Blog Archives

Flying Colors Presale just Began

The second LP from Flying Colors.  The first was simply excellent (especially live).  This should be just as good.

The second LP from Flying Colors. The first was simply excellent (especially live). This should be just as good.

You can order the second Flying Colors LP, “Second Nature,” at Radiant Records as of this morning.  Mine is ordered!  Happily.

I love the cover–a really nice jab at modernity.

http://www.radiantrecords.com/products/503-flying-colors-second-nature.aspx

A Pretty Decent Racket: An Interview with Mark Kilminster of Tin Spirits

The Tin Spirits.

The Tin Spirits.

As far as I know, I have the very proud distinction of being the very first North American to review “Wired to Earth,” the first release from the Tin Spirits.  Greg Spawton had recommended it as a unique form of guitar prog, and I ordered it immediately.  That Dave Gregory played on it didn’t hurt my decision, either.  I had just written something about Alex Lifeson, Matt Stevens, and Dave Gregory being among my all-time favorite guitarists, and I was certainly elated to have more proof of the truth of this.  So, yeah, I’m proud to have reviewed Wired to Earth immediately upon its release.  It grabbed me from the moment I first heard it.  And, as my wife can verify, I pretty much listen to it all of the time, especially when The Birzers are on the road.  Which is quite often.  And, because of some very personal family history, the fourth track on the album, “Broken,” means as much to me as any song.  If you’re not religious, forgive me–but I can’t help but thank God for the health of Penny.  You’ll see why in the interview.

When I heard that “Scorch” (forthcoming, September 15, from Esoteric Records) would be the second release from the Tin Spirits, I put away my very shy nature [for those of you who know me, you're laughing] and ask Mark Kilminster about the album.  Not surprisingly–after all, he’s an incredibly nice guy–he responded with enthusiasm.  So, wonderful, say I!  Thank you, Mark.

 

*****

 

Progarchy: Mark, thank you so much for taking time to talk with us. We know you have to be incredibly busy, and we’re honored [honoured for our English readers!] you’d spend some time with us. About half of our readership is North American, and, despite my best efforts, Tin Spirits is still not as well known on this side of the Atlantic as it should be. For our benefit, would you mind giving a bit of history of the band? How it came together? How you knew and recruited Dave Gregory? Where the name comes from?

Mark: No problem Brad, the honour is all mine. I’ll attempt the short version! Dan, Doug and I had been in a functioning band together since 2006, playing standard rock covers. Dan was already friends with Dave through Dan’s GigRig company (amazing guitar pedal switching systems) and through a bit of superfan stalking (sorry Dan!).

Our first meeting with the four of us came about when Dan wanted to create an “Amp Shootout” video to demonstrate the different tonal capabilities of different amps. He asked Doug and me to play drums and bass respectively in the video and as a long shot, he asked Dave if he’d like to take part, too. Much to our surprise and excitement, Dave happily agreed, and we spent the day jamming in a studio. It was clear to all that the four of us made a pretty decent racket so Dan suggested asking Dave if he would be interested in joining us to create a new band, initially playing covers we would normally not be able or allowed to play. Dave happily agreed, and Tin Spirits was born.

With regards to the name, it’s actually one of the hardest things to come up with. That and album titles. We spent weeks bouncing name ideas backwards and forwards via email. If no-one replies, you know it’s a duffer! Then, all of a sudden, Dave just turned up at rehearsal one day and said “What about Tin Spirits?” and everyone breathed a sigh of relief.

Incidentally, exactly the same thing happened with the album titles, “Wired To Earth” and “Scorch.”

Progarchy: Youtube is full of videos of the Tin Spirits covering great rock and prog songs. You cover XTC (naturally), Rush, Steely Dan, Yes. Can you tell us a little bit about this? Why these, and how much did they influence the style of original Tin Spirits music?

Mark: Well, the initial idea was “let’s play the songs we love and have always wanted to play but couldn’t.” Mainly because if you play Roundabout at a wedding, you won’t get paid! [The interviewer is laughing very, very hard at this—ed.] So we each went away and created a “dream setlist,” and it became clear very quickly that we were all big prog fans. So once we’d gone through everyone’s list and picked the ones we all agreed on, that’s what we ended up with.

