Andy Tillison: The Progarchy Interview

The latest album from that stalwart institution The Tangent, Songs from the Hard Shoulder, will be released — or perhaps I should say unleashed — on June 10th. Boasting three extended tracks (“The Changes,” “GPS Vultures” and “The Lady Tied to the Lamp Post”), the short, sharp retro-anthem “Wasted Soul” and a head-turning cover of UK’s “In the Dead of Night”, it’s a brilliant collection from a first-class band at the peak of its powers. And beyond the formidable talents of guitarist Luke Machin, woodwind specialist Theo Travis, bassist Jonas Reingold and drummer Steve Roberts, the group’s remarkable collaborative chemistry is firmly rooted in the eclectic musical appetite and deeply humane vision of its founder, keyboardist and singer Andy Tillison.

It was serious fun for me to spend an hour talking with Andy, going into detail about the album — including some of the real life experiences behind the songs — and heading down other delightful rabbit trails besides: why he goes out of his way to hear other groups at prog festivals, our respective experiences of radio in our formative days, his favorite band (which may surprise you), and much, much more! Throughout, Andy answered every question candidly and put up with my schoolboy goofs/fanatical excesses, exuding his wonderfully unique mixture of curiosity, passionate commitment and dry humor. I hope you enjoy the experience as much as I did! The video is immediately below, with a complete transcript of the interview following (and continuing over the jump). But why were we both looking to our right??

Alright!  Well, first of all, congratulations on the new Tangent album!    I’ve heard it and I really enjoy it.  I’ve been a fan since the Le Sacre [du Travail] album, and have very much enjoyed – I saw you live in 2017 actually, in Chicago.

Right, yeah!  That was a great night; really enjoyed that one!  Some good experiences that night for me; I’ll never forget that one.

And that was a great weekend overall.

It was, yes.

To put you on the spot right away, if you had to describe Songs from the Hard Shoulder to someone who had never heard The Tangent, what kind of a pitch would you make?  

[Laughs] I would say it’s a difficult album, actually!  We haven’t made this as an easy sort of pigeonhole-able album.  Obviously, we do make albums where we try to put our case and make a beautifully constructed record.  But on this one – we just did what we wanted to do.  And we do that from time to time, you know?  We don’t always try to write to fit the need; we sometimes write from the point of view of what we want to write!  And we ended up with this slightly imbalanced record; it’s got three epic tracks and one short one! [Laughs]  How many other albums are quite like that?

And of course, the fact that all the three main tracks are completely different from one another!  I’ve been saying in other interviews that it’s almost like three different bands made three different tracks! [Both laugh].  The first one being very much like The Tangent, the second being a jazz-fusion band, the third one being dark and electronica influenced.  And then a Tamla-Motown song! 

I think it’s probably best to understand what the band have been doing before!  This is not necessarily a first album to hear by a band; it’s one of a sequence.

It works better in context is what you’re saying.

I think it’s a contextual album.  To be fair, if you’re looking at classic progressive bands of the past, most people who came into the world of Yes did not enter from the point of view of Tales from Topographic Oceans.  They came in with Fragile or The Yes Album or maybe even Close to the Edge is where they came in.  I say “maybe even Close to the Edge” cause that’s where I came in!

And the same with Genesis: most people who came in didn’t arrive with The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway; they came in at some other point.  And the sort of deeper albums are the ones they go back to and help develop their relationship with a group.

OK!  I think that what I heard in your pitch is that it’s very much “you guys” – the band that you are right now.

Yeah!

So, definitely not a snapshot, more like a short video at least!  [Both laugh]

I think that being in a progressive rock band, if you’re serious about it, and this is more than just a commercial label you use to make things more convenient for markets – you have to be able to make the developments, to take the risks, to do the non-commercial things!  Because that’s what the audience wants of us!  Sure, everybody likes Asia, for example, but they always want something more meaty than that, if you get what I’m saying.  They want something that’s a bit more out there, more adventurous.

