Marillion – Gazpacho

The Flower Kings – Flight 999 (Brimstone Air)

Ain Soph – Mizzle

Yuka & Chronoship – Dinosaurs:Suite (III – Ruler Of The Earth)

The Who – Eminence Front

Mike & The Mechanics – Word Of Mouth (East West Mix)

Kaipa – Vittjar

Can – Moonshake

Guy Manning – Margaret Montgomery (Acoustic)

Knifeworld – Clairvoyant Fortnight

Porcupine Tree – Signify/Signify II

Jump – The Eagle Has Landed

A.C.T – Cat Eyes

Major Parkinson – Madeline Crumbles

Rael Jones – Silflay


This news story was originally published here:

With news of a new studio album from Alan Emslie scheduled for late 2018 and with the new re-mastered editions of his first four releases appearing in April this year, it seems a timely opportunity to revisit the early years. Between 2001 and 2005 Alan Emslie released four albums, three under his own name and one, and my introduction to his work, as Soft Monster.

Alan Emslie? Re-mastered reissues? Composer, classically trained orchestral timpanist, drummer and multi-instrumentalist Alan Emslie, that’s who!

Primarily a drummer and percussionist, so the worry might be that his main instrument of choice may overtly dominate, but happy to report this is not the case and across these four albums, it is certainly an ace card, but not the full hand. With the help of some stellar guest performers and his crafty inclusion of electronica it makes for a varied and interesting deck.

Soft Monster – Floating

‘Sinking’ may be more appropriate in 2017, with a market awash with an endless stream of new music, it’s so easy to concentrate on the new and overlook the past. So these timely re-mastered re-releases from Alan Emslie come as a welcome opportunity to take stock and reflect on music that has sat in my burgeoning CD shelves for far too long – sadly without too much airplay.

Working chronologically we start with the calming keyboard wash that opens Soft Monster’s Floating album. As remarked upon, in the review I did of the album some fifteen years ago, this tranquillity is short lived as “…the drums just sort of explode after the delicate dreamy introduction and are reminiscent of perhaps Rush or Genesis.” Certainly Alan displays all the fire and gusto of Mr. Peart and Mr. Collins here.

A great opening statement and followed by the equally impressive Da Monstas which features guitarist and constant companion across Alan’s career, John Irvine. John adds some tasteful guitar, which we pick up for the first time here on track two. In fact John’s guitar is refreshingly thoughtful throughout the album, often restrained, but always harmonious to the surroundings.

Floating proves to be a very appropriate title, as much of the album does exactly that, mention here therefore of keys man Euan Drysdale who, along with Alan, lays down the fine canvas that the album rests upon. The title track is a prime example – superbly understated.

Mindful that there are another three albums to cover I’ll forego the somewhat tedious (to read) track by track look at Soft Monster’s album and simply move on to the summation.

Reading back through my review in 2002, I was perhaps a little misguided, or perhaps my tastes have changed? Either way, revisiting Floating has been an absolute pleasure and unlike 2001, when there was no audio to tempt, 2017 presents us with a golden opportunity to check out this album in it’s entirety via Bandcamp. I was impressed with Alan Emslie’s production values back in 2001, so the added clarity of the 2017 reissued re-masters is an added bonus.

01. Ooger (4:56)
02. Da Monstas (4:41)
03. Floating (6:25)
04. Pushing Free (7:24)
05. Doughnut Warden (4:20)
06. Approaching The Ice (8:21)
07. Behind The Dark Mirror Machine (4:46)
08. Three Rooms (4:43)

Total Time – 45:36

Alan Emslie – Drums & Percussion
Euan Drysdale – Keyboards
~ with
John Irvine – Guitar (tracks 2,4,6 & 8)

Record Label: Independent
Country of Origin: Scotland
Originally Releases: 2001
Date of Reissue: 13th April 2017

Alan Emslie – Emotive Bay

Released a year after Floating and under his own name this time around, but in many respects a sympathetic companion to that release. Alan is once again joined by guitarist John Irvine who adds some tasteful guitar to a couple of the tracks. Mention here of the John Irvine Band’s progressive jazz/rock albums – where Alan Emslie returns the favour and forms the formidable backbone for some stellar music. Taken from the Next Stop (2013) album – checkout the Means To An End drum recording video HERE.

BEWARE! – track by track review (albeit mercifully short ;).

The opening piece, Downforce, would have sat very comfortably on the Floating album, with percussive techno-synth, melodic synth hook-line and fiery drumming kicking the album off to a cracking start.

