International progressive rock outfit UMÆ have previously launched two singles via PROG Magazine and Prog-Sphere.com, and coming today exclusively via Progarchy is the third single from the upcoming full-length debut “Lost in the View.” A new single titled “Drift” can be streamed below.
Vocalist and guitarist Anthony Cliplef, guitarist and backing vocalist Guðjón Sveinsson, and drummer Samy-George Salib have gathered a line-up of guest musicians for the debut album, with singer John Wesley (solo, Porcupine Tree), guitarist Eric Gillette (Neal Morse Band, Mike Portnoy’s Shattered Fortress), keyboardist Adam Holzman (Steven Wilson, Miles Davis), and bassist Conner Green (Haken) being the most prominent names.
About “Drift,” Anthony Cliplef commented: “I wrote the outro section years ago, on guitar. The outro and the rest of the song remained as two separate pieces for a long time, until I coincidentally played them back-to-back. From there, this became the seed of another track which Guðjón and I would collaborate on. I had lyrics for the outro, which were never used, however, the melody was still viable. We ended up putting in an ebow line using that very melody I had in mind, which G’s string arrangement would echo towards the end. In this track, Conner returns on bass, with an inspired bass line, brilliantly reflecting some of the vocal melody in the verses, and bolstering the building power of the outro. Jamison Smeltz, lays down an amazing sax solo towards the end, backed by a powerful string arrangement and rising tension on all instruments.“
Guðjón Sveinsson adds: “Compared to the previous singles, this track displays more of the melancholic feel that is strewn around the album. Building up from stripped down verses to a grand ending, it gives off a range of related, yet distinct emotions.“
“Lost in the View” is to be launched on January 3rd. Stream “Drift” below, and visit UMÆ’s official website for more information. Follow the band on Facebook and Instagram.
Now here is an interesting and promising new Prog band. UMÆ is an internation trio featuring guitarist Guðjón Sveinsson, singer/guitarist Anthony Cliplef, and drummer Samy George-Salib. The band has recently launched a debut single “Turn Back Time” via Prog Magazine which features guest contributions by John Wesley (Porcuine Tree) and Haken bassist Conner Green. Their debut album “Lost in the View” is out in December, and beside mentioned gentlemen it also features Adam Holzman (Steven Wilson, Miles Davis) and Eric Gillette (Neal Morse Band).
Read an interview with Anthony and Guðjón below.
Hello! Thanks for responding to this interview. How have you guys been lately?
G: We’ve been great thank you! Excited for the release, and hard at work preparing for it.
How might you introduce yourselves to new potential listeners?
A: UMÆ is an experience; emotional; meaningful; energetic; somber; melancholic. We are all over the board, but I swear it is cohesive. [laughs]
What inspired the name of the band — UMÆ?
A: Guðjón and I were spitballing a lot of ideas during the demoing phase, some more jokingly than others, but we settled on this one, which uses Icelandic characters, but doesn’t mean anything in Icelandic. I like the idea of a word that isn’t already defined. It gives us the opportunity to define it by the music and artwork we create and associate with it.
How did UMÆ initially form as a creative unit?
A: Well, I went on a trip to a prog festival, where I ended up meeting and playing music with Guðjón, Samy, and many other people. We all had similar interests in music, and we all enjoyed sharing the stage together.
After I returned home from the trip, I was inspired by the jamming, so I decided to contact Guðjón about possibly collaborating on some music. I sent some rough demos, he shared some examples of his own, we shared bands with each other. From there, we laid out plans for me to travel across the ocean to Iceland and start writing. Very soon we sent demos over to Samy and convinced him to commit to the project.
You are about to release a debut album titled “Lost in the View.” Where did the inspiration for it come from and how did you go about the whole process of writing and recording it?
G: In essence it just comes down to our love of music, and willingness to create. It’s hard to pinpoint a specific inspiration for the exact music featured on the album. Some of it was written well before we started working on it together, as far back as 10 years, which was the case for the already-released single “Turn Back Time”. The lyrical concept came as a sort of reaction to the music, and we soon found ourselves writing around that concept.
