News

This news story was originally published here: https://theprogressiveaspect.net/blog/2020/08/03/kimmo-porsti-wayfarer/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=kimmo-porsti-wayfarer

Wayfarer is the second solo album by the Finnish drummer, multi-instrumentalist and producer Kimmo Pörsti, perhaps best known as part of The Samurai of Prog project. So my initial thoughts, glancing through the list of musicians, which also includes bassist Marco Bernard along with a few regulars from the project was – why is this not a TSoP release?

The broader spectrum of music is the answer and Kimmo’s involvement in Paidarion and Mist Season, apparent across Wayfarer. The opening tracks Arrival and Heaven’s Gate, however, are steeped in the traditions of TSoP. The latter, featuring Hitomi Iriyama on violin, reminds us that the third element of the Samurais, Steve Unruh, is missing from this release, this said the haunting Heaven’s Gate retains many of trademarks of TSoP. Heaven’s Gate, written and orchestrated by keyboardist Jose Manuel Medina, himself no stranger to the TSoP camp, opens with reference to his Spanish heritage and a Bolero styled rhythm. Throughout, flute, violin and synths carry the top lines, with Dave Bainbridge adding some fine Latimer-styled guitar.

We remain rooted in symphonic progressive mould for Creer, Crecer (Believe, Grow), penned by keys man Jaime Rosas and vocalist Rodrigo Godoy and previously appearing on the ambitious Colossus Project’s
Decameron: Ten Days In 100 Novellas – Part II. The version here features new drum and bass guitar tracks.

Rounding off the opening section of the album is the jaunty Connection Lost, full of Celtic folky merriment with Rafael Pacha on all manner of stringed instruments, flute, whistles and with Kimmo Pörsti on percussion.

Up to this point, with perhaps the exception of Connection Lost, it could well have constituted a TSoP release, not that that’s a bad thing, just an observation, however the introduction of vocalist Jenny Darren on Morning Mist shifts the emphasis towards Paidarion. Accompanied by lilting flute, Jenny weaves the delicately intoned melody. With the music written and performed by Kimmo, lyrics by Pirkko Pörsti, flute by Hanna Pörsti, the album now takes ownership of the ‘solo’ album title.

Jenny Darren returns for the title track, however – and nothing to do with Jenny’s vocal, I hasten to add – this gentle ballad did very little for me I’m afraid. The same cannot be said of the bluesy rocker Icy Storm. More suited to Jenny Darren’s rockier tones and one of the stand out tracks on Wayfarer, Icy Storm blends folky flute and violin set against Kari Riihimäki melodic guitar.

The flavour of the album changes with the uptempo blast Thunkit, vintage keyboards and synth lines intermingle with harmonised guitar. Nice to see Kimmo cutting loose, and a great solo section courtesy, once again, from Dave Bainbridge. Another great instrumental is the jazzy Witch Watch, which took me back to Kimmo Pörsti’s days with Mist Season, here with some impressive bass, keys and guitar from Jari Riitala, and topping it all off Marek Arnold’s tasteful soprano sax. Finally, mention for the bouncy Heavy Winter, featuring the themic guitar Kari Riihimäki.

As might be expected, references to Kimmo Pörsti’s involvement with The Samurai of Prog, Paidarion and Mist Season are plentiful across Wayfarer and those familiar with those projects will find much to enjoy here. For readers not so familiar, then this album could well serve as a snapshot of what music lies within those band’s albums, along with being an enjoyable listen in its own right.

As with The Samurai of Prog releases, the artwork for Wayfarer is lavish, although Kimmo Pörsti has not called upon Ed Unisky on this occasion, but graphic artist Nele Diel. The impressive artwork throughout not only compliments the music, but adds an extra dimension to the release.

TRACK LISTING
01. Arrival (3:00)
02. Heaven’s Gate (6:15)
03. Creer, Crecer (Believe, Grow) (4:55)
04. Connection Lost (5:29)
05. Morning Mist (4:42)
06. Thunkit (6:22)
07. Wayfarer (4:54)
08. Cruz Del Sur (Southern Cross) (10:19)
09. Witch Watch (6:51)
10. This Day Is Yours (5:51)
11. Heavy Winter (3:29)
12. Icy Storm (5:28)
13. Mika (5:18)

Total Time – 72:53

MUSICIANS
Kimmo Pörsti – Drums, Percussion, Bass, Keyboards, Acoustic Guitar
~ with:
Marek Arnold – Saxophone (tracks 9 & 10), Keyboards (track 10)
Dave Bainbridge – Guitars (tracks 2 & 6), Keyboards (track 6)
Marco Bernard – Bass (tracks 2,3,8 & 10)
Carmine Capasso – Guitars (track 5)
Jenny Darren – Vocals (tracks 5,7 & 12)
Rodrigo Godoy – Vocals, Guitars (tracks 3 & 8), Vocals, Percussion (track 8)
Hitomi Iriyama – Violin (tracks 2 & 12)
Olli Jaakkola – Flute (tracks 2,7 & 13)
Steve Mauk – Keyboards (track 10)
Kev Moore – Vocals (track 10)
Jose Manuel Medina – Keyboards, Orchestrations (track 2)
Rafael Pacha – Guitars (tracks 4,5,7 & 10), Whistles, Recorders (tracks 4 & 5), Percussion (track 4) Zither (track 5)
Otso Pakarinen – Keyboards (tracks 1 & 10)
Hanna Pörsti – Flute (tracks 5 & 12)
J-P Rantanen – Keyboards (track 11)
Kari Riihimäki – Guitars (tracks 11 & 12)
Jari Riitala – Guitars, Keyboards, Bass (tracks 6 & 9)
Jaime Rosas – Keyboards (tracks 3 & 8)
Jan-Olof Strandberg – Bass (tracks 7 & 11)

ADDITIONAL INFO
Record Label: Seacrest Oy
Catalogue#: Seacrest Oy – SCR-1025
Country of Origin: Finland
Date of Release: 24th April 2020

LINKS
Kimmo Pörsti – Facebook | TSoP Facebook | Paidarion Facebook

The Ancient One is pleased to say that the show from PB4X 2019, from late 2019, is now available as a podcast. At the time it was recorded, featuring the bands appearing at the annual Prog Before Xmas gig in the Drygate Brewery in Glasgow, it was not uploaded as a podcast due to some of the music not yet released by 1 of the bands. The album containing this music is now available, hence the chance to put the show online.

