Heroes of Prog – The Tangent and Karmakanic – Live @ Celebr8.3, London – May 2014

The rise of the ‘KarmaTangentanic’ hybrid….(needs a better name)

All the best superheroes are hybrids….Peter Parker and a radioactive spider, The Fantastic Four and those comic rays…all enhanced by a powerful force.

In May 2014 a new force was first witnessed.  Strange sightings and tales from Europe reported the appearance of this new super entity. To the rest of the world it seemed like just another internet rumour…..
At the last of the Celebr8 concert series in London, a crowd finally witnessed what they had seen on the web….the merging of two greats, The Tangent and Karmakanic –a supergroup of  heroic proportions with the power to captivate an audience…(even in the midst of a technical glitch)

Celebr8.3 2014
Celebr8.3 2014

In truth, the Tangent has always been a hybrid, a powerful organisation led by the determined, brilliant, yet anarchic young mind that is Andy Tillison. So naturally a mixture with long time member Jonas Reingold and Co otherwise known as Karmakanic was an amalgamation that had potential to be huge…. and you know what? It bloody well was!

So successful was the mix, that writing this is proving to be hard. To write about the Tangent performance may not do the fullest of justice to the Swedish counterparts who seamlessly performed the greatest songs from the last ten years from the Tangent catalogue alongside Mr Tillison, who of course was armed with one of his greatest of weapons, the guitar wizard, Luke Machin

Late afternoon, Karmakanic completed a superb set, massively bolstered by a brilliant thirty minute epic which sounded fully formed and ready to record. It was an exciting early indication of what was to come at the end of the night as Andy and Luke performed the new material alongside the classic ‘1969‘ and ‘Where the Earth Meets the Sky‘.

Yet as the evening wore on and Anathema finished their excellent set, The Tangent had one more trick up it’s sleeve, one that would make this one of their very special appearances.. Theo Travis….(more from him in a moment.)

Armed with a Keytar.. (Picture - Martin Reijman)
Armed with a Keytar..
(Picture – Martin Reijman)

Bursting with energy and intensity The Tangent arrived on the stage and instantly ripped through the concert ready ‘Evening TV’ from last year’s ‘Le Sacre Du Travail’. Paced up a notch, this lively belter of a track was all the more enhanced by the inclusion of Tillison’s Keytar, which freed his performance up, allowing his enduring style to shine brightly. To the casual member of the audience unfamiliar with The Tangent, the immediate impression must have been that this was a band that met regularly and toured often, such was the tightness and skill between the group. Clearly the mini-tour preceeding the UK date had honed their performance all the more, and despite a tight touring schedule and long travel, they looked fresh and ready to bite. (Just typical of a superhero, always ready anytime, anywhere.)

Then as the opener was complete, something happened and it looked like disaster for our heroes, the dreaded enemy of the modern world struck….Technology!!
Clearing the stage, the audience were then treated to something almost unique in concert terms (Almost)… A Windows reboot. A problem…not untypical of a busy festival, a technical breakdown. Hell, it happens to McCartney.. it can happen to anyone.
However, such was the power still felt by the crowd from what they had just witnessed, that the break in the show had no detrimental effect on their impression of this new super-hybrid….

…and then they returned. Performing ‘Perdu Dans Paris’ from ‘Down and Out in Paris and London’ the ace up their sleeve finally became obvious, through the magnificent silky tones of Theo Travis. Straight away all memories of the delay were erased and the band delivered, and then some!
Travis made the whole thing look easy. Surrounded by his array of wind instruments, the crowd were treated to a performance that exemplified all that is good about the Tangent. This was indeed a rare moment, a chance for fans to see the songs as they should be and without doubt the delivery went way beyond the excellence heard on the album. To add to this, Luke Machin was every bit as captivating and his youth belied the true mature ability and professional attitude he displayed. Many times he shifted from scorching hot shred to slow jazz with consummate ease. The audience ate this up greedily and their responses to both these musicians said it all.

