Haken Announce New Album

Haken announce new album ‘Virus’

Launch first single “Prosthetic”

Progressive rockers Haken are excited to reveal their new studio album ‘Virus’, the follow-up to 2018’s acclaimed album ‘Vector’, will be released June 5th, 2020. By way of introduction, the band have recorded a special video message to give some background to the record: https://youtu.be/_XMWVUQ93io

Today also sees the launch of the album’s first single and opening track ‘Prosthetic’, with a video directed by Vicente Cordero. Watch & listen to this punchy opening salvo here: https://youtu.be/4EmbYo65Pbs

The band comments: “Prosthetic was the first song we completed during the ‘Virus’ writing sessions and we always felt it would be the perfect opener for the album. It’s a very guitar heavy track with its roots in 80s thrash riffing, but with the unconventional rhythmic twists and turns we often like to explore in Haken. We sadly never had a Jeff Hanneman and Robert Fripp collaboration, but this song at least draws on inspiration from them both!

Lyrically the song is a bridge between our two albums Vector and Virus. The message was brilliantly brought to life by video director Vicente Cordero, who also beautifully captured the live energy of the band in a way that both enhances the song, and perfectly sets the scene for what’s to come.”

Since releasing ‘Vector’ in October 2018, Haken have completed headline tours the world over, played sold-out shows across Europe and North America as support for Devin Townsend and picked up a Prog award for their efforts too! All the while, they have been quietly, secretly working on the follow-up album, entitled ‘Virus’.

Drummer Ray Hearne reveals, “since releasing ‘The Mountain’ in 2013, one question has been asked of us time and time again, ‘who is the Cockroach King?’. This is something we were interested in exploring more deeply too, so we essentially did that through our music; elaborating and expanding upon the intervallic, harmonic, rhythmic and lyrical themes of that song. The end result is in an arc which spans across two albums: ‘Vector’ and ‘Virus’”.

 Once again, Adam ‘Nolly’ Getgood has mixed what is perhaps the most eclectic Haken album to date, with the 7 tracks revealing hints of influences from multiple genres, all intertwined with Haken’s own recognisable sound. Guitarist Richard Henshall had this to say about the production, “Using Nolly again was a no-brainer, as we wanted the two albums to be sonically connected. But having just spent a day mixing with him in his studio, it’s obvious that this album will be an evolution of the ‘Vector’ sound. These songs seem to allow a lot more freedom of creativity with the production, so we’re excited to see where it leads”.

Longtime Haken collaborators, Blacklake, have designed the visuals and artwork and the album will be available as a Limited 2CD, Standard CD, Gatefold 2LP + CD & as Digital Album. Pre-order now here: https://haken.lnk.to/Virus

The track-listing is as follows:

1.     Prosthetic
2.     Invasion
3.     Carousel
4.     The Strain
5.     Canary Yellow
6.     Messiah Complex i: Ivory Tower
7.     Messiah Complex ii: A Glutton for Punishment
8.     Messiah Complex iii: Marigold
9.     Messiah Complex iv: The Sect
10.  Messiah Complex v: Ectobius Rex
11.  Only Stars

‘Virus’ is the culmination of a musical thought experiment which started with the ‘Vector’ writing sessions in 2017 and holds intriguing potential for the band’s future, as vocalist Ross Jennings explains, “whilst ‘Virus’ can absolutely be enjoyed as a stand-alone work, it is thematically and conceptually linked with ‘Vector’, so our intention is to perform both albums back to back for a special performance someday”.

HAKEN are:

Ross Jenning
Richard Henshall
Charlie Griffiths
Diego Tejeida
Conner Green
Ray Hearne

 

INSIDEOUTMUSIC Spotify Playlists:
Best of Haken – InsideOutEssentials
Prog Rock Essential
Prog Metal Essential

The Passing of a Legend: Krzysztof Penderecki (1933-2020)

penderecki

Penderecki, one of the great modern composers, shuffled off this mortal coil today at the age of 86. Known for his avant-garde style, Penderecki established himself as arguably Poland’s greatest contemporary composer. Several of his works were featured in two of the more influential horror films of the twentieth century: The Exorcist and The Shining.

Requiescat in pace.

Bob Dylan: “Murder Most Foul”

What the fork?? Bob Dylan releases a song 17 minutes long… “Murder Most Foul“… Holy prog, Batman!

