The Progressive Aspect

This news story was originally published here: http://theprogressiveaspect.net/blog/2018/04/22/geph-apophenia/

Boston, Massachusetts-based GEPH are back with a second album.

According to the Interwebs, Apophenia is “the spontaneous perception of connections and meaningfulness of unrelated phenomena”, the term first coined by German neurologist and psychiatrist Klaus Conrad (1905-1961). Conrad focused on the finding of abnormal meaning or significance in random experiences by psychotic people. The word has found a place outside psychiatry [Editor: Not a day goes by that when I don’t casually drop ‘apophenia’ into conversation…] and is used to describe the natural tendency of human beings to find meaning and significance in random, coincidental, or impersonal data. Apophenia may be described as the tendency to find personal information in noise, e.g., happening upon an open safety pin and seeing the arms as a sign indicating the time your son committed suicide”. Source link: HERE.

You may have seen my review of GEPH’s first album. I summarised with “I’d like to hear more of this highly collaborative sound but also hear a little bit of the individual jumping out, perhaps in the guise of a track penned by each of these cracking musicians on their next album. There must be a next album.” Well, part of what I’d like to see happen, happened – but did the rest!?

What can you expect? It’s probably better not to expect anything. Ignore my obsession with references to the Chapman Stick – GEPH don’t really play on it – actually, they absolutely do play on Chapman Sticks, but they don’t harp on about it. They don’t play harps. Approach GEPH with an open mind. You will hear what I’d imagine is Jazz Rock, suffused with industrial metal. There are riffs to lull you into a false sense of security and whilst comfortably standing on your back foot they’ll push you off-balance with a heavy, full body head-banging growl of distorted strings and a barrage of drums.

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Just as you think you have a handle on what this album is about Tyler will make you look again with an ambient track. One extreme to the other! Then a couple of tracks on it’s pure jazz with mind-fuck time signatures which further changes the depth and character of this album. The word “jazz” crops up a lot in this review but this isn’t just a jazz-rock-fusion album. In places GEPH perform the darkest and heaviest shit you could ever wish to hear.

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I really liked the first album but the music on Apophenia is wider in scope. I doubt my review of the first album made any difference to the outcome of this second album but, nevertheless, they absolutely nailed it. This unusual six-legged entity has done exactly what I wanted. I am familiar with both Stickists’ solo material, and whilst the music of the debut album showcases a coherent and democratic approach, the second album is a much more relaxed affair in terms of showing how the individuals make up the sum of the parts. Their individuality is embraced and yet there isn’t the remotest hint of there being anything but a single vision of what makes GEPH function – no mean feat given that both Stick players take it in turns to play lead, bass and rhythm.

Apophenia has more space than the debut album, but where it is called for they do not hold back. This music is full. In any case, Apophenia showcases the songwriting and player expertise of all three musicians perfectly. GEPH have evidently made Apophenia from the heart but these are clever musicians with brains. They can’t help but make it from that organ, and I believe that is evidenced by some of the time signatures and astonishing interactions, beats, drum-breaks, arpeggios, licks and riffs. This stuff is clever, sophisticated, at times joyous, in others, heavy, even, in places, creepy.

If you like Brand X, Bruford, Aphex Twin and the more Frippertronic side of Robert Fripp, then I reckon you’ll like this. Brilliant. It’ll be playing in my car for a while!

TRACK LISTING
01. Macroaggressions (7:41)
02. Whole Body Headbang (4:40)
03. Little Guy (2:41)
04. Get Your Insignificance On (4:58)
05. Mourningstar (6:24)
06. W.W.F.D. (8:52)
07. Back From Space Earth (5:40)

Total Time 40:56

MUSICIANS
John Tyler Kent – Chapman Stick
Josh Goldberg – Chapman Stick
Josh Merhar – Drums

ADDITIONAL INFO
Record Label: | Independent
Country of Origin: U.S.A.
Date of Release: 26th July 2018

LINKS
GEPH – Website | Facebook | Twitter | Bandcamp

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This news story was originally published here: http://theprogressiveaspect.net/blog/2018/04/21/fernando-perdomo-out-to-sea/

This is the debut album from Dave Kerzner Band member Fernando Perdomo, guitarist and bassist, who pretty much does everything on this album except one drum machine performance. This is a totally instrumental tour de force from Fernando, and one which harks back to classic era Progressive Rock from the 1970s, with tracks dedicated to some of his musical heroes, including Peter Banks (The Architect), Focus (De Boerdeij), Curved Air (Sonja) and John Wetton (Starless).