An old favourite in the form of ‘GPS Culture’ from ‘A Place In the Queue’ was next and the introduction to the song gave the crowd an insight into the somewhat abstract thinking of Tillison and his creative uses of jingles and TV themes. The tale gained approval and there was a noticeable ripple of amusement at the conclusion. The song itself was delivered with its well established ease and precision. It’s vital then at this point to remind you that this is TheTangentanik (still needs work) and the hybrid version of the band, (thanks to the amazing Jonas,
Morgan Ågren and Göran Edman with Lalle Larsson) ensured the songs were a huge success–a feat in itself as they are nothing short of challenging in their length and complexity.

Theo Travis and Jonas Reingold. (Picture - Martin Reijman)
Theo Travis and Jonas Reingold.
(Picture – Martin Reijman)

The highlight of the show followed with the mammoth ‘In Darkest Dreams’, not old and extinct as the large woolly elephant-like, Lord of the Ringy creature would suggest, but in its scope and power and size. This was the time to see the material that propelled The Tangent to the forefront of the modern Prog genre and it was not hard to see why. The track has it all, a catchy refrain, (the audience soaked this up) a stadium sized middle section which allowed all the musicians to shine and the now compulsory inclusion of the ambient, tangerine like ‘After Ricochet’ where Tillison, head down and in the zone begins his mesmerising homage solo performance. The suspense throughout this section from the audience was clear and as the cycle came to an end it was obvious in their enthusiastic reaction.

The show could have ended there, but there was time for one more return, and a tasty surprise of things to come with the performance of  ‘A Spark in the Aether’ (title and details to be confirmed officially at a later date.) Coming from a fortunate beta test position the track was already a favourite of mine, and by the end it was clear the crowd felt the same. This was The Tangent in full throttle as the song raced along at 100, 000 miles per hour. The pace and fire that this new material has is mind blowing and represents another seismic approach in the development of the follow up to Le Sacre.

On the back of an unrelenting applause and round of cheers, the hybrid finished in the form of Karmakanic (Karmakangent?) for one last hurrah with ‘Turn it Up’, a perfect pop-laden conclusion that left the audience with the biggest disappointment of the night…namely no more songs.

A force to be reckoned with... (Picture - Martin Reijman)
A force to be reckoned with…
(Picture – Martin Reijman)

Strength comes through collaboration and the combination of these two heavy weights was a perfect mix, especially given their long associations. Add in the Travis and Machin formula and you have the illustrious chemical X, a rare ingredient that provides amazing Prog rock! There is hope for another joint tour for the future, and on the basis of this tour, it should happen, without doubt. The fact that both the Tangent and Karmakanic have new releases to come in 2015 should give you food for thought. I’m sure we haven’t seen the last of  TheTangakarmakic….(I give up)



Many thanks to Martin Reijman for his excellent pictures.

Review: Little Sparrow – ‘Wishing Tree’ (2014)

Something new, yet something familiar…

It’s a given that many progressive rock fans grew up on a diet of the beautiful, quirky songs of Kate Bush through the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s, many of whom will have probably paid out massively to see her on her upcoming tour in the UK, such is the lasting love for her unique, beautiful sound.

If you are a fan of that sound or indeed that of other singers such as Tori Amos then there is a strong likelihood you will find something exciting and new, yet familiar and classic about ‘Little Sparrow‘.

Electric, yet acoustic...
Electrifying, yet acoustic…

Hailing from London originally and now Manchester, UK, Little Sparrow, aka Katie Ware, has been slowing but surely burning a slow course to stardom with her own delicate, acoustic style which reflects some influence and character from the likes of Bush and Amos but also some of the sound of the lesser known ‘All About Eve‘ from the late 90’s.

Little Sparrow represents her own acoustic folk styling that may at first glance appear to be one singer in a well subscribed genre, there are many bars and clubs around the world with talented female singers all armed with a Dreadnought and a Capo. But it’s worth taking the time to hear the ones that stand out from the rest and Ware is a great example of that.

Her debut release, ‘Wishing Tree’ comes on a wave of growing appreciation for her infectious songs and captivating presence and the recognition from the national press and beyond has started to propel her towards the kind of success she deserves.

Mixing emotional charge and thought provoking themes, Ware impresses with her lyrical subtlety and her cleverness. Frequently there is a delicious ambiguity to her songs, ‘Sending a message’ is a wonderfully moving piece that stands as a song of deep yearning love and also a question about modern communication and the loss to us that it brings in our everyday lives. Musically there is a simplicity to the songs’ design which helps deliver the honesty in the pieces. Without clutter the potency is truly realised and this also allows for Ware’s impressive voice to shine brightly.

