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This news story was originally published here: http://theprogressiveaspect.net/blog/2019/11/08/the-hayley-griffiths-band/

The Wharf, Tavistock
Saturday, 19th October 2019

The penultimate night of the tour, and an audience of around about 80. You might expect any band to be a little weary, but no, from the off we get 100%, with an instrumental introduction that highlights Hayley’s pathway to date, including Lord of The Dance. Yes, the Celtic, green dress, bouncy up and down thing. Her operatically trained voice operates across its full range giving depth and nuance to songs old and new.

Hayley Griffiths BandFortified with a burger and chips, with fresh salad, I find my perch for most of the evening. I would love it to be a capacity house, the lady deserves no less, but it does afford me a front row position; camera, sketchbook and no fighting with hirsute six-footers (the men can be as bad too). The band have played their intro and enter stage right our protagonist, in a shimmering dress, striped in multi-colour sequins and high boots. Hey, if you’ve got it, flaunt it.

I’ve seen Hayley now in several incarnations, Karnataka (two or three times), Zio, and in duet with Oliver Rὒsing of Karibow just over a month ago; with every performance she has grown, a confidence, and warmth with her audience, such that even in critique mode I am sold into slavery and mild adoration after one song. Okay, I love live music and very few can do wrong, well except for the C&W singer who strangled several songs one New Year’s Eve, making Phoebe’s Smelly Cat sound class… but I digress. Hayley Griffiths is superb, the lights and sound at The Wharf just right.

The set runs through a mixture of old and new material with dips into the Celtic influenced material that were Hayley’s bread and butter when starting out. Haunted and Aurora are great live, and Last Goodbye brings an unexpected lump to the throat. Whether rock or ballad, the voice gives us its best, making me feel a little strung out. It is a rare feat for a vocalist to deliver such a strong emotive performance (nah, I’m just a soppy git!).

Hayley Griffiths Band

The lighting reflects off the dress in mesmerising fashion; the lighting at Tavy is great, not backlit, no preponderance of reds and greens, and at times white, a photographer’s delight, allowing for the capture of many good images. The band are a well-oiled unit as well, probably surprising as Matthieu Spaeter only stepped up 48 hours before the tour started as the replacement guitarist, some amazing solos. Jordon Brown produces solid bass throughout, mixing his genres and laying down some funky bottom end. It seems in Hayley’s search for musical perfection no chord, note, or musical style remains unturned.

Hayley Griffiths Band

After the interval, a costume change, shiny dress number two and Hayley returns to the stage. Anecdotally she relays to us her musical story, it is rich and informative, from Celtic folk, to Lord of The Dance, Karnataka and finally here. One Celtic ballad moves me such that the swirling dust of the auditorium again enters my eye, not a tissue to hand, the hand wipes away yet another tear, not so much of sadness, even though the love song speaks of such, it is more the raw emotion and beauty in the performance. Even though it’s a cover, one I would love to hear on the album when it appears, a bonus track I think when released, there will be plenty of original songs to drink in.

Sadly, the evening is over all too soon, pleasantries exchanged, I slip out into the night. Just a couple more gigs on the books, The Netherlands and Germany. See her if you can, she’s only going to get better.

Hayley Griffiths Band

SETLIST
Intro Medley
Haunted
Because of You
Forbidden Dreams
Aurora
Last Goodbye
Speechless
Separated By Glass
Fairytale Lies
Mechanical Lives
Crying Machine
Only the Good Die Young
Black is the Colour
I Know My Love
Drum Solo
Vanished
Poison Ivy
Borderline
~ Encore:
Parting Glass
Feels Like Home

MUSICIANS
Hayley Griffiths – Vocals
Cagri Tozluoglu – Keyboards
Jimmy Pallagrosi – Drums
Jordan Brown – Bass
Matthieu Spaeter – Guitar

LINKS
Hayley Griffiths – Website | Facebook | Twitter

This news story was originally published here: http://theprogressiveaspect.net/blog/2019/11/07/van-morrison/

Royal Concert Hall, Nottingham
Monday, 28th October 2019

When Van Morrison takes to the stage, it’s all about the music. No fanfares, no fantastic light show, no conversation between songs (and sometimes not even a gap between songs!). Morrison lets his music do the talking, and it speaks volumes about his passion and dedication to his art.

The final date on this briefest of autumnal tours, just four dates, was the sold-out Royal Concert Hall in Nottingham. Morrison took to the stage and opened with Three Chords And The Truth, the title track from his latest album. Three Chords is a superb collection that stands alongside his best works, phenomenal for an artist whose peers are often content to lie back and live off their age-old royalties.

The setlist covered Morrison’s entire career, from picking up his harmonica for a rocking Baby Please Don’t Go, his bluesy 1964 debut hit with Them, through to more tracks from his latest offering Nobody In Charge and Early Days, a tribute to the pioneers of rock and roll, his influences as a young musician. Across the evening we were treated to a delicious mix of rock, blues, folk and his soulful Celtic mysticism.

The early influences are still found in much of Van The Man’s music and surfaced in lively renditions of Bo Diddley’s Ride On Josephine and Lester Young’s Jumping With Symphony Sid. The latter was just one of several opportunities for The Man to step back and allow the spotlight to shine on each of the members of his 6-piece band, including the legendary guitarist Jay Berliner, who played on Morrison’s seminal debut album Astral Weeks, and bass-man David Hayes who joined Morrison shortly after.

The first of Morrison’s classic pieces came early with Saint Dominic’s Preview, a semi-autobiographical account of the musician’s own early days, and the opening bars were greeted with a warm ripple of applause. An up-tempo jazzy version of Have I Told You Lately, with a ska-beat, was one of several numbers during the evening to feature Morrison with a brief saxophone solo. The medley of In The Afternoon, Ancient Highway, Rain Check and Sitting Pretty was quite magnificent and this was followed by the jazz-laden The Party’s Over.

The classics came thick and fast: Days Like These, Blue Money, Little Village and Foreign Window as Morrison pretty much made up the setlist on the spot. On one occasion he even changed his mind at the last moment as the band were about to strike up with one tune, he suddenly signalled for them to switch to Magic Time.

The great man’s voice was in fine fettle throughout and belies his 74 years, but the highlight of the evening came at the end of his main set. With David Hayes laying down his bass guitar for a double bass, Morrison delivered a measured and tender version of the exquisite Ballerina from the Astral Weeks album. As Morrison turned and left the stage the audience rose as one, a standing ovation for a great performance.

Of course, Morrison returned for the obligatory encore, a rousing rendition of another early Them classic, GLORIA. Again, Morrison just turned sharply and, with no acknowledgement of his audience, left the stage still singing. The band played on for another 10 minutes, each taking their turn in the spotlight and leaving the stage until only drummer Bob Ruggiero remained. Following his super drum solo, the band returned for one final flourish and the evening was over.

Van returns for two nights at The Dome, Brighton, in December and a five-night residency at The London Palladium in March.

[Photo by Bradley Quinn, used with kind permission.]

