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All posts for the month August, 2017

The Progressive Tracks Show #225 (Out Of The Bowl… Challenging Listens), originally broadcast on Friday, August 25, 2017, is now available to download or listen to anytime you desire.

We’re all very comfortable in our own little “bowls”… our homes… our cars… and our music.  But that’s not progressing… and quite frankly, it can be boring as hell.

So this week we’ll listen to some more challenging tunes that will really make you listen… leap… and adapt.  You might find that you’re actually pretty tolerant (and no, it’s not all loud and obnoxious).    ;o)

PLAYLIST:

  • Steven Wilson – “Nowhere Now” from To the Bone on SW Records
  • Krokofant – “Tommy Synth” from Krokofant III on Rune Grammofon
  • Yolk – “Solar” from Solar on Nuun Records
  • Fang Chia – “Rondo Tarantella” from Above Ground on Independent
  • Syrinx – “Syren” from Tumblers from the Vault on RVNG Intl.
  • Myster Möbius – “Marche” from Myster Möbius on Musea Parallèle
  • Genesis – “After the Ordeal” from Selling England By the Pound on Charisma
  • Yolk – “Vanitas” from Solar on Nuun Records
  • Fang Chia – “The Weirds” from Above Ground on Independent
  • Myster Möbius – “Mirage” from Myster Möbius on Musea Parallèle
  • Steven Wilson – “The Same Asylum As Before” from To the Bone on SW Records

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/2017/08/28/richard-west-glynn-morgan-threshold/

With Threshold‘s eleventh album and first in three years, Legends of the Shires, appearing next month, TPA’s Rob Fisher took the opportunity to talk to keyboardist Richard West and returning singer Glynn Morgan about the new album, the band’s illustrious history and future developments.


Threshold Logo

You have a new album coming out: Legends of the Shires. It has so many resonances with your past history and reminded me of your earliest couple of albums along with Subsurface in particular. Yet the whole album feels fresh, dynamic, modern. Was this a deliberate thing you set out to do?

Richard West: To a degree, yes; this was a lot of the boxes we wanted to tick. We’ve always tried to stay modern in terms of keeping up with what’s going on, particularly the way melody shapes change and production ideas change over the years. Just like language, music moves on. You don’t want to get left behind speaking old English! So we’ve tried to stay with the times that way.

Karl and I thought back to Subsurface, loving the depth of those records and realising that on For The Journey we’d gone a little more straight ahead again, so we took the conscious decision to weave back in and go back to the sound of that album, whilst also going more progressive. It was definitely part of a conscious process.

It is interesting reading the press release for the album which has this bold opening statement: “It’s time for a new chapter”. That’s quite a definitive statement of intent about the directions in which you see yourselves going.

RW: Yeah. I don’t know who actually said that! We both [Richard and Glynn] got interviewed for that. It was in the context of we’d just finished ten years with the previous line-up and we’ve got some great memories of that, but it is time for a new chapter. That’s the context. You know, with Threshold we’ve never trodden an easy path. We’ve shot ourselves in the foot so much it’s hard to walk! But each time we pick ourselves up, we reinvent ourselves to a degree and I think we come back stronger. It was very much a feeling with this album – we’re down but we’re not out, we’ll climb back up again and this may be the best thing we’ve ever made. I kind of feel it is. Not to denigrate anything we’ve done in the past, but this is definitely our most complete sounding record.

I agree completely. What strikes me most are the layers of complexity and, when you hear it for the first time, layer upon layer of fantastic melodies. Combined with that is a greater sense that you all just ‘cut loose’, almost as if there’s this big sigh of relief and you just ‘go for it’. This seems to lead to a lot more instrumental virtuosity than I’ve noticed on any of the previous albums.

RW: I don’t know what happened but when we decided to do a more progressive album it was like the floodgates opened and somehow it all just flowed. I couldn’t tell you what it was beyond that. It was the easiest record to write. Everything just flowed.

Threshold

So in terms of when you started writing this album in relation to where the line-up changes started to take place, was the idea of the album already under way by then?

RW: Yeah, we’re a funny old band. We make the demo sound like the finished album – not finished in terms of production quality but finished in the sense that everything is together. So that was already made last summer. It’s a long process; I’ll sing a whole set of demos first. Then I’ll get my wife to sing it which is usually much better! And then we’ll unleash it on the singer. It’s a well written album, but we’ve made a few changes where we had some additional ideas, made some new tweaks.

