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This news story was originally published here: http://theprogressiveaspect.net/blog/2017/07/26/orchestra-of-the-upper-atmosphere-%CE%B83/

Beamed in from the outer reaches of known space, or Sheffield to be more precise, is the third instalment from Martin Archer’s Kraut/jazz/experimental space rock troupe Orchestra Of The Upper Atmosphere. Theta Three finds the band continuing on from the second instalment to explore the far sonic reaches.

Disc ‘α’ sets off at a languid pace, Orionid establishes a Kosmische jam, and later Sun Ra conducts Massive Attack and Xhol Caravan on a languid groove with orchestral sweeps during Solar Prominences. As this first disc progresses it becomes ever more ethereal and ephemeral, Fictitious Force being a collection of found sounds and eerie voices off being picked up by the deepest space telescope as they flutter by, borne on the solar wind. An Excess Of Protons produces a peculiar white funk with early Floyd touches as it saunters through clouds of swirling asteroid dust. The arrival of a repeated stringed orchestration adds a sense of purpose to the drift as the craft picks up speed.

Perhaps the lower case alpha that titles this disc is indicative of its introspective and highly meditative nature, as this trip is as much a journey into inner space as outer space. More references to prime era Krautrock surface during Anisotropic Shapes which inescapably recalls early Tangerine Dream contemplating the vastness of the universe, alien lifeforms sending messages back and forth along a simple repeated bass guitar motif. The pace picks up with Circularity, and a tail chasing rhythm forms the backdrop for some nicely understated sax work from Martin.

The following two tracks re-establish the unhurried and quieter pattern of before, and surprisingly Synaptic develops into a fully formed song, a cosmic lullaby given form presumably by the beguiling tones of frostlake. The more animated space rock jazz orchestra excursion of Pororoca brings the first CD to a conclusion, and we are already anticipating the final leg of the journey.

[embedded content]

[This video is from a 2014 performance by the band, and the same venue features in the
inside cover art of this album.]

Disc ‘Ω’ sets off on a jazz-symphonic meander with the hypnotic melody of The Price Of Revealing, the trombone of George Murray to the fore. The disc continues with the Gothic timbres of Galleon which uses multi-tracked choral voices to great effect. Although the overall feel of this disc is more direct in delivery than disc α, we return to the disturbances and ripples familiar from that disc with Tangential Force, which by its end has dissolved into wisps of silence.

Sampled voices barking the title of The White Dog Is Your Father lends it an edgy vibe, and Spark Erosion has a curiously Miles flavour to it, and also features a fine arrangement from the small jazz orchestral ensemble, topped off with some sterling synth work. Some great keyboard and electric piano work permeates the unfolding drama of Accelerating Expansion, and the clues to the music held within Inertial Force are given by its title. Album closer Circumzenithal makes stately progress from quiet beginnings, led by Steve Dinsdale’s percussive instruction and Terry Todd’s bass, to ebb and flow between treated voices and synth explorations, ending up on a far flung orbit of choral call and response, only to fade quickly away with the promise of more just out of reach. Bring on θ4!

A sublime meeting of composed sections and improvisation, θ3 continues the progression of Orchestra Of The Upper Atmosphere apace, and showcases a group of musicians who, comfortable in their own skins, can anticipate their colleagues’ next moves with an élan that results in a highly enjoyable excursion to the outer limits and back again. A meeting of jazz rock, space rock, and experimentalism, this is an album that should find approval from fans of all those handy little cookie jars.

TRACK LISTING
Disc α

01. Orionid (12:38)
02. Solar Prominences (5:52)
03. Graced With Secrets (7:59)
04. Fictitious Force (5:52)
05. An Excess Of Protons (7:30)
06. Anisotropic Shapes (10:37)
07. Circularity (6:02)
08. Coriolis Force (5:53)
09. Synaptic (7:39)
10. Pororoca (8:36)

Total Time – 78:58

Disc Ω
01. The Price Of Revealing (7:39)
02. Galleon (5:04)
03. Tangential Force (10:06)
04. The White Dog Is Your Father (6:33)
05. Niobium (6:31)
06. Spark Erosion (8:54)
07. The Dust Of Blue Fire (9:08)
08. Accelerating Expansion (5:12)
09. Inertial Force (6:38)
10. Circumzenithal (11:30)

