion dates of the ’80s, and should be deemed a mandatory purchase for aficionados of this genre.

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This news story was originally published here: http://www.insideoutmusic.com/newsdetailed.aspx?IdNews=18770&IdCompany=8

Genre-bending art-rock band Bent Knee have revealed a stunning new video for the track ‘Terror Bird’. The track is the third to be released from their forthcoming album, ‘Land Animal’, out 23rd June via InsideOutMusic/Sony. The collection combines myriad influences from across the rock, pop, minimalist, and avant-garde spectrums into a seamless, thrilling whole.

Watch the video here: https://youtu.be/44juYfgipU4

The bands violinist Chris Baum comments: “We all have an idea in our heads of how a good person thinks and feels, good people feel sad when hearing about tragedies, angry when reading about injustices, and happy for other’s successes, but sometimes, our brains fail to meet our own standards and slump into an apathetic mush instead. ‘Terror Bird’ is about fighting our natural inclination to become indifferent toward the world around us. In a globalized, hyper-connected society, it’s a problem we wrestle with now more than ever.”

The band recently released a live clip for the track ‘Holy Ghost’ which you can see here: https://youtu.be/e9QAlYV6qsY

Bent Knee formed in 2009 as a democratic collective determined to push the boundaries of pop and rock. Lead singer and keyboardist Courtney Swain’s soaring vocals are instantly arresting. Guitarist Ben Levin is one of the most dynamic and versatile guitarists around, shifting between the raging and raucous to the sublime and meditative. Bassist Jessica Kion and drummer Gavin Wallace-Ailsworth combine into an enthralling rhythm section that’s equal parts powerhouse and nuance. Violinist Chris Baum’s kinetic violin work provides drama, grace and intrigue. World-class producer and live sound designer Vince Welch weaves it all together with a captivating, expert touch.
The band has gone from strength to strength in recent years. Its last two albums, 2016’s Say So and 2014’s Shiny Eyed Babies, were hailed as significant art-rock achievements. The group has performed hundreds of shows across the world to date. During the fall of 2016, the band played for ecstatic audiences as an opener for the U.S. leg of The Dillinger Escape Plan’s farewell tour ahead of signing with InsideOutMusic/Sony.
“We’re very excited to be working with InsideOutMusic/Sony,” said Swain. “It’s wonderful to have our music reach a lot of new ears across the globe through them. It’s an honor to join their roster of prestigious artists and we look forward to a long relationship with the label.”

The band previously released a video for the album’s title track and you can find that here: https://youtu.be/ocn0gkJ2sMY

‘Land Animal’ will be released as CD, LP+ CD & digital download.Pre-order the album now via iTunes or Amazon MP3 and receive the title track immediately: http://smarturl.it/BentKneeLandAnimal

“Mind boggling… the grandest and subtlest ideas are on the table” – NPR

“The silo-smashing Bent Knee’s unique mix is equal parts ingenuity and deliciousness” – The Wall Street Journal

“Bent Knee breaks new stylistic and temperamental ground” – The Boston Globe

Bent Knee begin a headline tour in the US on the 1st June.

BENT KNEE online:
http://www.bentkneemusic.com/
https://www.facebook.com/BentKneeMusic/
https://twitter.com/bentkneemusic

INSIDEOUTMUSIC online:
http://www.insideoutmusic.com
http://www.youtube.com/InsideOutMusicTV
http://www.facebook.com/InsideOutMusic
http://www.twitter.com/insideouteu

Visit the new InsideOut Shop:
http://www.insideoutshop.de

This news story was originally published here: http://www.prog-sphere.com/news/rainbow-releases-new-song/
RITCHIE BLACKMORE's RAINBOW Releases First Song in 22 Years

The revamped version of Rainbow has released its first new music in more than two decades. Two tracks have been made available on iTunes: an instrumental song called Land Of Hope And Glory,” which is is a reworking of the 1902 British patriotic song of the same name from Edward Elgar‘s Pomp And Circumstance March No. 1,” and a re-recording of the Rainbow classic ”I Surrender,” which was written by Russ Ballard and was first released by Rainbow in 1981. The latter song features vocals recorded by current Rainbow singer Ronnie Romero.

Guitarist Ritchie Blackmore stepped away from his Renaissance-inspired brand of music with Blackmore’s Night last year to perform a handful of shows with a brand-new lineup of the band he had formed after quitting Deep Purple.

Although Ritchie initially said that he had no plans to make a new Rainbow album — explaining in early 2016 that he wanted to “just get back to playing the old songs one more time” — he revealed to Japan’s Burrn! magazine that he changed his mind.

The current incarnation of Rainbow includes Romero, originally from Chile but now settled in Madrid, Spain, as well as Stratovarius keyboardist Jens JohanssonBlackmore’s Night drummer David Keith, bassist Bob Nouveau (a.k.a. Robert “Bob” Curiano, ex-Blackmore’s Night), and backing singers Candice Night and Lady Lynn.