This show features the bands: Jennifer Clarke Band, Grand Tour (replaced on the gig by Long Earth), Abel Ganz and Wobbler.

Playlist

1 Greenslade – Spirit Of The Dance (Excerpt from the Recollections CD)
2 Jennifer Clark Band – Biography Part 1
3 Jennifer Clark Band – Ascan
4 Jennifer Clark Band – EVA
5 Jennifer Clark Band – Ascendent
6 Jennifer Clark Band – Biography Part 2
7 Jennifer Clark Band – Re-Entry
8 Jennifer Clark Band – Heliosphere
9 Jennifer Clark Band – Biography Part 3
10 Grand Tour – Time Runs Out (Heavy On The Beach)
11 Grand Tour – On The Radio (Heavy On The Beach)
12 Hew Montgomery – Biography
13 Grand Tour – Shadow Walking (Clocks That Tick But Never Talk)
14 Grand Tour – Game Over ( Clocks That Tick But Never Talk)
15 Abel Ganz – Spring (Abel Ganz)
16 Abel Ganz – Portion Of Noodles (Abel Ganz)
17 Abel Ganz – Thank You (Abel Ganz)
18 Mick Macfarlane (Abel Ganz) – Q and A Part 1
19 Abel Ganz – One Small Soul (The Life of the Honey Bee and Other Moments of Clarity)
20 Mick Macfarlane – Q and A Part 2
21 Abel Ganz – Summerlong (The Life Of The Honey Bee and Other Moments Of Clarity)
22 Mick Macfarlane – Q and A Part 3
23 Wobbler – The First Years/Hinterland Info
24 Wobbler – Rubato Industry (Hinterland)
25 Wobbler – Afterglow Info
26 Wobbler – In Taberna (Afterglow)
27 Wobbler – Andreas Joining/Rites at Dawn
28 Wobbler – This Past Present (Rites At Dawn)
29 Wobbler – New Guitarist/Silence To Something
30 Wobbler – Foxlight (Silence To Something)
31 Wobbler – New Album Info
32 Greenslade – Joie De Vivre (Excerpt from the Recollections CD)

Edition 221 of THE PROG MILL – (441 in total) first broadcast on Progzilla Radio 2 August 2020, is now also ready to listen to anytime or download. Two hours of superb melodic & symphonic progressive rock. Also this week, the latest review from The Progressive Aspect looks at the latest album’U’ by The Enid, and there’s a chance to test your knowledge of progressive rock in our fun quick fire quiz ‘How Proggy Are You?!’

Here’s This Week’s Playlist

1 Apogee – Interpretations (Endurance of the Obsolete)
2 Logos – Zaini di Elio (Sadako e Le Mille Gru Di Carta)
3 Phog – In The Distance (This World)
4 Fatal Fusion – Beneath the Sky (Dissonant Minds)
5 Ars Pro Vita – God Is Not Here Pt 1 (Peace)
6 Abraham Music Project – One Day at a Time (First The Honesty, Then The Promise)
7 The Enid – In The Regions of the Winter Star (U)
8 Finch – Colossus Parts 1 and 2 (Glory of the Inner Force)
9 IZZ- Into The Sun (Half Life)
10 McStine & Minneman – Your Offences (McStine & Minneman)
11 Picasso’s Dream – Serenity (Single)
12 Days Between Stations – Another Day (Giants)
13 Pink Floyd – Stay (Obscured by Clouds)
14 Egg – I Will Be Absorbed (Egg)
15 The Kaos Collective – Lunar Phase (Equinox)

You can hear The Prog Mill on Progzilla Radio at these times every week (www.progzilla.com/listen – 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 shaun@progzilla.com, or message via twitter @shaunontheair or facebook.com/theprogmill

 

To celebrate the release of their new album, Making Friends With The Universe, the These Curious Thoughts chaps, Sean and Jim, recorded some silliness for us. Not only that, but by the magic of audio fiddling about, we seamlessly inserted several tracks from the album into their conversation. As if by magic. So sit back, relax, or if you’re at the gym go for the burn, etc., and enjoy listening to ‘These 4 Walls’, ‘Targets of Your Ridicule’ and ‘Speak Your Mind’ from the new These Curious Thoughts album. Available at all good record stores, and some bad ones too, no doubt.

This news story was originally published here: https://theprogressiveaspect.net/blog/2020/08/02/asian-death-crustacean-baikal/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=asian-death-crustacean-baikal

London combo Asian Death Crustacean, if I’ve read correctly, sprang from the joining of members from jazz fusion and black metal bands. Now black jazz, or jazz noir, or whatever label it goes by these days, does exist, but I’ve never heard it in this form. And what form! Baikal is a single continuous 45 minute composition (broken into six movements, for those who baulk at the concept of such a long-form piece), which is all over the place musically, yet retains a uniformity and cohesion that many other long instrumental pieces lack. Conversely, it manages to avoid repetition and redundancy, which are easy traps to fall into, when attempting to keep such a long-form piece uniform and cohesive.

