This news story was originally published here:

I watched Kavus’s album launch gig for Hip to the Jag the other evening, beamed alive and grinning from his living room. About 10 minutes in I had to pause it, to get the dinner out of the oven, not something you could do at a real gig – getting an oven on the Tube might be a tad difficult! When I returned to the Interwebs and hit play, there I was sat down, demolishing a huge pile of chile-con-carne, and Kavus was waving an album at the camera. “Anyone got this?” he asked. O yes, indeedy, for it was The Faust Tapes, the best 49p I ever spent, which, being a man of impeccable taste, resides permanently in my all time top five albums. Kavus then played a charming cover of Flashback Caruso from said slab of vinyl wonderousness. Anyone who manages to include covers of songs by Faust, Hatfield & The North, Iron Maiden, Madness, and Voivod in their set and make them sound completely natural bedfellows alongside his own tuneage must be doing something right!

This jolted me into making a mental note to finally get off my sorry arse and get around to reviewing his solo album Hip to the Jag, which I am ashamed to admit I have neglected in my “to do” pile, along with everything else, as motivation to scribble has been in short supply in these weird times. But, such was the joie de vivre emanating from Kavus’s living room via my laptop that it seemed rude not to put virtual pen to virtual paper, at last.

Here we are then, chillied up on brake fluid, venturing deep down the neural pathway of the optic nerve of the Third Eye, lost in Kavus’s netherworld, a place where ghosts shimmy and memories sigh, giving way to a tentative sense of renewal, new baby steps into the Kosmische swirl, all summed up in the epic closing track Slow Movements

“Then solar migration bring
Migration to the source
Ten thousand years of history
Have finally run their course”

That may incorrectly give the impression that this is a heavy album, but far from it. Despite the overarching themes of loss and reflection, and eventually rebirth, it is all done with Kavus’s lightness of touch, as underneath it all, the man is one of life’s eternal optimists.

The album opens with a clap-along Om chant entitled Chart the Way, its title and a couple of references to metaphorical ships in following tracks establishing a nautical feel to the first side of the LP – yes, this is an “album” in the traditional sense.

In a break in proceedings between the reflectively melancholic A Body of Work, and the soulful and highly moving paean to lost friends that is You Broke My Fall, sits the instrumental The Peacock Throne, a lysergically altered harmonium on Warp Factor 7, tossed about on the interstellar seas. You Broke My Fall is my album highlight, a deeply felt poem of loss introduced by two lonely harmonium chords that although later instrumentally embellished is carried along by the weight and sincerity of its words. Redemption comes in the closeness of the friends still around:

“The good times haven’t ended yet
I swear I’ll keep you near
So I’ll wrap my arms around my friends
Because I love you all”

This song is an example to wave at those who incomprehensibly boast that they don’t listen to lyrics, if ever there was one. The side closer Cemetery of Light is the saddest song on the album, expressing guilt and regret at not being able to help. I’ll leave it there, here’s the video:

Side two opens with the already known Radio to Their World, a song that Kavus has been playing at solo gigs for a few years now, and from here on in, communication with the otherworld is established. My Cold Rebirth, while musically sparse, is the kind of convoluted yet interlocking arrangement familiar to any fan of Knifeworld. Slow Movements is a song sailing on a sea of droning harmonium put through various pedals. It ebbs and flows as if riding a gently rising and falling swell across the entire history of the universe.

The album leaves you feeling sad and happy all at once, and it has taken you on a journey through Kavus’s soul, and maybe shone a light into yours, too. This kind of self-exposition is a brave thing for any writer to embark upon, and Kavus has managed it without it ever becoming about the ego. There is no sentimentality here, and as it/he/we eventually merge with one another and the universe, it is with a sense of completeness, no regrets.

Hip to the Jag is in equal measure deeply honest and deeply psychedelic, and is well worth the attention of anyone who considers themselves endowed of a smidgeon of musical nous!

01. Chart The Way (2:42)
02. Silent The Rotor (4:24)
03. A Body Of Work (2:31)
04. The Peacock Throne (3:49)
05. You Broke My Fall (7:02)
06. Cemetery Of Light (3:54)
07. Radio To Their World (4:09)
08. My Cold Rebirth (4:57)
09. Where The Eyeless Walk (2:54)
10. Slow Movements (9:25)

Total Time – 45:49

Kavus Torabi – Voice, Harmonium, Guitars, Effects, Starsail
~ With:
Sima Torabi – Bells (on Where the Eyeless Walk)

Record Label: Believers Roast
Country of Origin: U.K.
Date of Release: 22nd May 2020

Kavus Torabi – Facebook| Bandcamp

Edition 211 of THE PROG MILL for Progzilla Radio (431 in total), first broadcast 24 May 2020, is now also available to download or listen to online anytime you like. Two hours of superb melodic and symphonic progressive rock, including the latest review from The Progressive Aspect which this week looks at the latest album by Pattern Seeking Animals, and our quick-fire quiz ‘How Proggy Are You’ tests your knowledge of female progressive rock singers.