There is a lot of guitar all over this album, not shredding or ‘fret-wank’ per se, rather this is all very tastefully done with a delicacy and lightness of touch that shows some real skill and talent.

Opener The Architect takes a Peter Banks tone with some chunky riffage, all very appealing and one can almost smell the patchouli oil or joss sticks simmering in the burner, such is the sense of late ’60s Yes. Intriguing, charming and a great opener, this is followed by the title track with its strong Steve Hackett influence – no bad thing in my book. Obviously Fernando is a big fan of Mr Hackett as can be felt here with the clean solo lines and the guitar tone he adopts for this song, again a very pleasing track which grows as the melody soars ever higher. This is seriously good stuff, but be warned, you need to stay with this for a while for its magic to be released – but it is there in the music for sure.

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De Boerdeij harks back to Focus’ classic House of the King and Sylvia, as it follows a similar pace with an acoustic opening interjected by a strident solo guitar line, before reverting to the acoustic. Another song which shows Fernando’s not inconsiderable skill in approximating the deft style of Jan Akkerman, and also in creating a song that is worthy of the great man himself, this is a classic waiting to be discovered and deserves a much wider audience than it will probably receive.

Roses Spread All Over The World is next with another great guitar tone (heavy on the tremelo pedal one thinks) and a very solid and memorable melody. The more I’ve played this album the more I’ve enjoyed it, this is a very talented musician who covers all the bases well with inventive and clever material. Hopefully this album will do well for Fernando as anyone who likes good guitar playing will find much to enjoy here for sure.

The Future According To Roye is a tribute to Roye Albrighton and Nektar, and again there is a fine guitar line and tone which matches perfectly the ground-breaking work that that band had in the 1970s and beyond. The next song is very short and not entirely successful in my opinion, seeming to go nowhere special, although it does give Fernando a chance to show his chops somewhat and doesn’t overstay its welcome.

Sonja is a tribute to Sonja Kristina and Curved Air, with the guitar playing a muted melody line similar to Darryl Way’s violin on early Curved Air classics. Again the tone is lovely in a brief but great little tune with nice use of a harmoniser too. Very classy indeed.

The final piece is also the longest at almost sixteen minutes long and is a tribute to John Wetton and classic 1970s era King Crimson. Initially I thought it was going to be a cover of KC’s Starless, but instead Fernando seems to have used it as a starting point for an extended piece opening with piano and a delicate guitar line. This is a very exciting and constantly moving piece with great guitar throughout, obviously from a big fan of King Crimson, and this is a well crafted track that shows that influence to staggering effect, one that has shades of the original Starless alongside a very effective Fender Rhodes piano part this is a triumph. It’s a song that calls for far wider acclaim, a prog fan’s wet dream, and I would urge all Crimson fans to hear this majestic masterpiece urgently.

In summary this is very fine album indeed and comes highly recommended by this humble reviewer.

TRACK LISTING
01. The Architect (4:07)
02. Out To Sea (4:16)
03. De Boerdeij (3:11)
04. Roses Spread Over The World (3:44)
05. The Future According To Roye (6:23)
06. The Dream (2:43)
07. Sonja (2:35)
08. Dreaming In Stereo (16:03)
09. Starless (15:55)

Total Time – 58:57

MUSICIANS
Fernando Perdomo – All Guitars, Bass, Keyboards, Synthesizers & Drums

ADDITIONAL INFO
Record Label: Cherry Red Records
Catalogue#: FMR027
Date of Release: 9th February 2018

LINKS
Fernando Perdomo – Website | Facebook | Bandcamp | Cherry Red Info Page

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This news story was originally published here: http://theprogressiveaspect.net/blog/2018/04/20/riversea-the-tide/

Riversea return with their first album since 2012, The Tide is a fine release of emotional maturity expressed beautifully through a skilled and sensitive synthesis of music and lyrics. It is clear that both Marc Atkinson and Brendan Eyre, the band’s songwriters, have been through some trying personal times and suffered loss. All our lives ebb and flow over the years, and as we grow older we become increasingly aware that in the end nothing or no-one can hold back ‘The Tide’ – it’s how we cope with those changes and losses that really matters.