SETLIST
Three Chords & The Truth
It Was Once My Life
Saint Dominic’s Preview
Baby Please Don’t Go
Ride On Josephine
Days Like These
Jumping With Symphony Sid
Nobody In Charge
Early Days
Blue Money
Little Village
Have I Told You Lately
Foreign Window
Ain’t Gonna Moan No More
In The Afternoon/Ancient Highway/Rain Check/Sitting Pretty
The Party’s Over
Magic Time
Whenever God Shines His Light
Ballerina
~ Encore:
GLORIA

MUSICIANS
Van Morrison – Vocals, Saxophon
Jay Berliner – Guitar
Bob Ruggiero – Drums
David Hayes – Bass
John Allair – Keyboards

LINKS
Van Morrison – Website | Facebook

This news story was originally published here: http://theprogressiveaspect.net/blog/2019/11/06/marillion-afraid-of-sunlight-deluxe-edition/

One of the things I most admire about Marillion is their ability to take risks and try new things, both in terms of their sound and their approach to marketing the band itself. To the former, Marillion have continued to surprise both fans and critics with albums like Brave, Afraid of Sunlight and Radiation. To the latter, Marillion took control of their own music through Racket Records and pioneered the crowdfunding movement with Anoraknophobia.

Afraid of Sunlight finds itself in that unhappy period when Marillion were out of favour with EMI after the protracted and ‘un-Kayleigh’-like offering, Brave. I must admit, it took me a good few years to get into Brave, after the more radio-friendly Holidays In Eden. As for Afraid of Sunlight, I abandoned that at the HMV listening post in disgust halfway through Afraid of Sunrise. It wasn’t until I heard some of the album’s tracks from the Rotterdam concert extracts featured on Made Again (the whole concert represents discs 3 and 4 of this release) that I went and listened to the album properly in full. As with Brave before it, this is clearly how the album is supposed to be heard. I fell in love with the album back then and regard it now as one of my three favourites from Marillion’s impressive catalogue (the other two being Misplaced Childhood and Marbles).

The songwriting on this album is exquisite, the dynamics rich and varied and the sheer emotional gravitas utterly astounding. The second half of the album, in particular (which I had eschewed that time in HMV), is one of the most powerful series of songs I have heard on any album in my life. Following the melancholic loneliness of Gazpacho, the spiky punk of Cannibal Surf Babe and the majestic balladry of Beautiful, the doomed ambition of the deeply tragic Out of This World is like a staging post for the fatalistic hopelessness which the album careers towards in the climactic denouement of King.

I could wax lyrical about every track on this album, but I suspect most readers have already heard it (and possibly already own a copy) and are wondering if this re-issue is worth picking up. On the documentary from the Blu-ray, I was interested to note that the Michael Hunter re-mix has been put together from the original tapes, rather than the mix that ended up lost amongst various other recordings at Parr Studios. As a consequence, this is more than just a ‘tarting’ up of the original recording. The overall recording is cleaner and crisper and Rothery’s guitar parts, in particular, benefit from this. Of most interest, I think, is Out of This World which was put together from what was available and which has quite a different balance in places (some of it great, one or two parts I prefer on the original). By the end of the album, I had noted a number of sections that sounded quite different to Dave Meegan’s original (which I’ve listened to many times over the years). Is it like hearing a new album? Of course not, but it is much more interesting than the usual slew of remasters.

Value for money isn’t really a problem with this re-issue as it features the original mix, the new re-mix, a double live from the Afraid of Sunlight tour and a Blu-ray with lots of bonus features, all for less than £30. However, the B-sides and bonus tracks from the bonus disc of the EMI 1999 remaster are only present as files on the Blu-ray and not on an audio disc, which is a pity as I feel that Mirages, not least, is good to have on CD. This means that this release would likely accompany fans’ 1999 remasters, rather than replace them. Another factor to be considered is that whilst the sound quality of the concert is excellent, I’m sure I’m not the only Marillion fan who feels like they have more than enough of their live albums.

For any prog fan who doesn’t yet have a copy of Afraid of Sunlight, this release is well worth investing in as you get two different versions of one of the best prog albums ever released, along with an engaging live performance from the tour and, with the CD, a Blu-ray packed with extras and an extensive booklet. For the Afraid of Sunlight fan, this is also worth your while as Michael Hunter’s re-mix is superb and provides the listener with an opportunity to hear what another producer can do with the tapes nearly twenty-five years later. Overall, this is excellent value for money and, on a final note, I’d add that Steve Hogarth was right all along and I’m pleased that the Day-Glo Jesus is now the album’s front cover.

TRACK LISTING
Disc 1: Afraid of Sunlight (Michael Hunter 2019 re-mix)

01. Gazpacho (7:25)
02. Cannibal Surf Babe (5:44)
03. Beautiful (5:11)
04. Afraid Of Sunrise (5:00)
05. Out Of This World (7:53)
06. Afraid Of Sunlight (6:50)
07. Beyond You (6:09)
08. King (7:01)

Disc 2: Afraid of Sunlight (Dave Meegan 1995 original mix)
01. Gazpacho (7:27)
02. Cannibal Surf Babe (5:44)
03. Beautiful (5:12)
04. Afraid Of Sunrise (5:01)
05. Out Of This World (7:54)
06. Afraid Of Sunlight (6:49)
07. Beyond You (6:10)
08. King (7:03)

Disc 3: Live at the Ahoy, Rotterdam (29th September 1995)
01. Intro (Skater’s Waltz) (0:46)
02. Incommunicado (4:55)
03. Hooks In You (2:58)
04. Gazpacho (6:16)
05. Icon (1:10)
06. Beautiful (5:32)
07. Hotel Hobbies (2:03)
08. White Russian (7:08)
09. Easter (6:11)
10. Mad (2:52)
11. The Opium Den (3:47)
12. Hard As Love (6:33)
13. The Hollow Man (5:13)

Disc 4: Live at the Ahoy, Rotterdam (29th September 1995)
01. Kayleigh (4:08)
02. Lavender (4:18)
03. Afraid Of Sunlight 6:57)
04. Cannibal Surf Babe (4:51)
05. Cover My Eyes (4:15)
06. Slainte Mhath (4:45)
07. King (7:20)
08. Splintering Heart (7:20)
09. No One Can (5:36)
10. The Great Escape (5:46)
11. The Uninvited Guest (4:27)
12. Garden Party (7:38)

Disc 5: Blu-ray
Afraid of Sunlight 2019 (stereo and 5.1)
Documentary Film
1999 Remaster Bonus Tracks
Jams and Demos
Video of Beautiful

MUSICIANS
Steve Hogarth – Vocals, Additional Keyboards & Percussion
Steve Rothery – Guitar
Mark Kelly – Keyboards
Pete Trewavas – Bass, Backing Vocals
Ian Mosley – Drums & Percussion
~ With:
Barbara Lezmy – Additional Backing Vocals (on Cannibal Surf Babe)
Wendy Paige – Additional Backing Vocals (on Cannibal Surf Babe)
Hannah Stobart – Additional Backing Vocals (on Beautiful)

ADDITIONAL INFO
Record Label: Parlophone
Format/Catalogue#: 4CD/Blu-ray – 0190295477219, 5LP – 0190295477226, Digital
Date of Release: 1st November 2019

LINKS
Marillion – Website | Facebook | Twitter

This news story was originally published here: http://theprogressiveaspect.net/blog/2019/11/06/steve-hogarth-marillion/

A few days after speaking to Steve Rothery of Marillion, John Wenlock-Smith caught up with frontman Steve Hogarth in a brief telephone conversation, recounted below, covering the new Marillion orchestral album.


So Steve, did you find your way back home on Monday OK?

Yes I did, I don’t think she knows that I do go out.

I’ve always said that if you know five main roads in London that you are usually OK.

Well I used to work in London most days, so I do know my way around a bit.

Well thanks for talking with me, its really kind of you to do so. Well let’s ask you some questions then; you have a new album coming out, that sounds interesting.

