Progarchy Radio–Halloween 2016

dead-man
From 1985: Oingo Boingo’s Dead Man’s Party

An appropriately bizarre episode of progarchy radio–featuring only SPOOKY songs!  Featuring Oingo Boingo, Glass Hammer, Matt Stevens, Japan, Gazpacho, Black Vines, The Cure, Steve Rothery, Steve Hackett, U2, Rush, Steven Wilson, Spock’s Beard, Advent, Mazzy Star, Cosmograf, and Simple Minds.

Enjoy!

 

Advent’s SILENT SENTINEL: A Review

Advent, SILENT SENTINEL (released on August 11, 2015). 

Tracks: In Illo Tempore; On the Wings of an Ant (Verse 1); Voices from California; The Uncharted Path; Reloj de Sol; On the Wings of an Ant (Verse 2); The Silent Sentinel; 12/12; Sentinel’s Reprise: The Exit Interview; Second Thoughts; On the Wings of an Ant (Verse 3); and Romanitas.

Birzer Rating: 10/10

Advent's third album, SILENT SENTINEL.  Out August 11.
Advent’s third album, SILENT SENTINEL. Out August 11.

Without question, this is one of the most interesting releases I’ve heard in a long, long time.  I don’t mean there aren’t or haven’t been other incredible releases in the recent past.  There’s no question that 2015 has turned out to be one of the finest years in the history of prog.  This is high praise, indeed, as the last five or so years have been nothing short of mind-bogglingly good.

By claiming that SILENT SENTINEL is interesting, I mean INTERESTING.  Really interesting.  There’s never a shortage of musicians doing the tried and true, just as there’s never a shortage of musicians trying to do something radically new.  It’s rare that the former last long, and it’s equally rare that the latter can create something of beauty.  The best art is always that which honors the past while making the old palatable to the present.  This is where Advent admirably succeeds.  SILENT SENTINEL is art, pure and simple.  It’s also well-executed and beautiful art.  It honors the past while making something old new.

Over four decades of listening to prog, I’ve never heard anything quite like this new Advent album.  I hear elements of Genesis, ELP, Gentle Giant, and A LOT of what sounds like Glass Hammer—at least in terms of music composition.  What makes SILENT SENTINEL so fascinating is 1) its vocal lines; and 2) the intersection of its vocals and Glass Hammer like music.

As it turns out, this is Advent’s third album.  I must admit, I thought it was the band’s second.  And, I’m more than a bit embarrassed about this mistake.  I’ve been listening to what I thought was the band’s first, CANTUS FIRMUS, rather lovingly for years.  I’m now eager to get the first album.  My loss, and soon my gain.

Regardless. . . .

If I had to compare this new album to anything on the current music scene, I would definitely name it the cousin of the work of Babb and Schendel, as mentioned above.  But, SILENT SENTINEL not a clone, by any means.  And, I hope this doesn’t turn off any readers, but it must be said.  This is Glass Hammer if someone were writing really artsy and innovative jazz mixed with some really good (not Marty Haugen!) liturgical music.  There’s an element of Hebraic chant, but there’s an even stronger element of Palestrina-like music.  Don’t worry: no one is screaming scripture at you.  The religious element—as far as I can tell (as I don’t have the lyric sheet)—is in the music and vocal lines, not the words.

I’ve said in half-seriousness for several years that CANTUS FIRMUS is Chestertonian prog.  SILENT SENTINEL is more Tolkienian prog.  I could easily imagine this music being sung in the First Age of Beleriand, most likely under the protection of Melian.  It’s Sindarin Elvish, to be sure.

As you can see—even from a cursory glance at the track listing—this is a joy, pure and whole.  There are a lot of themes that repeat throughout the album, and there’s playfulness intermixed with intensity passages of beauty.  The production of the album is especially crisp, with every instrument really shining forth as a part and as a part of a whole.  Really, everything—drums, keyboards, guitar, and bass—sound perfect.  And, it’s clear that the producer and sound engineer gave everything to make this cd work so beautifully.  I have a feeling that no matter how many times I listen to this, I’ll be rewarded with hearing something new.

While there’s nothing half-way done on the album, and I like it all, I’m most drawn to the epic title track, The Silent Sentinel.  I’m not exactly sure what the context of the story is, but the music flows mysteriously and cinematically.  I presume it’s a play on the title of the band, as Advent is a time of watchful waiting.  Thus, the Silent Sentinel is a guard over time as well as space.

