When they toured with Palestinian act Khalas a few years ago, Orphaned Land‘s Israeli frontman, Kobi Farhi would joke on stage every night about how, considering the two bands were from two Middle Eastern countries divided by a brutal and long-standing conflict, the only time they would actually argue with each other was over whose turn it was to buy the beer. Continue reading
You would think that strenuous touring schedules with both Steven Wilson and Steve Hackett would take up enough of one’s time, but somehow Nick Beggs manages to juggle this with studio session work and other projects with the likes of Lifesigns and Lonely Robot, as well as being a general hero of contemporary prog rock. Still not familiar with the notion of a well deserved rest, Beggs has also started up new band The Mute Gods with fellow busy bodies Marco Minneman and Roger King, in which his pop and prog backgrounds seem to come head to head.
Debut album Do Nothing Till You Hear From Me (InsideOut Music) certainly shows both sides in abundance, but does so with neither watering itself down or by proving daunting and inaccessible. Far from a massive prog odyssey, DNTYHFM is melodious and song based; strikingly immediate and catchy on the face of it. The opening title track proves an archetype of this, particularly with its easy to follow vocal lines which seem to hide its 7 plus minute duration; whilst sultry ballad ‘Nightschool For Idiots’ wouldn’t seem out-of-place on more straight forward rock acts’ repertoires.
Scratching past its poppy exterior however reveals deeper layers, from drawn out passages, heavy guitar tones, quirky wordplay and subject matter and near psychedelic synths, showcasing the many sides of its personnel but still sounding fluid. The only real drawback here is a lack of consistency, where the strength of its best songs only detract further from lesser counterparts like the weaker ‘Your Dark Ideas’ and ‘Mavro Capelo’ which prove more forgettable.
Aside from small discrepancies however, DNTYHFM is a solid and at times sumptuous début, albeit from a cast of seasoned and experienced personnel with fingers in many pies. Not a perfect album, but one that should be on the radars of anyone who likes catchy rock with a little more depth to jump in to.
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Polish progressive band RIVERSIDE have released the new trailer for their upcoming album Love, Fear And The Time Machine (InsideOut Music) You can video the trailer at this link or below:
Releasing on September 4th, Love, Fear And The Time Machine is the bands 6th studio album features cover artwork by longtime design-partner Travis Smith/Seempieces (Katatonia, Opeth, Nevermore)
The band is tour in advance of the album drop, including this coming weekends’ “Night Of The Prog” festival in St. Goarshausen, DE on July 18th. Other bands appearing this coming weekend at NOTP include IOM labelmates Pain Of Salvation, Steve Rothery, Steve Hackett, Haken, Kaipa, Beardfish, Anneke van Giersbergen / The Gentle Storm, Neal Morse and many more. Get tickets here: http://www.wiventertainment.de/projekte/21-notp.html
RIVERSIDE – Love, Fear and the Time Machine track listing
1. Lost (Why Should I Be Frightened By a Hat?)
2. Under the Pillow
4. Caterpillar and the Barbed Wire
5. Saturate Me
7. Discard Your Fear
8. Towards the Blue Horizon
9. Time Travellers
10. Found (The Unexpected Flaw of Searching)
Sometimes bands like to choose their name via the “does what it says on the tin” approach; a sentiment that certainly rings true with United Progressive Fraternity, even if it does clumsily sound like some kind of University society which really should have existed. A band formed from the ashes of Australian act Unitopia, with Mark Trueack at the helm; this also holds the additional talents of Guy Manning of The Tangent and Dan Mash of The Tangent and Maschine fame, oh and contributions from some guys called Steve Hackett and Jon Anderson.
The name even holds little surprise about their sound, and Fall In Love With The World (InsideOut) is expectedly warm sounding. The overall message of the album is one of ecological and preserving significance; spelt clearly in the title this is about our world and the importance of maintaining and saving it; but presented in a more joyous manner than say, a politically charged hardcore act.
Sonically there is quite an array of styles at play, interlinking from jazz interludes, woodwind, traditional Eastern effects and instrumentation, combined with changing paces and flows plus numerous nods to the greats of Prog. Oddly this project took the mantra of an open door policy without a true creative head but with contributions of various people coming in and out; yet it does feel a cohesive effort throughout.
Returning to messrs Hackett and Anderson, although it is clear where Anderson appears (‘Water’ on backing vocals), Hackett’s contributions seem oddly illusive despite his memorable style, which begs the question, could these huge presences have not been more prominent? Otherwise FILWTW is a pleasing, if not spectacular release; proving a decent showcase of a dictionary definition of a ‘typical’ sounding Prog album, but not a great deal else.
Memory doesn’t half play tricks on you, you know. I don’t think there was ever a time when the live album was an important part of the progression of an artist but I seem to remember from my own youth that the arrival of a live record was considered to be AN EVENT. An event you could have endless arguments about, for example, whether the live version of Iron Maiden’s ‘Hallowed Be Thy Name’ on Live After Death (EMI) is superior to the studio version on Number of the Beast (it is, by the way). Today, the live album appears to be the perfunctory release of the couldn’t-be-bothered brigade, the contractual cash in, the how-can-we-milk-them-some-more cynicism.
It was with this context and mindset that I approached Steve Hackett’s latest souvenir of his Genesis revivalism from the Royal Albert Hall. The Genesis Revisited experience has been captured on live DVD and 2CDs – your humble scribe has had to make do with an MP3 download so I can’t comment on anything like multiple camera angles, artistic direction or anything like that – it’s just the soundtrack I’m going to review. But what a soundtrack!
“Welcome to the Last Night of the Progs” says Hackett at the start of ‘Dancing with the Moonlit Knight’. It’s part gag, part slight embarrassment – you get the idea that Hackett knows that the passionate throng in front of him are coming to this gig with massive expectations and Hackett is humble enough to not want to let them down. He doesn’t as ‘Dancing with the Moonlit Knight’ is just, well, fantastic actually. You won’t get me to suggest that I didn’t miss Peter Gabriel’s eccentric and evocative vocals, but Hackett’s singer, Nad Sylvan does a terrific job and if you haven’t got to grips with how brilliant a guitar player Hackett is then this is a great jumping on point. His solo on ‘Fly On the Windshield’ is spellbinding, and I say this as someone who usually finds this sort of stuff irredeemably awful.
With an artist like Hackett you were never really going to get short-changed though were you? This is a man who cares too much about the music, the fans and the experience than to turn in a “will this do?” effort. The set list appears to have been curated with care, respect and with an ear for the natural ebb and flow of live performance; there’s an attentive and graceful rendition of ‘Return of the Giant Hogweed’, a heartwarming ‘Fifth of Firth’ and when we get to it, as you know that we inevitably will, a performance of ‘Supper’s Ready’ that only the most churlish would consider to be anything other than exquisite.
Truly, there has been a huge amount of care into this event: whilst I would not be as daft or effusive as to suggest that this is better than the original what the performance does do- and in spades- is remind me of how brilliant Hackett is, how great Genesis were and how much of a prog-head I really am. That’s quite a feat. A lovely, lovely album of what must have been a lovely, lovely night.