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All posts for the month March, 2018

This news story was originally published here: http://theprogressiveaspect.net/blog/2018/03/30/camembert-negative-toe/

The excellent cheese-rock that is not cheesy in the slightest of French troubadours Camembert returns with a delightfully skewiff trip along the blue lines and down into the holes entitled Negative Toe. Not as immediate as their debut Schnörgl Attahk, this new album has taken some time before I found a way in, hence the near three months between me receiving the download and the publication of this brief review.

With over six years between the debut and this, their second album, which was released in December last year, not to mention a virtual orchestra of extra support musicians, it is not surprising that there is a somewhat different vibe to Negative Toe. Thankfully the core band remain virtually the same, with a change in drummer, the remarkably talented Jacopo Costa joining the ranks, also contributing screams – rarely, for which we can only be grateful! This core continuity maintains a thematic and musical link with the previous incarnation that could easily have otherwise been lost, there being such a long period between albums.

Captain Pierre Cheese sails the mature but not over-ripe block of France’s finest dry biscuit accompaniment to the edge of the known universe to a soundtrack that draws its influences from anywhere and everywhere slightly left-field. The additional musicians take the often reverential Zeuhl stylings of the devoutly named debut into new territory, creating a rock orchestre de chamber, occasionally inhabiting some of the territory also explored by Knifeworld in recent times. Add in a dash of Uncle Frank, and a pinch or two of the esoteric end of Canterbury, and “ou est le fromage, mon aéroglisseur est plein d’anguilles”. Enjoy the ride!

This makes Negative Toe not always the easiest listen, but that, dear readers, need not put you off, for enticing melody lines are never far below the surface of this accomplished effort. This is certainly not wilfully obscure or difficult for the sake of it. Repaying the obvious hard work that went into making this record by giving it a bit of due care and attention will eventually pay you back in spades, or any other garden implement you may prefer.

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The ship of cheese lurches to the avant Zeuhl symphonie of opener Orteil négatif – Once upon a time in the Galax Cheese, and later ventures north via Hatfield for the intricate yet gorgeously languorous The lament of Pr. Frankenschnorgl, where the protagonist from the first album Schnörgl Attahk contemplates isolation in the far reaches of space, or so it seems. This song is probably the most lovely thing I have heard this year, and is worth the entry fee alone.

And then we wend our way onwards into the swaying hinterland of Skwitch, which contains some fine trumpet blowing from Bernard Eber and a very filmic building of suspense, ending with some spooky Gongisms we remember from that debut album.

Elesewhere we have bossa nova beats, and we witness fertilization by an extra-terrestrial. Gros bouquin sees Sun Ra joining in on the act, as being an extra-terrestrial he doesn’t want to be left out of the fun, and fun is what this album is.

High levels of compositional skill married with some top notch ensemble playing render this stinky cheese more than palatable, and never less than interesting. Let’s hope we don’t have to wait over six years for the third instalment

TRACK LISTING
01. Orteil négatif – Once upon a time in the Galax Cheese (3:13)
02. Fécondée par un extra-terrestre (15:10)
03. Gros bouquin (11:11)
04. The lament of Pr. Frankenschnorgl (9:11)
05. Skwitch (14:47)
06. El pulpo (3:19)

Total Time – 56:54

MUSICIANS
Valentin Metz – Guitars, FX, Fretless Bass (track 4), Voice (tracks 1,4 & 5), Sound Design (tracks 1,5 & 6)
Bertrand Eber – Trumpet, Bugle, Whistle, Screams
Guillaume Gravelin – Harp
Pierre Wawrzyniak – Bass, Acoustic Guitar (track 4)
Jacopo Costa – Drums, Drum Arrangements, Screams
Fabrice Toussaint – Vibes, Xylophone, Marimba, Glockenpiel, Congas, Bongos, Clave, Campana, Tam-Tam, Triangle, Timpani, Tubular Bells, Chacha, Symphonic Bass Drum, Percussion
~ With:
Mélanie Gerber – Voice (track 4)
Mathieu Caro – Bassoon, Contrabassoon
Adam Starkie – Clarinets
David Bouchard – Oboe, Oboe d’Amore, English Horn
Emiliano Gavito – Flutes
Adrien Laborde – Saxes
Thierry Ndinda – Udu, Nkul
Philémon Walter – Drum Arrangements (tracks 2-5)