Again, I don’t have the lyric sheet, but it sounds like there’s some real Homeric evil happening as well, with the guardian protecting the crossroads of this world and the next.

I really can’t exaggerate or overstate how much SILENT SENTINEL grabs and intrigues me.  It’s the kind of release that makes me not only proud to be a prog fan, but it actually makes me proud to be alive–to live at a time that produces such artists.  This is the equal of Big Big Train and The Tangent in terms of quality, innovation, and beauty.

Progarchists, SILENT SENTINEL is something truly special.   Don’t let this release pass you by.  Pre-order and prepare to be dazzled and downright overwhelmed.

For more information and pre-ordering, make sure to visit Advent’s website: http://www.adventmusic.net

Less Than 3 Hours Left: Pre Order Advent Bundle: SILENT SENTINEL

Order the Silent Sentinel pre-sale bundle

Silent Sentinel cover art
USA
US $20

Canada
US $25

Worldwide
US $29

NOTE: Shipping/handling included in all prices.

LIMITED-TIME OFFER (expires 9 PM EDT on August 1st)

Pre-sale bundle of Advent’s Silent Sentinel album includes:

  1. A copy of the 77.5-minute Silent Sentinel CD
  2. 24-bit/96-kHz audiophile files of the entire album (sent electronically)
  3. An exclusive 29-minute bonus CD-R featuring:
    • Classical guitar duet from “On the Wings of an Ant (verse 2)”
    • Vocals-up mix of “Voices from California” (first half)
    • Vocals-up highlights from the “The Silent Sentinel”
    • Vocals-up highlights from the “Sentinel’s Reprise: The Exit Interview”
    • “Canto XXVI (The Evil Counselors)”
    • “Awaiting the Call …” live at MARPROG

NOTES: Includes early shipment of physical media unless autographs are requested*. Audiophile (24/96) files to be delivered electronically via the Internet on or before date CDs are mailed. The Silent Sentinel album (CD and corresponding 24/96 audiophile files) mastered by Bob Katz at Digital Domain.

http://www.adventmusic.net

Pre-order Advent’s SILENT SENTINEL

This just showed up on Advent’s official website:

Advent is very pleased to announce the upcoming release of our new album, Silent Sentinel. The official street date is scheduled for August 11th, however the band will be offering a special pre-sale bundle for purchase beginning on July 15th. This limited-time offer will include:

  1. A copy of the 77.5-minute Silent Sentinel CD
  2. 24-bit/96-kHz audiophile files of the entire album (sent electronically)
  3. A five-track bonus CD-R with exclusive remix content from the album and two other full-length tracks
  4. Early shipment of physical media* and 24/96 audio file delivery

*For those optionally requesting autographed copies of the CD (instructions on order form), shipment of physical media will likely be postponed a little to allow for personalized signatures–however 24/96 audiophiles will be delivered without corresponding delay.

The pre-order page should go live (here on our website) at midnight EDT on July 15th. Please stay tuned!

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To read it at the actual website (rather than in shadow form here at progarchy), go here: http://www.adventmusic.net

Advent News: August 2015 Release

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For those of you who love Chestertonian Prog as much as I do, we don’t have to wait much longer.   I just received a very kind and interesting email from Mark Ptak of the prog band, Advent.

I just wanted to make you aware that (after what seems like an eternity, I know – especially for us, with all the various unavoidable delays) we’ll finally be finishing mixing this weekend (woo-hoo!) and entering the mastering stages of Advent’s new release, “Silent Sentinel,” hopefully starting next week, I believe, with Bob Katz over at Digital Domain in Florida. (http://www.digido.com/) Bob is one of the most sought after mastering engineers out there, and we’re very pleased to have the fruits of our laborious efforts in his capable hands again. Cover artwork will be done once more by the extremely talented artist, Michael Phipps, who previously did “Cantus Firmus” for us. We’re looking to have the album ready for purchase by August, so please feel free pass the word around that the album will soon be made available. I’ll have more details in the not too distant future, but for now, thanks, and be prepared for one helluva musical ride when this thing is released – as there’s almost a double album’s worth of material coming at ya! Talk again soon…

Best,
Mark

Nothing to make a June day even better.  Very excited about this.  To order the first album, Cantus Firmus, please click here.