Yes, it’s called Marillion with Friends from the Orchestra that came out of our being a little frustrated that we couldn’t keep going and tour out in the provinces with these friends, so Mike [Hunter] did some more arrangements and we went off to Real World Studios at the back end of last year, and I think it’s out now.

Yes, because we’re seeing you in Birmingham Symphony Hall soon.

Cracking gig, it’s a great room, we’ve played it a couple of times with Marillion and I did it a few months back with Trevor Horn.

I’m looking forward to it, should be a great night.

Yes, well I’ll do my best to make it worthwhile for you!

I’ve seen you at the conventions a couple of times.

Where?

Holland.

Ah, that’s the proper ones, they’re always good fun to do, that’s always quite something.

You have a very dedicated fanbase.

We’re one of those bands that really get under your skin, it becomes almost the soundtrack to their lives. I think we are very fortunate to have a following that we’ve managed to create this music for over the years.

Yes, to be able to do what you see as truth and not to be worried about commercial concerns, or without the market research really, because as soon as the semblance of self-consciousness creeps in you are going to start to do things to your music for the wrong reasons. We’ve never really allowed that or had to allow it, we’ve always just got on and faffed around and experimented and created what excites us and not really given any thought to anyone else.

You certainly carved your own path, which is exemplary and good to see.

Well without the fans we couldn’t have done it, and without the music we wouldn’t have the fans, it’s a closed loop, you know?

Marillion, Liverpool Philharmonic 1st Nov 2019, photo by Mike Ainscoe 5 copyI talked to Lucy (Jordache, Marillion manager) some time ago before F.E.A.R. came out about how many album you’d sold on pre-order and it was about 13,000 copies, whereas many of the albums up for Mercury Music awards had sold far far less than that but you didn’t even get nominated.

That’s kind of the problem with the music business and how unfair the media can be. I’d better be careful here, that Mercury Music Prize is a little bit compromised by politics.

Oh Yes, I’m sure it is, but you guys don’t even get a look in and that’s what annoys me because most people think about Marillion as Kayleigh, they don’t understand there has been 40 years of Marillion and 30 years with you as the singer.

I could address that by being in the Daily Mail or Daily Express or by doing one of those crappy reality shows. It does frustrate me that Mr and Mrs Jones of Railway Cuttings probably think that Marillion began and ended with Kayleigh, but that’s their problem, not ours, we’re perfectly happy and free, and if there is anyone out there who thinks of us as a Genesis soundalike band from the mid-’80s that’s fine – don’t care, not relevant.

I have to say I really liked Sounds That Can’t Be Made, that album is fantastic, and F.E.A.R., I think that it’s a very brave album because it’s not afraid to address things rather than pussyfooting around. It’s a wake-up call, as it were, that we are going down the wrong road.

It’s my protest album. I was trying to rail against what England had become, while we were writing it I was worried about what people would think, would it be too much? I didn’t want to be accused of jumping on some protest wagon. I did worry about it a lot, I didn’t want people to take it with a roll of the eyes or a yawn, I did worry about this all the time we were putting it together. But fortunately, it has been well received.

Steve Rothery said he wasn’t sure but that you might play some of F.E.A.R., but not all of it.

No, I think we’ve just taken the songs that we think work best with the classical elements, in that sense the songs have chosen themselves. I think we’re going to do New Kings that we’ve not done for a while. It will be good to break that back out.

That’s good, hopefully you’ll do lots of stuff I like, like the one about Donald Campbell.

Out of This World.

Some friends of mine got married and used Beautiful.

Yes, it’s usually Beautiful or No One Can for the weddings, it’s fabulous that they have such a profound effect on people, when I was a kid it was the Beatles that wrote the soundtrack to my life, so I was pleased to hear that Here Comes the Sun has become the most downloaded Beatles song. Especially as it’s both a George Harrison song and not one of their fabulous singles. It’s great when you can get songs that lift people out of their everyday gloom.

It must give you a great sense of satisfaction as a songwriter.

It does give you a great sense of satisfaction when words that you’ve written are as deeply embedded as they are in your own, it’s an amazing feeling.

Steve Rothery said you’d started working on your next album but not really got too far down the line with it yet.

Yes, it’s far too early to say, there’s been a lot of interest and happy accidents that maybe only last seconds and at some point, probably halfway through next year that we’ll get a feeling for the component parts, but I really couldn’t say as it could all go so many different ways that if I told you it may not even be true.

That’s fine, I understand that, but presumably as you are the one who writes most of the lyrics, have you got some train of thought thinking going on that may eventually turn into something hopefully?

I have got loads of stuff that’s in so many different places and so many different areas of feeling from everything, songs that are a reflection of different parts of the world, and what we’ll use all very much remains to be seen.

I spoke to Steve about this, the current state of the U.K. and we’re obviously due to leave the E.U. at the end of October.

It’s going to be incredibly difficult with trucks stuck at borders and all the resultant difficulties thereafter, it’s all come about because some people… we got into this because someone was driving around in a bus saying that we’d get £350 million a week for the NHS, but since then it’s cost a billion pounds a month. People were duped, no one knew what leaving actually entailed. I think people are far more aware now of what will actually happen and are more informed. I think we should have another referendum, but I don’t think they would allow it as they know that we would vote in a different manner as we understand far more now than the lies that we were told by the people at the time.

I agree with you, but again I think the media bias and the lies that we’ve had to endure for the past three years are so big that they can’t afford to give us the choice to revisit that fateful decision.

Indeed.

Well Steve, sadly my time is gone so I’ll say thank you for your time, it’s been a real pleasure to speak with you and I’ll see you in Birmingham in a few weeks’ time.

Yes indeed, thanks John, it’s been good to talk with you too. Have a great weekend. Toodle pip.

Marillion - photo by Mike Ainscoe


Photos by Mike Ainscoe, used with his kind permission.


LINKS
Steve Hogarth – Website | Facebook
Marillion – Website | Facebook | Twitter

This news story was originally published here: http://theprogressiveaspect.net/blog/2019/11/06/steve-rothery-marillion/

Steve Rothery this year celebrates two significant milestones, one of reaching the grand age of 60 and also that of having spent some 40 years with the band Marillion, who he had joined in 1979 when they were called Silmarillion, after the JRR Tolkien book of that name, before Fish joined in a line-up that also consisted of Mick Pointer, Doug Irvine and Brian Jelliman. After several line-up changes the band shortened the name to Marillion in 1980 and went on to become the band that we know and love. TPA’s John Wenlock Smith caught up with Steve recently in a Soho hotel where he talked about four decades with the band, the forthcoming U.K. tour and his solo plans, amongst other things.


Thanks for making the time to talk with us, it’s really appreciated, this is very kind of you.

No Problem.

You’ve got a lot going on with you guys now?

We’ve always got a lot going on, especially me in particular because I do my solo stuff and various other projects in between the Marillion dates. So this year has been a pretty crazy year for me, but for Marillion, we are about to tour with our friends from the orchestra and work through those arrangements next month with the first show in Liverpool in November.

We’re coming to see you in Birmingham.

Oh cool, it’s a nice venue [Symphony Hall].

We saw you there last year as well, which we enjoyed immensely.

It’s a lovely place to play.

Yes, and I’ve also been to a couple of the weekends in Holland too.

Ah, great.

This is my wife Sue, she lets me go to all these.

Well you’ll have to bring her next time too, it’s too good to miss.

You have a new album coming out, with the orchestra.

Yes, it’s just been announced today. We went down to Real World studio in Bath (Peter Gabriel’s own facility) and spent five or six days I think recording it, it’s an amazing place to work and these girls and the French horn player are all world-class musicians.