We also covered Radiohead, Frank Zappa, Free, and Jellyfish to name a few. After we’d done a few local gigs we decided to have a go at writing our own stuff and see how far it went. That’s basically what “Wired To Earth” became, an experiment to see if we could write songs as a band. There was no agenda as far as whether it should be prog or rock or whatever, but I guess because we all have a penchant for that genre, “Wired to Earth” naturally leans towards it (without keyboards).

Progarchy: In the end, you chose to cover a Genesis song for “Wired to Earth.” Was this a hard pick?

Mark: In hindsight, perhaps we shouldn’t have included a cover but as we’d spent such a long time rehearsing the songs, we thought it would be worthwhile sticking one in. I think we chose “Back in NYC” as it was the one we could knock out fairly quickly.

One of my all-time favorite albums.  Wired to Earth.  A must own.

One of my all-time favorite albums. Wired to Earth. A must own.

Progarchy: Mark, as you know, my favorite [again, favourite for our English readers!] song on the first album is “Broken.” The lyrics are much more than lyrics. They really reach toward poetry. Can you give us the background to that song?

Mark: Thank you very much Brad.

It was the last song written for “Wired To Earth” and nearly didn’t make it, to be honest.

We had a deadline of early March 2011 to finish the album and were still working on it up to the Christmas 2010 break. We recorded a rough demo without vocals so I could work on the lyrics over the holidays.

My wife was pregnant at the time so the lyrics were initially about my second chance in life, essentially going from being single at 32 to having a family at 35. She was due in May 2011, so the album would be all done by then. However, on 6th Feb our daughter was born 14 weeks premature, weighing just 785 grams [1.73lbs.] and everything turned upside down.

As I remember it, the lyrics were written around the end of February and convey what we were going through at the time. It was a 50-mile round trip to the hospital each day, hoping our little girl was doing ok. So the song was recorded right up to the wire and, in fact, Dan and Dave recorded the twin guitar parts in a freezing, converted church hall one night until 3AM in order to meet the deadline.

Penny is now 3, by the way, and you’d never know to look at her what a tough start to life she had.

 

Poor Icarus.  Looks like the sun got him again.  Scorched.  Forthcoming, September 15, 2014, from Esoteric.

Poor Icarus. Looks like the sun got him again. Scorched. Forthcoming, September 15, 2014, from Esoteric.

Progarchy: We’re in the middle of a glorious moment for prog and for rock—despite what the doomsayers claim. How do you see the Tin Spirits? That is, when someone is looking back at 2014, twenty years from now, how do you want the Tin Spirits to be placed and remembered?

Mark: You know what? It would just be nice to be remembered. There is so much new music out there these days that it’s very difficult to hold anyone’s attention before they move on. I’m as guilty as anyone of that. Ooh, great album. Next! It would be great to think that in 20 years, someone will see a Tin Spirits album in their collection and think “Ah, I think I’ll listen to that today.”

****

The Tin Spirits are: Mark Kilminster (vocals; bass); Dave Gregory (guitar); Daniel Steinhardt (guitar; vocals); and Doug Mussard (drums; vocals).  “Scorch” is produced by Tin Spirits and Mitch Keen; mixed by Paul Stacey (Oasis).

The tracks for “Scorch”: Carnivore; Summer Now; Old Hands; Binary Man; Little Eyes; Wrapped And Tied; She Moves Among Us; Garden State.

Progarchy will let you know as soon as it’s available for preorder.  Or, of course, go straight to the official website: http://tinspirits.co.uk

You can order “Wired to Earth” from amazon.com and other outlets, including directly from the record company: http://www.cherryred.co.uk/esoteric-exd.asp?id=3598.  Please do.  Not only do I give the Tin Spirits my highest recommendation in 2014, but I think I’ll still be promoting them in 2034, should I still be wired to this earth.