So, the fact is that this great progressive arc can take in everything from pop songs, rock songs, pop-rock songs if you like, through to massive great big sinfonias!  Everything from an acoustic guitar being bashed on the stage by Peter Hammill right through to massive symphony orchestras.  There’s so much available to us in the power – every so often you have to use it!  And this means on this occasion, we didn’t write much short-form material for this record.

So that kind of answers my next question, because as you mentioned, three of the four tracks on the main album plus the bonus track are all over 15 minutes; they’re definitely what you would call “of epic length.”  Did you feel like, in terms of the songs with lyrics, that the subject matter demanded that?  How do you develop these longer pieces?

I think that it’s just something that happened.  To me, I grew up listening to rock music, but the first rock music I heard was long! [Laughs] 

OK!

I was listening to Yes age 12, Van der Graaf Generator age 12, Genesis 14 perhaps.  Picking up on Pink Floyd and finding that, because of my history in classical music, I tended to be more interested in the longer pieces.  Because the classical upbringing I’d had – and I’m talking about classical listening, because there was so much music in my house when I was a boy.  And so, I’d get to hear all this stuff!

Consequently, when I first heard things like the Beatles, I always used to be disappointed that the songs were over so quickly.  I thought, “I was just getting into it, what’s happened?”  [Both laugh]  So it just seemed a natural way.  In me it’s writing to how I always like listening to music!  I like music that goes on for a bit.

[Laughs] As I’ve said, many times, “this music is not epic at all!”  20 minutes is not epic at all; it’s an episode of Friends!

Continue reading “Andy Tillison: The Progarchy Interview”

RIP Alan White

YES Alan White-photo by Gottlieb Bros 152 ap copy 2
© Jerry and Lois Photography All rights reserved 

Just days after Yes announced that Alan White wouldn’t be able to play on the band’s upcoming tour due to health concerns, today the band announced that he has passed away at age 72. White has been a mainstay behind the drum kit for Yes since 1972. In an interview for Progarchy back in 2015, White commented on playing with the band for so long, “When I joined the band I said, ‘I’ll give you guys three months and see if I enjoy it and you give me three months and see if you enjoy it as a band.’  And I’m still here forty-three years later, so there must be something working.”

Health issues the past several years have limited how much Alan played with the band, with Jay Schellen filling in, but that still hadn’t stopped him from coming out towards the end of the concerts and showing the audience he still had it. I saw Yes on their 50th anniversary tour a few years ago, and they were phenomenal.

RIP Alan.

Here’s the full press release from the band:

It is with deep sadness that YES announce Alan White, their much-loved drummer and friend of 50 years, has passed away, aged 72, after a short illness. The news has shocked and stunned the entire YES family. 

Alan had been looking forward to the forthcoming UK Tour, to celebrating his 50th Anniversary with YES and their iconic Close To The Edge album, where Alan’s journey with YES began in July 1972. 

He recently celebrated the 40th Anniversary of his marriage to his loving wife Gigi.   Alan passed away, peacefully at home. 

Alan  was born in 1949 in County Durham. A number of health setbacks, since 2016, had restricted Alan’s time on stage with YES on recent tours with Jay Schellen filling in and Alan joining the band, to great applause, towards the end of each set.  

Alan was considered to be one of the greatest rock drummers of all time and joined YES in 1972 for the Close to the Edge Tour. He had previously worked with John Lennon’s Plastic Ono band after a call, in 1969, to play at the Toronto Rock Festival. Alan continued working with Lennon including on the Imagine album and with George Harrison on All Things Must Pass. He also worked with several other musicians, over the years, including Ginger Baker’s Air Force, Joe Cocker, Gary Wright, Doris Troy and Billy Preston to name but a few. Alan White was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of YES in 2017.  

YES will dedicate their 50th Anniversary Close to the Edge UK Tour in June to White.    

Splintered Throne, “The Reaper is Calling” (May 27)

Rawr! Get ready for Splintered Throne’s new incarnation with vocalist Lisa Mann, whose solo album The Poisoner (recorded under her alias White Crone) was chosen here at Progarchy as one of the ten best albums of 2020.

