Probably one of the best indicators that demonstrate Prog still has a healthy beating heart are the number of festivals and events around the world celebrating our love of this music and the bands who play at them. ROSfest is no exception. The latest one just took place this month but it is back in 2016 we focus on the 13th International Rites Of Spring Festival, particularly the 7th of May where Circuline performed at The Majestic Theatre at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.  Now I’ve enjoyed listening to their music for a while now and even got to write a couple of articles on their two studio albums. The icing on the cake was finding out a good friend and fellow Yes fanpage, “The Word Is Yes,” co-moderator, Joel Simches had recently been their bass player. Joel also got to mix the Live DVD/CD, so it was with great excitement and interest that I got to see this band through a recorded performance which you will be able to see for yourselves.  You could say, I’ve heard the band, seen the band and worn the T Shirt. No, seriously, I’ve worn the T Shirt! Andrew Colyer generously sent one down to me here in New Zealand.  If you haven’t heard any Circuline music yet then you’re in for a treat. If you have then you know just how good and refreshing their music is. And you can see it some of their best songs performed here on this DVD if you haven’t caught them live as yet.  I actually watched it initially some months ago and played it again this weekend to refresh my own experience with watching it and have to say I had a very enjoyable time seeing Circuline in a live environment, with the band playing for the ROSfest crowd and now for us!

circuline rosfest1

What follows is a very open and engaging interview with Circuline around their new DVD.



[These questions were answered by Circuline co-leaders Andrew Colyer and Darin Brannon.]

It’s been a busy couple of years for Circuline since your last studio album, COUNTERPOINT in 2016. Tell me about what the band has been up to?

andrewAC: We had great gigs in the latter half of 2016 which included the New Jersey ProgHouse, Philly’s Liberty Music Fest, and the second traveling Sonic Voyage Fest. In January 2017 we headlined at Prog on the Ranch in Florida, before boarding the Cruise to the Edge and participating in the Late Night Live Prog Experience. Darin Brannon and I were hired to go on tour with another artist in spring 2017. In summer 2017 we toured England opening for IO Earth, which was a blast! Those gigs included Trading Boundaries (the Roger Dean gallery, and Roger was at our show), the Wesley Centre (sponsored by the Classic Rock Society), and the Harmonix Fest. October 2017 we performed at ProgStock in New Jersey (that was great), and finished up the year performing for a superfan’s 50th birthday party concert in November. 2018 has been about getting this CircuLive::Majestik product out, doing a Kickstarter campaign to support it, and doing all of the marketing and promotion that is required these days to launch a new product, since we’re the record label.


Why a Live album?

andrewAC: Why not? It’s one thing for people to produce studio albums. That is done on a regular basis these days. We want people to see what we can do live, so they will actually buy a ticket, leave their house, and come see us when we perform. The only way to do that is to show them in advance what they can look forward to. It’s about a live, human, interactive experience with the band. You can’t get that staying home and just watching videos on your TV, computer, tablet, or phone. Also, we felt like it would have been a missed opportunity if we didn’t capture this RoSfest performance. It’s now part of our catalog, and part of our history and evolution as a band.

Darin DB: I think it was a natural decision based upon the opportunity presented to us by George and RoSfest. How could we not take advantage of the larger stage and audience? With that said we did rehearse with the intention of a multiple camera shoot knowing well in advance that we would release this as our first live DVD/Bluray show. It was good timing.


What can you remember about playing and filming at the 13th International Rites of Spring Festival (ROSfest)?

andrewAC: Being hungry and having to eat a food bar on the way to the stage! Being nervous and excited about this particular band being on a big stage for the first time. Being distracted by the light show, when the gobos would sweep across my hands playing the keyboards. Absolutely loving the first-class treatment by the RoSfest stage crew – they were an absolute joy to work with. Feeling like that kind of stage and theater is somewhere I would like to be every day.

DarinDB: Of course being very nervous, but one of the many things was the first class treatment from the staff, from the time you load in til you our loading out. They are truly a professional outfit with top notch people running things and the support staff was incredibly helpful and accommodating, too. I remember the stage being so much bigger than what I thought it was going to be. We were never so spread out before.




You’re a band that stands by your tagline, “Modern Cinematic ProgRock.” It really does look like you live up to that especially with some enjoyable and visual performances with both of your lead vocalists, Natalie Brown and Billy Spillane who on this particular Live DVD show how well they work together with these sometimes very challenging and complex compositions. Some of this music comes from an angular place. You only have to look at the brilliant “One Wish” with all those discordant notes not to mention counterpoint contrasts between each other, and you and the band to realise there must have been some pressure on them to deliver a great live performance in one take for film and off course a live audience. Were you happy on how this song was captured for prosperity?

andrewAC: First of all, thank you for those kind words. I think we’re all aware of the pressure that’s on when we’re performing live. Billy and Natalie are aware, and they do their best to help carry the show, providing entertainment value in addition to handling the challenge of this music. We all love performing live on a big stage, so we worked very hard to prepare for that performance, knowing it was going to be captured on audio and video for a live product. Fortunately, “One Wish” was one of the first songs we ever wrote back in 2014, so we’ve been performing it long enough that it now feels fairly comfortable. I think it came off pretty well at RoSfest.

DarinDB: I think any band going into a live performance puts a huge amount of pressure on themselves no matter what. But for us, for this performance it was something a bit bigger and grander than anything we’ve done in the past. There really wasn’t much conversation during rehearsals saying “you better bring it or else” We all trust each other implicitly on stage. So with that, there were never any conscious thoughts in my head on whether the rest of the band would deliver.