Total Time – 77:34

MUSICIANS
Martin Archer – Keyboards, Electronics, Saxophones, Clarinets, Flute, Bass Recorder, Bass Harmonica
Chris Bywater – Keyboards, Electronics, Laptop, Percussion, Voice, Violin
Steve Dinsdale – Electronic Drum Kit, Keyboards
frostlake – Voice, Electronics, Viola
Yvonna Magda – Violin, Electronics
Walt Shaw – Percussion, Electronics, Voice
Terry Todd – Bass Guitar
~ With:
George Murray – Trombone
Paul Schatzberger – Violin
Aby Vulliamy – Viola
Angela Rosenfeld – Cello

ADDITIONAL INFO
Record Label: Discus Music
Catalogue#: Discus 63CD
Year of Release: 2017

LINKS
Orchestra Of The Upper Atmosphere – Facebook

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This news story was originally published here: http://theprogressiveaspect.net/blog/2017/07/25/anathema-the-optimist/

Perhaps I should always read sleeve notes and promotional materials that frequently accompany releases. Sometimes I wonder if I’m missing the point of any album because of this. Then I usually conclude that the album should stand up or fall on its own merits as a collection of musical works. The young, less blobby, busy Phil – you probably knew someone like him; unsullied by the ravages of time; the one who delicately placed the sacred vinyl on the platter and then, spreading the gatefold out, soaked up the details like an information sponge – has long since been replaced by an aged facsimile of their younger self, worn down by life and responsibility and with the attention span of a sock. No sleeve notes, no press release and only one previous Anathema release under my belt – the award-winning We’re Here Because We’re Here, that should assure you, dear reader, that you’re not going to get a fan-boy review. It is so much easier to stream digital media to that special room with the commode in it. This is arguably the ultimate musical experience. Uncluttered, with hardly a distraction. That’s how I did the review. Pure music. Mostly.

There’s seven years between my last Anathema album and The Optimist. I don’t know why. Whenever it pops up in one of my random playlists I will never fast forward it. There’s energy and riffs and beauty in droves from this band and yet there’s a quality that almost relegates it to the bottom-of-the-favourites list. I’m sure it deserves better and in fact the more I hear them, the more that last sentence seems easily discreditable. If the album were playing whilst my list was being compiled then I’d have to include that WHBWH album in a list of my favourites. But still it retreats into my sub-conscience when it isn’t playing. For all that, the chance to review another Anathema album was one that I couldn’t pass up! Could The Optimist be an album that has that undefinable quality putting it at the forefront of my consciousness when I’m compiling that aforementioned list? Intentions were high as I began listening.

I have a low threshold for formulaic music aping the styles of bands who I have heard before. You would have to be putting your influences together in an innovative way to land this fish. Paradoxically, there are aspects of music that will always get me going… a groove, a good bass line, a riff, any of which might have some aspect of familiarity that I can latch onto. Anathema do not disappoint me. If they ape anyone then I don’t care. They have the grooves, the riffs and they have employed them to good effect on The Optimist. Like with my last Anathema experience, there isn’t one track on this album that I would fast forward. No filler. There’s nothing much in the way of your traditional hook, but there are riffs, rhythm…

Riff, lather, repeat.

On The Optimist Anathema (or ana.thema if you take their album cover literally) will take a riff and run with it. There’s nothing new in that approach, but then, it isn’t a bad one. Sometimes a song is the riff and a variation of the riff. Now I happen to like that, especially with a good riff. But that isn’t for everyone. I played it to The Boy. His feedback suggested that he was less enamoured of this album because of it. I don’t agree. I could picture myself, as mashed as potato, standing in a dark field with this album pumping loud into the night… or zoning-out to it in a festival amongst other similarly spaced out individuals of no permanent fixed hygiene regimen.

This album has the feel of a movie soundtrack and vocals seem to be used to augment the overall musical experience than as the centre-stage presence of any one performance. At the time of writing they had chosen track 6, Springfield, as the now customary accompanying YouTube video to the album’s release.

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The reason I highlight the track is because I think Anathema chose this deliberately as a microcosm of the entire album, with hints of majesty and songs that ascend from their foundation riffs. The album is garnished with some nice little sound excursions, whispering voices, soothing and reassuring soundbites, the crunch of gravel beneath booted feet, an open question… all of which feel like tiny little connected one act plays that spark intrigue. These attributes gave the additional feel of a concept album or at least, the sounds give that impression. The songs are either simply mutually exclusive tracks with only the performers in common or, maybe, clues to a puzzle that is an underlying narrative, a puzzle that I’d probably be able to solve if only I had read sleeve notes and promotional materials or perhaps, was more au fait with Anathema. This made me want to find out whether I’d just imagined a narrative and so I found this on the Kscope/Burning Shed store site:

“2017’s The Optimist is Anathema’s first album since 2014’s spellbinding Distant Satellites and contains the band’s darkest, most challenging and unexpected material.
“Recorded in Winter 2016 at Attica Studio in Donegal and Castle of Doom Studios in Glasgow with producer Tony Doogan (Mogwai, Belle & Sebastian, Super Furry Animals) at the helm. Doogan’s influence is instantly tangible as for the first time in years Anathema recorded as a live band for an album, capturing an energy normally only present on stage. A technique that should be welcomed by fans aware of the band’s supreme live power – previously captured on the celebrated concert film, Universal…
“Mastered by Frank Arkwright at Abbey Road Studios in London, the 5.1 mix is by Bruce Soord.”

Ooh – Bruce Soord, the main pineapple thief! And this was the band recording warts and all, which I believe always adds a dynamic to the music which is otherwise lost.

Well, that revealed nothing about the narrative, something I am developing a bit of an obsession with, but ultimately it matters not whether there is one. The ambiguity is part of the appeal. This is a clever album – a catalyst for the imagination. I suspect little imaginary mystery is no mystery at all to people who have a familiarity with Anathema’s modus operandi. At first, I admit to being slightly underwhelmed. This feeling stemmed from a lack of immediate excitement in what I was hearing, as any power seemed to derive from the progressive (small ‘P’) building nature of each track rather than in any dynamic quality. This initial assessment was deeply unfair of me. There is still the same mix of power and beauty and energy that I, with admittedly limited experience, associate with Anathema. Whilst the sheer joy and beauty of tracks like Everything from WHBWH is never quite realised there is no shame in this as Anathema set a high bar back then. And once again, crucially, I didn’t fast forward any of the tracks. This album grew and grew on me. This isn’t an album for the attention-span challenged. Anathema’s music, upbeat, yet tinged with melancholy, also made me feel a number of different emotions, not least, inexplicably optimistic and, yes, happy! Not just a clever name, The Optimist bridges the gap for the modern Phil, trapped in the fast-moving modern-World and Old-World Phil, free to indulge in frivolous “time-wasting” activities. Time will tell whether it will stay at the front of my consciousness, so does it stand or fall?

It stands.

Oh, and if you wait there’s a hidden track which I felt adds a quirkiness and homeliness for the listener and (probably) harbours a deeper significance for the band. And a budgie.

TRACK LISTING
01. 32.63N 117.14W (1:18)
02. Leaving It Behind (4:27)
03. Endless Ways (5:49)
04. The Optimist (5:37)
05. San Francisco (4:59)
06. Springfield (5:49)
07. Ghosts (4:17)
08. Can’t Let Go (5:00)
09. Close Your Eyes (3:39)
11. Wildfires (5:40)
12. Back To The Start (11:41)

Total Time – 58:14

MUSICIANS
Vincent Cavanagh – Vocals, Guitar, Keys
Daniel Cavanagh – Guitar, Keys, Vocals
John Douglas – Acoustic & Electronic Percussion
Lee Douglas – Vocals
Jamie Cavanagh – Bass
Daniel Cardoso – Drums, Keyboards

ADDITIONAL INFO
Record Label: Kscope
Country of Origin: U.K.
Date of Release: 9th June 2017

LINKS
Anathema – Website | Facebook | Twitter | Spotify | Instagram | YouTube

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This news story was originally published here: http://theprogressiveaspect.net/blog/2017/07/24/miriodor-signal-9/

Miriodor were formed in 1980 in Quebec City by François Émond and Pascal Goblensky, and had the internet been around back then, would have instantly become part of the Rock In Opposition movement that was striking out on the other side of the Atlantic. As it is they have had a parallel career to the likes of Henry Cow, Stormy Six, Univers Zero, Samla Mammas Manna and Etron Fou Leloublan, and in one form or another have outlasted nearly all those aforementioned bands.

Signal 9 is only their ninth album in all that time, and arrives four years after the rather fine Cobra Fakir, and finds the band a settled quartet with the full-time addition of bassist Nicolas Lassard. This makes for an organic group, and Signal 9 sees some of the hardest edged music this individualistic band have committed to the ether, as the gnarly riffing and synth abuse that percolates through the avant-symphonic Portrait-robot attests. This tune twists and turns through thematically linked sections, eventually hitching a fairground ride before getting back on the RIO train, summing up Miriodor’s penchant for complex yet highly melodic composition and arrangement.