Songs like ‘Polly’, ‘The Hunted’ and ‘Wishing Tree’ are all delivered with the same charm and excellence. ‘Polly’ particularly shines with its pulsing beat and vocal layering and is a contender for the strongest track on the album. Without doubt, after hearing it, the pull to hear more takes over and leaves one wondering why an artist of this calibre is still an unknown.

On the strength of this debut, there is a clear case for success and acclaim. For those fans already listening to Little Sparrow, they are surely practicing their “I told you so” responses.

Little Sparrow – Wishing Tree (2014) UK

Wishing Tree (2014)
Wishing Tree (2014)


1.Polly 04:13
2.By My Side 05:09
3.The Flame 04:31
4.Wishing Tree 02:57
5.Sending The Message 04:34
6.Struck Gold 04:14
7.I Found A Way 03:07
8.The Hunted (A Bears Tale) 04:56
9.Heart 04:38
10.The Swallow Flies 03:03



Listen to the album for free at:


Little Sparrow Homepage:



Kaukasus – ‘I’ (2014) Exciting new debut release.

Fantastic new release
Kaukasus – ‘I’

Out on May 5th
Out on May 5th

From May 5th the new debut album from Scandinavian group ‘Kaukasus‘ is released.
PRESS RELEASE  – Described as “Dark, Nordic progressive rock, with excursions into kraut & art rock”

Scandinavian Prog Rock legends Ketil Vestrum Einarsen (Jaga Jazzist, Motorpsycho), Rhys Marsh (The Autumn Ghost, Opium Cartel) & Mattias Olsson (Änglagård, White Willow) have joined forces as Kaukasus to record and release their outstanding debut album Kaukasus ‘I’ out on Autumsongs Records via Burning Shed on 05 May 2014.

Starting life as an experiment into Krautrock style, the project morphed into a fully fledged and modern sounding dark, Nordic, progressive rock album, with elements and excursions stylistically into Krautrock, art-rock, and world music calling into mind such bands as Japan, Genesis, Can, Brian Eno and early Peter Gabriel.

Kaukasus view themselves as a musical tripod — its weight firmly in the middle, where the three musicians ideas and styles meet, each band member bringing their own signature to the music, from Olsson’s supple and dynamic drumming and Mellotron textures, Marsh’s impassioned vocals and guitar work, to the strange, snakelike and evocative woodwind and synth lines from Einarsen.

‘I’ will be released on Compact Disc, in a mini-LP gatefold sleeve, with artwork by Henning Lindahl on 5th May 2014.


Personally I have found this album to be rather interesting, diverse with a really enjoyable touch of old school rock.

As much as it is described as Nordic it really has a broad range of styles in the sound and particularly I have heard some other elements such as the piano on ‘In The Stillness Of Time’ that reminds me of the same progression in Talk Talk. There is a superb bit of Tangerine Dream in the track ‘Starlit Motion’ – an ambient piece of excellence layered with a Moog from ‘Wish you were here’ to chill out to.

Perhaps even more obscure is the taste of ‘Black‘ via the voice of Colin Vearncombe (80’s kids will know who) on ‘The Witness’.

The final part of the album ‘The Skies Give Meaning’ could be a little Steven Wilson from his early period and yet mixed with U2! 

None of these elements invade the music significantly, they are the salt and pepper seasoning only.
This is a really excellent find and will be one to look out for.

Check out the video of the single ‘Lift the Memory’ which was released on April 7th 2014 and is available on all digital & streaming services.

01. The Ending Of The Open Sky
02. Lift The Memory
03. In The Stillness Of Time
04. Starlit Motion
05. Reptilian
06. The Witness
07. The Skies Give Meaning


Discovering Rush – ‘The 40 year old virgin’

Hands up who’s a fan of Rush?

One, two, three….okay hands down, there’s too many of you.