How did Ad Astra’s bassist, Harold Skeete and Stratospheerius’s violinist, Joe Deninzon become involved in this?

andrewAC: Joe Deninzon was a guest violinist on our first studio album, Return, playing the electric violin solo on “Silence Revealed”. We’ve also shared the bill with his band, Stratospheerius, at some of our live shows. It was just a no-brainer to ask him to come perform with us, as he is a great guy, and there really was no one else we wanted to take that solo spot. Paul Ranieri had been Circuline’s bassist since November 2014, performing live with us and recording all of the bass tracks on Counterpoint . He had a family emergency and had to bow out of RoSfest with two weeks notice. Paul actually found Harold Skeete to take his place, and what an amazing job that Harold did. I don’t know how he learned all that material in just two weeks.


I have to say on first viewing this DVD it’s is very polished and such an enjoyable viewing and listening experience seeing you all up close at your best. Was there any amount of chorographical direction leading up to ROSfest during your practise sessions knowing that this was being all filmed specifically for a DVD? The reason I ask is that I didn’t see any video director’s name against this and wondered whether this was going to be tightly produced or an on-the-fly, as-you-go, see-it-as-it-is performance. In other words, how much pre-production was involved and did you do anything different with the live DVD that you don’t typically do in your other shows?

andrewAC: We were all very aware of the fact that we wanted this product to hold up against any other live performance from a professional band that someone would see today in the marketplace. We go to live concerts not just as fans or spectators, but for research. We watched other videos to see what people are doing. Natalie has a 30-year track record in theater, and she has good taste. Darin is an encyclopedia of Prog and Fusion, and has seen countless concerts. So those two really have a good sense of what a “show” should look like. We rent a large rehearsal hall so we can have a realistic sense of the spacing and layout of the stage plot. We absolutely did not want to look like amateurs. Every time we would plan something for the show, we would stop and think, “would [insert famous band here] do that?” We left some things in that make us unique, but we were very aware of time constraints, pacing, and what the audience experience would be like. During our rehearsals, we definitely had some uncomfortable moments when correcting each other, without a director to do so, but we were producing ourselves. We have entertained the thought of a live performance coach in the future.


You have two amazing studio albums including a couple of my favourite tracks on it, and of course one or two I would have loved to have seen you perform. How did you choose these 12 tracks for this particular project?

andrewAC: Since our songs tend to be longer, with lots of instrumental sections, we really wanted to make sure we focused on the vocal songs. One instrumental opener, eleven vocal songs, and the one solo spot for Harold, which he did a beautiful job on. Don’t worry though, we brought back some pieces on our next live CD/DVD/Blu-Ray, that will be out next year!

Anyone new to Circuline will get a good idea of your music and how well you perform together as a band, is there any one defining track you play that really sums you up?

andrewAC: For me, I think the longer tracks with the instrumental breaks would be good examples. I would have to pick “One Wish”, “Hollow”, or “Summit”.


DarinDB: I recommend for the hardcore prog fan, listen to “Fallout Shelter” from our first studio album, Return. I dare you! If that’s not enough, please consider “Erosion”, on Counterpoint.


Not forgetting this is also a festival, how accommodating was George Roldan and the RosFest team with your own demands of filming this event for DVD and a wider audience?

andrewAC: George and his team were great! He made the offer to us, as part of a package. If a minimum number of bands signed up for the weekend, they would bring in a 4-camera film crew and shoot everything. Fortunately for us, more than enough bands signed up. I can’t imagine why a band would not take advantage of this kind of opportunity. We used a 5th camera ourselves on stage.

Looking back at the filmed performance is there anything on it it that stands out for you?

andrewAC: I can only say that I’m really proud of how well we all pulled together to give such a good performance, especially since our bass player brought in a substitute, two weeks before the festival. Besides focusing on our own parts, we were all focusing on Harold’s needs, so he could be up to speed with everything.

DarinDB: It was the first big performance the band has ever done, and being filmed for a product and posterity, there was a lot of pressure, especially adding Harold in with just two weeks to go. I thought everybody came through pretty well. I would say it was a much reserved performance, compared to what we have planned for the future.


What went into the mixing of both the DVD and CD? Take a track on here like “Summit.” To these ears it sounds so polished, and have to say you and Darin and Jerry Belodo, including Harold are right on point. Just so tight, and you can hear it. The clarity and mixing is fantastic! What kind of equipment did you bring to the Festival to get all this down on tape?

andrewAC: Jerry is traditionally a jazz fusion player, he’s used to locking in with a rhythm section, and he and I were watching each other a lot. Harold is obviously a super professional prog and fusion player, and he just locked right in with Darin. Darin and I had been playing together for years, and we wrote all of the music, so we usually lock in pretty well. I think we all had our intensity level on “10” that day, because we knew how much it meant for us. So we were all watching and listening and focusing on each other the whole time.

As far as the recording equipment, that was part of the package that George Roldan and the RoSfest team offered to us. They brought in veteran engineer Mike Potter from Orion Studios in Baltimore, who sat backstage with his two computer towers and mixing board, and all of the microphone and instrument lines were split onstage. One signal went to Mike in the back to record, and the other signal went to the house for the stage monitoring and front of house P.A. system. It was a really great setup they had. The mixing for the CD/DVD/Blu-ray was done by Joel Simches, who was running Front of House sound that day, so he already knew the show. We gave Mike Potter a hard drive, and we left the weekend with all of our tracks, which we handed off to Joel. We had a shared Google Doc that everyone had access to, and after listening to the rough mixes, we would all make notes, talk on the phone, and tweak everything until everyone was happy. Joel did a great job, and we’re proud of the teamwork that went into this product. It also gave us great experience for creating future products such as this one.