I’ve seen the track listing, but one song I thought would have worked well is Beautiful.

Well you can almost point your finger at any song in our catalogue and say “well that would work well with strings”, one of those is Gaza, which we might try and play live but it’s not on the album.

That would be interesting as it’s such a powerful song.

You can imagine that with the strings on.

Yes I can Imagine that. So will this album be the basis for most of your set for the tour?

This and probably some of the songs we played last time when we did the Royal Albert Hall set, and yes, a few other songs we haven’t played with them yet, as we have two nights at the RAH we obviously want to vary the set as much as possible, plus we have two nights in Essen in Germany at the end of the tour, so we’ll try and vary the set for that too.

That’s going to be a good tour, I’m looking forward to it immensely. Obviously you’re excited about that as well.

It’s going to be an interesting experience I think.

Steve Rothery, Liverpool Philharmonic 1st Nov 2019 - by Mike AinscoeSo what’s happening with the next album, any thoughts on that?

Well having spent time working on this album with the orchestra, Mike Hunter [producer] has spent a lot of his time working on the arrangements for that, so we’re really only in the early stages of working, and by working I mean jamming. Mike has several hundred hours of jams to work through, looking for ideas that we will then put onto a Soundcloud account to listen to and then to work further. In the old days we’d obviously write things separately and then work through, but nowadays this is the only way we can work without killing each other, but it is all about the chemistry of the moment, it does allow for those moments when someone has maybe the ghost of an idea. Maybe I’ll have a guitar line that Pete can move a bass line against that suggests certain chords that Mark can play on the old Joanna and suddenly, from nothing, this thing starts to coalesce and take on a life of its own. It’s miraculous, it’s really like magic.

It’s a thing of beauty really.

It Is, best when those moments that come around so spontaneously can impact people’s lives, that people can be moved to tears by, something that was just born in that creative moment.

You also have your own solo stuff ongoing as well.

Yes, it’s been four years since The Ghosts of Pripyat album, which was very successful for me, which I toured, playing that and some old Marillion songs. We did a weekend in Mexico earlier in the year, I’m in the middle of doing a new instrumental album at the moment called Revontulet (the Finish word for the Northern Lights, ‘Fox Fires’), a beast fable about a fox whose tail sweeps the snow into the sky, creating the aurora borealis. it’s a space themed album, I went down to Chile to a place called La Silla where I filmed some remarkable drone footage and played at a lesser observatory, during a solar eclipse. I’ll put the footage we took on YouTube in the next few months, it drives my wife a little crazy because I’m either doing Marillion shows or going round the world doing my own stuff or playing on other people’s records, but you only live once.

Indeed, Pete (Trewavas, bass player) is in Sweden with a new Transatlantic album, isn’t he.

Yes, Pete’s another one who keeps himself busy.

I think it’s great, all these projects, the world of music has changed immensely.

Yes, it all keeps the band’s profile up, and your own personally, too. I’ve had a lot of publicity in my own stuff which all helps the band profile, and it recharges your own enthusiasm for the band.

It would be good to see you do something with Steve Hackett, it would be interesting to see that.

I’d be interested in doing instrumental music with Steve rather than a song-based album, when it has songs it gets judged in a different way, it has extra baggage.

Anybody you’d really like to work with still?

Kate Bush, I’d love to work with her and Joni Mitchell, not that she’s done much in the last 20 years. and Neil Finn is an exceptional songwriter.

So at these dates are some of the songs from Fear going to reappear?

Yes. Possibly The New Kings, the Fear album is the Nostradamus of Progressive Rock albums.

Obviously Brexit is still a hot potato.

Yes, if it happens we’re three years down the line and it’s a nightmare for bands like us with VAT, customs duties and carnets.

That’s something I know about, I used to work for Bentley doing customs work. It’ll be a disaster and make life very difficult for groups like yourselves.

Nice cars though, my friend Steven Kane drives for Bentley (he was one of the Bentley boys who drove the winning Le Mans car in 2003) and Ian [Moseley] used to have a Bentley GT until about a year ago.

One last question: Any music you have heard recently that you’d recommend?

I find it very hard to find new music that captivates me, but I have heard an album called Carrie and Lowell by an American singer-songwriter called Sufjan Stevens that caught my attention. It’s like Simon and Garfunkel but with very deep dark themes running throughout, well worth looking out for if you can.

Well Steve, my time has gone. Thanks for taking the time to talk to me, much appreciated. I’ll see you in Birmingham in a few weeks’ time on the tour.

Yes indeed. Thanks John, enjoy the show when you see us. Thank you.

Marillion, Liverpool Philharmonic 1st Nov 2019, by mike ainscoe 1 copy


Photos by Mike Ainscoe, used with his kind permission.


LINKS
Steve Rothery – Website | Facebook | Twitter
Marillion – Website | Facebook | Twitter

This news story was originally published here: http://theprogressiveaspect.net/blog/2019/11/05/eiemel-eiemel/

So who or what are Eiemel? Eiemel is the name of what is essentially a solo project of one Ariel Martin Loza, an Argentinian musician who’s best known as being the ex-bassist in symphonic prog band Laquesis. For the last three years, however, he has been holed up in his home studio, the wonderfully named So Many Notes, making this album. Despite the studio name, this project is not an exercise in cramming thousands of notes into a few bars, but rather an eclectic fusion of various styles, from prog to metal, jazz to ambient, even big band swing. Dull it is not.

Nor to be honest is it a completely solo endeavour, as he has drafted in an array of musicians to assist in realising this vision, adding their skills to his basic framework, and the standard of musicianship is high. The opener M.o.r fades in with a Floydian keyboard drone, then guitar and bass, plus xylophone notes. It’s probably a keyboard made to sound like a xylophone, but who cares, it sounds good, and makes a nice intro piece. This leads us into a more guitar led piece, with sharp synth flourishes, and sporting a Moog solo which brings Keith Emerson to mind with a smile. For me, these instrumentals work the best, but there is so much varied content here, and that includes songs with vocals! Plan B is the first of these, and being sung in Spanish, I have no clue what it means, but it’s a nice enough pop-rock song with a very fluid bass line, and sounds pretty good.

Being a die hard prog fan, I have to say that the two lengthier tracks are my personal favourites. Ave de Paso is a great piece, which has so many twists and turns packed into its eight or so minutes, but at the same time is very accessible and melodic. There’s much heavier riffing here, with the melody picked out first on synth, then guitar, but nothing stands still for long in this track. The other longish song, Temblor, is another instrumental in two sections, starting at pace and instantly busy with stop/start riffing and soaring guitar over layered keys, sounding a bit like an accompaniment for a car chase. After a couple of minutes, it calms down with a flute and guitar segment which is gorgeous, then rain and thunder sounds transport us to the second phase with Tangerine Dream-style synth patterns, before more guitar heaviness, time changes, some lovely fretless bass from Mr Loza, and a cracking guitar solo from Rodrigo San Martin. The whole nine minutes flash by, there’s so much going on. More of this please!

Elsewhere, we have a rich tapestry of styles and moods, from the lush keys and acoustic guitar of Ojala La Iluvia, the much heavier Aquerente, sung in English with a multitude of different keyboard sounds and hard riffing, to the big band swing of In Full Swing, which is just such a fun tune! Parece que Fue Ayer sounds like a Mike Oldfield jig, and I’d Do It All the Same has a Parisian feel, a lovely ballad with tasteful echoey electric piano and Ariel Aguilar on bandoneon, a kind of accordion giving the French flavour. It’s all beautifully crafted and quite irresistible. And not every song needs a bevvy of guests, as Ariel Loza proves he can play a variety of instruments himself, such as on Chaotic Law where he plays everything other than drums, and pulls it off with aplomb, laying down some jazzy chords, funky bass lines, a tasty guitar break, and a terrific keyboard solo. Arrullo forms the record’s coda, a lush lullaby with a gentle melody, and an obvious choice for closer.

