Rick’s Quick Takes: The Pineapple Thief, Where We Stood (In Concert)

by Rick Krueger

Today is — well, sort of —  the official release day for The Pineapple Thief’s Where We Stood concert video.  Turns out that, while vinyl and downloadable/streaming audio versions are now available, the Blu Ray, DVD and CD versions have been delayed until early October.  Kudos go to the fine folks at Burning Shed for sending along mp3s of the full concert to folks who pre-ordered in those formats!

After just one listen, I’m mightily impressed.  Back in my eMusic subscriber days, I ran across the Thief via the albums Tightly Unwound and Someone Here Is Missing, enjoying them thoroughly.  A decade ago, high quality new prog was still scarce enough that I absolutely delighted in hearing Bruce Soord and company plowing similar furrows to Steven Wilson in Porcupine Tree.  Unfortunately, the follow-ups All the Wars and Magnolia were, as our head Progarchist put it last year, good but bland.  Thankfully, 2016’s Your Wilderness was a major step back up, as Gavin Harrison’s stylish, tasty drumming slotted in with Soord’s sleek new tunes and moody guitar lines to hypnotic effect.

So Where We Stood is the right move at the right time, capturing the re-energized Pineapple Thief onstage in London, with an enthusiastic crowd egging them on.   Harrison is astonishing and impeccable as always, driving the band with relentless grooves and jaw-dropping fills, locking tight with Jon Sykes’ powerful bass lines.  While Steve Kitch’s keyboards conjure impressive atmosphere, Darran Charles and Soord seamlessly slide from badass surf music riffs to full-on metal chording, inspiring Soord to new heights of vocal power and expression.  This Thief rocks hard, with guts and class, in the service of first-rate songs from throughout their checkered career.

I’m optimistic that the visuals of Where We Stood will match the excellence of the music; in my opinion, the chance to see Gavin Harrison weaving his percussive magic in close-up is gonna be worth the wait all by itself.  Plus the Blu-Ray also includes Your Wilderness, 8 Years Later and bonus acoustic tracks in 24/96 stereo and surround.  If you haven’t ordered this baby yet, what are you waiting for?

 

Leave The Anger Out of It: Let’s Just Enjoy

Steven-Wilson-To-The-Bone-Banner

There’s no doubt, it’s fun to be self-righteous from time to time.  Well, “fun” for the writer, if not for the reader.

I’ve been patiently waiting for my deluxe box set of TO THE BONE to arrive in Michigan.  It finally arrived today, and it’s a thing of beauty and wonder, at least in terms of packaging.  It’s now my fourth such Steven Wilson deluxe box set, and I assume the deluxe edition will always be my default purchase option when it comes to any thing new Wilson releases.

Our own beloved Richard has already reviewed the new album rather nicely and objectively.

I’ve only given the album a listen or two.  It’s pretty neat, but it’s not grabbed me in the way that the previous solo albums have.  Such is life.  I’m going to let my like or dislike of it grow organically.

Still, I must write this.  Not liking the album is an OK position to hold.  I saw several folks today on social media claiming that if you don’t like the new Steven Wilson, you’re betraying the prog tradition.  What the ????????  Let me repeat that: What the ????????

One more time: What the ??????

There are days I simply need to detox regarding social media and, especially, Facebook.  For some reason, the new Steven Wilson has become a lightning rod in the way Donald Trump is a lightning rod.  One either hates or loves him.  No via media.

If I choose not to decide, I still have made a choice.  So once spoketh Neil Peart.  And, I agree wholeheartedly.

