Posts Tagged ‘Progressive’

Allen Epley (Shiner, The Life and Times) has released ‘Evangeline’ the next single off his upcoming debut solo album ‘Everything,’ out 6th January 2023  on Spartan Records.

Listen here:

Epley says, “’Evangeline’ is a reference to someone close to me who tends to bottle up emotions until another person says something quite innocently, and it triggers an often hateful and explosive response. So the smallest innuendo or slight from a passerby could set off cannons and flamethrowers from this person. The offense doesn’t merit the response many times, inflicting even more damage.

I wanted it to be a short song and get to the point pretty quick. Don’t bore us, get to the chorus. Agreed. Vocally, I feel like the chorus part in particular reflects a kind of Elliott Smith vibe. Mike Burns adds the beautiful lap steel line that perfectly echoes the hurt in the lyric. Drummer Chris Prescott (from Pinback) sets the song in a restrained way then lets it open up on the solo section.”

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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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James Wells

Fucking hell, we really are running out of names, aren’t we? To the point where even otherwise memorable bands are forgettable because of their ultra-generic name. And some acts sink without a trace because they’re simply impossible to even find through an Internet search. Actor is an obvious example for me, but then we’ve recently had Loungewear grace these virtual pages, and now bloody Tracksuit. How would The The or The Police have faired in the Internet age, I wonder? I mean, stepping aside from the fact their music is tedious and people would probably skip their songs faster than ever now. But it seems like bands aren’t even trying now: Sports Team? Two very different acts operating as Working Men’s Club? Are they trying to bury themselves before their careers have even begun, or do they simply have no imagination and no concept of how The Internet works? Or have we simply reached the apogee of postmodernism, the point at which truly everything has been done, there is no ‘new’, only regurgitations and rehashing, and culture has reached its inevitable dead-end?

It’s a shame Tracksuit have doubly done themselves a disservice with a moniker that’s not only super-generic but also a bit shite, especially as it really doesn’t reflect what they’re about at all. It’s a shame because ‘Ghost of Rome’ is decent. It’s not some lame rappy shite or laid-back bedroomy r ‘n’ b: it’s fundamentally a stripped-back psychedelic rock tune with a keen sense off dynamic and a palpable energy, meaning there’s a lot to like as they dig in with a lively and buoyant bass groove that’s got action and detail. It’s got a heavy 70s vibe about it and it kicks ass – but probably doesn’t need anymore cowbell, because everything is just right.

Click the image to listen:

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The immense success of Psychonaut’s Pelagic debut album Unfold The God Man, which has been repressed 3 times throughout the pandemic and sold close to 3.000 vinyl copies to date, has proven that Psychonaut are a force to be reckoned with.

The three gentlemen from Mechelen, Belgium now return with a ferocious and muchly anticipated concept album that proclaims the formation of a new world through the acceptance of a new human identity. “We’ve always been interested in religion, spirituality and philosophy,” explains vocalist/guitarist Stefan de Graef about the music of PSYCHONAUT. “We’ve meditated together, had long discussions about the nature of life, and we share a common vision.”

Now, with the release of their sophomore album Violate Consensus Reality on 28th October (Pelagic Records), the Belgian three-piece take you on a visceral trip into our collective human consciousness. A journey marked by explosive riffs, soaring vocals and intricate yet catchy compositions.

An impressive album which cements PSYCHONAUT’s standing as aspirants to the throne of the contemporary European progressive / post metal community.

“We distance ourselves from a system that is based on the idea that humanity is fundamentally bad and needs protection from itself in the form of a hierarchy,” continues De Graef about PSYCHONAUT’s latest album. “By no longer subscribing to the notion that we are all separate beings in a separate world that is dead and pointless, we embrace the vision of a new civilisation that is rooted in the idea that we are part of a living, sacred universe.” Likening our present state of separation to “an island on oceans grown, designed to bear unpredictable wrath,” the band accompanies their denunciation by punishing riffs and heavily syncopated rhythms, grabbing you by your guts and taking you on a turbulent journey.