This Week’s Playlist

1 Arabs in Aspic – High Tech Parent (Madness & Magic)
2 Grandval – Le Chemin a l’envers (Descendu Sur Terre)
3 Abraxas – Jezebel (99)
4 Frequency Drift – Dreams (Ghosts)
5 Quel Che Disse Il Tuono – Chi Ti Cammina Accanto (Il Velo Dei Riflessi)
6 Flies Are Spies From Hell – Always Bereaved (Find Quiet)
7 Fearful Symmetry – City of Art (Louder Than Words)
8 Pattern Seeking Animals – Soon But Not Today (Prehensile Tales)
9 Paul D’Adamo – Entangled (Tell Me Something)
10 Genesis – Snowbound (And Then There Were Three)
11 Outside In – Let Me Go (Karmatrain)
12 Gryphon – Fontinental Version (Raindance)
13 Kansas – Memories Down The Line (The Absence of Presence)

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

This news story was originally published here:

Neal Morse, Mike Portnoy & Randy George recently announced their return to the Cover To Cover series of albums with ‘Cov3r To Cov3r’, the brand new third instalment. Featuring their renditions of classic tracks by the likes of King Crimson, Jethro Tull, Gerry Rafferty, David Bowie & more (including their cover of ‘No Opportunity Necessary, No Experience Needed’ featuring vocals from Yes singer Jon Davison), the album will be released on the 24th July as CD, Gatefold 2LP + CD & as Digital Album. 

Today they are pleased to reveal a video for their cover of ‘Baker Street’, originally by Gerry Rafferty, and you can watch it now here:

Randy George comments: “Baker Street is one of the songs that is instantly recognizable. When I first mentioned the idea of doing Baker Street, Neal said that it was funny because he and Mike had just been discussing that one as well.“

Neal Morse adds: “To be honest I was never that big of a fan of this song. It’s one that Mike really wanted to do as I recall. But as we dove into it and I began singing it, I really felt it. Lyrics about thinking that it’s going to be really easy to succeed and then hitting walls and becoming disillusioned are very relatable to me. I found myself really digging into it and taking a kind of “The Who” approach to the song really works well!”

As well as ‘Cov3r to Cov3r’, the ‘Cover To Cover Anthology (Vol. 1 – 3)’ will be released on the same day, collecting all 3 instalments together over 3 discs. The first two albums have also been newly re-sequenced and remastered, and will also be available on digital services. The albums have also been given brand new artwork, created by Thomas Ewerhard (Sons of Apollo, The Neal Morse Band, Avantasia). 

‘Cov3r to Cov3r’ on Jewelcase CD & Gatefold 2LP + CD, and ‘Cover to Cover Anthology (Vol.1-3) on Limited 3CD Digipak are now available to pre-order here: 

Cov3r to Cov3r:
Cover to Cover Anthology:

Morse, Portnoy & George first worked together on Neal Morse’s Testimony Live project back in 2003, and since then they have devised and recorded countless Neal Morse albums, including three with The Neal Morse Band.

The three friends have also released music as Morse, Portnoy & George: so far, two Cover to Cover albums have been produced, each being a collection of covers of their favorite songs. As Portnoy explains: “One of the first things myself, Neal and Randy usually start talking about what we can cover when we gather for one of Neal’s solo albums, should we have some leftover time at the end of the session. Most of the songs are rooted in the 60s and 70s and are songs / bands we grew up with.” Explains George, “We all share an attachment for this era of music, so we each throw out song ideas, see what sticks, and record the ones we like the most!”

The trio has covered songs from such greats as, Paul McCartney, Cream, The Who, Jethro Tull, Steely Dan, and many more. They also have also covered some prog classics from the likes of King Crimson and Yes.

The full track-listing for all 3 Cover To Cover volumes is below.

Cover To Cover:

  1. Where The Streets Have No Name (U2)
  2. I’m The Man (Joe Jackson)
  3. What Is Life? (George Harrison)
  4. Badge (Cream)
  5. Maybe I’m Amazed (Paul McCartney)
  6. Day After Day (Badfinger)
  7. Pleasant Valley Sunday (The Monkees)
  8. Tuesday Afternoon (The Moody Blues)
  9. Can’t Find My Way Home (Blind Faith)
  10. I’m Free / Sparks (The Who)
  11. Where Do The Children Play (Cat Stevens)
  12. Feelin’ Stronger Everyday (Chicago)
  13. Rock N Roll Suicide (David Bowie)

Cover 2 Cover:

  1. (What’s So Funny About) Peace, Love & Understanding (Elvis Costello)
  2. Lido Shuffle (Boz Scaggs)
  3. Crazy Horses (The Osmonds)
  4. Driven To Tears (The Police)
  5. Come Sail Away (Styx)
  6. Rikki Don’t Lose That Number (Steely Dan)
  7. Lemons Never Forget (The Bee Gees)
  8. The Letter (Joe Cocker)
  9. I Saw The Light (Todd Rundgren)
  10. Teacher (Jethro Tull)
  11. Southern Man/Needle And The Damage Done/Cinnamon Girl (Neil Young)
  12. Starless (King Crimson)

Cov3r To Cov3r:

  1. No Opportunity Necessary, No Experience Needed (Yes)
  2. Hymn 43 (Jethro Tull)
  3. Life On Mars (David Bowie)
  4. Baker Street (Gerry Rafferty)
  5. It Don’t Come Easy (Ringo Starr)
  6. Baby Blue (Badfinger)
  7. One More Red Nightmare (King Crimson)
  8. Black Coffee In Bed (Squeeze)
  9. Tempted (Squeeze)
  10. Runnin’ Down A Dream (Tom Petty)
  11. Let Love Rule (Lenny Kravitz)


This news story was originally published here:

With FROST*’s latest album, “Falling Satellites”, dating back to 2016, it was about time, mastermind Jem Godfrey teamed up with Nathan King and John Mitchell to continue forging daring and dynamic progressive music. After announcing the 32 minutes long “Others – EP”, now the time is nigh to reveal a brand-new track ‘Exhibit A’.

Jem Godfrey states: “It’s good to be back with a cheerful song for these cheerful times! This is about being careful what you wish for when playing the fame game”.

Listen to the song here:

Completed already back in 2019, Jem has the following to say about the “Others – EP”:
“Others” is a 6 track EP containing 6 songs that were written at the time of the “Falling Satellites” album. Initially the idea was that “Falling Satellites” would be a double album, but it felt more focused and concise as a single album by the time we’d finished making it, so these half completed songs were put to one side. Now finished and mixed, they are ready to see the light of day!”

The EP will be released digitally on June 5th, 2020 and will be released as part of the limited “13 Winters” anthology-artbook physically later this year. 
Pre-order the digital EP here: 
Furthermore, FROST* are putting finishing touches to their highly anticipated new studio album which is tentatively scheduled for a September release through InsideOutMusic.

FROST* Online:

This news story was originally published here:

When someone describes a band as a power trio, I’m sometimes reluctant to listen. It’s not that power trios don’t exist, but quite often this term seems to be bandied about whenever a band has only three members. They might be a trio, but are they really a power trio? Kilter are, without doubt, a power trio. One of the most powerful trios I’ve come across, and almost immediately reminiscent of another powerful trio, Zu. But while most people will think of drums, bass and guitar being the principle instruments of a power trio, Zu (though they have expanded their line-up in recent years beyond the original trio) and Kilter use drums, bass and saxophone as the major aural force. And what a force! Zorn and Zappa crossed and mutilated into a frenzied attack of avant-garde jazz-metal fusion. It’s a gloriously dissonant mix of free jazz, RIO, noise rock and metal.

Ax & Spear is a statement of intent, aggressive and malevolent. What’s interesting, though, is the way that such unrestrained brutality is not omnipresent. The following Beasts of Summation (Intro) is one of several passages that pepper the album with far more subtle flavour. If we stick with the House of Mythology, this is more Ulver than it is Zu. Not only is it a delight to listen to in its own right, it provides a marvellous intro into Out of Kilter. This track is one of a couple to feature the vocals of Andromeda Anarchia, which are quite frankly disturbing and scary in equal measure. Definitely not to my usual taste, but they fit the music incredibly well and I come dangerously close to enjoying them! The music, regardless of the vocals, is superb and it roars and growls even more greatly than Anarchia. This song is an absolute highlight of the album. It’s followed by Beasts of Summation (Outro), which works as well on this side of Out of Kilter as it did preceding it. For those wanting more, a full seven and a half minutes of Beasts of Summation can be found on Kilter’s award-winning debut EP.

Vandermeer is a joyful breath of fresh air after New Sun (which I guess is like a New Moon, as the track displays a complete absence of the warmth and comfort the sun might normally provide). Short, bright and breezy, it ends abruptly in a squall, and From the Caves of Quarum begins. Quite what is improvisation and what is structured is as blurred and inconsequential as the lengths of the tracks. There is as much enjoyment in the shorter pieces as there is in the longer ones. None out-stay their welcome, and all know when their time is done. Caves is almost five and a half minutes long, and the following Detention is less than a minute, and both say all they need to say, and are equally enjoyable.

