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All posts for the month May, 2020

This news story was originally published here: https://theprogressiveaspect.net/blog/2020/05/31/eternal-wanderers-homeless-soul/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=eternal-wanderers-homeless-soul

Samsara. A word in Sanskrit that means ‘wandering’. The aimless wandering through successive states of mundane existence. The endless cycle of birth, growth, decay and death. Eternal wandering of a homeless soul. It seems obvious, but I have to admit it didn’t occur to me at all before listening to the music. I made no connection from the band name to the album title, or from either to the idea of Samsara. The album artwork appeared to imply a more science fiction inspired tale – and, indeed that tale is told – but the opening track of this fourth album from Russian band Eternal Wanderers almost immediately opened my mind. A quick look through the lyrics (something I almost never do, and even less often before having listened to the music), and although the cosmic story was there, it seemed to me to be an allegorical tale. Samsara.

Homeless Soul is bookended by Invested With Mystery, the abbreviated version of which opens the album, suffixed as a prologue. It sounded reminiscent of Indian music, even though there was no noticeable Indian instrumentation. Even that alone would likely not have made me make the mental leaps required to join the dots, had I not listened to several albums already this year that play upon the theme of Samsara. Kala by Mobius, Metempsychosis by hubris. and The Return by Deep Energy Orchestra all recreate the idea of Samsara musically. Golden Caves use Samsara as a reverse allegory in their song of the same name, further describing the theme of their album, Dysergy – addressing the idea of dysergy in oneself, of not feeling complete, of being disconnected or in discord with oneself or the world. Eternal wandering of a homeless soul.

If it were not clear to begin with, when the album ends with the full version of Invested With Mystery, all that seemed missing from the prologue is included, in all its glory. Although the theme is instantly recognisable from the prologue, it is completed by the inclusion of the sitar. It’s fuller and brighter, and the additional verses provide final recognition that this may be an end, but it’s not the end, and the cycle continues. But I’m getting ahead of myself, as an awful lot goes on in between these two parts of Invested With Mystery – and what a trip it is!

I’ll admit that the track Eternal Wanderer doesn’t do a lot for me, and I find it the least interesting, musically. I won’t go so far as to say I find it boring, but it does come close, and if I weren’t reviewing the album, I might not have ventured past it. For that reason alone, I’m glad that reviewing made me persist, as the album becomes very good very quickly from this point on. Transformations is an amazing piece, largely instrumental, and some very classy symphonic space prog, showing the prowess of all four members of the band. The second instrumental part, after the brief vocals, is easily one of my favourite passages on the album.

Meteor, which follows, is beautiful. After the intensity of Transformations, it provides a change of pace, while maintaining the spacey feel. The bridge after three minutes is simply gorgeous, and guest musician Andy Didorenko’s violin is sublime. But all that has come before is pretty much now blown away by album centrepiece, and longest track, The Cradle of a Hurricane, an instrumental suite comprising six parts. It’s marvellous. It reminds me a little of Progenie Terrestre Pura – though without the blast beats and black metal.

And as Meteor provided the comedown after Transformations, so does I Wanna Give My Life For You – at least, to begin with. It’s a twisted mix of Abba balladry and psychedelic spaciness that really ought not to work as well as it does. It builds and builds, and has some wonderful almost ambient soundscapes breaking the intensity briefly, before a triumphant return. This track really does allow the Kanevskaya sisters, who write the music and lyrics for Eternal Wanderers, to truly shine – with both their vocals and their playing. I Wanna Give My Life For You surprised me by quickly becoming one of my favourites on the album, as it’s definitely not in my normal comfort zone. There was so much potential for this song to be cringeworthy, but it’s simply brilliant.

Chaos of Reason is a little anti-climactic afterwards, but, as with the preceding song, this is deceiving. It’s length proves to be its advantage, as although it may not feel so exciting to begin with, it’s hard not to be swept away, especially when the song kicks up a gear after around two and a half minutes. At this point, the song becomes almost entirely instrumental, including a very nifty jazzy passage, before some quite beautiful wordless vocalisations, which I find more enjoyable than Pink Floyd’s similarly spacey Great Gig in the Sky. One final verse, and then it’s back to another enjoyable instrumental – In Search of the Antiworld. Again, the band excel.

And it’s back to the beginning. The album began with Invested With Mystery and Eternal Wanderer, and ends with Homeless Soul and Invested With Mystery. Two title tracks of a sort, bookended by a track which is the end of the beginning of the end… Homeless Soul is infinitely more interesting for me than Eternal Wanderer, though. I absolutely love the twisted and distorted spoken word. I wouldn’t want to hear a whole album of this style, but it sure provides an impact after the beautiful vocals of the Elena and Tatyana Kanevskaya. The music, too, is twisted and tortured. Until finally, Invested With Mystery provides, if not resolution, resignation. The cycle of life and death is eternal. Samsara. Eternal wandering of a homeless soul.

