Archive for May, 2015

June 1st Can’t Get Here Soon Enough…

May 16, 2015

…because there’s never enough BIG BIG TRAIN.

Greg, Andy, David and the gang will be releasing an EP on June 1st (mine is already pre-ordered on Amazon.com [sigh…I don’t like amazon, but it’s easy and I’m lazy].  The EP is titled WASSAIL.

The disc will feature a live bonus track (live is GREAT) but the real treat is NEW MUSIC: three brand new tunes for all of us ‘jones’n’ for our fix of the best band in prog!

Big Big Train are Andy Poole, Danny Manners, David Longdon, Rikard Sjoblom, Nick D’Virgilio, Dave Gregory, Rachel Hall and Greg Spawton

The track list is:

  1. Wassail
  2. Lost Rivers Of London
  3. Mudlarks
  4. Master James Of St George

As I listen to the youtube video of Wassail, I am salivating for not just the EP release but for BBT’s next full length magnum opus. They are somewhat like an English version of Clannad (my favorite celtic band of all-time) especially via the connection and association to a land, people, culture, and ethos.  Infused with the spirit of Ralph Vaughan Williams, Steeleye Span, Strawbs, and Fairport Convention, BUT with their own unique sound & style–Big Big Train is the essence of the “Englishness” of a lost, better, and  perhaps, mythical past.

 

Mellotron set to 11

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Great Prog Music from Prog Magazine (the writing ain’t bad either)

May 11, 2015

PROG MAGAZINE MUSIC SAMPLER

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Issue # 55 April 2015 (cover: Andrew Latimer)

Various artists

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Notwithstanding how good the actual magazine is, these bonus/extra CDs that are included every issue are alone worth the price of the subscription.

 

Track 1: The Tangent/A Spark in the Aether (4:14)

I have already written on this track & album in a full review ( https://fatherwatson.wordpress.com/2015/04/29/a-spark-in-the-aether-album-of-the-year-yes-i-think-so/  ) but must reiterate that this song is a prog classic. On the “gem” Andy’s keys simply soar into the stratosphere of joy while Agren’s drums drive this anthem like a charger (a horse) along a pristine beach. The chorus is infectious and the overall feel-good buoyancy suggest we may have the “song of the year” for 2015

 

Track 2: Gong/Tried So Hard (4:33)

If you don’t know Gong you don’t know prog. Go buy their back catalog. This tune starts off part psychedelia Beatles and CSN&Y before fully embracing Syd Barrett style Floyd. This is a mellow mood inducer that’ll have you smelling patchouli and weed. Put on your bell bottoms and granny glasses and thank the Lords of Prog for Gong. R.I.P. Daevid Allen, you will be missed.

 

Track 3: M-Opus/Different Skies (Excerpt) Every Day The Orbit (5:18)

What’s not to like with the opening lush wash of layered sounds mutating into a huge middle section of mid & far Eastern rhythms and sounds. With the sitars and tablas one conjures up the mysterious beauty of back-street markets and sub-Saharan sand-dunes. With the vocals mixed very low only the vocoder space-like spoken ending intrudes on some fine Eastern Prog cum soundtrack worthy instrumental art.

 

Track 4: Gavin Harrison/Hatesong-Halo (8:11)

Take the best jazz-rock fusion sounds of Chicago I, or Blood, Sweat & Tears (Al Kooper Mk 1 version), mix in some deft synth reeds (bassoon?) and concerto like complexity and you have Gavin Harrison’s delightful all instro mini-epic. Jazzy and symphonic with an almost Return To Forever flavor this is one of my favorite tracks on the sampler.

 

Track 5: Von Hertzen Brothers/ Love Burns (4:37)

Possibly my favorite track on the disc! This band, a relative new discovery—and fairly new group—explodes like a fireball or comet of Prog brilliance! Great vocals and great singing, are melded into a grand and melodic symphony of power-metal/prog metal that builds to a crescendo of sonorous bliss. The track makes one seek out the Von Hertzen Brothers album for another “fix” of this aural drug!