Were there any tracks you had to leave out from the ROSfest performance?

andrewAC: No, we were allotted a 90-minute set, so we maximized every minute. For the Audio CD, we did some very tight editing to squeeze everything onto one disc.


To order their own copy of the DVD/CD for CIRCULINE’s “CIRCULIVE::MAJESTIK” when can they go to purchase it?

AC: You can purchase the CD/DVD through Bandcamp, CD Baby or Amazon (which ships through CD Baby):

If you want the CD/Blu-Ray version of CircuLive::Majestik, that is available on Bandcamp:

What comes next for CIRCULINE?

andrewAC: Right now we’re working on our next release – a live CD/DVD/Blu-ray from our ProgStock performance last year, with a new lineup (Alek Darson on guitar, and Joel Simches on bass), a whole new live show, and a new view to where we are headed as a band. That will be out in 2019, while we are currently writing our third studio album, for a 2020 release. Speaking of the next studio album, our good friend Matt Dorsey (Sound of Contact, Dave Kerzner band, In Continuum) has returned to collaborate with us! He’s already been here in The Cave writing with us, and we’re very excited about the evolution and direction of the music. Besides playing bass, Matt adds a fourth vocal, so we’re already thinking about what we can do harmonically, and you will hear him singing lead as well. Alek Darson adds some intensity in the guitar department, which you heard in two songs from Counterpoint.

To have everyone in the band writing together in the same room is a great experience, and we hope it shows in the next record!


My thanks go to Andrew and Darin, and best wishes to Circuline! visit their websitre for more information about the band




FROM GENESIS TO PUBLICATION: Jon Kirkman’s new Prog book,”And The Lamb, Lies Down, On Broadway” Limited Edition

bk cover 1
The hard back cover of Jon Kirkman’s new book.

In some ways, Genesis working on their new album at Led Zeppelin’s old stamping ground, Hedley Grange in rural Hampshire  was probably fitting they would collaborate together on their very final studio album featuring Peter Gabriel. Both Phil and Steve reflected in hindsight how it was a strange and weird time in their lives. Phil’s parting recollection of this album and the final tour concert, 22 May 1975, in his autobiography, “Not Dead Yet,” sums it up best with this quote: “It’s our last gig with Peter. It’s the last time we’ll see him crawling through a big cock.”  Prog definitely has it’s defining moments for sure.

Continue reading “FROM GENESIS TO PUBLICATION: Jon Kirkman’s new Prog book,”And The Lamb, Lies Down, On Broadway” Limited Edition”

AmProg: “The fusion of Ambient with Prog” NOVA CASCADE’s DEBUT ALBUM JUST RELEASED

Above All Else
Artwork by Paul Dew

Okay. To set the story straight, there’s no such thing as “AmProg.” I just made that up just now. I will say though that in some ways it does suit the kind of direction this band is wanting to go in a relatively new niche of the subgenre of Prog. I spent the late 80’s and early 90’s championing the new wave of “Ambient” sound on local radio and in many articles I wrote for a national magazine. Thanks to the likes of Tangerine Dream,  jean Michel Jarre, Vangelis to name but a few, and also the rise of New World/Contemporary Instrumental music it found its own home in a very popular market of New Age thinking and marketing particularly in music. From Electronic Music, or EM as we like to call it, it has evolved and splintered into many other areas of sound and music as well as other genre fields. The rich melodies with Middle Eastern and Oriental beats thanks to the advent of bass synthesizers and drum machines have combined many different rhythms and mood enhancing arrangements to make it fresh and interesting. Such were the workings of such artists as Ron Boots, Ian Boddy and Andy Pickford with their heavily synth inspired albums leading to bands such as Loop Guru, The Orb, Aphex Twins and the ever popular The Future Sound Of London. and that was just in the early 90’s.

And to my way of thinking that’s what this band have in mind, and have clearly stated in their press blurb where they’ve intentionally gone “Retro.” There’s also a certain organic feeling to it as they maintain certain guitar riffs were actually recorded on phone, and vocals in the kitchen! There are twelve tracks in all and if you like the kind of vibe Nosound bring to the table in the gentle wave they’ve crafted then this album might appeal to you. It definitely is mood music with lush orchestral keyboards overlayed with atmospherics here and there to enhance that melancholic flavour bands like The Lotus Eaters dabble in. And let’s face it, Prog’s DNA is melancholic enriched right from the late 60’s to present day, and what sometimes draws us into. In a good way, if that is possible. It certainly is born out with the wonderful piece of artwork by Paul Dew they’ve chosen for their album cover.  Most of these are short songs but it’s the album as a whole you should go over to Bandcamp or iTunes to hear for yourself.

It’s also interesting how this band name came about.  Back in July last year Dave Hilborne contacted me not to promote their new band but to really go out of his way to praise another local Prog band he dearly loved and should be plugged further, THIS WINTER MACHINE, for which I wrote a piece about last August 2017 []. And even this weekend Dave is plugging this band in his own plugs of their new album!

Dave and I got chatting and he also mentioned he wasn’t too happy about the name they were thinking of using. I have a few daft ideas every now and again and I suggested how about Prog fans on a Prog-related page come up with suggestions for a name they might like to choose from? We’ll make it a fun event and turn it into a competition of sorts. Well, cutting a long story short (which doesn’t happen that often in Prog), and after a reboot, it came down to a couple of names Dave and the band favoured, and to resolve it to their liking, they combined two words from each into one name. Thus was Nova Cascade born.

There’s also a great interview with Dave and Charlie of Nova Cascade on Progzilla Radio’s Northern Star show about the new album



I sent Dave a number of questions around the band and the music which he kindly and quickly responded to.


How did you get involved in music?

