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Simon Collins (SC) and Dave Kerzner (DK) explain the sound of Sound of Contact in their latest interview:
How would you describe your music to those that are yet to hear your work?
SC: We create mental atmospheres spanning a wide spectrum of sonic territory from ambient sci-fi infused Space Rock to vintage Classic and modern Progressive Rock. That said we all have a pop sensibility that really shows in our songwriting. Most importantly when all is said and done, the song is king. There’s a variety of moods and mental atmospheres here that we wish we could find more of these days, but there seems to be a void in music today. In a way, we’ve sub-consciously ended up creating the kind of music we would want to buy and love to listen to ourselves.
DK: Yeah, if you were to think of classic rock bands from the 70’s and bring forward some of the styles of songwriting such as dramatic chord changes, wide dynamic range and picturesque soundscapes fused in with a modern alt rock or even somewhat futuristic film score type sound you’d get an idea of what to expect from Sound of Contact.
Dave really knows his prog. Watch him in action below on keys (and with Nick D’Virgilio on drums) at Progfest ’94:
What more can one write than: 2013 has already proven to be one of the finest years in prog history.
We’re not even quite halfway done with the year, and just consider the number of quality (an understatement) releases: Big Big Train’s English Electric, Vol. 2; Cosmograf’s The Man Left in Space; Nosound’s Afterthoughts; The Tangent’s The Rite of Work (translated!); Shineback’s Rise Up Forgotten; Days Between Stations’s In Extremis; Majestic’s V.O.Z.; Riverside’s Shrine of New Generation Slaves; Sanguine Hum’s The Weight of the World; and Lifesigns’ Lifesigns. Additionally, BBT, Matt Cohen, Matt Stevens, Leah McHenry, IZZ, Heliopolis, Arjen Lucassen, Glass Hammer, The Advent, Kevin McCormick, Transatlantic, The Flower Kings, and Gazpacho are working on new material.
If I forgot anyone, please forgive me. So much greatness is emerging, that it’s hard to keep track of it all.
When I see comments on the web to the effect of “sure, there’s lots of stuff coming out, but it doesn’t live up to the past,” I just scratch my head.
Are you kidding me? Name another time when so much intensity, diversity, meaning, and beauty has sprung forth from the prog community? There are several recent releases that I would argue beat (though, of course, they build upon) any thing that’s come before. But, why compare? Let’s enjoy what we have and give some thanks.
Consider other developments in the prog world:
- David Elliott has founded Bad Elephant Music
- Kev Feazy of The Fierce and the Dead is a dad.
- Prog fan, Richard Thresh, is a father yet again, as well
- Billy James of Glass Onyon is promoting prog like a wonderful mad man
- First lady of Prog, Alison Henderson, is one of the three winners of Playtex’s Ageless Generation competition to find women who are fabulous and over 50
- Brian Watson has created much of the art for the forthcoming The Tangent release
- Willem Klopper, Captain Redbeard, Craig Farham, and Nick Efford reveal prog-inspired art and photography by the week
- Russell Clarke also gives us prog-inspired photos of his Norwegian Forrest Cats (well, ok, this is not quite as proggy as I’m suggesting)
- Back to a serious note, 3RDegree and John Galgano are touring in the U.S.
. . . . and the list of accomplishments go on and on. . . . Bravo!
We’re truly sad to have lost Ray Manzarek to the ravages of time, and Chris Thompson of Radiant Records to another profession. But, of course, we recognize this is life. And, we wish all well.
On the Progarchy.com front, the progarchists remain unified in their vision of attempting to match our writing quality and thoughts with the excellence of the music being made and created, past, present, and future. Our site is not even a year old, and we have 760 of you who receive every single post via email, and anywhere from 100 to 1,000 visit the website on a daily basis. Folks as profound as Greg Spawton, Matt Stevens, Giancarlo Erra, and Andy Tillison have offered their kind thoughts about the site. A huge thanks to all who have supported us.
