FIELD RECORDINGS by The Fierce and the Dead

TFATD FIELD RECORDINGS
Short but mighty.  Out April 28 from BEM.

So, I fell in love with The Fierce and the Dead from the moment I saw online the image of their first proper recording, PART 1.  That was seven years ago.  The image of the lone tree standing in a field took me back not only to the actuality of my childhood in central Kansas, but it also took me back to the fantasy of my childhood in Tolkien’s The Shire.

As such, The Fierce and the Dead has always occupied that tenuous place in the prog world–something undeniably tangible and real mixed with something almost too good to be true.  Certainly, the wordless music of The Fierce and the Dead is analogous to my own inability to articulate fully how much joy this band brings me.

Continue reading “FIELD RECORDINGS by The Fierce and the Dead”

Two more from the Elephant


Finally I have unpacked the trunk of album reviews that backed up last year, and this reviews catches up on two albums Bad Elephant released back in October last year, and which are worth having a listen to, before they unleash the new Tom Slatter album on the unsuspecting world.

bem035-album-cover

The Far Meadow: Given the Impossible

 

Formed back in 2014 this is the first album on Bad Elephant from London based 5 piece, The Far Meadow and was released back in October last year.

As is common with so many of the wonderful artists signed to Bad Elephant, the band defy categorisation, veering from traditional progressive sounds to folk and back with a dazzling array of performances and sounds that make this an excellent album to listen to.

Continue reading “Two more from the Elephant”

If it carries on like this I’ll be moving to the sea

I seem to have spent most of the last few months catching up with a backlog of album reviews that have landed either on my door step or in my inbox which built up during a traumatic move, (I am never spending two weeks sleeping in the living room again!!) and so I fear this latter part of the year has been chasing my own tail, as whilst I’ve reviewed older albums, never ones have appeared!

My new Years resolution is to be more organised (honest!)

This is my first word on Bad Elephant Music this year, wrapping up some of their fine releases last year.

tfatd

The Fierce and the Dead: If it carries on like this we’ll be moving to Morecambe

This is where it all began, and what better place for a shiny new remastered edition of TFATD debut long player to be released, complete with new artwork by Mark Buckingham, than their new home. BEM and TFATD have become synonymous with adventurous and eclectic music, and as some one who previously bought the original release from band camp, the remastering is absolutely superb, and does make a difference to the sound. Not that there was ever anything wrong with the production originally, but it’s like the difference between watching your favourite TV show on a normal telly and then switching to HD, it highlights certain nuances and little pieces of music on the album that you might have missed originally.

Continue reading “If it carries on like this I’ll be moving to the sea”

The Fierce and the Dead: Both and Neither

I’m sorry, but, really, who doesn’t love these guys!?!?!  So glad to know that BEM is treating them so royally.  –Brad

a2125809357_16

***

The Fierce And The Dead – If It Carries On Like This We Are Moving To Morecambe (remastered) – released by Bad Elephant Music on 18th November 2016

Originally released in 2016, the album has been remastered with five bonus tracks, and is presented in Digipak format for the first time. The release also features all new artwork by celebrated artist Mark Buckingham.

…Morecambe represents the first flowering of The Fierce And The Dead’s signature sound, and displays both the immediacy of their music and a promise of what was to come.

Guitarist Matt Stevens says: “We’re really pleased to get this opportunity to release a definitive version of the first Fierce And The Dead album – we’re still really proud of it. It’s nice to get an opportunity to go back to  remaster it, sort out the packaging and put some previously unreleased tunes on there. Mark Buckingham’s brand new art is really special and the opportunity to work with one of our favourite artists is a massive deal for all of us. I’m really pleased to be able to release it in partnership with our friends at BEM.”

Continue reading “The Fierce and the Dead: Both and Neither”

A Proper Awe: The Gift’s WHY THE SEA IS SALT

The Gift, WHY THE SEA IS SALT (Bad Elephant Music, 2016).  Tracks: At Sea; Sweeper of Dreams; Tuesday’s Child; The Tallest Tree; All These Things; and Ondine’s Song.

the-gift-why-the-sea-is-alt
From: Bad Elephant Music, 2016

Talk about mythic.  The Gift has given us a love song to the vast world of the oceans.  Well, “love” might be too strong.  There’s love here, to be sure, but there’s also fear and mystery and more than a bit of properly understood awe.

Finding myself quite taken with this most recent release, I keep feeling waves of nostalgia for the first time my great friend, Craig Breaden, introduced me to real Procol Harum—not the Procol Harum of the top 40, but Procol Harum in all of the band’s art rock glory.  Yes, The Gift talk about “Salty Dogs”, but it’s far more than this lyrical reference that calls me back to my first moments with that Procol Harum album, more than a quarter of a century ago, now.

Partly, it’s the flow of the album.

Partly, it’s the intelligence of the lyrics.

And, partly, it’s the whimsy that mixes so well with gravity—not an easy skill for any lyricist.