Kafkanated is another favourite track of mine on the album, it’s playful jazz noir taken to all kinds of new levels (depths?), with a skittering doom drone scat. It’s quite magnificent, and although I love it, I’m always quite thankful for Pluto is Not Just Rock, which follows, another favourite, although it pulls in a completely different direction, being quite minimalist in sound and structure. The contrast of this with Kafkanated is delightful. Pluto is reminiscent of King Crimson improvisations (particularly Starless and Bible Black era), but while it evokes the same feel, Kilter never sound like Crimson. Pitiless Garment follows and provides a sense of growing menace, which explodes into outright threat as Mover’s Acid begins. This is another track where Anarchia provides her deranged vocals – and once again they are perfect for the mood and the song. Screeches and wails that I doubt I could bare outside the confines of Kilter, but which somehow delight within.

After a brief excursion into what comes close to normality with Behind Your Door, the album provides another banger with final track Spherical Bastards, which I suspect may have originally been intended to be the title track, as that is how the album that was presented to me for review was titled. The beginnings belie the malignancy of the track. After two minutes or so, the sole guitar of the album (from Per Nilsson of Meshuggah) appears in incendiary fashion. The track spirals out in a loose fashion, before finally disintegrating. And if you listen to the album on repeat, you’ll appreciate just how spherical these bastards are. The album loops back on itself in quite spectacular fashion. If I don’t feel like playing the album on repeat, I’ll often start with Beasts of Summation (Intro) and play through to Ax & Spear. That actually makes for a more logical sequence, perhaps, but I’m not sure a band called Kilter would ever wish to be logical.

Axiom is an off-kilter succession of musical experiments and improvisations. It is brutal and it is beautiful, often at the same times. It’s not always an easy listen, but it’s always an enjoyable one. It makes the unlistenable not only listenable but thoroughly engaging. It’s genuinely alarming and gloriously absorbing. The music of Kilter is powerful and expressive in a way that blows away what most bands labelled “power trios” are creating today. Harsh, heavy and hellish, and downright addictive, Kilter’s cross-genre eclecticism may be too much for some listeners, but if you’re feeling adventurous, I urge you to give this a go!

01. Ax & Spear (4:04)
02. Beasts Of Summation [Intro] (1:35)
03. Out Of Kilter (6:12)
04. Beasts Of Summation [Outro] (1:17)
05. New Sun (1:34)
06. Vandermeer (1:22)
07. From the Caves Of Quarum (5:23)
08. Detention (0:48)
09. Kafkanated (3:18)
10. Pluto Is Not Just Rock (4:51)
11. Pitiless Garment (1:45)
12. Mover’s Acid (2:30)
13. Behind Your Door (2:53)
14. Spherical Bastards (6:11)

Total Time – 43:23

Kenny Grohowski – Drums
Ed Rosenberg III – Saxophones
Laurent David – Bass
~ with:
Andromeda Anarchia – Vocals (tracks 3 & 12)
Per Nilsson – Guitar (track 14)

Record Label: Alter-Nativ
Country of Origin – U.S.A./France
Date of release – 28th February 2020

Kilter – Facebook | Bandcamp | YouTube

This news story was originally published here:

* Gush Warning * Gush Warning * Gush Warning *

This album is stunning. If you have been dipping in to the Hats Off Gentlemen It’s Adequate (HOGIA) broadcasts from lockdown, there are hints, but this album is absolutely stunning.

I first saw the band at Steve Gould’s Fusion Festival (2019) and in a series of wonderful performances, it was one of many highlights. Soundwise, my thought in the moment was of a sub-Pink Floyd act that was worthy of further investigation. Expectations were good, and a brief chat with Malcolm Galloway intrigued me. I went away and wrote favourably, I think (I’ve not checked), but I’ve listened more.

What I did not expect was an album that has just blown away more than anything else I have heard this year to date. Century Rain is haunting, in a year that really can do without ghosts. Chills occur in places I thought buried. It stretches the boundaries of the genre, as the best progressive music does. The atmosphere is set from the first note, the lyrics are sombre, but the music is optimistic. It twists and turns, but like that rodeo ride we took at the start of lockdown, just hang in there.

Twin Earth carries on the epic introduction, and the combination of instrumentation lifts it far beyond the mundane. The lyrics are thoughtful, provocative…

Ark raises those chills again. This is an album of tracks that, by preference, I will listen through, but if needs be, singular glorious tracks will do, Ark being one of those. A passing pedestrian remarks, (whilst on her way to the home office), how it sounds like Moby; I can also hear it, Oldfield and Pink Floyd also in there, but as those thoughts fade and the dawn mist of the reviewer’s day lifts, HOGIA stamp their own footprint, with gay abandon.