 ***

Latest The Reasoning News

And, my hearts beats faster. . . . The Reasoning reports at their own website:

Album and Tour News

So it would seem that Pink Floyd, Opeth, The Pineapple Thief, The Steve Rothery Band, Amplifier, Threshold and Flying Colors, to name but a few, are all releasing new albums in the latter part of 2014. As you know, The Reasoning had the very same idea (great minds, and all that), but after much deliberation, we have selflessly decided that the above-mentioned bands deserved to catch a break for once. We have therefore postponed the release of our album until the early part of 2015, to avoid unfairly creating a situation in which these other bands simply don’t get a look in. We care too much, obviously…

With tongue firmly removed from cheek, our album is sounding amazing already, harking back to some of the much-loved musical and vocal elements from our earlier days, but with a great deal of contemporary pizazz. After the whirlwind experiences of the past couple of years, we’re going to take some extra time to really develop and embellish this new piece of work, craft it to its very richest potential and, most importantly, ensure that we give YOU, our dear followers, your most enjoyable Reasoning experience to date. This is going to be a big financial investment for us – outsourcing the recording of drums and, for the first time, vocals, to some “big” studios. We’re also in talks with several mix engineers, both here and on the other side of the Atlantic – more on this soon. Particular time and attention will be paid to the capturing of voices this time around, with Rachel and Seb (our young French floozy) leading the way, ably embellished by Rob and Jake.

This leads us very nicely on the other reason for postponing the launch of album 5. Next year, 2015, is the 10th anniversary of the formation of The Reasoning, and so this new release offers us the perfect way of celebrating such an auspicious occasion. Not only will there be a very special tour to promote the album, we will be doing other things to make sure we share the whole thing with you – with bells on! Watch this space.

tourpostergreatescapeOur October/November tour this year will still be going ahead as planned, and will be entitled “The Great Escape Tour 2014”. During these shows, we intend to perform our Awakening album in its entirety, and to throw in some additional tracks – some not heard live for a LONG time! – from “Dark Angel”, “Adverse Camber” and “Adventures In Neverland”. Oh yes, and we’ll be road testing some brand new material from album 5 as well. This will be a rare opportunity for you to hear yet-to-be- recorded music and, for us, will be a really organic way of putting the final touches to the songs before we commit them to their final digital destinations. There will be plenty of scope for you to be involved as listeners, too, so more on that in the very near future.

We’re looking forward already to our autumnal Great Escape from the studio, and we can’t wait to hook up with you all for fun and frolics on the road, Reasoning style. In the coming months we will release the name of the album as well as some of the artwork, and will give you details of a little something special that’s planned for the 10th Anniversary tour next year. Finally, we will be setting up a special group on Facebook (if you are on Facebook) based purely around “The Great Escape Tour” where you can talk openly about your thoughts, expectations, and share anecdotes of past gigs etc. We won’t be setting up individual ”Events” on Facebook this time either. Part of the new approach to promote these shows is to utilize the use of modern, portable technology and therefore, we have set up the band on the app “BandsInTown”. Here is a little blurb about what is does…….

Not only does BandsInTown allow us to keep our schedule up to date easily, it provides fans with a really excellent way to be notified about bands they don’t want to miss when they’re on tour. It’s an intelligent app that pro-actively informs fans of new tour dates for all the bands they connect with and show interest in.

Our BandsInTown schedule can be displayed on our website, on Facebook, and other places so that any updates are sure to be seen everywhere.

Our own website diary will also be up to date and may contain even more details than is available on the BandsInTown app, and our Great Escape Tour group will be filled with a compilation of ALL tour related information.

So, there you have folks, I know this is a lengthy piece but, we never do anything by halves, after all! Don’t forget also, that the wonderful “HeKz”, who will be promoting a new album, will be joining us on the road. It’s going to be a corker so, come along, have fun and sing with us as you always do. We cannot wait to see you. We’ve missed you a lot. Be well and love to you all as always,

Rach, Matt, Jake, Keith, Rob and Seb xxxxxx

Tin Spirits, SCORCH–Coming in September

Poor Icarus.

Poor Icarus.

 

Tin Spirits has issued the following press release

Esoteric Antenna are pleased to announce the release of the album ‘Scorch’, the much anticipated follow up to Tin Spirits debut album ‘Wired to Earth’.

As you would expect of a band that includes XTC’s 6-string genius Dave Gregory, ‘Scorch’ is a celebration of guitars and harmony with songs that immediately captivate and engage. Lovingly crafted over two years ‘Scorch’ was mixed ‘old school’ with fingers on faders by acclaimed producer Paul Stacey (Black Crowes, Noel Gallagher), resulting in a sonic experience guaranteed to be a highlight of this year’s new releases. 

