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All posts for the month May, 2017

This news story was originally published here: http://www.prog-sphere.com/interviews/jacqui-l-interview/
Jacqui L

Sydney-based musician and composer Jacqui L launched her debut album Planet Parallel 5 earlier this month, a very enjoyable mixture of Art Rock and Progressive Metal. A song off of the album called “I’ll Covet” opens our Progotronics 4 digital compilation, and as a part of that feature we talked with Jacqui about her work with the project, concept, and more.

Define your mission with the Jacqui L project.

My mission is entirely selfish—as it has always been—to buoy my own spirits by satisfying my thirst for new creation highs. I am always chasing the excitement of creating something new, beautiful and interesting.

So I guess my mission is to engage enough people in my work to continue to entertain myself!

Tell me about the creative process that informed your recently released album Planet Parallel 5 and the themes it captures.

My creative process is sporadic and fluid.

Lyrical phrases, riffs and melodies form and dissipate in my head, the persistent ones return and end up scribbled somewhere, or in my phone notes or voice memos.

I never create lyrical and musical content at the same time. I find that in order for me to be satisfied with both elements, they must receive their own undivided attention before I begin to combine any ideas. I feel this leads to me creating more authentic, interesting and sophisticated creations, and at least this way I am pleased with the results.

These days, I will usually create a fairly whole demo idea/song (musically), then fish around in my lyrics (on my phone or in books) to see what inspires me and matches thematically. Then I begin experimenting in weaving the two together.

Thematically and lyrically the album is pretty much me muttering to myself about mine or other humans’ behaviour. Generally why we behave so illogically, selfishly.

Planet Parallel 5

What is the message you are trying to give with Planet Parallel 5?

I’m not sure I have any authority to give a message… My lyrics are often reflections of my own behaviour (or of someone close to me) so often it is just me yelling at myself in the mirror, so to speak. Not always – but a lot of the time.

However, the track “Rich Man” is about greed. That message is obvious. I feel no hesitation in preaching about obscenely rich people stealing retirement savings from their employees. So there’s a message I feel authorised to preach about.

How did you document the music while it was being formulated?

When something hits me musically, either an specific idea or an overwhelming creative urge, I sit down at my piano or Nord and fiddle for a while. If it holds my attention, and I have the time, I will fire up Logic and record it in and mess around with different parts. If I don’t have much time, I will just record it into my voice memos in my phone and revisit it when it beckons again. This could be days, months or many years later.

As for lyrical content, I scribble it somewhere or in my phone notes/voice memos. I owe a lot of my writing to voice memos in my phone. In many of my songs, the stimulus lyrics/motif lyrics are written long before I flesh out second verses/bridges etc.

Is the dynamic flow of the pieces carefully architected?

YES! Of course!

As I’m sure with all artists who consider themselves in some way “prog”; dynamic flow, unity, variation, contrast, all musical considerations are continuously assessed during the composition and recording process. I feel that beauty can be found surfing the balance between unity and contrast; finding the thread that weaves disparate ideas together.

Describe the approach to recording the album.

The songs on the album wrote themselves over many years but I spent one summer solidifying my demos to a standard I believed to be “viewable”  by my producers/musicians Marty Hailey and Joe Accaria.

I had worked with Marty (producer/guitars/audio engineer/programming and mixing) and Joe (producer/drums/percussion/programming) on 2 songs “Could Be” and “Rich Man,” but despite being thrilled by the results, I had not released the songs. So I knew when it was time for an album, it would hopefully be with them.

Although I spent many years fiddling with the songs to create the demos, the tracking/recording process was very quick as Marty, Joe and Dave Symes (bass) are among Australia’s finest musicians and were quick to breathe life into my work.

Dealing with such a compact unit (i.e. four people in total, encompassing all roles; artist/songwriter, musicians,  producers, engineer) was a succinct, streamlined and delightful process. It was an entirely untroubled and fruitful collaboration.

It was incredible to hear my pieces enlivened for the first time by a collection of accomplished musicians (after living with the demos for so long), and they were perfectly happy to help me create exactly the pieces I wanted.

How long Planet Parallel 5 was in the making?

Planet Parallel 5 has been far too long in the making!

The oldest lyrics (“Frankenstein”) were written well over a decade ago on a bus in London, the lyrics for “Distraction” were also written a decade ago, the oldest track (“Could Be”) was recorded and mastered over five years ago, all the demos were finished two years ago and the whole album has been “in the can” for well over a year!

Things don’t happen quickly in my world – the curse of being an independent musician.

Which bands or artists influenced your work on the release?

I feel that the influences of Tool, A Perfect Circle and Roisin Murphy are evident on Planet Parallel 5. As well as The Tea Party and Danny Elfman‘s playful musical work with Tim Burton, particularly on The Nightmare Before Christmas.

I love the complexity, depth and darkness of Tool and A Perfect Cirlce; Maynard‘s incisive lyrics/vocals have informed my own approach to lyrics, melody and harmony as has Riosin Murphy‘s and Danny Elfman‘s quirky use of vocals arrangements.

My love of The Tea Party‘s middle eastern influenced rock is apparent particularly in “Frankenstein and Stroke It” and percussively in “I’ll Covet.”

What is your view on technology in music?

I don’t imagine I am any different to any other musician when I say that before the last decade, if I had a compelling idea, I used to have to sit at my piano/keyboard, write my lyrics, and write down as much info as I could (chord progressions, and melodies on a stave etc) so as to preserve my musical ideas. Then I would definitely have to revisit my works frequently to keep them with me, or else I would just forget them. (I was too disorganised to actually record anything without the convenience of phone voice memos or a DAW.)

Simply, fewer of my ideas get lost in the ether now than in the past and it is now far more convenient to document them at the early stage than it used to be.

Also, technology in music for me means that I can fiddle around in Logic in the safety and anonymity of my room, and work on compositions as long as I fancy before I unveil them to anyone (if ever).

That self sufficiency is nice and it means that people I collaborate with gain a much more complete picture of my creations/visions when they begin to work with them. This means that my hopes are realised more fully and I am understood more comprehensively when I begin to work with others.