Overall, I suspect this will be labelled post rock, but there are plenty of jazzy interludes and blast beats to remind any listener of the origins of the band. At its loudest, there are momentous breakdowns, and earth-shattering riffs. The drums steamroll through your brain, and the bass is stomach-shakingly deep. And yet, there are also sections so delicate as to be almost ambient. There’s tight and technical playing, and far more spontaneous and improvised sounding jazzy breaks. The music is precise, yet organic. Honestly, there’s so much going on in just one movement, let alone the whole 45-minute piece, that it’s impossible to become bored or complacent.

I have to give special mention to James Kay, because for me his drums make the album. They are the backbone of it all, often highlighted by being the sole instrument, or one of just two almost ever-present, and holding the whole piece together. The broad template he brings to the band is amazing, from the obvious extreme metal tropes (like the aforementioned blast beats), to the jazzier grooves. But what’s really neat about the drumming is Kay’s use of space. His judgement of frequency and intensity is impeccable, and the space he leaves is as important as any fill. I absolutely love the drums on Baikal!

Of course, that’s not to take away from the other musicians, and to be fair to them, they all have that same grasp of the importance of space. There are crescendos and climaxes galore, but there are also as many brilliant quieter passages. Asian Death Crustacean are equally adept at calm as they are at chaos. The band clearly know absence can be as important as presence, and the care taken in making these more ambient passages as impactful as the heavier sections is obvious. One of my favourite parts of Baikal straddles Parts III and IV, where some of the loudest and some of the quietest passages of the piece meet. It’s so expertly done, and the waves of sound (which swell without cresting) within Part IV simply takes my breath away.

The following Part V must surely be the heaviest movement of Baikal, though – erupting and thundering out of Part IV with a brutality unmatched elsewhere in the piece. Like any storm, this cannot last – and Part V subsides. Although it returns briefly to a reprise of the heavier passage, it is not with the same intensity. It leads beautifully into the final movement, which provides the calm after the storm, and the ambient/electronic nature of Part VI makes it another favourite moment on the album.

Given the length of the composition, I assume there must have been some predetermined structure, and (as aforementioned) the arrangements and dynamics generally sound quite tight. And yet, there still seems a spontaneity and a sense of free flow leading me to believe that as much as most of Baikal is pre-composed, some was still improvised. I would be interested to know how the album was recorded, as I suspect it wasn’t within the six movements. The track divisions, if not wholly random, do seem a little arbitrary. You could just as easily segment the piece in two, or in eight or twelve movements. To listen to the movements separately, in my opinion, is as fruitless as attempting to listen to the separate “movements” of The Mars Volta’s Cassandra Gemini.

The album is an exercise in co-existence. Individual tracks are meaningless to me. Baikal is a single, continuous 45-minute composition, designed to be listened to as such. And it’s absolutely fantastic. Kudos for the name of the band, because if they didn’t have such a ridiculous moniker I’d never have taken this album on for review.

TRACK LISTING
01. Baikal, Part I (6:36)
02. Baikal, Part II (7:33)
03. Baikal, Part III (8:20)
04. Baikal, Part IV (5:51)
05. Baikal, Part V (10:39)
06. Baikal, Part VI (4:33)

Total Time – 43:36

MUSICIANS
Dan Peacock – Guitars, Sound Design, Pre-Production
George Bunting – Bass Guitar, Pre-Production
Rob Doull – Guitars
James Kay – Drums
~ with:
Michael Crean – Violin
Dave Bush – Saxophone

ADDITIONAL INFO
Record Label: Independent
Country of Origin: U.K.
Date of Release: 26th June 2020

LINKS
Asian Death Crustacean – Facebook | Bandcamp | YouTube

Hello Operator – King Solomon

Cult of Wedge – English Wizard

Cardiacs – Dirty Boy

Fish- Garden of Remembrance 

Abel Ganz – The Life of the Honey Bee, etc, buzzy buzz

Big Big Big Big Big Train Train – Expecting Snow

Simple Minds – See The Lights (12” version)

These Curious Thoughts – These 4 Walls

The Communards – You Are My World (12” Remix)

The Stranglers – Toiler on the Sea

Fatal Fusion – Beneath the Skydome

The Nice – America/2nd Amendment

This news story was originally published here: https://theprogressiveaspect.net/blog/2020/08/01/andy-tillison-the-tangent-2/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=andy-tillison-the-tangent-2

We all know many people have suffered hardships during lockdown. They range from the trivial, such as the wide variety of home-made comedy haircuts, to the tragically serious – people who have lost their lives, their jobs and their mental well-being.

But some have been lucky, and one of those is The Tangent founder, leader and creative driving force Andy Tillison. Surrounded by the North Yorkshire countryside, supported by a loving partner and with a house full of musical instruments and studio equipment, he has used his time well, recording and releasing his band’s eleventh studio album, Auto Reconnaissance.

The album is unashamedly prog, gleefully romping through several musical genres, with its centrepiece a 28-minute epic about Brexit and the current state of Englishness. As usual it is a showcase for Tillison’s unpretentious but pointed lyrics – encompassing political discourse, personal and national nostalgia and his trademark self-effacing humour – his astonishing keyboard skills and the jaw-dropping musical chops of his collaborators Jonas Reingold, Luke Machin, Theo Travis and Steve Roberts.

In an interview with Kevan Furbank – conducted, of course, with appropriate social distancing – Andy talks about the new album and reveals for the first time one of the personal challenges he has had to confront and conquer…


Hi Andy, how are you? To quote the opening track on your new album, how have you coped with “Life on Hold”?