ADDITIONAL INFO
Record Label: AltrOck Productions
Catalogue#: ALT058
Date of Release: 26th December 2017

LINKS
Camembert – Facebook | Bandcamp

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This news story was originally published here: https://www.prog-sphere.com/specials/tony-banks-about-genesis-in-1980s/
GENESIS' Tony Banks Recalls Band's '80s Pop Period

Genesis keyboardist Tony Banks talked about the band’s transition to more pop-oriented, concise format during the ’80s. You can check out his chat with UCR below.

You guys naturally evolved into more commercial-oriented pieces, though you also usually included one or two lengthier pieces, like ‘Domino.’ Was there a part of you back then, particularly in the ’80s, that would have preferred to explore more progressive material?

“I really enjoyed for many years writing longer pieces. We just got to a stage where we wanted to do it a bit differently. I came into the business loving pop music in the ’60s, which was all concise. I love the Beach Boys, The Beatles, The Kinks, the Zombies – a little bit more imaginative but still concise songs.

“When we found we could do it, which is something we didn’t know we could do, it became very exciting – and I really enjoyed doing that. I tend to look at our whole body of work, if you like, and it’s all in there. When one thing happened or when another happened [isn’t important]. We’ve got lots of short songs, long songs – there are songs like ‘Domino,’ ‘Tonight Tonight Tonight,’ ‘Home By the Sea’ that have more than one facet to them.

“When you get it really right with a short song, like ‘Land of Confusion’ or ‘Follow You, Follow Me,’ I’m really proud of those songs because there’s something about them. I didn’t know we could actually do that; it was an exciting thing to do.

“We also all had our solo albums, so on some of mine, I went a bit more extravagant and had some longer pieces like ‘An Island in the Darkness,’ which is 17 minutes long. I was able to get that out of my system a bit, really. It was fun doing it both ways. But these days, I suppose I’m back into the longer pieces, but doing it with orchestras.”

During Genesis’ trio era, you guys eventually worked out an effective system where you’d all enter the process with a blank slate and rely on jamming. The songs would evolve organically from there.

“I think that’s why the songs ended up a little simpler in many ways, because the three of us were there together without any ideas coming in. For things to work when you’re playing together, you need a slightly more concise approach. More simplicity was necessary.

“We tried to catch ideas quickly on those last three albums we did with Phil, instead of laboring them and working them – which we’d done in the early days, which I like as well. We sometimes tried to leave a song almost how we first came across it, keep it as simple as possible.

“With things like ‘No Son of Mine’ and ‘Driving the Last Spike,’ it was almost like we had the chord sequence I played and Phil sang a little line on top of it, and we said, ‘Well, that sounds really nice. Let’s just leave that and build from there instead of hammering out something more exotic, like we would have done in the early days.’

“It was an interesting way of working, almost like three people working as one. We had a good way of working: We all had our roles, I suppose, and there was very little conflict, and a lot of great results.”

This news story was originally published here: http://www.prog-sphere.com/specials/tony-banks-about-genesis-in-1980s/
GENESIS' Tony Banks Recalls Band's '80s Pop Period

Genesis keyboardist Tony Banks talked about the band’s transition to more pop-oriented, concise format during the ’80s. You can check out his chat with UCR below.

You guys naturally evolved into more commercial-oriented pieces, though you also usually included one or two lengthier pieces, like ‘Domino.’ Was there a part of you back then, particularly in the ’80s, that would have preferred to explore more progressive material?

“I really enjoyed for many years writing longer pieces. We just got to a stage where we wanted to do it a bit differently. I came into the business loving pop music in the ’60s, which was all concise. I love the Beach Boys, The Beatles, The Kinks, the Zombies – a little bit more imaginative but still concise songs.