It is my view that the more information there is for your collaborators, the less likely it is they will accidentally take your work down a path you don’t  want it to go down.

Do you see your music as serving a purpose beyond music?

I hope so but I don’t really think that’s up to me. My music makes me happy and is usually a study of my own behaviours. Perhaps others will feel the same – that would be nice.

However, my personal artistic sensibilities aren’t ONLY concerned with music. I express my ideas through poetry/spoken word, digital drawings, short film (my film clips), set, costume and prop design, performance art and dance. In that sense, my music’s serves as a springboard for my expression of ideas using any art-form that best serves the exploration of that concept.

What are your plans for the future?

Don’t die too soon.

If I achieve that, hopefully I can present a live show that encompasses all the art forms I have listed above alongside my music for a quirky investigation of art, beauty, human behaviour and prog.

Planet Parallel 5 is out now and is available from Bandcamp. Visit Jacqui L’s official website for more info about her work.

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This news story was originally published here: http://www.prog-sphere.com/specials/20-best-australian-prog-bands/
Best Australian Prog Bands

Over the last few years, Australian prog scene has expanded a lot by giving birth to many great new bands and artists. But it was decades ago when the Prog seed was planted.

Although not a prog rock band per se, AC/DC is the biggest musical export coming from Australia when it comes to the rock music. But when it comes to prog rock it was artists like Daevid Allen, Cybotron, Bakery, Aleph, Ayers Rock, and many others, that put Australia on the Prog’s map.

Today, Australia is one of the fastest-growing countries in terms of genre’s presence; with new bands emerging constantly.

Below is a list of 20 Prog artists from Australia that, in our opinion, are Prog’s finest at the moment. Feel free to express your opinion in the comments below, and share your favourite Aussie prog bands.

Sleepmakeswaves

Originally the project of SnowdroppersJeremy Davidson, Triple J DJ Dom Alessio, and guitarist Jonathan Khor, sleepmakeswaves was born properly in 2006 when Khor advertised for members on MySpace to form a new post-rock group using the original project’s name. Drafting Alex Wilson (bass), Tom Binetter (guitars), and William Smith (drums), the newly formed four-piece set about practicing and recording their first demos. In 2007, their self-titled two-track demo appeared online for free, and, with a growing fan base, the group released their first proper EP, In Today Already Walks Tomorrow, a year later on Australia’s Bird’s Robe Records. In a strange turn of events, the track “One Day, You Will Teach Me to Let Go of My Fears” appeared on a fan-made Twilight video posted on YouTube. Within a few days, the video had amassed a huge number of views and in turn generated a huge buzz for the group, with the track being downloaded over 50,000 times. The following year, the group went on a national tour with American post-metal outfit Pelican and also issued a split EP with fellow Australian outfit Tangled Thoughts of Leaving, before guitarist Tom Binetter announced he was leaving the band. Recruiting Otto Wicks-Green as a replacement, the group headed to the Wingello State Forest in New South Wales to start recording its debut album.

Released in 2011, …And So We Destroyed Everything saw the four-piece expanding its palette by dabbling with electronics, and with positive reviews, the album cemented the group’s place as Australia’s premier post-rock outfit. Tours supporting Russian Circles, Mono, and Boris further raised sleepmakeswaves‘ profile and enabled them to take on tours of the U.S. and Europe in 2012. Returning to Australia for another national tour and support slots with Tortoise, the band’s debut album received a nomination for Best Hard Rock/Metal Album at the 2012 ARIAs, and at the beginning of 2013, the group announced the release of the remix album …And Then They Remixed Everything. They signed with U.K. label Monotreme Records in June 2013, which reissued the band’s debut album to an international audience with the remix album as a bonus. Love of Cartography followed on Bird’s Robe in 2014, with Tim Adderley replacing Smith on drums. The record was their most popular to date, reaching number 31 on Australia’s albums chart. Amid continued touring that included regular festival appearances, founder Khor left the group and was replaced by Daniel Oreskovic for sleepmakeswaves‘ third studio LP, 2017′s Made of Breath Only.

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Voyager

Australian pop sensibility with modern progressive heaviness – the cult force that is Voyager.

With six full-length albums under their belt and shows throughout North America, Europe and Asia with the likes of Opeth, Devin Townsend, Children Of Bodom, Soilwork, Nightwish, Epica and Orphaned Land, the five-piece from Perth is now firmly entrenched in its international repute as “the band who doesn’t sound like anyone else.”

With a fiery red keytar, a feisty female guitarist and concerts described as “amazing chemistry blending pop with heavy, technical and progressive riffs,” Voyager are consistently a live force to be reckoned with.

In June 2014, Voyager released their fifth opus; the internationally critically acclaimed V. The album received incredible reviews. In addition, V entered the top 20 on the CMJ US Loud Rock Charts and led Voyager to receiving a nomination for the ‘Breakthrough Artist’ award at the 2014 Prog Magazine Music Awards.

In 2017, Voyager released their sixth studio album titled Ghost Mile.

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We Lost the Sea

We Lost The Sea are a cinematic instrumental band from Sydney. Formed in 2007, friends came together to create a new collection of noise that gathers relentless crushing guitars together with post-rock atmospherics and melody, incorporating elements that hold up to the likes of Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Cult Of Luna, Mogwai and Sigur Ros

They released their first record entitled Crimea, engineered and mixed by Magnus Lindberg of Cult of Luna in mid 2010. In 2012, they released their second record The Quietest Place on Earth through Bird’s Robe Records, to acclaim from both fans and critics alike at home and internationally, making best album lists of 2012 above bands like Converge and Godspeed You! Black Emperor, and best sellers on Bandcamp.

In March 2013, their close friend and vocalist of the band, Chris Torpy, sadly took his own life aged only 24. This, naturally, was devastating for the band and the rest of 2013 was a rough ride, playing only two shows.

2015 sees the band back releasing their third LP Departure Songs. This record is a slight shift away from their old dynamic, not so unintentional as maturing in sound, and the most personally experimental and emotional so far. Departure Songs is inspired by failed, yet epic and honourable journeys or events throughout history where people have done extraordinary things for the greater good of those around them, and the progress of the human race itself. Each song has it’s own story and is a soundtrack to that story.