The danger with an eclectic mix of styles, such as we have here, is that it ends up messy and incoherent. I think Ariel avoids this, as his musicality permeates the whole album and provides a core style somehow, but I would welcome perhaps more time devoted to his strengths next time around, as one or two songs are relatively forgettable. Other than that, I would recommend giving this a listen, as I’ve found it a very entertaining and engaging way to spend 70 minutes.

TRACK LISTING
01. M.o.r (1:47)
02. Cenit (3:45)
03. Plan B (6:04)
04. Ave De Paso (8:44)
05. Aqueronte (4:11)
06. Ojala La Iluvia Te Acercara Hasta Mi (5:19)
07. Homeless (5:19)
08. Chaotic Laws (6:33)
09. Mala Sangre (5:27)
10. In Full Swing (5:28)
11. Parece Que Fue Ayer (3:32)
12. I’d Do It All The Same (4:35)
13. Temblor (8:52)
14. Arrullo (2:59)

Total Time – 69:55

MUSICIANS
Ariel Martin Loza – Keyboards, Guitar, Bass, Vocals, Choirs, Programming, Percussion, Orchestral Arrangements
~ With:
Ivan Louro – Drums
Damian Lüscher – Drums
Federico Silva – Guitar
Alvaro Manzanero – Drums
Daniel Mistretta – Guitar
Martin Blengino – Drums
Rodrigo San Martin – Guitar
Martin Puntonet – Vocal Ideas
Yamil Mohadile – Trombone, Wind Instrument Arrangements
Bruno Lazzarini – Trumpet
Luisina Pérez – Flute
Las Gaitas Asesinas San Virulais – Gaitas*
Ariel Aguilar – Bandoneon**

* a Spanish bagpipe
** an Argentinian accordion

ADDITIONAL INFO
Record Label: Independent
Country of Origin: Argentiana
Date of Release: 1st September 2019

LINKS
Eiemel – Website | Facebook | Bandcamp

This news story was originally published here: http://theprogressiveaspect.net/blog/2019/11/04/summers-end-festival-xv/

The Drill Hall, Chepstow
4th to 6th October 2019

Summer's End 2019

The annual pilgrimage for many fans to the charming border town of Chepstow in South Wales for the annual progressive rock festival was just as popular as ever this year with many familiar faces, keen to see artists and friends old and new. Lovingly and expertly curated by Stephen Lambe and Huw Lloyd-Jones, Summer’s End has easily become the best festival of its kind in Britain, presenting established bands and introducing newer acts from home and abroad.

SEF PigeonThe weekend did not get off to an auspicious start as one of the TPA gang was immediately greeted by a pigeon crapping on his head as he got out of his car.

Leo Trimming had to tolerate the rest of the weekend hearing others saying that it was a sign of luck… presumably by people who had not been shat on from a great height!

TPA was represented by Leo Trimming (LT), Stan Siarkiewicz (photos) and the brothers Graham (GT) and Owy Thomas (OT), and in this piece, they give their brief impressions of each artist.


Friday 4th October 2019

THE KENTISH SPIRES

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This was an interesting opening band for the festival, although a late and significant line-up change in singers left some fans a little bewildered, with female singer Lucie V being replaced by a male singer, Nigel Voyle. I was unfamiliar with their material but it did seem that some was clearly more suited to a female voice. Nevertheless, the band showed some skilled musicianship, combining rock with folk. Notably, woodwind /sax player Chris Egan displayed great talent, especially in a fascinating solo with an unusual electronic woodwind instrument called a wind synth, however one could not escape the feeling that perhaps this was not what some fans had been expecting. (LT)

WOBBLER

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Blimey… Norway’s Masters of Progressive Rock overwhelmed any stragglers at Summer’s End with a dazzling display of melodic, poetic and beguiling old school ‘Prog’.

Flutes, violins, Mellotron sounds, fine electric guitars, majestic keys and deft drumming were all there in joyful abundance… it’s like the last 45 years simply didn’t happen, and so what, if they do it so well live. This was eye-opening in its beauty and power, simply outstanding. It was going to take some doing for bands later in the weekend to match this performance. And they played a completely new song… it was great but I didn’t catch its name… possibly ‘Proggy McProgface’… but perhaps not… they won me over, and compared to their album for this listener the live experience was a revelation. None more Prog!

A few drinks with Wobbler in the pub afterwards showed what a friendly festival this has become so with no pigeons in sight, the first night of the festival ended on a much higher note for LT than it had begun! (LT)


Saturday 5th October 2019

THE FAR MEADOW

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Saturday commenced with an impressive opening set from British band The Far Meadow. Elliot Minn gave a fine display of keyboards, driven along powerfully by Paul Bringloe on drums and Keith Buckman on bass. Marguerita Alexandrou was rather low in the mix, which was disappointing as she has a good voice, but she fronted a polished band well.

However, as the set progressed the undoubted star of the show was the very skilful guitar player, Denis Warren, whose skills went down well with a good early crowd.

I saw this band a year or so ago at HRH Prog and in all honesty they didn’t blow me away (and may not have done themselves justice), but this was a far slicker and more impressive performance. Indeed, as time has gone on since the Summer’s End show, my memory of them indicates I was more impressed than I first realised. As Paul Bringloe has since said to me, they nearly got me this time – indeed, I think he may be right and I may need to investigate their album Foreign Land.

This was undoubtedly a good start to Day 2. (LT)

THE WINDMILL

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I have to admit I was not expecting much from Dutch band The Windmill, as I was a little underwhelmed by the brief excerpts I had heard on the web. That just goes to show you cannot rely on such things, as in actuality I was thoroughly entertained by them. At times they evidenced jazz influences in structure, and at other times presented a more straightforward rock structures – they were certainly varied in style. Their playing was solid with a particularly impressive rhythm section, and the band clearly possess some not inconsiderable talent, especially the Roy ‘Chubby’ Brown look-a-like on the keyboards. The overtly ‘Prog’ elements were well done with the band at one point launching into a version of The Court of the Crimson King. Initially I thought that indicated a Prog montage was in the offing, however, what followed was what sounded like a complex scrawling (and apparently truncated) instrumental epic. Nevertheless, the overall performance was great fun. (OT)

THE ROOM

The Room at Summer's End Festival 2019

The Room impressed me at the recent Cambridge Rock Festival, and at Summer’s End they proved that their performance had not been a one-off. The band tend to wear their hearts on their sleeves, and their songs can be pretty emotional. Given the problems with singer Martin Wilson’s son’s health lately, it’s lucky they were here at all, but the band pull together in a great show of strength and spirit. Bassist Andy Rowe introduces Drowning in Sound with a heartfelt tribute to the recently departed Barrie Masters of Eddie and the Hot Rods, the first band he ever saw. They nail the song, one of the strongest from their latest album Caught By the Machine. Other favourites in the set include Bodies on the Road and the closer It’s Not My Home. A passionate performance from a band I’m growing to love.  (GT)

COMEDY OF ERRORS

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The evening session commenced in fine style with this wonderful Scottish melodic progressive rock band. They played an entertaining set from across their career. Keyboardist Jim Johnston was rather hidden away at the back, nevertheless he was crucial and outstanding in weaving their music together. The double guitar attack of Sam McCulloch and Mark Spalding really widened their musical palette as they intertwined beautifully – Spalding was particularly impressive in his solos. Bruce Levick and John Fitzgerald drove this imaginative band on skilfully on drums and bass.