Along with Dave Gregory, Tin Spirits’ fellow Swindonians Mark Kilminster (Vocals, Bass) and Doug Mussard (Drums), as well as the Australian import Daniel Steinhardt (Guitar, Vocals) notably of TheGigRig, have carved themselves a unique niche being unashamedly progressive yet entirely accessible. From the rapturous tones of the instrumental opener ‘Carnivore’, to the introspective anthem ‘Little Eyes’ and the progressive epic ‘Garden State’, “Scorch” is an album that shows Tin Spirits have truly come of age with one of the most exhilarating and satisfying releases of 2014. The album will be preceded by a digital single “Summer Now” released 8th September.

Yes, I’m thrilled.  The first release, WIRED TO EARTH, has been a favorite since it came out.  What I appreciate most, however, are the lyrics of the fourth track, “Broken.”  Few songs have moved me so much.

 

Four guys, sowing their seeds of love.

Four guys, sowing their seeds of love.

Johnny Unicorn: A Bit of History

Earlier today, before a quick hike in the Rockies with my kids, I asked Johnny Unicorn (in reality: John Adams; but not the former president) to give me a bit of history of himself.  He very kindly sent the following (below).  As some of you might remember, I was really taken with his previous release–SADNESS AND COMPANIONSHIP.

sadness and companionship

The forthcoming, ANGELS IN THE OORT CLOUD, looks even more interesting.  As I mentioned at the time of the first release, I think that Johnny Unicorn embraces the spirit of PHISH–wacky, innovative, and yet always very serious about the art.

Here’s what Mr. Unicorn wrote today (a huge thanks to him for taking the time!):

***

“Johnny Unicorn” has been my solo project since 2006.

2006, 2007, 2008 – “Dates Or Non-dates”, “Riversongs”, and “Put Your Mind Inside My Mouth”

    JU was the only member of the recorded or live band except for occasional live backing vocalists (Audri the Great, Joy Moore) and one show with a full band (Jabari Parker on drums, Joel Weinstein on bass, and Audri and Joy on backing vocals).

2010 – “Sweet Edith Manton” 

    JU recruited old friend Jason Campbell to play drums on the album. Toured the Northern U.S. as a one-piece

2011 – “Thinking Hard To Overcome Nervousness” 

    Lots of guest musicians played on the album. JU toured the U.S. again as a one-piece. Later in the year, Naomi Smith and Jesse Mercury (formerly Plack)(http://jessemercury.bandcamp.com) joined the live band on synth and drums respectively.  Roy Garcia played drums in the live band also in 2011.

2012 – West coast tour with Plack, Smith, and Unicorn (playing JU songs and Jesse Mercury songs) plus Autumn Electric.

2013 – “Sadness And Companionship” – Album recorded with just two musicians, JU and Naomi Smith. After successful Kickstarter campaign, Max Steiner joins live band as guitarist, and Ian Steiner replaces Jesse on drums for another Northern U.S. tour.

The forthcoming album from Johnny Unicorn.

The forthcoming album from Johnny Unicorn.

2014 – “Angels In the Oort Cloud” – Album recorded with a handful of guest musicians, including “Edith Manton” drummer Jason Campbell. Chris Barrios joins live band on drums. Max Steiner moves to Germany.

2015 and beyond – “Heavy Jugs To the Moon” is a 25-27 song double album that includes a horde of guest musicians, including all current live band members and many past members, and people i met on the internet. The songs are in a dramatic range of styles and they are all relatively short. The following album “Indentations” will be a four song album (all over 15 minutes) and will only include the current live band members and possibly some piped in guitar from overseas, except for one song that is a string quartet with vocals. Following this album, I am writing an album for jazz orchestra. In the interest of saving my ears, future JU tours will most likely be acoustic. After that, it’s all just vague ideas that will solidify as soon as room is freed up in my brain.

I am currently actively working with the following bands:

Horace Pickett (http://horacepickett.bandcamp.com) since 2011

Autumn Electric (http://autumnelectric.bandcamp.com) since 2012

Phideaux (http://phideaux.bandcamp.com) since 2007

johnny unicorn image

***

What an amazing person.  Again, thank you, Johnny, for taking the time!  To pre-order the new cd, click here.