TRACK LISTING
01. Invested With Mystery [Prologue] (1:51)
02. Eternal Wanderer (4:39)
03. Transformations (6:55)
04. Meteor (5:46)
05. The Cradle of a Hurricane (8:13)
06. I Wanna Give My Life For You (6:40)
07. Chaos of Reason (6:21)
08. In Search of the Anti-World (7:32)
09. Homeless Soul (5:11)
10. Invested With Mystery (6:04)

Total Time – 59:12

MUSICIANS
Elena Kanevskaya – Vocals, keyboards, Synthesisers, Samplers, Theremin
Tatyana Kanevskaya – Guitars, Backing Vocals, Keyboards, Synthesisers, Samplers
Dmitry Shtatnov – Bass, Keyboards, Synthesisers, Lead Vocal (track 9), Backing Vocals, Samplers, Sitar, Custom DSP Algorithms
Sergey Rogulya – Drums, Percussion
~ with:
Andy Didorenko – Violin (track 4)
Zhenya Kanevskiy – Voices (track 8)
Kostya Shtatnov – Voices (track 8)

ADDITIONAL INFO
Record Label – Independent
Country of Origin – Russia
Date of Release – 16th April 2020

LINKS
Eternal Wanderers – Website | Facebook | Bandcamp

Edition 240 of Sounds That Can Be Made is now available as a podcast!

Playlist:

Genesis – Watcher of the Skies (live) (from Genesis Live)
Emerson Lake & Palmer – Tarkus (live) (from Welcome Back My Friends To The Show That Never Ends)
Nektar – A Day in the Life of a Preacher feat. the birth of Oh Willie (live) (from Sunday Night at the London Roundhouse)
Yes – The Gates of Delirium (live) (from Yesshows)
Van Der Graaf Generator – Pioneers Over C (live) (from Vital: Van der Graaf Live)
Jethro Tull – Thick As A Brick (live) (from Bursting Out)
Traffic – The Low Spark Of The High-Heeled Boys (live) (from On The Road)
Pink Floyd – Shine On You Crazy Diamond (Parts 1-6) (live) (from Wish You Were Here (Experience bonus disc))

#progzillaradio #stcbm

 

This news story was originally published here: https://theprogressiveaspect.net/blog/2020/05/31/anthony-phillips-strings-of-light/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=anthony-phillips-strings-of-light

Messrs Mike Rutherford and Greg Spawton have a number of things in common. First of all, they are both co-founders of a prog rock band of some stature. In addition, they are both bass guitarists with a predilection for Moog Taurus bass pedals in particular. Both are somewhat introverted individuals who find their own singing voice below par. But they have one more important aspect in common: they both love guitarist Anthony Phillips. The first finds his former buddy and Genesis companion “the best musician of us all” and the other judges his idol’s (acoustic) guitar playing as “very influential” on his taste in music.

No mean feat, an introduction like that. It seems to me that Genesis had quite some talented musicians in its fold, and the Big Big Train founder/songwriter must have seen some good guitarist in his time, yet both are unanimously enthusiastic when it comes to the modest musician who, due to severe stage fright, a lingering illness and plus relationship problems, had to give up his spot in a hard-working rock band. Fortunately, it didn’t stop there. Ant, as he is called by his friends, started a solo career in 1977 that would amount to a considerable number of albums, 33 to be exact, plus countless collectors and collaborations, albums characterised by beautiful melodies and ditto acoustic guitar music, in which the twelve-string version is the main protagonist.

With (among others) Wise after the Event, The Geese and the Ghost and a whole series of Private Parts and Pieces (eleven in total), there is now quite an impressive oeuvre. In recent years/decades, Phillips has mainly focused on instrumental acoustic music, which he seems to have patented. His recently released double album Strings of Light successfully continues this trend. And I really should say: craftsmanship is mastery.

Strings of Light is a beautiful new album by Genesis founder Phillips. For his first new album in seven years, he composed and recorded the 24 pieces of music on this album, spread over two CDs, using the many beautiful and rare guitars in his collection. This makes Strings of Light one of the best instrumental guitar albums of his long and acclaimed career.

