Posts Tagged ‘Neoprog’

5th March 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

Inspired by a passage in the novel White Teeth by Zadie Smith, NYC’s Charlie Nieland describes the lead single, ‘Land of Accidents’ from his new album as ‘a dark anthem to not-belonging’. Divisions certainly presents an eclectic mix that doesn’t really belong anywhere, and perhaps encapsulates that sentiment of unbelonging most perfectly within its very fabric. Traversing between a host of styles spanning post-rock, neo-prog, folk, indie, and further afield, if any one genre has an overarching influence, it’s 70s prog.

A stuttering, jittering rapidfire drum machine snare jolts like an electric current through the easy strumming clean guitar that leads the instrumentation on ‘Always on Fire’, the first song on the album. He’s gone all out for the grand curtain opener with this expansive, emotive, cinematic effort that lures the listener into a spiralling, psychedelic experience, and it’s effective – there’s a lot going on and a lot to explore. The same is true of the album as a whole, as it reveals more with every track.

A swell of sweeping strings add layers to the rolling drums and mid-pace melancholy of ‘The Falling Man,’ which contrasts with the uptempo punk-tinged indie drive of ‘I Refuse’ which comes on a like a blend of The Wedding Present, The Fall, and Mission of Burmah.

Aforementioned single cut ‘Land of Accidents’ packs it all in, and has the twists and turns and explosive dynamics of Oceansize at their best and builds into a muscular wall of sound, with dense waves of guitar dominating. ‘Tightrope’ is pure REM, only it’s probably a better take on REM than many of the band’s own later years work, and spins into a soaring shoegaze climax that is nothing short of absolute gold. It’s one of those songs you could easily play on repeat for hours – but then that would be to underexpose the broody magnificence of ‘Skin’ which immediately follows. ‘Some Things You Keep to Yourself’ has hints of Mansun but also later Depeche Mode about it with its dark brooding and also its soulful feel, not least of all the backing vocals. Things continue to get darker and starker on the synth-led closer ‘Pawns’ that goes all weirdy as it stretches and twists out of shape.

Neiland sustains the interest and the variety throughout, and there’s no let-up in quality either: there’s not a throwaway or duff song on Divisions, and with thirteen tracks, that’s no small achievement. That Divisions is almost impossible to pigeonhole is no issue: after all there are only two kinds of music – good and bad. And this is most definitely good.

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Charlie Nieland - Divisions (LP cover)

We’re elated to bring you a video premiere in the form of ‘The Brightest Stars Leave The Blackest Holes’ by Leeds three-piece purveyors of contempoary prog, Zeitgeist.

The new single is taken from the Vacuums EP, released today.

Zeitgeist’s keyboardist, Aleks Podraza comments on the track’s inspirations: “The tune in itself is about planetary death, and how nothing is permanent, no matter how big. The title can also be considered an allegory for human death, and how we miss the ‘brightest stars’ amongst us.

I spent a lot of time during my wrestle with my own existence and its meaning looking up the different theories surrounding the big bang. One theory I came across was that the big bang was a result of a past universe being swallowed up by a huge black hole, but so dense was the mass that the black hole became that it itself collapse and a huge explosion of matter happened. And here we are. So expiration and death, in accord to this theory, are just part of our universe’s cyclic existence, which I found a comforting and inspiring thought.”

Zeitgeist’s keyboardist, Aleks Podraza comments on the track’s inspirations: “The tune in itself is about planetary death, and how nothing is permanent, no matter how big. The title can also be considered an allegory for human death, and how we miss the ‘brightest stars’ amongst us.

I spent a lot of time during my wrestle with my own existence and its meaning looking up the different theories surrounding the big bang. One theory I came across was that the big bang was a result of a past universe being swallowed up by a huge black hole, but so dense was the mass that the black hole became that it itself collapse and a huge explosion of matter happened. And here we are. So expiration and death, in accord to this theory, are just part of our universe’s cyclic existence, which I found a comforting and inspiring thought.”