Frontman Joe Cairney charismatically sang from his heart with power, and even sang the finale from amidst the crowd. Comedy of Errors play an enjoyable and emotional brand of melodic prog, coloured with great keyboards, embroidered with dazzling guitars and sang passionately. They certainly made me smile. (LT)

PHIDEAUX

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I have to admit that whilst I am now aware that they have been around for some time, I was not familiar with Phideaux until the run-up to this year’s Summer’s End when I heard some of their material on internet radio, and along with knowing I was going to see them, I took the plunge with their latest album, Infernal, the concluding part of a conceptual trilogy which has been developing for some years.

Their set got off to a rocky start, with technical difficulties with a guitar amp. However, it didn’t take too long, after the sound settled down somewhat, for the band to fully recover from this setback. A fair proportion of Infernal was aired, including most notably for me Hydrogen to Love, one of the more left-field tracks from the album, which particularly impressed. The band draw comparisons to me with avant and chamber prog artistes, such as Thinking Plague and 5 Uus, although with at times the more trad influences, as cited by the band themselves, of Jethro Tull. Overall a highly impressive performance and definitely one of the sets of the weekend for me. I shall be investigating their back catalogue forthwith. (OT)

[… and just to show how different views can be of the same artist…]

PHIDEAUX

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My Summer’s End started with a pigeon crapping on my head and as I could only do the first two days, it ended with this quirky American Prog band.

It’s taken me a while to process that performance… but the weekend definitely ended a lot better!!

Phideaux Xavier came on with a bizarre blue jacket with an enormous collar, not seen since Timelords on Gallifrey in ’70s Dr.Who… he was DEFINITELY displaying his inner ‘PROG’! Fronting a 10-piece band, Xavier launched into an ambitious show of complex, dense progressive rock.

Sadly, the early momentum was somewhat hindered by a persistent technical problem – squeezing ten musicians onto the Drill Hall stage with a limited set-up time was a big ask, to be honest. Playing with three keyboardists, two guitarists, one violinist, drummer and bassist, along with two backing vocalists, Phideaux were aiming BIG!!!

Their story-filled epic songs populated with characters are ornate and baroque with hints of folk, and even echoes of Jethro Tull at times. I was particularly impressed with Tempest of Mutiny with its maritime theme. However, whilst they may have impressed me mentally with their commitment and skill in conveying complex songs, they did not grab me emotionally for some strange reason. Their eccentric show seemed to split the audience between those feeling bewitched or bewildered… and sometimes both!

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Feedback after the show ranged from ‘one of the best gigs I’ve ever seen’ to ‘WTF was that?’ with much head-scratching. Many in the crowd loved it – others, like me, were impressed most of the time but may not have felt touched… and, if I’m totally honest, a little bit bored at times… and whisper it quietly, but my dear wife slept through most of it (to be fair that was probably more to do with being a little ‘refreshed’ and still coping with a virus and a long week at work! At least Phideaux matched the achievement of Frost* a couple of years ago who also sent her off to sleep!!).

I think being more familiar with the songs would have helped my enjoyment so I did invest in a couple of CDs as I recognised there was definitely something there even if I didn’t totally ‘get’ it this time. Like I said, impressed but not moved. (LT)


Sunday 6th October 2019

RISE

RISE at Summer's End festival 2019

So first up on Sunday afternoon was Rise (formerly Talitha Rise), which is basically Jo Beth Young along with her fine band, the Abandoned Orchestra. There was a good crowd for the first act of the day and they were rewarded with a bewitching and mesmeric performance of her haunting music, taken from her new album Strangers. It’s part Prog, part folk, slightly Gothic at times, and Jo Beth has a superb voice, a little reminiscent of Tori Amos at times perhaps, with some lovely violin accompaniment. A gentle start to the day, and well received. (GT)

MAYRA ORCHESTRA

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After a short break, Mayra Orchestra take to the stage. Fronted by singer/songwriter Maartje Dekker, resplendent in a striking headdress, the music is at once dramatic and very different. Gut-wrenching cello provides an eerie soundscape backing for Maartje’s strident voice. Most of the rest of the band comprises members of Sky Architect, who will be remembered for their superb set at last year’s SE. With such empathy between players familiar with each other, the band is tight and inventive, the songs interesting and engaging. Tom Luchies provides a magic moment when he pulls off one of the guitar solos of the weekend towards the end of the set. Superb stuff. (GT)

THIS WINTER MACHINE

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This Winter Machine opened the festival a couple of years ago, and were promoted to third on the bill on the final day this time where they made the most of the honour. I’m not very familiar with the band, but clearly a large section of the crowd were, and enthusiastically enjoyed their brand of accessible Neo-Prog (horrible phrase!), which they performed very well. The band worked hard and created quite an atmosphere for a mid-Sunday slot. This was not ground-breaking, but this polished band were talented and enjoyable. (GT)

HASSE FRÖBERG AND MUSICAL COMPANION

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One of the two main singers in The Flower Kings, this is Fröberg’s own band, and unsurprisingly they tend to occupy similar sonic territory to TFK. Also unsurprisingly, the band are all top drawer musicians and play with flair and passion. Hasse seemed happy and relaxed as they featured some of the songs from brand new release Parallel Life, as well as favourites from their previous three albums. One thing which did surprise me was to discover that drummer Ola Strandberg can also play guitar and sing very well! Wonderful set, and please come back soon! (GT)

DISTRICT 97

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Having seen this band twice on their last visit to these shores, my expectations were high for District 97. I was not disappointed. The band are not an easy listen – edgy and insisting on difficult time signatures and meters, and do not compromise, and I love them for it.

Leslie Hunt is one of the best frontwomen in rock, full stop. She has a fabulous voice, amazing stage presence, and inhabits each song so fully it’s almost scary! They divided their set into two parts, the first half-hour or so dedicated to old songs, and then played new album Screens in full. For most bands, that would be a brave move at best, but this is District 97, and they pull it off brilliantly. I’m struggling to think of a band playing what could loosely be described as Prog-metal who are anywhere near the same league as this mob from Chicago. Band of the festival for me, no argument. (GT)

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All photos by Stan Siarkiewicz, used with his kind permission.


LINKS
Summer’s End Festival – Website | Facebook

Comedy of Errors – Website | Facebook | Bandcamp
District 97 – Website | Facebook | Twitter | Bandcamp
Hasse Fröberg & Musical Companion – Website | Facebook
Mayra Orchestra – Website | Facebook | Bandcamp
Phideaux – Website | Facebook | Bandcamp
Rise – Website | Facebook | Bandcamp
The Far Meadow – Website | Facebook | Bandcamp
The Kentish Spires – Facebook | Bandcamp
The Room – Website | Facebook | Bandcamp
The Windmill – Website | Facebook
This Winter Machine – Website | Facebook | Twitter
Wobbler – Facebook | Bandcamp

This news story was originally published here: http://theprogressiveaspect.net/blog/2019/11/03/battles-luo/

The Exchange, Bristol
Saturday, 26th October 2019

With a couple of days in Bristol pending, I scoured the listings to find some suitable entertainment, my eyes immediately lighting up when coming upon Battles. I’ve liked their bizarre meld of electronics and rhythms for some time but have never seen them before, so this seemed a no brainer.