Over the 6 initial weeks that Anth spent in Iceland, we recorded and arranged demos for the whole album. We started in my living room; plugged in a guitar and played whatever was on our minds. In about three weeks we already had the basis to all the songs. The remaining three weeks were spent arranging the song structures, filling in blanks and sculpting the general vision for the sound of the record. Some of these early demo recordings even made it into the final product. We focused on retaining the initial feeling we got from each and every part, and enhancing it further with the arrangements, and later on lyrics.
The recording process took place literally over the world. We recorded drums with Samy in Toronto over an intense 3 day session. Over the course of a year, we’ve built the layers on top of these bed tracks, with recording taking place in 4 locations in Iceland, 5 different home studios in the US, and more recently, in Sweden. We’ve been tweaking and adding stuff along the way down to these very last days.
UMÆ is a trio in its core but the upcoming full-length release features quite a number of guest musicians, including John Wesley (Porcupine Tree), Conner Green (Haken), Adam Holzman (Steven Wilson) and Eric Gillette (Neal Morse Band). How did the collaboration with each of them come about? How much did they actually contribute in the writing phase?
G: Once the music started coming together, we soon started looking at people that we thought would be a good fit for various parts of the album. We had a good feeling about the music, and decided to aim high from the get-go.
Fairly early in the process we reached out to Conner, who was up for the task, and eventually played on most of the album. At that time all the foundations to the songs were already laid out on guitar and drums, along with some of the main melodies. We left it up to him to interpret the bass parts, and were really happy with the end results.
On the keyboard front, most of the album features Magnús Jóhann, a brilliant young player from Iceland who we worked closely with. On two of the heavier songs however, we wanted to try a little different “flavor”, and figured Adam Holzman might be good fit. So we contacted him; thankfully he was up for it and was able to find a time within his touring schedule to record it. Similarly there the songs were already laid out, and we presented our rough idea of the sounds we were going for. His take on it ended up being just right.
We wrote and recorded all the vocals initially, but didn’t feel our voices were the right fit for certain songs. Samy had encountered John Wesley around the time we were exploring options for these songs, and presented the idea of his involvement. He was up for giving it a shot, and when we heard his take on “Turn Back Time” we were immediately sold.
On one of the tracks we entertained the idea of having a guest solo spot. Eric Gillette responded quickly to our inquiry, and before we knew it we had a killer solo in our hands! He’s such an amazing player, and we’re really stoked to have him appear on the track.
What can be expected from the upcoming album? Would you say the released single for “Turn Back Time” is an accurate sample?
G: Yes and no. The track contains some of the main themes from the album, and lyrically is somewhat representative of the concept, but definitely does not cover the wide range of influences we tap into throughout the album. It’s a good start of the journey that gets a nod here and there, but the atmosphere shifts to a bleaker tone as the album progresses.
What’s your songwriting process like?
A: Guðjón kind of touched on that already, but I’ll elaborate a bit. When I compose a piece from beginning to end, like our aforementioned single, I typically work from a melody and or chord idea, and sometimes just a rhythmic idea. I like to use programming software to document the guitar I’ve come up with, then build the other instruments around it. It’s all midi programmed, but it gives me a good sense of what the song could sound like.
When Guðjón and I were co-writing songs, there were many times where he had a riff or two, I had a riff or two, we placed them in order, and basically connected the dots by filling in the middle. Sometimes we had no idea how we were going to make two parts connect, but we managed to pull them together. So that’s a bit of a deeper glimpse into the process.
What are your ultimate hopes for UMÆ as a band?
G: Hopefully we’ll eventually manage to make a living out of making and performing music. Anything beyond that is a bonus really.
I’m kidding, world domination of course.
Do you have any bigger plans for the future?
G: Bigger? For sure, although we can’t really say much at this point, other than that these plans are currently in formation.
The last words are yours.
A: To keep up with UMÆ, our single releases, album release, touring plans, and all other major news, go to https://www.umaeband.com/
John Wesley launches new track ‘to outrun the light’
Renowned singer / songwriter & guitarist John Wesley is set to release his forthcoming 8th studio album ‘a way you’ll never be’ on October 7th, 2016 on InsideOut Music. Following the recent launch of the track ‘by the light of a sun’, he is now pleased to reveal the next new track, the atmospheric seven minutes long ‘to outrun the light’.