Richard Barbieri’s Prog-Electronica Genius

richardbarbieriI was first exposed to that exotic, amorphous musical genre called “electronica” in junior high by a friend who listened to what we called “weird stuff”. I’m not even sure what it was; some of it was from Japan. It made a dent in my memory banks, however, because until then my musical interests had been confined to some classical (Brahms! Mozart! Good!), Top 40 rock (Queen! Also good!), and lots of mediocre CCM (Not good!). During my high school years I listened to a good deal of The Alan Parsons Project, in part because of the huge hit “Eye In the Sky”; I eventually collected all of the APP albums. Parsons, of course, has straddled the worlds of progressive rock and mainstream pop/rock with his production prowess, writing, and work with keyboards and Fairlight programming. In hindsight, his music opened the door in various ways to music that was more overtly electronic.

(A quick, semi-related aside: A good friend in high school, who spent a lot of money on a fabulous car stereo system, liked to alternate between playing—very loudly—the raunchy rap of 2 Live Crew and the muzak of Yanni: the first to demonstrate his system’s bass; the latter to show off it’s high end. I’m not sure which music scarred me more.)

In the late Eighties and early Nineties there was an explosion of so-called “New Age” music (which had been around since the Sixties and whose identity has been hotly debated for decades), much of which was ambient or involved whales bellowing, birds chirping, and flowers clapping their petals. I mostly  ignored it, but did eventually latch onto the music of Patrick O’Hearn, whose solo albums on the Private Music label were lush, complex, mysterious, evocative, and never boring, even at their most sedate. O’Hearn, like all of the finest electronica artists, is the master of tone and mood; the music is rarely about virtuosity—unlike wide swaths of prog rock—but about constructing layers and movements. I liken it to a painter who builds layers of luminosity into his work through patient precision (more on the visual arts parallel in a moment).

Not surprisingly, there was a lot of cross-pollination going on between some “New Age” artists and various progressive rock groups and musicians. O’Hearn, who has legit jazz chops—he studied with jazz giant and bassist Gary Peacock—played with Frank Zappa as a youngster, and then with the new-wave band Missing Persons; the Private Music label featured a number of musicians with deep ties to progressive rock. (Another good example of this relationship can be found in Jon Anderson’s albums with Kitaro and Vangelis.) In the 1990s I bought several albums by Moby, Portishead, Björk, Aphex Twin, and Massive Attack, even while I ignored (for whatever reason) other key artists (Brian Eno, for instance).

Richard Barbieri is, of course, no stranger to prog fans, being a key member of Japan and Porcupine Tree and having worked in a number of other settings. His new album “Planets + Persona” [Kscope Music] is his third solo album, following 2005’s “Things Buried” and 2008’s “Stranger Inside”, both of which I enjoyed quite a bit. The three albums are similar in many ways, but this new album seems, to me, to be warmer, more organic (or acoustic), and more contemplative. Geno Thackara, at AllAboutJazz.com, explains it so: Continue reading “Richard Barbieri’s Prog-Electronica Genius”

Richard Barbieri News from Kscope

Richard Barbieri

Richard Barbieri’s third solo album ‘Planets + Persona’ is OUT NOW, check out the 360° video for “Solar Sea”.

“What other planets are out there? Could there be any life 40 light-years away?” – The new 360° video for Richard Barbieri’s track “Solar Sea”, explores these questions, imagines these new worlds – colliding planets, ice crystals inside a hollow comet, volcanic asteroids spewing molten lava into open space and a breathtaking finale.

Richard Barbieri

WATCH HERE www.kscopemusic.com/rb

Continue reading “Richard Barbieri News from Kscope”

Bloody Dreams and Loveless Prog

loveless
LOVELESS, released November 4, 1991.

It’s rather hard for me not to feel a twinge of nostalgia as I think back a quarter of a century.  Through my great friends, Craig Breaden, Joel Haskard, and Kevin McCormick, I was discovering a world of neo-psychedelic pop.  Lush, organic, voluptuous.  The Sundays, Catherine Wheel, The Charlatans, House of Love, Mazzy Star, Jane’s Addiction, and the Cocteau Twins were in full (and fulsome!) form.  Phish, Smashing Pumpkins, and Lush were about to hit it big, though I really had no idea just how big they would hit.