But fate being what it is, the show at the compact Exchange sold out before I’d snagged a ticket. Facebook to the rescue (it does have its uses!), and I managed to get one on the day (thanks Robin!) so was in.


Luo

First up a duo that I had not come upon before, Luo.

The logistics for rehearsals must be a bit tricky with Josh Trinnaman and Barney Sage being residents of Brighton and Bristol respectively, but the results were very impressive. Like Battles, the setup is drums plus electronics/guitars, but this is a much more atmospheric proposition, Barney’s drums central but expanded by the overarching looping and keyboards, accentuated with additional guitar, but nothing you would recognise as soloing.

It’s a dynamic sound, the dextrous and rhythmic drums keeping the focus while subtlety seeps in all around. No doubt Barney is a fine drummer and he seems to revel in his position of driving force at the centre of the stage. From my position tucked in behind the speakers at the right of the stage, Josh is largely hidden, although a craning of the neck now and then keeps me abreast of what’s going on. It’s a pretty full house for the support too, which is nice to see, with much bobbing of heads and grooving to the dancey rhythms, the great snare sound cutting through beautifully. All things considered and given the size of the room, the sound was great for both acts, allowing the depth of the music on offer to shine through.

There were some technical issues that forced a curtailing of a few of the tracks – a likely occurrence no doubt, given the heavy reliance on technology – but it didn’t spoil what turned into a lovely, engaging and inventive set that I thoroughly enjoyed. I’ve since checked out their Bandcamp page and liked what I’ve heard so Luo is certainly a name that I’ll be remembering.

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MUSICIANS
Josh Trinnaman – Keyboards, Electronics, Guitar
Barney Sage – Drums, Electronics

LINKS
Luo – Facebook | Instagram | Soundcloud | Bandcamp


Battles

A quick changeover, Ian Williams and John Stanier appearing to work through their setup, a very similar one as John’s drums are pulled forward to where Barney’s now dismantled kit once stood.

The already full room is noticeably more cramped as the duo assume their positions and launch into a set that weighs very heavily on the newly released and brilliantly titled Juice B Crypts album, the first after the slimming down of the band to a duo with the departure of Dave Konopka last year. The sound is, if anything, more barking than it was on earlier releases, underlining the maverick stance that makes Battles such a mouth-watering proposition. So highly do they clearly regard the new album that most of it is played, the other releases only represented by one track each, two from 2015’s La Di Da Di including the Summer Simmer intro to Ice Cream, but this might have more to do with the practicalities, now that there are only two of them, than the quality of the material.

From the off there’s a relaxed good nature, the set bedding in with four new tracks off the bat. There are a couple of technical issues again, but nothing to detract, Ian directing John to reboot the offending electricy doo-dad. The sound is crystal and the beats as clear as bells, getting the youthful crowd gyrating on the back of many a righteous rhythm. It’s fascinating to watch, quirky in the extreme yet eminently groovy, the duo knowing just which buttons to, quite literally, push.

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My view was about the same as for Luo, so the focus was largely on John Stanier’s superlative drumming. The ex-Helmet man knows his way around furious tub-thumping and he doesn’t let up for a moment, pounding the tiny kit within an inch of its life, reaching skyward to punish the unfeasibly high cymbal that almost scraped the Exchange’s low ceiling. A dynamic and forceful performance, when he got up at the end his plaid shirt was soaked through, evidence of the vigorous workout, powered by a number of cheeky brewskis, augmented after Ian’s plea for a pint of the cider they’d tried on a previous Bristolian visit; “5%, named after the town where it comes from.” Dutifully, two pints of said beverage are hurried to the stage, leading Ian to muse on whether he could request are any other local produce, noting Cheddar cheese as a potential option.

Ian’s contribution in the reduced line-up is more encompassing, given John’s need to be pounding his skins most of the time, and he skips between keys, buttons, loops and guitars with an easy grace. Guitars don’t sound like guitars, but in their treated form they are an important component.

Biggest cheer of the night arrives with Atlas, a key track from 2007’s debut album, Mirrored, a classic album that helped to shape the future for many. The crowd are loving this, and rightly so as it’s a scintillating demonstration of the possibilities of technology and a desire to do your own thing. No encore, but none needed, they’ve done their job and it would be foolish to do the “let’s walk to the side and stand in plain sight to be called back to do the encore we were going to do anyway” thing. The crowd go nuts, John and Ian salute them and, in John’s case at least, head off for a well-earned breather.

Fantastic, otherworldly and oddly brilliant.

Battles

TRACK LISTING
01. Fort Greene Park
02. A Loop So Nice…
03. They Played It Twice
04. Titanium 2 Step
05. The Yabba
06. Sugar Foot
07. Summer Simmer / Ice Cream
08. IZM
09. Atlas
10. Last Supper on Shasta
11. Ambulance

MUSICIANS
Ian Williams – Guitar, Keyboards, Electronics
John Stanier – Drums & Percussion, Electronics

LINKS
Battles – Website | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

This news story was originally published here: http://theprogressiveaspect.net/blog/2019/11/02/roger-waters-us-them/

Roger Waters, co-founder and songwriter of Pink Floyd and the creative brain behind the band, presents his long-awaited film Us + Them, a spectacular visual production with breathtaking audio, now in the form of an exclusive cinema event.

Us + Them was filmed during four performances at the Ziggo Dome in Amsterdam in June 2018, during the European leg of his Us + Them tour in 2017 and 2018. During the aforementioned tour, Waters performed in front of audiences in excess of two million worldwide. The film contains songs from his legendary Pink Floyd era, with special attention for The Dark Side of the Moon and Animals, and his latest, well-received, solo album, Is This The Life We Really Want? Waters has once again collaborated with Sean Evans, director of the critically acclaimed film Roger Waters: The Wall.

So definitely worth a visit, all the more so since there were only two dates available for an exclusive viewing. For me personally a scoop, due to circumstances I missed out on a similar event two years ago featuring, of all people, former companion David Gilmour. A second chance, so off to the cinema in the heart of my hometown The Hague, Holland, on a rainy Sunday afternoon in October.

And I’ll get straight to the point: I witnessed a downright impressive concert film by the now 76-year-old legend from the U.K.

The show is fairly well known, certainly you might well have read a report on one of Waters’ countless gigs during his worldwide tour. I’ll just single out some of the highlights, for me especially, the Animals section, with Dogs and Pigs (Three Different Ones) and a full Battersea Power Station, including four smoking chimneys and pink pig emerging from the roof. In Pigs, a leading role in a negative sense is reserved for the American president (“Trump is a pig”). The same also applies to Money where other world leaders are also featured. Goosebumps during Déjà Vu and Wish You Were Here.

Waters is accompanied by a true top-notch band featuring, in addition to himself, singer/guitarist Jonathan Wilson and drummer Joey Waronker. Although Wilson does impress, his singing voice is just a tad too sweet for my taste, it lacks a jagged edge. It’s not entirely fair, but you subconsciously compare to the original, who happens to excel at precisely that, with his raw, mature voice.

I have another point of criticism: the images of a super enthusiastic audience were clearly not shot in Amsterdam, but evidently in Brazil. Apparently the audiences in the Netherlands did not react sufficiently excitedly in the opinion of the filmmakers, despite the word of gratitude from Waters after the performance, praising the warmth of the audience. Well, that’s what all artists say at virtually every performance, regardless of location, if they can remember it at all.

