Reflecting Tull: Reflection Club’s “Still Thick As A Brick”

Reflection Club - Still Thick As A BrickReflection Club, Still Thick As A Brick, March 3, 2021
Tracks: Prelude (2:00), Time Out (4:03), Years on the Fast Track (3:31), Rellington Town (6:17), The Club of Hopeful Pinions (3:47), The Foray of the Sharks (5:45), Sentimental Depreciation (5:19), Nervesoothers (3:09), The Great Dance around the Golden Calf (3:36), Bedlam (5:48), Look Across the Sea (4:24)

Berlin-based progressive rock project Reflection Club have mastered the spirit and sound of the classic era of Jethro Tull. A frequent critique from some people regarding the current wave of progressive rock is that it often sounds like it’s copying the sounds of the 70s – particularly Genesis and Yes. Reflection Club avoid that critique by making it abundantly clear where they get their influence. They aren’t pretending to make their own unique sounds, but they place themselves out on a ledge by blatantly “reflecting” Jethro Tull, because in doing so they have to live up to the hype they’re creating. Thankfully, they do. 

Reflection Club is primarily the creation of German multi-instrumentalist Lutz Meinert together with German guitarist Nils Conrad, American flautist Ulla Harmuth, and English vocalist Paul Forrest. Not surprisingly, Forrest sings in a tribute band called Jethro Tull Experience. He expertly matches the tone and style of Ian Anderson’s voice circa 1972. Lyrics are written by one George Boston… Ok they’re really written by Meinert.

In the style of the original Thick As A Brick, the group created a beautiful hardcover booklet in a magazine style satirizing music magazines, album and concert reviews, and interviews. It’s really quite hilarious if you take the time to read it. The booklet comes with a CD and a DVD, which has the album on a 5.1 mix or a high quality stereo uncompressed stereo mix. The DVD has a slideshow to go along with the album, helping tell the story. The album is also available on vinyl. 

While this music certainly sounds like Jethro Tull, it in no way sounds like a copy of Thick As A Brick. It is a concept album like the original, and the lyrics are written in Anderson’s style. The album is split into 11 tracks, but it’s really one long song with seamless transitions between tracks. The lyrics deal with many of the issues we deal with in our complex modern world. Thankfully there’s no mention of the pandemic.

Continue reading “Reflecting Tull: Reflection Club’s “Still Thick As A Brick””

Four Months, Four Albums – 2021’s Best Thus Far

There has been a lot of music to wade through thus far in 2021. Most good. Some not so much, depending on who you ask. Despite the title of this post, I don’t think my four favorite albums of the year thus far represent each month, but who cares. Let’s go!

Atravan - The Grey LineAtravan – The Grey Line 

This album was the biggest surprise of the year, so far. Out of the blue back in January, Shayan Dinati of Iranian prog-metal band Atravan contacted us about a review of their album. I gave it a listen and immediately discovered this was worth spending a lot of time with. They dwell in the area of prog metal perfected by Riverside – atmospheric and brooding with thoughtful lyrics. Sure, they’ve got room for improvement to reach the heights of Riverside, but this is a great album in its own right. I was hooked right away, and I highly recommend the album. The Dutch Progressive Rock Page had similar praise for Atravan: https://www.dprp.net/reviews/2021-032 

Steve Hackett Under A Mediterranean SkySteve Hackett – Under A Mediterranean Sky

When I heard last year that Mr. Hackett was working on an acoustic album, I was very excited. I’ve really enjoyed his recent solo output. His last three rock albums are some of the best from his entire solo career. But I also really like his acoustic moments, and he doesn’t disappoint on Under A Mediterranean Sky. He takes us on a grand instrumental tour of the Mediterranean, something sorely needed in an age of travel restrictions. The combination of his stunning guitar work, Roger King’s masterfully arranged symphonic notes, and various world instrumentation make this a beautiful and contemplative album. It isn’t rock, but it’s gorgeous. Check out Rick Krueger’s review: https://progarchy.com/2021/02/02/steve-hackett-under-a-mediterranean-sky/

Nad Sylvan Spiritus Mundi album_coverNad Sylvan – Spiritus Mundi 

Nad Sylvan’s latest solo album is a slight departure from his last three albums, but it’s just as good an album, if not better. Putting the poetry of William Butler Yeats to music may not be a new idea, but Nad has done a wonderful job with it. The album has its rock moments, but it also has pastoral tones that haven’t been as prevalent in his work. His voice is top notch with a versatility that shows he is so much more than a Gabriel or Collins sound-alike. Check out Rick Krueger’s recent interview with Nad, and check out my review.