Rush fans united...
Rush fans united…

For the last thirty-five, or more years of loving progressive Rock music there was never a day I would have ever considered myself a fan of Rush.
No… please, keep hold of your rotten fruit and hear me out….
There was always something about them I couldn’t get my head around. I used to think it was Geddy Lee’s voice. The ear-shattering pitch he could achieve made seemingly domesticated house cats turn Feral.

Yet there was something undeniably attractive about some of the musical dexterity in the instrumental bits. The amazing power of the combined rhythm section of Lee and Peart was sometimes so complex it defied belief, but every now and then it just seemed too overblown, too heavy metal for a whimsical English Genesis fan like myself.

At various points over the years  I continued to have a genuine dislike of what I heard at whatever moment I came across it. In the 1980’s it probably happened more so, because of their poppy-synth progression, and yet I’m told by the lifetime fans that this period also reflects some of their greatest moments too.
Even a couple of years back I had another listen and heard something from ‘Vapor Trails‘ and I didn’t like that much either. I was surprised at how heavy they sounded, but I know then that I was too set in my ways to open my eyes or ears and really listen objectively. I’m now told that the mix of the Vapor Trail’s album wasn’t very good either so I’m guessing that it didn’t help though.
It’s been a pattern all along.

My first real taste was when a school friend playing me side one of ‘2112‘ sometime in 1980. Like the cigarettes he also offered me to sample– I hated it. Yes, I know this sounds incredible to ‘you’–a fan of Rush. The many I have met over the years have rated this album as one of the best–a real epiphany moment–and beyond that they have been as fiercely loyal and devoted towards everything the band ever released, more so than probably any fan of any group I have known. At the time I heard ‘Temple of Syrinx‘, and as I have said earlier,  Geddy Lee’s voice made my hair stand on end and not in a good way. Described as being similar to ‘A Munchkin giving a sermon’ by one particularly rude American critic, I could see my dislike for his vocal range and unique sound was shared by others.

And now is the time?

My parents always told me, I needed to try something I didn’t like at least once every year in case I changed my mind…
It usually referred to some food that they knew one day I would like the taste of, when I was mature enough to appreciate it. Several years ago I gave up on this philosophy when I finally realised that there was no way in this lifetime, or the next, I would ever, ever like cottage cheese. It’s disgusting. It truly is the work of the devil.

No...please don't make me....
‘Devil’s food’…..

So with Rush I honestly believed they were the cottage cheese of Progressive Rock. Not devils work,  but as likable as the revolting, inedible lumpy stuff….with extra pineapple. I was convinced it would never happen, despite the regular gushing recommendations. When it comes to fans, you Rush types can really gush…however in recent years since I have become part of the social media revolution, I have found the voices harder and harder to ignore.
I even toyed with the idea now and then of going into the attic and looking for that dusty old copy of A farewell to Kings.’ It’s been up there for many a year like a pair of crazy, multi-coloured socks that sit in the bottom of your sock drawer. An unwanted gift (that has been with me since 1986) which I would never enjoy even though I did once try…just a little.

One other item of Rush’s catalogue that I owned which I inadvertently bought was a shaped picture disk from 1982 –the single ‘New World Man’. I was a NUT for the space shuttle in the early eighties—and bought the single purely on the basis of the Columbia shuttle-shaped record. I never played it! I pinned the plastic sleeve to my bedroom wall with the record inside and it stayed there pretty much for the rest of the decade, even after I left home for college.

So fast forward to now and here I am… happy in the world of new Prog, minding my own business. There was no need to revisit the past when there was so many amazing bands to be enjoyed in the 21st century. Moreover where would I even start when it came to delving into the forty odd year history of a prolific band? It’s like signing up to do the New York Marathon having never run anywhere beyond a jog to the bus stop. Where do you start?

The niggling feeling that I was missing out on something just wouldn’t go away so I felt it was time to ask you, the fans and friends to help. Yet that was like asking all the salesmen at the sports shop which shoes I should buy to go running the marathon in. Everyone has a favourite and they all seem to be the best–the most definitive.

So one evening it all started with a series of questions which gave me the first album I needed to start with:

Facebook–‘There are a number of ‘different stages’ to Rush, depends on your listening tastes…’
me–Well I don’t know really. I’m not a big fan of eighties rock music.
Facebook–‘Do you like keyboards, widdly prog, more guitar driven …’
me–Well I’m not a fan of metal and widdy is good. I like synth too as long as it’s not too over the top. Not really helping am I?
Facebook–‘Moving Pictures’ – Go for it!’