As might be implied, Emotive Bay takes a far mellower, tranquil course and during the next four pieces the emphasis is on mood and atmosphere. The title tune sets the mood, with Emotive Bay‘s rippling, early Genesis-like arpeggios and surrounded by swelling synth washes. In similar fashion this is followed by Watching The Waves, although this time bolstered by a solid, but unintrusive drum beat. Regardless of what the track’s title might conjure up, The Distortion That Drives Us is more in keeping with Vangelis and only John Irvine’s Gilmour-esque guitar takes us to other thoughts. Concluding this section of the album is the more up-beat Groovy Jelly, and as the title implies, it’s a groove driven piece.

Listening to both Floating and Emotive Bay it struck me how refreshing and valid both albums sounded. In this, dare I say, more diverse progressive climate, both albums might benefit from this broader spectrum of acceptance. Cue up the hypnotic, almost entirely percussive Quarqaba, barring the monastic chanting from Mr. Emslie to close. So a not entirely instrumental release and the tongue-in-cheek Something Wrong? gives our first real taster of AE’s vocals. Well he’s definitely no chanter – but with the lyric line…

“I hate singing so much… and my voice sounds like a loo brush”

… I gather he is aware of this fact. It’s refreshing to find a serious musician who is able to not take himself too seriously at times.

Okay, and mindful that once again I have drifted into a track by track scenario of the music I’ll swiftly take a quick look at the two concluding pieces. First up is the wonderful Beyond The 11th Dimension, with both Alan and John in fine fettle – BUT rather than waffle on I’ve linked the track from Bandcamp:

And finally We Went To Bed Too Late, “…a gently constructed ballad but without the inclusion of any vocals”.

I’m really glad Alan Emslie decided to re-issue his back catalogue, if for no other reason than it prompted me to listen to the albums again. And what a pleasure it has been.

01. Downforce (4:49)
02. Emotive Bay (3:14)
03. Watching The Waves (5:42)
04. The Distortion That Drives Us (8:01)
05. Groovy Jelly (4:39)
06. Quarqaba (4:12)
07. Something Wrong? (6:24)
08. Beyond The 11th Dimension (13:14)
09. We Went To Bed Too Late (4:32)

Total Time – 54:47

Alan Emslie – Drums & Percussion
John Irvine – Guitar

Record Label: Independent
Country of Origin: Scotland
Originally Releases: 2002
Date of Reissue: 13th April 2017

Alan Emslie – Driven Heavy

With album releases in the previous two years, Alan returned again in 2003 with Driven Heavy. Again guitarist John Irvine is in the fold and joining the flock this time around are Greg Lawson on violin, Jo Nicholson’s bass clarinet and Pat Jackson’s bass trombone, the latter two perhaps a token gesture towards the lack of a bass player on any of his releases.

As the album title indicates, Driven Heavy is a more robust album than it’s predecessor, Emotive Bay, although the now familiar signature sound is still present. Other changes on Driven Heavy are the inclusion of vocals and a movement towards a more aggressive sound, a precursor to the heavier material Alan would eventually head towards.

Mindful that I have covered the previous two release in some depth, and not wanting to completely lose your will to live before covering the following two releases, I will focus on some of the album’s highlights. We start with the stunning Help Me – a track that really should be heard. So here we go…

Greg Lawson’s electric violin is truly emotive and beautifully underpinned by Pat Jackson’s processed bass trombone. As mentioned above, an odd quirk of Alan Emslie is that he doesn’t use a bass player, curious, but in no way detrimental to the music. Greg also features in two of the album’s other stand out instrumental tunes, the alluring Meditation and the Floydian Through The Valley.

There is much in the way of hidden depths and the longer I’ve had to revisit this album, the more has been revealed. The outro section Something In Your Eyes, for instance, is wonderful. Before leaving Driven Heavy, mention of the two final “bonus” tracks. Firstly Bitter Boy [Instrumental Mix] which stands up surprisingly well without the vocals. Secondly Downforce [Live Rehearsal] which appeared on the original release in the interactive section of the CD – an indication of how little of the releases are overdubs.