Watch the video here:

Christopher Nosnibor

I struggle to find Bad Apples, even with my phone’ sat-nav. Talk about underground! There’s nothing like being in the know for more niche events. Hunkering down with a Newcastle Brown and Jean-Paul Sartre’s The Age of Reason, there’s a relentless thunder of thrash and grinding metal hammering out of the speakers in the upstairs bar while I wait for the first act.

It’s pretty quiet in terms of people, but then it’s the Thursday before payday and storm Doris is raging hard outside: it’s cold, it’s wet, it’s windy, and generally unappealing. Storm Doris is also the reason the headliners – who are bringing the drum kit – have still to arrive at the venue five minutes after the first act is due on, and our planned interview hasn’t happened. Music writing isn’t all cut-and-thrust, hob-nobbing and ligging: it involves a lot of hanging around, a lot of waiting, a lot of time sitting, drinking beer alone in a corner and reading books. It also involves a lot of standing, a lot of cross-city legwork, and a fair amount of train travel.

In a change to the advertised bill, which listed Sinkers (who are nowhere to be seen), and Lincoln ‘soul punk’ four-piece Striped Sight as the first act on the bill, Conrad Ashton steps up to play some acoustic numbers. This comes as quite a relief, because the write-up for the aforementioned ‘soul punk’ act sounded truly heinous. Durham Yakka Conrad Ashton – who handed me one of his plectrums sporting a Newcastle Brown logo on the flipside having clocked me supping a bottle of Broon – knows how to bash out a heartfelt punk tune solo on an acoustic guitar. Balancing keen melodies with a real sense of attack, he’s an engaging performer. He pings a string during the third song, ‘Straight to the Man’. “I’ve not got a spare guitar, like,” he apologises. Thankfully, one of the guys from Lost in Winter is on hand, and armed with a seven-string electric guitar, Conrad picks up precisely where he left off to play the last six bars. He wrapped up his acoustic -now-electric set on yet another guitar after another string met its end, and its credit to him for carrying it off with self-effacing humour. A true pro, and with some decent songs to boot.

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Conrad Ashton

Lost In Winter scream ‘technical’ and ‘rich middle-class posters’, with their haircuts, clan suede boots, neat beards, a five-string bass and two guitarists both geared up with seven strings. One of the guitarists spends an age clamping a camera to the PA speaker stand while the drummer fiddles with his cymbals and the singer, in a shiny new-looking biker jacket performs head-rolls. Christ, the kit they’ve got probably cost more than I earn in a year – and of course, they sound absolutely fucking incredible. They need to, of course: their brand of atmospheric, melody-driven neo-prog is crafted with near-infinite attention to detail. It wouldn’t work without those microscopic nuances, the fifty shades of delay and delicate tube crunch. But what does it all amount to? Not a lot. Lost in Winter prove slick but dull in their overly serious emoting of lines about how we ‘crumble to dust’ and how ‘we must fight our way out and into the light.’

There’s no such pomposity where Maidstone five-piece Weekend Recovery are concerned. They set up swiftly, and Lorin rocks up in a long animal-print coat which she whips off to reveal a crop top that says she’s read to rock. And rock they do. This is a band with power, passion and an infectious energy, and watching them pour everything into every song, you’d never guess they’d just spent eight hours stuck in a van and piled on stage with barely three minutes to soundcheck.

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Weekend Recovery

And while Lorin is the band’s clear focal point – she’s got real presence and never stays still for a second, as she struts her stuff and tosses banter like she was born to do it – it’s clear that this is a band who operate as a unit: they’re tight, cohesive and look like they’re having a blast up there. The songs themselves are punchy: banging out solid rock tunes with a keen pop sensibility, Weekend Recovery know their way around a hook, and no mistake. The set concludes with single cut and reason for the tour, ‘Don’t Try and Stop Me’, and it’s ace.

It’s a strong start to an ambitious tour, which should – if there’s any justice – see them expand their fan base considerably.