It has been special. I have been – for the first time in a long time – lucky. I moved out to a remote area a year before, I finished my album, my partner can work from home and my elderly and very ill parents passed away just in time to have not had to live through this. The weather has been forgiving and we’ve seen many beautiful and serene sights here. But this is luck, and I am very concerned for many of my family and friends who did not have this experience.

Had you started the album before lockdown? Is it influenced at all by a sense of isolation or lack of human contact outside of your bubble?

The album was composed lyrically before the word coronavirus had entered our vocabulary. I had the chance to modify but decided not to, in that all Tangent albums are screenshots of life at the moment I wrote them. The autumn of 2019 was a period which needed covering in my music, and had I pushed that out to add more contemporary themes, I think I’d have spoiled it and never returned to cover it in the same way.

How did you record the album during lockdown? We all know technology allows any number of people to contribute their parts from all over the world, but I got the impression from your Facebook posts that the rest of the band did their bits at your house. Did you disinfect everything and observe two metres social distancing?

The Tangent started off as this band who’d never even met back in 2003, making an album between different countries before there was even broadband. In the past few albums I’ve tried to get a bit more “meeting up” going on, and yes, everything except guitars and bass were recorded here in Yorkshire this time. Steve (drums) and Theo (sax & flute) completed their parts here in Yorkshire by early February and the world was still normal then. Coronavirus was a news story from lands afar and we obviously discussed it, but nope, it was still the old normal back then.

Jonas (bass) did his bits in Austria before setting off around the world with Steve Hackett and as the virus hit and lockdown came, Luke (guitar) and I settled into recording production and mixing at a distance, which is what we’d already planned. We got lucky here – amazing for a band historically plagued with bad luck to have managed to create an album during this period without having to re-arrange anything. The chaos for some of the members of the band was nowhere near as smooth. Jonas, Theo, Luke and Steve had many problems with other projects, and many of these presented them with serious financial issues.

You have worked with pretty much the same group of collaborators for the last four albums. What does that mean in terms of communicating what you want? And how much have they influenced the sound and structure of the final recordings?

Yeah. I love the make-up of the current band, and it has been really good to have arrived at something approaching stability after so many years. Auto Reconnaissance is the first Tangent album ever to feature the same line-up as its predecessor, so that’s a red letter day for sure.

I am probably the least experienced, least musically-educated and least technical member of the group. I do not have a 100% ready-drawn image of what I want. I have some songs, a flavour I want to achieve, and the musicians in the band work together to make that happen. Nobody is presented with parts and the words “play this”, unless there is a very specific melody that needs to be done, and of course musicians of this calibre spot that before I need to say anything anyway. For example, I always provide Luke with an overview of the song with some of my own guitar ideas on it. Luke will listen to those but he will dispense with them all and do something that is his own and yet manages to keep the flavour of the piece.

It’s like a guy who designs a sports car. He builds the sports car, but when it comes to seeing what it can do, he hires Lewis Hamilton and a racetrack, doesn’t nip round the block to get some eggs.

Why Auto Reconnaissance? There’s a military connotation there but it says “self-recognition” to me. Does it mean this is a more introspective album than some of its predecessors?

Well, your question answers itself. By Auto Reconnaissance I do indeed mean “self-observation” (that’s my translation of the French title). And it does mean that it’s more introspective. But that does not always mean looking at ME as in Andy Tillison – the song Lie Back and Think of England is about the struggle over the past three years as the country I live in myself made decisions on the identity its people felt comfortable with. That period of UK history was very introspective, navel gazing if you like, and exceedingly self-observational.

I realise that some folks may feel there’s a military vibe there, but that’s only because the military started using the same French word for “observation” that I did. And of course, the more we can demilitarise words, the better!. Let’s start with this one. Here.

Lie Back… is your second Brexit song after A Few Steps Down the Wrong Road from 2017’s The Slow Rust of Forgotten Machinery, but it seems to be more in sorrow than anger this time.

Yes, Lie Back… is a very different beast from A Few Steps…. It is a more considered and reflective view. In fact, it’s not really about Brexit per se, it’s about us and how we all behaved during and notably after the event and how this massive wedge was driven between the two previously unseen camps in Britain at the time.

And my God! We really did behave badly. Within months we’d degenerated into a nation of name-calling playground bullies, whether we were shouting “snowflake”, “remoaner”, “Brextremist”, “racist”, “thick bastards who don’t deserve the vote” and “hang the traitors” at each other – an atmosphere more akin to pre-war Yugoslavia than lovely safe, slightly dog-eared Blighty that we all grew up in and loved.

I lost friends over Brexit. I said horrible things about people over it. I obsessed over it. I STILL think we made the wrong decision, but we MADE the decision and we writhed and squirmed and tried to change the decision. But we were out-gunned, out-played and out-manoeuvred, and my side of the argument dismally failed to demonstrate any of the good and positive reasons for remaining part of the EU, preferring rather to issue dire warnings of consequences and threaten a people who are historically immune to this type of address.

Backed up with over generalised accusations of racism, insults to one another and dodgy dealings, Brexit was the gateway for our country to the post-truth world in which tit-for-tat ready-made answers became the norm and everything, no matter how provable, became up for debate.

And yet this country is just so wonderful. I love the place and the people so much I can’t become part of the name calling and fighting. I want it to stop, big time. And looking at the countryside of England, the bare bones of what we have here can provide for us, water us, let us live our lives until humanity is no more and these hills will still be here.