Glynn Morgan: Yes, I had some ideas when I first heard it, but not a lot of changes were required. I mean, for me, I got sent the demos and I said to Richard straight away that of all the Threshold albums I’d have wanted to sing on, this is the album – and I was lucky enough to get the chance. When I was listening, I was thinking it took me back to some of the earlier stuff – to me, because I’ve always been fan. The keyboard breaks – a lot more keys – yet it certainly hasn’t lost the guitar, the melodies (which Richard writes) and the harmonies – it all comes to together. I’m proud to have been on this album.

In terms of it all coming together, another thing that struck me quite forcibly is the album cover. Was that deliberately commissioned to a specific brief?

RW: It was hunted down exhaustively! We did actually commission an artist to do something based on his portfolio. He’d done this great piece of work and we wanted it but he sold it to another band just before we got to him. So we were forced to do something else. We were trawling and trawling trying to find something that says what we wanted to say. For me, I look back to Hypothetical as one of our gold standards for a cover. I remember our fans used to say they bought the record just based on the cover. It’s something that tells you it’s progressive but it’s dark. If a record can tell you what’s on it based on the cover, for me that’s something special. So I wanted something that had that ‘proggy’ thing, the Roger Dean kind of feel, but something more modern. When we saw this we thought: oh my goodness, that’s it! Plus it’s green, so it’s got the Shires feel; everything ticks the boxes. When you look at that cover, you kind of know what’s on it. Cover artwork can be a bit misleading in this century, but this kind of tells you it’s going to be prog. It may not say ‘heavy’ but it certainly says prog.

What was the intent when you started writing this album. Did you set out to write a double album?

RW: Not straight away. I think when we started rehearsing we realised just how much material we had. Karl had written the music for Lost in Translation which is ten minutes, I had done The Man Who Saw Through Time which was another twelve minutes – and before you know it you think: this is going to be a long record. So it was moderately early on. Then we looked at vinyl and the way it has become the poor cousin of the CD in that it never seems to be properly mapped out – so you might get 12 minutes on one side, 20 on another – so we did think early on, let’s make sure it works on vinyl too. So we mapped it out and made sure it works as four independent pieces. That was the idea which came together fairly early on.

So would this be fair to call Legends… a concept album?

RW: Oh totally. There is a definite story all the way through.

There is a quote from you which says this album is about finding your place in the world. Did you have a narrative in mind, a story you wanted to tell?

ThresholdRW: To be honest, when I started writing I thought it was going to be ‘stories from the shires’. In Threshold we’ve never really done the story telling thing. I started to do it on songs like The Box on For the Journey and I loved it. It is so fulfilling as a writer. For Legends… it soon became apparent it was going to be stories about how the Shires came together, how they learned to interact with each other, and partly how England itself learned to interact with Europe. It’s got a very strong political side: the ballad on the album is basically a kind of divorce song between England and the European Union, it’s David Cameron saying goodbye to Angela Merkel. So it’s got that flavour running underneath; that’s the underlying theme, but written from the standpoint of a single person.

Something which shines through this and is emphasised in a lot of the talk surrounding the album is the language of being ‘progressive’; you say the band are trying to be ‘more ambitious’, ‘more progressive’. Can you say a little more about what you mean by being more progressive?

RW: You look at heavy metal from the ’80s and compare it with heavy metal now: it’s so much heavier now. Being progressive has changed its meaning over the years as well. It kind of means trying to progress the boundaries of what you can do with music, the influences you can incorporate. Now it’s partly that and partly being part of that genre which includes all those songs. It’s a double meaning.

Absolutely. At the moment I’m aware of various discussions over Steven Wilson’s new album – is it prog? Is it pop? – and you get all these intricate debates taking place on social media. There are parallels here with ‘progressive metal’; is it prog or is it metal? – where are the boundaries now? Are they still as sharply defined? Where do you see this album on the present musical map?

RW: I think when we decided this would be more progressive than our past albums it meant that we had more room to stretch out in the same way that they did in the old days – being able to stretch out beyond the five minute song, or have room to do a three minute solo here or stretch the boundaries and incorporate other stuff, so that’s kind of what we meant by it. But it is also still referencing what we grew up with. When you learn to speak, you learn a language, learn an accent and you don’t really lose that. It’s the same with music. As a kid growing up in the late ’70s you’re listening to pop music and then you suddenly discover Queen and Genesis, Floyd and you take that on as part of your language and it never leaves you.