Violate Consensus Reality engages the senses in a way that is quite rare for concept albums, it is raw and brutal, unlike the lofty concept albums of yore with their endlessly repeating motifs and needlessly complex song structures. It stands in a long tradition of activism in music, but it also deconstructs this tradition by taking its loud and admonishing tone and providing it with a thoughtful base rooted in philosophy and spirituality.

With music deeply rooted in communal meditation sessions, psychedelic metal outfit Psychonaut are a unique entity in the Belgian metal scene and beyond. The mantric title track of their upcoming second album, which they have now shared, sees the trio once more aligned in body and mind as they appeal to the listener with a 9-minute atmospheric slow burner. Their stature is once more affirmed by Amenra’s Colin H. van Eeckhout, who ushers the track to an unforgettable climax.

Watch the video now:

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Christopher Nosnibor

Sometime during lockdown – which one, I can’t remember exactly, but likely the first, where here in England what initially looked like being a couple of weeks, ended up being more like a lifetime. After the lockdown announced on 23 March 2020 was extended on 16 April for ‘at least three weeks’ and in fact running into June, the fear surrounding the lifting of restrictions saw references to Stockholm Syndrome circulating with increasing frequency in the media.

Described as ‘a psychological response’ which occurs when hostages or abuse victims bond with their captors or abusers, and the victim may come to sympathize with their captors, and

may even begin to feel as if they share common goals and causes.

The name originates from a failed bank robbery staged in Stockholm in 1973, where Jan-Erik Olsson, and his charismatic accomplice Clark Olofsson held four employees as hostages, remaining captive for six days in one of the bank’s vaults, and when the hostages were released, none of them would testify against either captor in court; instead, they began raising money for their defence.

While the syndrome is disputed, the concept is something of a source of fascination. Personally, I had never been one of those who found themselves ‘loving lockdown life’, but found myself apprehensive about the easing of lockdown: what would be the ‘right’ way to behave in public, how would things ‘work’? I didn’t need to worry about pub and gig etiquette for a while, but was more fearful of other people than I was of Covid – because people are unpredictable, and after being cooped up for so long, who knows how many might have lost it?

Swedish Netflix mini-series Clark is the story of Clark Olofsson, and while it’s won awards, I found its stylised and flippant comedy-drama approach to be pretty ‘meh’. There’s vague amusement to be had, but ultimately – and for obvious reasons – presents Olofsson as ‘cool’, a cheeky bad boy out for But then, just because it’s not what I would have wanted it to be doesn’t mean it’s no good, it’s just not my bag.

While there are some bold intercuts of ‘proper’ songs featured, it’s not a series where you find yourself really paying attention to the soundtrack for the majority of the time. Listening to the soundtrack independent of the series, it’s a mystery as to why this is.

Of course, much of the interest in the soundtrack will be the fact that it was scored by Mikael Åkerfeldt of progressive metal legends Opeth – and as much as this score is overtly cinematic, it draws equally on progressive rock, funk, laid-back jazz, and 70s cop shows. The last nine of the thirty-four tracks feature vocals, and this portion of the album feels separate again, and may have worked as a separate release or bonus CD or something, as it’s quite a leap. Hell, ‘Måndag I Stockholm’ goes full Sabbath. Incongruous is an understatement and it’s hard to know what to make of it all. Then again… why not?

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Varied, engaging and evocative, it’s imaginative and listenable and entertaining – and a lot less frustrating than the series itself.

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Christopher Nosnibor

Everything Was Forever Until It Was No More is such a quintessentially post-rock album title: without hearing a note, it evokes the spirit of 2003-2006 or thereabouts. On listening, it’s perhaps not as overtly post-rock as all that – it’s not a slow-building crescendo-fest with chiming guitars like Explosions in the Sky or even lesser-known acts like And So I Watch You From Afar, but with ties to legends in the field, it is every inch of that milieu, with ‘the cello of Rebecca Foon (Saltland, Set Fire To Flames, Silver Mt Zion) and the marimba of ex-Godspeed You! Black Emperor percussionist Bruce Cawdron at its core’.

It’s been a full five years since their last album, 2017’s Mechanics of Dominion, and during this time the Montreal-based collective have been doing what, it seems, the Montreal post-rock scene does best – detaching themselves from the world and conjuring magnificent, magical soundscapes that offer a conduit to planes of pure escapism.