RochaNews: New Pineapple Thief Coming This September

 

THE PINEAPPLE THIEF TO RELEASE NEW ALBUM “MAGNOLIA” THIS SEPTEMBER

10th studio album out September 16 via Kscope

ENGLAND – The Pineapple Thief has announced details of its new album, Magnolia, due for release in North America on September 16 via Kscope. Magnolia follows acclaimed 2012 album, All The Wars, and marks an important turning point for the band, as it expands its musical horizons beyond the progressive sphere.
Recorded at Snap Studios and mixed at Strongroom Studios in London, Magnoliarepresents the ultimate culmination of songwriter and guitarist Bruce Soord’s ongoing quest to raise spirits and connect. A devastating yet uplifting collection of 12 beautifully crafted songs, it showcases the band’s intuitive chemistry and soulful demeanor, cramming a vast array of emotional shades and inspirational ideas into its 47 mesmerizing minutes. Veering from the strident opening assault of “Simple As That,” due to be the first single, through to the cinematic sweep of the closing track “Bond,” it marks an important step in the band’s story, while skillfully encapsulating everything that has made its musical journey such a relentlessly fascinating one.
“All I ever wanted was to write catchy songs that stay with people,” commented founder Bruce Soord, explaining how this record represents an important evolutionary phase for The Pineapple Thief. “The striking thing is that there are no long tunes… all I care about now is writing a good song. I don’t think about whether it’s rock or progressive or commercial or anything like that. As time went on, I discovered I could say everything I wanted to say within a shorter period of time.”
New drummer Dan Osborne, also heavily involved in the production of Magnolia, brought fresh energy and ideas to The Pineapple Thief, strongly contributing to steer the band in a new direction. Completing the line-up are solid bassist Jon Sykes and keyboard maestro Steve Kitch. While string arrangements are courtesy of regular collaborator Andrew Skeet of The Divine Comedy, the stunning final mix was crafted by mix engineer Adam Noble, who has previously worked on albums from the likes of Placebo, Guillemots, Paul McCartney, Robbie Williams and Belgium alt rock band dEUS. The artwork for Magnoliawas created by French artist Patrick Gonzales (http://www.patrickgonzales.net). 

1.       Simple as That (04:01)

2.       Alone at Sea (05:21)

3.       Don’t Tell Me (03:35)

4.       Magnolia (03:47)

5.       Seasons Past (04:14)

6.       Coming Home (03:06)

7.       The One You Left to Die (04:19)

8.       Breathe (02:35)

9.       From Me (04:31)

10.     Sense of Fear (04:31)

11.     A Loneliness (03:22)

12.     Bond (04:31)

Formed in 1999 by founder and chief songwriter Bruce Soord as an experimental bedroom project, The Pineapple Thief has since continued to evolve and refine its sound. The group is seen by many as one of the most interesting and innovative rock bands the U.K. has produced in recent years. Previous albums like Someone Here Is Missing (2010) and All The Wars (2012) have made The Pineapple Thief’s reputation and fan base stronger, resulting in interest from a wider audience. Bruce Soord also collaborates with other Kscope artists, joining forces with Jonas Renkse of Swedish band Katatonia on their critically acclaimed Wisdom Of Crowds project. Along with this collaboration, we saw Soord join Katatonia on their recent “Dethroned & Uncrowned – Unplugged & Reworked” acoustic European tour. 

With a new, blossoming sound, Magnolia has all the potential to bring The Pineapple Thief to the masses. This, the band’s 10th record, could not only be a milestone, but also a mainstream breakthrough for the band. With Magnolia, The Pineapple Thief has created 12 musical gems that defy all classifications – anthemic, catchy, intense, honest and straight from the heart.

 

Stay tuned for more information on The Pineapple Thief and Magnolia.

 

-###-
 

 

The Pineapple Thief online…

 

www.kscopemusic.com/tpt

www.pineapplethief.com

www.facebook.com/thepineapplethief

www.twitter.com/pineapplethief

 

 

The Pineapple Thief is…

 

Bruce Soord – vocals, guitar
Dan Osborne – drums
Jon Sykes – bass
Steve Kitch – keyboards

For more information, contact Brian Rocha at Fresno Media.

Time Warp in Boulder and Clockwork Angels

Clockwork_Angels_01_Cover_BAfter spending my first afternoon at the University of Colorado, I stopped by Time Warp Comics (http://www.time-warp.com).  As it turns out, Neil Peart, Kevin J. Anderson, and Nick Robles have been producing a six-part comic book series of Clockwork Angels.