Brexit and the coronavirus pandemic WILL both cause us many problems for years to come. There will be many, many ideas and philosophies that are put forward for how we can do this, but for me, it’s just magnificently obvious. Number ONE item on the “to do” list is ‘forgive each other’. Then we’ll actually be able to get on with what we need to do. And if that’s colossally naive, that’s my middle name.

In Jinxed in Jersey you depict yourself as a “fish out of water”, the Yorkshire lad in New Jersey, the wide-eyed innocent in the big city. You’ve done this before, in Lost in London for example. Is this a rural Yorkshire thing, of being both repulsed and fascinated by the big metropolis?

I am indeed a bit of a country bumpkin, but a well-travelled one. Yorkshire is a country within a country – so large for Britain that just the North Yorkshire part, 97 percent rural, is the biggest county in the UK on its own, without West, South or East Riding added. I live in such a wild place that walking on pavements and other manufactured surfaces now feels slightly odd. I have lived my life in towns and villages where you get to know most people, and where open countryside is just a walk away. At present, all I do is open the door and walk out into it.

I live in one of the highest and consequently harshest weather communities in the UK. This year we had snow in May and hailstorms in June. It’s the best place I’ve ever lived, and the mobile phones don’t work. The nearest shop is three miles away down a one in six hill that is often blocked by snow.

Andy Tillison by Sally Collyer

So yeah, metropolii are fascinating, terrifying and, well, I have adventures in them. Lots of city folks come to the countryside for recreation and adventure – for me it’s the other way around. I have a slight problem in my life in that I have a sort of GPS in my head – dump me anywhere you like and I’ll find my way home without electronics or taxis. So getting lost in New Jersey was fantastic. I was double-lost because I thought I was heading for New York. I had a great day, met people who I should never have met in places I should never have gone to.

You seem very happy to take the gentle Michael out of yourself in this song – would you agree that too many prog bands take themselves too damn seriously?

Yes. Prog bands deffo take themselves WAY too seriously. Well, to say “prog bands” is unfair, because there are rafts of humour sprinkled through prog whether it’s ELP’s pantomime humour or the way-out genius of Gong, the characters and worlds of the 1970s Genesis band and many more examples – notably in the Canterbury and Zappa departments. I think it’s pretty true to say that after 1979 incidences of humour in Prog have definitely gone down. Not many big laughs in IQ, Marillion, etc, hardly the trace of a smile with Steve Wilson’s stuff, either with PT or on his own.

When there is humour it’s often in playful instrumental work as The Flower Kings often do in a kind of Zappa-like way. I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that the subsequent waves of prog have in many cases ditched jazz as a fundamental building block, although many of the artists use it as an occasional flavour, the stuff isn’t built on it the way Yes used to build from it. A lot of post-1970s prog has tended to concentrate on the “majestic” and almost “processional” kind of stuff that you’d find scattered around in Yes, Genesis, Camel and Pink Floyd, etc., but without enough rock and roll, counterpoint, jazz and lunacy which all those bands had a-plenty in their early years. It’s like we’ve distilled the fun out of it in a LOT of (but by no means all) cases.

My youngest daughter says progressive rock sounds like a wasp has got into the studio and everyone’s trying to hit it with their instruments.

Good description. I remember the NME saying that Yes’s version of America was like putting a firecracker up a rhino’s bum. You can tell your daughter that I will name a track on my next solo album after her quote.

I’ve had Tourette Syndrome since I was a kid and I have to bite my lip on trains because I often just shout “WASP!”. It’s such fun when it happens – for me, not for everyone else so I try to keep it from happening of course. It seems to work like this: I say random words loudly, because at root, Tourette’s is a vocal tick which can make you sound like a loony just making a guttural noise. So you cover it up with a word. That word can often be something like “c**t” and, although that’s not a nice thing to be shouting, it makes you sound like a nutter rather than a wild animal. I am fortunate that I can add another layer of words (often animals) that I just shout out like moose, bat, otter and wasp. I am aware of another sufferer who’s biggest problem tick is “I’ve got loads of gay porn at home”.

Has it got better or worse as you have got older? Is it worse when you are under stress?

Yes. I am able to control mine, though uncomfortable doing so, so if the Queen invites me to a garden party I won’t have an episode. At present I have some bizarre ticks (they come and go) – one is “bell” and one of my most bizarre is “Meltis Newberry Fruits”, a ’70s Christmas confectionery gift you would give to your gran. It’s part of being me. It’s quite fun for me, but a lot of people suffer from it big time. Big Brother was the key moment when all this was lifted – they had a Tourette’s sufferer who did more to explain this than anyone else.

One of the things I really like about The Tangent is your willingness to mix up genres into a rich musical soup. The Tower of Babel is fun and funky, Jinxed mixes cool Steely Dan jazz with urban hip-hop, Life on Hold is a glorious pop-prog song with some lovely throwback Hammond organ sounds. Then there’s Under Your Spell, a beautiful love song with a touch of soul, some lovely guitar work from Luke and very sensitive sax from Theo.

You know, it’s just a love song for my partner Sally. It’s arrived very late, and of course prog bands don’t usually do out and out love songs in a soul style. Why should she not get a lovely song for her just because I’m better known for doing off-the-wall instrumentals and political rants, and why should I not write that song and have the chance to set it among other pieces that mean a lot to me?

It was a song I REAALLLY wanted to write, to be special to her and myself, and I wanted it to be good enough to have made number one when songs like that still did. It would have. Six weeks at the top in ‘78 I reckon, no debate. We’d have been on Top of the Pops. I do like that it’s a mature love song, and the 11 years we’ve been together means it’s not just some schoolboy crush or one night stand thing. Perhaps the excitement of such scenarios is therefore lacking, but it’s honest, felt and I think, natural.