The Tide opens with the title track as an eerie Floyd-like guitar line from newcomer Peter Aves slowly emerges, but then we are hit with a stab of drums and guitars like a wave crashing on the shore. This is a prelude to a simple but moving piano theme over which Marc Atkinson’s warm, resonant voice sings of loss and hope:

“Taken away by the Tide, So far I couldn’t see
I’ll meet you on the other side, Where the River meets the Sea
A Place where no Shadows can Fall, a land where no Darkness can be
A Love that embraces all, Where the River meets the Sea…”

This is an outstanding and emotional opening to the album. Olivia Sparnenn Josh of Mostly Autumn gracefully backs Atkinson’s vocals and Aves shines on delicately picked guitar. However, they all have the massive advantage of playing affecting music beautifully composed and arranged with precision, feeling and skill by Brendan Eyre. This is not an album of epic soundscapes or incredibly ornate and complex music – this music is so much more restrained and subtle. Sometimes Less really is More. Solos are relatively brief and are there to add emphasis or feeling rather than to demonstrate technical virtuosity. Throughout Eyre arranges the songs so sensitively and effectively.

In contrast to the opener, Riversea flow down a more rock oriented path on Shine, with its strange pulsing sounds. Atkinson shows his versatile voice with a much more rock inflected vocal, which gives way to softer harmony vocals for the coda. The song alternates between a restrained and sinister throb into the more dream-like floating ‘jigsaw pieces’ refrain. Lee Abraham, now of Galahad, excels with his trademark soaring but restrained guitar sound. Eyre has revealed that the guitar players were carefully chosen for each song, according to the feel that they wanted for that song – Abraham is perfectly suited for the guitar embellishments on Shine.

This release is punctuated with three songs that comment powerfully on world events; Blasphemy, Strange Land and Uprising. Brendan Eyre has revealed that the music comes first and then Atkinson writes about subjects that have impacted upon him. Eyre then edits the music and arrangements to be sympathetic to the subject matter – and what a tremendous team they make in melding words and music together so effectively. Blasphemy was written around the time of the Manchester and Paris terror attacks, and has news soundbites threaded through it. Atkinson and Eyre sorrowfully combine voice and piano in a brave questioning of the thought processes and beliefs of extremists behind these tragic events:

“If God can’t save us from his followers, How do we save us from ourselves?
If all they see is blasphemy, What will they make of you and me?”

The song concludes dramatically with harp-like sounds and a great building guitar part from Paul Cusick over swirling keys and string effects, all underpinned skilfully by Alex Cromarty’s finely judged drums.

On a similar topical theme, possibly one of the best songs on the album is Strange Land, about the desperate plight of refugees across the world, and Atkinson is not afraid to touch on the fear in the Western world associated with this issue:

“Who are the ‘bad’? Who are the ‘good’? Who are the ones misunderstood?
Which ones hide the bombs inside their bags? And which ones are the innocents being torn to rags?”

The link with the subject matter of Blasphemy is unmistakable – this is a strong song about important matters. There is real power in the restrained manner in which the piece is composed. Riversea also show great judgement in the impeccable choice of the guitarist for Strange Land – Simon Godfrey’s soulful, climbing guitar line is distinctive and emotional, and in perfect keeping with such a sad subject. Similarly, the choice of Cosmograf’s Robin Armstrong for an intense and emotive guitar part on Your Last Day is an inspired choice. Earlier in the song Eyre also excels with a sinuous and sparkling synth run to compliment Atkinson’s delicate and heartfelt vocals.

As something of a counterbalance, musically and thematically, to some of the more melancholic pieces on the album, The Design has a lighter jangling, chiming and optimistic feel, underpinned by Dave Clements deftly played bass, as he does throughout the album.  Marc’s sister Janine Atkinson adds lovely backing vocals, as she does on three others, to this spiritually positive song.

The finale of the album, Uprising, returns us to world events as it was inspired by the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Lee Abraham shows his versatility on guitar with an acoustic opening and a restrained but typically soaring electric guitar part towards the end. Tony Patterson, with whom Eyre combined so beautifully on their great joint 2014 album, Northlands, adds a mournful flute and the harmony vocals in the coda have echoes of Clannad.