Waters is best known for his socially critical lyrics and attitude, this time expressed in short films in which the decades-old music is linked to images of boat refugees and Palestine. An excellent illustration of how valid and timeless the music of Pink Floyd still is. A small comment on all this visual sorcery: the images are sometimes so dominant that the musical aspect is in danger of getting lost: Dave ‘Killer’ Kilminster’s brilliant solo spots, assuming the part of David Gilmour, hardly ever come into the picture however, unfortunate for the true enthusiast.

Furthermore, I have nothing but praise, a feast for both eyes and ears that lasts for more than two hours. The images are really fantastic, you get the feeling that you are standing right in front of the stage, or sometimes even on it. Especially the close-ups of Waters’ are brilliant, the veteran’s passionate grooved face oozes from the screen. The sound is also great, quadraphonic naturally. The venue was not completely sold out, there is room for more than 200 visitors at Room 3 at the Pathé Buitenhof in The Hague, but it must have been close.

It takes some getting used to, the fact that at times you feel the need to applaud or sing along, but nothing of the sort, the audience remains silent. Apparently, just like me, impressed by what is offered on the big screen. The average age is well over sixty with a striking number of ladies – the gentlemen probably deemed this special event to be acceptable to their spouses/partners. What is disturbing is the frequent visits to the toilet, as a result of which people walked by in front of the screen. But ok, we all need to go at times, certainly at this age. Having said so, it is nice to see your favourite band perform from the comfortable plush seats, without having to stand on your feet forever, limping to and fro. So overall a pleasant experience, although I will gladly find myself standing in the crowd once again during one of the upcoming gigs, because, I have to admit, the real atmosphere of a concert is sorely missed.

After the official part, a bonus follows, Fleeting glimpse, a piece of extra footage with images of the preparations and behind the scenes of the circus, which is a performance by Roger Waters. The words during the short documentary are his own. Remarkably the set list is not identical to the concert, in particular the encore is almost completely absent, no Comfortably Numb alas. Instead, we are graced with the aforementioned mini-doc in which fragments of the iconic song can be seen/heard.

All in all an excellent film, one of the better concert recordings of recent years. No expense has been spared, which is clearly noticeable. In recent years I have skipped some of Waters’ live shows, but this definitely gives me a taste for more, and I hope to be back soon, to applaud loudly and sing along at the top of my voice: they won’t have to go to Brazil for shooting footage of the audience next time.

TRACK LISTING
Speak To Me
Breathe
One Of These Days
Time
Breathe (Reprise)
The Great Gig In The Sky
Welcome To The Machine
Déjà vu
The Last Refugee
Picture That
Wish You Were Here
The Happiest Days Of Our Lives
Another Brick In The Wall (Part 2)
Another Brick In The Wall (Part 3)
Dogs
Pigs (Three Different Ones)
Money
Us And Them
Brain Damage
Eclipse

MUSICIANS
John Carin – Keyboards
Dave Kilminster – Guitars
Bo Koster – Keyboards
Holly Laessig – Vocals
Ian Ritchie – Bass, Saxophone
Joey Waronker – Drums
Roger Waters – Vocals, Bass, Guitars
Jonathan Wilson – Guitars, Vocals
Jess Wolfe – Vocals

ADDITIONAL INFO
Record Label: n/a
Country of Origin: U.K.
Date of Release: 2nd October 2019 (Cinematic Release)

LINKS
Roger Waters – Website | Us + Them Website | Facebook | Twitter

Roger Waters1

This news story was originally published here: http://theprogressiveaspect.net/blog/2019/11/01/darkroom-the-noise-is-unrest/

There is less time than there used to be. In these days of constant demands on our waking hours, instant communications, the endless frantic rush, it is hard to find the time to sit down and properly listen to an album. When you choose to “dance about architecture” as a hobby, that temporal window becomes ever more difficult to find, as the never-dwindling number of releases one has to sift through grows larger by the day, or so it seems.

When this reviewer took on The Noise Is Unrest by guitarist Michael Bearpark’s (no-man, Henry Fool, Tim Bowness) and audio software designer and soundscape artist Andrew Ostler’s cinematic ambient project Darkroom, he knew what he was letting himself in for, the fool! You see, this album clocks in at well past the three-hour mark, making a complete sit-through nigh on impossible. The compromise I reached was to listen to it 90 minutes or so at a time, in order to get a grip on its sprawling cosmic drift, and I’m glad I did.

The album title alludes to an unsettling undercurrent of unease, commensurate with the edgy times in which we currently live. Without getting overtly angular, The Noise Is Unrest uses Michael’s looped and treated guitar as a subtle instrument of implied trauma over Andrew’s soundscapes. Kicking off with Once Proud Eyes/Oumuamua, incremental waves of sonic disturbance resolve into a simple but menacing beat at around the 14-minute mark as the monster is slowly awakened from within us. Meditation for the overly-anxious, the piece slowly becomes becalmed as the shoulder and neck muscles relax in tandem.

There is no point in describing every track, it is an unfolding story, there will be no spoilers here. You’ll just have to immerse yourself in its inviting but subtly dangerous waters and find out for yourself, like the good musical explorer that you are. Shimmering crescendos, luxurious shallows, pulsing beats, the call and response of electronic derring-do, and the occasionally mellifluous, occasionally spiky surprising and sometimes surprised interjections of guitar animation, along with Andrew Ostler’s clarinets adding organic heft, culminates in a whole that is never clichéd, or lazy, and will hold your attention for however long you find the time to listen.

The album shows traits of the more experimental end of ambient Krautrock, together with the Philip Glass/Steve Reich minimalism favoured by many in this field, along with a large helping of modern industrial ambient music influence. The gristle sometimes throbs. Add to this our intrepid duo’s unfettered imaginations, and it all combines to paint a vast sonic vista on a smog-swirling background.

The Noise Is Unrest was released to coincide with the band’s appearance at Iceland’s Extreme Chill Festival in September, and the slowly evolving pieces featuring occasionally reappearing motifs suits that eerie and ever-changing volcanic landscape to a tee. The album was recorded towards the end of a three year period ending in 2016, as part of a collaboration with singer/composer Georgina Brett, and from which its mere four-hour long predecessor, 2015’s The Rest Is Noise, was also taken.

Timeless in construction and execution, the music presented here is not constrained by time or place, it just is. The finest ambient music never sounds dated, and The Noise Is Unrest will surely fall into that category. Only time will tell, that is, if it doesn’t run out first.

As the press release says: “Who’s going to listen to an album that’s more than 3 hours long? This is the time it takes to fly from London to Istanbul. Create your own reasons…”

Oh… remarkably, this is on offer at “Name Your Price” over on Bandcamp, as are most (all?) Darkroom releases, so you have nothing to lose but your temporal anchor in space.

TRACK LISTING
01. Once Proud Eyes/Oumuamua (25:03)
02. Once Proud Eyes/Haumea (17:35)
03. Agnotology (26:47)
04. Science Is All About Staring (25:32)
05. Losing Our Precision (9:21)
06. Scorzonera/Maid Of Stone (22:47)
07. Serene/Never The Same Way Once (18:57)
08. Runway Excursion Incident (21:16)
09. Kintsukuroi (33:25)

Total Time – 190:43

MUSICIANS
Michael Bearpark – Guitar, Pedals
Andrew Ostler – Modular Synthesiser, Laptop, Bass Clarinet, Contrabass Clarinet

ADDITIONAL INFO
Record Label: Independent
Country Of Origin: U.K.
Date of Release: 13th September 2019

LINKS
Darkroom – Website | Facebook | Bandcamp