So that was that. I jumped onto itunes and bought myself a Rush album…
AND WOW! that’s all I can say.

Catch the mystery, catch the drift

Time to break my duck...
Time to break my duck…

So the beginning was ‘Tom Sawyer‘. I realised straight away that this was a track of real familiarity. It’s impossible to go through thirty something years of Prog without coming across this song. It’s a classic tune that has obviously played in many a rock club in my youth and although I wasn’t paying attention I knew the song pretty well.
The first play was the opening of a door to my subconscious and lurking there was this music.
Immediately I can see why it is so loved by the fans. It’s not especially epic or technically challenging, and yet that’s its charm. It’s simple yet amazingly clever and radio friendly, (something Rush seem very capable off) and it was the right choice to start as it’s definitely an easy ride into a new world. Aside from the vocal at the lyric… ‘The River’ reaching some very high note, it  was less high pitched than I expected, in fact it all seemed a lot less glass-shattering than I remembered…

I’m doing my best to avoid the obvious Ayn Rand elements to the song and yet the track hits you squarely on the chin in this regard. Using the Rand philosophy of man as the hero, (Tom in this case) the song plays to the central theme of a modern day individualist free to grow when only supported by a limited government, it’s all there in the song in black and white.  It’s here at this point I wished I HAD listened to this track when I was younger. My middle-aged mind can’t help but pour over the meaning of songs and it’s not something I can switch off. If I had played this when I was twelve, I would have just enjoyed the way the words sounded instead of their message.
It’s the same going into the next track ‘Red Barchetta’, yet more Rand Pseudo-philosophy with an anti-government message. I’m sure when the ideas that went to form this song were presented, the belief was that we would now be living some Orwellian (1984) nightmare when the government had taken control–2112 as I understand it. Still aside from this, it’s a DAMN FINE catchy song and I find myself tapping my foot along to it.

It’s when we get to ‘YYZ’ that things really do start to sparkle for me, the tightness of the arrangements in those Morse code moments are mind-blowing, and that rhythm section I mentioned earlier shows its amazing strength. The rhythmically strummed guitar of Alex Lifeson is sublime and shows how much he is a versatile player–without doubt the one member who impresses me the most. My guitar tutor was always one who extolled his virtues particularly the flamenco-like way he would hit the strings, a kind of brush technique that raked the strings with a flick. Of course it’s one of many techniques he uses. Looking back, I think it was at those guitar lessons where I started to wonder if I should give Rush a chance.

With ‘Limelight‘ I get the subject more than most. The intensely private man that Peart is obviously is at odds with the success of the band. His own social awkwardness (is there a hint of ASD to him?) is the key to the song and that’s the level I am happy to leave it. The synths are good on this track too, they just seem to strike the right balance for me.

Something lost on me as the dazzling  ‘The Camera eye’ opens is that this would have been the start of side two. As this is my Ipod it’s just track five instead. It has the feeling of a song that nicely starts a second side and this thought and inspiration by the artist is lost in the digital age. The song also impresses me and I feel the album is beginning to grow on me as it goes along. I like the Steinbeck quote and the viewpoint of the Camera eye as a stream of consciousness. It’s a tale of two cities and romantic in it’s delivery.

‘Witch hunt’ has the subtitle ‘Part III of Fear’. What is this about? a quick look on the internet reveals that this is part of a four part series that was released in reverse order. I realise at this point how confused my daughter Annika felt when she asked me about Star Wars.
A–“But it’s part four daddy, we need to start with part one…”
Me–“Sweetie, it’s supposed to start with part four and then it goes forwards to six before it goes backwards to one and then goes forwards again to three.”
How can ‘Witch Hunt‘ start with part III in 1981 and then progress to Part II in ‘Signals’ in 1982 before part I in ‘Grace Under Pressure’ in 1983.
Ouch my brain hurts. Am I supposed to listen to the three albums in reverse order to their release? Apparently the three songs were performed on the ‘Grace Under Pressure’ tour in the right order so maybe that’s the answer? Is there a live album of that tour? It’s a cynical song as it goes, the track really points to the choices we make based on fear that something bad is going to happen to us.