01. Bitter Boy (3:39)
02. Help Me (4:26)
03. Big One (4:41)
04. Meditation (4:21)
05. Simple Groove (3:54)
06. Causeway (5:26)
07. Through The Valley (4:58)
08. Something In Your Eyes (6:49)
09. Bitter Boy [Instrumental Mix] (3:39)
10. Downforce [Live Rehearsal] (4:54)

Total Time – 46:47

Alan Emslie – Drums & Percussion
John Irvine – Guitar
Greg Lawson – Electric Violin (tracks 2,4 & 7)
Jo Nicholson – Bass Clarinet (tracks 5 & 7)
Pat Jackson – Bass Trombone (track 2)

Record Label: Independent
Country of Origin: Scotland
Originally Releases: 2003
Date of Reissue: 13th April 2017

Alan Emslie – Dark Matter

Over the last few months I’ve had the opportunity to re-visit Alan Emslie’s earlier work and in a relatively short period of time. What is evident, in hindsight, is that with each new album, Alan has progressed his sound and each release has shown a marked level of maturity, even if not all has suited this reviewer – but that is just a matter of personal taste. With the final album in this retrospective it’s also evident that Alan’s musical pathway was heading towards a heavier destination. This he has undertaken, since 2010 onward, with his Plastic Noose project, a much darker affair, releasing three albums, described as “Misanthropic Industrial Metal”. Despite this troubling title, the second album, Fractured Despondency revealed a rather absorbing listen.

Returning to Dark Matter, the opening two tracks echo previous releases, certainly within the dynamics and precision of the drums, and of course the fine guitar work of the ever present John Irvine. What Dark Matter does mark is a transition to a distinctly less studio-like recording and a more “live” and organic sound, something Alan will embrace wholeheartedly in his later releases. Alan also seems to have passed his “loo brush” vocal phase and adopted a punkish guttural approach to his vocalisation, which not only works in the heavier material but sits comfortably with the lighter tracks, epitomised during Dark Matter and Charon.

The title track, an instrumental, whilst retaining the more aggressive tone of the album, does tie in the previous releases nicely. With Alan’s fiery drumming, John’s great guitar work and sweeping synths, we have a track that might well have emerged from the Rush camp.

Similarly with the following track Charon, and as remarked in the review I undertook of Dark Matter back in 2005, there is a strong correlation across all four albums. “…Charon, at times it has the feel of a late ’80s synth pop song, but one that is continually interrupted and savaged by choppy driving metallic chords and a precise drum rhythm.” Topping it all off is a atmospheric guitar solo from John Irvine.

For those who enjoy their prog gritty, then Dark Matter is well worth investigating. The fact that Alan has a keen sense of melody, as we can hear clearly in All The Time, will also appease those who may struggle with the heavier end of the spectrum.

01. Misanthropic Myopic Man (5:47)
02. Incomplete (5:09)
03. Dark Matter (5:32)
04. Charon (6:36)
05. Living Monster (7:03)
06. All The Time (6:27)
07. On Your Knees (4:47)
08. Two Threads (3:10)

Total Time – 44:34

Alan Emslie – Drums, Percussion & Keyboards
John Irvine – Guitar

Record Label: Independent
Country of Origin: Scotland
Originally Releases: 2005
Date of Reissue: 13th April 2017

And there we have it, Alan Emslie revisited in 2017. By way of a taster I’ve added a direct Bandcamp audio link to one track for each albums featured in this retrospective review – certainly well worth the few minutes of your time to check out some of the fine music available.

At the time of writing all the above albums, along with the Plastic Noose releases, are available on Bandcamp and with a “pay what you want” offer – it’s got to be worth taking the plunge.

As mentioned above there will be a new Alan Emslie album release in late 2018, but prior to this the new Plastic Noose album Enmity will be released on 21st December 2017.

Alan Emslie – Website | Bandcamp
Plastic Noose – Website | Bandcamp

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This news story was originally published here:

Jet Black Sea came into being in 2013 as a new musical project for Adrian Jones and Michael Simons, after they had been working in the studio with Adrian’s band, Nine Stones Close. It became apparent that they both wanted to explore other musical themes, using their individual experiences to enhance each other’s contributions, and the debut Jet Black Sea album, The Path of Least Existence, was released in November 2015 to critical acclaim.

Adrian and Michael describe their music as experimental, ambient and progressive with a dark edge, which has drawn comparison with Ulver, Nine Inch Nails, King Crimson, Radiohead and Pink Floyd. It is true that these influences and more can be felt in the music, but it definitely becomes clear that this is a sound created by Jet Black Sea.

There are seven songs here, which flow very well from the start to the finish of the album. The music is ambient, melancholic and dark at times, but there are always moments of beauty and melody woven through. Second albums can often be tricky affairs, but Adrian and Michael have created a work that is markedly different from the debut, but still identifiable as Jet Black Sea. All the songs were written by the duo with mixing, mastering and production handled by Paul van Zeeland.

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Two of the tracks are clearly influenced by the Apollo 13 mission, the first being the title track which follows on from the short Jumping to a Conclusion (part 1), its static effect start followed by a chiming guitar and atmospheric keyboards as the tracks segue nicely. The use of sound effects, in the shape of dialogue between Houston control and Apollo 13, help create the mood, along with the keyboards before a Floydian guitar cuts through. The closing track, 133 hours, so named for the length of time the world waited for the safe return of Apollo 13, offers up some feelings of hope.

