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As its name suggests, these albums are the combined output from Tzuke’s time with Chrysalis, and are made up of two from the studio, Shoot the Moon and Ritmo, and a third a live album composite of concerts at Hammersmith and Glastonbury. As a long time fan of Judie’s music (late ’70s onward) I was eagerly looking forward to reviewing these albums, so let’s get straight into it, beginning with Shoot the Moon.

Okay, stats first: there are eleven original tracks with three bonus tracks. There is a heavy reliance on the very ’80s drums and keys that also feature across a very broad swathe of pop and AOR from that era. In many respects, this somewhat overshadows the meanings of the songs, with Heaven Can Wait, Information, Beacon Hill and Don’t Let Me Sleep all being dominated by this soundscape. The redeeming tracks for this reviewer are Love on the Border, I’m Not A Loser, Now There Is No Love At All (one I don’t recall from earlier), Late Again, Liggers at Your Funeral, Water in Motion and the extremely short title track Shoot the Moon.

These are a good balance of Judie’s great ballad voice, and the more band driven ‘stompers’. Some influences come across in these tracks: Dean Friedman in Water in Motion and Elton John on one of the bonus tracks Run on Luck, unsurprising given that she started out with Rocket Records just a few years previously.

The background for the recordings is discussed in the set’s notes: “Shoot the Moon was recorded mainly at Rockfield Studios in Wales and was released in 1982. During the spring tour two sell-out shows at the Hammersmith Odeon (now The Carling Apollo) were recorded and later that year the acclaimed live album Roadnoise was released. Judie, Mike [Paxman] and Paul [Muggleton] wrote new songs and went to Mayfair Studios in London to record her fifth album, augmenting her stage band with a number of other musicians. The following year saw the release of the Ritmo album. Again she toured extensively but realising that she was not a priority act for Chrysalis and that they were not going to release the album in the States, she left Chrysalis for pastures new.”

Moving on to Ritmo, the next album from the studio. Good solid start with Jeannie No, where this time there is great clarity on the vocals, the ’80s staccato beat ticking along nicely with some nice keys and laid back bass, followed by She Don’t Live Here Any More, vocals once more to the fore, a pleasant guitar break interspersed with the ubiquitous drumbeat, and a few melodic percussive moments thrown in.

From here on in, the next four tracks are all a bit predictable, ‘shouty and stompy’ my notes reveal, with the drums getting in the way (for me anyway). Walk Don’t Walk then brings back some light and shade with Judie’s falsetto dominating, accompanied by flute, and a nod to Japan’s Tin Drum with some ethereal moments weaved in and around the bass and keyboards. Skipping quickly over Push Push, Pull Pull, another weak song dominated by a throwaway chorus, we reach the last of the original tracks, How Do I Feel?, which has a superb build from a quiet intro, the lyrics are repeated over and over, but this works well, one of the highlights of an average album.

Finally, Road Noise (The Official Bootleg) was set to play, and I sat back, looking forward to this live recording. From the off I was singularly disappointed with the overall sound; yes it was a ‘live bootleg’, yes it was 1982, yes the crowd were enjoying it, so perhaps the experience at the time was far stronger than the 38 year ‘lag’ suggests. For me there were very few highlight moments to pick out, probably I’m Not A Loser, and For You passing muster, as for the rest, it was a struggle to listen through some of the songs, and I would see this album being for completists only.

I feel guilty in putting this down in writing, but I feel that this release is not truly reflective of Judie Tzuke, the singer and artist who I have admired, seen several times and met over the last forty-plus years. There are many other albums that capture this magnificent talent, vocal range and purity far better, but hey, it’s all about ‘The choices you made’, and at £17.99 for a triple album set, it’s not going to make too much of a dent in the ‘home entertainment’ budget for most.

Finally, for those out there who only really know Stay With Me Till Dawn, in the same way that many folk see Kayleigh as Marillion’s finest hour, please, please take a listen to this superb lady and make your own judgement, the more you dig, the more gems you will unearth.


CD 1: Shoot the Moon
01. Heaven Can Wait
02. Love On The Border
03. Information
04. Beacon Hill
05. Don’t Let Me Sleep
06. I’m Not A Loser
07. Now There Is No Love At All
08. Late Again
09. Liggers At Your Funeral
10. Water In Motion
11. Shoot The Moon
~ Bonus tracks:
12. Sold A Rose
13. Run On Luck
14. I’m Not A Loser
15. How Do I Feel

Judie Tzuke – Vocals, Backing Vocals
Mike Paxman – Guitars
John “Rhino” Edwards – Bass
Bob Noble – Keyboards
Charlie Morgan – Drums, Percussion
Jeff Rich – Drums (track 14)
Paul Muggleton – Guitar
Andy Clark – Additional Keyboards
Don Snow – Additional Keyboards
The Dribble Brothers – Backing Vocals

