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.
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 [https://progarchy.com/2017/08/06/ey-up-winters-coming-fair-starved-and-champion/]. 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
DAVE HILBORNE INTERVIEW
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:
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.
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.
To purchase GYRELAND either download or CD click here
Bomber Goggles FACEBOOK page link https://www.facebook.com/BomberGoggles/
Bomber Goggles TWITTER page link https://twitter.com/BomberGoggles
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.
Hailing 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 Idols” under 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”.
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?
This 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?
Clearly, 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?
I 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.
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?
It 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.
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.
Is there anything new that you’re working on?
Always! 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?
The best place to go is my Bandcamp page where everything is available:
You can also contact Ben through his Facebook page:
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
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.
“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
London-based actress and singer, Sarah Lipman was cast as Elizabeth Cook and provides through 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.