Author Archives: Time Lord
This is very good news:
Says Kerzner of their first group writing session: “Almost immediately it felt like no time had passed and it was great to see everybody again… We never really had the chance to explore writing and recording together as a four-piece. It was always from either a song Simon or I brought in, or a three-piece collaboration with either Matt or Kelly on guitar and bass. To me, this album [already] has more of a true rock band feel to it.”
Sound Of Contact are on a creative roll and hope the as-yet-untitled album will be released early next year, although they’ve yet to finalise its themes.
Physicist Paul Halpern has a unique interview with Tears for Fears’ Roland Orzabal about quantum physics:
Quantum indeterminacy is normally not the stuff of hit singles or music videos. Yet for a brief shining moment in the mid-1990s it was. After reading numerous popular accounts of physics, songwriter and musician Roland Orzabal, co-founder of Tears for Fears, delved into such ideas in the lyrics of two of his songs: “Schrödinger’s Cat” and “God’s Mistake.” I was privileged to interview him about the background behind those works.
Mark Judge writes:
For the past several years my favorite band has been The Twilight Sad, a group from a small town in Scotland. The Twilight Sad mixes Scottish folk melodies with driving rock rhythms and swirling noise. The effect is both hypnotic and exhilarating; the songs delve into tragic themes: love lost, grief, death, betrayal and lies. This has earned the band’s style the nickname “Scottish miserablism” in the press. This is a cheap term that reveals secular bias of the entertainment press. Rock critics love anger, aggression, and rage; what they can’t tolerate or understand is the “swath of pure beauty and mystical awe” that Lester Bangs identified.
It is that holy swath that informs the best pop music, from the Beatles to ballads of Sam Smith, from the Catholic-saturated imagery of Bruce Springsteen’s songs to the dream world of Taylor Swift’s “Wildest Dreams.” It’s the God thing.
In his piece on poptimism, Chris Richards writes: “For a good critic, listening to a recording should be like a skeptical stroll around the new-car lot, not an unwrapping frenzy on Christmas morning.” He has it exactly backwards. Listening to a new pop music record should have exactly the anticipation of Christmas morning. Although if it turns out to be a truly great work, I would use a different example from the liturgical calendar to describe the experience: Good Friday followed by Easter Sunday.
The new album by Sufjan Stevens is excellent and I give it five stars. My favorite track is “Drawn to the Blood” (which is simply an astonishing track, with even a prog-worthy soundscape generated at the end).
There is a very good review of the album over at CWR. Here is a taste:
Stevens’ new release, Carrie & Lowell, is his most delicate and difficult offering to date, due to the subject matter that drove him to be the conduit for these songs. This collection is an exploratory guide to what grief demands of us. He admits the album was born from a terrifying inner place he entered after pain overwhelmed him following the death of his mother Carrie in 2012. Her life had been fraught with alcoholism, depression, and schizophrenia; their relationship was nearly nonexistant, marked by her leaving Stevens as a child. What ensued was a gaping distance and Sufjan’s longing to know her—a knowing that never arrived. He returned to Oregon to make parts of the record, the coastal state holding his only fading childhood memories of his mother.
The subject matter is truly grim, but Sufjan’s signature touch of genius is an ability to draw listeners into intimate places—terrifying places of loss and longing that may never be reconciled—and reveal them in exquisite ways. From start to end the songs are woven together with a thread of almost-whispered vocals, minimal production, and background room noise. Upon first listening you expect an eventual lift from the muffled vocals—a lift that never comes during the entire record, which after many listens to me feels just what grief is like: a pressing in, a weightedness, always there, never letting up.
So, the new Toto album (XIV) is pretty darn great. It has an epic closing prog track, “Great Expectations,” that rocks your socks off and pays tribute to the glories of prog. “Chinatown” also has mad prog spirit to it as well. As for the rest, I am still warming to some of the other tracks, but my initial standout favorites among the remainder are “Orphan” and “The Little Things” and “Fortune.”
I was pleased to discover Toto is touring together with Yes this summer. It will be great to see Yes again, and also to see Toto play their most stellar track, “Great Expectations,” live. And I’ve always had a soft spot for “Hold the Line” and “Rosanna” as well…
The Big Big Train web site brings us the glad tidings:
SPECTRAL MORNINGS 2015
A new version of Steve Hackett’s classic track Spectral Mornings has been recorded and will be released as an EP on download and CD on April 27th. The release is the brainchild of Rob Reed who wanted to re-imagine the instrumental track, with its beautiful melody, as a song. Rob asked Big Big Train’s David Longdon to write the words for the new version.