Ark relates to HMS Ark Royal, here is an extract from an interesting essay by Malcolm regarding the track and the vessel:

“Our piece Ark follows the story of the Ark Royal. The first section represents the building of the ship, with the launch coming at about 1:30. The guitar comes in as the ship takes off into open waters. At 3:00 the music becomes more cautious, as the pageantry of the launch is replaced by the nervous anticipation of imminent war. German U-boats take up position around Britain in preparation for their attempted blockade. At 5:00 the Ark Royal first encounters the enemy. The Ark Royal was part of a ‘hunter-killer’ group searching for U-boats, summoned to defend the cargo ship HMS Fanad. Although the Ark Royal comes under attack, the ship was rapidly turned, and the torpedoes narrowly missed. The attacking U-boat was sunk by an accompanying Royal Navy destroyer; however, it was clear how vulnerable the aircraft carrier was to U-boat attack. The section from 6:20 follows the Ark’s hunting of, and eventual sinking of the Bismarck, the most powerful ship in the German navy. The piece ends with the sinking of the Ark Royal.”

The piece is dedicated to Richard Galloway, the Fleet Air Arm, and all those who risked everything to stand up against the Nazis. I felt it was pertinent to include this in the review.

Conjoiners and Scorpio are the closest to surreal – disjointed, discordant, and avant garde (in the way that Evil Jam on The Lamb Lies Down can be irritating and annoying, or sometimes just wow), but they fit, they really are not out of place, but I acknowledge might be medicinally uncomfortable. Scorpio is almost heavy metal in its delivery, but you cannot ignore it, it draws you in until the energy becomes part of the listening experience.

Stepping back, Nanobotoma delves into Malcolm Galloway’s apparent love of science fiction and desire for it to provide solutions. There appears to me to be much emotional content invested in this track. It is an album of instrumentals and songs, that overall seem to provide a narrative voice. I don’t think it is a concept though, merely coincidence. Nanobotoma is grim but hopeful. Chasing Neon aptly into Glitterband, no foil suits here. There are no weak tracks, odd yes, but weak? Absolutely not. Perhaps a resurrection of mid-Seventies glam rock? Well no, but like everything on this album, it’s in the Goldilocks zone. Just right.

Inhibitors I would best describe as an aural sculpture, close your eyes and the images of some industrial art installation may appear. It leads into the title track which in its full non-radio edit form swirls around you with an insistent drum beat and haunting flute. Elegant, structured and one reason this feels like a suite rather than an album of songs.

Nostalgia for Infinity ends, and the album moves into Voyager, itself on an infinite journey, Pink Floyd-ish, but also not, it holds its own. The nostalgia for the past remains throughout, but never detracting from the fact this album is of now. Beautiful.

Sixth Extinction closes the album, it is an enjoyable ride and I can see you being happy to place on repeat. In doing so I have heard new bits every time. Sixth Extinction is a warning, but a helluva kick to end an album. The track drives, and attacks, and appears to have the odd nostalgic album title reference. Though that might be my imagination sailing close to the edge.

All musical contributions have been amazing, Kathryn Thomas’ flute is incredible, if she can stand on one leg whilst playing. Mark Gatland? Well Nick Beggs has a Stick challenger.

This is truly an excellent album, by far my 2020 favourite so far, and if you do not purchase, I suspect you to be slightly depraved. I will also vote for you at the next US elections. So, Buy!!! The download is good, I recommend the CD, and if there is vinyl, sell your soul. Oh, and read the sleeve-notes. Enjoy.

01. Century Rain (9:17)
02. Twin Earth (5:59)
03. Ark (11:48)
04. Nanobotoma (5:27)
05. Chasing Neon (5:35)
~ Redemption: Ark Royal Suite
06. Glitterband (5:33)
07. Conjoiners (4:32)
08. Scorpio (1:20)
09. Inhibitors (3:26)
10. Nostalgia For Infinity (7:00)
11. Voyager (5:50)
12. Sixth Extinction (4:06)

Total Time – 69:45

Malcolm Galloway – Vocals, Guitar, Keyboards & Synths, Programming
Mark Gatland – Bass Guitar, Additional Guitars, Keyboards & Synths, Chapman Stick
Kathryn Thomas – Flute (tracks 1,2,9,10 & 11), Vocals (track 10)

Record Label: Independent
Country of Origin: U.K.
Date of Release: 6th May 2020

Hats Off Gentlemen It’s Adequate – Website | Facebook | Twitter | Bandcamp

This news story was originally published here:

I first came across the excellent PsychoYogi some years ago in 2004, when I saw them in concert in London. They happened to be supported by a band I used to be in myself (that’s a whole other story). I was immediately struck by their sound, bringing to mind instantly some of my favourite musical references, including Frank Zappa, Captain Beefheart and Primus. I have followed their progression, off and on, ever since, and always enjoyed the albums they have produced. Well crafted compositions, flair in both group and individual performance, charming instrumentation, superb musicianship and engaging themology have been consistent ingredients in the delicious Psychoyogical stew.