There are two particularly personal songs on The Tide and bearing in mind the overall ‘feel’ of this album perhaps it is appropriate to conclude with thoughts on Goodbye my Friend and To Those That Are Left Behind. Goodbye my Friend is dedicated by Marc Atkinson to the memories of Andy Seddon and Liam Davison (of Mostly Autumn). Sadly, they both died young in the last couple of years. When you hear that Marc went to school with Liam Davison and they formed the group Expressions, which later became Frontier, and that Andy Seddon later joined their group, it becomes clear why the song is so deeply touching. Peter Aves plays lovely acoustic and electric guitars and is clearly a talent to keep an eye out for in future. Brendan Eyre has shared that he feels “Marc Atkinson has a lovely touch with sadness lyrics”, as shown in his touching words:

“Farewell my friend you know, We’ve come to shed our tears,
And spread your life out, And reflect upon the years,
Cast your Soul to the sea, And watch it go Free…”

This album is dedicated by Brendan Eyre to his father, Richard Eyre, whom passed away during the period of recording. Eyre writes so well in the minor key and this is shown most elegiacally in To Those That Are Left Behind, which is arranged with great sensitivity and emotion – Atkinson sings it perfectly.

The Tide Reprise ends this wonderful album to aptly bring us full circle – the Tide always returns. None of us can hold it back. We are all subject to the ebb and flow of life and death… as I began, it’s how we cope with those changes and losses that really matters.

In this album Marc Atkinson and Brendan Eyre have produced a beautiful, resonant and at times brave album – maybe part of it may have helped them cope with the changing Tides of life. It will certainly provide great food for thought and some solace for listeners.

Whatever one’s thoughts on the underpinning emotions, musically and lyrically this album is sheer class, and one of the best releases of 2018 so far.

TRACK LISTING
01. The Tide (5:52)
02. Shine (4:54)
03. Blasphemy (5:34)
04. Your Last Day (5:16)
05. Drowning In Vertigo (4:41)
06. Strange Land (5:43)
07. The Design (4:14)
08. Fall Out Warning (4:33)
09. Goodbye My Friend (5:07)
10. To Those That Are Left Behind (2:08)
11. Uprising (6:35)
12. The Tide Reprise (0:59)

Total Time – 55:36

MUSICIANS
Marc Atkinson – Lead & Backing Vocals
Brendan Eyre – Keyboards, Piano, Additional Guitars, Additional Percussion, Programming
David Clements – Bass Guitar
Alex Cromarty – Drums
~ With:
Peter Aves – Guitars (tracks 1,7,8 & 9)
Lee Abraham – Guitars (tracks 2 & 11)
Paul Cusick – Guitars (track 3)
Robin Armstrong – Guitars (track 4)
Martin Ledger – Guitars (track 5)
Simon Godfrey – Guitars (track 6)
Tony Patterson – Flutes (tracks 8 & 11)
Olivia Sparnenn Josh – Backing Vocals (track 1)
Janine Atkinson – Backing Vocals (tracks 2,7,9 & 11)
Louise Dawson – Backing Vocals (track 4)

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
Record Label: Independent
Country of Origin: U.K.
Dear of Release: 30th March 2018

DISCOGRAPHY
– Out Of An Ancient World (2012)

LINKS
Riversea – Website | Facebook | Bandcamp

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This news story was originally published here: http://theprogressiveaspect.net/blog/2018/04/18/marbin-israeli-jazz/

Sax player Danny Markovitch and guitarist Dani Rabin have, until now, worn their ethnic origins fairly lightly. Based in Chicago, their previous albums have been blistering jazz-rock fusion workouts with influences ranging from the Mahavishnu Orchestra and Jeff Beck to Alice Coltrane via African rhythms, Latin jazz and the blues. Apart from the occasional use of Middle Eastern scales there has been little to suggest that these guys were actually brought up on Israeli folk music and klezmer, the celebratory dance tunes of Eastern European Jews.

On Israeli Jazz they bring those influences to the fore, with a collection of instrumental tracks clearly inspired by the traditional music of their youth. That’s not to say we’re talking Fiddler On The Roof here – the volume controls are still turned up to 11, Rabin’s guitar work is still faster than a speeding bullet and his interplay with Markovitch’s sax makes for a unique mash-up that sounds both manic and controlled at the same time.