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“Metaphorically, we could say that Miriodor is a planet, with aliens communicating in their mysterious ways with planet Earth”, says Pascal Globensky, and the ninth transmission from the home planet is an engaging fifty minutes of music that marries Miriodor’s journeys into avant chamber rock territory with their ear for melody in a manner that results in an album that while intermittently spiky need not scare the children unduly.

Chapelle luniare begins and ends with pounding rhythms, the beginning almost Faust-like in its insistence, and the trademark melody and counter melody played out on myriad keyboards and guitars makes for an interesting listen. The longer pieces are linked by short impressionistic intervals, Cryogénie being an alien calling card beamed in from another galaxy.

“Playful” is a word often bandied about in the same sentence as Miriodor, and this album does not disappoint in that respect. The music can be completely unpredictable and often ends up in a place you wouldn’t have suspected at the start of any particular tune. Passage secret sums up the band’s approach in its title and contains a hypnotic guitar figure that leads into a space cruiser breakdown somewhere near the asteroid belt, disembodied robotic voices bouncing in and out of the mix, before fading away into the ether, the original theme forgotten along the way.

Labyrinthine and with any number of permutations, Signal 9 is a rewarding listen for those of us who like to get completely lost in the intricacies of music now and again. Highly recommended!

TRACK LISTING
01. Venin (4:33)
02. Peinturé dans le coin (4:34)
03. Transit de nuit à Jakarta (2:00)
04. Portrait-robot (8:47)
05. Déboires à Munich (1:21)
06. Chapelle lunaire (6:52)
07. Cryogénie (1:38)
08. Passage secret (9:58)
09. Gallinule d’Amérique (1:40)
10. Douze petites asperges (2:39)
11. Le ventriloque et le perroquet (8:13)

Total Time – 52:20

MUSICIANS
Bernard Falasie – Guitars, Keyboards, Turntable
Pascal Globensky – Keyboards, Synths, Piano
Rémi Leclerc – Drums, Percussion, Electronics
Nicolas Lassard – Bass, Double bass, Keyboards

ADDITIONAL INFO
Record Label: Cuneiform Records
Catalogue#: Cuneiform Rune 438
Date of Release: 12th May 2017

LINKS
Miriodor – Website | Facebook

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This news story was originally published here: http://theprogressiveaspect.net/blog/2017/07/23/midsummer-madness-cairo-introitus-verbal-delirium-mothertongue-under-a-banner/

The Globe Theatre, The Bedford Hotel, Balham, London
Sunday 16th July 2017

In these day of social networking there is no excuse, Midsummer Madness should have been packed to the gills. 7.5 million people in London and you’re telling me that gathering 250 prog fans on a Sunday is not achievable? Who are you kidding? Five bands who all gave us excellent entertainment, they deserved a capacity audience. The organisers tried, emails here and there, tweets, requests to Radio stations, magazines, little old ladies on Balham High Street – no response. What can we do to fill live venues, to pull in the punters? it’s an opportunity missed by entertainment venue publicans. Oh well, rant over, those who did assemble were treated to some of the best progressive music around, from the broad canvas that is Prog. We ROCKED, we ROLLED, we LISTENED, and we were DELIGHTED.


Under A Banner

13:05 – Almost on time, and Under A Banner opened for us, with Levellers-like melodies and a New Model Army style voice they woke the somnambulant crowd. Fresh from the outside sunshine and into the dark interior of The Bedford, snoozing was likely. Numbers, an ironic first tune given the 50+ audience, in quantity rather than age. Definitely a little punky, strangely a little proggy, with a series of tunes covering a multitude of subjects. With Tim Wilson on drums, formerly of Oktopus, they joined, performed and surprised. I really enjoyed them. If you have a liking for music of this ilk, then Under A Banner are a very good band. The stand outs for me were Numbers and On Top Of This Mountain later on in the set. Kat Davis’ keys blended well with the bass of Richard Corry and guitars of Jake Brooks and Adam Broadhurst. I liked the slightly rasped vocals which added emotion to the pieces. They did well, their album, The Wild Places, is available from Bad Elephant Music or via their Bandcamp page.