CD 2: Road Noise (The Official Bootleg)
01. Heaven Can Wait
02. Chinatown
03. I’m Not A Loser
04. Information
05. You Are The Phoenix
06. The Flesh Is Weak
07. Sportscar
08. For You
09. Come Hell Or Waters High
10. Southern Smiles
11. Katiera Island
12. Love On The Border
13. Black Furs
14. City Of Swimming Pools
15. Bring The Rain
16. Sukarita
17. Stay With Me till Dawn
18. The Hunter

Judie Tzuke – Vocals, Backing Vocals
Mike Paxman – Guitars, Vocal
John “Rhino” Edwards – Bass
Bob Noble – Keyboards
Jeff Rich – Drums
Paul Muggleton – Guitar, Vocals, Percussion

CD 3: Ritmo
01. Jeannie No
02. She Don’t Live Here Any More
03. Shoot From The Heart
04. Face To Face
05. Another Country
06. Nighthawks
07. Walk Don’t Walk
08. Push Push, Pull Pull
09. How Do I Feel?
~ Bonus tracks
10. Jeannie No (7” version)
11. Jeannie No (12” version)

Judie Tzuke – Vocals, Backing Vocals
Mike Paxman – Guitars, Keyboards, Backing Vocals, Percussion
Ray Russell – Guitars
John “Rhino” Edwards – Bass
John Giblin – Bass
Don Snow – Keyboards, Backing Vocals
Bob Noble – Keyboards
Andy Clark – Keyboards
Paul Muggleton – Keyboards, Guitar, Backing Vocals, Percussion
Graham Jarvis – Drums
Andy Duncan – Drums
Morris Pert – Percussion
Roy White – Backing Vocals
Jaqi Robinson – Backing Vocals

Record Label: Cherry Red Records
Catalogue#: CDTRED807
Date of Release: 1st May 2020

Judie Tzuke – Website | Facebook | Twitter

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Fren is a band that seems to have come from out of nowhere with their debut album, Where Do You Want Ghosts To Reside. I’ve seen all manner of people mentioning the album on social media in glowing terms, so when I saw it appear for review for The Progressive Aspect, I put my hand up for it fairly swiftly. I wanted to see what all the fuss was about, and I admit I wasn’t entirely convinced the album would – or even could – live up to the hype. But this Polish and Ukrainian group clearly know their stuff. They’ve concocted an absolutely astounding melange of sounds from the past and present that manages to paradoxically sound like everything else and nothing else all at once. I can’t help but name bands I hear, and yet what I’ve heard doesn’t actually sound like those bands at all. Fren have somehow managed to not only sound unlike anyone else, but also not even really reside in any particular genre. Is post-jazz a thing? I’ve no idea, but that seems as good (or useless) a label as any to affix to Fren.

So, what do Fren sound like? Or, should that be, ‘What Do Fren Sound Like’ (since the band seem to have named their album as a statement, rather than the question it appears to be, an analogy for the way the music within is indisputably their own, rather than the influences it appears to draw on?). Well, the opening track, Twin Peaks, actually feels like an extended introductory passage rather than a number in its own right, but it builds beautifully and flies by. It’s almost five minutes in length but feels more like two, and I could easily wish it to go on for a further five minutes. It’s mournful and melancholic, yet somehow warm and comfortable, and wraps me up so cosily that I’m reluctant to have it depart. Every time I hear it I think Twin Peaks is probably my favourite track on the album, but it is quite deceiving, having lulled me into what I assumed was going to be an enjoyable, if sombre, spacey trip, somewhat reminiscent of pink and tangerine dreams called Floyd.

Instead, all preconceptions are thrown out the window within the opening notes of what is probably my favourite track on the album, Surge. Beginning with the sound of Jethro Tull being fed through a seed drill into furrows of King Crimson, throughout the piece I’m reminded of all manner of other bands, including Rush, Genesis and Black Sabbath. Fren appear to have been influenced by, and borrowed from, all manner of classic bands, and morphed them into something quite original and not at all derivative. Calling this track Surge may be an understatement. It’s a maelstrom of surges, as the various sounds cascade over, around and through each other in violent turmoil. And it’s beautiful.

Gorąca Linia is the shortest track, but has an enormous amount going on within its short time frame, including an almost Iron Maiden galloping guitar, a somewhat Mission:Impossible bass line, and some absolutely gorgeous keyboard playing that re-minds me a little of Kevin Moore-era Dream Theater. Again, like Surge, nothing really sounds like any of those bands, so much as hints shine through at odd moments that I find reminiscent of them. It’s over too quickly, and I’m left wondering why the band chose not to extend this piece a little more.