DAVE: I started writing music in 1987, and by 1991 I had formed a band and we released a single called “Wrapped in Silver.” Later I went on to write an opera, and perform solo shows in small theatres. I really enjoyed the intimacy of that type of setting.

What artists may have been an inspiration to you?

DAVE: My influences have mainly been Peter Hamill and Genesis, but I also take cues from others such as Talk Talk, Nick Drake and Pink Floyd.

I know that you met the other two main artists on a gaming platform. So how did the conversation get around to forming a band?

DAVE: We were all talking about how we were musicians but weren’t actually doing anything creative currently. So we decided to to experiment and write a track between us. We had no idea whether we would gel as musicians. Fortunately the results surprised us all and continue to do so!

What motivated you to record “ABOVE ALL ELSE?”

DAVE: Once we started collaborating on a regular basis we were producing roughly a track a month. Our 4th track “Hurtled” entered the UK ambient chart at number 5 and went to number one the following week. Our next 2 tracks did the same. That motivated us immensely and we put our heads down with the intention of making the album you hear today. We all feel immensely proud of how far we’ve come.

Can you describe your writing process for the music of this album?

DAVE: Our first two tracks “Continuum” and “Prophecy” were deliberately created around riffs that each of us would contribute our individual part. Swapping files back and forth until a complete structure was decided upon. After that our approach altered. I would create complete skeletons of tracks either as instrumentals or songs and the others would add their complimentary parts. The material became more fleshed and ambitious at this point as well. Its a process that has served us well during the writing. This entire album was recorded in our homes with whatever means we had at our disposal. I mostly used an iPad pro and a midi keyboard,the others audacity or reaper.


From memory, the last time we spoke I think you said there were three of you in the band? So who else has joined Nova Cascade?

DAVE: After our 2nd track we recruited a flautist (Charlie Bramald) and Heather Leslie (Violin) in quick succession. Very late in the recording process we were joined by David Anania (Drums) a member of the world famous blue man group. He only appears on one track “Epiphany” but his performance is incredible.

Where there any challenges you faced either in the creative part or even in the recording segment?

DAVE: Recording at home with very limited means is always going to be a challenge,but the restrictions also force creative decision making. I think the recordings speak for themselves.The writing for the most part was very easy . Ideas flowed regularly and we kept up a good momentum.

For that matter, Ambient is all about tone and atmosphere – how has that helped you in creating this album?

DAVE: As I’ve gotten older I’ve become far less interested in the rock side of progressive and far more drawn towards its subtle elements. So creating the skeletons of the tracks the way they are was very natural for me. The others all added their own individual tastes and influences which made for some very unexpected results!

I know that Ambient music has played a large part in the New Age/Contemporary Instrumental music field for over a couple of decades, but now in 2018 can you see perhaps a direct fusion of Ambient and Prog developing?

DAVE: There’s definitely a fusion happening. Bands like London Grammar are taking Prog elements and fusing them with ambient . I know a lot of Prog fans like myself find the combination very exciting. I also think its been around for awhile. Bands like Talk Talk were infusing Prog and Ambience way back in the late 80’s with great success. I’m pleased Nova Cascade are adding to that catalogue

I see you mention on your page that you are currently #1 in the UK Ambient Charts. Has your love of Prog in any way played a part in the music you’ve created for that genre of music?

DAVE: Definitely. Its just in my DNA to create progressive sounding music. I’m naturally drawn to music which is constantly evolving. A few of our tracks never repeat themselves. Having said that I’m not against standard song structure either. Once a song start to take shape I never force it into any one direction.

Now that the album is completed, what next? Any plans of perhaps a video or even playing a live version of any of these tracks with the band if you can get together or others?

DAVE: The simplest answer is, it largely depends on demand and how the album is received and sold. A few of us already reside in one country and others have expressed their enthusiasm for potential live performance. Its perhaps not as outlandish idea as it might appear.

What is the best way to purchase “Above all Else” and where?

DAVE: Above all Else can be purchased digitally on Sept 10th via iTunes/Amazon/Google play and Bandcamp. We plan a limited CD release a month after featuring some very special photography by Brooke smith whom we recently had the pleasure to begin working with.

You can also find out more about Nova Cascade on their social media pages:

Nova Cascade on Facebook

Nova Cascade on Twitter





Perhaps it is a fortuitous time for this three-piece band hailing from California to be promoting their first album (although released in March of this year) given the news over the past month on the worldwide concerns around the growing mass of pollution in various oceanic parts of our planet. Namely the dumping of plastic bags and other items having a terrible ecological effect on the life that dwell in our seas. The beginning of this month set off alarm bells when an autopsy on a dead whale revealed over 80 plastic bags lodged in its stomach. When these sorts of things happen then you know we all have to do something before its too late. So maybe a poignant allegoric reminder via music is a good way to get the message across and that’s what Bomber Googles have done with this wonderful and highly conceptual, well, Prog concept album, Gyreland [CD Melodic Revolution Records, 2018].


“Gyreland tells the story about a new continent constructed out of the plastic debris floating in our oceans. As the currents swirl, they bring the plastic together, something we are witnessing in our oceans today. The oceanic swirl is called the Gyre, and so in our story the new inhabitants name the new floating continent “Gyreland.”



Funnily enough I was doing some background research on another artist I was aiming on writing about and purely by accident came across the music being played on an online Prog radio station. I liked it well enough to want to find out a bit more about them as hadn’t come across them before.