The first three issues are out, and I was even able to purchase a signed (by Anderson) copy of issue 1.

And, equally important, I found out that several of the guys working at Time Warp are proggers.  They were also just–not surprisingly–fantastic guys (and a gal).  So, a huge thanks to Clayton, Garrett, Michael, and Georgia!

What a store.  I’ll certainly be stopping by again.

If you’re in Boulder, make sure you check out Time Warp.

Time Warp Comics, 3105 28th Street, Boulder, CO 80301.

Time Warp Comics, 3105 28th Street, Boulder, CO 80301.

Big Big Train News (from the source!)

English Electric Full Power.  A definitive album of third-wave prog.

English Electric Full Power. A definitive album of third-wave prog.

Big Big Train News

PROGRESSIVE MUSIC AWARDS NOMINATION

Big Big Train has been nominated in the Anthem category of the 2014 Progressive Music Awards which will be held in September at the Globe Theatre. Listeners can vote for their choice of Anthem and for their favourites in the other categories online at: http://awards.progmagazine.com/

BIG BIG TRAIN IN SESSION AT REAL WORLD

The band are spending a week at Real World studios in August 2014 where they will be rehearsing for live shows and filming performances of a number of songs for release on DVD and Blu-Ray. The band will be joined by Rikard Sjöblom of Beardfish who will be assisting with guitar and keyboards. Live shows will follow in 2015 and an announcement about the dates will be made in the autumn.

Some short films of the bands preparations and rehearsals for the Real World sessions are now online at: https://www.youtube.com/user/EngElecRecordings

NEW ALBUM

Big Big Train has been working on a number of new songs and it is expected that a new album will be released in 2015. Work also continues on the Station Masters retrospective collection.

LP’s AND TEE-SHIRTS

English Electric Part One and Part Two are both available as double LP’s on 180gm vinyl.

http://www.planegroovy.com/bigbigtrain.html

Big Big Train tee-shirts are available from our merchandising retailer, The Merch Desk:

http://themerchdesk.com/shop/index.php?route=product/category&path=87_115

Best wishes

Andy, Danny, Dave, David, Greg and Nick

Big Big Train

Follow the band on Twitter at: https://twitter.com/bigbigtrain

Join our Facebook group at: www.facebook.com/groups/bigbigtrain

What do Kansas, Nebraska, and Colorado Have In Common with The Tangent and Big Big Train?

It's hard to tell, but I'm wearing my "Got Peart?" t-shirt.  And, there's a big, big train in the background.  Andy's motorcycle is missing, however.

It’s hard to tell, but I’m wearing my “Got Peart?” t-shirt. And, there’s a big, big train in the background. Andy’s motorcycle is missing, however.

 

Driving across the grass seas of western Nebraska and eastern Colorado this past week, I made sure my listening list was quite specific and quite orderly.  Across the western parts of Nebraska, traversing the mighty and winding Platte several times, I listened to Big Big Train, ENGLISH ELECTRIC PART ONE.  Not FULL POWER, but the original PART ONE.  Back to this in a moment.

Greg Marcus Aurelius Spawton

Greg Marcus Aurelius Spawton

Once the Platte split into north and south, I took the south fork, and I went for The Tangent’s THE MUSIC THAT DIED ALONE.  Andy always inspires me.  But, the combination of Andy and Roine Stolt as my car flew (legally, of course) through such nearly forgotten towns as Julesburg, Ovid, and Sedgwick proved perfect.  Andy never fails to find the beauty in lost hope.

Andy Tillison.  Master of Hope and Keytarism. (Picture - Martin Reijman)

Andy Tillison. Master of Hope and Keytarism.
(Picture – Martin Reijman)

A bit of patriotism hit me after The Tangent finished, so I went for Kansas’s THE POINT OF NO RETURN.  Amazingly enough, the entire album took me from the ending of THE MUSIC THAT DIED ALONE to our brand new house in Colorado.  Truly, as we driving up to the house in Longmont, the final notes of “Hopelessly Human” played.

As promised, back to BBT, ENGLISH ELECTRIC PART ONE (EEP1).  First, its pastoral tone fit the Nebraska countryside beautifully.  The skies, not surprisingly, were as broad as were deeply blue—the kind of blue one finds only in the Great Plains on a summer day.  But, the grasses were a treat as well—variations of greens and golds, generally quite tall and swaying under the pressure of the continental winds.