A few interesting additional notes
Matt Stevens has started a video series on Youtube, answering questions presented to him. In this one video–
–you’ll get a sense of Matt’s integrity and genius. In under three minutes, he demonstrates more confidence and virtue about art and humanity than a myriad of academic books have done over the last 30 years. Atheist or theist, I say, “God bless you, Matt!”
Also, as we all well know, most proggers can’t afford to live only on the profits of their releases. Such, of course, is a rueful comment on modern life, but it’s also simply a reality. So, for this journal entry, let me praise the other business/pursuit of Cosmograf’s Robin Armstrong. We all know the kind of professionalism and artful sense Robin brings to music. He does the same as an entrepreneur. Just check out his website,
, a witness to his mastery of all things chronometric!
Please support Robin not only in his music, but in his excellence as a businessman as well.
Thanks for reading all of this. Rising pizza dough beckons me. . . .
Translating Sigmund Freud’s writings into English has left a formidable heap of wreckage strewn across the twentieth century. We’re used to saying “Ego” and “Id” when he simply used ordinary German words for “I” and “It.” Most relevant for this look at The Lamb, we’re used to hearing (if we hear this part of Freud at all anymore) about “castration” or the fear of it. Castration means the removal of the testicles, but that’s not what Freud was talking about. He was concerned about the removal of the penis, or the fear of its removal, or the child’s suspicion that it has been removed in the case of the female. The association with the idea of cutting is always strong, and of course blades (swords) may be phallic. A blade may shave as well as cut. Incision by a blade is a cousin of biting, some teeth being known as incisors. Here I want to call attention to the chain of associations in The Lamb that includes shaving, biting, and cutting.
Now, bringing up Doktor Freud seems (to continue speaking Freudian language) hopelessly “overdetermined” by the violent contests that comprise the history of psychoanalytic thought. It is so often assumed that the legacy of Freud is somehow “settled” or finalized, that he has been refuted, or subsumed, or otherwise tamed by subsequent inquiry, whether that inquiry bears the honorific adjective ‘scientific,’ or rests upon some other authoritative revelation. I take for granted here, without providing any explicit argument, that it is still worth paying heed to Freud, and that doing so still evokes insight that is not negated by the countless ways in which viewpoints associated with his name have been criticized. I ask to be allowed to invoke his name only provisionally, not simplistically as an infallible authority. I do not expect acceptance of any view according to which “biology is destiny,” noting in passing that even Freud himself arguably did not hold this as a dogma. I take up a Freudian gaze here not so much as what we usually think of as explanatory theory, but more as a hermeneutic lens. Try it. I’m not looking for unqualified commitment.
One of the most important things to realize about shaving, biting, and cutting in The Lamb is that it is clearly not associated with death. The images that accompany death are very different, suggesting the violence of an impact at first (“Fly on a Windshield”), but having much more to do with breath, with wind, with blowing or sucking in of air, and of course with transformation of one kind or another, with throwing into question the borders of the real (Rael). More on that soon. Shaving, biting and cutting, on the other hand, are all focused upon the bodily loci of love and sex.
The heart (also “the porcupine”) is shaved. Flesh is bitten by the (snake-like) Lamia, and they in turn are eaten by Rael (whose blood has killed them). And then there’s the visit to Doktor Dyper. ”Don’t delay! Dock the dick!” This cutting is presumably some sort of treatment (“cure”?) for the curse of being a Slipperman (which came from having “tasted love”). The preservation of the member in a yellow plastic tube (“honey-pouch”) promises “safety” of some sort, safety which brother John is unwilling to risk when Rael’s is lost to the raven, and into the ravine.
Think of how all of this involves severing. What (or who) is severed from what (or whom)? It seems as though the severings (including that of John from Rael) are essential in leading to Rael’s ultimate experience of seeing his own face where John’s should be.
Shaving, biting, cutting, severing, removing, preserving (“pickling”). And if Docktor Freud is taken at least as a reliable cultural iconographer, also borrowing two or four cents from Jacques Lacan, may we conclude that the forms of sexual severing (alienation?) in The Lamb are part of what clears the way for the Other as mirror?