Blackmore was full of praise for Romero, who spends some of his time fronting the Spanish metal band Lords Of Black and is a member of a new project called The Ferrymen. ”When I heard him, he seemed like the right guy to sing the [Ronnie JamesDio-era songs of Rainbow,“ Ritchie told Burrn!. “He is versatile, he can sing like Freddie Mercury or Ronnie James Dio or Graham Bonnet

The reason I did not ask [former Rainbow singer] Joe Lynn Turner [to get involved in the Rainbow comeback] is because I thought European fans wanted to hear the Dio lineup of Rainbow

I was very surprised that tickets [to the first Rainbow comeback shows] sold out in 15 minutes. It was nice to know so many people wanted to hear Rainbow at this time.“

Joe Lynn Turner last year slammed Blackmore for the guitarist’s decision to go out and perform classic Deep Purple and Rainbow material with a new group musicians instead of reforming Rainbow with a more “authentic” lineup.

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This news story was originally published here: http://www.prog-sphere.com/news/steven-wilson-last-day-of-june-game/
Last Day of June

Visionary Italian independent studio Ovosonico and indie publisher 505 Games today announced their first project together, Last Day of June, a profound interactive adventure. From an all-star collaboration of creators including critically acclaimed director Massimo Guarini (Murasaki Baby, Shadow of the Damned, Naruto: Rise of a Ninja), award-winning musician and record producer Steven Wilson, and Jess Cope (animator on Tim Burton’s “Frankenweenie” and director for Metallica’s “Here Comes Revenge” music video), Last Day of June aims to be a true artistic innovation. Visualizing a bittersweet story told through a welcoming, painterly world, the role-playing exploration game showcases the beauty of life and love, but also the contradictions of loss, as seen in the first teaser trailer (watch below).

With ‘Last Day of June,’ my vision is to create a riveting emotional experience that connects with the broader audience of human beings,” said Massimo Guarini, founder and CEO of Ovosonico. “People feel comfortable broadly saying they don’t like videogames without ever really trying them, but never say that about movies or music or art – there’s always something they can identify with. I believe games can be just as universal and relatable, and that’s what we’re attempting to show with this project.

Last Day of June is a poignant single-player journey that progresses participants from a viewer joining Carl and June on what begins as a magical outing to their favorite spot, to a character deeply intertwined in the narrative, as they try to unlock the sequence of events that could save the day – and June’s life. In this cinematic experience, players will solve emotionally challenging puzzles in an attempt to turn back time, compelling them to ask themselves “What would you do to save the one you love?

Steven Wilson commented: “I’m not a gamer myself so I didn’t really know what to expect from a video game based on what is quite a melancholic story, but I found it to be an incredibly beautiful and emotional experience.

Last Day of June is being developed for PlayStation 4 and PC and will release later in 2017.

For more information, please visit: www.lastdayofjunegame.com

This news story was originally published here: http://theprogressiveaspect.net/blog/2017/05/30/quiet-world-the-road/

Esoteric have a knack for finding the most obscure records that only bear a passing resemblance or connection to progressive rock. At first glance, The Road seems like an overblown religious folk concept album. And even though this still rings true after hearing, there’s a lot more going on here than first meets the eye.

Readers who recognise this band and their solitary album will probably have done some researching into Genesis guitarist Steve Hackett’s past. His presence in Quiet World was his (and his brother John Hackett’s) first exposure to the recording studio. Some might even say that makes the album worth a listen by itself, although any similarities with Genesis are quite fleeting.

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The album itself is really quite bizarre. The Road is an album-length hap-hazard suite of music ranging from symphonic rock to jazz, but always with one foot firmly planted in folk. The closest you’ll get to “real prog” (whatever that is) is in Body to the Mind, which features a sprightly jazz instrumental. Though Jesus features prominently in the album’s lyrics, this is not actually an example of Christian rock; the album is inspired by The Aquarian Gospel of Jesus the Christ, first published in 1908. Without having read said gospel, I can’t pass too much judgement on the content, but it certainly seems kooky enough for brothers John and Lea Heather to have had a crack at making a concept album around it.

It’s very difficult to gauge how seriously the Heathers would like you to take The Road. Subject matter aside, the album clearly had a lot of work put into it, too much for a joke concept surely? But on the other hand, you have songs like Hang On, whose lyrics mainly consist of the repeated phrase “Hang on, hang on, Lordy, Lordy” (which I have to admit, does become strangely endearing after a few listens). Even Steve Hackett doesn’t seem sure in the booklet essay: “The whole thing was very mystical… There was definitely a religious fervour about the lyrics; both John and Lea saw it as a mission.” At any rate, the message of the album is lost on me.

