DROWNING IN PLASTIC. BOMBER GOGGLES DIRE WARNING ON THEIR NEW CONCEPT ALBUM, “GYRELAND.”

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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].

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“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.”

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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.

 

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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

 

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

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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.

 

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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.

http://www.gusmckay.com.au/back-catalogue

AN INTERVIEW WITH AUSTRALIAN PROG ARTIST, BEN CRAVEN ON HIS NEW ALBUM “THE SINGLE EDITS”

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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.

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How did you initially get involved in Progressive Rock?

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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.

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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.

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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:

https://bencraven.bandcamp.com/

You can also contact Ben through his Facebook page:

Ben Craven on Facebook

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“CAPTURE LIGHT” REDUX

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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”

ENDEAVOURING CONCEPTS: FREDERICK MCKINNON’S AND TIM HUNTER’S TRILOGY ALBUMS ON THE LIFE AND WAYFARINGS OF CAPTAIN JAMES COOK

   

“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.
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HM Endeavour
MORE INFO:
Check out a video of the first act: scene 1

 

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

 

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

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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!”

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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.

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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!””