Splintered Throne’s new single is coming this Friday, May 27, in advance of the whole album’s release on August 19. Check below for the full track list.

Keep an eye on https://splinteredthrone.bandcamp.com/ for this Friday, indeed, but you can also right now order CD copies there of Splintered Crone’s 2018 metal masterpiece, Redline. Don’t be misled by its first three tracks, which are relatively traditional; the album unfolds with undeniable prog sensibilities with a veritable cascade of standout tracks like “Nature’s Design,” “Fog of War,” and “Inside Looking Out,” and then finally crescendoes into the absolutely epic “Take It to the Grave.”

It’s going to be great to hear what Lisa Mann’s Dio-like charisma will bring to the band. Compare her own prog chops on tracks like “Interment,” “Edge of Gone,” and “18 Rabbit” from her sledgehammer showcase The Poisoner. The new Throne disc seems likely to achieve the greater good of metal, thanks to her exciting new vibe.

He Dreamt Music

And then he composed it, and his compositions were groundbreaking. Vangelis, the Greek god of the keyboards, laid the foundation for cyberpunk with his bleak, brooding, synth-heavy score in the classic neo-noir film Blade Runner. If ever you find yourself cruising solo through a gritty, neon-lit city on a rainy night, play the soundtrack below. You will not be disappointed.

RIP Vangelis

Progarchy

I’m very sad to see that Vangelis has passed away at the age of 79. What a legend, and what a loss. Whether it was his work with Aphrodite’s Child or his work on movie scores such as Chariots of Fire or Blade Runner, he made an unforgettable mark on the music world.

https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/vangelis-composer-chariots-fire-score-dies-79-2022-05-19/

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RIP Vangelis

I’m very sad to see that Vangelis has passed away at the age of 79. What a legend, and what a loss. Whether it was his work with Aphrodite’s Child or his work on movie scores such as Chariots of Fire or Blade Runner, he made an unforgettable mark on the music world.

https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/vangelis-composer-chariots-fire-score-dies-79-2022-05-19/

Album Review: Bjørn Riis – “Everything to Everyone”

BjoBjørn Riis, Everything to Everyone, Karisma Records, April 8, 2022
Tracks: Run (5:56), Lay Me Down (11:40), The Siren (7:20), Every Second Every Hour (13:20), Descending (4:33), Everything to Everyone (7:28)

At the risk of throwing objectivity out the window, I’ll start this review by saying I absolutely love this album. I think it’s the best music I’ve heard in a long time. But it’s Bjørn Riis! By this time I expect no less than the best from him.

While I still haven’t quite gotten into Airbag, the band for which Riis is most well known, I love his solo albums. They’re all excellent, and they seem to get better with each record. His 2019 album, A Storm is Coming, was brilliant, and it made my year-end best-of list. I expect Everything to Everyone will be near or at the top of that list this year. To make a contemporary comparison, Riis’ style reminds me most of Steven Wilson, both his more progressive solo albums and his work with Porcupine Tree. Riis is on that same level, as well.

Rather fascinatingly, Riis says the influence for the concept behind this album came from Dante’s Inferno. He comments,

A bit pretentious perhaps, but I’ve always been fascinated by that very personal journey and the search for some kind of peace or redemption, while being both mentored and hurt along the way. Musically, I wanted to take the listener on that journey, experiencing both hope and anxiety.”

The lyrics are filled with emotion, reminding me at times of Mariusz Duda’s lyrics. Riis is clearly a very thoughtful man, and I’ve found his lyrics always resonate with me. There’s a lot of depth in them, which allows for reflection on repeated listens. The music is often melancholic, which I especially enjoy, and this is frequently reflected in the lyrics.

The opening instrumental track acts as an overture for the rest of the album. With a careful listen you’ll spot musical themes from this track throughout the album. Parts of “Run” are on the heavier side, which sets a nice stage for the record, which has both its heavier rock sides and its spacier contemplative moments. Both are equally alluring.