And now for my favorite album of the first four months of 2021…

Soen - IMPERIALSoen – Imperial

Swedish prog metal supergroup Soen can do no wrong, it seems. I first became cognitively aware of Soen a couple years ago through one of the editors at the Dutch Progressive Rock Page, who frequently sang their praises in reviews and best-of lists. I quickly became a fan of their last couple of albums, and I was pleasantly surprised when I stumbled across their new release back in January. I was listening to their 2019 album, Lotus, one Friday evening when I wondered if they had any new music coming out soon. It just so happened that they released Imperial that very day, so I dowloaded it and have been happily enjoying it ever since. It’s heavy when it needs to be, but it can recede to quieter moments when necessary.

Joel Ekelöf has one of the best voices in metal, and he really sets Soen apart. They have a heavy guitar crunch that’s more typical of mainstream metal and hard rock bands, but the music is distinctly progressive. Their melodies and lyrics are catchy yet intelligent. My only complaint with the album is that it isn’t longer. It’s 43 minutes, but I could easily listen to much more. Great stuff. 

https://soenmusic.com

Hopefully the rest of 2021 will be full of more excellent music! 

 

 

FROST* Release Video for Title Track off Upcoming Album “Day And Age”

From the fine folks at Inside Out:


Frost* are set to release ‘Day And Age’, their first new studio album in 5 years, on May 14th, 2021. The band’s fourth record features Jem Godfrey once again joined by John Mitchell & Nathan King, as well as 3 guest drummers: Kaz Rodriguez (Chaka Khan, Josh Groban), Darby Todd (The Darkness, Martin Barre) & Pat Mastelotto (King Crimson, Mister Mister). The album also features actor Jason Isaacs.

The band are pleased to launch an animated clip for an edit of the album’s title track, ‘Day And Age’. Watch it now here: https://youtu.be/RmiAmW3sgHs

Jem Godfrey comments: “Day And Age is about how we have become a planet full of transmitters. Everyone has the power to convey their thoughts far and wide. However nobody is listening because they’re too busy transmitting.”

Watch the previously released video for the track ‘Terrestrial’ here: https://youtu.be/wda09d-QdUk

‘Day And Age’ was recorded over the course of 2019 and 2020, featuring 8 tracks and striking cover artwork by Carl Glover of Aleph Studios (Steven Wilson, Marillion, Steve Jansen). The album will be released on Limited 2CD (including a bonus disc of instrumentals), Gatefold 180g 2LP + CD (with etching on Side D), and as Digital Album.

Pre-order now here: https://frost-band.lnk.to/DayAndAge

1.  Day And Age 11:49
2.  Terrestrial 5:13
3.  Waiting For The Lie 4:31
4.  The Boy Who Stood Still 7:33
5.  Island Life 4:14
6.  Skywards 4:13
7.  Kill The Orchestra 9:27
8.  Repeat To Fade 6:14

Continue reading “FROST* Release Video for Title Track off Upcoming Album “Day And Age””

Album Review – The Weever Sands’ “Stylobat’s Travels”

Weever Sands Stylobat's Travels album coverThe Weever Sands – Stylobat’s Travels, 2020
Tracks: 1. Intro/The Breakout Session (3:29), 2. And Aphrodite Took The Veil (7:03), 3. Stylobat’s Travels (25:27), 4. Acropolis (The Big Wave) (6:12) 

Cologne, Germany’s The Weever Sands combine the album format and experimental playfulness of the early 1970s with what could be considered post-rock or ambient rock. To be honest, I didn’t quite get it at first, but then the other day I was listening to Gentle Giant and it hit me. The synth and organ sounds that predominate in Gentle Giant’s music are very similar to what I hear on Stylobat’s Travels, The Weever Sands’ sophomore album. Add in some flute and strong bass and you have the makings of a classically inspired progressive album. But this is stripped back. The music isn’t as heavily layered as you might get on a Gentle Giant or Jethro Tull record, and that’s by design. The band are also heavily influenced by Mike Oldfield’s idea of a “powerful miniature,” where the songs aren’t as heavily developed yet still stretch out into varying sounds. 