MUSICIANS
Adam Broadhurst – Vocals, Guitars
Jake Brooks – Guitars, Backing Vocals
Richard Corry – Bass
Kat Davis – Keyboards
Tim Wilson – Drums, Backing Vocals, Electronics

SETLIST
Numbers
Leaving Here
Close to the Clouds
Martyrs
Legion
Snow Song
Bullet Rain
Bell Tolls
On Top of this Mountain
Out Like A Light

LINKS
Website | Facebook | Bandcamp


Mothertongue

Just after 14:15, Mothertongue: boy, have I been looking forward to this. It’s a slightly stripped-down sound, a semi-acoustic set and I missed Shango which wasn’t in the set – if you need that crowd participation choir, I’m happy to arrange. A mixed set of old (!) and new, Panic Music being particularly fun. A sort of Rock band with Mariachi and Ennio Morricone thrown in for good measure, the contrast between our enthused introduction by Under A Banner and Mothertongue’s more laid back set was just right. King of The Tyrant Lizards and Blooper’s Theme standing out from the material from their Unsongs album. Louis Smith has a striking voice that holds your attention, perfectly suited to the songs and setting. The combined guitars worked well together, Phil Dixon, Mark Wall and Louis ably supported by Will Holden’s bass. Completing the ensemble was Andy Malbon, the man of the sublime trumpet, a sound that just added to the overall party feel of Mothertongue’s set. Unsongs remains available at the Bad Elephant pages or from the band’s Bandcamp, with the new songs in development for the as yet unnamed second album. I’ll work the pedals, and the devil can steer. Oh I wish they played Shango

MUSICIANS
Phil Dixon – Guitar
Will Holden – Bass
Mark Wall – Guitar
Andy Malbon – Trumpet
Louis Smith – Guitar, Lead Vocals
Oh, and everyone doing Backing Vocals

SETLIST
In no doubt abbreviated form
Blue Wicked
Panic Music
King of The Tyrant Lizards
Creature Tree
Shipwreck
Ofelia
Sunset Rose
Blooper’s Theme

LINKS
Website | Facebook | Bandcamp


Verbal Delirium

Verbal Delirium 1The first half headliners were Verbal Delirium from Greece and they really hit the ground running, different from what had proceeded, much more rock/metal orientated but with that all important combination of styles that marks progressive music for what it is. A band with the ’70s chops but firmly rooted in the present, providing a unique sound. These guys have style in spades! A fine headline act for the first half. Favourites? I actually loved it all, from beginning to end, even the grumpy MC liked them. Prog that you can in numerous places dance to, and I did. Fortunately, there is no photographic evidence of this rare event. Jargon sings with a passion and style, with a beautiful range too. If you haven’t seen this band, take to first opportunity to do so. They are due back in the UK in April next year, and then again for the Reson8 festival in July; come hell or highwater I will be at one of these gigs. The most recent album, The Imprisoned Words of Fear, is available through Bad Elephant or Bandcamp. I look forward to the next.

Verbal Delirium 2

Verbal Delirium 3

MUSICIANS
Jargon – Vocals, Keyboards
George Pagidas – Bass
George Kyriakidis – Guitar
Nikos Terzis – Piano
Wil Bow – Drums

SETLIST
Ervelet
So Close & Yet So Far Away
Close to You
Misleading Path
Lullaby
The Decayed Reflection (A Verbal Delirium)
Sudden Winter
Fear
Dancing Generation
Encore: Images from a Grey World

LINKS
Facebook | Bandcamp


Introitus

“The introduction to the opening of a musical composition”, that’s what it means… oh, and there’s a naughty meaning too! From the opening bars of Ghost to their last song, Who Goes There, Introitus were as different from Verbal Delirium as you could expect. Mats Bender’s keys soar and flourish in a Banksian style, and the choice of subject matter is Genesis-like but with a metal edge. Linnéa on flute and keys adds the difference which helps create the individuality of Introitus. There were no weak drummers today and Mattias Bender gives it his all with both drive and attack. This is the lower end of prog metal, but great in its appeal to a broader audience, slightly Gothic in places and very much in the Swedish tradition of story telling. I enjoyed it all, but my spirit was lifted with the sequence of Free through to the final song. Anima is epic in every sense, 16 minutes of prog joy.

