Its a 4 track EP, recorded in a derelict byre (cowshed) in County Sligo Ireland. It was recorded in one take using 3 microphones, 1 for vocals, 1 for guitar and 1 for ambient sounds such as the birds nesting in the roof, the wind outside and the door continually creaking. The songs featured on this are
1. Unearth (from John Bassett “Unearth”) 2. Nothing Sacred (from John Bassett “Unearth”) 3. Murder in a Small Town (from KingBathmat “Blue Sea, Black Heart”) 4. Brand New Crucifix (this song is about 20 years old and I don’t think its ever been available anywhere?)
John Bassett the singer, songwriter and producer of UK Progressive Metal Band KingBathmat) has announced the forthcoming release primarily on bandcampof ARCADE MESSIAH III (release date 25/11/16)
The mostly instrumental one man project combines progressive metal with post rock, sludge, doom and stoner rock with Bassett recording all instruments and producing the albumhimself. Says Bassett, “Arcade Messiah III has certainly been a labour of love for me, never before have I refined a record to the degree that I have done with this album, I incorporated many new production techniques and have learned a lot from the experience of putting this record together. I’m very excited to release this out into the wild.”
John Bassett (the singer, songwriter and producer of UK Progressive Rock BandKingBathmat) has announced the forthcoming release of ARCADE MESSIAH II
Arcade Messiah II builds upon the elements of the first release with the genre blending of Metal, Stoner, Doom, Prog, Math rock, and ambient post rock continuing into an ever increasing dynamic storm of controlled chaos.
John Bassett: “after the surprise success of last year’s original Arcade Messiah album and after receiving feedback from fans of that album I decided to make a sequel, a continuation of that album, that is hopefully bigger, better, more refined and more dramatic, but which didn’t lose the vibe and atmosphere that was created on the original Album”
I’m extremely excited by this. John is a wonder–as interesting and creative as he is intelligent and kind. The three albums that came out at once–his first solo album, the last Kingbathmat album, and Arcade Messiah–proved that the man is a force of musical beauty.–Brad
Arcade Messiah II Album Preview
Hi everybody, I will soon be releasing the follow up to last years Arcade Messiah album. “Arcade Messiah II” will be released end of November/early December, I have just uploaded a 2 minute Album Preview Video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-telQs5IP7E
There will be a Pre-Order for both digital download and CD starting next week.
Time flies when you’re having fun listening to great music! 2014 brought in a bumper crop of excellent music in general, and prog in particular. Here are my favorites of the year:
10. Robert Plant: Lullaby And …The Ceaseless Roar
Mr. Plant returns to his folk roots of Britain, and delivers a thoroughly enjoyable set of songs. A couple rock out, but this is mostly an acoustic tour de force that transcends any musical trends of the day.
Lunatic Soul: Walking On A Flashlight Beam
This album didn’t garner the rave reviews of his first two, but I still think anything Mariusz Duda produces is far better than 90% of anything else out there. “Treehouse” may be my favorite song he’s ever recorded.
John Bassett: Unearth
This album opened my eyes to entirely different side of Mr. Bassett’s talent, and I love it. I hope he does more music in this vein – thoughtful, melodic, acoustic pearls.
John Wesley: Disconnect
Mr. Wesley has been Porcupine Tree’s secret weapon when they play live, and on the side he has been quietly making extraordinary music of his own. Disconnect is his best ever, and it features the inimitable Alex Lifeson on “Once A Warrior”.
It took me awhile to get into this album, but it was definitely worth the effort. It is a beautiful package, from the artwork and lyrics to the music itself. The subject matter is very dark, but listening to the entire album is a cathartic experience. It also has Jan-Henrik Ohme’s strongest vocals to date.
North Atlantic Oscillation: The Third Day
Their third album, and the third one to make one of my best-of-the-year lists. Soaring vocals, gorgeous string arrangements, a wall of sound that is indescribably exhilarating. If Brian Wilson produced Catherine Wheel, it might sound as good as this.
A marvelous steampunk trip through metaphysical dimensions. Robin Armstrong’s imagination knows no bounds, and his musical talent matches it.