Their previous album was instrumental, but here they have used vocals on two tracks, inviting Adrian O’Shaughnessy to sing on Cathedral and Tony Patterson on Hours Slip Into Days. This works well; Cathedral starts with sound effects creating the mood, accompanied by keyboards. The overall feel is somewhat dark, almost sinister, before the guitar comes in with a Floydian sound adding some brighter, grandiose textures. The vocals arrive after about four minutes, almost when you are not expecting any at all, helping to build to a climax before falling away to moody sound effects for the end. Hours Slip Into Days starts gently with a beautiful piano, Patterson’s voice giving a dreamy Radiohead feel to the proceedings.

There is a lot of variety within these songs, which may not be obvious at first but is revealed on repeated plays. Opener Wrong Turn with its ambient start has an unsettling but almost dance-like drum pattern, provided by Pieter van Hoorn, accompanying the drone of keyboards, changing to deliver a somewhat harder edge at the midpoint. The Sixth Wheel gives us a Tangerine Dream start, evolving into a Middle Eastern feel, guitar riffs added towards the end.

This is a masterful album, wonderfully crafted and created to provide the listener with a rounded experience, the seven songs working well together with a natural flow across the forty four minutes running time. Just the right length, creating enough interest to prompt you to jump up and hit repeat, and in doing so you will be rewarded with further hidden depths. An album worthy of investigation and I am pleased to have had the opportunity to review it.

01. Wrong Turn (4:18)
02. The Sixth Wheel (6:51)
03. Jumping to a Conclusion (part 1) (2:00)
04. Absorption Lines (10:54)
05. Cathedral (7:17)
06. Hours Slip Into Days (8:31)
07. 133 Hours (5:19)

Total Time – 44:52

Adrian Jones – Guitars
Michel Simons – Programming
~ With Guests:
Pieter van Hoorn – Drums
Brendan Eyre – Keyboards
Paul van Zeeland – Bass
Adrian O’Shaughnessy – Vocals
Tony Patterson – Vocals

Record Label: Freia Music
Catalogue#: THOR 40
Date of Release: 16th July 2017

Jet Black Sea – Facebook | Bandcamp


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This news story was originally published here:

Caligula’s Horse, a band at the forefront of Australia’s progressive rock scene, release their much-anticipated new album ‘In Contact’. To celebrate the album’s release, the band have launched a stunning new video for recent single ‘Songs for No One’ which you can see here:

Guitarist and director of photography/editor Adrian Goleby comments: “Songs for No One is by far the most complex and ambitious music video I’ve attempted for Caligula’s Horse – and also for myself. I’ve worked alongside all of the guys for years now and the creative trust involved is what pushes all of us to find and conquer the next bastion of artistic development. We’re also at a stage where we can come in and make these sorts of videos with confidence in making something distinct and memorable, as well as exciting for any audience.

Working with (Director) Daniel Grey was also a treat for me. His ability to turn a metaphor into a story is remarkable in its own right. He definitely brought his best to the table, (and then flipped it).

I hope everyone that watches this is able to connect with the joy that we bring into Caligula’s Horse, as well as the heart thumping excitement that I can’t help but feel when I play it.”

The video was directed by Daniel Grey and he comments: “Songs For No One is about embracing quiet passions; overcoming fear, depression and self destructive thoughts through the mindful cultivation of small things. The video speaks to those themes, and shows that any creative endeavour – even one only for yourself – is enough to keep the world turning.”

‘In Contact’ is available now on CD & 2LP + CD (including exclusive coloured versions) here:

“a finely tuned inventive effort that bristles with crystal-sharp clarity” – Metal Hammer

“Those who may have despaired that progressive metal had succumbed to regression will find solace in this, the band’s finest album to date.” – Prog Magazine

“In Contact is a masterpiece…a work of unimaginable beauty.” – The Music

The band recently released a video for the album’s first single ‘Will’s Song (Let the Colours Run), watch that here:

The band recently sat down at the InsideOutMusic offices in London and talked about the album track-by-track, watch the first part here:

As with the band’s acclaimed album ‘Bloom’ before it, ‘In Contact’ sees vocalist Jim Grey and lead guitarist Sam Vallen collaborating closely on the music and lyrics. Vallen comments: “In our creative process every idea is scrutinized, deconstructed, and rebuilt in a way that one of us, alone, could never achieve. We’re one another’s harshest critic, but fortunately we’ve done this for long enough now that our inspiration draws us in a similar direction – we can finish each other’s musical sentences, so to speak. And we’re lucky that’s the case, since In Contact proved to be a much more ambitious undertaking than anything we’d conceived of in the past.”