MUSICIANS
Anna Jobs Bender – Lead Vocals
Mats Bender – Keyboards
Pär Helje – Guitar
Mattias Bender – Drums
Linnéa Syrjälä – Flutes, Additional Keyboards
Dennis Lindkvist – Bass

SETLIST
Ghost
Dreamscape
Restless
Slipping Away
Free
Anima
Who Goes There

LINKS
Website | Facebook


Cairo

Cairo is Rob Cottingham’s latest band. I listened a little before hand, mentally establishing a nice pigeonhole for them in the prog canon of music. They escaped! Lisa Driscoll is the new lead singer, replacing Rachel Hill who recorded the vocals for the band’s debut album, Say. She is very good with a great voice and a presence that grew in stature throughout the set. Vocals are shared between her and Rob. Lisa has a warm personality and I suspect a wicked sense of humour (photoshopped the moustache Lisa x). With just the one album to date, the set was supplemented with material from Rob’s Captain Blue persona and Touchstone. In contrast to Verbal Delirium, Cairo delivered a more atmospheric set, but they did rock! If Verbal Delirium were igneous, Cairo were sedimentary, my dear Watson! I was pleasantly surprised and pleased. Yes, the tunes are to my mind more Progressive Pop, but they still rock. I loved the Cairo material more than the Touchstone pieces, Dancing on a Gossamer Thread, Nothing to Prove and Say! still earworms as I took to my bed for the night in darkest Balham. In many ways, a perfect end to five great acts who gave everything to a small but enthusiastic audience. Cairo information and links to purchase Say can be found at their website, along with details of future gigs.

MUSICIANS
Rob Cottingham – Keys, Vocals
Lisa Driscoll – Vocals
Paul Stocker – Bass
James Hards – Guitar
Graham Brown – Drums

SETLIST
Shadow’s Return Prologue
Shadow’s Return
Wiped Out
Shadow (Touchstone)
Chasing Storms (Captain Blue)
Nothing To Prove Reprise
Random Acts of Kindness, part 1
Hear Me (Touchstone)
Searching
Back From the Wilderness
Sleeping Giants (Touchstone)
Katrina
Dancing On A Gossamer Thread
Katrina Breathe Mix
Nothing To Prove
Say!

LINKS
Website | Facebook


Final Words

These events come about by the hard work of people dedicated to the Prog genre, whatever that may be; Mike Morton for this one, Nellie Pitts for many others, and in the North, Emma Roebuck. The Summer’s End festival showcases it too, but for these events to remain viable they need more support from the media, Radio, Podcasts, Internet and Magazines. I Hope to see a full crowd for Progtoberfest at the end of October, Masquerade II in early December, and the 2018 Resonate two day event in July. Look out for information on the TPA’s listings page!


LINKS
Midsummer Madness – Website | Facebook

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This news story was originally published here: http://theprogressiveaspect.net/blog/2017/07/21/comedy-of-errors-house-of-the-mind/

Just in time for their Saturday night performance at 2017’s Night of Prog Festival at Loreley on 15th July, Comedy of Errors return with House of the Mind, a collection of great new music, which also includes a newly arranged version of their classic Ever Be the Prize.

A six-piece from Glasgow in Scotland, Comedy of Errors are a progressive rock band who remain one of the sole links to the then new take on prog music in the 1980s and ’90s. All five of the new tracks are outstanding, and great additions to Comedy of Errors body of work, and I would love to have been at Night of the Prog to hear the songs live for the first time. Opener Tachyon lives up to its name with a fast and powerful tempo. “We defeat them, we go on. We will triumph!” – Yes! This band is a great link to the style of IQ and Pendragon, the track charging out of the door like a rocket, taking you high as piano and keyboards soar along with the glittering guitar work. Joe Cairney’s vocals call us all to live our lives to a higher standard than the one the world seems mired in today. Rock on!

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The title track opens with one of those cool keyboard instrumentals we all love and cherish. Very ELP, it is truly memorable and, at over 14 minutes, epic with the support of an echoed backing chorus and filled with drenching guitars and power drums. Joe sings, “Take all the feelings that you’ll ever find and then, lock them away with you deep in the house of the mind”, and with today’s encroaching technology, government and private enterprise taking more and more of our privacy, our connection to feelings of empathy and memories may only have one safe place left… the mind. It’s a powerful song recalling and beckoning a return to when life – and what we did with it – actually mattered.

A Moment’s Peace is the kind of instrumental we all need each morning when we wake, the wonderful guitar surely making the mind wander back to the better days of old. The keyboard work is haunting and familiar and the kind you would wish to hear on every great progressive record. Behold the beauty and joy of this drift back in time and savour every minute. One Fine Day opens with the lyrics, “Remember a time when we made friends with the sun, and we could always outrun our cares – they’d not yet begun?” Yes, we all remember our childhoods, and just like Marillion, this is a Childhood’s End kind of song, of remembrance for the days which will stay with us forever. Keeping the theme, Song of Wandering Jacomus opens with wonderful Marillion-like guitar, string and keyboards. It’s another epic of over 13-minutes, a prog masterpiece full of glittering guitar, bells, and Vangelis-like keyboard images. Then the lead guitar plunges through the mist and fog to call us all to hear the story as Joe sings, “Our time together was all too cut short then again. And she comes to me day and night”, maybe like Cathy from Wuthering Heights, stirring even more glorious memories of the past.