The album opens with some spoken word that sets the stage for a concept that is told primarily through music, the wonderful cover artwork and other artwork included with the CD, and promo notes telling me what the story is about. The band describe the concept as a story about a bat (Stylobat) in Ancient Greece who goes on a quest to find his sweetheart. Most of the album is instrumental, so you’ll have to use your imagination, with some help from the artwork, to see Stylobat searching for his beloved. 

The first two tracks most closely resemble what we would call progressive rock, but the 25 minute “epic” is most certainly post-rock, with all of the elements that might make up a layered prog song spread out and played individually. A splash on the high hat here, a symphonic tone there, a synthesized beep. Four minutes in and I’m beginning to wonder what’s going on. The first five minutes of that track are subtitled “Flatlined,” so the musical scene is apparently meant to be at a hospital bedside. Things pick up after that with the next section, “Stereobat,” but I would still label it experimental. There’s melody, but the combination of different synth sounds keeps it sounding unique, although it still references the gentlest of giants.

The third section, “Ah! These Ionic Beams!” nicely builds to a combination of keyboard combined with a rock riff that’s a lot more traditional. An electrical guitar finally comes in, elevating the music by leaps and bounds. Not that there was anything wrong with the music before, but the guitar solo is quite nice and certainly welcome. This section of the song is the best music on the album. 

This is the point where I notice that the song has built gradually to this moment. The song began with disparate sounds, but they have gradually been brought together and build upon each other. The fourth section, “Introducing Fire Ghosts,” returns to some of the disparateness of “Flatlined,” but it never becomes that sparse again. It soon returns to the musical complexity of the previous section. The final section, “Underwater,” winds down with a synth sound that fills the musical space, perhaps suggesting being covered by water. The final song, “Acropolis (The Big Wave),” continues that nautical theme, but it builds and morphs into more of a rock song with heavier drums and heavier keyboards with a vintage 70s sound. 

Stylobat’s Travels isn’t your typical instrumental prog album. Usually instrumental albums feature a lot of musical noodling, but this record seems to focus more on telling a story through music. Personally I would’ve preferred a bit more guitar and fewer moments of sparseness in the long track. Some more spoken word sections beyond the opening track would’ve helped move the story along as well. The opening spoken word passage reminded me a bit of a radio drama, and I think a few more instances of that on the record could have helped tell the story more clearly and coherently.

The Weever Sands are quite unlike most of what you’re going to find in progressive rock these days. They don’t seem to be copying any particular sound, even though I made that Gentle Giant connection earlier. Rather they start with a more ambient base and build that up until it’s no longer ambient… if that makes sense at all. It isn’t quite rock, even though it does have rock moments (which I wish were more numerous). It’s a fun little journey that has a few bumps in the road, but it’s worth checking out if you’re looking something inspired by classic progressive rock that isn’t symphonic prog. 

https://www.the-weever-sands.com
Buy the CD from: https://shop.trommelfell-records.de/the-weever-sands/
Full album playlist on YouTube: https://youtube.com/playlist?list=PLRqGY_YLULtQlBHPovPjj8sGvM-4AX0y2

EP Review – InHibit’s Debut “Blinded”

Part rock, part funk, part punk, Brussels-based InHibit’s debut is unique and fun. The simple but funky baseline on “Shadows of Fire” reminded me of days gone by in popular music, but it sounds extremely fresh and clear. Uk-based journalist Chloe Mogg has more below:


By Chloe Mogg

InHibit’s latest EP Blinded is an appetising hybrid attempt at an 80s classic rock record, embroiled with metal riffs and drums beats and in-your-face vocals. The artist also rightfully takes influence from some of the greatest rock bands of late, and throws into the mix familiar elements from some of the best to ever do it, ensuring his EP has enough proven musicianship that’s sure to win him some points.