Any hopes of playing live once lockdown rules allow it? Am I right in thinking the last time was the Tangekanic tour? Was the experience good enough to make you want to repeat it?

I have no plans to leave the square mile in which I live for a good while yet. The Tangent is not a gigging band and has only toured occasionally over the years. I don’t like being a gigging musician all the time, I do LOVE to play live, but it’s not a burning passion like it is with many. I’m a composer and lyricist first and writing the albums is the main joy I have. I know that after two weeks touring I’m feeling pretty jaded by playing the same thing again and again. Of course, we’ll play live again and I look forward to it wholeheartedly.

Anything else you want to say that you think I’ve missed?

I honestly think everyone will have had enough of me now!


Auto Reconnaissance is out on 21st August on the InsideOut label, and you can read Kevan’s review of it HERE.


LINKS
The Tangent – Website | Facebook

This news story was originally published here: https://theprogressiveaspect.net/blog/2020/08/01/the-tangent-auto-reconnaissance/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=the-tangent-auto-reconnaissance

The Tangent have been going through a purple patch of late. Pretty much every album since 2013’s Le Sacre du Travail has hit the spot so far as critics and fans are concerned, with the most recent couple of releases getting rave reviews. It seems the band’s creative driving force, Andy Tillison, has found his musical voice – and even his singing voice, which is not to everyone’s taste, has been better than ever. Perhaps it’s giving up the ciggies that’s done it.

Part of the band’s appeal, for me at least, is its musical eclecticism. As Forrest Gump almost said, The Tangent are like a box of chocolates – you never know what you’re gonna get. It could be an Asia-style prog-pop anthem, a slice of Steely Dan cool jazz, a love song inspired by Rose Royce or a 28-minute discourse on the state of Englishness after Brexit.

What you will always get is superb musicianship from some of prog’s most respected artists, a sense of melody that creates insistent, sticky earworms, and lyrics that are sometimes personal, sometimes political, but always thought-provoking and seasoned with self-effacing humour. And what you WON’T get is dull, portentous symphonic epics based on a Tibetan Book of the Dead – although the occasional reference to Jean-Paul Sartre is not ruled out.

Auto Reconnaissance is all these and more as we are once again invited to enter Tillison’s eclectic and colourful world of myriad musical influences. But this turns out to be a slightly more sombre, reflective album – the title means “self-observation” and has nothing to do with cars or military drones. Its tone is set by the aforementioned 28-minute epic Lie Back and Think of England, a sometimes gentle and sorrowful look at the way we have treated each other after Brexit.

Tillison’s last Brexit song, A Few Steps Down the Wrong Road from 2017’s The Slow Rust of Forgotten Machinery, came out punching like Muhammad Ali trying to swat a swarm of wasps. But Lie Back… is, indeed, more laid-back, opening with wistful solo piano tinkles and mournful flute as Tillison sings “viewed from above our country keeps its beauty, white cliffs and moorland, hill and dale. And sometimes it shocks me how deeply it moves me”.

Of course, being The Tangent, some richly-played instrumental madness is not very far off – after all, this is also a song about how we degenerated into name-calling and bullying during the Brexit process, so you would expect things to get a bit busy and noisy. There are sections playfully entitled ‘Some Solos by Saxophonist, Guitarist and Keyboards Player’, ‘Frantic Synth Solos with Fast Drumming and Zappa Influenced Vibraphones’ and ‘Gradual Deterioration Into a Bass Solo’. You can’t say you weren’t warned.

In fact, there are thirteen sections in all, adding up to a long piece of music that takes some repeated listenings to get into. But throughout it all are moments that will make your prog heart leap, whether it’s lightning-fast keyboard runs on the Hammond organ setting, Theo Travis’s expressive and commanding sax or Luke Machin letting loose on a rip-roaring guitar solo. And this is, in its final sections, a track with a positive message for the future. “So forgive and forget,” sings Tillison, “Let’s put this behind us and have more in our sights than this war.”

Elsewhere, things are mostly more upbeat and mischievous. There’s the opener, Life on Hold, described by Tillison as an “uptempo prog-rock stomper”, influenced by the sort of thing Asia did on their debut album. Fading in with massed harmony vocals, rolling drums, funky organ chords and Jonas Reingold’s virtuoso bass, it is not, as you would think from the title, about lockdown – Tillison says the entire album was written before Covid-19 brought the planet to a halt – but (probably) about his own insatiable appetite for information, “absorbing info from the Internet and page”. Machin’s guitar work on this is particularly spectacular, at times channelling his inner Allan Holdsworth.

Digital communication also seems to be the subject of The Tower of Babel, but its heart lies in ’70s funk and disco, with Machin providing a chukka-chukka-chukka rhythm under a relentlessly upbeat melody with an insanely catchy chorus. Meanwhile, The Midas Touch channels Tillison’s favourite band, Earth, Wind & Fire, with a smooth, funky sound that also owes something to the Isley Brothers’ Summer Breeze, crossed with Happy by Pharrell Williams. Despite its minor key mood, it’s about how a ray of sunshine can totally transform a gloomy winter’s day – “Welcome back my winter sun,” Tillison sings, “you give your Midas Touch to everyone”.

Finally, there are two tracks so different it’s hard to believe they have come from the same composer. Jinxed in Jersey is a 16-minute lighthearted travelogue about Tillison getting lost in New Jersey while trying to walk to the Statue of Liberty. Half sung, half narrated, it’s set against a smooth, jazzy Steely Dan-style backing with sudden bursts of heavy rock and hip-hop, and includes a terrible attempt to imitate a friendly US cop, as the wanderer realises his internal GPS system has failed him completely. But, with TJ Hooker’s help, he eventually finds the Roman goddess Libertas, and realises he’s sneaked in behind her back.