It is already his fourth album featuring only guitar music, Phillips has used no fewer than seventeen different instruments. The album has the concept of two “sides” (but there is no LP in the making), the average length of the songs being around three-and-a-half minutes, the shortest is over after 21 seconds whilst the longest clocks at just over ten minutes. The 24 songs are equally divided over the two CDs with a total playing time of approximately 80 minutes, just a tad more than fits on one CD. Special titles too, some even in French (Jour de Fête, Fleur-De-Lys) or referring to long-gone, Medieval times (Castle Ruins, Caprice in Three). Sometimes difficult to tell apart, after all, there is no guidance in the form of lyrics or other references, the disadvantage of instrumental music.

I am a big fan of acoustic guitar music: the solo records of a certain Steve Howe, and Phillips’ successor in Genesis, Steve Hackett, are beloved albums, but also the classic works of Julian Bream, Andrés Segovia and John Williams (once a member of the crossover project Sky) are welcome guests on my turntable. The same goes for Australian Tommy Emmanuel, American Leo Kottke and, last but not least, Holland’s own Jan Akkerman and virtuoso countryman Harry Sacksioni, of course. There is only one problem with acoustic guitar music: it starts to sound very similar over time and therefore threatens to get boring rather quickly.

However, this is not the case on this album: there’s lots of variation, more than enough to keep the attention of the listener captivated until the end. The sound of a mandolin is very different from that of a twelve or even sixteen (!) string guitar (Grand Tour). The same applies to composition and atmosphere. It would really be too much to discuss all the songs individually, but I would certainly like to highlight some of them. The material on the first disc varies from the more classically oriented finger exercises of the triptych Caprice in Three, Castle Ruins and Mermaids and Wine Maidens to the more quirky work on Mouse Trip, and from the sparkling yet subtle finger picking of Skies Crying to the wide-ranging 12-strings on Diamond Meadows. During this last song, you subconsciously expect Peter Gabriel to show up at any given time singing, “Home from work our Juliet clears her morning meal…”. OK, that is from much later, but it does indicate the influence that Phillips still had on the sound of Genesis, long after his departure, with a little help from his good friend Mike Rutherford.

The second disc shows more of Phillips on classical guitar, just listen to Mystery Tale. But Andes Explorer and Sunset Riverbank (with a small section of electric guitar) are also very recognisable as typical Anthony Phillips music from the Trespass era. Tale Ender even gets synthesizer accompaniment, as one of the few such pieces on the album. Ant’s music has something melancholy about it, ‘tristesse et solitude’ to stay with French. In contrast, the mandolin sounds flamboyant on Home Road while the aforementioned Grand Tour shows Phillips at his best, with strong reminiscence of his work with early Genesis.

In addition to two audio CDs, this set contains a special 5.1 Surround Sound mix of the entire album on DVD. The sound is great, the music truly sparkles in the intimacy of the living room. After a relatively long absence, Strings of Light is a welcome return and a great album by a legendary musician.

TRACK LISTING
CD 1:

01. Jour De Fête (2:25)
02. Diamond Meadows (3:19)
03. Caprice In Three (2:55)
04. Castle Ruins (2:27)
05. Mermaids And Wine Maidens (3:19)
06. Winter Lights (6:20)
07. Song For Andy (3:49)
08. Pilgrimage Of Grace (3:36)
09. Skies Crying (4:51)
10. Mouse Trip (1:06)
11. Restless Heart (3:50)
12. Still Rain (4:07)

Time – 42:04

CD 2:
01. Into The Void (0:21)
02. Andean Explorer (4:06)
03. Mystery Tale (1:44)
04. Sunset Riverbank (3:22)
05. Tale Ender (0:47)
06. Shoreline (5:36)
07. Days Gone By (3:44)
08. Crystalline (3:33)
09. Fleur-De-Lys (3:41)
10. Grand Tour (6:01)
11. Home Road (1:01)
12. Life Story (10:01)

Time – 43:57

Total Time – 86:01

MUSICIANS
Anthony Phillips – Acoustic & Electric Guitars, Mandolin, Keyboards

ADDITIONAL INFO
Record Label: Cherry Red Records
Country of Origin: U.K.
Date of Release: 25th October 2019