“Shame On Humans” crosses between charismatic, full bodied riffs and a squeaky, whining sound that’s almost like a sinister laugh; a villainous mock giving nod to the poor societal state of humanity that has encompassed most headlines in the turmoil that was 2020. The eponymous chorus is not unlike a Foo Fighters verse at all, while the most noteworthy section of the EP’s opener is its unravelling into a power ballad of a guitar solo that’s met in unison with InHibit’s discordant vocals, which break form from the established singing style and bring an endearing passion. InHibit’s aggressive vocals also seen in ‘Settings’ further help to determine that this is the best style for the artist, who should take pride in singing in a full-hearted, no-holds-barred style, which is definitely his forte in contrast to his softened, more intricate attempts seen in ‘The Quest’.

A jazzy, funk-filled bassline provides a fitting backdrop throughout ‘Shadows of Fire’, and ties the tracks surprising choice of instrumental sound together. The simple snare, hi-hat drum beat in parts, combined with the prevalent bass and the different layers of backing in vocals, does genuinely draw some resemblance to Queen’s infamously distinct style seen on the likes of ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’, which is only furthered through the whispered vocals and call and response claps which come toward the end of the track. Though InHibit’s work on this EP is far from the mastery of both Dave Ghrol and Freddie Mercury, the fact that the artist has attempted to replicate their superior musical notoriety and has found a place for it amongst his own style is a massive compliment alone.

https://www.inhibitofficial.com

The Ones We Missed – France’s Esthesis

The hardest part about reviewing music is finding the time to dedicate to writing, listening, and looking for new music. We all do this for free in our free time. We’ve got day jobs, and that leads to some overlooked music. Like the debut album from French band, Esthesis, aptly titled “The Awakening.” Moody, brooding, atmospheric, Floydian – this is good stuff. So good that it earned the reader’s choice for best unsigned band in Prog magazine’s reader’s poll last year. 

Check out Esthesis’ press review for more info: Continue reading “The Ones We Missed – France’s Esthesis”

The Peaceful Beauty of Nad Sylvan’s “Spiritus Mundi”

album_coverNad Sylvan’s latest solo album, Spiritus Mundi, is one of the finest records released thus far in 2021, and I expect it to be one of the top albums of the year come December. Sylvan brought his vampirate trilogy to a close with 2019’s The Regal Bastard. Spiritus Mundi, which is Latin for “spirit of the world,” departs from the more classic prog sound on his previous three albums, but it hasn’t quite set sail for new genres. Rather it explores different musical territories, including classical, folk, acoustic, and rock, all befitting the beautiful poetry of William Butler Yeats which serve as the lyrics. The musical elements from his previous albums are all here, but they are interpreted in a different way. In an interview with Progarchy’s very own Rick Krueger, Nad expands upon the development of the record and his collaboration with Vermont-based musician Andrew Laitres, so I’ll direct you to that for more info about how the album came to be. 

As it should be, Nad’s voice is the centerpiece on the record. All of the musical elements serve to frame his voice and the lyrics, bringing the poems to life through varying sounds. The baroque elements found on Nad’s vampirate trilogy pop up now and again, such as on “Cap and Bells” and “The Realists,” which I think adds a flavor that is uniquely Sylvan. Laitres also provides some lead and backing vocals, which adds some variety.

Musically the album is more open and relaxed than Sylvan’s previous records. It doesn’t have the heavier rock moments that those albums had, but the lyrics don’t call for it. Nad plays most of the keyboards, as well as some of the acoustic, electric, and bass guitars, and the orchestration. Jonas Reingold and Tony Levin also appear on bass, along with Steve Hackett on the 12 string. The Flower Kings’ Mirkko De Maio appears on drums. There are a few other guests too, but this should give you a sample of what to expect. It seems fitting that Nad, who’s become well-known for his work with Steve Hackett’s touring band, releases this sort of more acoustic and classically inspired record soon after Hackett released a beautiful acoustic album, Under a Mediterranean Sky

I’ll readily admit I’m frequently skeptical when an artist says they’re going in a new direction on their next album. While I didn’t have particular reservations about this album going into it, I was admittedly curious about what that different sound might be. I didn’t expect him to move into some sort of techno-pop trash like Steven Wilson, and thankfully he didn’t. Instead he leaned more heavily into the folk and classical elements that already existed in his music. At times the music is reminiscent of Big Big Train, and at other times I hear bits that remind me of Jethro Tull. The rock is still there though, with a fantastic bass line and slide guitar on “The Fisherman.”