“Lay Me Down” may start off a bit slow, and admittedly it is a bit of a jarring transition from the heavy rock of the opening instrumental track. The song really catches its groove a minute 20 seconds in, though, when the drums kick in. A little later female vocals come in to back Riis’ soothing voice, and the result is very [don’t say Floyd, don’t say Floyd, don’t say Floyd] spacey. The song is almost 12 minutes long, so it ebbs and flows through various passages, some of which do indeed remind me of Pink Floyd. David Gilmour is obviously an influence on Riis’ guitar playing, and Riis lives up to his musical influences. The song also has its heavier parts, reflecting the opening track.

“The Siren” was one of the singles for the record, complete with its own video. It’s a haunting track on the relaxed side of Riis’ musical spectrum. The lyrics are from the perspective of someone sitting in the audience at a dance performance, where the dancer performs for both you individually and for everyone all at the same time. It’s an interesting dynamic, but the lyrics are also written in such a way that deeper meanings can be inferred. I’ve found mine own rather personal meanings in it, and as such the song has grown on me to the point where I find it very moving.

Bjørn Riis – The Siren – YouTube

I’m not the biggest fan of the artificial vocal distortions on parts of “Every Second Every Hour,” mainly because I think Riis’ voice is great and shouldn’t be hidden, but it doesn’t take away from the song too much. Just a minor quibble. I have to keep my enthusiasm in check somehow. Overall this song is epically wonderful. It’s over 13 minutes long, and like the other similarly long song on the album, it ebbs and flows along the range of Riis’ styles. The acoustic guitar and piano passages with simple singing abound, but these also give way to soaring guitar solos and walls of drums. The synth soundscapes help create a wall of sound that isn’t particularly dense, but it lays a beautiful background to the song.

“Descending” is another instrumental track that has an interesting name because the music actually appears to ascend rather than descend. It starts out quiet and gradually gets louder and heavier as more elements are layered onto the song. If we go back to the inspiration from Dante’s Inferno, however, I think we get our answer to that question. In Inferno, Dante is given a tour of Hell by the poet Virgil. Hell is depicted as a ring of concentric circles, with each circle filled with increasingly brutal punishments for increasingly heinous sins. As such, the story gets more intense the further Dante and Virgil descend into Hell. When viewed in this light, “Descending” makes sense for this particular song on this particular album.

The title track is a quintessential Riis track, featuring the spacey electric guitar solos, walls of acoustic guitars, and emotion-filled vocals. There’s also more female backing vocals. The song gradually builds as it closes out, with a wall of sound created through guitars, drums, and piano. It’s very Porcupine Treeish in the best of ways. The lyrics talk about reaching out for help as we stumble through the dark parts of life.


Put simply, Bjørn Riis’ Everything to Everyone is a thing of beauty in very dark times. The album reflects the good and the bad we experience through our emotions, and it tells a beautiful story through music and words. Do yourself a favor and buy this record. Dwell with it. Let the music and lyrics wash over you. You won’t be disappointed.

https://www.bjornriis.com
https://www.karismarecords.no
https://bjornriis.bandcamp.com/album/everything-to-everyone

Bjørn Riis – Everything to Everyone – YouTube

More Than a Memoir: Steven Wilson’s “Limited Edition of One”

steven-wilson_limited-edition-of-one_bookSteven Wilson (with Mick Wall), Limited Edition of One: How to Succeed in the Music Industry Without Being Part of the Mainstream, London: Constable (imprint of Little, Brown Book Group), 2022, 361 pages

Steven Wilson – the most famous contemporary artist that no one has ever heard of. Well, certainly the most talented. After many years of maintaining a veil of mystery between his public persona and his personal life, Wilson recently published a book (in the UK – it comes out in the US in July). I believe the audiobook and digital versions are both available for purchase in the US right now.