LINKS
Anthony Phillips – Website | Facebook

DISCOGRAPHY
– Strings of Light (2019)
– Private Parts & Pieces XI: City of Dreams (2012)
– Seventh Heaven (with Andrew Skeet) (2012)
– Ahead of the Field: Music for TV and Film (2010)
– Missing Links Volume IV: Pathways & Promenades (2009)
– Wildlife (with Joji Hirota) (2007)
– Field Day (2005)
– Radio Clyde (2003, recorded in 1978)
– Private Parts & Pieces X: Soirée (1999)
– Live Radio Sessions (with Guillermo Cazenave) (1998)
– Missing Links Volume 3: Time and Tide (with Joji Hirota) (1997)
– Private Parts & Pieces IX: Dragonfly Dreams (with Enrique Berro Garcia) (1996)
– The Meadows of Englewood (with Guillermo Cazenave) (1996)
– The Living Room Concert (1995)
– Gypsy Suite (with Harry Williamson) (1995)
– Missing Links Volume Two: The Sky Road (1994)
– Sail the World (1994)
– Private Parts & Pieces VIII: New England (1992)
– Slow Dance (1990)
– Missing Links Volume One: Finger Painting (1989)
– Tarka (with Harry Williamson) (1988)
– Private Parts & Pieces VII: Slow Waves, Soft Stars (1987)
– Private Parts & Pieces VI: Ivory Moon (1986)
– Private Parts & Pieces V: Twelve (1985)
– Private Parts & Pieces IV: A Catch at the Tables (1984)
– Invisible Men (with Richard Scott) (1983)
– Private Parts & Pieces III: Antiques (with Enrique Berro Garcia) (1982)
– 1984 (1981)
– Private Parts & Pieces II: Back to the Pavilion (1980)
– Sides (1979)
– Private Parts & Pieces (1978)
– Wise After the Event (1978)
– The Geese & the Ghost (1977)

This news story was originally published here: https://theprogressiveaspect.net/blog/2020/05/30/roman-spektor-functionality/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=roman-spektor-functionality

For three years, Roman Spektor has been working on his debut album, Functionality. It was released at the end of April and is Roman’s first release since the three track Moss EP released in January 2016. That EP showed the willingness for Spektor to experiment with quite different sounds and styles, but didn’t really work for me. There was definite promise, but much of it sounded forced and unnatural and didn’t sit well with me. I found the first track to be almost hard to listen to, and not particularly enjoyable. The title track was far more to my liking, and the final track quite nice, even when it explodes towards the end. As Meatloaf once sang, “two out of three ain’t bad”, so I made a mental note to remember Spektor’s name, should I ever see it again. So when I came across Functionality this year, my first thoughts were to wonder which of the three songs from Moss it might sound most like. The answer is none of them – or, perhaps it is actually that first track, which didn’t gel with me years ago. But everything not quite right with Calm Waters is made right with Functionality.

The opening track, Checkbox, bursts into being with a sound immediately reminiscent for me of bands Chris Pitman has had a hand in, particularly SexTapes for whom he was the frontman. Pitman is perhaps unfortunately best known for being one of the longest serving members of Guns N’ Roses, but he’s an incredibly talented multi-instrumentalist, engineer and producer that has lent his talents in one capacity or another to Tool, Failure, Lusk, Replicants and Zaum, among others. This is an electro-industrial-grunge banger, heightened by Roman Spektor’s suitably grungy and glitchy vocals. This is like some glorious mix of Failure, Nine Inch Nails, Alice in Chains and Portishead.

Roman Spektor began his musical journey with hip hop, making his own beats, and those roots have clearly never left him, lending this album hints of hip-hop and trip-hop throughout, adding variation and interest to an already intriguing eclecticism. The trip hop may be in the background on Checkbox, but it’s far more overt in the following Thank You Father. And yet, there’s a distinct neo prog vibe to this track too. So, alternative trip-hop neo prog? Do you know what, I’m really not bothered if I can’t pin this music down to any particular genre. Roman Spektor delights in not only effortlessly switching between styles throughout the album, but overlapping them within a song. That the whole still sounds so cohesive and coherent is quite a feat.

Look For… continues the trip hop vibe, and also features guest vocalist Didi S.B.. Her vocals are truly beautiful and bring an extra dimension to the song. This impact is heightened by the vocals not being immediately introduced, the ‘beauty and the beast’ harmonies particularly effective. Binary, which follows, sounds like it belongs in a soundtrack, and reminds me a lot of another trip-hop infused album from this year, Romsam Malpica’s The Wolf and the Skull (as The Folsom Project). It segues into the title track, which initially sounds equally cinematic, until the chorus hits.

Although I actually very much like Functionality (the song), it does show the only real negative for me with Functionality (the album). The dynamic range just doesn’t seem great enough, the whole album sounds remarkably “even” (for lack of a better word). The title track ought to leap from its quiet moments to its roars with far greater effect and impact. There are several other songs where I feel the dynamics could be improved upon, including the following Tiny Virtual Mouths, which is minimalist and delicate – but not quiet enough. Ultimately, however, none of this really spoils the enjoyment that the album gives. There is more than enough promise to assume that future albums from Spektor will definitely be worth looking out for!