And, there’s another fantastic aspect to this album—the flow of the music perfectly follows the flow of an ocean journey.  How The Gift accomplished this so ably, I’m not sure.  But, every instrument—whether the keys, the bass (love the bass playing on this album; absolutely love it), the voice, or the guitar—leads to the next one, always playing nicely as it trades off the focus, one to the next.  The effect is an usual and compelling flow for the listener as he (or she!) journeys from one wave to the next.

Continue reading “A Proper Awe: The Gift’s WHY THE SEA IS SALT”

Threeviews

Afternoon Progarchists, as someone who writes for a variety of different sites I find myself getting sent diverse and eclectic albums to listen to, all of which roughly fall into the margins of the progressive genre, and today I have three radically different releases, all of which have been bouncing round my brain as I ride the mean streets of Bristol on the bus to and from work. Two are freshly minted (one so fresh it’s not even officially released yet – but it’s one hell of a pre-order!) and one EP which has been out for a while, so without further ado, lets introduce today’s picks.

verity

Verity Smith – Parenthesis

http://www.veritysmith.net

I first encountered Verity at the Classic Rock Society Awards back in 2014 where she was performing as part of Clive Nolan’s Alchemy musical, where she played the parts of Jane Muncey and Jessamine and was truck by her vocal prowess and stage presence.

Continue reading “Threeviews”

The Rising Brilliance of Mike Kershaw – What Lies Beneath

Mike Kershaw – What Lies Beneath (Bad Elephant Music, 2016)

Tracks: Gunning for the Gods (9:30), In Floods the Light (4:20), Dice (4:42), The City Revealed (6:53), Two Eyes (4:20), Wounds (4:45), Another Disguise (5:23), The City of My Dreams (7:04)

a0097340229_16I’ve been following Mike Kershaw’s work for a few albums now, and I’m truly impressed with how he has grown as an artist over the past few years. His earlier music, while displaying excellent insightful lyrical content, wasn’t the easiest music to get into. It required a lot of effort on the part of the listener, although that effort was rewarded. What Lies Beneath, however, finds Kershaw at his best to date. Fans of Fractal Mirror will find this music remarkably familiar, yet more upbeat than FM’s music. Featuring a diverse, yet progressive sound, Kershaw’s music sounds fresh and unique.

The similarities between Kershaw and Fractal Mirror exist because FM contributed to this album, much as they did on Kershaw’s previous EP, Departure. In addition to providing lead vocals, backing vocals, and playing keyboards, Kershaw collaborated with quite a number of people on this album:

  • Gareth Cole – electric and acoustic guitars, piano
  • Leopold Blue-Sky – bass, pedal steel, keys, drums
  • Leo Koperdraat – guitar, keys, backing vocals
  • Tom Slatter – vocals (track 6), acoustic guitar
  • Frank Urbaniak – drums
  • Rohan Jordan-Shah – drums
  • Joshua Leibowitz – drums
  • Marco Vàsquez – keys
  • Allyson Blue-Sky – backing vocals
  • Stuart Stephens – backing vocals
  • Clare Stephens – backing vocals

These collaborations have brought a breath of fresh air and diversity to Kershaw’s wonderful lyrics. This spark of energy shines clear in every aspect of the music, including Kershaw’s vocals. While I believe he still underestimates his vocal abilities, this album showcases his best vocal work to date. One of the best examples of this is on the upbeat track, “Two Eyes,” one of my favorites from the album. The lyrics to this song find the narrator searching through old family photos trying to figure out where he came from in order to find his purpose in life. The drums, courtesy of Urbaniak, set a wonderful rhythm for the song.

“Wounds” features lead vocals from Tom Slatter, whose voice reminds me of Andy John Bradford. Kershaw’s backing vocals work perfectly here, and the change up adds a nice variety to the music. Kershaw’s keyboard solo in the middle of the song is a great high point, as well, bringing back some of the sounds of his earlier albums.

While often keyboard oriented, What Lies Beneath does have its more rock-oriented elements. Throughout the album, the bass guitar keeps a steady, yet complex, flow. Excellent guitar work appears throughout, with some of the best coming at the end of the album with “Another Disguise” and “The City of My Dreams.” The instrumentation is solid throughout, although these songs are definitely lyric oriented.

“The City of My Dreams” builds wonderfully through both the music and the lyrics, and they meld together perfectly, with Kershaw’s vocals taking the spotlight towards the middle. Kershaw ends the album by contemplating on the passage of time through a city, yet it is so much more than that. The beauty of Kershaw’s lyrics is their depth – the more you listen, the more you get out of the music. Indeed, Kershaw is one of the most thought provoking lyricists of the last few years, and he is someone deserving of attention.

This album marks a wonderful step forward for Kershaw, and any fans of Fractal Mirror (whose recent album was also magnificent) should particularly take notice. Fans of prog in general should also take note, for Kershaw’s lyrics continue to impress. Now, with excellent musical collaborations, these lyrics can be appreciated by a more diverse crowd.

https://mikekershaw.bandcamp.com

http://www.kershmusic.com

Don’t miss James Turner’s interview with Mike Kershaw: https://progarchy.com/2016/08/28/what-lies-beneath-bad-elephant-special-part-2-an-interview-with-mike-kershaw/