Threshold

Do you think the sound of the band has actually evolved? The albums feels a lot ‘cleaner’, a lot more focused with a little less distortion but a lot more clarity, particularly in the mix and the production itself. It’s a lot easier to hear the band.

RW: Compared to which one?

The last couple of releases. It sounds more focused and because of that, more muscular. There is a sharper sound and a more intense delivery.

RW: We certainly worked hard to get the sound that we got. We changed a lot of elements. You can have a different guitar tone which completely reshapes a Threshold record because it’s so prominent. For Legends… little things like the snare – we changed from a quite high pitched snare to a deeper snare and that brings the whole overall tone of the record down. The same happened with the singing. Damian has a higher range kind of frequency to his voice; Glynn has that smokier, kind of deeper sound, so it changes the overall sound of the record.

Along with the multi-part harmonies which really shine through; it’s fabulous to hear it.

My final question; are there plans to play this live in its entirety?

RW: My hope is that we do what we did with the last record. We toured and played a few songs from it and the following year we went and did the whole album. So that’s my personal hope, though I can’t make any promises. This would be an amazing record to do that with.

I hope so too. Richard, Glynn, thank you very much indeed.

Threshold


[You can read Rob Fisher’s review of Legends of the Shires HERE.]


LINKS
Threshold – Website | Facebook

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This news story was originally published here: http://theprogressiveaspect.net/blog/2017/08/28/threshold-legends-of-the-shires/

There is an exhilarating moment of revelation, approximately three and a half minutes into Stars and Satellites, the fifth track on this new album from Threshold, where the building crescendo in the wall of sound abruptly halts, leaving just an isolated keyboard and echoed vocal accompanied by a simple bass line, perfectly framed and accentuated by the silence. Fifteen seconds later the most glorious guitar solo penetrates and swells to fill the soundscape followed, 30 seconds later, by the arrival of an exquisite layered harmony which enthrals, embraces and carries you away.

The experience is richly suffused with significant resonances. Fans will immediately identify with the archetypal ‘signature’ Threshold sound it evokes. More importantly, however, they will forge clear links with the charged intensity of Subsurface (2004) and the driving energy of Dead Reckoning (2007). After the relatively simpler approach and heavier direction taken by their previous release For the Journey (2014), the band appear to have deliberately mined the musical resources of their back catalogue and rekindled the creative fire and the exuberant spirit of earlier times. It is an experience which feels, literally, like coming home.

Legends of the Shires is deeply ambitious, not just in terms of being a double album but precisely because it joyfully explores layers of progressive complexity and delights in the new found emotional excitement and expressiveness which it affords. Thoughtful echoes of the inventive depths scaled by the iconic Pilot in the Sky of Dreams (Dead Reckoning) and Ground Control (Subsurface) find invigorating focus and absorbing vibrancy in songs which are elegantly intricate and intelligently crafted.

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Even a casual glance at the track listing indicates that the majority of songs exceed five minutes; The Man Who Saw Through Time weighs in at nearly 12 minutes, Lost in Transition is over 10, with Trust the Process at nearly 9 minutes and Stars and Satellites more than 7. Built around a structure of extended and continuous song writing, the album clearly displays a more natural approach which has been carefully refined and lovingly crafted. Complex song structures, the frequent changes of tempo, shifting rhythms and transient moods reflect a refined ‘craft’ being brought to bear, a compositional art which holds everything that is best about Threshold together in a wonderfully organic balance.

Yet this is no mere imitation of or slavish return to the past. Far from it. The band state that Legends of the Shires marks the beginning of “a new chapter” in their musical journey, one where “we’ve gone much deeper and we’ve been much more progressive”. Such an assured statement of intent is supported in part by the openness created by the extended song format, the new found freedom to break out of conventional restrictions and the confidence to stretch out and go beyond previous releases in playing with a variety of ideas, sounds and influences.

But it is also confirmed in much larger part by the enhancements the band have brought to the album which clearly point to a more refined sound, a greater finesse to the writing that allows a more enriched and intense musical experience to emerge. What strikes you immediately is the greater role played at all levels by the keyboards which really do infuse and permeate the music both in terms of having more prominence as a solo instrument as well as providing layer after layer of luscious textures contrasted with emphatic, supporting interventions.