BTW: You can assemble the original “Blood on the Tracks” from “More Blood, More Tracks”: select tracks 69 (CD5, No.3), 71 (CD5, No.5), 34 (CD3, No.3), 76 (CD5, No.10), 48 (CD4, No.2), 16 (CD2, No.5), 11 (CD1, No.11), 59 (CD4, No.13), 46 (CD3, No.15), & 58 (CD4, No.12).

Brad Birzer and Dave Bandana Talk The Bardic Depths… With Each Other

The wonderful Brad Birzer just interviewed his bandmate Dave Bandana to discuss Dave’s background and their new album, The Bardic Depths. The interview doubles as their first time talking to each other “face-to-face” via video chat. This is their third collaboration, and they’ve only interacted by email before this. What an amazing era in which we live… minus the plague of course.

The Bardic Depths is a brilliant album – one you need to listen to. Check out my review and Rick Krueger’s review.

We Need Contact!

ihavethetouch

I believe I have found the perfect song for these times….

 

Something to consider as we lose contact:

“Earlier generations understood that institutions anchor our lives. That’s why German children went to school throughout World War II, even when their cities were being reduced to rubble. That’s why Boy Scouts conducted activities during the Spanish flu pandemic and churches were open. We’ve lost this wisdom. In this time of crisis, when our need for these anchors is all the greater, our leaders have deliberately atomized millions of people. 

Society is a living organism, not a machine that can be stopped and started at our convenience. A person who is hospitalized and must lie in bed loses function rapidly, which is why nurses push patients to get up and walk as soon as possible after sicknesses and operations. The same holds true for societies. If the shutdown continues for too long, we will lose social function….” – R. R. Reno

Read the full article here.

The Progarchy Interview: Pure Reason Revolution’s Jon Courtney

When Pure Reason Revolution’s The Dark Third was released in 2006, it hit like a bolt from the proverbial blue.  At a time when the progressive rock renaissance was still thin on the ground (Porcupine Tree, Neal Morse, Spock’s Beard, and not much else), here was a band that specialized in effortlessly evolving long-form suites, set off by a sweet-and-sour pairing of lush harmonies and aggressive grooves.  Signed to InsideOut after the debut album on Sony, PRR added hardcore electronica to their palette on 2009’s Amor Vincit Omnia and 2011’s Hammer and Anvil, after which band mainstays Jon Courtney (vocals, guitars, keyboards) and Chloë Alper (vocals, basses, keyboards) went their separate ways.

Come 2020, PRR is back with Eupnea (a medical term for quiet, normal breathing) — which gave us the opportunity to check in with Jon Courtney.  In this expansive interview (lightly edited for clarity), Jon talks about what makes a song a Pure Reason Revelation song, reveals the inspiration behind the new album’s lyrics and artwork, and unravels the unlikely tale of the debut album’s out-of-nowhere success.

So, you have a great new album from Pure Reason Revolution!  How did this album happen?

So, If I rewind a little bit … I had this project Bullet Height and that happened after Pure Reason Revolution the first time.  So, we made the record and then we toured it a little bit in the UK and did a few shows in Germany.  And then it got to the time of “well, I guess it’s time to make another record!” And I think sort of around this time I sort of … I took quite a big break from music anyway, cause I wasn’t too sure what the direction was gonna be and exactly what I wanted to do.

So, I took a break for maybe three to six months and then when I finally did come back into the studio and started recording demos, the demos didn’t really sound like Bullet Height.  They sounded more progressive and sounded more like Pure Reason Revolution.  And then as these demos progressed a little more, I thought: “Well, you know, this is definitely sounding like Pure Reason Revolution, and if it’s gonna do something and come out as Pure Reason Revolution, then I need to speak to Chloë!”

So that’s when I sent Chloë a message and said, “Look, I’ve been working on these demos … are you free to meet up and have a talk about them?”  And then she said, “Yes, it sounds like a great idea to do Pure Reason Revolution again.”

 

To your mind, what do you see as making a track, a piece of music, a Pure Reason Revolution track?  What do you think are the essential ingredients?

(Laughs) The essential ingredient is definitely sort of the vocal interplay with Chloë and I. So that’s a big part.  And then, if one of us is doing a lead, then the harmony parts.  That’s sort of an essential part of PRR.