Laid out in the 12-page lyric book within the digipak you will find some tremendous words which will stay with you long after the song ends; “And though I am old as I wander these lands, one day I will find her, one day I will kiss her… The path was a circle that lay ever knowing, beyond…” At song’s end, you can even hear a homage to Genesis’ Silent Sorrow in Empty Boats – nice!

I am a relative newbie to Comedy of Errors, although they have been making music since 1984, and the last song on the album is a re-arranged version of a very old song. Ever the Prize was their first recorded demo from 1985, but the music and lyrics fit this new album perfectly. I listened to the original version to hear any differences, Joe’s voice has lost that young, innocent sound, but in exchange it is now more dynamic and full of greater confidence and assurance.

“Where do we go from here?” That is everyone’s biggest question. “Experience will teach you, given time, they say? Only what is out of reach, can ever be the prize”. I’d say that Joe and the band have reached the prize for sure, delivering an impressive recording that is more than proof that Comedy of Errors have survived where others have not, reaching the alter of prog leadership and deserving the respect and recognition of the bands that they themselves idolized as teens…

TRACK LISTING
01. Tachyon (6:15)
02. House of the Mind (14:48)
03. A Moment’s Peace (4:09)
04. One Fine Day (2:48)
05. Song of Wandering Jacomus (13:39)
06. Ever Be The Prize (9:00)

Total Time – 50:39

MUSICIANS
Jim Johnston – Songwriter, Keyboards
Joe Cairney – Vocals
Sam McCulloch – Guitars
Mark Spalding – Guitars, Backing Vocals
Bruce Levick – Drums & Percussion
John (The Funk) Fitzgerald – Bass, Backing Vocals

ADDITIONAL INFO
Record Label: Independent
Country of Origin: U.K.
Date of Release: 16th June 2016

LINKS
Comedy of Errors – Website | Facebook | Bandcamp

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This news story was originally published here: http://theprogressiveaspect.net/blog/2017/07/21/david-gilmour-live-at-pompeii-to-be-released-in-september/

David Gilmour announce the release of Live at Pompeii, through Sony Music, on 26th September 2017 and will be available on 2-CD, Blu-ray, 2-DVD, 4-LP, deluxe Blu-ray box and download.

“The Blu-ray and DVDs include highlights from the concert performances of both shows, filmed in 4k by director Gavin Elder. The audio, available on CD and LP, was mixed by Andy Jackson and David Gilmour, assisted by Damon Iddins. The formats run to around 148 minutes each, with more than 2 additional hours of material included in the deluxe 4-disc Blu-ray / CD set.

The Pompeii concerts marked a return by David to the venue 45 years after Pink Floyd filmed in the legendary Roman Amphitheatre there, his two spectacular shows forming part of the year-long tour in support of the No.1 album Rattle That Lock. David’s performances were the first-ever rock concerts for an audience in the stone Roman amphitheatre, and, for two nights only, the 2,600-strong crowd stood exactly where gladiators would have fought in the first century AD.

The stellar performances are complemented by an audio-visual spectacle, featuring lasers, pyrotechnics and a trademark huge circular screen, but paramount is the music; the show includes songs from throughout David’s career, solo and with Pink Floyd, including One Of These Days, the only song that was also performed by the band there in 1971, and six songs from Rattle That Lock, as well as two from 2006’s On An Island.

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The release of Live At Pompeii will be preceded by a worldwide cinema screening… details can be found HERE

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This news story was originally published here: http://theprogressiveaspect.net/blog/2017/07/20/stanley-clarke/

The Fleece, Bristol
Wednesday 19th July 2017

Some gigs should never happen.

The obvious question here is – and with no disrespect at all to the venue – what on Earth is STANLEY CLARKE doing playing somewhere like The Fleece?! For four very rare U.K. shows outside London, an event that in all likelihood hasn’t happened since the ’70s, Clarke and his band of wonderful young musicians are playing in venues with capacities of a few hundred. That is just wrong!