But there’s clearly more emphasis this time around on the structures and scales of Israeli folk music. Opener The Old Ways combines a marching beat in 6/8 from drummer Blake Jiracek with a plaintive, sinuous melody on solo sax that almost has a vocal quality, like a doina, a Romanian shepherd’s lament. Then guitar and bass join in, using the lament’s minor chords as a basis for an extended nine-minute improvisation showcasing Rabin’s lightning-fast fretwork and ability to find something new to say in every bar.

A similar approach is taken with Moscow Mule, which opens with a faster tune that wouldn’t be out of place at a Jewish wedding celebration. Rabin takes over on guitar to give in a crunchy metal edge before Jon Nadel speeds things up with a bit of funky bass under Markovitch’s busy sax.

Swamp House takes a slightly different tack, opening as a bluesy stomp before Markovitch cleverly weaves a traditional-sounding melody through it, while Pirate Punch is a slow, bluesy lament that Rabin drenches with tinkling notes before some frenzied chordal thrashing reminiscent of King Crimson’s Sailor’s Tale. Magic Burro is a strange mash-up of a Jewish wedding and a Spaghetti Western, showcasing Markovitch’s sprightly soprano sax, that suddenly lurches into a lovely, winsome little tune in 5/4 that nods to Dave Brubeck.

And, finally, there are two tracks that, to me, have very little to do with Israeli folk but are wonderful, astonishing pieces of music. The first, Arkansas Jumper, is like the Dixie Dregs crossed with Frank Zappa and then played at 78rpm (for those of you old enough to remember that setting on your gramophone). Fiendishly complicated riffs are played in unison by sax and guitar at speeds that should surely generate enough heat to reach the melting point of brass.

Then there’s the title track, a solid rocker that showcases Danny and Dani’s ability to play fast interlocking phrases that sound more like Jean-Luc Ponty’s violin in the Mahavishnu Orchestra than guitar and sax. There is little folk here that I can detect but there’s plenty of rock and almost freeform jazz and, despite its name, is actually more like the Marbin we have come to expect from previous albums.

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I have to say that I came to this album with a little bit of prejudice. I feared the band’s reliance on strict folk forms and structures would inhibit the musicians from really taking flight. And I feared, I have to say, a bit of ‘If I Were A Rich Man’ cheese, deedle-eedle-eedle-um.

Thankfully, Marbin use the genre as a launching pad, not a straitjacket, to mix my metaphors. They have lost none of their attack and fire, none of their ability to combine virtuosity with an irresistible groove. What they have added are intriguing, other-wordly melodies and a goofiness, a sense of humour that makes listening to their music so much fun. Come to this album with an open mind you will be rewarded with some intense, beautiful, uplifting jazz-rock-folk-blues-prog.

TRACK LISTING
01. The Old Ways (9:26)
02. Swamp House (8:32)
03. Arkansas Jumper (6:45)
04. Moscow Mule (6:56)
05. Pirate Punch (9:51)
06. Magic Burro (8:45)
07. Israeli Jazz (7:40)

Total Time – 57:55

MUSICIANS
Dani Rabin – Guitar
Danny Markovitch – Sax
Jon Nadel – Bass
Blake Jiracek – Drums

ADDITIONAL INFO
Record Label: Independent
Country of Origin: U.S.A./Israel
Date of Release: 15th March 2018

LINKS
Marbin – Website | Facebook | Bandcamp

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This news story was originally published here: http://theprogressiveaspect.net/blog/2018/04/17/phi-cycles/

Not just the 21st letter of the Greek alphabet, Phi is referenced in aesthetics, in the natural World and in a mathematical context as “The Golden Ratio”. The band, Phi, originates in Austria where the Golden Ratio is referred to as der Goldene Schnitt – ‘the Golden Cut’. Markus Barista, according to the document that accompanies my copy of Cycles, has been searching for der Goldene Schnitt which he sees as the perfect and sophisticated blend of rock music and art.

Hmmmm. My initial reaction was: The opening is beautiful. Then BANG!!! I’m strongly reminded of one of my favourite bands, Isaac Vacuum, in that Phi know when to rock it up and know when to hold back. This is heavy and inventive enough to grab my attention. In places the songs capture the angst and nihilism of my favourite music.