Everything Was Forever Until It Was No More presents a rich sonic tapestry that incorporates a broad range of elements. The press released makes mention of ‘emotive chamber works using threads of post-classical, post-rock, Minimalism, neo-Baroque, jazz, pop and a wide array of folk traditions’ as being Esmerine’s palette.

‘Blackout’ opens the album with a soft, elegant piano draped with brooding strings that’s graceful, subtly emotive, and easy on the ear. ‘Entropy: Incantation – Radiance – The Wild Sea’, the first of the two-part ‘Entropy’ suite is a nine-minute journey through atmospheric ambience, where one treads with trepidation, uncertain of what may be hidden in the shadows. There’s an aura of ancient mysticism that echoes before eventually, the track refocuses toward a driving prog rock finale.

The beauty and joy of such a work is that while there are undoubtedly inspirations and emotions poured into the compositions, such wide spaces without words offer the listener a vessel into which to empty their own experiences and interpretations, and as such, a piece like the seven-minute ‘Imaginary Pasts’ with its lilting piano, roiling drums, and textured guitar work which trips out into hazy space offers so much scope for the listener to invest and reflect upon their own imaginary pasts. Such invitations to meditate on life and to journey into inner space are extremely welcome when life is so relentless.

Despite the title seemingly alluding to a sense of nostalgia, Everything Was Forever feels more like a work that creates its own space in time, rather than reflecting on a time past. Three of the four final tracks are under three minutes each in length, and as such, are almost dream-like fragments, and the listener finds themselves wandering through chiming bells and rippling notes that dapple like sunlight through trees in a breeze on ‘Wakesleep’, before ‘Number Stations’ guides the way not towards the light, but through a murky sonic swamp or eerie echoes before taking its final magnificent form, and reminds us that, ultimately, nothing is forever, and everything is just a fleeting moment in the scheme of eternity.

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French Progressive metal collective Tranzat have just revealed a music video for a new song from their third album Ouh La La, which was released last month Klonosphere Records.

Formed in 2015 in Brest, France, for reasons beyond comprehension, Tranzat self-produced their first two records, 2016’s Hellish Psychedelia and 2018’s The Great Disaster, this one with the support of Black Desert Records.

The group—Manuel Liegard (guitar/vocals), Nicolas Galakhoff (bass), Benjamin Arbellot (guitar), and Thomas Coïc (drums) have opened for international bands such as Kadavar, Shining (NO), Mos Generator and Mass Hysteria, and have toured with Angelus Apatrida on the French Motocultor Night Fever Tour.

The band’s new album Ouh La La was recorded at The Apiary studio (Birds in Row, Plebeian Grandstand), and boldly explores genres, subgenres, and subgenres of subgenres to offer up honest, eclectic, unpredictable and playful music that will appeal to fans of Faith No More, Devin Townsend, Mastodon, and Dillinger Escape Plan.

Watch the video here:

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Neurot Recordings – 6th May 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

There’s something about Neurot: as a label, it certainly has a distinct ‘house style’, and if it does seem to be predominantly in the vein of Neurosis, then Ufomammut’s latest offering, Fenice,  is simultaneously definitive and a departure, in that it’s clearly metal in persuasion, and given to long, slow, and expansive workouts, with the majority of the album’s six pieces running (well) past the seven-minute mark. It’s delicately-paced, too: it’s not all a crawl, but the crescendos land a fair way apart and the build-ups are long and deliberate.

Opener ‘Duat’ is an absolute monster, clocking in past ten and a half minutes, and beginning with ominous dark ambience and slow to a crawl electronics, before a surging techno bass grind cuts through and pulses away. It’s three and a half minutes before the guitars pile in, and when they do, everything comes together to forge a piledriving industrial blast: for a moment, I’m reminded of Nine Inch Nails’ ‘March of the Pigs’, but then things switch again with a tempo change, slowing to a lumbering thud. It builds from there, and the final minute hits that sweet spot of pulverizing riffery that is pure joy. Ufomammut may be a ‘doom’ band by designation, but this is some of the most dynamic progressive metal you’ll hear.