Flying Colors: Second Nature
Wow. No “sophomore slump” for this band. One of the many Neal Morse/Mike Portnoy projects that are active these days, Second Nature is an outlet for the more melodic side of their talents. Throw in the genius guitar work of Steve Morse, and this is an irresistible set of songs.
Their Mountain album was my favorite of last year, and the only reason this isn’t number one is because it’s only 34 minutes long. I admit it – I’m greedy for more Haken music!
With Kaleidoscope, Stolt, Morse, Portnoy, Trewavas finally become a real group. On earlier works, you could tell which bits were Neal’s, which were Roine’s, etc. Every song on Kaleidoscope is stamped with Transatlantic’s distinctive sound, and it is a glorious one.
And, my final “best of” post for 2014. Let’s hope that you’re not getting too tired of these!
I’ve saved the albums that hit me the hardest—at level of mind and soul—for the last.I guess it’s somewhat goofy to have a “top eight,” but these are my top eight.These are the albums that did everything right, the ones that pulled it all together, offering real glimpses of the turning spheres.The first seven are in no particular order.I like them equally, and I think they’ve each attained the highest an album can reach but in quite different ways.
What can one say about Poland’s greatest, Newspaperflyhunting?Craig Breaden has already explained—in perfect detail—why this is a perfect album.From atmospherics to piercingly intelligent lyrics to mood swinging melodies, these Eastern Europeans have created what is certainly one of the most innovating and interesting albums of the last few decades.The album, ICEBERG SOUL, has much in common with early 1990’s American psychedelic revival, and there’s a real Mazzy Star and Opal feel to much of the music.But, whereas Mazzy Star was really good, Newspaperflyhunting is simply excellent.Droning, walls of sound, haunting guitar lines—this album has it all.
Salander, a new band from England, has blown me away as much as Newspaperflyhunting, and the two bands have much in common.Slander is only two guys, each named Dave, but you’d never know it listening to the music.Much as Cailyn plays every single thing on her album, the two Daves do the same.Their two albums this year, CRASH COURSE FOR DESSERT and STENDEC, are really one album, a journey through the wonders and terrors of the world, seen and unseen.The two Daves move effortlessly from one style of music to another, but they always hold it all together with what can only be described as a Salander sound.These two albums provide a journey that you hope never ends.
Armed with some new producers and engineers and a barrel full of confidence, the Anglo-Dutch-American band, Fractal Mirror, has proven the worth of community and friendship a million times over with GARDEN OF GHOSTS, a landmark album.As mentioned previously, there’s a lot of Bauhaus and Love and Rockets in this album.But, whereas those 1980’s bands felt as though they had one cool trick, Fractal Mirror is the real deal.GARDEN OF GHOSTS is mind-bogglingly good—stunning in every way—and we are so blessed to be catching them at the beginning of their journey.Certainly, it’s Gothic in tone, but it’s always soaring and light and dark and maddening and enlightening and loving. . . .It’s also quite defiant, and, at times, the lyrics make Neil Peart look like a softy.
I think the first album by the Tin Spirits one of my all-time favorite albums.It would certainly be in my top ten all-time albums.In particular, the song “Broken” is a masterpiece, a progged-out Allman Brothers kind of song.I eagerly awaited SCORCH, and I’ve not been disappointed.This is guitar prog, pop prog, rock prog—however one might label it, it’s just amazingly good.The four guys in the band obviously really like one another, and their friendship comes out in a myriad of ways in the music.The best song on Scorch, “Summer Now,” might very well be the best song of the year.As with Flying Colors, the Tin Spirits should be playing on every single album-rock radio across North America.The contrast between the two bands?Where Flying Colors might cross the line and go “over the top,” the Tin Spirits go for taste, class, and a dignified restraint.
Not to be too jingoistic, but one of the best aspects of 2014 has been the emergence of a number of North American prog bands.I’ve already mentioned several over the last few posts.The very best of the American prog bands, though, is Fire Garden.Holy Schnikees these guys are good.Scratch that.These guys are amazing!They clearly love Dream Theater, but they’re also 20x better than Dream Theater.Just as the Tin Spirits goes for dignified restraint, so does Fire Garden.Rather than play 30 notes in a millisecond, master musician and lyricist Zee Baig goes for just the necessary ones, the ones most needed for creativity and beauty.Again, that dignified restraint, when employed properly, can be such a beautiful thing.As I noted with Threshold and Haken, I don’t generally gravitate toward the heavier stuff.With Fire Garden, I happily embrace it.Of course, their heaviness is more Rush than Metallica. But, again, everything is perfect.I’ve focused on the band’s ubercoolleader, Zee, but everyone is in top form here.Zee pulls it all together.