We Lost the Sea is currently touring Europe.

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Anubis

Australian Prog Rock sextet Anubis celebrated their tenth anniversary in 2014 with the release of their third studio album, the critically acclaimed Hitchhiking to Byzantium. But in May this year, the band put out their third opus The Second Hand, which is their most mature release yet.

Before that in 2009 Anubis released 230503, and in 2011 a conceptual piece A Tower of Silence; both finding considerable success with Europe’s Prog Rock underground.

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Caligula’s Horse

Named for the prized possession of Rome’s infamous despot, Caligula’s Horse is a progressive alternative rock band from Brisbane, Australia.

Channelling the raw honesty of rock and the skill of progressive metal into a seamless voice at once energetic, grand and forthright, Caligula’s Horse offers devotees of all strains of powerful and progressive music something unique.

Formed by Sam Vallen and Jim Grey in early 2011, Caligula’s Horse released their debut album Moments from Ephemeral City in April of the same year. Moments is a colourful and dynamic foray into modern progressive music, at once vital, eclectic, and memorable. It was followed in 2013 by The Tide, the Thief & River’s End, a dark, powerful narrative concept album about isolation, exodus, and the human spirit overcoming insurmountable odds. It received international acclaim in the progressive music sphere, lauded by rock and metal fans alike. The release of River’s End saw the group undertake an intense touring regime, including dates with the likes of Opeth, Tesseract, Mastodon, The Dillinger Escape Plan, Protest the Hero, The Ocean, Firewind, Twelve Foot Ninja, Ne Obliviscaris, and hundreds more.

2015 saw Caligula’s Horse release their third record Bloom, their most vivid, and emotional work to date. Bloom is the perfect mission statement for an act blurring the line between power and reflection; a musical assertion with depth enough for the most dedicated of prog fans, and with fire enough to bring audiences in venues across the world to fury and their voices to unison.

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Alithia

From Melbourne to Moscow, Budapest to Sydney, Melbourne’s purveyor of astral space rock Alithia have become renowned worldwide by both critics and fans alike for their hypnotic live shows and debut record To The Edge Of Time.

Although Alithia sit amongst the psychedelic, post-rock and prog genres, their sound is not easily categorised. Imagine floating through the cosmos, out of body and out of mind on a space trip shaped by melodies with mutant riffs, driven by tribal percussion and a shamanistic feel which captivates you whole…these are the astral space sounds of Alithia.

Alithia’s reputation as a profound, deeply spiritual and entrancing live act has increasingly spread internationally, following recent supports of progressive heavyweights such as Animals as Leaders, ALCEST, The Ocean, Mother’s Cake, Dead Letter Circus, Ne Obliviscaris, etc.

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Chaos Divine

Leading audiences and listeners through a journey of uncompromising arrangements, crushing heavy riffs and soaring melodies, Perth’s enigmatic prog metal five-piece Chaos Divine have well and truly immersed themselves in a realm of sound and style matched by few, and admired by many.

With a suite of industry accolades, national and international tours, and appearances at Soundwave and Big Day Out festivals under their belt, Chaos Divine have carved out an impressive reputation for delivering a powerful and dynamic live show. The band has supported some of the biggest names in rock and metal including Slayer, Mastodon, Tesseract, Animals as Leaders, Between the Buried and Me, Fear Factory, Dark Tranquility, Trivium, The Ocean, Devil Driver, Satic-X, and more.

With an EP and three studio albums under their belt, the band offered up Colliding Skies in 2015, their most accomplished record to date that delivers a bold step-change to an already proven formula. The follow-up to 2011’s The Human Connection—the group’s critically acclaimed second studio album, branded by many as a benchmark in modern progressive metal—Colliding Skies showcases a new level of craftsmanship in power and melody. It is being heralded globally as one of 2015’s best progressive heavy albums.

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Virgil Donati

Virgil Donati is widely recognized as one of the most dedicated and technically advanced drummers of all time. He was born in Melbourne, Australia, where he also launched his career. Since the mid-nineties he has been a household name. Residing in Los Angeles, Virgil is travelling the world as a international drumming superstar, as well as a composer and an educator.

He has performed and toured with the likes of Tommy Emmanuel, Steve Vai and Allan Holdsworth, while maintaining a busy schedule as a band leader and member of numerous recording and touring bands over the years, most notably Loose Change, Southern SonsOn The Virg, Soul SirkusPlanet X and various incarnations of The Virgil Donati Band and The Virgil Donati Trio.

His natural talent, combined with a herculean work-ethic and never-ending curiosity, has propelled him to an unbelievable performance level.

In 2016, Donati released his latest studio offering The Dawn of Time.

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Plini

Hailing from Sydney, guitarist, composer and architect Plini has independently released several EP’s, singles and an album titled Handmade Cities over the last few years.

He’s worked with musicians including Marco Minnemann, Chris Letchford, Troy Wright, Rick Graham, and many more.

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Dead Letter Circus

Dead Letter Circus is an alternative rock band with a progressive rock style who made their smash hit album debut with This Is the Warning in 2010. Founded in 2005 in Brisbane, Queensland, the band is comprised of Kim Benzie (vocals), Rob Maric (guitar), Stewart Hill (bass), and Luke Williams (drums). Their influences include Faith No More, Muse, the Mars Volta, and Radiohead. They made their commercial recording debut with Dead Letter Circus (2007), a six-track EP released association with MGM Distribution that spawned the single “Disconnect and Apply.”

The following year they released a second EP, Next in Line (2008), which spawned the singles “Reaction” and “Next in Line,” the latter of which was a breakout hit for the band. Upon signing a major-label recording contract with Warner Music, Dead Letter Circus made their full-length album debut with This Is the Warning (2010). Produced by Forrester Savell, This Is the Warning reached number two on the Australian albums chart and featured the singles “The Space on the Wall” and “Big.”

2013 saw the departure of founding member Rob Maric and the additions of new band members Tom Skerlj and Clint Vincent. It also saw the release of the group’s critically-acclaimed sophomore outing Catalyst Fire, which debuted at #2 on the Australian album charts. An acoustic EP, Stand Apart, arrived in 2014, followed in 2015 by the band’s third studio long player, Aesthesis.