I do not present this as a conclusion. In order to understand why, think about how “It” is not a conclusion either. ”It” has always been my least favorite song on the album musically. (See? I am not WHOLLY uncritical of the album.) ”It” seems to act like a grandiose finale, and I’ve never thought it was really a successful one. But as I’ve thought with Freud a bit here, it has occurred to me how completely apt this may be.
No conclusion, but suddenly a director shouts, “CUT!!”
Los Angeles, CA – In anticipation of their brand new full length album, Florida-based psychedelic space rock trio Sons Of Hippies will premiere a new single and video “Rose” on the music & culture website MXDWN.com this Monday, June 17th. “Rose” is the second single from the Hippies’ new album, Griffons At The Gates Of Heaven, mixed by Jack Endino (Nirvana, L7) and mastered at Abbey Road Studios, to be released July 16th on Cleopatra Records.
Directed by James Herrholz, “Rose” stars SOH vocalist/guitarist Katherine Kelly, drummer Jonas Canales and bassist David Daly out for a drive in their classic, cherry red Mustang on a sun soaked Florida afternoon when they encounter a seductive trio of car washing vixens. Much sudsy fun and playful teasing ensues. But things are not all what they seem and soon enough the story takes a shocking turn you’ll have to see to believe!
Sons Of Hippies was conceived high in the mountains of Tennessee amid fellow music lovers at a festival on a 700-acre farm. Their name originated when Brazilian native Jonas Canales and Florida-bred Katherine Kelly probed familial bonds to discover they were, indeed, children of hippy parents. The duo’s dreamy, melodic but complexly synthesized music struck a chord with audiences and earned the band a critic’s choice award from Tampa’s popular Creative Loafing magazine for “Best Modern-Sounding Record” in 2009. Bassist David Daly joined the group in 2011 and in December of the following year, the band signed with Cleopatra Records. The resulting album is the group’s strongest and most ambitious set of recordings to date, and earned these young upstarts a spot on a summer tour with two giants of classic and progressive rock.
For more info on the tour, visit the band’s official website:
To pre-order the album on iTunes:
I really, really like this guy. Thank you, Andy.
“Bollocks”. I mean there ARE people who will say that kind of thing. Quite why the Brits are so frightened of a member of their number being ambitious, creative and inspired eludes me. But hey, I’m used to it and its water off a duck’s back to me. You can call it elitist because I did something I could do, I pushed myself, I went further than I had to. If that’s elitism then I’m guilty of it and so are the people who listen to it. But I am a musically uneducated person who started off in a punk band and got better and more varied in what I do. I wanted more, music itself led me there. I was not in any kind of “elite” when I started, and becoming part of one has never been the goal, so really it’s just the old 70′s and 80s journos whose over use of words like “pretentious”, “elitist” and “pompous” were simply expostulations of not knowing how to review “Tales” when they got the job to write reviews of “Keep On Runnin’”.
You can’t level the “Dinosaur” band accusation at me. The Tangent has had a hard life of little comfort, very, very little financial reward, no mainstream media support. We took on a musical form that is possibly the most difficult to do well, most difficult to market, most difficult to play live and even most difficult to explain to others.
I speak with a broad Yorkshire accent. I’m a Scargillite lefty and advocate of sensible anarchy, totally down to earth in nearly every way apart from believing that music is more than 2 minute romps of pop, punk or thrash. I’m naive, fragile and irritable and I’m a struggling artist not a failed Rock Star. There’s a huge difference.
[Additional, added June 18, 2013. With apologies, I should have mentioned that Eric Perry conducted the interview. Excellent job, Eric!]
Put the kettle on, it’s time to relax…
It’s been a turbulent year for Andy Tillison and for fans of The Tangent. Back in October 2012 he dismayed us by dissolving the latest line-up of the band for financial and logistical reasons, only to placate us just a month later with the announcement of a new album in the pipeline. Since then, anticipation has grown steadily as the identity of each new collaborator has been revealed: Jakko Jakszyk, Theo Travis, Dave Longdon, Gavin Harrison and Jonas Reingold – a veritable who’s who of prog’s great and good, three of whom worked with Andy on 2008′s Not As Good As The Book.