The book comes in three versions: regular hardback, special edition in a slipcase with 128 pages of additional material plus a 70-minute CD featuring music pulled from old cassettes made very early in his career, and an artist’s edition that has long since sold out of its limited 125 copies. Wilson also read the audiobook version, for those so inclined. I bought the hardback regular edition from Burning Shed in the UK and had it shipped to the US because I didn’t feel like waiting the extra few months. That was expensive enough. I would’ve liked the special edition with the additional written material and CD, especially now after having read and thoroughly enjoying the book. I’d love more material, but it just isn’t in the budget. Alas, the life of a non-profit employee early in his career, especially during the worst inflation in 40 years.

I hesitate to call Wilson’s book a memoir. While it contains a lot of passages one would include in a memoir, it is so much more than a memoir. It has chapters dedicated to Wilson’s pastime of creating lists of favorite music, books, movies, and even a list where he debunks common myths about himself. Since Wilson was aided by music journalist and author Mick Wall in writing Limited Edition of One, there are some interesting elements where Wilson “breaks the fourth wall” and includes the transcriptions of some of the conversations they had in the development of certain chapters. There are chapters of memories, in no particular order. He talks about his childhood, certain parts of his career, how his musical heroes influenced his musical development, how his dad’s electronic tinkering and making equipment for Steven influenced the development of the experimental side of his music… and so much more.

One of the primary themes of the book is the recurring idea of a struggling artist trying to make it big, but not quite getting to the level of which he initially dreamed. Arriving somewhere, but not here. While he can live comfortably on what he’s done, it hasn’t been easy. While most in the pop world hit it big, with help from the record labels, in their late teens (or even earlier!) or early 20s, but it’s all over by the time they’re 30. Wilson is 54, and he’s more famous now than he’s ever been. As such, this book is the story of an atypical musical career, which I think makes it much more fascinating than a “tell-all” memoir from a music legend from 40-50 years ago who has long since ceased innovating musically. I think Wilson’s struggles as a musician have helped fuel his driving spirit of innovation.

Perhaps had he been born 15 years earlier, Wilson could’ve been as big as his musical heroes. But then again, the Wilson we enjoy (or complain about) wouldn’t have been the same artist if he had been operating in the same musical milieu as his heroes rather than chewing on their sounds years later as he strives to create his own art. Music as a whole did progress, and Wilson saw to it that it did. Porcupine Tree took progressive music into uncharted territory, creating new soundscapes while still incorporating the best elements of the past. Sadly the public, or the media elites, wanted music that was easy, simple, that didn’t make you think too hard.

Anyone who’s heard any of Wilson’s diverse discography knows full well that “dumb” music isn’t part of his repertoire. Even when he “goes pop” as he started to on To the Bone and as he certainly did on The Future Bites, the end result asks much of the listener. I may have roasted The Future Bites, but I did so with upmost respect for Wilson as an artist. My critique came from a position where I don’t particularly like pop music or many of the varied artists that heavily influenced that side of Wilson’s work. I named my review “Steven Wilson Bites the Future… and the Fans?”, partly as a form of clickbait, but also because Wilson made a conscious decision to expand his audience, perhaps at the expense of an existing fan base, much of which would rather see Porcupine Tree be the main focus of Wilson’s career. He talks about this in the book, but he also sees it from the perspective of an artist having to make the music that excites him at that particular point in time. As such Wilson’s advice to other artists is to ultimately be true to yourself, your art, and what you want your art to say, even if people get upset about it.

Continue reading “More Than a Memoir: Steven Wilson’s “Limited Edition of One””

Steve Hackett in Concert: From Spectral Surrender to Seconds Out

Steve Hackett — Seconds Out + More, GLC Live at 20 Monroe, Grand Rapids, Michigan, May 4, 2022

Once again, Bryan Morey has beaten me to the punch with a live review of Steve Hackett. (My excuse this time: he had ten days head start on me.) Like Bryan, I was impressed with the energy and delight Hackett and his merry band projected as he returned to my hometown venue for the third time. “The weekend starts here!” he crowed to the capacity crowd (quoting the classic BBC-TV pop show Ready Steady Go) and boy, did he make good on that pitch! Hopefully without repeating Bryan’s many excellent points, a few more comments follow . . .