I’m almost afraid to mention John Bassett.I’ve praised the that English stocking cap-wearing bard so many times, folks might start to wonder if I have some bizarre motive or some mancrush.Trust me, I’m married and have six kids.Yet, I do really love Bassett—just not in THAT way.Bassett’s music, through Kingbathmat, appeared in my life just a few years ago, but I can’t imagine my love of prog or music without him now, even as I look back to four decades of music obsession.Bassett’s first solo album, Uneßarth, is a psychedelic folk album, the kind of album that Storm Corrosion should have been.Somehow, Bassett’s actual voice (vocals) have a guitar-like quality.It’s bizarre.Beautifully and wondrously bizarre.And, despite his own self-deprecating remarks about merely being a “muppet”, Bassett is one of our best cultural critics.Of course, I love Animal, and there is a slight resemblance.Equally interesting, Bassett went the Matt Stevens/Fierce and the Dead route with his second album of 2014, a vocal-less progressive metal affair called Arcade Messiah.Each reveals a fascinating side to this very fascinating artist.What would I love to see—Bassett to bring these two styles together in Kingbathmat, writing a full-blown prog epic, unapologetic and unrelentingly so.
Once again, here comes the bro-mance.Sorry, Sally!I love your man, too.Just in very different ways than do you.I’m not sure Andy Tillison is capable of a misstep.Not only has he been one of the two or three most important musicians of what he’s insightfully called “Third Wave Prog,” he’s now becoming one of the two or three most important musicians in what I’ve attempted—admittedly, not very successfully—“Fourth Wave Prog.”His only release this year (what a funny thing to type) is under the name, cleverly, The Andy Tillison Multiplex.The album: ELECTRONIC SINFONIA 2.Just as Cailyn has brought classical music back into the world of prog, Andy is bringing jazz and jazz fusion back into prog.This album is beyond stunning.It is the very essence of taste itself.Every note, every line, every segue is just astounding.Tillison is a perfectionist, and it shows on and in all that he does.Thank you, Mr. Diskdrive.Rage on.
And, so I come to my favorite album of 2014.It took a while for me to get here, and if you fine progarchist reader are still with me, bless you.God has granted you immense patience.Though, as I’ve noted, this has been one of the best years ever in prog—and I’ve loved everything I’ve mentioned in the previous posts—I’ve loved this the most: Cosmograf’s CAPACITOR.Made by master of chronometry, Robin Armstrong, CAPACITOR is the perfect album.To those of you who write and produce instrumental music, thank you.And, please accept my apologies.I love what you do, but, not being trained in music, I don’t always get what you’re doing, even if I love it.For me, prog has been centrally about the lyrics and the story telling, with the music augmenting the two.I love the Word and the words.And, that brings me to CAPACITOR, a story that has everything.It’s a mix of science fiction and the occult, a play on religious revivals and scientific fetishes of a century ago.It’s not steam punk, it’s seance punk!And, what a story.Simply put, it’s the best sci-fi story of 2014.Part Arthur Conan Doyle, part Ray Bradbury, it’s purely Robin Armstrong.And, as we all know, Robin is not only a perfectionist, he’s an aural genius.He knows exactly how to mix word and note.This album is so good, it, almost by itself, redefines the entire genre.This is an album to match CLOSE TO THE EDGE, SPIRIT OF EDEN, and, much more recently, ENGLISH ELECTRIC and LE SACRE DU TRAVAIL.
N.B. Please forgive any typos. I have a three-year old princess acting rather grumpy as she deals with the flu. Lots of distractions in the Birzer household.
Andy Tillison and Brian Watson have convincingly argued in favor of dividing the history of prog into three waves, the third wave beginning around 1994 or so.