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Karnivool

Karnivool started out as a high school band in 1997, playing parties around Perth focusing on covers of Nirvana and Carcass with a handful of original songs thrown into the mix. After a year of this, singer Ian Kenny decided to change the focus to purely original material, getting rid of the original bandmembers—who had been called “a bunch of clowns” around Perth, hence the name Karnivool—and recruiting guitarists Drew Goddard and Mark Hosking, bass player Jon Stockman, and drummer Ray Hawking to work on a self-titled EP.

This was followed by the full-length albums Persona in 2001 and Themata in 2005. Lead guitarist Drew Goddard played most of the drums on Themata and also began contributing his own songs, which were written in an unusual combination of dropped-B and standard E tuning. This became their trademark as the band moved away from their early nu-metal sound towards a more progressive style heavily influenced by Tool. New drummer Steve Judd was brought in for their live shows and then became a permanent member of the band. American label Bieler Bros. Records gave Themata a U.S. release in 2007. In 2009, Karnivool released Sound Awake, which debuted at number two in the ARIA album charts and was a top-seller in Australia’s independent chart.

2013 brought the release of Assymetry, the latest studio effort by the band.

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Hemina

Hemina are a 4 piece Progressive Metal band from Sydney. The band’s sound has been described as a unique combination of hard hitting syncopated grooves, lush synth backwashes, multi-part vocal harmonies, blistering memorable leads with a focus on songwriting and emotion.

The band have supported international bands Uriah Heep, Kamelot, Apocalyptica, etc. They have shared the stage with Aussie legends, Caligula’s Horse, Chaos Divine, Voyager, James Norbert Ivanyi, Divine Ascension, Breaking Orbit among many others and simply live for the stage.

Hemina’s first two albums Synthetic and Nebulae were met with critical acclaim traversing two different sides of the band’s sonic spectrum from the complex and dark, to the concise and uplifting.

With a reinvigorated lineup, the band’s third album Venus is the most collaborative work to date offering flavours of what fans have come to expect in the past as well as a new palette and range of expression never before heard from the group. Hemina returned with an 80 minute concept album detailing and examining domestic violence, relationships, and individuality in the 21st century with a narrative arc to accompany and elaborate on their previous conceptual output. Venus is Hemina at their heaviest and most energetic without ignoring the tender and delicate side that keeps the music in balance. With a powerful modern production and mix crafted between Douglas Skene and Nathan McMahon at Ploughman Studios with audiophile mastering from Ermin Hamidovic at Systematic Productions (Periphery, Devin Townsend, Plini)—this is the band at their best.

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Twelve  Foot Ninja

Specializing in a propulsive and hard-to-shoehorn mix of searing alternative metal and shape-shifting, experimental rock with progressive tendencies, Aussie quintet Twelve Foot Ninja fall somewhere between the decibel-pounding onslaught of bands like Periphery and Between the Buried and Me, and the kitchen-sink eclecticism of Mr. Bungle. Formed in Melbourne in 2008 around the talents of Kin Etik, Shane Russell, Steve Mackay, Damon McKinnon, and Rohan Hayes, the band released a flurry of singles and EPs between 2008 and 2011 before issuing their debut long-player, Silent Machine, in 2012.

The band spent the next three years touring heavily—Silent Machine was released in America in 2014—but eventually returned to the studio to begin work on album number two. The resulting Outlier dropped in August, 2016, and quickly shot to the top of Australian Artist Charts.

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The Helix Nebula

The Helix Nebula is an instrumental progressive metal band formed in 2011. Based in Sydney, Australia, this act compensate for the lack of vocals by aggressively challenging the listener with numerous riffs and highly complex technical wizardry regarding time signatures and instrumental prowess.

Having toured with a multitude of acts including Animals as Leaders, Between the Buried and Me and Beyond Creation, the band released their first EP entitled Meridian in August of 2014. The lineup consists of Jake Howsam Lowe and Stephen Taranto on guitars, Simon Grove on bass and production, and Nic Tresise on drums.

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Dyssidia

Dyssidia have crafted a unique sound amongst their peers. Infusing bone-crushing riffs with rich harmonies, soaring vocal melodies with brutal growls, and breathtaking soundscapes with intricate rhythms. They are synonymous with blending styles, displaying emotions and showing off some incredible technical prowess.

This duality of sonics and their mesmerising stage show has led to them to share the stage with the kings of the global progressive scene, including Opeth, Tesseract, Trivium, Between The Buried And Me, Katatonia, Fallujah, Klone, Beyond Creation, Intervals, Ne Obliviscaris, Psycroptic, Be’lakor, Caligula’s Horse, Plini, and Voyager.

With their previous EP’s, 2013’s Quiet Waters and 2015’s Children Of Aether And Earth, Dyssidia’s musical journey has evolved significantly and brought them to their latest release; 2016’s Of Delight & Despair.

Following their 2016 Australian tour with Brisbane progressive powerhouse Caligula’s Horse, Dyssidia will be touring nationally with Sydney instrumental guitar prodigy James Norbert Ivanyi in August 2017. With the release of their third video for “Dead Smoke,” the recording of their debut album in November and more tours to follow, Dyssidia have no plans on slowing down anytime soon.

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Vanishing Point

Vanishing Point was formed in the early 1990s. The band concentrated their efforts on song writing/recording and their first album, In Thought was recorded in 1996, and released in Europe by German label Angular Records in 1997.

Vanishing Point headed to Germany for the 2000 Wacken Open Air festival. Later that year the band’s second album Tangled in Dream was released in Australia by Metal Warriors and internationally by Germany’s LMP label. The following eighteen months was a busy period for the band. In late 2001, Vanishing Point returned to Europe for a tour with Gamma Ray and Sonata Arctica.

