Posts Tagged ‘prog rock’

25th November 2022

James Wells

Time marches on, and here we are almost midway through December still catching up with November releases, this time with Polish ‘dark rock’ duo Shrine Of Reflection.

There’s a great temptation to split hairs and that argue that surely the dark rock tag is goths pretending not to be goth, but that would be unjust, as this six-and-a-half-minute sonic adventure is more post-rock than anything, but there are also hints of prog and bleak neofolk vibes emanating from the murky tones, where a sparse, spindly lead line drifts over a slow, deliberate thunder-like beat that plods away like a heavy heart, before it blossoms into colour at the midpoint into an expansive, cinematic sweep.

The blurbage summarises that “‘Child Of The World’ is a song inspired by the movie, Interstellar. It’s about the misery of a human being who is trapped on planet Earth and who is unable to discover the truth of the universe’s nature despite the fact of being its child. All this person can do is just simply stare at the sky and dream.”

That sense of entrapment is relatable, but more than this, the vocals become increasingly cracked and desperate as the song progresses, before the slow-building crescendo takes over, finally tapering off into muffled samples that leave you looking into the emptiness, and wondering.

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21st October 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

It’s been almost three years since Paul K delivered Reconstructed Memories. Listening to The Space Between, it becomes apparent why. Pandemic or nay, this is an ambitious and complex album which sees Paul return to the territory explored on 2018’s The Fermi Paradox and go the whole hog on devising and scoring a vast conceptual progressive work that’s heavily invested in narrative as it traces what he outlines as being a story ‘about an astronaut who has volunteered for a one way journey through space to pass through the Heliopause and is set maybe 30/50 years in the future.’

Space is both the backdrop and the story, in many ways, and the fascination it holds is something that transcends words or even rational explanation. Perhaps the fact that the sheer enormity and infiniteness of space is beyond our comprehension is a major factor in our space obsession. And however far and deep we probe, I suspect we will never truly be capable of assimilating the universe, especially as we, as a species, struggle to comprehend that we do not exist at its centre.

In classic sci-fi form and echoing 2001: A Space Odyssey, the concept behind the story is that the astronaut’s sole companion is an AI robot that becomes sentient during the journey, before the astronaut eventually dies and the robot continues the journey alone.

As Paul explains, ‘Each track plots the journey from liftoff looking back at the Earth (True Splendour) to the debilitating effect of years alone in space (Pareidolia) and is also related to the love and loss the astronaut has felt in his life’.

Understatement is the album’s defining feature. While it is unquestionably ambitious and incorporates cinematic arrangements, and notably choral-sounding vocals, the instrumentation is subtle and layered.

‘True Splendour’ makes for a gentle introduction and very much sets the tone. The Space Between keeps the drama and pomp to a minimum, and instead, the mood is contemplative, almost subdued, as strolling basslines wander sedately through soft washes of sound. Percussion is minimal, and low in the mix.

‘Sleep Within’ is perhaps the album’s most conventional ‘rock’ composition, but there’s a subdued, soporific overlay to its mid-pace melodic drift, although the reflective, wistful ‘Spektr’ has a certain solidity to it. In contrast, ‘Artifact’, the point at which the AI assumes autonomy, is almost vaporous, a soft piano reverberating among wispy sonic contrails.

The Space Between is an album that functions on numerous levels simultaneously, although they’re not all necessarily obvious. But it’s not imperative to follow the narrative to appreciate the detail; the album works in a way that not only creates space, but conveys space, the eternal distance, the vast emptiness… we are all lost and floating. But some are more lost than others. Welcome to The Space Between.

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In recent years, French atmospheric rockers Klone have built their name on making music that’s as deeply introspective as it is sonically powerful. Le Grand Voyage, the band’s first release for UK post-progressive specialists Kscope on 20th September, is an album brimming with that sense of searching and self-discovery, its 10 tracks living up to its name in unabashed no-stone-unturned existential exploration.

“Our music allows the listener to travel and ask, ‘What is the spirit? What is the matter?’ and those kinds of questions,” says guitarist Guillaume Bernard. “The title refers to the wandering of the mind. It all came our singer [Yann Ligner] who came up with something in English like ‘The Great Journey’. We all liked the meaning but weren’t sure how it sounded. Eventually we realised it would be easy enough for people to translate and understand in our native tongue.”

Much of the inspiration on forthcoming singles ‘Breach’, ‘Keystone’, and ‘Hidden Passenger’ came from pondering the great philosophies of life, those eternal unanswered questions like who we are, where we are going and, ultimately, what happens next. It was the uncertainty and confusion surrounding mortality, the notion that something or nothing awaits us, which felt like an unlimited creative playground for the French art-rockers.

You can watch the video here:

Crippled Black Phoenix have revealed the second track from their forthcoming album Bronze. The UK dark progressive rockers will release their stunning new full-length on November 4th.

New track  ‘Winning A Losing Battle’ can be streamed here:

 

Justin Greaves comments: “Some songs depart from my mind into reality without consent. ‘Winning A Losing Battle’ is one of those. The track just barged itself into the world. It is also one of the musically unconventional Crippled Black Phoenix style of songs that keep appearing on our albums. The title says it all. We have been through a lot of adversity as a band in these past two years and even though it seemed that all is doomed at times – I/we never gave up or gave in. We just say ‘screw you’ to the people and forces that tried to bring us down. Crippled Black Phoenix win, and always will.”