If Tillison and Watson are correct, and I suspect they are, I believe we might have entered what we could call the fourth wave.
The turning point came in 2013 with grand and profound releases from Big Big Train, The Tangent, and Glass Hammer. These albums were so excellent, perhaps the best in prog history, that they might very well have represented the apex of third-wave prog.
Take a listen to any of the above mentioned artists in 2014. Their music, especially when compared to the releases of the previous several years, offers something much more experimental and reflective. The story telling is less narrative and more punctuated, the lyrics more imagistic.
Anyway, I’m thinking (and typing) out loud. I’ll give it more thought.
Hi, everybody, I have a new album coming out next month, called Arcade Messiah.
After the last years KingBathmat album and this years acoustic solo John Bassett album “Unearth”, I decided I wanted to make an instrumental album that was quite heavy, bleak, full of riffs and that also flirted with a number of unusual time signatures. This coincided with me having to upgrade my home studio, so the last 4-5 months I’ve been busy learning some new hardware/software whilst making this new album. I’ve decided to release it under the the different name of Arcade Messiah as its purely instrumental and it is slightly different to the KingBathmat style.
It is now finished and will be released next month. There will be a pre-order for both digital download and CD next week, which will be slightly different from what I’ve done recently as it will be available exclusively through bandcamp alone.
But in the meantime here is a 2 min sample preview of the album
Much to my happiness, I had the chance to talk with John Bassett, Integrity’s Minstrel, about his new solo album, UNEARTH. UNEARTH has already received a properly enthusiastic reception from the music community. For good reason. John is simply brilliant, and every note radiates goodness, creativity, and substance. For all intents and purposes, John is the Neil Peart of his generation, though with less of a Nietzschean streak than the younger Neil possessed. So, without further blathering on my part, it’s my honor to present an interview with the mastermind behind Kingbathmat, John Bassett. As you’ll see, John is as intelligent as he is musically talented. His insights here speak volumes.
Progarchy (Brad): John, thanks so much for talking with us. I know how busy you are. It’s a great honor to talk with you. As you know, we progarchists are huge fans of yours. So, let’s get started. What is your goal with a solo album? Why do one?
JB: Hi Brad, I’ve got a bucket list of musical projects I want to achieve before I pass into the next world and one of them was an acoustic album, so that is now crossed off my list. I suppose overall, I was attempting to recapture the days when I was first started learning guitar, and writing my first songs. I was astonished to find that I could create tunes out of nothing, it was a revelation to me, an individual, who at that time was quite unconfident, lost and unsure of himself. I would listen back to recorded cassette tapes of those early songs with a sense of pride thinking that there may actually be something that I may be good at after all and that I might not be as I first thought, completely useless. Around that time I became quite infatuated with writing songs and was obsessed with the album “Pet Sounds”. So this is me now, recreating that past frame of mind and musical sensibility with the more modern outlook that I have today.
Progarchy: When writing songs, do you come up with lyrics or music first? How does it all come together?
JB: Music always comes first for me. It usually happens in this order, I’ll sit down, in a comfy chair with a tasty beverage, pick up an acoustic guitar and create garbled, wordless vocal melodies over a sequence of chords which sound pleasing to me or emotionally meaningful. The vocal melodies are always very precise and there are usually no words assigned to the tune, lyrics always come later. I don’t know if this is a commonplace procedure for people who write songs but its the way I’ve always done it, especially in regards to vocal melodies. Sometimes when mumbling these incoherent melodies over these chords a word will abruptly spring out of nowhere that fits perfectly with the tune, this happened recently with the song “Comedian” (last track on “Unearth”), the word “comedian” came out of nowhere whilst composing and when this happens I feel obliged to keep that word in the song even if it means I have to change the entire concept of that song so as so to fit that one word into it. Luckily with that word “comedian” it subsequently reminded me of a situation in my childhood from which I then drew on for the rest of the lyrics for that particular song.
Progarchy: Why take the solo album into more acoustic and acid folk?
JB: I never intended for it to have a psychedelic folk slant, but I suppose I just can’t help tinkering with different sounds in the studio. I love acoustic records, there’s something pure, honest and unfiltered about that style and that’s what attracted me to making this album and for the nostalgic reasons already mentioned above.