What else is essential with a PRR song?  I think sort of unexpected moments.  I mean, some of the songs do sort of take on a traditional songwriting form, of sort of verse, chorus, verse, chorus, middle eight, blah blah.   But you’re always gonna get other surprises on an album, where the songs are more sort of journey songs – there’s ups and downs, there’s light and shade, there’s heavy aggressive moments, and then there’s moments of beauty, really, with light piano parts.  So, we always like to take the listener on a journey and have these surprises along the way.

 

As you say, the way you and Chloë harmonize is a core piece of the PRR sound.  What else does she bring to the party?

On this record … the initial demos, it was me sort of jamming away in my studio in Berlin, just with the computer, just recording … I’d come up with some ideas on guitar and piano, then I’d record them in, and then the tracks just developed from there and built and built.

I had Greg Jong, who was the original guitarist from PRR.  He came over to Berlin for a couple of weeks; he’s based actually in Portland in your country, and we collaborated on a couple of tracks.  And, while recording, stuff would get sent over to Chloë.

I think Chloë and I, she did a couple of vocal sessions together; we did a UK session and then a Berlin session on vocals.  But a lot of the vocals were sort of sent via Internet; I’d send her some parts, and she’d have a play around with those, singing those parts, and then send them back to me.  Then there would new stuff to sing, new harmony parts, all that kind of thing.  So, a lot of Chloë and I’s collaboration was not in the same room, if you like, but via Internet.  The main collaboration on the music was when Greg came over here for a couple of weeks.

 

I’ve always found her bass playing to be a very powerful part [of the sound]; it really gives [your music] that low end drive.

On the album, there’s various basses: there’s bass guitar, there’s programmed bass as well.  There’s a brilliant bass module I use called Trillian.  It’s basically a software instrument for all things bass: you can dial up things like Fender Precisions or Stingrays; you can put them through different amplifiers.  But there’s also things from Moog Prodigys through to Prophets to just loads of cool synthesizers – but all sort of based around the bass sounds.

So, I think the album’s a real mix of the bass guitar and this bass module Trillian.  But yeah, the bass is obviously a big part of the music.

 

And it also strikes me that the integration of the vintage sounds with the more modern structures and beats – and then you throw you and Chloë’s harmonies on top – that’s really what makes the whole pudding come together, so to speak.

Yeah, the vintage sounds … we unashamedly have progressive rock influences, be that from Pink Floyd to King Crimson to Yes or whatever.  But through to bands like Air as well, or Massive Attack or whatever.  There’s a real mix of influences in there, from ’60s/’70s stuff through to modern productions now.  And we do take influence from some of these ’70s bands.

But we always want to make it sound like a modern production; we don’t wanna make records that sound like they were made back then.  We take influences from multiple genres and areas, and then it goes into sort of this bubbling pot, and then you get Pure Reason Revolution.

So, your new album is called Eupnea – how does that word portray the album?  What does it say about what we’re gonna hear or what you’re trying to convey? 

I’m not too sure!  I heard this term when – so, lyrically, a lot of the album comes from an era just after my daughter was born.  Because she was born very early.  So, we went into intensive care, ‘cause she came at 32 weeks.  And she needed this stuff to go into the lungs to open up the lungs, and she had these breathing issues.  And this was one of the terms I heard when we were in hospital.

So, yeah, I heard this word and then the album’s lyrical content reflects a lot of the highs and lows we had, the uncertainty that we went through as parents, totally helpless to do anything.  We had this magical moment of her arriving, and then steps forward, steps back.

I think the album sort of reflects these highs and lows, and some of the sort of more heavy, more doom moments reflect the worry, uncertainty and some of the chaos.  And then there’s moments of beauty as well, where a bit more light came onto situations, and we had more hope about how things were gonna go.  And she is now a healthy 2 ½ year old, so we’re very, very grateful for what happened.

 

I’m so glad to hear she came through.  From my initial listen to the album, what you say about the content, that makes a lot of sense; that locks in the emotional content for me.  How does the cover art play into the picture?  Was it just, “Hunh, this is a cool-looking picture,” or is it related to the content?

eupnea coverIt is absolutely!  So, this connects directly to what I was just talking about.  So, one day I was in the hospital late with Jessie and she was in this incubator, and I could put my hands through and just put my hand on her.  I was sitting by this incubator and one of the nurses came over, and she said, “Jessie, she’ll make it through; she’s strong like a little lion.”