So here we are again, with another highly engaging album from the band, Dangerous Devices. As well as the excellent musicianship, often off kilter yet accessible song structures, and irresistible charismatic outsider individualism, another crucial signature element of PsychoYogi is main man Chris Ramsing’s lyricism. I always perceive Chris’ lyrics as featuring a focus on the dysfunctional factors of human post-modernity, including themes of environmental destruction, socioeconomic inequity, and imbalance with nature. Don’t think that this is going to be some kind of terminally depressing doomfest however, as Ramsing’s lyrics always seem to have a positive slant; observing the negativity immediately apparent in our society, yet presenting the potential for positive change. Maybe I’m making it sound more politicised than it is, but I suppose I am just trying to say that, musically and lyrically, this is, for me anyway, inherently positive music.

So that brings us fully to the present – and I dare say when Mr Ramsing wrote the opening title track, he may not have had the current global crisis specifically in mind, but the opening lines seem starkly appropriate in some ways: “Will there be a happy ending, we are descending, everybody in despair; progress, got us in a fine mess, everybody express panic and confusion […] crisis, that is what the price is, dangerous devices, negative collusion”, as well as the aforementioned suggestion of the potential for positive change (“all deeds can be undone”) – let’s hope… I’m not suggesting any propheteering here, just expressing the parallels I can’t help but drawing in the current climate. Themes elsewhere (from my individualised perception) include the obsession on fetishising the new and novel – what I might term ‘update culture’ – (Sooner Than Now), respecting the divinity of nature (New Frontier) and celebrity culture (Common As Muck). Anyway, the focus should be on the musicality rather than the lyricism, but the thing with PsychoYogi is that the two go inexorably together – and the overall musical result is all the more rounded and satisfying for it.

Dangerous Devices by PsychoYogi

In terms of the performers, Chris Ramsing, with his dextrous guitar style, at once jazz infused and with an avant rock edge, and idiosyncratic vocalising, resolutely holds centre stage. Justin Casey on drums and percussion and Izzy Stylish on bass hold down a solid and supportive rhythm section, and horn duo Toby Nowell on trumpet, alto and tenor saxophone, along with John McNaughton on alto and tenor saxophone provide highly able and entertaining embellishment. The overall result is one of an effortless, well balanced organism, complex and yet somehow almost minimalistic, providing each performer with space for expression. These guys have been doing this for a long time and it shows in spades. They make it sound so easy, yet the more you listen, the more you realise this is most certainly not the case.

There are many highlights, Dangerous Devices with its aforementioned social comment and mercurial rhythm, Words Unspoken with its chiming jollity at odds with its title, Master Plan with its Primus goes jazz vibe and seductively entertaining yet challenging vocal; Moron (actually a stripped back, acoustic-based version of an old song of theirs) with its Primus-like irreverence and idiosyncrasy; I could go on – but you should discover for yourself.

PsychoYogi are one of those bands who have been quietly and steadily doing their thing for years, and keeping the faith in what they are doing being worthwhile. I for one assert that it is indeed very worthwhile, and this is a band and musical project deserving of much more attention than they have garnered. If from the above this sounds anything like your thing, you’ll be doing your ears and soul a great favour in checking out Dangerous Devices (and indeed the rest of the PsychoYogi catalogue).

01. Dangerous Devices (4:45)
02. One Way Track (3:11)
03. Master Plan (4:08)
04. New Frontier (2:57)
05. Sooner Than Now (4:12)
06. Common As Muck (2:27)
07. Shadows (4:22)
08. Moron (1:46)
09. Tender Loving Way (2:20)
10. Lament (0:53)
11. Words Unspoken (4:14)
12. Plastic Palace (0:22)

Total Time – 35:37

Chris Ramsing – Guitar, Vocal
Justin Casey – Drums, Percussion
Izzy Stylish – Bass
Toby Nowell – Trumpet, Alto & Soprano Sax (track 1,2,4,5,6,9 & 10)
John McNaughton – Alto & Tenor Sax (tracks 3,7,9 & 11)

Record Label: Independent
Country of Origin: U.K.
Date of Release: 11th April 2020

PsychoYogi – Website | Facebook | Bandcamp

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Under lockdown and in isolation, it might have seemed that the world could turn in on itself, become insular and individualistic. Somewhat paradoxically, communities unable to meet with each other, and many of whom have never interacted, have come together in ways perhaps unimaginable at the beginning of this year. I’ve never known the village I live in to be as friendly, helpful and community-spirited as it is right now. Inspired by this community spirit and by Josh Homme’s Desert Sessions, Italian uber-producer/engineer Riccardo Pasini (whose name is surely well known among fans of music of a heavier persuasion), decided to put together a Home Edition. Homme’s Sessions were always less about making music for financial gain, and more about playing with friends. So, in a period of forced inactivity, Pasini had the idea to find other musicians wanting to spend their time constructively to compose, play and spend time with – apart, but together. A Facebook post raised such an enthusiastic response that a group was formed for a virtual collective that included over 100 collaborators.