Bomber Goggles are Steve Bonino  (Avtograph, Tomorrow’s Game, The Trip)  on Vocals & Bass; Peter Matuchniak ( Janysium, Mach One, Kinetic Element) on Guitars and Vance Gloster (WZMG, Tge Coot, Gekko Projekton) on Keyboards.  Jimmy Keegan (ex-member of Spock’s Beard, 2011-2016) guests as drummer.

trio  One of the things that really got my attention was their great band name. Almost like one of those Big Big Train moments when you hear it. Prog reviewer, Kev Rowland asked Peter Matuchniak how their name came about. “I had a temporary band name made up of the first two letters of our last name: Bo, Ma, Gl, and pronounced it phonetically as “Bomaggle”. It was never intended to be our real band name, until I accidentally referred to us as “Bomber Goggles”. We all laughed, but the name stuck and everyone we knew told us to keep the name!”

These guys don’t muck around either. Gyreland was an album that came together pretty fast at the end of last year recorded over a couple of months based around a conceptual idea Gloster came up with and the band expanded on. Jimmy Keegan spent just one day getting the drums down for these thirteen tracks! Even though there is an important message behind if not in front of this album, there’s also an enjoyable tale to get into.

“As more people are drawn to it, they experience a strange phenomenon; they can almost anticipate each other’s thoughts, and this ability allows them to build Gyreland at an unprecedented pace. Some think the Gyre possesses strange forces or powers, while others believe it enhances our empathy or telepathy. Or perhaps it’s the earth’s way of rewarding those who choose to take care of her? We never find out the reason, but Gyreland attracts the interest of countries around the Pacific Rim who now want a piece of its power.

Three powerful countries form an alliance to invade Gyreland. At home, their citizens protest, but the “Triangle of Power” proceeds with their invasion plans, as well as plans to break the alliance once they get what they want.

The new people of Gyreland have no armies or weapons, and so they wait uneasily for the invasion to occur. Some hope the oceans that gave them a second chance will provide them an answer, an answer in the wistful waves. But on the day of the invasion, something strange happens. As the invading soldiers set foot on Gyreland, they are overwhelmed by a sense of empathy, which prevents them from wanting to fight. Perhaps empathy is the same force that allowed Gyreland to be built in the first place? Whatever the reason, the transformation makes any hostile takeover impossible because the new invaders simply abandon their army and join the people of Gyreland, a new turning point in the history of mankind.

If you like Kayak, Pendragon and Roine Stolte to name drop but a few, then I think this will appeal to you. That’s not to say they’re exactly the same but there are bit and pieces here and there throughout that made me think of them in a neo prog frame of mind. They’ve also thrown in some interesting instrumentals that I think will serve them well if ever they plan on touring. Enjoy.


album info


To purchase GYRELAND either download or CD click here

Bomber Goggles FACEBOOK page link

Bomber Goggles TWITTER page link


Even Country gets the Blues… GUS MCKAY’S, “TALISMAN”


The story of Prog is as much the story of The Blues, Jazz, Classical and just about every other musical genre that has been captured into the orbit of this wonderful form of sound. That’s not to say that this is a Prog album, per se, (it’s not) but it does lend itself to our well-comforted ears that likes something different, “alternative” as Aussie Bluesman and traveling picker, Gus McKay describes it. He went and recorded a 10 track album (“Talisman” is his 5th Studio recorded album) with a group of talented musicians behind him which by the look of the titles of these songs on there are a reflection in parts on his self and surroundings out there in Freemantle, Western Australia.

You can feel that right from the first track “Art Of Living,” a song of two halves starting off with an almost surreal, out-of-body vibe aided by slide guitar and haunting vocals. The second part has a rocking bluesy upbeat feel but continuing with the same theme with sax and trumpet complimented by organ. Each song travels to the next as if a story is being told from the deepest part of his life’s experiences. In a way it’s not so much Blues as philosophical in a typical rural and stoic way of life. And there is a story to be told. The 2nd track, “Fallen Down”  with lyrics such as  ‘My heart is in your hands, it’s just stopped beating...’  you just know he’s coming from a hard, familiar place filled in places with “these are the cards I was dealt with” and allowing it to slowly come out through the pours of his songwriting.



Gus McKay, hails from, as stated, Western Australia where he has spent twenty most of his life farming. That’s rural to you and me and includes a great stretch of outback dividing the cities and towns along the way. The land is as much a part of him as he is a part of it and it shows on this album. Just as he likes to confess he’s “a picker,” (an earlybird who hunt swap meets, estate sales, thrift stores, etc and scoops up the good deals – Urban Dictionary), Gus will find abandoned farms and either “pick” up the odd left behind to rust item, or take photos of said items for his collection. Let’s not forget he’s a guitarist as well so the title is apt depending on the occasion. As Gus says, “If you like my music… I would assume you are somewhat of any “Earthy” person/listener. Its gritty and real… Hence my interests other than music, well I guess reflect my tastes and personality.” There’s that Cat Steven’s “On the Road To Find Out” aspect to his recordings, kind of taking you with him as a passenger in a beat up truck traveling the dusty, lonely roads on cloudless warm days with a standing sun towards new stories along the way. He’s also got 20 years as a seasoned recording artist and performer/producer behind him, and as said, this is his fifth album to date recorded over a seven month period mostly in a live setting. As Gus said, “the magic happened, in a converted 1950’s Service ( Gas ) station in the hills of Perth, West Australia. and mastered at the world famous Abbey Rd Studios, London. if that’s not surreal then I don’t know what is.

Memories are also collected and put into these songs which also incorporate aspects of Peter Green and dare I say Led Zeppelin at their rawest in small doses, if you’re looking for comparisons. Raunchy guitars come out of nowhere at an angle and you’re left there trying to latch onto it before some other sound, be it sax or cello grabs your attention.   There are elements of Jazz and Psych Rock woven into some of these pieces, but it’s more often than not hard to peg any genre other than this album speaking form the heart and the soil. The album title suggests journeys not only in distance but also experiences, and it is as Gus puts it “your own Talisman to guard you, and bring good things into your life.” There are characters here in the lyrics if you care to sit a while and here them. An overdressed salesman, sharing a beer in the early morning, the rusted skin of cars in the openness…. it’s outback.