Passivity brings back the neo prog vibe, albeit underlaid with some nifty hip-hop beats. Selling Doors follows, sounding more reminiscent of Kid A-era Radiohead, with a vibrant jazzy syncopated beat. The saxophone of guest musician Gali Spektor is as welcome and enjoyable here as it was in the title track. The instrumentation is stark and dark, and Spektor’s vocals echo this, sounding almost desperate. Spektor’s vocals work very well in this way throughout the album, adding tone and timbre to the songs that heightens tension, or drives them forward. It seems everything has been meticulously planned so that everything fits in its place, and nothing is there if it does not serve the purpose of the song. Whether acoustic and organic, or electronic and manufactured, the instrumentation and percussion, along with the vocals all feel entirely natural. Nothing is out of place. It all belongs. Again, and I hate to belabour the point, the only thing that doesn’t feel quite right at times is the dynamics.

While I have been reminded of Ulver several times already, it is only with Docks that I really get that vibe – and yet, the music is still so different from anything Ulver has done that I would not even be confident to suggest that Ulver might have been an influence. (To use that band as an example, they reportedly had not heard any Depeche Mode before recording their Julius Caesar album. Influences are often inferred, rather than implied.) The thing is, Roman Spektor makes so many jumps in style and sound between songs, let alone within them, that of the many bands I might be reminded of, he might be influenced by any of them, or none of them. He’s managed to create a quite unique sound, that can’t really be mistaken for anyone else, no matter who it might remind me of.

And saying that, the album ends reminding me once more of Chris Pitman, though not in such bombastic fashion. If Checkbox reminds me of Sextapes, then Cut the Cool Air reminds me of Lusk. It’s a gorgeous final track, which ends the album leaving me wanting more. The songwriting, performance, production and mixing on the album is all by Roman Spektor, so hopefully he won’t take my feelings about the dynamics of the album to heart. It really is my own criticism about the album, and it’s not a big one. I gain a lot of enjoyment from listening to this debut album from Spektor, and am still listening to it a lot. Roman Spektor’s bio states that with Functionality’s “unusual soundscapes, and undeniably catchy melodies, it is the perfect introduction to the adventurous artist’s world.” I can’t disagree, and I can’t wait to hear what comes next.

TRACK LISTING
01. Checkbox (3:04)
02. Thank You Father (6:27)
03. Look For… (3:08)
04. Binary (3:01)
05. Functionality (5:03)
06. Tiny Virtual Mouths (3:33)
07. Passivity (5:03)
08. Selling Doors (3:31)
09. Docks (3:43)
10. Cut The Cool Air (4:00)

Total Time – 40:31

MUSICIANS
Roman Spektor – Vocals, Guitar, Bass, Electronic Drums, Percussion, Programming, Production & Mixing
Gail Spektor – Alto Saxophone (tracks 5 & 8)
Didi S.B. – Additional Vocals (track 3)

ADDITIONAL INFO
Record Label – Independent
Country of Origin – Israel
Date of Release – 20th April 2020

LINKS
Roman Spektor – Facebook | Bandcamp | YouTube

Edition 232 of Steve Blease’s Heavy Elements is now available as a podcast.

Playlist:

Redemption – The Suffocating Silence
Ignea – Queen Dies
Katatonia – Heart Set to Divide
Late – Paths
Conception – Anybody Out There

That Was The Year That Prog: 1998
Threshold – Freaks
Devin Townsend – Life Is All Dynamics
Shadow Gallery – Out Of Nowhere
Meshuggah – New Millennium Cyanide Christ
Pain of Salvation – Beyond The Mirror

Epic at 11: Inner Odyssey – Dehumanize Me

The Contortionist – Clairvoyant
Aspic – The Event Horizon

Album of the Week: Opeth – Ghost Reveries
Ghost Of Perdition
Isolation Years
The Grand Conjuration

Dream Theater – New Millennium

This news story was originally published here: https://theprogressiveaspect.net/blog/2020/05/30/be-bop-deluxe-axe-victim-limited-edition-deluxe-boxset/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=be-bop-deluxe-axe-victim-limited-edition-deluxe-boxset

Be-Bop Deluxe nearly passed me by during their brief but brightly burning four year existence between 1974 and 1978. It was only on borrowing their Hot Valves EP from a school friend in 1976 or ’77 that I became aware of William Nelson’s Yorkshire sci-fi guitar shenanigans. I became an instant fan, and as soon as I could afford it I bought Sunburst Finish, purely on the strength of its striking cover art. I was a sixth-form schoolboy, after all. One of my gig regrets is never getting to see Be-Bop, although I did get to see Red Noise, a short-lived stopgap between Be-Bop and Bill’s ultra-productive solo career. I bought all the albums, of course!