In 2005 the band returned to a live performances at Metal For The Brain, and then a show with Nightwish on the Melbourne leg of their Australian tour. Embrace The Silence was released mid-year internationally by their new label, Germany’s Dockyard 1 and in Australia by the Wollongong-based Riot! label. During 2006, Vanishing Point supported Black Label Society and Gamma Ray on the Melbourne leg of their Australian tours, and in May 2007, Vanishing Point supported DragonForce in Australia and New Zealand. The band’s fourth album The Fourth Season was released on the 24th August 2007, through Dockyard 1. In February 2008 Vanishing Point supported Iron Maiden, performing a single show in Perth and two shows in Melbourne. Vanishing Point appeared alongside fellow Australian power metal band Black Majesty on tour with Helloween in February 2008.

In late September 2008 Vanishing Point once again took off for Europe this time supporting Sonata Arctica with Norway’s Pagan’s Mind; the tour was a success and the band played in many new countries where the band had never been to before. Vanishing Point returned home to Australia for a short break and then to fully concentrate on writing the follow up album to The Fourth Season. Distant Is The Sun was released in 2014.

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Hibernal

Hibernal is a project of Brisbane-based composer Mark Healy. The project his original sci-fi stories with instrumental music to create an immersive experience for the listener. Combined with a professional voice cast, the ‘audio movies’ have been hailed by critics and fans alike for their originality and creativity. The latest album, The Dark of the City, was released in January 2017.

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Krakatau

“Like the volcano, Krakatau starts with a foreboding warning and continues through explosive improv jams, haunting drones and climactic conclusions.” This is how the Melbourne-based instrumental prog/jazz rock band describe their work.

The quartet released their debut album Water Near a Bridge on vinyl in 2014 via Trouble in Mind Records, followed by last year’s vinyl release of Tharsis Montes/Apogean Tide via Growing Bin Records.

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James Norbert Ivanyi

James Norbert Ivanyi is a guitarist, composer and producer based in Sydney who records music at his home studio and release it independently. Since 2013, he has put out three instrumental EP’s, Aphasia (2013), The Matter Circumvention (2015), and The Usurper (2016). His new, fourth release titled Denalavis is out on June 1.

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Ne Obliviscaris

Ne Obliviscaris are an extreme progressive metal band from Melbourne. Conceived late in 2003 by violinist/vocalist Tim Charles and vocalist Marc “Xenoyr” Campbell, the band included a female soprano vocalist, lead guitarist, bassist, and drummer.

Former Gomorrah rhythm guitarist Matt Klavins signed on in early 2004, as did lead guitarist Corey King. The band’s original rhythm section was replaced in 2005 by bassist Brendan “Cygnus” Brown (ex-Aphotic Dawn/Primordial Space) and drummer Daniel Presland. For nearly two years this unit continued to rehearse and play regional shows.

In 2007 the collective released the three-track, 33-minute demo The Aurora Veil to thunderous underground acclaim due to its signature yet unpredictable meld of death and melodic metal, classical music, jazz, and avant-garde improvisation. King left shortly after the record’s release and the band was forced to soldier on without a guitarist until they successfully auditioned French guitarist Benjamin Baret, who had played with Brown in Primordial Space in 2008.

As the band began recording its full-length debut with this sextet in 2009, they held a concert called Festival de la Grenouille to raise funds for a Distinguished Talent Visa. It would allow Baret to relocate to Australia. After 14 months of waiting, and having a finished record about to be mixed, his application was denied.

Ne Obliviscaris appealed the decision by initiating a petition and letter-writing campaign which proved successful in 2011. The long-finished Portal of I was finally released in 2012. The evolution in sound and approach was greeted globally with critical and fan acclaim. In 2013 the band signed to Seasons of Mist and began recording a follow-up. After finishing the album, they began a crowd-funding campaign in June of 2014 to fund a world tour to support it upon release. They asked for $40,000 and received over twice that. Citadel was issued in November of 2014.

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This news story was originally published here: http://www.prog-sphere.com/specials/todd-rundgren-tin-foil-man-video/
TODD RUNDGREN Premieres New Anti-Trump Video

Few days ago, Todd Rundgren was a guest at the Fox News show “Watters World” where he premiered his new video for the song “Tin Foil Hat,” which features Donald Fagen.

The video makes fun of Donald Trump, Steve Bannon, Jeff Sessions, Kellyanne Conway, and former Fox News anchor Bill O’Reilly. On the show, Rundgren explained that song’s visual was “pretty much only intended for [his live] audience,” meant to screen during Rundgren‘s costume change. However, the musician began to notice “episodes in the audience where shouting matches would break out,” because some of the members thought the jokes to be in bad taste. In a recent interview with Variety, Rundgren warned Trump supporters that they might not enjoy his show because of his political beliefs: “If you’re a Trump supporter, don’t come to my show, because you won’t have a good time… Let the buyer beware!

“Tin Foil Hat” is from Rundgren‘s new album White Knight.

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The Progressive Tracks Show #212 (SeaProg 2017 Artists Preview #5), originally broadcast on Friday May 26, 2017, is now available to download or listen to any time you desire.

This is the fifth and last in a series featuring bands that will grace the stage of the Columbia City Theater in Seattle June 2-4, 2017 for SeaProg – The Seattle Festival of Progressive and Avant Rock.  And this podcast has them ALL!

Not familiar?  All the more reason to check out the festival, and the bands!

PLAYLIST:

  • Lupertazzi – “Snakes” from Snakes – Single on Independent
  • Ibex – “Empire of the Stromatolites” from Parthenogenesis on Independent
  • Human Ottoman – “Robespierre’s Crowning” from Power Baby on Human Ottoman
  • Chemical Clock – “Decaviter” from Bad Habitat on Chemical Clock
  • Jan Koekepan – “Benthic” from Depths on Inpendendent
  • Zero Times Everything – “Led” from Sonic Cinema on 7d Media
  • Omni – “Out With A Whimper” from Ghosts on Independent
  • Robert Svilpa & Paraesthesia – “Peace, My Brother” from The Sound Of Thoughts on Hyperboreal Music
  • Jack O’ the Clock – “Saturday Afternoon On the Median” from All My Friends on Jack O’ the Clock
  • Points North – “Foxes & Cougars” from Points North on Magna Carta
  • Wax Heads – “Mano a mano” from Hermandad on Fonarte Latino, S.A. de C.V.
  • The Machine That We Built – “Better Git_Still Rainin” from Live Recording
  • Pinto Wagonfire – “Paranoia Crash” from Single on Independent
  • Moon Letters – “Kingfisher and the Red Knight” from Single on Independent
  • Super Z Attack Team – “Name of the Sun” from Live Sonarchy Recording
  • Fraktal Phantom – “Cosmic Fire” from Live In The Studio EP on Independent

If you have comments (always welcome), or suggestions for show topics/music, feel free to contact me anytime via email:  ProgTracks@KPTZ.org

But first… enjoy the show!