To purchase Gus McKay’s latest album and others visit his website to view and order.



I’m used to getting referrals to up-and-coming albums from mainly artists or even the rare heads-up from labels (remember those?), and even among my peers here at Progarchy, but it’s a special occasion when a fellow Prog fan, Robert Silverstein asks me if I’d like to give a mention to Ben Craven’s new album, “The Single Edits.” To be honest Ben had never shown up on my radar, or not that I can recall, so it was interesting to hear his album  with no preconceptions whatsoever. I purposely didn’t google any information about this Australian artist other than receive a one sheet digital blurb Robert sent me. He organized a contact between Ben and myself not long after that and I received in the mail his new CD album which I instantly loved the artwork by Freyja Dean with Ben’s logo courtesy of her father. More on that later. But I also really enjoyed hearing the whole CD for the first time which is always a good sign. I’ll go into that in our interview, but what I know about Ben I’m happy to share here with a few lines.

cover_3240113042017_rHailing from Brisbane, Australia Ben self taught himself guitar and keys, and played in a number of local bands. 2005 he went solo and recorded an album titled “Two False Idolsunder the name of Tunisia, inspired by The Beach Boys and Pink Floyd. A live acoustic EP Under Deconstruction was released free nest. It was in response to how the Labels were really making a mess of the new mediums for listening and playing music. Roger Dean’s artwork graced Ben’s next album, “Great & Terrible Potions.”  Then in 2016 he released Last Chance To Hear, where instrumentals played a larger part in the tracks provided. “Spy In The Sky Part 3” also featured William Shatner. We’ll go into this a little more in the interview below. suffice to say Ben has collated a number of tracks from his back catalogue and released them as a digital download last year. Encouraged by the response he has edited them further and released a CD/digital download under the album heading, “The Singles Edit.” You’re in for a treat. Ben is a very talented artist who shows his Pink Floyd colours on certain numbers with that David Gilmour soaring guitar down pat, but with an added taste uniquely all his. All found on his latest album and have to say I’m really impressed with the overall packaging of it. I can’t think of a better way of getting to know Ben Craven’s music . Enjoy.


How did you initially get involved in Progressive Rock?


I’ve listened to progressive rock all my life without even realising it. When I was three years old I had a cassette tape of “Days Of Future Passed” by the Moody Blues, which I played endlessly. I remember it particularly because it always used to jam and get tangled in the tape player. Later I discovered Pink Floyd and ELP in my parents’ record collection. I had no idea there was a particular label or a genre for any of this music. I just knew it stood out from the other things I heard on the radio and seemed much more exciting and rewarding to me as a listener.

When I did eventually record my first album, “Two False Idols”, it was a lot closer to Floyd than, say, Yes. I used the term “cinematic rock” to describe it. It wasn’t until later that events conspired to change that to “progressive rock”.

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To some extent this is a compilation album containing tracks from your various releases (which I’ve yet to discover and listen to). What was your process of cherry picking these tracks specifically for this album?

logoThis compilation started out as my attempt to address the music streaming problem. Most artists out there seem to be happy enough making their entire catalogues freely available on Spotify. I don’t perform live very often, so physical CD and download sales are still important to me. I didn’t want to abandon that concept just to become “discoverable” and gain “exposure”, so my music wasn’t being represented on the major streaming services.

However, making a compilation of single edits available seemed like an ideal solution. That way, bite-sized chunks of my music could be found on Spotify, and perhaps that would encourage people to track down the longer versions from the original albums on Bandcamp. So I tried to represent each of my three albums equally, and picked the most accessible tracks from each. Some of them already existed as single edits for airplay or video clips, and others were reimagined and remixed as singles.

Aquamarine” and “Great Divide” has a kind of David Gilmour vibe to it in my opinion. Were there any bands that inspired you, either internationally or local?

logoClearly, Pink Floyd and David Gilmour in particular are a huge influence. Gilmour was the first player, for me, who combined melodic taste with the ear candy of his incredible tone, and inspired me to actually pick up a guitar rather than admiring it from a distance.


Then I discovered Yes. Wow. I had never heard anything like it. After being immersed in glacial Floyd, the keyboards and guitar playing were beyond my league of comprehension at first. But that amazing, punchy lead bass guitar, I understood immediately. Chris Squire’s deliberate choice of basslines blew me away. It was like Brian Wilson and Paul McCartney on steroids. And Bill Bruford’s drums were utterly gorgeous, both sonically and melodically.

It’s worth pointing out as well that as an 8-year old, before I had any awareness of the existence of progressive rock, I was hooked on John Williams movie scores, particularly the Lucasfilm ones. Williams was at his height around that time and everything he touched turned to gold. I suspect in the back of my mind I’m always trying to achieve the musical equivalent in a rock context.


The first thing I noticed with the first minute of hearing “The Single Edits” and recurring throughout the album is how embedded the sound was cinematically in the 60’s particularly to my ears such as the track on here, “Critical Mass Part 2“, any spy movie that comes to mind. Thematically was that an intention at all by you?

logoI don’t doubt it, but it’s probably not as contrived as you expect. I am a huge fan of John Barry and Henry Mancini movie soundtracks, especially from the 1960s, along with The Ventures, The Shadows, The Beach Boys and so on. In another life I could quite happily play in a surf instrumental band, and may yet even do so if I retire to the beach one day and start collecting Hawaiian shirts.