While I was delighted when I heard that Seconds Out would be the focus of Hackett’s show, I wondered how well it would work in concert — because Genesis never played this exact setlist in 1977! The original live album is a construct, with the music re-sequenced for maximum impact over four sides of vinyl (that year’s encore, “The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway/The Musical Box” was moved forward to the end of side two), excerpted from onstage medleys (“Afterglow” immediately followed “In That Quiet Earth” back then, the way I heard Hackett perform it in 2013) and even flown in from the previous tour (“Cinema Show” had been recorded in 1976 and shelved).

But arguably, those interventions are part of why this album made such an impact on both Genesis fans and the broader public over the years; as it’s endured, it’s gained stature as a balanced, thorough survey of the band’s proggiest era, with an unhurried pace and flow that gradually gains in both momentum and excitement. Which explains why the whole thing did work live, this time as a multi-course banquet of Hackett’s finest hours in his defining group. And in that light, the whirlwind trawl of Hackett’s solo career that kicked things off, informed by both the poised classicism of 1979’s Spectral Mornings and the manic energy of two tracks from last fall’s Surrender to Silence, served as the perfect appetizer.

But all that’s conceptual; what about the execution? Briefly, this was the most free and most daring that Hackett and his supporting cast have been in the four times I’ve seen him. Rather than reverentially presenting the material as if fixed in stone, the players took this music by storm; throughout the night the band consistently pushed Hackett musically — and he consistently delivered.

Continue reading “Steve Hackett in Concert: From Spectral Surrender to Seconds Out”

Album Review: “You Have It All” by Lobate Scarp

Lobate Scarp, You Have It All (Indiegogo/Bandcamp) ★★★★★ A+ 10/10

What kind of band would you get if you combined Keith Emerson on keyboards, Steve Hackett on guitar, Chris Squire on bass, Neil Peart on drums, and Robby Steinhardt on violin? That’s the best way I can try and communicate to you what the sound of Lobate Scarp is like. But don’t get me wrong; I don’t mean to suggest that Lobate Scarp is simply a pastiche of familiar sounds from ELP, Genesis, Yes, Rush, and Kansas. Not at all. What I mean is that the sound of Lobate Scarp is like some impossible dream come true.

As if it burst forth from the dream world of their cover art, Lobate Scarp does indeed have their very own unique sound. That’s the wondrous fact now firmly established by You Have It All, their second full-length album. It is a truly magnificent achievement. It instantly secures You Have It All a permanent place in the celestial upper echelon where my all-time favorite records rotate in eternal bliss.

Back in 2012, Lobate Scarp’s first CD, Time and Space, contained exquisite intimations of greatness. I am forever grateful to Adam Sears himself for boldly going where no band had gone before and introducing his work to me. I was simply floored. This band was offering something new: yes, their own sound; and who cares about fashion, we always want bravely epic prog with unlimited daring. Helmed by Adam’s visionary hand, that courageous debut album also hinted at a future greatness, because right away there was debate about the merits of the CD on this site. That’s a small clue a band just may be very special.

That kind of debate does not happen for a band that is a mere copycat nostalgia act trying to replay the glories of the era of the birth of prog. No, a band with their own sound, and doing something new and interesting, will inevitably provoke different and polarizing responses. First, Progarchy published a negative assessment, and then a positive assessment. Finally, I tried to break the deadlock at Progarchy, by myself declaring the album one of the very best albums of the year.

Over the years, I was delighted to learn of the band being quietly at work, with an occasional burst of beautiful light in 2016 and 2019. And now the patient work of a decade has come to fruition. You Have It All is an apt title for an album of such staggering ambition that actually and successfully attains all the moonshots it takes.

The first thing that has to be said about this record is just how good it sounds. It is absolutely one of the best sounding audio experiences of my life. Steven Leavitt and Rich Mouser and Michael Bernard have all done amazing work with this CD and created an audio paradise. The production and engineering investment of talent that has been lovingly poured into this record is indisputable in every note. Every penny that was crowdfunded has been spent to dazzling effect.