The following Pleonasm takes us into jazz territory, with some gorgeous piano. Part of me doesn’t want to keep making these comparisons, but another part can’t help doing so. There are times I’m reminded a little of Gentle Giant, King Crimson, Steven Wilson and Genesis. It’s all bookended by that piano, and the final notes are sublime. However, if Pleonasm is the beauty, then Heavy Matter may just be the beast. The track plays around an almost mechanical descending tune, and jams all over and around it, before a particularly Floydian guitar comes in to rescue it from the depths, and have it soaring instead. The keys, too, could be Pink.

The bluesy opening to final number Time To Take Stones Away could also be compared to Floyd, as we are welcomed back to a machine like dirge. Two minutes in, and the tone changes completely as piano and bass almost seem to race each other with some urgency to find the next section. There’s a sense of anxiousness, but not darkness. The music almost fades out completely, before coming back sounding more assured, and with no need to rush. Rather than crescendo, the band plays a steady and repetitive, simple and minimalist guitar line with subdued percussion before the climax finally comes. The track ends as it began, but far more confidently. If the beginning passages seemed a mix of hope and apprehension, there is a sense of strength and self-assurance by the end.

Overall, this album provides a compact package of lush and rich atmospheric soundscapes that like the ducks in Itchycoo Park come out to groove about, be nice, and have fun in the sun. It’s a perfect summer album, and I will definitely be joining those throwing accolades around on social media. This is an album that deserves to be heard, and I’ll be doing my best to help get it out there.

01. Twin Peaks (4:41)
02. Surge (9:43)
03. Goraca Linia (2:59)
04. Pleonasm (12:02)
05. Heavy Matter (6:23)
06. Time To Take Stones Away (8:41)

Total Time – 44:29

Oskar Cenkier – Piano, Organ, Synthesizers, Mellotron
Michał Chalota – Guitar
Andrew Shamanov – Bass Guitar, Synthesizer
Oleksii Fedoriv – Drums

Record Label – Independent
Country of Origin – Poland/Ukraine
Date of Release – 6th March 2020

Fren – Website | Facebook | Bandcamp | YouTube

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Latest Prog News from across the progressive music spectrum & updated throughout June 2020.

01/06/2020: Dukes of the Orient to release New Album Freakshow

Formed in 2017 by English vocalist/guitarist John Payne and American keyboard player Erik Norlander, the Prog AOR band Dukes Of The Orient will release their second studio album, Freakshow, in August 2020.

Working on this album has been a very cathartic experience,” states Payne. “The addition of Alex Garcia [guitar] and Frank Klepacki [drums] was a positive move for a more signature, cohesive sound. As with the previous album, we continue our rich analog keyboard approach layered with guitars by myself and Alex. Mixed and recorded on a traditional board with vintage outboard, we wanted to create an echo to the past and write songs with strong melodic content.

Norlander comments: “‘Freakshow’ is much more focused both in concept and in sound as it was written and recorded in a single year with a tight group of musicians. Our debut album came out fantastically, but it was recorded over the course of a decade with many different contributing musicians, and in many ways it sounds like that. ‘Freakshow’ has the cohesiveness of vision where the same five musicians performed all the material that was written expressly for this album. I also think our writing on this album is more focused for the same reasons. After working together for so many years, I can write a vocal melody for John, he can write a keyboard part for me, and the parts just work right out of the gate.

The origins of Dukes Of The Orient lay in 2007 with ASIA featuring John Payne, a band that continued after ASIA keyboardist Geoff Downes had left in order to re-form the original 1982 lineup. Payne recruited Norlander for tour dates in North America, thereby sowing the initial seeds for their partnership. Eventually, ASIA featuring John Payne would record Seasons Will Change, which was released as a video in 2013 and eventually found its way onto the debut album by Dukes Of The Orient.

Following the death of original ASIA vocalist John Wetton in 2017, Payne and Norlander decided that other recordings they had been working on should instead give birth to a new band, out of respect for Wetton and also for clarity with the Downes-led ASIA. However, Dukes Of The Orient are the legitimate successors of John Payne’s Asia.

Track List
1 The Dukes Return
2 The Ice Is Thin
3 Freakshow
4 The Monitors
5 Man Of Machine
6 The Last Time Traveller
7 A Quest For Knowledge
8 The Great Brass Steam Engine
9 When Ravens Cry
10 Until Then

SOURCE: Frontiers Music

Keep up to date with the TPA UK Gig Guide

01/06/2020: Voyager to Re-issue Ghost Mile on Vinyl Alongside Bonus Live Tracks

Australian band Voyager are now announcing the re-issue of their album Ghost Mile (2017), which will be released on 10th via Season of Mist. The album will be pressed on vinyl for the very first time.