Mike “ProgTracks” Pollack

This news story was originally published here: http://theprogressiveaspect.net/blog/2017/05/29/kant-freud-kafka-onirico/

Javi Herrera’s website contains the rather delightful disclaimer that Kant Freud Kafka is not actually related to these three philosophers but is “just a joke amongst friends”. After all, he says, “throwing a bit of good humor to prog rock is not a bad thing”. He is, using the words of a fairly famous song title, “bloody well right” and this admirably mischievous and playful spirit infuses the often surreal and expansive musical landscapes of Onírico, the second studio album from the Barcelona based drummer, singer and composer.

Onírico is a beautifully grand and majestically sweeping musical vision which wrestles with and begins to explore the changing, often turbulent vistas we encounter in the worlds of our dreams. It has a thoroughly captivating and at times quite unsettling cinematic sweep and feel to the experience it delivers. The enchanting instrumental richness of the tranquil reveries of our dream-like states are exquisitely matched by an alarmingly intrusive, disquieting and powerfully frightening discord when our dreams turn to anxious nightmares.

Just as our dreams possess the unsettling tinge of unreality, so Herrera brilliantly saturates the music with an eerie, uncanny presence which doesn’t allow you to settle or become unduly comfortable with what you are hearing. The fascinating transitions he creates between, as well as within songs provide the momentum and energy which carries the music forward whilst almost hypnotically luring you onward and deeper into unsuspecting musical sceneries.

It is precisely these intelligently judged and shrewdly seductive transitions which make this such a striking album and allows Herrera to generate a compelling sense of atmosphere and mood. This isn’t a typical narrative experience with a clearly defined path designed for us to follow. What he has done instead is crafted a thematic series of horizons within which we can wander, but where the lack of an explicit focus or direction fosters and feeds precisely the feeling of disquiet and uneasiness often associated with our dreams.

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Yet the transitions themselves are wholly dependent for their success on the wonderfully impulsive and sometimes volatile instrumental and vocal combinations being used. There are fluid contrasts and ever changing dynamic interplays between electric guitar and oboe, piano and cello, viola and bass and a dizzying range of combinations involving violins, bass guitar, drums, double bass, cor anglais, bouzouki and even tap dancing. The sheer diversity of the instrumentation gives the album a sumptuous richness and a gorgeous symphonic character.

Indeed, there are strong orchestral and classical influences which form the foundations of many of the songs. The impressive and creatively inspired use of both male and female vocals across a range of styles provides both variation as well as clarity to the spirit and the complexion of the music. There are operatic refrains, rich choral harmonies, chillingly simple and almost monkish recitations in plain song tone and attitude. Each style is admirably suited to the ambience of each track and deliberately signals fluctuations in styles and intent.

Vida y Muerte (Life and Death) is an intense and spectacular showcase of all the various elements, combinations and contrasts coming together to form a stunning passage of profound, vivid, passionate progressive music which bewitches with its complexity and delights with its lavish layers and harmonies. As with the album generally, the quality of the musicianship is at times astonishing and particular mention needs to be made of some fabulous bass work which enhances and lifts the whole energy and resonance of the music.

With so much going on, I heartily recommend spending some time listening to this album with a really good pair of headphones, just to appreciate the delicate touches, the careful attention to small details, the improvised stylistic flourishes, the knowing add-ons, all of which add a tremendous sense of magic and elegance to the experience of Onírico. It is an enthralling achievement of a remarkable vision which needs to be attentively savoured and thoughtfully enjoyed.

TRACK LISTING
01. Insomnio de una Noche de Verano (9:27)
02. Dulces Sueños (5:18)
03. És Quan Dormo que hi Veig Clar (10:54)
04. Vida y Muerte (8:28)
05. A Nightmare on Major St. (7:33)
06. Awakenings (9:03)

Total Time – 50:43

MUSICIANS
Javi Herrera – Drums, Vocals, VST instruments
~ With:
Cecilia Burguera – Violin
Daniel Fernandez Campos – Bass Guitar
Mónica Cruzata – Viola
German Fafian – Electric Guitars
Queralt Garcia – Cello
Alia Herrera – Vocals
Andrea Herrera – Tap Dancing
Mandharu – Crotals, Wind Chimes
Rafael Pacha – Dulcimer, Acoustic Guitars, Mandolin, Bouzouki
Pol Sanchez – Electric & Spanish Guitars, Mandole
Dick Them – Double Bass
Guillem Vilar – Oboe, Cor Anglais

ADDITIONAL INFO
Record Label: n/a
Country of Origin: Spain
Date of Release – 18th April 2017

LINKS
Kant Freud Kafka – Website | Facebook | Bandcamp | Twitter | Youtube

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This news story was originally published here: http://www.prog-sphere.com/specials/virgil-donati-eleven-video/
Watch: VIRGIL DONATI GROUP Dropping Uber-Fusion Tour de Force in 11/8

Virgil Donati Group performed last September at the Dresdner Drumfestival in Dresden, Germany, and a video of the band performing “Eleven” taken from Virgil Donati‘s 2013 album In This Life can be seen below. The video was shot by Philipp Koch from Drumtalk.eu.

Donati‘s band included guitarist André Nieri and bassist Júnior Braguinha. The song aptly titled “Eleven” is a groove-driven piece and an uber-fusion tour de force in 11/8.

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This news story was originally published here: http://www.prog-sphere.com/specials/leprous-albums-ranked/
LEPROUS Albums Ranked

Leprous have recently announced the release of their fifth (technically sixth) studio album titled Malina. The record is out on August 25th via InsideOut Music.