Spiritus Mundi is a well-rounded album that offers a breath of fresh air in a very dark time in our world. Perhaps that is fitting since many of Yeats’ poems offered a similar freshness to the broken and hurting world of the early twentieth century. Nad Sylvan may have taken an unusual path to rock stardom in his 50s and early 60s, but that seems to have brought a maturity to the music he makes. This album is well-crafted, and it is both a fitting tribute to Yeats’ poetry and a wonderful introduction of that poetry to new audiences a century after it was written.

Sylvan is one of the most creative people working under the broad umbrella of progressive rock today. He seems to get better with each passing record. I only hope he gets the chance to tour his own music someday. Check out Spiritus Mundi along with his other solo albums. You won’t be disappointed. 

https://www.nadsylvan.com
https://www.facebook.com/Nadsylvanartist
https://twitter.com/sylvanofficial

Signed albums available from Nad’s webstore: https://www.nadsylvan.com/cd-shop
Or purchase from Burning Shed: https://burningshed.com/tag/Nad%20Sylvan&filter_category_id=261

LearningToDive Make a Splash with Their Debut Album

Atmospheric and brooding, LearingToDive bring a fresh sound to a synth sound. There are elements of rock and pop, but this is a subdued album with swirling and gentle sounds. UK-based journalist Chloe Mogg has more below:


By Chloe Mogg

Musical enigma LearningToDive are ready to rock the boat with the release of debut album Norweigan PopA true love letter to the 80s, Norweigan Pop is a lineup of 11 stunning tracks full of Synth-Pop sounds and Post-Punk style. Reminiscent of New Romantic giants such as Duran Duran, the eclectic Norweigan Pop project touches on hot topics from personal, political and societal ideas to themes of hope and betrayal.

LearningToDive is the latest project from musical maverick and New Zealand based Bravo Bonez. Bravo is a well rounded talent, proficient in production, composition and musicianship there’s  few things Bravo Bonez has yet to try his hand at. The LearningToDive project is Bravo’s latest and possibly greatest musical identity, stylistically unique compared to his other ventures the LTD sound touches on the more serious aspects of Bravo’s life.

The Norweigan Pop album follows Bravo’s journey of self-reflection and discovery, a musical rollercoaster of deeply layered textures and melodies that form a backdrop to Bravo’s lyrical soul searching. The project was impacted by Bravo’s love for the 80’s greats, from Roxy Music, the Psychedelic Furs, Echo & The Bunnymen and even Iva Davies (Icehouse), It’s no surprise that the LearningToDive debut has a distinctly nostalgic feel to it.

Since bringing us the very first LearningToDive single “High & Dry” in November of 2020 Bravo has quickly established himself as one to watch on the scene. Bringing back a New Romantic sound from decades past, LearningToDive takes a new spin on modern music, and fans can’t get enough of it.

 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/learningtodive/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/learningtodive/?hl=en

Website: http://learning2dive.com/

Soundcloud:  https://soundcloud.com/user-718196749 

Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/artist/63TsRGNIoI5mNK2s4BDjuP?si=5TytUWvuRWGtuQ5ToCK0PA

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCf4AaCSYnX748ZBHmqFrzpg

Killing Kenny Makes Album Debut with “Exactly Different”

The debut album for Killing Kenny may be a bit on the fringes of what we do here at Progarchy, since there’s a strong country influence in the music. Going way back to our founding, the joke was our unwritten rule was no country allowed, but fortunately Killing Kenny’s music draws from atmospheric, electronic, and rock music more than it does from country. The result is rather stunning. UK-based journalist Chloe Mogg has more below:


By Chloe Mogg

Exactly Different is exactly what it says on the tin, a unique blend of 11-tracks transcending the boundaries of genre. Killing Kenny’s Exactly Different ventures into the world of Rock, Country, Indie and beyond, all whilst maintaining his signature of magical melodies and power packed lyricism.