Could it be that the smaller venues are an indication that the man, now 66 years old, is past his prime and playing wherever he can for change? Not a bit of it, from start to finish this was a blazing display, not only of raw talent and intuitive technique, but of musical understanding, it becoming obvious early on that this was to be a band performance, not simply a star with some side men. All of the players got their time in the spotlight, actively encouraged by Clarke who supported them strongly and was clearly getting a kick out of what they were doing.

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The word ‘legend’ is oft used, but couldn’t be more appropriate for a man of Stanley Clarke’s reputation. Innovative and hugely influential, his playing has been used as a yardstick for the bass guitar for more than 40 years now. I’ve had the good fortune off seeing some stunning bassists over the years but Clarke was a revelation, putting in a jaw-dropping turn with effortless ease. From slapping, strumming, harmonics and rhythmic percussive outbursts on the electric, he followed through to beautifully ornate and sophisticated jazz, his soloing always of the most melodic tone. It really didn’t matter what he played, and most of it was probably unknown to all but the fiercest SC die-hard, but there was a mighty cheer when the ubiquitous School Days made its expected appearance, a thrilling display of chops and tune that could never fail to get the people moving.

Stanley Clarke

The added improv skills of the ridiculously talented trio of additional players brought energy and inspiration off which Clarke fed. He has a history of developing young talent but in pianist Ruslan Sirota, keyboard player Caleb McCampbell and drummer Mike Mitchell he has one fiery group of musicians at his disposal. To put it in context, unbelievable as it may sound, the band were so good that I often forgot that Mr Clarke was also on the stage! Ruslan’s exquisite technique and dexterity were highlighted early on, his melodic flights taking the music to new and unexpected places. The two keyboardist set up is an unusual choice but it works a treat, McCampbell adding more sweeping synth lines whilst also soloing to magnificent effect. For brief passages he deployed a Vocoder-like piece of equipment to add treated vocals to the mix, including a snatch from Paul McCartney’s Yesterday at one point.

Drummer Mitchell is a full-on force of nature who deserved his time to shine, playing with time signatures and massaging tempos whilst smashing his kit to matchwood one minute, adding the most deft and delicate touches the next and grinning like a man possessed throughout the whole near two hour set. Some commented afterwards that three drum solos was a bit much, and that may be true, but with almost psychic talents of this magnitude, when Mike goes off on one Clarke is shrewd and professional enough to let him get on with it.

All of the performances brought incredulous shakes of the head from the audience, people turning to each other in disbelief as the band eloquently showed why the best jazz musicians are the best musicians there are. After humorously introducing himself as Louis Armstrong, on Clarke’s part the set was split in two, the first focusing on the electric bass whilst the second resulted in some mesmerising double bass work, Stanley showing his equally magnificent technique on the upright, belying the unruly nature of the massive instrument and making it sing and dance, bright harmonics skittering off in all directions, sometimes coupled with Clark beating out rhythms on the shell. Sounds appeared that I’d never thought could come out of an acoustic bass and his playing was frequently outrageous and audacious, a majestic and enthralling performance throughout. Legend? You betcha, and on numerous moments tonight, Stanley Clark was the coolest dude alive.

Stanley Clarke

Having overrun the curfew, the band returned for a brief and funky encore, Clarke returning to his electric. I was hoping for more of this towards the end of the show but that was not to be and it is clear that the double bass is where Clarke’s heart lies these days, so it was nice to see it getting so much attention, despite my drooling anticipation of more slapping fireworks.

A complete honour to witness such a masterful display, a masterclass of technique, control and unadulterated enthusiasm for what they do, not a dry and empty experience built on technique alone but a complete performance to be savoured and enjoyed. Whoever decided that this was a show for The Fleece should be applauded as to see skills of this magnitude in such a compact environment was a thrill not to be missed, despite the comfort and sighting issues associated with standing venues.

Stanley Clarke

If you missed this, there’s still a couple of chances to catch this magical band in intimate surroundings in Glasgow and Leeds on 24th and 25th July. If you’re able, you know what to do.

And that was that. Having driven home I sat quietly, looking at my own trusty bass guitar, thinking of the hideous sounds I manage to wrench from it and dreaming what it might be like to play like Stanley Clarke. Realising the inevitable I took a hammer to it. And then cut my fingers off and fed them to the cat.

[With thanks to Mel Allen for the photos and video.]

SETLIST
Other than School Days, no idea!

MUSICIANS
Stanley Clarke – Electric Bass, Double Bass
Ruslan Sirota – Piano, Keyboards
Caleb McCampbell – Keyboards, Vocals
Mike Mitchell – Drums

LINKS
Stanley Clarke – Website | Facebook

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