That brooding stare from the record sleeve of Leftoverture (1976) belongs to Kerry Livgren, born this day in 1949. Despite being an early Boomer, Livgren was (as he wrote in the song “Two Cents Worth”) “born in the wrong century.” At an early age he was rapt in the majesty of Lutheran hymns, Strauss, and Wagner, rising from a Swedish church and a relative’s phonograph into the wide sky above Topeka, Kansas. Although his early gigs included a R&B band, Livgren would carry the classics with him into a career that carved out one of the most distinctive sounds in progressive rock — a fusion of jazz, classical, arena rock, and country. The music of Kansas (the band) was as fierce, dynamic, and restless as the cover art to their eponymous first release, a painting by John Stuart Curry of John Brown astride “bleeding Kansas.”
As a teenager growing up in the southern Piedmont of North Carolina I, too, was listening to Also Sprach Zarathustra, Elektra, and Emerson, Lake & Palmer. But I was also weaned on the Stanley Brothers and Buck Owens; so when I heard the opening harmonies and heavy bombast of “Carry On Wayward Son” erupting from the FM station my dad managed, I found something musically that harmonized what had seemed distressingly disparate tastes. Livgren proved you can put these diverse elements together and make something glorious and coherent of them.
The greatness of Kansas’ music never rose higher, in my mind, than “The Pinnacle” (Masque, 1975); but majestic moments are found all over of the band’s catalog. Moreover, coupled with the music was Livgren’s deep spiritual search. As a rocker from the Plains he epitomized Jesus’ challenge to, “Seek, and you will find; knock, and it shall be opened to you.” If there was one American who exhausted the religious and philosophical well of thought, it was Kerry Livgren. That search, chronicled on Kansas’ albums, concluded with a return to the faith of his fathers. Livgren wrote of his career and conversion in Seeds of Change (1980, ed. 1991), an autobiography coauthored with Kenneth Boa.
Settling the religious question did not settle Livgren’s music. As a solo artist he wrote — and, in Todd Rundgren fashion, played all the instruments — on a characteristically diverse and fascinating album, One of Several Possible Musiks (1989). Together with Kansas bassist Dave Hope (now an Anglican priest) Livgren formed AD, releasing a string of albums in the ’80s of ’90s. In 2000 he produced one of his best solo efforts, Collector’s Sedition (an album I was privileged to review for PopMatters) that again showcases the sheer breadth of his interests and abilities.
In his bio Livgren introduced the tantalizing subject of the “pre-” Kansas bands — Kansas I and II, featuring Lynn Meredith’s histrionic vocals and John Bolton’s wild, Coltrane-inspired saxophone solos. Doing the prog world an unspeakable service, Livgren re-mixed and released Early Recordings from Kansas, 1971-1973 (2002), which I would say holds up as a prog album worthy of any collection. On the strength of that effort, the aptly named Proto-Kaw became a band again, touring and recording three new albums.
We’ve barely scratched the surface here; but suffice to say that Kerry Livgren is a renaissance man: church elder, husband, father, farmer, pilot, student, promoter of others’ gifts and talents, and yes, a brilliant composer, arranger, and musician.
Happy birthday, Kerry Livgren. Thank you for a tireless witness to honesty, truth, beauty, and order over the past five and a half decades.
Here’s the latest complaint–from the London Telegraph of all things (isn’t this supposed to be one of the respectable papers, or am I confusing it with the Daily Mail?)–to follow laments from CLASSIC ROCK mag earlier this year, a member of KISS who seems to resent much of life, and every single human who has decided to hate U2: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/men/the-filter/11089923/The-decline-and-fall-of-rock-and-roll.html
[A quick side note. You have Apple and you don't like U2? Easy--hit the image of the album and drag it to your trash. Your Mac will then ask you if you would like to delete or hide. Deleting it actually deletes it. No offensive U2 ever need show up in your library again, and you will have accomplished this is far less time than it took for the album to download to your computer. In fact, it will take you less time to delete the album forever from your personal space than it will for you to write a comment on the web or even an article for a respectable English newspaper about how much you dislike U2, Bono, Apple, Catholics, Apple pies, Irishmen, or whatever your current dislike is.]
I have no idea if I’m using this term correctly, as I’m not English. But, my first thought is: what a wanker that Telegraph writer must be. Did I use the term correctly? What say you, Mr. Andrew Woods? Here in the British colony of the United States, we’d just call you a prig.