Progarchy: Any chance you’d make a Kingbathmat album incorporating some of the style of Unearth? Maybe a concept album, alternating between soft and hard styles?
JB: I’m unsure where to go with the next KingBathmat album, I’ve got a concept idea, I’ve also got some instrumental tracks I’m curious to make. I don’t know, there are a few tracks that I’ve started working on. It will probably be more cinematic and more experimental. I do want to take that emotional vibe with “Unearth” and introduce some musical shocks within it. Set up a musical pretext and then flip it around but of course it would have to work musically and not undermine it.
Progarchy: Who are your artistic (music, lit, etc) heroes?
JB: I feel the best artists are those individuals who achieve something worthwhile for themselves and others and yet all the while, retain their original sense of self. Being honest and truthful is all important to me. I don’t like an artist who adopts a facade generated by his over inflated ego, you can see this with numerous successful artists who start to delude themselves. In my opinion, musical artists that have achieved huge success but then also remained true to themselves would include Jimi Hendrix, Kurt Cobain, Frank Zappa and Rory Gallagher, I’m sure there are many others but those are the notorious ones that first spring to my mind. This level of authenticity shines through when you observe them in interviews, there’s seems to be no bullshit with them, and I think it is this attitude that not only endears them now to the public but also enabled them to create brilliant music. Many may have died through drink and drugs, yet artistically, I feel they remained unaffected. So I suppose it is this authenticity element that I admire and would like to emulate from these people.
Progarchy: Anyone currently you’d love to work with?
JB: There’s loads of people I’d like to work with, If I was to start mentioning names this page would turn into an infinite scroll of people that would never unravel. Ideally the best people to work with in a musical sense are those that can do what you can’t do or what you’re lacking in. Someone who has a different musical sensibility to you and therefore can inspire you to think in a different way which then resets your sonic freshness button.
Progarchy: Your lyrics and videos possess both surrealism and biting cultural criticisms? What message, if any, would you like the listener to take?
JB: Well I suppose with this latest album I’m just speaking from my own personal mindset, yes I maybe overly paranoid, and I may have a deep mistrust of authority but I’m hoping that other people will identify with my individual thoughts and emotions, as effectively we are all the same aren’t we? I don’t really have a pre-composed message that is deliberate I’m just literally expressing my thoughts as they come. Fear is a commodity that is openly traded virtually through mediums, I don’t believe it exists in of itself, it’s only created in our minds, but fear can and is placed into our minds by others for means of control through suggestion and the success of that placement of fear is dependent upon their power of influence. Music is a hugely motivational and powerful force that can inspire and influence people, it can remove the obstacles of imposed fear and encourage people to be brave and make a change. Yet popular mainstream music as supplied by the music industry into the millions of homes around the world has never been so uninspiring, worthless and devoid of any true meaning. If there is a message to be taken from popular music today it is that of a uniformly materialistic message to go and buy unnecessary things that will help you inflate your own personal idea of status. It is unbelievable really, the turgid, vacuous, corporate entities that are bandied around and promoted with serious money under the banner of music. This is now considered the norm for mainstream music. I find it hard to believe that this is a natural stagnation that has occurred as some state and rather more so a deliberate removal of an influential and motivational force available to the public, perhaps it is a controlled demolition of music? There is plenty of good music out there, whether its pop, rock whatever, but unless you actively search it out, its not going to find you and your not going to find it. I like this quote that I read last week from a guy called Tim Hall – “Never forget that the majors’ business model is based on keeping the public from hearing music that the majors don’t own” – this I feel is very true, and over the many years I have been doing this, the options for self promotion seem to be decreasing, and if any new avenues appear they are very soon closed off. In some ways its a reflection of the world today where corporations grow bigger, monopolise and restrict individuality, creating an identikit world of mundanity. The only real way for any music that is both created and produced independently to become successful is through people power, word of mouth and endorsements from the public, just as any change in society can only truly be achieved through a collective show of strength. So if you like my songs or any other musicians/bands that self release their own music, please share and tell your friends about them as it means so much.
Progarchy: Thank you so much, John, for your time as well as your insights. You are the future of prog.