Spectral Mornings 2015 features guitars by Steve Hackett, vocals by David and Christina Booth, drums by BBT’s Nick D’Virgilio, keyboards by Rob Reed and Nick Beggs on bass.
All profits from Spectral Mornings will go to the Parkinson’s Society UK.
The EP includes four different versions of Spectral Mornings and audio previews can be heard at iTunes.
The CD version can be purchased at Cherry Red, Burning Shed, or Amazon.
The download version can be purchased at iTunes or Amazon.
NEW BIG BIG TRAIN EP
A new BBT EP featuring three new songs (two of which will be exclusive to the EP) will be released on June 1st ahead of the band’s three sold out shows in London in August.
So, Steven Wilson is sporting, like, the coolest t-shirt ever, on his current tour…
Check out the Danforth and Pape Facebook page if you want to learn how to get one yourself.
An excellent review from Leo Trimming of Steve Hackett’s new album:
Wolflight refers to the hour before dawn, when much of the album was written, which Hackett felt was a special time in which “You’re in an altered state because you’re closer to the world of dreams”. There is certainly a dream like quality to much of the album, sometimes slipping into darker nightmare, and like many dreams the music is amorphous and difficult to define at times.
Hackett often travels the world and these experiences permeate Wolflight with musical influences and instruments drawn from places as diverse as Armenia, Azerbaijan, the Middle East, the Deep South and Australia. Alongside those more exotic aspects Hackett also adds to his musical palette with imaginative use of classical orchestral music. Nevertheless, Hackett ensures that this album is liberally embellished with his trademark guitar sounds. The diversity of the musical ideas brought to this work means that it is often unpredictable, can be quite bewildering at times, and is certainly never boring!
Steve Hackett loves to explore both musically and geographically, and he has also clearly found personal happiness, the experiences and emotions of which are so evident in this work.
Steve Hackett has never stood still in his work and has strived to explore new areas of music. Some of those efforts have not always fully worked or engaged his audience, but he has remained true to his principles of stretching himself. He has previously released albums of mainly progressive rock music, or acoustic music, or orchestral music and even blues music, but he has never so successfully fused elements of all those styles and more on one piece of work. After a period of revisiting old classics it is perhaps fitting that Wolflight underlines so clearly that Hackett will never live in the past.
The only track I have gotten to know well so far myself is “The Wheel’s Turning” (already available on iTunes) and it is magnificent.
Really looking forward to this album…
So, Steven WIlson has turned Angry Metal Guy into Sad Metal Guy:
My biggest complaint about Hand. Cannot. Erase. is the state of existential sadness that it leaves me in every time I listen to it. Even before I knew the story, the record oozed loss, sadness, and hurt deep enough that I would walk away with a knot in my stomach, but couldn’t keep myself from pressing play again as soon as I got the chance. With stellar musicianship, a truly masterful production job that balances a whole band, electronic sounds, and the London Session Orchestra to perfection, Hand. Cannot. Erase. demonstrates how Wilson is blossoming as a composer to complement his skill as a producer, and his vision really is beautiful.
The whole review is excellent and worth reading. Here is a sample of some important observations:
I see his rise as attributable almost entirely to the fact that he’s the most talented producer of his generation. Furthermore, he’s a man who appears to have become less willing to compromise on the records he produces, meaning that he has taken the right side in the Loudness War, and is using his power and status for good. The result is, of course, that the music he produces, mixes (or masters), remixes/remasters, and/or performs sound so good.
One of the things that differentiates Hand. Cannot. Erase. from The Raven that Refused to Sing (And Other Stories) is its tone. The production here is smooth and wet, without that trashy live sound that TRtRtS utilized. On H.C.E., there’s a heavy touch of reverb to soften the edges off, and as the record develops it gets more dreamy and distant. Early on, however, the use of what I will loosely call “electronica” on “First Regret” and “Perfect Life” is a reminder that Wilson isn’t in the business of making a ’70s prog rock cover band. This balance of the new and the old gives this record its unique flavor, while still allowing Wilson to quote at his leisure, drawing heavily from Floyd, Camel, Tull and the one I hear maybe the most in the balance between the bass, guitars and drums: Rush.