Since breaking onto the scene, Leprous has gone through a not-unnoticeable development in their sound. With only five releases under their belt, the Norwegians have come a long way since their inception in 2001.

While waiting for Malina to drop out, we have revisited the band’s catalog and ranked their previous work. See what we think below.

Aeolia (2006)

Aeolia sees Leprous following somewhat in the footsteps of Dream Theater, only without the same devotion to instrumental indulgence. What Leprous aims here for is highly vocal-driven progressive metal, something they still aspire to today, in some regards. As the vocals are arguably the most important aspect of Leprous at this point, it should be noted that Einar Solberg has an excellent voice, and is able to pull off some jaw- dropping vocal acrobatics, without losing any of the emotional intensity.

Halvor Strand‘s jazzy bass lines also stand out as one of Aeolia‘s better aspects. In short, it would be difficult for just about anyone to say bad things about the way Leprous plays. The band’s performance is largely what holds Aeolia together. Although this is a full-length, it is described on the band’s website as a ‘demo’, and rightly so; it has a very muffled production, often to the point where the warmth and detail of the guitar performances are obscured. Aeolia is certainly listenable in regards to the sound quality, but it totally lacks the studio dynamic I would hear even on their second album, Tall Poppy Syndrome.

Of course, everything about an album boils down to the composition and songwriting. With Aeolia, it is something of a double-edged sword. Most of the musical concepts here have plenty of potential, and some of Einar‘s vocal melodies are almost painfully catchy to listen to (the chorus of “Black Stains” will testify to this). Where Aeolia goes wrong, however, is its predictability. Once the layout of Leprous‘ music is digested, it becomes easy to tell where melodies, ideas, or even entire songs are going to go, long before they’re done. Perhaps it doesn’t help that the production dulls the range of sound, but the dynamics in these songs feels bland. Paired with an inconsistent flow and unsteady use of ideas, Aeolia comes across as being an album with plenty of potential, but misses its mark.

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Tall Poppy Syndrome (2009)

While not well-known at this point by many, with 2009’s Tall Poppy Syndrome Leprous delivered a familiar style of dark melodic progressive metal, with overtones of classical music clearly heard in the songwriting. As with many similar bands, Leprous‘ highly impressive technical abilities are among their greatest strengths. Through tight, often melodic writing, the band’s skills are still able to show. Leprous are always sure to include an ample dose of beauty and melody to metal, especially through the vocal work, which is quite simply brilliant. Solberg‘s higher register vocals may remind some listeners of Pain of Salvation‘s Daniel Gildenlow, and the comparisons to that band probably won’t stop there.

Perhaps the best thing that Leprous does here isn’t necessarily the songwriting—which is strong albeit derivative—but moreso the brilliant way in which things are arranged. The background vocals are enriched with lush harmonies, and intelligent riffs that play over each other. However, much like other bands like Circus Maximus, the music itself may be great and the band may be as talented as any other in melodic metal, but the lacking originality is what really holds back the band from reaching a level of mastery they can truly call their own.

As with any excellent album though, the promise and potential shine through clearly here. Put simply; Tall Poppy Syndrome is one of the best melodic progressive metal albums released in the new millennium, and it’s a needed step in the band’s growing discography.

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Coal (2013)

Though I’ve never once had the fleeting impression that Leprous might follow up Bilateral with a subpar album, I was self-aware of the exceedingly high standard I would hold the new record up to. After hearing Coal, it seemed impossible to meaningfully compare the two albums. Leprous have once again maintained an incredibly high musical standard, with regards to both the composition and execution. However, though it’s clear that Coal is cut from the same cloth as Bilateral, the tone and mood have evolved significantly. While the second album revelled in being all-over-the-place and pleasantly quirky, Coal puts a much greater emphasis on atmosphere and focused compositions. There remains a playful, catchy element to the music, but the tracks here come across more directly and purposefully than before. Neither approach is inherently superior to the other. The songs on Coal have less surprises and twists to them, but the epic payoffs have never tasted so sweet.

Many of the songs here unveil a more static side to Leprous. By “static,” I do not mean dull by any means, but rather emotionally unchanging. Coal earns points for variety as an album holistically, but it’s as if each track focuses in on one particular atmosphere, and fleshes it out until it reaches a critical mass. More often than note, that atmosphere is one of sombre reflection and melancholy; quite the departure from the zany antics of Bilateral. Though Leprous have very little in common stylistically with Summoning, the approach and structure of the compositions here is reminiscent of Summoning‘s Old Mornings Dawn in the sense that there is a notable emphasis on realizing the potential of a handful of really strong ideas, rather than filling out the album’s length with a bunch of smaller-sized components. Tracks like the breathtaking “The Valley” and gorgeously morose “Echo” spend much of their time building up to a rapturous climax. The arrangements tend to dwell on certain ideas for longer than one might tend to expect from a “progressive metal” release, and though I might have missed that “everything but the kitchen sink” approach of Leprous‘ earlier work, it’s a joy in its own right to see an idea develop and mature within the context of a track.

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The Congregation (2015)

Much like their considerably more uplifting British counterparts in Haken, Leprous have paired their startling quality with a prolific work ethic. Every two years, the band have taken their sound a step further, and two years after Coal, The Congregation brokers no exception to the pattern. Whether or not the album was going to be fantastic wasn’t even a question in my mind; rather, I was more intrigued by how they might change their sound. If Bilateral was defined by its sporadic urgency, and its follow-up Coal responded in turn with greater focus and minimalism, then The Congregation may be seen both as an advance on this trajectory, as well as an acknowledgement concerning things Coal didn’t do as well as its predecessor. Namely, the new album brings a revitalized emotional immediacy to Leprous‘ music, and in this respect I am more affected than I have been by an album in many a while

This is a masterpiece of a sort, to be sure, and though it bears strong resemblance with Coal, the vocal few who rightly declaimed the band’s last album as a weaker offering than Bilateral might find themselves pleasantly surprised here. No, The Congregation doesn’t strike me with the same impetuous spontaneity as Bilateral, nor does it keep my left-brain quite as much on the edge. However, I also think that repeating that same formula would have proved fruitless, both on this and Coal; being sporadic and jumpy is a trait of youth, and Leprous have long since matured as a group.