John had this say: “The lyrics in this song try and touch upon that moment when you know your life is going to change forever and there is nothing you can do about it. You begin to question your own identity. You look back on all the years invested and fear that everything you thought you knew, was wrong to begin with. You wonder if perhaps, you have, “outrun the light”.”
Pre-order the album digitally from iTunes or AmazonMP3, and receive both ‘to outrun the light’ and ‘by the light of a sun’ immediately:
‘a way you’ll never be’ was produced by Jim Morris at the legendary Morrisound Studios and you can find the full track-listing below:
1. by the light of a sun (5:32)
2. a way you’ll never be (7:18)
3. to outrun the light (7:07)
4. the revolutionist (5:57)
5. nada (5:41)
6. the silence in coffee (5:09)
7. unsafe space (4:17)
8. sun.a.rose (6:44)
9. epic (4:51)
10. pointless endeavors (03:38)
The album will be available in Digipak CD, Digital Download.
John Wesley has built a long and varied career as a songwriter, guitarist, and recording artist. His music has been called lyrically sensitive and musically dynamic. His song-writing style incorporates emotionally-charged vocals that evoke the honesty and intimacy of Roger Waters and Patty Griffin coupled with a melodic yet intricate guitar style reminiscent of David Gilmour, Alex Lifeson, and Jeff Beck. John Wesley has performed as guitarist/vocalist for critically acclaimed UK based recording act Porcupine Tree, during the “In Absentia”, “Deadwing”, “Fear of a Blank Planet”, and “The Incident” world tours with whom he played with for nine years, culminating in 2010 with sold out performances at Radio City Music Hall and the Royal Albert Hall.
In support of the album, John will head out as support to Marillion & Steven Wilson in the US & Canada and you can find the full list of dates below:
Friday 21 October 2016 – The Regency Ballroom San Francisco, CA, USA
Saturday 22 October 2016 – Saban Theater Beverly Hills Beverly Hills, CA, USA
Tuesday 25 October 2016 – Paramount Theatre Denver, CO, USA
Thursday 27 October 2016 – Vic Theatre Chicago, IL, USA
Friday 28 October 2016 – Vic Theatre Chicago, IL, USA
Saturday 29 October 2016 – Hard Rock Live Northfield, OH, USA
Monday 31 October 2016 – Danforth Music Hall Toronto, ON, Canada
Tuesday 1 November 2016 – Virgin Mobile Corona Theatre Montreal, QC, Canada
Wednesday 2 November 2016 – L’Impérial Bell Québec, QC, Canada
Friday 4 November 2016 – Royale Boston Boston, MA, USA
Saturday 5 November 2016 – 9:30 Club Washington, DC, USA
Sunday 6 November 2016 – Keswick Theatre Philadelphia, PA, USA
Tuesday 8 November 2016 – Playstation Theater New York, NY, USA
With Steven Wilson
Thursday 17 November 2016 – Center Stage Atlanta, GA, USA
Friday 18 November 2016 – The Plaza Live Orlando, FL, USA
Saturday 19 November – State Theatre Tampa, FL, USA
Sunday 20 November – Culture Room Fort Lauderdale, FL, USA
Look out for more information on the album in the coming weeks.
A new studio album by the one and only John Wesley. His eighth it seems, while he also worked (and still works) with a lot of different artists/bands as guest or tour musician. Busy guy! I really like his previous studio album named Disconnect, so I was very curious about this one!
The album contains ten tracks and is almost one hour long. John Wesley plays the guitars and provides the lead vocals. The present bass sound is something I quite like, thanks to Sean Malone, and Mark Prator is responsible for the drums & percussion. There’s a special dark grunge undertone in most of the tracks, which I really like a lot, and it’s still “proggy” enough for the die-hard prog rock fan. The album carries the same vibe constantly, so if you don’t like that certain vibe you probably don’t like to listen to the album in its entirety. Luckily I adore that dark vibe. This is probably something a lot of Porcupine Tree friends will appreciate. I don’t say that it sounds like Porcupine Tree, but it somehow carries a special atmosphere that you can really appreciate as a PT fan. I think it’s because of some of the guitar riffs and sounds John uses.