My work has increasingly been moving more into instrumental territory as I’ve become more confident in my writing and arranging abilities and the music itself becomes more over-the-top. I suppose I have naturally gravitated towards twangy guitar as one alternative “voice” for the melodies.

It probably comes as no surprise that producing a theme for a James Bond movie was something I aspired to, a big traditional Barry-like theme. Given how the film franchise has moved on and the business operates, it’s difficult to think of something more unlikely now. So instead I just make them for my own amusement.

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There is quite a strong Yes presence in that you had Roger Dean (for your logo and of course for the artwork for your “Great & Terrible Potions” album) and his daughter Freyja Dean to do the album cover and beautiful bird illustrations for this one, not to mention Billy Sherwood engineering and producing one of the vocal tracks with William Shatner? That’s some serious namedropping there. How did each of these artists get involved?

logoIt all started with “Great & Terrible Potions”, which was my second album. I had been uncomfortable about embracing the label of “progressive rock” up to that point because I thought it was a little presumptuous and also carried with it certain expectations for the music, lyrics and my own instrumental ability. However a friend who was working for a record label at the time heard the works-in-progress and not only convinced me that it was indeed progressive rock but also that it needed a Roger Dean cover! Something I would have never had the temerity to consider myself, but I could certainly see the merit in his idea. I tracked down Roger and the “Great & Terrible Potions” cover was the result. It was really a most incredibly exciting and surreal event.

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It was through Roger that I met his daughter, Freyja Dean who is just as ridiculously and unfairly talented. Freyja has a particular style all of her own, yet you can still recognise her heritage in her work. She painted the cover for the subsequent album “Last Chance To Hear” – in fact she painted six covers and we used them all – and also the cover for this new single collection. His name is Archie, he’s a starling, and according to Freyja, he’s a bit of a lad.


Last Chance To Hear” included quite a long track called “Spy In The Sky” which featured fairly esoteric lyrics and climaxed with a guitar and minimoog solo duel. I sang it originally but could never get past the aural image I had in my mind of a spoken voice. A grand voice. A Captain of the Enterprise. William Shatner, perhaps. I’m a huge fan of Star Trek, loved his work on Boston Legal, and I’m yet to hear anything quite like his album “The Transformed Man”. A sensible person would have dismissed this idea as impossible, so naturally I was obliged to pursue it. My secret weapon and fulfiller of dreams was Billy Sherwood, who had worked with Shatner on his excellent album “Ponder The Mystery”. Somehow they found the time and opportunity to record the vocals for “Spy In The Sky” at the Shatner residence in LA!  Looking back now, it seems miraculous how all the stars aligned to make it happen.

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Is there anything new that you’re working on?

logoAlways! I’m trying to finish off a piece of music for the next United Progressive Fraternity album and have been recording guitar parts for prog artist Joost Maglev from the Netherlands. Also recording songs with a local Brisbane band called Frankenfido, remixing my previous albums in 5.1 surround, and all the time trying to sneak in work on my next album proper. I’ve just about finished the opening 10-minute track.

Where can listeners hear tracks from your album, Ben, and purchase the CD/digital?

logoThe best place to go is my Bandcamp page where everything is available:

You can also contact Ben through his Facebook page:

Ben Craven on Facebook



2CD Wallet with Spine (slot cut).pdf

Before we start….

You know, and I can’t speak for everyone here, we Prog scribblers strive to find our own voice, to make our mark among the many others who receive the same albums to review or even write columns about, and to, hopefully, make it interesting to read. So we’re a bit reluctant to go over the same ground that’s already been covered, and in my case, fellow Progarchy columnist and good friend, Alison has already  written a wonderful and informative piece for Progarchy on this album by JOHN HOLDEN titled, “CAPTURE LIGHT” to be released on the 23 MARCH 2018. Alison’s review hits the spot so if you haven’t already I suggest and encourage you to click on this link first before reading any further to get a rundown of each track and the artists involved

‘An enlightened musical journey: John Holden’ from Alison’s Column

See what I mean? A really good and informative review. Not sure how well I’ll do myself but in my own way to capture the light (did you see what I did there?) I spoke to John about his album via social media and asked him a few questions to which he kindly replied. Before I start I will say that John strongly suggested I listen to his new album through my headphones. More an insistence really. And rightly so. This album just adds new dimensions between the ears with its careful layering and placement of sounds thanks to the superb mixing on this album. Treat yourself.

Oh, and while we’re at it… before we start [part two] I also highly recommend you check out the always informative YES MUSIC PODCAST show this week where Kevin interviews John about his new album.

Interview Special – John Holden’s New Album, Capture Light – 326

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Continue reading ““CAPTURE LIGHT” REDUX”



“Ambition leads me not only farther than any other man has been before me, but as far as I think it possible for man to go.JAMES COOK