Of course corporations try to conform us. They give us lots of good stuff, but they also make the world a lot less interesting. They want us as consumers, and consumers are much easier to manipulate when only the same tepid and pallid mush is being served. Is the Telegraph suddenly a not-for-profit paper?
The next time a corporation tries to sell you something, just walk away. It’s really not that hard. Turn away from the offensive thing and move in the other direction.
Growing up in Kansas, I knew next to nothing about NME. What I did know: NME looked like a bunch of quasi-trash porn that wealthy children in Kansas City might purchase out of boredom. I didn’t pay attention to it or to Rolling Stone. When Rush came out with a new album, I bought it. When Tears for Fears came out with a new album, I bought it. When Kate Bush came out with a new album, I bought it. When Talk Talk came out with a new album, I often bought two copies, one as backup. I didn’t look to NME or Rolling Stone or whatever rag was available at the time telling me what to think and wear and write and read. I worked very, very hard for my music collection. Sure, I made a few missteps, such as once purchasing a Howard Jones album. But, I also collected a lot of great music, much of which I treasure to this very day.
What many music journalists, record labels, and professional wankers have yet to figure out is that the market for art is now as decentralized as humanly possible. The internet gives us as much space to be excellent as it does to be mediocre.
Some of the music being made right–including and especially the vast majority of music we have the privilege of reviewing at progarchy–is some of the best rock music ever made. Here and now. Not merely there and yesterday. Here and now. Right here, right now. Rock is so far from being dead that I can barely keep up with so many enticing, interesting, and dramatic releases.
The author of the Telegraph piece can’t see beyond the very corporations he so hates and, thus, he becomes a conformist in his own cry against conformity. Face it, Mr. Andrew Telegraph, you are the establishment. And, from what I can tell, you always have been–especially when you read magazines such as NME, then or now.
One last thought. I really don’t care if U2 recorded forty-five minutes of The Edge working in his back garden. Any group of artists who can write and record October have earned a position of respect in the world. I, for one, will give them the benefit of the doubt, and presume good (and, yes, profit-seeking) motives on the parts of Mr. Bono and Mr. Cook.
On Mr. Andrew Woods? The jury is still out.
[P.S. I'm glad Mr. Woods mentioned his daughter. My thirteen-year old daughter can name every member of Rush, Big Big Train, and The Tangent, and she knows almost every lyric written by FROST*. Care to compete?]
BURNT BELIEF RETURNS WITH “ETYMOLOGY” THIS FALL ON ALCHEMY RECORDS
Instrumental collaboration between U.K. bassist Colin Edwin (Porcupine Tree) and U.S. guitarist Jon Durant out October 21
COHASSET, MA – World-renowned bassist Colin Edwin (Porcupine Tree, Metallic Taste of Blood, Ex-Wise Heads) and guitarist/composer Jon Durant have once again teamed up under the moniker Burnt Belief for the release of a new album of progressive ethno-ambient fusion instrumentals titled Etymology. Etymology will be released on October 21, 2014 via Alchemy Records, and will be available at Burning Shed, Amazon, CD Baby, iTunes, jondurant.com and other digital outlets.
An Etymology teaser video can be seen on YouTube at:http://youtu.be/aa0yLjSHr3Q.
Pre-order Etymology at: http://jondurant-com.myshopify.com/collections/frontpage/products/burnt-belief-etymology and:http://www.amazon.com/Etymology-Burnt-Belief/dp/B00NAZX8BA/ref=sr_1_1?s=music&ie=UTF8&qid=1410294068&sr=1-1&keywords=burnt+belief.
“We feel like we’ve progressed within our shared approach, including some new harmonic, rhythmic and melodic elements,” commented Jon Durant.
“Much of our compositional approach remains consistent from the first Burnt Belief record,” he added. “For instance, a number of the pieces began as ambient cloud guitar atmospheres, which Colin would then explore and find rhythmic grooves to play over or with the clouds. Then, I would maybe re-arrange, construct melodic ideas, and send back to Colin for further input from him. In this way, the pieces evolve, sometimes very far from their original state.”
The compositions which unfold across Etymology‘s 70 minutes showcase the duo’s fruitful symbiosis and clear developmental path across their shared musical landscape. Assimilating diverse elements ranging from polyrhythms, deep ECM styled atmospherics and even angular nu-jazz abstraction, the result is an immersive, multi-layered and engrossing documentation of a remarkably sympathetic musical connection.