The first of those albums, and actually the last one I bought, sometime in the early ’90s, was Axe Victim, which has always suffered by being seen as, and perhaps rightly, a sub-Ziggy record made at least two years too late to catch the glam-sophisticate wave it seemed desperate to surf, right down to the band donning “brickies-go-glam” on the inside cover. Bill Nelson, with his eyeshadow and coiffured barnet stood out even then as he seemed to carry it naturally.

One of the four tracks on the borrowed EP was the very Bowie Jet Silver & the Dolls of Venus, the third track on the album, which is a very close pastoral cousin to Ziggy, sort of his countrified mate, replete with a marvellously Mick Ronson-with-knobs-on solo from the precociously talented Mr. Nelson, and indicative of the BIG Bowie fixation apparent throughout this album. The Bowie-glam idolatry doesn’t get any more obvious than on the preceding song Love is Swift Arrows, right down to the flowery language of the lyrics. There were far worse things to be in thrall to in 1974, a year when mind-numbing bombast was definitely getting the better of the increasingly remote and unwieldy top bands of the day, and not just of the progressive rock variety, so a collection of relatively succinct numbers from a bunch of Yorkshiremen in thrall to the then already defunct Zig and his Spiders was no bad thing at all. What sets Be-Bop’s debut apart from being mere plagiarism is Bill’s bewilderingly technical and dazzling melodic guitar playing, that comes bursting out of the traps on the opening title track, the song bareback riding flurries of scorching fretwork, from a guy who was soon heralded as “Yorkshire’s first guitar hero”, according to the blurb on the back cover of The Be-Bop Deluxe Singles’ As & Bs album. Mick Ronson might have had something to say about that!

Back in the beginning, the recently formed Be-Bop Deluxe, or more accurately, Bill Nelson came to the attention of EMI, thanks to his solo album Northern Dream getting a complete play-through by the inestimably influential and always and forever much missed John Peel, a Radio 1 DJ whom many of us between the ages of 50 and 70 can thank for steering our musical tastes away from the stiflingly predictable. A rather drawn out process by the label to sign the young band ensued, with Bill insisting it was the band, not the label-preferred Bill Nelson as a solo artist that was up for grabs. The process was helped along by a debut Peel session for the band in 1973, who eventually put pen to paper. Two of the songs featured on that session never appeared officially at the time, and now get an airing on this three disc set.

It is easy to overlook Bill’s talent as a lyricist, which when you get past the aforementioned somewhat and possibly deliberately derivative Love is Swift Arrows show early signs of promise on the album. This from the title track is but one example of Bill’s poetic inclinations:

Please be careful
I’m an axe victim
Hung up on these silver strings
Like sails
Like seagulls’ cries
Like church bells in the night

Bill’s lifelong love of French cultural polymath Jean Cocteau is also present and correct, the original gatefold quoting from the man.

Listening to the original LP against the new stereo mix version is something of a revelation. While the remix does it full justice, and increases the sonic range, the original production, right down to the expansive openness of Darkness (L’Immoraliste), which included Andrew Powell’s tasteful orchestral arrangement, has a remarkable clarity, unusual for the era. The producer’s chair was filled by one Ian McLintock, not a name I’m familiar with. As Bill says in the 28-page booklet accompanying this reissue, Ian had “personal issues”, and was sometimes “… ‘absent’, while still being in the room”, which might explain why I have not come across the name before. The sound must have mostly been down to the engineers, who included John Leckie, who in a long career would go on to produce many albums, including Be-Bop’s subsequent releases.

One of the highlights of the record is Adventures in a Yorkshire Landscape, which became a live set staple. Here it is a mere three and half minutes long, but later live versions often stretched out to ten minutes, the defining version on Live in the Air Age coming home at a smidgeon under nine minutes. Here, this balladic showcase for Bill’s guitar pyrotechnics doesn’t miss a trick, and the band, as it is on the whole album, is as tight as a gnat’s chuff. Given their inexperience, and compared to Bill, their limitations, Be-Bop Deluxe Mk1 is a remarkable group to hear in action. Despite this, EMI always had reservations about the musical abilities of Bill’s backing musicians, which Bill finally concurred with, and this line-up only lasted for this one album.

As is often the case with debut albums, the songs recorded were already well seasoned by the time the record came out, and Bill was already moving on from the proto-glam image portrayed on the album artwork, and in some of the music therein. A lot of the second album, Futurama, was written on an upright piano, rather than the electric guitar that most of Axe Victim was borne of. One exception on Axe Victim was Darkness (L’Immoraliste), also written on the piano, and featuring a small orchestra, and an exception to the overt rockisms of the rest of the album. Its ambition is indicative of what was to come.