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These often set the stage for some of the most gorgeous melodies and frequent multi-layered harmonies you have ever heard on a Threshold album. Returning singer Glynn Morgan brings the perfect voice to lead and expose every nuance and every refinement in what is a thrilling and remarkable vocal performance. The sparkling mix provides greater separation and clarity of the instruments which in turn delivers a cleaner, more muscular sound which throws all the combined complexity into sharper relief. And even then, you will still need to listen carefully in order to catch the hidden delights and clever surprises.

Legends of the Shires is an outstanding achievement and easily the best album Threshold have ever created. Exploring deep seated and even political concerns with how we find our place in the world and the ways in which we relate to others, it conveys an inspired musical experience that hopefully marks a turning point in their sometimes turbulent story. It radiates imagination, exudes inventiveness and presents a triumphant tour de force in terms of an organic musical vision which flows with energy, bite and a compelling natural momentum. Mesmerising, at times spell-binding, it is well worth a listen.

[You can read Rob’s interview with Threshold’s Richard West and Glynn Morgan for TPA HERE.]

TRACK LISTING
Disc 1

01. The Shire (Part 1) (2:03)
02. Small Dark Lines (5:24)
03. The Man Who Saw Through Time (11:51)
04. Trust The Process (8:44)
05. Stars And Satellites (7:20)
06. On The Edge (5:20)

Disc 2
07. The Shire (Part 2) (5:24)
08. Snowblind (7:03)
09. Subliminal Freeways (4:51)
10. State Of Independence (3:37)
11. Superior Machine (5:01)
12. The Shire (Part 3) (1:22)
13. Lost In Translation (10:20)
14. Swallowed (3:54)

Total Time – 82:14

MUSICIANS
Steve Anderson – Bass
Karl Groom – Guitars
Johanne James – Drums
Glynn Morgan – Vocals
Richard West – Keyboards

ADDITIONAL INFO
Record Label: Nuclear Blast Records
Country of Origin: U.K.
Formats: 2CD, Vinyl, Download
Date of Release: 8th September 2017

LINKS
Threshold – Website | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube | Instagram

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Edition 69 of THE PROG MILL is now available to listen to anytime or download.

Another two hours of superb progressive rock chosen by the Prog Mill listeners. Here’s this week’s playlist:

1 Nad Sylvan – The Quartermaster (The Bride Said No)
2 Pymlico – The East Side (Guiding Light)
3 Mobius Strip – Mobius Strip (Mobius Strip)
4 Ramses – Someone Like You (La Leyla)
5 Abel Ganz – You and Tours (Gratuitous Flash 2016 Remaster)
6 Kepler Ten – Swallow Trail (Delta-v)
7 Tilt – Against the Rain (Hinterland)
8 Siiilk – Drifting Words (Endless Mystery)
9 Noir Reva – Agravic (Nuance)
10 Pendragon – The Wisdom of Soloman (Believe)
11 IO Earth – Take Me (IO Earth)
12 Evolve – Mousetrap
13 Modecai Smyth – Dissent into Chaos (The Mayor of Toytown is Dead)
14 Gentle Giant – Giant (Gentle Giant)

SHOW TIMES FOR THE PROG MILL
Sundays 10pm to Midnight UK (2100-2300 UTC) – MAIN BROADCAST
Repeats at the following times:
Tuesdays 0400-0600 UK (0300-0500 UTC) for North America
Tuesdays 2300-0100 UK (2200-0000 UTC)
Saturdays 1800-2000 UK (1700-1900 UTC)

Please keep your proggy music suggestions coming in: email shaun@progzilla.com, or message via twitter @shaunontheair or facebook.com/theprogmill

Back next Sunday with music to give away from the superb new Drifting Sun album.

Halcyon Daze 25th August 2017.
• Hawkwind – Lord of Light
• ELP – The Three Fates
• Bill Bruford – The Sahara of Snow
• Burnin’ Red Ivanhoe – Avez-Vous Kaskelainen
• Black Widow – Legend of Creation
• Antony Philips – God If I saw her Now (rare early Collins vocal)
• Bonzo Dog Band – Rawlinsons End
• Camel – Nimrodel
• Colosseum – The Machine Demands a sacrifice
• Gnidrolog – inspite of harry’s toe nail
• Deep Purple & Royal Philharmonic Orchestra – Wring That Neck
• Jethro Tull – Sossity You’re a woman
• Druid – Voices
• Jon Anderson – Flight of The Moorglade
• ELO – Show down
• BJH – Song with no meaning
• Galliard – In your Minds Eye
• Gentle giant – The Runaway experience
• Gong – You Can’t Kill me
• Klaatu – so Said the lighthouse Keeper
• Manfred Man – Hand bags and gladrags
• King Crimson – Starless and bible black
• Genesis – Get em out by Friday
Halcyon Daze will be broadcast every 2nd Sunday of the month and will explore the 70s looking in the crevasses and dark spaces at the music that populated the decade between 1967 and 1977
We will also play a good splattering of classic from the giants of the day.
If you have a suggestion or request form that time
Email me at emma@progzilla.com