“When we found we could do it, which is something we didn’t know we could do, it became very exciting – and I really enjoyed doing that. I tend to look at our whole body of work, if you like, and it’s all in there. When one thing happened or when another happened [isn’t important]. We’ve got lots of short songs, long songs – there are songs like ‘Domino,’ ‘Tonight Tonight Tonight,’ ‘Home By the Sea’ that have more than one facet to them.

“When you get it really right with a short song, like ‘Land of Confusion’ or ‘Follow You, Follow Me,’ I’m really proud of those songs because there’s something about them. I didn’t know we could actually do that; it was an exciting thing to do.

“We also all had our solo albums, so on some of mine, I went a bit more extravagant and had some longer pieces like ‘An Island in the Darkness,’ which is 17 minutes long. I was able to get that out of my system a bit, really. It was fun doing it both ways. But these days, I suppose I’m back into the longer pieces, but doing it with orchestras.”

During Genesis’ trio era, you guys eventually worked out an effective system where you’d all enter the process with a blank slate and rely on jamming. The songs would evolve organically from there.

“I think that’s why the songs ended up a little simpler in many ways, because the three of us were there together without any ideas coming in. For things to work when you’re playing together, you need a slightly more concise approach. More simplicity was necessary.

“We tried to catch ideas quickly on those last three albums we did with Phil, instead of laboring them and working them – which we’d done in the early days, which I like as well. We sometimes tried to leave a song almost how we first came across it, keep it as simple as possible.

“With things like ‘No Son of Mine’ and ‘Driving the Last Spike,’ it was almost like we had the chord sequence I played and Phil sang a little line on top of it, and we said, ‘Well, that sounds really nice. Let’s just leave that and build from there instead of hammering out something more exotic, like we would have done in the early days.’

“It was an interesting way of working, almost like three people working as one. We had a good way of working: We all had our roles, I suppose, and there was very little conflict, and a lot of great results.”

This news story was originally published here: https://www.prog-sphere.com/interviews/anthems-interview/
Anthems

Anthems from Prague launched their debut album ‘Consciousness‘ in November last year. The five-piece successfully blends progressive metal(core) with hardcore sound, making for one of the most interesting bands coming from the Old Continent in the recent years.

Define the mission of Anthems.

Our aim is to produce great songs which talk to people. We are projecting our thoughts and emotions to our music, because we think that it could say far more than just words. Our main focus is to forward those messages to a broad audience all across the world through our live performances, which are always very powerful to us. Playing live is our passion.

Tell me about the creative process that informed your debut album “Consciousness” and the themes it captures.

Once we decided to record the album, we immediately started figuring out the main theme – what’s it all going to be about? In the end, it was quite simple, because it just came up from our personal experience (as it always does). We think that the message (and also music)is always honest and most powerful presented this way. Composing every song was quite different. Some of them just came up from jamming and then we worked on details together, some songs were entirely composed by me or our other guitarist… You never know when the right idea strikes you, so we are mostly making our songs in those exact moments, no matter if we are all together or alone. Despite that, album has its consistency both in its story and also in small ideas, which are sometimes repeated during the album (both musical and lyrical).

Anthems - Conscousness

What is the message you are trying to give with “Consciousness”?

In a nutshell, our debut is about being aware of your inner self and about acting on it (acting on your emotions, thoughts, patterns, etc). It’s about moving forward, releasing yourself from chains you’ve been put in by yourself and by the society and about the way to achieve “perfection.” Main message is that people should be honest to themselves and aim to become the ones they really are. It’s about seeking inner happiness and peace.

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

Usually, key ideas are coming when I’m not able to record anything properly (like when I’m in the shower, pub, walking on street…), so I mostly record such ideas on a phone recorder with singing or guitar, if I’m lucky enough to have one near at the moment. It’s the most important for me, that the particular idea is captured (no matter in what quality). Then I’m sure I’m not going to forget it and it can flow in my head, where I compose most of our songs. Ideas just grow into songs there, and when I feel it’s time, I’m taking guitar and make it real. Then we complete it together in rehearsal and we use mostly Cubase to make demo recordings. In the past I have been also using Guitar pro 5 to forward main themes to other band mates.