And that night when I got home, I was flicking through some social media, just trying to switch off.  And then I saw this painting, and it was by a friend of mine, Jill Doherty.  And so, soon as I saw it, I just thought “Wow!  This connects with this lion thing earlier.”  And to me it was a lion breathing.

So, I then sent Jill a message saying, “Look, I had this experience today, and then I saw your painting, which I think is amazing, by the way.”  And I had a screenshot of this picture and it was in my mind.  But then as the material progressed, I thought, “You know, this painting really connects with the material.”  So then I got in touch with Jill and I said, “Look, Jill, I’d really love to use this for the album.”  And she said, “Yeah!  I’d love you to use it.”  She said it’s actually a lion roaring, not a lion breathing, but that doesn’t matter, and she really loved that that was my interpretation of it.

 

And again, that helps that piece of the puzzle fall into place.  It’s a powerful, dramatic painting; it’s not a take it or leave it circumstance.  And again, it ties in with your subject matter and what you’re trying to convey.

And what I also liked about the painting is that, if you look at the detail, if you sort of scan in on the mane of the lion, it shows real skill, it shows real craftsmanship.  And I really like the way that, with the music — we didn’t sort of record this album in an afternoon.  It took a long time to work on this record, to layer up the harmonies, to play things in precisely, to get it mixed really nice.  I like the way that [the painting] slightly mirrors that; there’s a lot of craftsmanship and you can see there’s time spent on both things.   And that’s what I like.

Continue reading “The Progarchy Interview: Pure Reason Revolution’s Jon Courtney”

Progressive Music in a Time of Pandemic

In the era of Napoleon, the Prussian diplomat Klemens Wenzel Furst von Metternich coined the phrase, “When France sneezes, the whole of Europe catches a cold.”  Like all good clichés, it’s been re-purposed endlessly since the 1800s.  Which leads to today’s question: when the music industry of 2020 catches COVID-19, what does the progressive music scene come down with?

In the last few weeks, the toll of the current pandemic has been steadily mounting, with the postponement or cancellation of tours by Yes, Steve Hackett, Tool and Big Big Train (plus this year’s Cruise to the Edge) at the tip of the iceberg. 

The tale of Leonardo Pavkovic, impresario of MoonJune Records and MoonJune Music (Bookings and Management) is all too grimly typical; since the outbreak of coronavirus, eight MoonJune-booked tours have been cancelled at a loss of about $250,000 to the artists, with many more tours now in jeopardy.  MoonJune artists Stick Men lost 8 of 9 concerts in Asia, plus their US spring tour; touch guitarist Markus Reuter resorted to GoFundMe in order to make up for the loss of six months’ income.

So where’s the good news?

For one thing, the plight of progressive musicians has resonated strongly with their fans. Reuter’s GoFundMe goal was met in just over a day; Pavkovic has had a newly positive response to MoonJune’s digital subscription program and discount offers. (Full disclosure: I’m a digital subscriber and I love it!)  And now Bandcamp is getting into the act:

To raise even more awareness around the pandemic’s impact on musicians everywhere, we’re waiving our revenue share on sales this Friday, March 20 (from midnight to midnight Pacific Time), and rallying the Bandcamp community to put much needed money directly into artists’ pockets.

So (if your situation allows it), who can you support via downloads, CDs, LPs and merch bought on Bandcamp this Friday?  Well, you could start with four fine new albums I’ve reviewed this year:

Then move on to other artists well loved on this blog:

Best of all, the music keeps on giving.  Leonardo Pavkovic is already sharing details about his next MoonJune albums: a live set from Stick Men’s only uncancelled Asian concert, plus an album of improvisational duets by Markus Reuter and pianist Gary Husband recorded during down time in Tokyo.  And jazz-rock master John McLaughlin has made his most recent album (Is That So with vocalist Shankar Mahadevan and tabla player Zakir Hussain) available as a free download.

Whither the music industry in time of pandemic?  As with everything else, it’s way too soon to tell.  But, if all of the above is any indication, progressive music — due to the indefatigable, awe-inspiring musicians who make it — will survive.

— Rick Krueger