Paul Semama – Mon Petit Garcon 0:00
The Great Harry Hillman – The New Fragrance 3:11
Theo Travis – Glint Of Light 9:37
The Tangent – Two Rope Swings 16:04
Lal and Mike Waterson – To Make You Stay 24:02
Tool – Lateralus 26:09
Mark Springer & Nico – A Given Voice A Given Choice 36:14
Pikapika Teart – Project X 38:41
Grand General – Antics 41:46
Alpha Beta – Astral Abuse 55:03
Accordo Dei Contrari – Usil 60:00
Jim Moray – Across The Western Ocean 67:17
PFM – Have Your Cake and Beat It 71:37
The Cellar And The Point – Arc 78:01
Wingfield Reuter Stavi Sirkis – Rush 84:22

Funkadelic – Fish, Chips And Sweat 0:00
Forsqueak – Kindred 4:17
Eno – Skysaw 9:00
Orchestra Of The Upper Atmosphere – Galleon 12:12
Schnauser – The Monday Club 17:50
Bert Jansch – Ladyfair 25:55
Midaircondo – Revolve And Repeat 28:57
Scott Walker – Winter Night 36:12
Scott Walker – The Day The “Conducator” Died (An Xmas Song) 37:51
Rory Gallagher – There’s A Light 45:30
Robert Wyatt – Solar Flares 52:04
Various Artists – Sunrise 58:31
Phil Manzanera – Bible Black 67:15
Gaudi – Opus 12, No.7 73:22
Dusan Jevtovic – Al Aire/Soko Bira 78:54
Chris Spedding – New Song Of Experience 84:37

The Secrets – I Think I Need The Cash 0:00
Dialeto – Mikrokosmos113 3:04
Stein Urheim – Trouble In Carnaticala 8:05
Second Hand – Hangin’ On An Eyelid 11:45
Orion Tango – Disintegration of Turbulent Surfaces 16:53
Robert Reed – Nurses Song With Elephants 26:11
Peter Gabriel – A Different Drum 30:35
John Adams – Harmonium 35:20
Various Artists – Chaser 47:20
Old Fire – It’s Easier Now 54:05
Miriodor – Chapelle Lunaire 59:14
Richard & Linda Thompson – A Heart Needs A Home 66:01
Barre Phillips – Mountainscapes I 70:34
Bruford – Manacles 77:38
The Fierce And The Dead – Verbose 85:21

Virgin Sleep – Secret 0:00
Hypochristmutreefuzz – One Trick Pony 2:56
Grumbling Fur – Heavy Days 7:32
Radar Favourites – Umbrella Walk 13:39
The Brackish – Fun Factory 19:46
Gregory Alan Isakov – Amsterdam 24:45
Machine Mass – Spanish Castle Magic 28:26
The Last Dinosaur – The Body Collapse 35:29
Dino Valente – Children Of The Sun 39:38
The Orchestra Of The Upper Atmosphere – An Excess Of Protons 48:01
Six Organs Of Admittance – Shelter From The Ash 56:06
Coil – Fire Of The Mind 59:39
Neil Ardley and The New Jazz Orchestra – The Immortal Ninth 65:51
Radar Favourites – Peggy Delany’s Hothouse Tinkers 72:59
Bubblemath – Get A Lawn 80:13
Brian Eno – Taking Tiger Mountain 76:27

Koko Taylor – Wang Dang Doodle 0:00
Fish On Friday – Get Up 02:25
Stephan Meidell – State I 09:10
Six Organs Of Admittance – Taken By Ascent 14:03
Trevor Watts & Stephen Grew – Sea Evidence 21:33
Tuesday The Sky – Dyatlov Pass 26:21
Seán Cannon – Song For Ireland 35:18
Alice Coltrane – Om Shanti 40:22
Carlos Santana – The Life Divine 44:33
Jim White – Christmas Day 52:14
FaUSt – La Poulie 59:43
Shawn Phillips – Breakthrough 67:48
Yes – A Venture 74:29
Brand X – Malaga Virgen 79:5