From the ridiculous to the sublime… Under Your Spell is an unashamed love song, dedicated to Tillison’s partner Sally Colyer and inspired by the likes of Rose Royce’s Love Don’t Live Here Any More and 10CC’s I’m Not In Love. As he says in the accompanying interview, prog bands don’t usually do soul songs. But then again, soul bands don’t usually sing verses in 7/8 or have Luke Machin and Theo Travis playing gorgeous guitar and sax licks over the top. The result is a very touching and melodic number, with Tillison on good form vocally – I know his singing is not to everyone’s taste but he’s as good on this album as I’ve ever heard him. Then again, I don’t think Peter Hammill can sing, so what do I know.

So what we have here is a worthy follow-up to 2018’s acclaimed Proxy but one that, in some instances, requires a bit more digging into to appreciate the treasures within. It’s like a box of chocolates with more packaging. But the contents are still oh so sweet.

[And you can read Kevan’s interview with Andy Tillison HERE.]

TRACK LISTING
01. Life On Hold (5:31)
02. Jinxed In Jersey (15:57)
03. Under Your Spell (5:44)
04. The Tower Of Babel (4:35)
05. Lie Back And Think Of England (28:16)
06. The Midas Touch (5:55)
~ Bonus track:
07. Proxima (12:26)

Total Time – 78:24

MUSICIANS
Andy Tillison – Keyboards, Vocals
Jonas Reingold – Bass
Theo Travis – Saxophone, Flute
Luke Machin – Guitar
Steve Roberts – Drums

ADDITIONAL INFO
Record Label: InsideOut Music
Country of Origin: U.K.
Date of Release: 21st August 2020

LINKS
The Tangent – Website | Facebook

This news story was originally published here: https://theprogressiveaspect.net/blog/2020/08/01/tpa-news-august-2020/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=tpa-news-august-2020

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


01/08/2020: Gazpacho Release Title Track From New Album Fireworker

Gazpacho are set release their new album Fireworker on 18th September 2020 on Kscope. The album is based around the idea that humanity has always been controlled by an infallible and omniscient creature determined to propagate at any cost.

The band have now released the title track from the album which can be heard below:

Conceptually, the album follows the band’s tradition of blending philosophy, literature and personal crises. In many ways it is perhaps the culmination of the themes that have been laid down in previous albums Night and Missa Atropos, the narrative drama of Tick Tock and Soyuz along with theological and scientific reflections contained in Demon and Molok.

Keyboardist Thomas Andersen elucidates: “There’s an instinctual part of you that lives inside your mind, separate from your consciousness. I call it the ‘Fireworker’ or the ‘Lizard’ or the ‘Space Cowboy.’ It’s an eternal and unbroken lifeforce that’s survived every generation, with a new version in each of us. It’s evolved alongside our consciousness, and it can override us and control all of our actions.” In order to get us to do what it wants, he clarifies, the “Fireworker” will silence the parts of our mind that feel disgust or remorse so that we’re unable to stop it. The conscious part of our mind, Andersen notes, will actually “rationalize and legitimize” those thoughts and actions so that we never discover the beast behind-the-scenes. No matter how we feel about ourselves in terms of identity, accomplishments, and value, we’re all just vessels—or “Sapiens”—that the creature uses until it no longer needs us. “If you play along,” Andersen explains, “It’ll reward you like a puppy and let you feel fantastic; if you don’t, it’ll punish you severely.”

Fireworker is a single “trip” broken into five chapters but meant to be appreciated all at once. This time, however, Gazpacho’s recurring protagonist is investigating the labyrinthian hive of his own psyche to engage in a Bergman-esque confrontation with the “Fireworker.” This journey is even represented by the Wimmelbilder cover, which, as usual, was designed by collaborator Antonio Seijas and depicts “the billions of neurons that create the cave of the mind”.

Track List
1. Space Cowboy [19:43]
2. Hourglass [04:15]
3. Fireworker [04:41]
4. Antique [06:24]
5. Sapien [15:22]

Fireworker will be released on Kscope on 18th September, on CD, a gatefold 2LP on 180g black vinyl (3 sides audio, 1 side art etching) and digitally (digital pre-orders receive the title track “Fireworker” as an instant download) and is available to pre-order here: https://gazpacho.lnk.to/Fireworker

Gazpacho are:
Thomas Andersen – keyboards, programming
Jan-Henrik Ohme – vocals
Jon-Arne Vibo – guitars
Mikael Krømer – violin, additional guitars
Kristian “Fido” Torp – bass
Robert R Johansen – drums

SOURCES: For The Lost PR


UK Gig Guide

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

This news story was originally published here: https://theprogressiveaspect.net/blog/2020/07/31/griot-elisabeth/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=griot-elisabeth

I was introduced to Griot by way of another Portuguese band, Esfera. I had been hugely impressed by the latter’s 2016 album, All the Colours of Madness, so when I heard Nuno Aleluia would be providing the vocals for Griot’s Gerald (released later in the same year), I was immediately onboard. Griot is essentially the duo of João Pascoal and Sérgio Ferreira, with a number of guest musicians, but there’s no doubting the impact that the huge contribution of Aleluia made (at least, with me). Elisabeth is apparently a continuation and conclusion of the story begun with Gerald, but obviously this time around with a female protagonist, which means a change on vocals. This time, the vocals are provided mainly by Maria Branco.