This adventurer and explorer certainly lived up to his words back in the 18th century when he set out on three voyages to the uncharted Pacific regions of the planet to initially record the 1769 transit of Venus across the Sun for scientific research onboard the HMS Bark Endeavour. The sheer excitement of his voyages across thousands of miles around this region captured our imagination in school classes at a young age, as we recalled the man and his crew, not forgetting his wonderful sailing ship that literally, put us on the map down here in New Zealand. It is a name very familiar to all of us, and yet is but a sheer glimpse to the life of a man who even outlived all of his six children to Elizabeth Cook.
But that is his greatness and his doom that we mostly measure and recall. The sum total of who he was and what he did beyond the decks of the Endeavour show us more of the man and those arouncookd him, and to that mind, both Frederick McKinnon and Tim Hunter have created and produced a three volume recording around a play they’ve written on this amazing explorer titled: “JOURNEYS: CAPTAIN JAMES COOK.” 2018 is an auspicious time to release these as they mark the 250th year of Cook setting out to the Pacific realms and of course the 239th anniversary of his fatal demise in Hawaii, 14th February, 1779 over a stolen cutter.
But we’re ahead of ourselves. This is a mammoth task both Frederick and Tim have set for themselves, and make good use of the 3 volumed digital release to start off with Cook at 17 standing on a cliff overlooking Whitby Harbour in North Yorkshire contemplating a life at sea. The first volume covers the highlights of the arc of his life, including service in Canada with the British Navy and his relationship with his wife, Elizabeth, and following sojourns to the South Pacific.  The other two volumes go deeper into some of his seaward adventures and also a change in perspective of those in Cook’s orbit who share their own feelings about him.
As said, it is a full length musical play with music composed by Tim Hunter, and lyrics tim cook 5and dialogue penned by New York playwright Frederick McKinnon. At the time of writing Tim reported, “I’ve been interested for a while of working on a musical project about James Cook, I was particularly fascinated in Cook’s connections with East London, where I lived for a while.” He went on to add, “I joined forces with Fred, who was a fellow Cook enthusiast, and we’ve been working on the project for about a year now.”
tim cook 4Prog artist and fan, Tim not only plays the part of Captain James Cook he also provides guitar and keyboards throughout. Cook is a subject dear to his heart.  “We’re very proud, in North Yorkshire, of James Cook, who spent the early years of his life here. Cook rose from humble origins to become one of the world’s greatest explorers. On his three great Pacific voyages, he re-drew the map of the world and paved the way for the peoples of Hawaii, New Zealand, Australia, French Polynesia and British Columbia to no longer live in global isolation.” The albums were released under his label Northern Soundscapes. Tim is also a member of Anglo-French group, ‘Silver Hunter’ who play Marillion-style Prog. He also aired the popular ‘ProgYes’ Radio show on Phoenix FM for two and a half years.
One of the interesting and memorable tracks from these albums is “Let Peace Prevail (In New Zealand)” which Tim sings as a relieved Captain Cook who has found a viable connection with the indigenous Maori and hopefully building a continued relationship between the two countries of Britain and New Zealand. Cook would be please to see this bonding has lasted all these centuries.

London-based actress and singer, Sarah Lipman was cast as Elizabeth Cook and provides cook 3through her vocals a pivotal insight into her relationship with James. Two of the tracks from the first album focus on her coping without her husband and raising their family.

So Long Gone: While James Cook is still away at sea, Elizabeth returns home after burying their baby daughter and reveals her emotions concerning her husband, who has been gone for two years and eight months.

I Am the Man I Have to Be“: Despite Elizabeth’s misgivings, James is about to leave on what would be his last great adventure. He and his wife sing a duet sharing their intimate, but sometime conflicting, feelings. 

Phil Smith as Lt. James Burney, and Phil Dean as William Hartwig complete the cast. Tim also included in these production a whole raft of sound effects to capture the times and environment of a sea-going voyage and ambience of a play setting for your enjoyment.
‘Journeys: Captain James Cook is not only a historical labour of love for both Tim and Frederick towards the legacy of one of our most treasured explorers, it’s also their homage to the ever so humble concept album merging both play and Prog for your enjoyment. Cook once said, “The man who wants to lead the orchestra must turn his back on the crowd…” so here’s your chance to ride the waves of the Pacific Ocean with Cook and his crew who did turn his back to the crowd and sailed into eternity.
HM Endeavour
Check out a video of the first act: scene 1


tim cook 6


You can contact Tim for more information on his Facebook page at:


Here’s to 2018 and a year of more PROG!

Image result for Yes 50th year


As one of the contributing writers here at Progarchy I look forward to what this year brings with new and exciting Prog. We have the 50th Anniversary celebrations of Yes and their music which us Yesfans are excited about. This will be Prog’s year to celebrate and enjoy all the music expected. Look forward to your comments on each article.

And let your Prog friends know about us! Happy New Year!

“Behold Isildur’s Bane!”

Image result for Behold Isildur's Bane lord of the rings

Of course Elrond was talking about the one ring, but equally so, he could have been recommending the band with almost the same name’s (give or take an apostrophe) new album titled, “Off the Radar.” If you’re not familiar with this Swedish group then you’re in for a very pleasant surprise. Pigeon-hole Isildurs Bane at your peril.

Image result for off the radar

There are so many layers to this to ponder on and encompass; so many ‘Colours Not Found In Nature’ as was aptly titled from their previous album with Steve Hogarth onboard.  Each track deserved of your attention with so many talented musicians finding their place within to infuse a delicious pattern of sound joined or blended, but never dulled or confusing, even though sometimes you feel there is madness to their avant garde method, no borders left unturned, they have created an orchestral fusion of shifting melody which works wonderfully.

It all depends which direction you follow, and you’d be hard pressed finding a chorus on any of the six listings including a live bonus classically inspired track titled ‘Uvertyr / Open (Live 2016)’ at the end, but that is the beauty and charm of this band who are now well into their 41st year of “changes in personnel, straying far from their symphonic rock origins to become a rock-based chamber ensemble.” Or so they represent themselves claiming their very own niche in Prog along paths the likes of Frank Zappa or perhaps a jazz-inspired Gong have walked. It’s a sound they’ve reinforced over the years, and I have to admit I’ve only heard a couple of their albums in the past including the ever haunting ‘The Voyage – A Trip to Elsewhere’ released in 1992. just listen to the oh so brief ninth track ‘Picassiette – Third Walk’ and you’ll know where I’m coming from.

So here is a run down of the ensemble for this new album: Continue reading ““Behold Isildur’s Bane!””