Having set the bar so high so early, the challenge is, can they sustain it? ‘Kepherer’ is a dank, semi-ambient interlude that provides some much-needed breathing space. ‘Psychostasia’ starts off gently, but again, builds into a really slugger, the riff hard and repetitive, the vocals half-buried amidst overdrive and reverb, and it’s so, so exhilarating.

It takes an eternity of a slow, nagging cyclical motif, rich in chorus and reverb, before ‘Metamprphoenix’ breaks, and segues immediately into the throbbing behemoth that is ‘Pyramind’, where things do, finally, hit all-out doom grind with the heaviest, most crushing power chords. The bass goes so low that it practically burrows underground, while the guitars soar skyward. Closer ‘Empyros’ is the album’s shortest track, and it’s three minutes of punishing guitars that pick up precisely where ‘Pyramind’ leaves off and just drives and drives and drives, churning, hard, heavy.

If you’re seeking instant gratification, Fenice isn’t the album you want, but that doesn’t mean that it by any means feels drawn-out or like there’s much waiting involved: despite the lengthy songs, and the slow-builds, the textures and atmospheres are remarkable. I have a friend who loves his slow-burning metal and math-rock, but hates Amenra because he finds them insufferably tedious. Personally, I’m a fan, but I get the impatience, and it is largely around this kind of slow, earthy metal where time stalls and aeons pass between events, and the builds take several lifetimes to come to any kind of fruition – but this most certainly isn’t an issue for Ufomammut on Fenice. The compositions twist and turn and continue to not only hold the attention but to tug at the senses, keeping the listener on edge, poised, tense, expectant. And they always deliver on those expectations.

There is a clear and definitely trajectory here, too, building over the last three pieces to a point where the riffs are dominant – megalithic grinds that hit hard. Fenice makes you feel a broad range of things: boredom or disappointment aren’t among them. It does require some work, but it’s amply rewarded.

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Influential psych innovators Gong have shared a new live video for ‘If Never I’m and Ever You’ as the group prepare for an extensive UK & EU tour between Feb – Sept 2022.

Performing the song, taken from their acclaimed 2019 album ‘The Universe Also Collapses’, this new video captures the band in the intimate setting of their rehearsal space, performing together in early 2019. A mind-melting and incredible sonic experience, a Gong live show is something all fans should experience and as they prepare to embark on their massive ‘This Is The Moment And Now Is The Time’ tour, this new video offers a glimpse for fans of the magic to come.

Formed in 1969 by Daevid Allen, one of the founding members of Soft Machine, classic albums such as Camembert Electrique, Flying Teapot and You established Gong as one of the most unique, innovative and experimental rock groups of the Seventies.  

Before he sadly passed away in 2015, Allen laid out his hopes for a future Gong, that it should be uplifting, exploratory and a positive force. Kavus Torabi, Fabio Golfetti, Ian East, Dave Sturt and Cheb Nettles, chosen by him, continue his vision.

The band will release a new live album Pulsing Signals on 18th Feb via Kscope. Recorded live across three shows at The Wardrobe in Leeds, The Cluny in Newcastle and Rescue Rooms in Nottingham in 2019 as the band toured  ‘The Universe Also Collapses’, this live record finds the group in spirited form as they undertake, unbeknownst to them, their final tour before the global pandemic took charge.

With touring now set to recommence and bookings going long into 2022 and beyond, Daevid Allen’s vision for the future looks set to be fulfilled.

Watch the video here:

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GONG LIVE IN 2022

FEBRUARY

Sun 27 – FLETCHING  – Trading Boundaries

MARCH

Tue 01  – BRIGHTON – Chalk

Wed 02  – SOUTHAMPTON – 1865

Thu 03 – READING – Sub 89

Fri 04 – GUILDFORD – Boileroom

Sat 05 – COLCHESTER – Arts Centre

Mon 07 – LEICESTER – Musician

Tue 08 – MANCHESTER  – Gorilla

Wed 09 – GLASGOW  – Oran Mor

Thu 10 – CARLISLE -  Brickyard

Fri 11 – WIGAN – The Old Courts

Sat 12 – STOCKTON-ON-TEES – Georgian Theatre

Sun 13 – NORWICH  – Arts Centre

Mon 14  -  BURY St. EDMUNDS – The Apex

Tue 15 – BIRMINGHAM – Hare & Hounds

Wed 16 – NOTTINGHAM – Rescue Rooms

Thu 17 – NEWCASTLE -  Cluny

Fri 18 – YORK  -  Crescent

Sat 19   – HEBDEN BRIDGE – Trades Club         

Sun 20  – BETHESDA – Neuadd Ogwen

Tue 22 -  EXETER -  Phoenix

Wed 23 – BRISTOL – Thekla

Thu 24 -  STROUD  – Sub Rooms

Fri 25 -  HITCHIN – Club 85

Sat 26 – RAMSGATE  – Music Hall

Sun 27 – TUNBRIDGE WELLS -  Forum

Mon 28 -  LONDON – The Garage

AUGUST

Sun 7 – Love Summer Festival 2022 – Plympton, Devon

Sat 13 – Guru Guru Festival – Obersülzen, DE

SEPTEMBER

Tues 6 – VERVIERS, BE – Spirit Of 66

Wed 7 – HEERLEN, NL – Nieuwe Nor

Thurs 8 – NIJMEGEN, NL

Fri 9 – AMSTELVEEN, NL

Sat 10 – MINDEN, DE

Sun 11 – BREMEN, DE

Mon 12 – HANNOVER, DE

Tues 13 – HAMBURG, DE

Weds 14 – BERLIN, DE

Thurs 15 – WEINHEIM, DE

Fri 16 – RÜSSELSHEIM AM MAIN, DE

Sat 17 – JENA, DE

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With their new album Symbiosis set for release on 4th February, the mysterious Nordic Giants have shared the first single from their upcoming record, with the stunning short film for ‘Faceless’ featuring Alex Hedley. Rôka and Löki comment: “We are thrilled to premiere our latest short film ‘Faceless’ featuring Alex Hedley from our brand new album Symbiosis. This film touches upon the symbology surrounding the mythical ouroboros symbol – or snake swallowing its own tail.  It’s an allegory for the trappings of life, where every soul is accountable for their own path, but often chooses to remain in the comforts of ignorance or self sabotage. It’s a little dark, but it’s also quite funny!  A huge thank you to our good friend and actor Simon Brice, who literally got dragged through hell and back whilst filming and also to Nathan M Hetherington for his production assistance. Make sure you find a big screen, set the quality to high and turn your speakers up or headphones loud!”

Watch the video here:

New album Symbiosis represents the interdependent relationship of all life. The union and blending of polar opposites, the harmony created when two different elements combine, not just in nature or in a philosophical sense, but at the root creative level.

This collection of songs blends light with dark, moments of ambience with power and the subtle with the mysterious – themes that Nordic Giants continue to experiment with extensively over the years.

As a whole, the album encompasses a broad tapestry of weird and wonderful sounds, from vintage analogue synths, Tibetan bowls and even a Carnyx horn, to some familiar guest vocalists in the form of Alex Hedley and Freyja – adding their haunting and ethereal sounds on top of what what is predominantly a multi layered instrumental album.

These symbiotic themes of union and interdependence don’t stop just with the music, but are continued throughout the album artwork. Working closely with photographer Neal Grundy, they had many discussions of which material combinations and elements would help symbolise the message. By combining different paints into water they were able to photograph and capture some amazing results, which can only be described as an interlacing synergy of the natural with the supernatural.

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NORDIC GIANTS & ÅRABROT UK TOUR DATES

16/02  Manchester, YES

17/02  Liverpool, 24 Kitchen Street

18/02  Birmingham, Castle & Falcon

19/02  Nottingham, Contemporary

20/02  Glasgow, CCA

21/02  Leeds, Brudenell Social Club

22/02  Colchester, Arts Centre

23/02  Gloucester, Guildhall

24/02  Milton Keynes, Craufurd Arms

25/02  London, The Garage

26/02  Brighton, Chalk

27/02  Bristol, The Fleece

28/02  Cardiff, Clwb Ifor Bach (Nordic Giants only)