The album’s title is a metaphor for the pair’s working methodology, in which compositions evolve from an initial germ of an idea into a fully realized piece. The resulting work is often very different from its original concept yet still maintains the initial elements at its core.
7. White Keys
8. Not Indifferent
Edwin and Durant first teamed up for Durant’s 2011 album Dance of the Shadow Planets, a wholly live in the studio documentation of their nascent musical chemistry centered around Durant’s atmospheric compositions and featuring also the talents of violinist Caryn Lin and multi-percussionist Jerry Leake.
The follow-up to Dance of the Shadow Planets, 2012’s eponymously titled Burnt Belief, was distance recorded, but a fully collaborative compositional affair with Edwin taking equal responsibility for the writing process. Having confidently cemented their working methods and musical connection with the well-receivedBurnt Belief, the duo undertook some live dates in the U.K. and Ukraine with Kiev-based female vocal duo Astarta (as Astarta/Edwin), a project Colin has been working on for some time, but presently on ice due to the current instability in the country.
“Colin and I both felt that after two records utilizing hand drums exclusively, it was time to change it up and go with a live drum kit to augment Colin’s rhythm programming. It ended up giving the pieces a much harder edge to them, and this in turn allowed me to push my guitars a little more over the top.”
|Burnt Belief online…
About Jon Durant…
Guitarist Jon Durant brings a unique sense of texture and melody to his instrument. His distinctive “cloud guitar” soundscapes and engaging lead work have graced numerous CD recordings and film soundtracks. As executive producer of Alchemy Records, he produces recordings for internationally acclaimed artists in his small Massachusetts studio. Along with longtime collaborators Tony Levin (bassist with King Crimson and Peter Gabriel), percussionist Vinny Sabatino, pianist Michael Whalen, and guitar/synth master Randy Roos, Jon has recorded with electric violinist Caryn Lin, percussionist Jerry Leake, singer/songwriter Porter Smith, soul singer Ray Greene (Tower of Power) and many others.Etymology is Jon’s third recording with Colin Edwin.
About Colin Edwin…
Colin Edwin is best known as a founder member and bass player of the internationally successful progressive rock band Porcupine Tree. In addition, he has a long running collaboration as Ex-Wise Heads with avant multi-instrumentalist Geoff Leigh (Henry Cow/Hatfield and the North) with six albums blending ethnic, world music, improvisation and ambient and experimental influences. Colin is also a member of Metallic Taste of Blood, a genre-defying group whose intense and cinematic music draws from dub, metal, progressive, free jazz and ambient music. In 2013 Colin recorded the critically acclaimed bass duo album Twinscapes with Italian bassist Lorenzo Feliciati.
KSCOPE ANNOUNCES SIGNING OF MULTI-INSTRUMENTALIST DUO NORDIC GIANTS
Debut album coming early 2015
ENGLAND – Kscope is thrilled to announce the signing of multi-instrumentalist duo Nordic Giants. Ahead of the debut album coming in early 2015, Kscope will be release Nordic Giants’ 2014 self-released EPs ‘Build Seas’ and ‘Dismantle Suns’ together on one LP and CD this fall.
A teaser video for the new signing can be seen on YouTube at:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bjhOGU-KdwM.
Nordic Giants spent the last couple of years bringing its bespoke formula of claustrophobic post-rock cinematic sound to audiences across the U.K. They have recently toured with Public Service Broadcasting, God Is An Astronaut and 65daysofstatic, this Summer playing festivals including 2000 Trees, Kendal Calling and Y-Not as well as their own headline shows. They have performed in churches, disused Victorian music halls and converted seaside bandstands to enhance the audience experience of their atmospheric soundscapes.
Seeing Nordic Giants has been described as akin to a religious experience. Multi-screen visuals, powerful strobes and exquisitely timed accompaniment create a whole that appears far greater than the sum of its parts. Each performance is accompanied by award-winning short films which coupled with haunting piano, bowed guitar, climactic drums and array of guest vocalists gives the audience a mind-blowing and visceral experience that goes beyond the normal descriptors.
Kscope was formed in 2008 providing a home for an evolving and adventurous style of music without boundaries. Nordic Giants join a roster that includes North Atlantic Oscillation, Engineers, Steven Wilson, Ulver, Anathema & The Pineapple Thief.
Stay tuned for more information on Nordic Giants.
|Nordic Giants online…www.nordicgiants.co.uk|
Well, they’ve yet to capture the imagination of Tim Cook and the PowersThatBeiTunes, but they have our attention. And, we’re absolutely thrilled. A second Fractal Mirror is just about here. Amen, amen, amen.