I suspect that it would also appeal to fans of “Prog” who are happy to step over into the heavier side. For “Progressive Rock” it seems deceptively simple, but that’s an illusion. These songs have been crafted and carefully arranged. Not for Phi the straight-forward if repetitive verse-chorus-verse-chorus song format of a 4/4 pop song. Complicated, yet not gratuitously so, with one foot planted in a guitar driven metal bucket, Phi have a way of building in a lot of texture to this collection of songs. This is not the product of the strange set of algorithms used to produce chart music. Nevertheless, Phi don’t succumb to the prog clichés that can often manifest themselves in a complete lack of originality. The strange time signatures built-in using a kind of prog template are not immediately evident here. This music is complicated enough to show intelligent writing, seemingly because the band get a kick out of it, but avoiding any risk of it being difficult to listen to. There are tunes and even hooks that make this music hugely listenable and even after quite a few weeks at no stage did I feel tired of it; on the contrary, I look forward to hearing it.

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Markus’s lead vocals remind me of the vocal style of David Draiman of Disturbed when Phi are in full flow. There is a classic “Rock Vocalist” veneer on a bed of Nu Metal. There’s a groove, yet just when you are lulled into a comfortable head-bob, Phi step it up and lean toward the heavier side of the progressive spectrum. Phi’s music is nuanced by social commentary, if the listener chooses, but the nuance doesn’t appear to be an affectation, neither does it seem to be their reason for being. Political, but not in-your-face. The contrast of the more “ambient” sections, few that they are, serve more to remind you that this band is about power and even subtlety. Phi do make you work slightly harder during their heavier sections to find this subtlety, but it is there. It is in the sequenced sounds and keyboards carefully mixed to augment their overall sound, in the drums that might on first glance feel like a straightforward beat, yet when you follow them they are fooling you because this section is hiding its nine beats to the bar. The keyboards add softer shades to the starkness of the guitar and the interesting rhythms add something to properly get your teeth into.

Grand, ambitious and heavy, their occasional trips into quieter soundscapes will never fool you into thinking that they could be a band that tinkers with anything but musical metal. I really like this album.

TRACK LISTING
01. Children Of The Rain (8:54)
02. Dystopia (8:50)
03. In The Name Of Freedom (7:25)
04. Amber (7:38)
05. Existence (6:52)
06. Blackened Rivers (7:43)

Total Time – 47:22

MUSICIANS
Markus Bratusa – Vocals, Guitars, Synthesizer, Sound Design
Stefan Helige – Guitar
Arthur Darnhofer-Demár – Bass
Nick Koch – Drums, Percussion, Keyboards, Programming, Backing Vocals

ADDITIONAL INFO
Record Label: Gentle Art of Music/Soulfood Music
Catalogue#: GAOM 055
Country of Origin: Austria
Date of Release: 29th March 2018

LINKS
Phi – Website | Facebook

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This news story was originally published here: http://theprogressiveaspect.net/blog/2018/04/16/malady-toinen-toista/

Malady is a band from Helsinki in Finland returning with their second album, Toinen Toista, which consists of five tracks with a total playing time of forty minutes. Malady released their debut album in 2015 on Svart Records, who have also issued this new album.

The music is rooted in seventies Scandinavian progressive rock, that said there is still a modern feel as they blend this love of prog with folk elements and touches of jazz. The album has a vintage sound and this may be partly due to the warm mix, which is even clearly noticeable on the download I have for review.

It’s a beautifully put together album, which looking at the track timings would shine on vinyl with one side being given up to track five, Nurja Puoli, which clocks in at just under twenty-three minutes. The warmth of the album’s feel is almost comforting as the music envelops you, but you need patience to become fully absorbed into the musical journey. If you are able to do that then the rewards are many as this is a most enjoyable album. The song writing is of an excellent standard and each band member plays with a lot of skill and finesse with vocals delivered by Babak Issabeigloo in his native Finnish, which far from detracting from the music goes a long way to enhancing the overall atmosphere.

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The songs were composed and arranged by the band in collaboration, and they state that the album “…is open to many interpretations and laden with symbolism, but at its core lays the basic questions of being human and the transient nature of things”.