The new album, Le Sacre Du Travail (“The Rite Of Work”), is finally here, and it’s a monster, clocking in at over 63 minutes. And that’s without the 10 minutes of bonus tracks!
Fans will find many familiar reference points in this new material, along with intriguing new elements. For me, The Tangent are the Steely Dan of prog, capable of a cool and effortless groove much like that legendary band. Jazz is never far from the surface in their music, but Le Sacre adds classical influences and orchestral texture to an already varied palette, drawing inspiration from Stravinsky’s Rite Of Spring. In less skilled hands, the result could have been a mess – but it works brilliantly here.
That orchestral feel is most evident in the opening overture Coming Up On The Hour and in the penultimate track of the suite A Voyage Through Rush Hour, the two shortest tracks on the album if you ignore the bonus content. Sandwiched between them are two lengthy pieces, Morning Journey & Arrival (22:55) and Afternoon Malaise (19:21), which reprise the orchestral themes but otherwise place us squarely in the territory of other epics in The Tangent’s oeuvre, offering us different movements, changes of mood and pace, not to mention solos aplenty to showcase the incredible talents of the players – all the good stuff that any devotee of prog craves, in other words.
To round off the suite we have Evening TV, a twelve-minute slice of classic anthemic prog that surges into life with a soaring synth melody and Reingold’s driving bass. I particularly like how this piece brings us full circle with a quiet ending featuring the ticking clock and beeping alarm that began the suite. It fits perfectly with the theme of the album.
And what of that theme? When it comes to concepts and lyrics, Tillison has always steered clear of prog clichés. You won’t find fantasy, philosophy or eastern mysticism here, no oblique references, no Priests of Syrinx, no Watchmakers nor any other allegorical devices. Tillison’s style is much more direct than that, and his subject matter is something we can all relate to: the mundanity of the daily grind, a near-unbreakable cycle of commute-work-eat-tv-sleep.
In Morning Journey, he invites us to take a Google-eye view of the frenetic commute to work and barks “We are ants!” Things aren’t much better when we’ve finally fought our way to the “business parks, call centres and retail outlet nodes”. What kind of deal have we struck? What have we sacrificed for such an existence?
All the time that we give to companies who call themselves our friends
All the time that we live with their aims at heart, their intent
And then they tell us that we’re important or
We’re ‘all part of the whole’
I don’t believe them, not ’til I see it
Until I put my finger in the holes
Afternoon Malaise continues the analysis:
When are you you?
Just who is it in there?
Behind the stingy plastic staff pass and slightly maintained hair
You play the Bullshit Bingo but the pain inside you smarts
A rather funky later section entitled Steve Wright In The Afternoon has particular significance for those of us from the UK but will resonate with anyone who has had to endure those endless waves of bland music and meaningless chit-chat emanating from the office radio while “waiting for the wallclock to set you free”:
We’re only here ‘cos there’s nothing else we can do
And Steve knows – he’s under no illusions
So he gives us a factoid or something to make the time go by
It ain’t gonna be “Yours Is No Disgrace”
But he has a good try
This is incisive social commentary, full of the wit so evident in Tillison’s lyrics from earlier albums (Tech Support Guy and Bat Out Of Basildon spring to mind as good examples) and with a dose of world-weary cynicism that may not be to everyone’s taste. But this is more a plea than a whinge, imploring us to remember there is more to life than the rat race.
I suspect most fans would agree that the yardsticks by which we should measure any new work from The Tangent are Not As Good As The Book and its 2006 predecessor A Place In The Queue. In my view, this album eclipses both, offering us something altogether more coherent and polished. If I were to nitpick, I’d say that Dave Longdon has been underused bearing in mind his calibre as a vocalist, but that is a minor point regarding what is undeniably a magnificent accomplishment, a work of great depth and maturity, a clear contender for album of year.
Put simply, Le Sacre Du Travail is a masterpiece: the best-sounding, most consistent and most compelling release by The Tangent to date.
Wonderful, Alison. We’re extremely proud of you!