This matured Leprous—occasionally better likened to an avant-garde, theatrical Anathema than the metal of their heyday—was proudly introduced on Coal, but it’s only on The Congregation that the emotional resonance has built up to match their obvious technical abilities. So many of the ways I would describe the last album could again apply to this one: heavy, but not for the blunt force of the parts so much as the way they are used. Vivid and occasionally dissonant instrumentation, like an unchained King Crimson. Secretly more groove-oriented than any prog rock band has any right of being, and, not least of all, indelibly fuelled by the voice of frontman Einar Solberg. All of these might go on to describe The Congregation even moreso than its predecessor, but the amplification of Coal‘s best elements has resulted in a much different tone and experience. The Congregation may be the most emotionally hard-hitting album of Leprous career thus far.

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Bilateral (2011)

The most evident development for Leprous in their early years has been largely in terms of ambition; what they are willing to do with their sound. There have been some steps taken toward a more sporadic style. on 2011’s Bilateral the songwriting is more packed with ideas; some of them quite experimental and unexpected, although the memorable melodic component of Leprous is not toned down at all. Bilateral is quite a bit to take in all at once, and I am finding that it is very much a “grower” album; the constant flow of ideas can make it a little disorienting at first, and while the flow between these ideas can sometimes be a tad off-putting, the sheer excellence of the melodies and newfound weirdness makes Leprous all the more interesting of a listen.

As one might judge even by the surreal album cover (whose artist is also known for composing some of The Mars Volta‘s artwork), Leprous was not afraid to try new things here. The title track contrasts remarkably layered vocal hooks with a mellow section of deep electronics. “Painful Detour” is a slower, powerful song that gives the “epic” impression of Muse as it hits its climax. “Thorn” even shows the band’s friend Ihsahn doing a quick vocal cameo before letting a trumpet solo pop up for a moment. All of these things come as a huge surprise at first. While I would say at this point that Leprous has found their own sound with this album, they do remind me of a younger Pain of Salvation here, in the sense that they are a prog metal band that is focusing more on emotional impact and surprises rather than the sort of power-metal derivative that many newer prog metal bands go for. The Pain of Salvation comparison hits its peak with the vocal technique of Einar Solberg, whose diverse vocal register and complex ad-libbing accents his performance in a way that really reminds me of Gildenlöw.

Bilateral is an album that tests what you know about progressive rock and music in general. It ambitiously strives to do all it can within the confinements of its ten songs, with its instrumentation being some of the best the genre has ever offered up. And if the album art is any indication, it’s also one of the most random and unpredictable albums you’ll ever hear… in the best kind of way.

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Edition 57 of THE PROG MILL is now available to listen to anytime or download. Another two hours of superb progressive rock old and new.

On this weeks show:

1 Supertramp – Child of Vision (Breakfast in America)
2 Cellar Noise – Underground Ride (Alight)
3 Phoenix Again – That Day Will Come (Unexplored)
4 Thomas Konder – Labyrinth (Labyrinth)
5 Schnauser – Have you got PPI? (Irritant)
6 Treacherous Orchestra – Sea of Okhotsk (Origins)
7 White Willow – In Dim Days (Future Hopes)
8 Doug Woods & Colin Powell – Strange Days (The American Highways Suite – Darklands and Strange Days)
9 Damanek – Long Time, Shadow Falls (On Track)
10 Asia – Te Longest Night (Aura)
11 Marilion – The Great Escape (Brave – Live 2013)
12 Mostly Autumn – Raindown (Sight of Day)
13 Gregorian Rock – Pillar of Fire (Fire)
14 Abba – Intermezzo No 1 (Abba) (Proggy moment from a mainstream band feature!)

You can hear THE PROG MILL at the following times on Progzilla Radio:

Sundays 10pm-midnight UK time (2100-2300 UTC) – MAIN BROADCAST
Tuesdays 0400-0600 UK time (0300-0500 UTC) – for listeners in N America
Tuesdays 2300-0100 UK time (2200-2400 UTC)

THE PROG MILL is your request show for melodic and symphonic progressive rock. So please send your music requests/suggestions to:
shaun@progzilla.com
or via twitter @shaunontheair
or www.facebook.com/theprogmill

Back next Sunday 10pm UK with another dose of proggy progness!

This news story was originally published here: http://www.prog-sphere.com/specials/gnr-pays-tribute-to-chris-cornell/
Watch: GUNS N' ROSES Pay Tribute to CHRIS CORNELL

Guns N’ Roses performed a cover of Soundgarden‘s “Black Hole Sun” during their recent concert in Slane, Ireland as a tribute to late singer and guitarist Chris Cornell.  You can see a fan-shot video below.

GNR Guitarist Slash was among the first musicians to pay tribute to Cornell following his passing, declaring himself “shocked and saddened” by the news.

Cornell’s funeral, which was held in Hollywood last Friday, drew a large contingent of his former bandmates and peers, including members of MetallicaPearl JamNirvana and the Eagles.

“Black Hole Sun” appears on Soundgarden‘s 1994 album Superunknown.

This news story was originally published here: http://www.prog-sphere.com/specials/james-labrie-about-next-dream-theater-album/
JAMES LABRIE: "We Have a Lot of Ideas Already" for New DREAM THEATER Album

During the recent stay in Budapest, Dream Theater singer James LaBrie talked with Rockbook.

The band is mostly focused on touring by the end of the year. LaBrie said: “We do this tour for the rest of 2017 and in 2018 we’re gonna make a new album. And we’re pretty psyched because we’re already know what we’re gonna do. But I’m not gonna tell you. [laughs] It’s really important for us that the new album will be our best effort. It should be who we are at that particular moment. We still want to create something that’s better than what we did before. That’s what keeps you interested in what you do. But if along the way we feel that there is another album we should recognize once again, then we’ll do it.

He also added: “We’re just planting seeds for now. We’re just putting some stuff together but it’s pretty cool what’s happening. The real nuts and bolts aren’t gonna happen until we’re done touring. Then we will go to a studio and be together every day just to write songs. But we have a lot of ideas already.

Read the full interview here.