I’m going to get this out of the way quickly, because it is my only real criticism of the album – and it’s one that may not be shared by many – but, as beautiful a voice as Branco has, it just doesn’t seem to me to have the versatility that Aleluia had. Branco’s vocals suit the more delicate and jazzy passages, but don’t seem quite powerful enough for the heavier passages, seemingly unable to match the edge and passion of the music. I’m not sure if I would make this criticism if I were not comparing Elisabeth with Gerald, because I do very much like Branco’s vocals. They just seem, I don’t know, lacking at times. It’s not quite a mismatch between the vocals and the music, but at times it comes close for me.

It’s also hard not to compare Elisabeth with Gerald, as the two are clearly meant to be a pair, and two sides of a story. One thing I love is the way the artwork of Elisabeth mirrors that of Gerald. The protagonist views a scene from on high, Gerald looking down on an urban landscape at night, and Elisabeth looking down on a rural landscape during the day. And even though there have been a few years between the albums, the sound is very similar. I do find Elisabeth to have a superior mix to Gerald, though. Although each instrument still is clear in the mix, they blend more naturally. I found, for instance, the drumming a little hard on the ear on Gerald (and this is coming from someone for whom the drums are usually the favourite instrument to hear), but they are far better placed in the mix on Elisabeth, which makes them far easier to appreciate and enjoy – and so they should be, because Sérgio Ferreira plays a mean beat!

In fact, on Elisabeth, as on Gerald, percussion is the first thing that one hears. And, lest it seems otherwise based on what I’ve just said, I was immediately impressed by the drumming on Gerald. I merely found it’s place in the mix a little wearing over time. There are no such issues with Elisabeth, so I’m able to enjoy the drumming throughout. In general, I think I can safely say that I prefer the vocals on Gerald, but I prefer the music on Elisabeth. And given that there is more music than vocals, and a lot more of both on Elisabeth than on Gerald (this album being almost twice the length of the last), I’d be hard pressed not to admit that Elisabeth is a more enjoyable album than Gerald – something I would never have expected when I first listened to it.

While Griot are Portuguese, the bands I’m most reminded of are Italian. Their heavy and jazzy grooves remind me of modern bands such as Karmamoi and Unreal City. The band have moments of bombast, but excel in softer, more contemplative pieces too. Griot come across as confident and ambitious, and throughout both their albums show a quite brilliant blend of technicality and melody. The music is symphonic and sophisticated, but also smooth and accessible – heavy, but never too heavy; jazzy but never too jazzy.

One aspect of both albums that I particularly appreciate is the use of guest musicians to provide orchestration (strings, brass and woodwind) where it would perhaps have been easier to simply program these sounds. There is a real fullness of sound that is lacking in other albums, where real instruments have not been played. Even better is that the orchestration has not been placed overly high in the mix, where it can overwhelm or distract from the main instrumentation. It adds to the instrumentation of Pascoal and Ferreira, rather than taking over or taking the place of it. That said, some of my favourite moments on the album are provided by these guest musicians. Paulo Bernardino (clarinet) and Arnaud António (sax) especially give me goosebumps when they appear.

Like Gerald, the music of Elisabeth is broken into five chapters. With a longer running time, each of these chapters has been broken into two parts. It was impressive how much diversity Griot were able to bring into each chapter on Gerald, so it’s unsurprising that with greater length, there is greater opportunity for some powerful and impressive arrangements. The absolute stand out track for me is Unearthing the Past, but there’s not a dud track on this album. Despite any initial concerns, and one remaining criticism, this album has thoroughly impressed me. It has far exceeded any of even the most optimistic expectations I might have had for the album. With this story complete, the slate is now clean for the next Griot masterpiece – and I can’t wait!

TRACK LISTING
01. A Weak Foundation (Chapter I, Pt.I) (6:52)
02. Lights Out (Chapter I, Pt.II) (5:00)
03. Atonement (Chapter II, Pt.I) (7:48)
04. Retrospection (Chapter II, Pt.II) (4:17)
05. Intertwined (Chapter III, Pt.I) (6:15)
06. Unearthing the Past (Chapter III, Pt.II) (6:32)
07. Parted Ways (Chapter IV, Pt.I) (4:27)
08. Making Amends (Chapter IV, Pt.II) (8:00)
09. The Leap (Chapter V, Pt.I) (9:14)
10. Introspection (Chapter V, Pt.II) (4:14)

Total Time – 62:37

MUSICIANS
João Pascoal – Bass Guitar, Electric Guitar, Programming
Sérgio Ferreira – Drums, Percussion, Programming
~ with:
Maria Branco – Vocals (tracks 1-9)
João Rodrigues – Vocals (tracks 2,3,5,8,10)
Mariana Moreira – Backing Vocals (track 4)
Matilde Esperança – Violin (tracks 1,3,6,9,10)
Pedro Marques – Violin (track 9)
Luzia Lapo – Violin (tracks 1,3,6,9,10)
Isaac Santos – Violoncello (tracks 1,3,6,9,10)
Paulo Bernardino – Clarinet (tracks 3,5,6)
Arnaud António – Alto Saxophone (tracks 6,9)
André Loureiro – Flute (tracks 1,9)
João Baião – Acoustic Guitar (tracks 1,2,3,6,8,9)
Gonçalo Crespo – Electric Guitar (tracks 1-9)
Bruno Lousada – Electric Guitar (tracks 1,2,3,5,6,7,9)
Pedro Joaninho – Electric Guitar (track 5)
Vikram Shankar – Keyboards (tracks 2,3,9,10)
Mario Yetatore – Keyboards (tracks 1,3,4,6,8,9)
Bosco Aguilar – Keyboards (track 8)

ADDITIONAL INFO
Record Label: Independent
Country of Origin: Portugal
Date of Release: 2nd June 2020

LINKS
Griot – Facebook | Bandcamp | YouTube