There’s no easy way to describe the music of Desert Session Home Edition’s album, Phase 1, as it hops effortlessly across and between genres. Morricone sounding Western soundscapes, ambient, industrial, trip hop, rock, goth, folk, electronica, metal and post-rock intersect and collide. As anyone who joined the Facebook group was able to make their own compositional contribution, the influences are incredibly disparate and varied. To Pasini’s credit, he has somehow taken all these contributions, and made something remarkably cohesive. Never does any track sound like the patchwork affair its bare bones might possibly reveal. Rather each is a seamless whole, and it’s an incredible trip to listen to as the album evolves, and so very enjoyable.

The composite writing of the pieces has allowed each contributor to express their feelings during lockdown and isolation, and the resulting contributions find styles, genres and musicians meeting as they perhaps never would have otherwise – in the same way our communities have. Music reflects life, and Pasini has found a way to let each have their own space, while making unexpected connections, allowing the composition of very complex and eclectic pieces where the characters of the musicians merge in carthartic expression. It’s not always an easy listen, but it’s always enjoyable, and for such a lengthy release (running for approximately an hour and a half over its nine tracks), that’s no mean feat in itself. The eclecticism and variation no doubt help maintain interest, but even that alone would not be sufficient if the material was not of constant quality.

Every track presents different moods and styles, and with most being around ten minutes or more there is ample opportunity to make stylistic changes in a fluid and unforced fashion. Overall, I guess, a heavier tone predominates, but never overwhelming any other style. And never is any instrument lost in the mix. The production is top notch! It is hard to express just how impressed I am by how Pasini has put together the exceptional amount of material, so that the completed jigsaw picture shows absolutely no joins, without resorting to hyperbole. This is one of the greatest albums released so far this year, and it was created by musicians who just wanted to connect and play. Not one of these musicians have participated for any gain, other than a way to escape their isolation, and to be creative, and it’s worth noting that all proceeds from any sales go to the Italian Red Cross.

The best news? Riccardo Pasini announced on 6th May that Phase 2 is about to begin…..

01. Quarantine (13:53)
02. Distorta Dimensione (10:23)
03. From Soul to Bones (5:33)
04. Spleen Milieu (13:22)
05. L’Invenzione (9:12)
06. La Distanza Nel Silenzio (11:20)
07. Branchie/Il Bacio (9:16)
08. L’Istinto (5:20)
09. In Solitude (13:29)

Total Time – 91:48

Emilio Albertoni, Andrea Allodoli, Agnese Alteri, Samuele Anconelli, Mohammed Ashraf, Enrico Baraldi, Max Barbieri, Luca Bartolini, Matteo Bassoli, Nicola Benetti, Mattia Bertolassi, Valerio Biagini, Gabriele Bombardini, Filippo Bravi, Peter Cadonici, Caterina Cardinali, Andrea Carella, Andrea Carletti, Eric Castiglia, Simone Cattani, Matteo Cavaciocchi, Francesco Fresco Cellini, Valentina Cicognani, Gianmarco Ciotti, Fausto Civenni, Mauro Chiulli, Mauro Crescini, Alessandro De Lorenzi, Elena Ferragotto, Cristina Ferretti, Andrea Fioravanti, Giacomo Gastaldi, Luca Gelmini, Angelo Girardello, Giovanni Grandi, Andrea Grasso, Stefano Gritti, Michey Grug, Stefano Iori, Tatiana Lassandro, Carlo Leone, Daniele Lipparini, Gianluca Lo Presti, Michele Marchiani, Filippo Martignano, Francesca Viola Mazzoni, Giacomo Mazzu, Gruno Balli, Daniele Medici, Franco Naddei, Michelangelo Naldini, Emanuele Nanni, Andrea Napolitano, Ignazio Nistic, Luca Pansera, Andrea Para, Francesco Maria Pasi, Luca Pasini, Riccardo Pasini, Stefano Penazzi, Daniele Pollio, Mauro Pulga, Silvia Raggetti, Massimiliano Rassu, Francesco Ronchi, Adolfo Rosolia, Diego Ruggeri, Mario Sabadelli, Paolo Sanchi, Alex Semprini, Andrea Solimene, Ronny Taccola, Cristiano Tommasini, Emilio Torreggiani, Alessandro Trere, Gian Maria Vannoni, Andrea Vasumini, Matteo Virga, Niccolò Maria Zanzi

Record Label – Independent
Country of Origin – Italy
Date of Release – 27th April 2020

Desert Sessions Home Edition – Website (Riccardo Pisini) | Facebook | Bandcamp

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Hi! I just released a new Space Rock song I was working on since last Halloween. It was originally an Electronic improvisation but built a song over it. I was mainly inspired by Zombi/Gary Numan/King Crimson/Eloy among others.