 

Track 6: Sanguine Hum/Out of Mind (5:48)

With the outer-space “bleeps” and “burps” coupled with the oscillating electronic gurgles the introduction slides into a gorgeous slow tempo number. The liquidy Mellotron sounds make me smile. “Buttered cats” anyone?

 

Track 7: Rian Adkinson/Pianoburn (3:35)

I like the heavy reverb in the drum opening. What starts off with a bit of an indie rock vibe goes “hard” at the 2:28 mark to produce an almost post-rock heavier ending. Not bad at all.

 

Track 8: The Gentle Storm/Shores of India (6:37)

Now THIS is my favorite track on the album! The Dutch musical project/collaboration between composer/guitarist/keyboard wizard Arjen Lucassen and vocal goddess Anneke van Gierbergen has given the world of prog one of the best albums of 2015. This particular tune opens with 45 seconds of flute only to be subsumed in a whirlwind of tablas and sitars. At 1:23 the guitars come in with Anneke’s vocals kissing the production at 1:38. Anneke has a marvelous instrument with her wide-ranging, octave spanning voice which alternates between a mesmerizing almost narcotic gothic delivery and a higher-range pure crystalline soprano so beautiful it cuts glass. Lucassen’s complex composition tethered to Anneke’s delivery, which at times is so warm and nostalgic to hearken back to Annie Haslam (Renaissance) at her peak, turns this symphonic track into “The” show-stopper. This can’t be recommended highly enough. I’m buying the album.

 

Track 9: Special Providence/ Kiss From A Glacier (4:36)

This in an all-instrumental piece that has touches of the brilliance of both Tangerine Dream and even Radiohead’s “Kid A.” The solid drumming and stellar guitar work morph into some nice jazz fusion in the middle section before rocking out with an almost Dream Theatre level of jamming at the conclusion.

 

Track 10: The Last Embrace/On My Own (7:33)

Another gothic Angelo Badalamenti-esque opening that is drenched in sultry and smoky vocals. The bleeding guitar and emotional lyric delivery had me thinking both Long Patrol (a great, great indie band) and David Lynch soundtracks. This is like Evanescence with substance and far greater musicianship. This beautiful tone-poem builds in intensity and transports the listener to a Stan Ridgway desert highway populated with sleazy dives, neon signs, and starry vistas.

 

You can’t buy this album sampler but you can and you should subscribe to Prog magazine today. Editor Jerry Ewing and his crack staff turn out a lavish product that does ALL of music proud. https://subscribe.teamrock.com/prog/  And, it was a double bonus “coup” for me as Andrew Latimer (Camel) is the cover story.  Camel is my favorite band of all-time.  I am very happy.

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There’s Good Prog and Then There’s Great Prog: Tillison

May 5, 2015

And not just Andy Tillison’s own music but the stuff he likes and selects (and plays) for his amazing new podcast over at Progzilla.

Check out his second edition of DANCE ON A VOLCANO.

Andy isn’t just a renaissance man, he’s an English Man of All Seasons!

http://www.progzilla.com/podcast-dance-on-a-volcano-edition-2/

 

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Speaking of The Tangent/Tillison

May 2, 2015

Sea of Tranquility is a great web resource for music reviews (they generously INCLUDE prog) and I have been reading Pete Pardo & co. for several years now.  One of the best interviews with Andy Tillison appears now on their home page.  Reviewer Steven Reid does a great job and Andy is eloquent, heartfelt and just cool.  I strongly encourage you read it:

http://www.seaoftranquility.org/article.php?sid=3032

And speaking of The Tangent, again– I’ll post this great YouTube video of Andy playing some original music inspired by my all-time favorite band CAMEL (i.e. Andrew Latimer).

 

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The (n)EVERLAND of PROG

Searching For Lost Chords

Stormfields

Christian Humanism in a Post-Modern World

Progarchy

Pointing toward Proghalla