Second, I’ve not listened to EEP1 for at least a year.  Indeed, once ENGLISH ELECTRIC FULL POWER (EEFP) came out, I considered it the definitive edition, putting away PART ONE.

I won’t in any way, shape, or form suggest I had any thing at all to do with the final ordering of EEFP.  Such a claim would be nothing but hubris.  And, it would be completely false.  This was not, however, for want of trying.  I bugged Greg openly on the internet and privately through emails about this.  I interviewed him about it, and, as a friend, tried to put him in a corner.  Greg, the quintessential English Stoic gentleman, quietly (though not in quiet desperation, I pray) took the suggestions of this overly eager and earnest American (overly eager and earnestness are two of our defining traits as a people) with kindness.  Thank you, Greg.

I know there was some debate among the progarchists whether or not Greg and Co. were messing with a work of art unnecessarily by re-arranging the order of things and filling in the corners with EEFP.  But, from the beginning, I was on Greg’s side.  It’s his creation, and he can do with it as he will (and the rest of the members of the band, of course).

Listening to EEP1 this week only confirmed my thoughts.  It is a stunningly beautiful, calming, and mesmerizing work.  Like all great works of art, it demands full immersion by the participant.  Pastoral, it is also equally humane and cinematic.  It is a part of the English bardic tradition at its very best.  A community of minds and talents produced this album, and we are blessed indeed to exist in a world that allows such works of art to emerge and flourish.

But, for me, especially as a historian, EEP1 is now an incomplete yet intriguing part of a puzzle.  It belongs in the archives now, a glorious blueprint, but not quite the complete thing.

This discussion, I think, is not mere mental wrestling.  BBT is not just another band, and EEP1, EEP2, and EEFP are not just mere new releases.  BBT is a definitive band of prog’s third wave, and EEFP is possibly the finest statement of music over the last two and a half decades.  It is the legitimate successor to Talk Talk’s SPIRIT OF EDEN.

How the album came together, how it evolved, and how it is received is not merely academic.  It’s now a critical part of our history as lovers of music, art, and human genius.  It is now an integral part of the western tradition.  Long may it continue.

***

COL_00016_00022

TIPPING POINT–The Excellence of The Ben Cameron Project

A review of The Ben Cameron Project, TIPPING POINT (independently released, 2014).

Two long tracks: “Part One” (21:02); “Part 2” (17:49).  Only two members: Ben Cameron (vocals, guitars, bass, keyboards) and Chris Cameron (all drums and percussion)

0002788885_10

 

Let me just state this at the beginning of this review—this is a beauty of an album.  Pure prog; unabashedly a concept album that takes you on a serious musical journey throughout its entirety.

The album opens with a very post-Gabriel/Hackett-era Genesis feel.  It is truly an aural treat, and TIPPING POINT easily moves from one mood and one style to another.  From Genesis to Neal Morse to Pink Floyd (in an Airbag kind of way) to Big Big Train to Dream Theater to Cosmograf.  The overall effect is one of intense drama and cinema.  Indeed, if you’re looking for an album in which to immerse yourself, this is it.

It’s also clear that the Camerons have given everything imaginable to the writing, recording, and production of this album.

Two things really stand out after several listens.  First, the vocals.  Though the only vocalist, Ben Cameron does some really amazing things with his voice.  I was quite stunned to look at the notes to the album and find that he was the only vocalist.  Second, the drumming.  Wow, can Chris Cameron drum or what?!?!?  An excellent cross between the prog style of NVD and the harder style of Mike Portnoy.

As mentioned above, TIPPING POINT is a concept, dealing very humanely but also gut-wrenchingly at points with the struggle with depression.  Not surprisingly given the topic, there exists lots of existential angst—“I didn’t choose to be this way” and “I only see a world of pain” are typical lyrics.

The Ben Cameron Project is a critical new band in the prog realm.  I have no doubt that the follow-up album will be extraordinarily good musically.  I am especially interested to see where Ben Cameron goes lyrically.

To support The Ben Cameron Project (and progarchy.com requests that you do!), go to the band’s official website: www.thebencameronproject.com.

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