We’ll leave Bill with the final words: “So, Axe Victim is one brief snapshot of a band becoming something else… a modest beginning, flawed, but not without charm.”

As well as the new stereo mix, the real draw for Be-Bop fans here is the DVD with its 5.1 surround mix, and extras. I can’t tell you anything about that as I’m working from a download, but I look forward to hearing it, oh yes!

TRACK LISTING
CD One: Axe Victim (Remastered)

01. Axe Victim
02. Love is Swift Arrows
03. Jet Silver and the Dolls of Venus
04. Third Floor Heaven
05. Night Creatures
06. Rocket Cathedrals
07. Adventures in a Yorkshire Landscape
08. Jets At Dawn
09. No Trains to Heaven
10. Darkness (L’Immoraliste)
~ Bonus tracks:
11. Teenage Archangel (1973 Single)
12. Jets At Dawn (1973 Single Version)
13. No Trains to Heaven (First Mix) (Previously Unreleased)
14. Axe Victim (Album Version – First Mix) (Previously Unreleased)

CD Two: Axe Victim (New Stereo Mix)
01. Axe Victim
02. Love is Swift Arrows
03. Jet Silver and the Dolls of Venus
04. Third Floor Heaven
05. Night Creatures
06. Rocket Cathedrals
07. Adventures in a Yorkshire Landscape
08. Jets At Dawn
09. No Trains to Heaven
10. Darkness (L’Immoraliste)
~ Bonus tracks:
11. Axe Victim (First Version) (Previously Unreleased)
12. Night Creatures (Spoken Word Version) (Previously Unreleased)
13. Rocket Cathedrals (First Version) (Previously Unreleased)

CD Three:
~ BBC Radio One ‘John Peel Show’ Session 6th November 1973

01. Axe Victim (Previously Unreleased)
02. Bluesy Ruby (Previously Unreleased)
03. Tomorrow the World (Previously Unreleased)
~ The Decca Session – 13th December 1973
04. Axe Victim (Previously Unreleased)
05. I’ll Be Your Vampire (Previously Unreleased)
06. Adventures in a Yorkshire Landscape (Previously Unreleased)
07. Bluesy Ruby (Previously Unreleased)
~ BBC Radio One ‘John Peel Show’ Session 9th May 1974
08. Third Floor Heaven
09. Mill Street Junction
10. 15th Of July (Invisibles)
11. Adventures in a Yorkshire Landscape

DVD: New 5.1 Surround Sound Mix | 96 kHz – 24-Bit Stereo | 96 kHz – 24-Bit Original Stereo ~ Mixes
01. Axe Victim
02. Love is Swift Arrows
03. Jet Silver & The Dolls of Venus
04. Third Floor Heaven
05. Night Creatures
06. Rocket Cathedrals
07. Adventures in a Yorkshire Landscape
08. Jets At Dawn (Full Version)
09. No Trains to Heaven
10. Darkness (L’immoraliste)
~ Bonus tracks:
11. Axe Victim (First Version) (Previously Unreleased)
12. Night Creatures (Spoken Word Version) (Previously Unreleased)
13. Rocket Cathedrals (First Version) (Previously Unreleased)

MUSICIANS
William Nelson – Lead & Acoustic Guitar, Lead Vocals, Grand Piano
Ian Parkin – Rhythm & Acoustic Guitar, Organ (Rocket Cathedrals)
Robert Bryan – Bass, Vocals, Lead Vocal (Rocket Cathedrals)
Nicholas Chatteron-Drew – Drums, Percussion

ADDITIONAL INFO
Record Label: Cherry Red Records
Catalogue#: PECLEC42715
Country of Origin: U.K.
Date of Release: 17th July 2020

LINKS
Be-Bop Deluxe – Facebook
Bill Nelson – Website | Facebook

Addendum: If Julian Dowling reads this, I still have your Hot Valves EP, sorry!

Edition 239 of Sounds That Can Be Made is now available as a podcast!

Playlist:

Marillion – Easter (live) (from All One Tonight)
Transatlantic – Suite Charlotte Pike Medley (live) (from Live in Europe)
Porucpine Tree – Anesthetize (live) (from Anesthetize)
IQ – The Seventh House (live) (from Scrape Across The Sky)
Arena – Moviedrome (live) (from Breakfast in Biarritz)
Dream Theater – Octavarium (live) (from Score – 20th Anniversary World Tour)
Frost* – Milliontown (live) (from The Philadelphia Experiment)

#progzillaradio #stcbm

This news story was originally published here: https://theprogressiveaspect.net/blog/2020/05/29/edgar-froese-dalinetopia/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=edgar-froese-dalinetopia

For lovers of the weird and wonderful, the late Edgar Froese of Tangerine Dream, who produced some wonderful atmospheric albums; my first being Aqua, my mother’s interpretation being something along the lines of “Can you shut that bloody racket up!?” Personally, I enjoyed the mix of ambient, natural and industrial sounds, through headphones or a decent stereo, and sometimes in quad.