Is the dynamic flow of the pieces carefully architected?

Yes it is. On “Consciousness” we really wanted every song to be at the right place. As I mentioned before, there is also a kind of a story, which is evolving through the whole recording and holds entire album together. We definitely have tendencies to see our music as a bigger picture more than as separate songs.

Describe the approach to recording the album.

We decided to work with people  we’ve been cooperating for a long time already. We know each other really good and it’s always great to work with someone, who exactly knows what are you up to. Basically, we made demos of 5 songs and then finished them completely, so we were able to release the video for the first single and later also the lyric video for the second single. In the meantime, we worked on the second half of the album and when everything was ready, we went to the recording studio again to finish it. According to my opinion, this kind of approach was really helpful, because in between those recording sessions we were able to evolve enough (both musically and personally) to create songs and the whole album exactly as we’ve imagined in the beginning. We really took our time and we believe that it was definitely worth it. Thanks to Damián Kučera (SOUND RAPIDS) and Jaroslav Celujko (JARO SOUND) for making it all possible!

How long “Consciousness” was in the making?

The whole process lasted for almost 2 years. It’s been a whole year more than we expected at the beginning, but we believe that in the end everything happened at the right moment.

[embedded content]

Which bands or artists influenced your work on the release?

For me it’s definitely Textures. Their approach to making their music, albums and lyrics is inspiring me for a long time so far and they also just really kick asses. Other influences came definitely from Architects, While She Sleeps and more great, metalcore bands.

What is your view on technology in music?

I guess that everything is moving forward with a tremendous speed and it really opens more and more possibilities of making, producing and performing music (and everything in between). I’m the guy that uses one distortion, delay and tuner (and records ideas on the phone recorder), and I’m still happy, but I feel (and I’m right) that I’m really missing out a lot of great possibilities to bring my music to a whole new level, so I’ve been trying to evolve into that lately, because I think that musicians (and everyone else) should definitely stay up to date. Every new possibility of expressing yourself is crucial. Luckily, our other guitarist Honza has that huge pedalboard and is able to produce all the electronics that are really important to our music. I personally have a lot of things to explore.

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

Definitely. Expressing yourself is always a message, and music is a great way to do so. My lyrics are mostly based on my personal experience, and especially on my way to achieve inner happiness and peace lately, and I think that a lot of people can relate to that. My aim is to produce music, which has a potential to help people with their personal struggles or anything else. Writing and performing our music is also a kind of a therapy for me. It also helps me to clear many important things out.

What are your plans for the future?

Currently we focus on promoting our new album “Consciousness,” in a month we are going to shoot a music video and then we’re playing a lot of shows across the CZ. In the end of 2018, we plan our first bigger European tour and it’s all only a beginning…

Consciousness is available from Bandcamp here.

This news story was originally published here: http://www.prog-sphere.com/interviews/anthems-interview/
Anthems

Anthems from Prague launched their debut album ‘Consciousness‘ in November last year. The five-piece successfully blends progressive metal(core) with hardcore sound, making for one of the most interesting bands coming from the Old Continent in the recent years.

Define the mission of Anthems.

Our aim is to produce great songs which talk to people. We are projecting our thoughts and emotions to our music, because we think that it could say far more than just words. Our main focus is to forward those messages to a broad audience all across the world through our live performances, which are always very powerful to us. Playing live is our passion.

Tell me about the creative process that informed your debut album “Consciousness” and the themes it captures.

Once we decided to record the album, we immediately started figuring out the main theme – what’s it all going to be about? In the end, it was quite simple, because it just came up from our personal experience (as it always does). We think that the message (and also music)is always honest and most powerful presented this way. Composing every song was quite different. Some of them just came up from jamming and then we worked on details together, some songs were entirely composed by me or our other guitarist… You never know when the right idea strikes you, so we are mostly making our songs in those exact moments, no matter if we are all together or alone. Despite that, album has its consistency both in its story and also in small ideas, which are sometimes repeated during the album (both musical and lyrical).

Anthems - Conscousness

What is the message you are trying to give with “Consciousness”?