Vocalist Jim Grey adds: “In Contact has been an enormous proposition – the stories told in this album feel deeply personal, and we’ve never been more excited to share a new work with the world. The sounds on this album are dark and adventurous – but without losing the bittersweet and joyful sounds we developed in writing Bloom.”

As with the band’s second album ‘The Tide, the Thief & River’s End’, the band decided to hang a concept around the entire record, taking it in a direction that would end up being the opposite of its predecessor. “We decided to create a concept album, but one that came from a more personal place: one that would facilitate our creative needs wherever the journey took us” Vallen continues. “The broader concept is based around the nature of art – of what it is that sparks creativity and inspiration, a celebration of what connects us as human beings, the shared space across our many differences.”

Taking in four separate chapters, each one is dedicated to an individual and their own personal journey and how they express themselves through art. “Each of these artists are reaching for something more in their lives, and while disconnected entirely from one another, they are united by that reach: for a better life, but also for something intangible.”

Written between late 2016 and May 2017, the album went through a rapid production/mixing/mastering process encompassing five weeks between May and June. The music felt fresh and the ideas were captured at the peak of their vitality. The music on ‘In Contact’ stretched all of the bands abilities, from the frantic speed and complexity of ‘Will’s Song (Let the Colours Run)’ to the immense scope and variety of the 16-minute album closer, ‘Graves’. This is Caligula’s Horse at their most ambitious and progressive.

The full track-listing is as follows:
1. Dream the Dead
2. Will’s Song (Let the Colours Run)
3. The Hands are the Hardest
4. Love Conquers All
5. Songs for No One
6. Capulet
7. Fill My Heart
8. Inertia and the Weapon of the Wall
9. The Cannon’s Mouth
10. Graves

Caligula’s Horse will head out on a headline tour of Australia in support of the new album and you can find those dates below:
Thursday September 28 – Jack Rabbit Slim’s, Perth
Friday September 29 – Fowler’s Live, Adelaide
Saturday September 30 – Max Watt’s, Melbourne
Wednesday October 4 – The Basement, Canberra
Thursday October 5 – The Cambridge Hotel, Newcastle
Friday October 6 – The Factory Theatre, Sydney
Saturday October 7 – The Triffid, Brisbane

‘Moments From Ephemeral City’:
‘The Tide, the Thief & River’s End’ :

The band’s last album ‘Bloom’ was released in 2015 and enjoyed much praise for its multi-faceted dynamic and masterful production. It mines influences from heavy rock to jazz and beyond, making it a uniquely enticing sonic entity, and a powerful addition to the high quality canon of progressive alternative rock. It is a unique thrill to watch a band’s momentum build so steadily and confidently.

Caligula’s Horse are:
Jim Grey – lead vocals
Sam Vallen – lead guitar
Adrian Goleby – guitar
Dave Couper – bass & vocals
Josh Griffin – drums



Free InsideOut Music digital sampler:

On this week’s Prog-Watch my esteemed guest is music and video legend Kevin Godley of 10cc and Godley & Creme! We chat about all sorts of stuff, including the Gizmo, the split with 10cc, Godley & Creme, video directing, and his forthcoming solo album, of which YOU could be a part (if you write music)! Along the way, there is also be plenty of great music from Kevin’s illustrious career with 10cc, Godley and Creme, and GG06.

437: In Conversation With Music & Video Legend Kevin Godley

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The 101 Dimensions program broadcast last weekend (9/10 September) is now available as a podcast.

101 Dimensions – September 2017

If you are interested, here’s the playlist:

  1. Eloy – The Apocalypse; and End Of An Odyssey (from the album Chronicles I, 1993)
  2. Eddie Jobson – Theme Of Secrets; Memories Of Vienna; Lakemist; and Outer Secrets (from the album Theme Of Secrets, 1985)
  3. Patrick Moraz – Metamorphoses, Mvmts. II and III (from the album Future Memories I & II, 1985)
  4. Manuel Gottsching – Eloquentes Wiesel (from the album The Private Tapes, Vol. 1, 1996)
  5. Mannheim Steamroller – Escape From The Atmosphere; and Earthrise – Return (from the album Fresh Aire V, 1983)
  6. Enya – Lothlorien; Marble Halls, Afer Ventus; and Smaointe (from the album Shepherd Moons, 1991)
  7. Cosmic Jokers – Interstellar Rock – Kosmische Musik; Raumschiff Galaxy Saust In Die Lichtbahnen; and Der Planet Des Stemenmadchens (from the album Planeten Sit-In, 1974)