The band comment on the release: “What a Wonderful Day. Whilst we’re all feeling a bit Disconnected, why don’t we take a walk down To The Riverside and take in the Fragile Serene? This will prepare ourselves for the limited edition vinyl pressing of Ghost Mile, which goes on sale this Wednesday! This Gentle Earth is recovering from a huge ordeal, and we want to extend a Lifeline during this time. Misery is Only Company, and soon the darkness will give way to Ascension playing through your speakers on July 10th. So As the City Takes the Night on May 27th, head to our Bandcamp or to Season of Mist’s online store to claim your copy.

The digipak version of Ghost Mile will contain three bonus tracks which were recorded during the Voyager show at ProgPower in 2017. One of the bonus tracks is now available via the band’s YouTube channel or you can watch above.

Voyager have also announced rescheduled dates for their Australian headline tour, which will now happen in February 2021. The full list of newly confirmed dates can be found below.

Voyager Tour
12 Feb 21 Perth (AU) Badlands
13 Feb 21 Brisbane (AU) The Zoo
19 Feb 21 Adelaide (AU) Jive
20 Feb 21 Melbourne (AU) Stay Gold
26 Feb 21 Sydney (AU) Crowbar
27 Feb 21 Canberra (AU) The Basement

Vocalist Danny comments on the tour: “You know what helps build something more than waiting? Waiting some more! So just as we were super excited to tour “Colours in the Sun” around Australia in May 2020, we are going to be at least twice as excited to bring it to you in 2021. We are going to be raring to burn off those isolation pounds on stage and bring you a smorgasbord of pent up Voyagerisms; more than ever, live music will have a whole new meaning and I can’t wait to see everyone’s smiles, some new 80s hairdos and some inflatable keytars – Runaway until 2021 Australia, see you soon(ish).”

SOURCE: Incendia Music

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UK Gig Guide

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Visit the TPA Gig Guide for the UK’s most comprehensive prog gig listing.

Edition 212 of THE PROG MILL for Progzilla Radio – first broadcast 31 May 2020, is now also available to stream on demand or download as a mp3 file. Two hours of superb melodic and symphonic progressive rock. Also this month, Sue Smith from The Progressive Aspect reviews the latest album by Stuckfish, and you can test your knowledge of the progressive world in our fun quick fire quix “How Proggy Are You?!”

Here’s This Week’s Playlist

1 IQ – Frequency (Frequency)
2 Alcantara – After The Flood (Solitaire)
3 Sintonia Distorta – La Rivincita di Orfeo (A Piedi Nudi Sull’Arcobaleno)
4 Lynn Stokes & Sol Surfers – Where Have You Gone (Terra Nocturne)
5 Roman Odoj – One of You (Fiasko)
6 The Outer Sonics – Fear (Dance a Little Light)
7 Moron Police – Isnt It Easy (A Boat on the Sea)
8 Stuckfish – The Bridge (That Spans The Edge of Time) (The Watcher)
9 Dennis DeYoung – East of Midnight (26 East Volume One)
10 KBB – Desert of Desires (Lost and Found)
11 Adam Holzman & Randy McStine – Here Comes The Flood (from the Prog at Home online concert)
12 Ambrosia – I Wanna Know (Somewhere I’ve Never Travelled)
13 Hatfield & The North – Share It (The Rotters Club)

You can hear The Prog Mill on Progzilla Radio at these times every week ( – via the tune in and other internet radio apps and platforms – or ask your smart speaker to “Play Radio Progzilla on Tune-In”) :

Sundays 10pm – Midnight UK (2100UTC) – main broadcast
Tuesdays 0300-0500 UK (0200UTC) – For North America – Mon 7pm Pacific/10pm Eastern
Tuesdays 2300-0100UK (2200 UTC) – 1500 Pacific/1800 Eastern
Saturdays 6-8pm UK (1700 UTC) – Family friendly Saturday evening repeat

Your melodic and symphonic progressive rock music suggestions for the show are very welcome. Just email, or message via twitter @shaunontheair or

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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.

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

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)

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

Eternal Wanderers – Website | Facebook | Bandcamp

This news story was originally published here:

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.

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

Anthony Phillips – Acoustic & Electric Guitars, Mandolin, Keyboards

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

Anthony Phillips – Website | Facebook

– 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:

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.

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

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)

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

Roman Spektor – Facebook | Bandcamp | YouTube

This news story was originally published here:

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!

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)

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

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

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

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

This news story was originally published here:

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.

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

Edgar Froese – All Instrumentation

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

Edgar Froese – Website | Info at Cherry Red Records