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The structure of a concept album is just about there, however. Lots of themes, both musical and lyrical, are repeated through the album, which gives it a more cohesive feel, despite its many adventurous forays into other genres. Even though it lacks the maturity of later concept albums, there is something very pure about The Road that makes it appealing, and in a strange way, it does grow on you.

The album cover, on the other hand, is absolutely terrifying, depicting a foetus attached to the forehead of an old man. Esoteric have elegantly recreated this artwork in full, including the inner gatefold and lyrics, splitting the unusual cover vertically over the centrefold. The liner notes by house writer Malcolm Dome are certainly informative, explaining how the band formed, with a big focus on the most famous musician, Steve Hackett. However, a bit more scribbling about the album itself – why they chose the subject matter, what it was supposed to mean, who influenced the music – would have been interesting. The seventeen album tracks are complemented by no less than six bonus tracks: three singles released in 1969, 1970 and 1971 respectively, the track Gemima featuring a 15-year-old John Hackett. All this results in an unusual yet comprehensive package celebrating a very unique and mysterious band.

TRACK LISTING
01. The Great Birth/Theme (2:28)
02. First Light (3:36)
03. Theme (0:42)
04. Star (2:37)
05. Theme (0:32)
06. Loneliness and Grief (5:21)
07. Theme – Change of Age (1:33)
08. Christ One (2:22)
09. Hang On (3:41)
10. Christ Continued (3:24)
11. Body to the Mind (3:00)
12. Traveller (2:38)
13. Let Everybody Sing (1:54)
14. Theme (0:25)
15. Children of the World (2:13)
16. Change of Age (0:35)
17. Love Is Walking (3:41)
~ Bonus Tracks:
18. Miss Whittington (3:10)
19. There Is a Mountain (2:45)
20. Rest Comfortably (2:55)
21. Gemima (2:29)
22. The Visitor (3:28)
23. Sam (2:52)

Total Time – 58:21

MUSICIANS
Lea Heather – Composer, Vocals
John Heather – Acoustic Guitar, Vocals, Composer
Neil Heather – Composer
Sean O’Malley – Drums
Eddy Hines – Flute, Saxophone
Steve Hackett – Electric & Acoustic Guitar, Harmonica
Dick Driver – String Bass, Electric Bass
Phil Henderson – Arranger, Piano, Trumpet, Organ, Recorder, Vocals
~ with:
John Hackett – Acoustic Guitar
Gill Cilbert – Vocals

ADDITIONAL INFO
Record Label: Esoteric Records
Catalogue #: ECLEC 2564
Date of Release: 28th October 2016

LINKS
Quiet World – Cherry Red Product Page

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This news story was originally published here: http://www.prog-sphere.com/news/vola-release-october-session-ep/
VOLA Release Acoustic EP "October Session"

Danish genre-mashing quartet Vola today release their acoustic EP October Session, worldwide through all digital channels. October Session contains two tracks: acoustic versions of “Gutter Moon” and “Stray The Skies.” The original, electric versions of both songs were featured on the band’s critically acclaimed 2016 label debut Inmazes. Until now, both October Session tracks were only available on the vinyl version of Inmazes.

Vola’s vocalist / guitarist Asger Mygind about the EP and video: “When our label approached us about wanting to rerelease ‘Inmazes‘ they also asked us about bonus tracks for the album. During the sessions for ‘Inmazes‘ we didn’t record anything else than the 10 songs you hear on the record, so we had to create something from scratch if we wanted to pursue the idea of bonus material. While we wholeheartedly enjoy playing and making music that is energetic and consists of many layers, we also find a lot of inspiration in toned down, mellow music (like you hear on ‘Emily’, for example), and we rather quickly decided to follow this path for the extra material. How would the songs from Inmazes sound if we interpreted them with this mind set? We decided to work on ‘Stray The Skies’ and ‘Gutter Moon’ to see what we could come up with. Consisting of only vocals, keys, acoustic guitar and percussion, these versions turned out very different from their loud siblings. We called them ‘October Session‘ – since they were arranged and recorded in October 2015 – and put them on the physical releases of ‘Inmazes‘ (B-side and download code). Now they are finally available on streaming services as well. Enjoy.

To accompany the release of the October Session EP, Vola present a stunning video for “Stray The Skies (October Session),” shot by Fly High Productions. The video was shot in three different locations in Jutland, Denmark. Watch the video below.

Vola will be returning to Germany and the UK this summer playing festivals and headline shows. The band is currently working on the follow-up album to Inmazes.

Catch VOLA on tour this October:

Saturday 8th July – Rockaue Open Air, Bonn, GERMANY
Saturday 5th August – Take Over Daze Festival, Munch, GERMANY
Weds 16th August – Dingwalls, London, UK
Thurs 17th August – Sanctuary, Basingstoke, UK
Fri 18th August – ArcTanGent Festival, Bristol, UK

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