It immediately starts in your face with By The Light Of A Sun. My favourite on the album! A Way You’ll NeverBecarries a bit of a Rush vibe. You think the song is over after four minutes, but it turns into a long instrumental outro, reminding me a bit of the music the bandAmplifier makes. To Outrun The Light is even heavier and darker than the previous two tracks, and I really enjoy the guitar solo. The Revolutionist is a more up tempo track, and carries that Porcupine Tree vibe I mentioned earlier. You would think that Nada is a song that is less heavy than the other ones, but the intro puts you on the wrong track. Another pearl on this album, with lovely heavy guitar sounds and solos, and amazing bass and drum solos too! This would be an amazing live track! The Silence In Coffee (love the title of this one) is a quieter song, but the raw voice of John carries a heavy load. The outro is beautiful and ambient like. Unsafe Space is an instrumental piece, and has that real grungy/bluesy feel. Sun.a.rose sucks you back into the vibe the album carries at the first tracks. Epic has some sort of Black Sabbath meets prog feel, and fades intoPointless Endeavors, which is the last, and also shortest track on the album.
Let me say that John Wesley is a very talented guy! I can understand that not everyone will like his voice, but it shouldn’t be something to avoid this album, so at least give it a try. I have to admit that the album loses a bit of power at the end, but this is something I would recommend to a lot of people to listen to. A must have!
My new album, ‘a way you’ll never be’ is scheduled for release on October 7, 2016 on InsideOut Music!
’a way you’ll never be’ was fairly big step for me in that I have worked extremely hard at bringing the two sides of my writing together: the “acoustic singer songwriter” and the “electric heavy guitar” elements. This album is most certainly the set of songs that has successfully combined my introspective lyrics with the aggressive type of guitar playing and writing that I love.
The album will feature Mark Prator on drums & percussion, and Sean Malone (Cynic) on Bass. The themes of the lyrics, the melodies, and the playing make these my favourite, most cohesive and adventurous set of tracks to date. Stylistically the songs revisit some of the guitar music of the 70’s that grabbed me and made me want to be a guitarist. Sonically I combined those 70’s big guitar tones with the modern sounds available to us as guitarists today.
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.
InsideOut Music recently signed John Wesley to its label, and his new album, Disconnect, will be available March 31 in Europe and April 1 in the U.S. I’m not pulling an April Fools’ joke when I say that it is my favorite album of 2014 so far (despite stiff competition from the likes of John “KingBathmat” Bassett, Gazpacho, and Transatlantic).
Who is John Wesley? Hailing from Tampa, Florida, he’s an enormously talented guitarist and vocalist who has toured with Porcupine Tree, Fish, and Steven Wilson. Check out Porcupine Tree’s DVD, Anesthetize, to see how integral he was to their live show. As a matter of fact, after watching that DVD, I wondered why Steven Wilson didn’t go ahead and make Wesley an official member. His guitar playing and vocals added a new and exciting dimension to Wilson’s songs.
Approaching Wesley’s new solo work, I had low expectations – sidemen often fail to carry the load of an entire album. (Tony Levin is my all-time favorite bassist, but his solo stuff just doesn’t do anything for me.) Suffice it to say, from the opening chords of the first track, “Disconnect”, to the spacey fadeout of “Satellite”, this is a jaw-dropping collection of songs. There isn’t a weak track in the whole bunch as Wesley runs through a wide range of styles, all the while rocking like a maniac.
I hear hints of Pink Floyd in the aforementioned “Satellite”, Rush (none other than Alex Lifeson lends a hand on “Once a Warrior”), and Lindsey Buckingham in “Windows”. “Gets You Every Time” is an aural blast of pure joy in the vein of classic Cheap Trick.
The highlight has to be the transcendent and chiming “Mary Will”. In it, Wesley sings like a desperate man clinging to his last hope:
“In the cleansing rain, you stand by her.
In the roses, miracles will occur.
Never to forgive, never yourself,
Not even Mary’s son dared to offer help,
But maybe Mary will stand for you.
Maybe Mary will stand for you.
Maybe Mary will have a word for you”.
A spiraling, yearning, yet perfectly restrained guitar solo brings this brief masterpiece to a close.
John Wesley is a major talent in rock, both as a performer and a songwriter. Kudos to InsideOut Music for making his music available to a larger audience. Disconnect is a must-have if you value passion, brilliance, and depth in your music.