But, I’ll let the guys of FM speak for themselves:
September 9th, 2014, Miami, Florida – Dave Kerzner, former member of the Progressive Rock band “Sound of Contact”, is gearing up for a late October release of his debut solo concept album, “New World”. The first single off the album, “Stranded”, has just been released as a digital download from iTunes®, Amazon®, Google Play® and other on line stores. “Stranded” is a 10 minute “rock opera” comprised of 5 parts. It features Kerzner on vocals and keyboards with special guests Steve Hackett of Genesis, Durga McBroom of Pink Floyd, Nick D’Virgilio of Spocks Beard, Jason Scheff of Chicago and it was mixed by legendary engineer Tom Lord-Alge.
A shorter edited version called “Stranded Part 1 – Isolation” has been made as a “mainstream radio-friendly single” and will be available as a free download to anyone who signs up on the mailing list at davekerzner.com this month. Additionally, the full length album version will be made available through Kerzner’s bandcamp page: http://sonicelements.bandcamp.com/
Download Full Press Package. Includes Photos/Mp3 Download of track:
I devoured Morse’s autobiography a few years ago. It’s excellent. This week, Radiant is offering it in a variety of formats for very reasonable prices.
To order it, go here: http://www.radiantrecords.com/products/314-testimony-the-book.aspx
In August 2010, Prog Sphere released its first ever Progstravaganza compilation. After four years, twenty compilations, over 460 bands showcased, and more than 65,000 downloads, Prog Sphere Promotions is ready to release its first physical compilation CD. Progstravaganza: Beyond Frontiers, is ready for pre-order Progify store, and will be released on October 14th, 2014. This new compilation includes twelve progressive rock and metal bands from all around the world who are itching to show their talent to global audience.
From the very beginning, Prog Sphere Promotions has sought to bring the very best upcoming progressive rock and metal bands to its audience, while also offering a presentation that the discerning prog lover has come to expect from his or her collection. To this end they have enlisted the talent of Frank Gingeleit of Living Tunes Mastering to master the newest compilation. For those with an eye for beautiful album covers, Prog Sphere Promotions have retained the services of the talented Chris van der Linden of LindenArtwork for the artwork and six-page digipak.
In addition to being the first physical release of the Progstravaganza series, Beyond Frontiers will also be accompanied by Prog Sphere’s first printed magazine. All of the artists from Progstravaganza: Beyond Frontiers will be featured in this issue with reviews and interviews. All of the artists will also be featured in an upcoming documentary about Progstravaganza: Beyond Frontiers.
Naturally, the first physical release of a Progstravaganza compilation is only the beginning! Prog Sphere plans to continue releasing Progstravaganza compilations into the far future. Interested artists can get in touch with Prog Sphere for inclusion in future editions. In addition to be included on a future compilation, interested parties will receive a six month PR campaign through Prog Sphere Promotions.
The track list for Progstravaganza: Beyond Frontiers, is as follows:
01. Seconds Before Landing – I’m All Alone (USA)
02. Fughu – Quirk of Fate (feat. Damian Wilson) (Argentina)
03. Traffic Experiment – The Weight of the World (UK)
04. Machines Dream – Broken Door (Canada)
05. The Moonling – Backstage (Switzerland)
06. Rolf Remlinger – Corrosive Exponent Too (USA)
07. Riccardo Sandri – Campi Verdi (Italy)
08. Cea Serin – The Victim Cult (USA)
09. Overhaul – Three Judges (The Netherlands)
10. Celluloid Winter – Feigning Insanity (Part I) (USA)
11. The Amber Herd – Tin Man (UK)
12. Fred Colombo – Midgar (France)
Progstravaganza: Beyond Frontiers is out on October 14th, 2014 and is available for pre-order from Progify Store.
Yesterday, our favorite Dutch rocker and master of sci-fi prog, Arjen Lucassen, announced the name of his new project: Gentle Storm. I have no doubt it will be incredible. I’m sure–genetically!–Lucassen is constitutionally incapable of anything less than perfection. Equally exciting, Gentle Storm will be performing live.
Here’s hoping they come to Red Rocks!
We are excited to announce that Arjen’s collaboration with Anneke van Giersbergen will be called The Gentle Storm. The album is planned for release in early 2015.
Arjen likes to say that his touring days are over, but he’s helped Anneke form a stellar band for live dates in support of the album. You can find out more at your favorite social media pitstop:
More details to follow!