I’d appreciate your feedback so please let me know what you think Thumbs Up

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For twenty years now, the month of May has been a celebration in New Zealand of its musical past and present, and the first day of NZ Music Month this year saw the long-awaited release of City of Soul’s debut album. Upon checking my Facebook history, it appears I have “liked” City of Souls since February 2015. The band have drip-fed us singles since then, but finally the whole album is here, and it was definitely worth the wait.

City of Souls are probably not going to be accepted as a prog band by many listeners, but there are definite progressive elements to their music, and the musicians who make up the band are all from bands who are equally not prog, per se, but whose music is often more intricate and complex than other bands that play a similar style. As for those bands, they give no real indication of the music of City of Souls, including extreme metal bands 8 Foot Sativa (for whom Steve Boag and Corey Friedlander have played) and In Dread Response (for whom Steve, Corey and Trajan Schwencke have played), and hardcore acts Cold By Winter (Trajan) and New Way Home (Richie Simpson). If City of Souls bear a resemblance to any of the bands their members have played with, it is Blindspott (Marcus Powell) and Solstate (for whom Daniel Insley has played in its live incarnation).

Reflecting on the length of time it has taken for Synæsthesia to finally arrive, Marcus has said, “City of Souls have hit every single obstacle and block you can imagine. For us, this album is about endurance, passion, and a deep love for music. We have had these songs written and recorded with (producer) Forrester Savell for a long time but for whatever reason, our timelines and plans kept changing. What I love is the solidarity and persistence with which the City of Souls family have pushed through. No matter what happened with the cancelled tours, shows, album deals and record labels, we, as a collective, have stayed strong and loyal. To say we are excited to release this album is an under-statement.” The excitement is not only from the band, but from a devoted fan base.

So what does the music sound like, and why the excitement? Well, there have been six singles released before this year, and another two in recent months, so anyone following the band will know what to expect. But for those new to it, the sound of Synæsthesia is mature and assured, which is hardly surprising given that all the band are seasoned professional musicians with up to 20 years of experience. That doesn’t mean the aggression and angst is entirely missing, so much as it is more subtly layered into the atmospheric soundscapes of the album. Likewise, the vocals may not have the hardcore or extreme gruffness (thankfully for me, as I’m not really a fan of that style), but Richie Sampson’s croon is suitably abrasive when required.

The opening track, Life Blood, seems to bring the beautiful cover art to life, and provides an indication of just how richly and densely layered this album is. The production is wonderful, with every instrument coming through crisp and clear, so everything can be heard and appreciated. Whether or not it is the influence of producer Forrester Savell it can be easy (or lazy) at times to compare City of Soul’s sound with some of the Aussie prog bands he has had involvement with (e.g. The Butterfly Effect and Dead Letter Circus, to name just two); or, to keep it Kiwi, I Am Giant. Realistically, you’re never going to confuse City of Souls with any of these bands, but it gives an indication of the general sound.

The three-pronged guitar attack of Marcus Powell, Trajan Schwencke and Steve Boag provide some awesome harmonies, working together or individually, the riffs and fills sometimes lush, sometimes gritty, sometimes haunting, but always engaging. Coupled with the energetic and driving rhythm section of Daniel Insley (bass) and Corey Friedlander (drums), this is a band full of talent. That rhythm section really shines, too, on the perhaps surprising Joy Division cover LWTUA (surprising only if you’re new to the band, though, as it has been a live favourite for quite some time). I’ve always believed there’s little point in covering a song unless you can do something different with it, and City of Souls have definitely made this their own. I admit I wasn’t initially sure if I liked it, but that was probably down to my familiarity with the original. I love it now.

This is a masterful and triumphant debut that the band can truly be proud of. It has already gained attention outside New Zealand, and if you want to celebrate 20 years of NZ Music Month, this taonga from Aotearoa would be a great place to start. And although celebrating 25 years of NZ Music Month with City of Souls might be nice, too, let’s just hope it’s not another five years before the band follows up Synæsthesia!

01. Life Blood (4:37)
02. Ferryman (4:44)
03. Whispers (3:47)
04. Cruelty (3:55)
05. Shimmer (4:46)
06. Wolf (3:46)
07. White Ghost (4:35)
08. Sleep (4:13)
09. Water (4:17)
10. Long Gone (4:25)
11. Tying Tongues (4:30)
12. Brush Strokes (4:00)
13. LWTUA (4:02)
14. Mountain (4:47)
15. Iron Heart (3:27)
16. Synæsthesia (4:43)

Total Time – 68:34

Trajan Schwencke – Guitar
Steve Boag – Guitar
Marcus Powell – Guitar
Richie Simpson – Vocals
Daniel Insley – Bass
Corey Friedlander – Drums

Record Label: Independent
Country of Origin: New Zealand
Date of Release: 1st May 2020

City of Souls – Website | Facebook | Bandcamp | YouTube