Toinen Toista opens with the title track and a dream like feel provided by the bass and guitar, drums adding fills here and there. Things change as the guitar picks up the pace with a beautiful melody some four minutes in, before the vocals start. This segues into the next track and the third so seamlessly that you could be forgiven for thinking they are all movements of the same piece. Laulu Sisaruksille starts with keys and rumbling drums before moving into a classical vibe with strings leading the song forward to the smooth, almost jazzy funk vibe of Tiedon Kehtolaulu. Lyrics are delivered almost from the off, again enhancing the mood of the piece, with bright and positive keyboards wrapping the melody around the main structure of the song.

The high standards continue on Etsijän Elinehto, with some blistering guitar supported by Hammond organ, before we get to the twenty three minute closer, Nurja Puoli. On this track the band get the opportunity to stretch out and express themselves, each player getting the chance to shine in what feels like an improvised groove. That said there is definitely structure here, and that is down to the skills shown by the band. There is some great guitar work throughout, the bass and drums hold things together, offering drive and direction, the sound filled out and embellished by the excellent keyboards. The guitar has a great feel delivering some beautiful lines, at one point reminiscent of Santana. Towards the latter half of the song, things get a little more angular, edgy and powerful, the bass holding everything together, before the melody takes over and things settle back. The track evolves and develops seamlessly, always holding your interest; never at any point do you believe it is too long.

This album is an easy listen, creating dreamlike but at times edgy moments, multi-layered with a lot of depth and detail to discover on repeated plays. It is undoubtedly retro in feel, but it definitely has a modern approach and dedication that lifts it to another level. Well worth investigating, I am glad I did.

TRACK LISTING
01. Toinen Toista (6:56)
02. Laulu Sisaruksille (1:34)
03. Tiedon Kehtolaulu (3:47)
04. Etsijän Elinehto (5:35)
05. Nurja Puoli (22:58)

Total Time – 40:50

MUSICIANS
Tony Björkman – Guitar
Babak Issabeigloo – Guitar & Vocals
Juuso Jylhänlehto – Drums
Ville Rohiola – Hammond Organ & Keyboards
Jonni Tanskanen – Bass Guitar

ADDITIONAL INFO
Record Label: Svart Records
Country of Origin: Finland
Year of Release: 30th March 2018

LINKS
Malady – Website | Facebook | Bandcamp | Soundcloud

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This news story was originally published here: http://theprogressiveaspect.net/blog/2018/04/15/jethro-tull-50th-anniversary-tour/

City Hall, Newcastle
Thursday, 5th April 2018

“This is a celebration of all the 33 band members who graced our ranks – musicians who brought their talents, skills and styles to bear on the performances live and in the studio.” – Ian Anderson

Like many, I suppose, a celebration of 50 years in music can be a double edged broadsword ;0)…, with a desire to applaud such an accomplishment on the one hand, or perhaps swayed by opinions, to leave yourself with fond memories of a band in their prime. Initially I chose the latter, however a last minute opportunity to go and see Jethro Tull one more time proved too good an opportunity to miss. So once again up the A19 to the splendiferous Newcastle City Hall.

We arrived about fifteen minutes before the scheduled start time to be confronted by a queue stretching half way round the building? Had we slipped into an alternate universe, only to emerge in the early 70s, when such queuing was “fashionable”. A glance at the waiting masses quickly dispelled such notions as the long hair had been replaced by little or no hair and the T-shirts; with warmer designer jackets, more suited to an early English spring climate. The snake quickly disappeared and we were duly seated a few minutes before the show started. Enough time to see the impressive projection screen and ponder what delights may be in store.

A prompt 7:30 start with David Goodier’s bass taking the opening bars, the band launched into an energetic version of My Sunday Feeling, suitably beefed up by Florian Opahl and serving as a precursor to a first set dominated by the band’s earliest recordings. In fact This Was featured heavily with four tracks taken from the album.

The back projection was used two fold, firstly to feature footage of the band, culled from across the decades and performing the same track; and secondly to have past members and various guests introduce the tracks. Mick Abrahams was an obvious choice for This Was, who declared said album as Tull’s definite release. Jeffrey Hammond another obvious choice for A Song For Jeffrey. Other introductions on the evening came from Tony Iommi, Joe Bonamassa, Steve Harris, Joe Elliott and Slash.