Dalinetopia was released in 2004 and is here re-issued by Cherry Red Records, on the Esoteric Recordings label, exponents of many good re-releases.

Now back in 2004, Edgar wrote of this release that the music he had written reflected upon Dali the man rather than Dali the artist, often quoted by others who reviewed this album on its original release as slightly pretentious. Froese knew and had worked with Dali, so may have retorted a la Miss Piggy: “Pretentious? Moi?”

For those of you that remember Aqua and maybe Stuntman, this is not it. Composed in his home studio, it rarely ventures into those experimental areas, or even the stylings of mother group Tangerine Dream. But it does have its moments, some of beauty, some of wonder, and the best way to listen is in an environment with full stereo separation. There you will find the nuances that are not apparent on the old tin box or in car entertainment.

Then there is the secondary aspect, Froese’s interpretation of Dali the man. I like the tunes, even the slightest is a welcome diversion, but as a representation of character or aspects thereof, I just do not get it. What I get is music that, produced in 2004, I would say has been potentially influential now. I hear aspects of it, and even stylings in the works of modern electronic progressive music, such as Anathema.

What stands out in a list of Daliesque titles? Daleroshima opens well, insistent drum machine, repetitive keyboards and, to be honest, of its time. Slight oriental tinges but tiresome towards the end. Dalozopata is Japan-like, but the band rather than country, Sylvian/Sakamoto. I like this stuff, but my expectations meet at a plateau rather than ascend to great heights.

Dalerotica has a driving beat, pleasant background, it excels but does not accelerate. No chance of leaving the comfy chair, quite pedestrian really. Daluminacian next, strident, spacial, probably my most played track, and in a darkened studio, the music fills the air.

Dalaluna is a foot tapper and it is hard not to get up and boogie. Possibly overly long, but more excitement than most, and influential. Dalysisiphus is a more than diverting piece, probably the closest in terms to full-blown Tangerine Dream, and soundwise I think the richest in tones, but even then I don’t feel the need to spout endless drivel in an attempt to make you part with your pennies. Similar sounds are available from Public Service Broadcasting, and I have to say the narrative they would provide is more interesting. Last of the D’s, Dalinetopia concludes the album, lush but not overly, seeing us out.

Would I return? At the right time, just not now. One for the completists, lovely reference material but fails to excite.

Edgar Froese plays all, as a legacy. It is a fine piece, buy it. Thanks to Cherry Red/Esoteric for releasing.

TRACK LISTING
01. Daleroshima (6:47)
02. Dalozapata (5:19)
03. Dalamuerte (5:26)
04. Dalerotica (6:57)
05. Dalesquador (5:57)
06. Dalumination (9:24)
07. Dalagalor (6:54)
08. Dalaluna (7:14)
09. Dalysisiphus (7:48)
10. Dalinetopia (7:48)

Total Time – 69:33

MUSICIANS
Edgar Froese – All Instrumentation

ADDITIONAL INFO
Record Label: Esoteric Reactive | Cherry Red Records
Catalogue#: EREACD1040
Date of Release: 24th January 2020

LINKS
Edgar Froese – Website | Info at Cherry Red Records

Blue Öyster Cult – Then Came The Last Days of May (live)

jhimm – Static

Glass Hammer – The Dreaming City

Phideaux – Thank You For The Evil

Quill – 2nd Movement

I and Thou – Speak

TOTO – High Price of Hate

Mike Keneally & Beer For Dolphins – We’ll Be Right Back

Little Atlas – Illusion of Control

Neal Morse Band – The Great Despair (live)

BigElf – The Professor & The Madman

Discipline – Peacemaker

Mystery – Heaven Can Wait

Mystery Jets – Hospital Radio

Fatal Fusion – Astral Flight

Ars Nova – Demon’s Forest 

Fatal Fusion – Broken Man

Sky Architect – Deep Chasm

Nick Beggs – The Night Porter

The Clash – London Calling (live)

Combination Head – Devonshire Crescent

Peter Gabriel – More Than This (Polyphonic Spree Mix)

Franz Ferdinand – Michael

Leap Day – March Under the Symbol