The startlingly immediate surround-sound of the drum kit on every track is a marvel to behold, whether it is special guest drummer Eric Moore (of Suicidal Tendencies, and Infectious Grooves) on the two epic tracks “You Have It All” (14:31) and “Flowing Through the Change” (17:25), or Jimmy Keegan (of Spock’s Beard, and Pattern Seeking Animals) or Mike Gerbrandt on the other tracks. And the various guitar tones will have you doing double takes… who is that? Is Steve Hackett on this album, or what??? And Adam Sears can be likened to Keith Emerson for his uncompromising pursuit of sound for the sake of glorious sound.

Usually, Lobate Scarp is Adam Sears (vocals/ keys), Andy Catt (bass), Peter Matuchniak (guitar), Evan Michael Hart (drums), and Christina Burbano-Jeffrey (violin), as when they performed most recently at RoSFest in April in Sarasota, Florida. But the impressive parade of studio musicians appearing on the CD recording is a testament to Lobate Scarp’s unrelenting pursuit of excellence by any means necessary. I have the impression that they will record and re-record, and collaborate and re-collaborate, again and again, in any permutation and combination of talents, regular or extraordinary, as they pursue the perfect sound and the perfect record. And gosh darn it, their diligence of a decade has paid off mightily with this release.

You Have It All has the effect of a typical Yes album on me, in that it unfailingly elevates my spirit and transforms my mood for the better just by listening. This is no small musical miracle. Yes is a band prized as rare on this earth for just that reason. Operating in that same prog tradition of making intimate contact with the listener, Lobate Scarp uses their magic power to do what only the rarest of musicians have the power to do.

As far as I can discern the story tying the album together, it goes something like this. The hero of the story is Everyman, so let’s call him Adam, since that is what the word Adam means. Adam is jamming with his prog band on “Conduit,” the opening instrumental track, with his band endlessly practicing in pursuit of perfection. But people think Prog Adam is crazy for loving to spend his precious time practicing prog music like this. This instrumental: It’s so long! Over five minutes long and there aren’t even any lyrics yet! The people are criticizing Prog Adam for his super-proggy instrumental. So, he replies in track two, telling them there is “Nothing Wrong” with his life. He’s doing what he wants to do. But just telling the haters to stop it is not enough. Prog Adam therefore goes in search of spiritual sustenance, looking for a spiritual “Life-Line” on the next track, as sustenance for his prog, and finding it. With this spiritual enlightenment attained, Prog Adam goes back to his band, and then they communicate the spiritual enlightenment by expressing its lesson in the epic track, “You Have It All.” Jon Davison even makes a guest appearance on this track, making a cameo as the voice of the universe that teaches Prog Adam what he needed to learn, so that he is then able to communicate it with the epic musical power of “You Have It All” (14:31). End of Part One.

Part Two begins with “Beautiful Light,” with Prog Adam viewing the universe on a daily basis through the mystical lens he learned about in Part One. But then, with “Test Tube Universe,” Prog Adam, either back in his day job as a scientist, or simply by making an analogy on the basis of considering a scientist in his lab, considers the thought that maybe the universe is just like an experiment that, although beautiful and supportive to us (see Part One’s lesson), does not really matter to its creator. But then in “Flowing Through the Change” (17:25), Prog Adam makes spiritual contact with the transcendent creative force behind the universe and taps into its deepest essence: namely, love. This final spiritual awakening to the fullness of love is foreshadowed with “In the Night I” and “In the Night II” which are threaded between the earlier tracks on the album, since “In the Night III” is the second movement within “Flowing Through the Change,” wherein Prog Adam sees the face of God, and thereby finds his way to the path of love.

If all this sounds a bit woo to you, what can I say except that, I’m probably making this all up, or else, if you listen to the music, it will make you into a believer in prog and love and light, and so on. The radiant power of the music on this album magically transforms whatever it comes into contact with. Unless your heart is made of stone. Or, maybe even then, too; that’s how good this music is.

So, what are you waiting for, Bandcamp Friday? It’s already here! You Have It All has everything you need.

Reviewed by C.S. Morrissey for Progarchy.com