In a nutshell, our debut is about being aware of your inner self and about acting on it (acting on your emotions, thoughts, patterns, etc). It’s about moving forward, releasing yourself from chains you’ve been put in by yourself and by the society and about the way to achieve “perfection.” Main message is that people should be honest to themselves and aim to become the ones they really are. It’s about seeking inner happiness and peace.

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

Usually, key ideas are coming when I’m not able to record anything properly (like when I’m in the shower, pub, walking on street…), so I mostly record such ideas on a phone recorder with singing or guitar, if I’m lucky enough to have one near at the moment. It’s the most important for me, that the particular idea is captured (no matter in what quality). Then I’m sure I’m not going to forget it and it can flow in my head, where I compose most of our songs. Ideas just grow into songs there, and when I feel it’s time, I’m taking guitar and make it real. Then we complete it together in rehearsal and we use mostly Cubase to make demo recordings. In the past I have been also using Guitar pro 5 to forward main themes to other band mates.

Is the dynamic flow of the pieces carefully architected?

Yes it is. On “Consciousness” we really wanted every song to be at the right place. As I mentioned before, there is also a kind of a story, which is evolving through the whole recording and holds entire album together. We definitely have tendencies to see our music as a bigger picture more than as separate songs.

Describe the approach to recording the album.

We decided to work with people  we’ve been cooperating for a long time already. We know each other really good and it’s always great to work with someone, who exactly knows what are you up to. Basically, we made demos of 5 songs and then finished them completely, so we were able to release the video for the first single and later also the lyric video for the second single. In the meantime, we worked on the second half of the album and when everything was ready, we went to the recording studio again to finish it. According to my opinion, this kind of approach was really helpful, because in between those recording sessions we were able to evolve enough (both musically and personally) to create songs and the whole album exactly as we’ve imagined in the beginning. We really took our time and we believe that it was definitely worth it. Thanks to Damián Kučera (SOUND RAPIDS) and Jaroslav Celujko (JARO SOUND) for making it all possible!

How long “Consciousness” was in the making?

The whole process lasted for almost 2 years. It’s been a whole year more than we expected at the beginning, but we believe that in the end everything happened at the right moment.

[embedded content]

Which bands or artists influenced your work on the release?

For me it’s definitely Textures. Their approach to making their music, albums and lyrics is inspiring me for a long time so far and they also just really kick asses. Other influences came definitely from Architects, While She Sleeps and more great, metalcore bands.

What is your view on technology in music?

I guess that everything is moving forward with a tremendous speed and it really opens more and more possibilities of making, producing and performing music (and everything in between). I’m the guy that uses one distortion, delay and tuner (and records ideas on the phone recorder), and I’m still happy, but I feel (and I’m right) that I’m really missing out a lot of great possibilities to bring my music to a whole new level, so I’ve been trying to evolve into that lately, because I think that musicians (and everyone else) should definitely stay up to date. Every new possibility of expressing yourself is crucial. Luckily, our other guitarist Honza has that huge pedalboard and is able to produce all the electronics that are really important to our music. I personally have a lot of things to explore.

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

Definitely. Expressing yourself is always a message, and music is a great way to do so. My lyrics are mostly based on my personal experience, and especially on my way to achieve inner happiness and peace lately, and I think that a lot of people can relate to that. My aim is to produce music, which has a potential to help people with their personal struggles or anything else. Writing and performing our music is also a kind of a therapy for me. It also helps me to clear many important things out.

What are your plans for the future?

Currently we focus on promoting our new album “Consciousness,” in a month we are going to shoot a music video and then we’re playing a lot of shows across the CZ. In the end of 2018, we plan our first bigger European tour and it’s all only a beginning…

Consciousness is available from Bandcamp here.

This week I’m chatting with our old friend, Erik Norlander, mostly about his new project with John Payne called Dukes Of The Orient! We get the low down on the Dukes and some of Erik’s other endeavors, and along the way I spin plenty of great music, with an extra large helping of new Dukes Of The Orient music! 

513: In Conversation with Erik Norlander of Dukes Of The Orient