Killing Kenny’s debut album features a host of polished original songs, along with two stand-out cover versions of Soft Cell classic “Say Hello, Wave Goodbye” and Bruce Springsteen’s infamous “Land of Hope and Dreams.” Killing Kenny comments on “Say Hello, Wave Goodbye,”

I remember this song from school in 1981, when the start of the 1980’s sound began to kick in. Always liked the tune and it brings back great memories of very happy times for me growing up. I wanted to keep the sound still very 1980’s with an uncluttered version of the tune.

Kenny is no stranger to the scene, having been playing in bands since the late 80s he has a wealth of experience and hard-earned skill under his belt. Yet latest project Exactly Different is perhaps his most authentic work yet.

 

Returning to the scene after a solid three decades absence, Kenny is once again at the helm and taking charge of his musical career. Exactly Different has been a journey of self-discovery and reflection, a chance to hone his sound and experiment with style. Kenny explains-

It feels strange at the age of 53 to be talking about a debut album, however, this collection of songs entitled “Exactly Different” is “exactly” that. A collection of 9 original songs each designed to reflect a style of music and drawn from a period in my life from the age of 13, when I first started playing music, to today. The album also includes two cover versions as a homage to artists I admire and times I enjoyed.

The making of this album has been all things. An opportunity to meet and work with some new very talented and established people, all of whom have been incredibly helpful, supportive and encouraging. A great therapy by immersing myself back into writing and recording new music. Above all a great sense of joy and inspiration to never stop doing what you enjoy and to always pursue what you love to do”.

Killing Kenny pours heart and soul into his sound, infusing his musicality with a raw passion for songwriting and love for his instruments.

With a love for sound that’s infectious to audiences, it will come as no surprise that Killing Kenny has already found himself on radio waves across the globe, and featured in publications such as The Daily Record and Sunday Post.

Album ‘Exactly Different’ will soon have you falling in love with Killing Kenny too.

https://www.killingkenny.co.uk
https://www.facebook.com/Killingkenny…
https://twitter.com/SunterKen
https://www.instagram.com/killingkenn…

The Unmatched Brilliance of Devin Townsend

In the documentary for his album Empath, Devin Townsend commented that many people have trouble understanding much of his musical output because his albums vary drastically in style. His work with Strapping Young Lad was as extreme as metal can get. On other albums he shows prog, classical, country, and even pop influences. He explained that he doesn’t play only one type of music because he would get bored. He doesn’t listen to only one kind of music for the same reason. 

I share Townsend’s sentiment. Why on earth would you want to listen to only one kind of music? Perhaps that’s why I’ve never really seen myself as a real metalhead, even though I really enjoy metal. You go to a metal concert, and many of the people in attendance only listen to metal. That’s fine – people can listen to what they like. I happen to get bored by listening to one kind of music, which is probably why I like progressive rock so much since it includes a broad array of sounds. But even within contemporary prog you’ll get those fans who will only listen to Spock’s Beard, Dream Theater, Marillion, etc., or those folks who still only listen to Yes, Genesis, Jethro Tull, etc. and haven’t bothered to dig into the music being made today.

DevinTownsend_DevolutionTo those people who aren’t familiar with Devin Townsend (which includes Steven Wilson, by his own admission), you’re missing out on perhaps the most creative genius working in the music industry today. In the Empath documentary he talked about working with Mike Keneally, who has worked with many brilliant people, including Frank Zappa. Townsend says he would never dream of comparing himself with someone like Zappa, but I would. Townsend is every bit as creative, albeit in different ways. That documentary, which I believe is only available on the super deluxe version of Empath that Devin released last year, helps shed some light on Devin’s creative process. It also shows him in a very open and honest way. His new acoustic live album, Devolution Series #1 – Acoustically Inclined, Live in Leeds, was his attempt to strip away all the fluff from his stage shows and connect with audiences in a very open way. 

Continue reading “The Unmatched Brilliance of Devin Townsend”