Between the numbers Anderson, as ever, was on top form introducing the introductions and engaging the audience with his humorous anecdotes. For Dharma For One, which originally featured Clive Bunker’s rather elongated drum solos, Anderson proclaimed that unlike previous solos which “sometimes went on for days”, this evening’s version would not. Needless to say an abridged solo was performed by Scott Hammond. We move on a year to 1969, two regular live tracks A New Day Yesterday and Bourrée, both re-arranged, as is the Tull way, but still retaining all their magic. Mr Anderson’s flute work was exemplary.

1970’s Benefit was represented by With You There To Help Me which segued into the second of Tull’s singles performed on the evening, The Witch’s Promise, before moving on to more familiar territory, for me. I really should delve back into Tull’s earlier catalogue as certainly the tracks played thus far remind me that there’s some cracking material there. However as the lights highlighted John O’Hara we did move into more familiar territory, firstly with My God and followed by another Tull live regular Cross-Eyed Mary. 1971 had arrived and so had Aqualung.

The Interval

Time for a quick “comfort break” and a swift fizzy water? On his return from the former, my friend commented it was a sign of the times when the queue for the toilets was far greater than that for the bar. So no beverages were purchased by us on the evening. The other topic of conversation centred around the fact we were celebrating 50 years of Jethro Tull and at half time we had hit 1971! It’s gonna be a looooooong second set.

Jesting aside the second set moved up several gears for me, now whether or not that’s because the material was more familiar it is difficult to say, however the energy levels from both band and audience certainly seemed ramped up. Thick As A Brick got things off rollicking start and it was all up hill from there. I’m always amazed with Tull’s re-arrangements and the continual ability to breathe new life into their older material. Never a band to simply play the material as close to the record as possible, rather each performance is refreshingly different.

Okay! Lets touch on Ian Anderson’s voice. Granted he is no longer able to deliver the vocals in the same fashion, but with David Goodier and John O’Hara offering strong support it certainly helped. Let’s also consider that Jethro Tull’s music is maybe 75% instrumental and Ian Anderson a superb flautist, musician and consummate showman; so not quite the same as a singer who can no longer sing. You may disagree and that’s fine, I just find it a little sad that so much emphasis is placed upon what is a ‘part’ of the overall performance. It goes with saying, however that Ian Anderson’s flute work was exemplary across the evening, something he constantly reminded us of as he moved across the stage, in his distinct and characteristically nimble fashion.

The back projection was delightful during A Passion Play and as the second set continued, played an ever increasing part in the show. The wonderful addition of Anna Pheobe (I believe) on violin and vocals during Heavy Horses was inspirational and certainly the evening’s version of Aqualung ranks near if not at the top of the live performances I’ve witnessed. The synchronisation on the back projection definitely came into its own during these tracks and the ‘virtual guests’ were absolutely spot on.

The band returned for just one encore and the tried and trusted Locomotive Breath, no giant balloon this time around, but a rousing conclusion to a thoroughly enjoyable evening. So was it the right decision to go one more time? Absolutely and an opinion, I feel, shared by the vast majority of 2K+ fans who filled the City Hall that evening…

That just leaves the mad dash to the NCP car park to join the departing snake, eagerly waiting to pay for what, in the space of a couple of hours, has amounted to a figure akin to the national debt of Greece ;O)…

SET LISTS
First Set

My Sunday Feeling
A Love Story
A Song For Jeffrey
Some Day The Sun Won’t Shine for You
Dharma For One
Living In The Past
A New Day Yesterday
Bourrée in E minor
With You There To Help Me/The Witch’s Promise
My God
Cross-Eyed Mary

Second Set
Thick As A Brick
A Passion Play
Too Old To Rock ‘n’ Roll, Too Young To Die
Songs From The Wood
Ring Out, Solstice Bells
Heavy Horses
Farm On The Freeway
Aqualung

Encore
Locomotive Breath

*The set list is “to best of my memory”?

MUSICIANS
Ian Anderson – Flute, Acoustic Guitar, Mandolin, Harmonica & Vocals
Florian Ophale – Electric Guitar
John O’Hara – Keyboards & Vocals
David Goodier – Bass & Vocals
Scott Hammond – Drums

No photos of the actual show I’m afraid, as in time honoured City Hall fashion, this sort of thing is rigorously stamped upon. So, pre-gig photo by John Spink and the interval image by Steve (The Progmeister) Petch…

LINKS
Jethro Tull – Website | Facebook | Twitter

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