The last track on the album, ‘Vital Signs’ is a very different style from the rest of the album. I am told that this piece lays the ground work for the later albums such as ‘Grace’ and ‘Sub Divisions’. So maybe that’s where I need to go soon. It’s a lot more synth than the rest of the songs on Moving Pictures and I can see that Alex Lifeson has been relegated to a rhythm player more so. It’s a very short track and completes what feels like a short album, but 40 mins was typical for the time.

Touched for the very first time…

So there you have it. I popped my cherry!
In the space of a few tracks I have been set on a course towards understanding Rush and dare I say, I have liked what I have heard.

It’s just a little off-putting for me that Ayn Rand was the basis for some of the early work and I feel I will probably approach it at some point, but with caution. Rather refreshingly though, I see that Peart has recently tried to put some distance between him and the Rand right-wing ideologies.
“I know where I fall politically. And I define it better now: I’m a libertarian, but a bleeding-heart libertarian.”
More clearly he says:
“It’s enlightened self-interest. Free will.”

Whatever ‘enlightened self-interest’ is, I am guessing that Peart wants to shift slightly away from an ideology based entirely on self-interest with capitalist values that empower’s the individual at the expense of a healthy, government supported society as a whole.

I never really noticed before, but politically there was maybe a blockage towards me liking Rush because of my dislike for Rand and the fact that Peart was very much invested in it. As I said, I should have listened to it all much earlier–as a young teen, unaffected by theme and lyrics , instead feeling the pure energy and the power of the music and those iconic sleeve covers.

In short, I may never like everything they ever wrote, but there’s 40 years worth of music to have a go at so I should find something more to enjoy. It’s time for me to fast forward to the 21st century now and start on my second Rush album, ‘Snakes and Arrows’

I’ll be back to let you know…..

Other great reads on Progarchy…

A new review from Thaddeus Wert
Hold your Fire -Rush’s finest?


The first Rush album reviewed by Craig Breaden


A review of A Farewell to Kings by Kevin McCormick


A review of Power Windows by Brad Birzer


Kevin Williams on Clockwork Angels Tour


Brad Birzer on Clockwork Angels Tour


Erik Heter on Clockwork Angels Tour Concert in Texas


A review of Vapor Trails Remixed by Birzer


A review of Grace Under Pressure by Birzer


Like Rush meets Jethro Tull – ‘Resistor’ – ‘to the stars’

I’m bordering on Hyperbole, but blimey the new album from ‘Resistor’ – ‘To the Stars’ is an absolute marvel!

To The Stars
To The Stars

Resistor are an American Rockin’ Progressive Rock outfit from Providence, RI with more than just a little touch of Rush.
The new album ‘To The Stars’ has blown me away this week. I can’t tell you how good this is… so why not find out for yourselves?

Jump straight in with track 4 ‘Train to Tucana’ as way to hear them first. Described as Ian Anderson meets Sergio Leonie! Not far off!

Listen free on Progstreaming –



Abel Ganz – Finally the wait is almost over….

NEWS: Abel Ganz – New album coming soon…


Anyone who has heard Abel Ganz knows what a special prog band they are. Their last record Shooting Albatross was simply amazing.
These guys from Scotland wouldn’t win prizes for speed but what they do produce is worth the wait, every time!

Lovers of bands like Big Big Train will love this rich and well crafted Prog with a unique flavour of Scotland. The range of instrumentation is to die for! This is the kind of Prog you want!

Like so many bands in this tough music genre they need help to realise the goal and get the music out there. it’s all written but they need preorders and pledges. Please have a look and try some of the music out on the bands website and the Abel Ganz facebook page.
You WONT regret it!

The new album pledge page:

From their last album: Listen-



If there is any justice in the world…

Ossicles – Mantelpiece (Dec 2012)


Sometimes an amazing album comes your way that you wonder how the rest of the world missed it.
Over a year ago two 20 year old guys from Norway produced a breathtaking double CD called Mantelpiece.

It’s a breathtakingly rich and accomplished piece and it deserves to be noticed.
Have a listen to the video and see what I mean…