Even old mainstays such as The Cure and XTC were releasing some of their best material at the same time.

Continue reading “Bloody Dreams and Loveless Prog”

Wonderful News about Iamthemorning

This, from our great friend, Brian Rocha, and Fresno Media:

RUSSIAN PROGRESSIVE DUO IAMTHEMORNING WINS ‘ALBUM OF THE YEAR’ AT PROGRESSIVE MUSIC AWARDS
“Lighthouse” out now on Kscope
LONDON, U.K. – Russian progressive duo iamthemorning has won the prestigious ‘Album of the Year Award’ for its latest Kscope album release, Lighthouse. The award was presented to the band last night at Prog Magazine’s fifth annual Progressive Music Awards in London. The ceremony took place at the world famous Underglobe beneath Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre.
“This was definitely a night to remember,” commented vocalist Marjana Semkina upon receiving the award. “We were of course very excited about attending as it is a great chance to catch up with old friends and meet some new people – some of the finest people of Prog, I should say! And that’s it, we never even thought we’d get the award.
“The nominees in our category are all so amazing, some of them are our good friends too, and it feels generally awkward to sneak the award from them, because every single one of them deserves it. But we are of course really happy and humbled, it is such a great honor for us to actually win, and it’s so inspiring. Big thanks to our team of engineers that put all their time into this project – Marcel van Limbeek, Gianluca Capacchione and Vlad Avy, as well as people that contributed their amazing musicianship, including Gavin Harrison, Colin Edwin and Mariusz Duda, this whole thing wouldn’t be possible with all of them. We hope that more than anything it will give us a chance to actually start playing Europe properly, but for now I can’t wait to start working on the next album!”
In addition to the ‘Album of the Year Award,’ iamthemorning has also revealed the official music video to its track, “Libretto Horror,” taken from Lighthouse, on YouTube: https://youtu.be/gFMg2vvLCKw. A live performance of the song from St. Petersburg, Russia’s Aleksandrinksy Theater can also be viewed at https://youtu.be/iLPM8EH767Y.
Lighthouse released via Kscope earlier in 2016, following up the band’s 2014 album Belighted and was described by Prog Magazine as “life affirming, beautiful, heavenly – a monumental album.”
As with Belighted, the engineering and mixing on Lighthouse is handled by Marcel van Limbeek (Tori Amos) and self-produced by Gleb and Marjana. The album also features guest musicians Gavin Harrison (Porcupine Tree, King Crimson) on drums, Colin Edwin (Porcupine Tree) on bass and additional vocals on the album’s title track by Mariusz Duda (Lunatic Soul, Riverside).
Lighthouse is a rich and eclectic album with echoes of classical music, the Canterbury scene, northern folk, jazz and electronic sounds. Featuring a story of the progression of mental illness, the album takes the listener through the stages with the story’s central character, her attempts to fight it, and temporal remission leading to a final breakdown. Lyrically, the works and lives of Virginia Woolf and Sylvia Plath inspire the album.
Recorded across London, Moscow & St Petersburg, the core instrument of the band, the grand piano, was recorded in Mosfilm Studios Moscow, one of the largest and oldest studios in Russia. Founded in 1920, Mosfilm is renowned for recording orchestras for soundtracks for the most famous Soviet-era films, including works by Tarkovsky and Eisenstein.
The album artwork for Lighthouse was created by watercolor artist Constantine Nagishkin who the band has previously collaborated with before.
Lighthouse is available digitally now on iTunes at:
http://smarturl.it/LIGHTHOUSE_DIGITAL and on CD, LP (with MP3 download code) through the Kscope webstore at: www.kscopemusic.com/store.
1. I Came Before the Water (pt. I)
2. Too Many Years
3. Clear Clearer
4. Sleeping Pills
5. Libretto Horror
6. Lighthouse (feat. Mariusz Duda)
7. Harmony
8. Matches
9. Belighted
10. Chalk and Coal
11. I Came Before the Water (pt. II)
12. Post Scriptum
Stay tuned for more information on iamthemorning and Lighthouse, out now on Kscope.
-###-
iamthemorning is:
Marjana Semkina – vocals
Gleb Kolyadin – grand piano, keyboards
iamthemorning online:

RochaNews: Nosound

 
NOSOUND LAUNCHES NEW VIDEO FOR “SOGNO E INCENDIO” FEAT. ITALIAN SINGER ANDREA CHIMENTI
Fifth studio album “Scintilla” out September 2 on Kscope
ROME, Italy – Ahead of the release of its fifth studio album Scintilla on September 2 via Kscope, Nosound has launched a new video for the song “Sogno E Incendio” featuring acclaimed Italian singer Andrea Chimenti. Stream the clip on YouTube at:
Nosound’s Giancarlo Erra explains: “The video was directed by Erika Errante. She was introduced to me by Andrea [Chimenti] via his son, as she had produced a few videos for his band and I wanted a video done by someone else for once, not myself. For this reason I wanted to give her full freedom. All we knew is that we didn’t want to go too literal with the lyrics in the song, but instead expressing the concept in another way. So the concept is explained through the idea of lost and found people and feeling, and transformation from one into the other. It is a more loose and artistic connection, and I liked it a lot for that reason.” 
Giancarlo Erra co-wrote the song with Andrea Chimenti: “Working with Andrea was extremely easy; we discovered we have a common emotional ground, so the theme of my album immediately vibrated with him and together we quickly arrived to the meaning this song was meant for. The song is all about the spark (scintilla) that can ignite a fire, but for that to happen there’s a need for dead dried leaves, or branches, or old paper, so the old and dead stuff that seems useless is what is really needed for the fire to start again.”
 
On the collaboration and creative thought process Chimenti adds: “Giancarlo Erra had long ago sent me an instrumental song to listen to. It struck me immediately and I liked very much the idea of working with him, but as often happens we were busy with various things and that tune remained in the drawer for a while … maybe it was not the time to deal with it because everything happens when it has to happen. At the beginning of this year, after a series of events that have transformed my life, the text and singing for that song were born. The extraordinary piano sequence of Nosound, with its perpetual motion, rolled out the words, one after another like a string of pearls and the album title ‘Scintilla’ was the thread on which they walked. 
 
“The crescendo of the second part suggested to me fire as a purifying element that from a spark turns into a real fire. I love music when it manages to be evocative, calling into dreams and images. The music of this song has in it all that strength and not just that of the dream, but that of the spark, the fire prelude.”
Inspired by personal upheaval and a desire for change, Scintilla is an emotionally complex and musically direct work, presenting a stripped-down set of compositions that mark a major departure from Nosound’s trademark symphonic lushness and production precision. Taking in influences from post rock, shoegaze and alt-singer-songwriters, the album imaginatively utilizes a mostly organic and acoustic sound palette.
In addition to Andrea Chimenti, Anathema’s Vincent Cavanagh lends his distinctive vocals to two of the album’s tracks, and cellist Marianne De Chastelaine returns once more to the Nosound fold (this time in a more free-flowing and improvisational capacity).
An additional Scintilla track and video, “Short Story,” can be streamed on YouTube at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yLtfb-HcTz8&feature=youtu.be and Vimeo at: https://vimeo.com/167108079.
Scintilla is available to pre-order via the Kscope webstore at: https://www.burningshed.com/store/nosound as a deluxe CD/Blu-Ray in Mediabook (with 24 page booklet and Blu-Ray containing HD stereo and 5.1 surround sound mixes, plus additional video content) and audiophile double 180g vinyl edition (mastered at 45rpm to ensure quality) in a gatefold cover with booklet and poly-lined inner bags. Download and streaming versions will be available to pre-order at: http://smarturl.it/SCINTILLA_DIGITAL with instant downloads of “Short Story” and “Sogno E Incendio.”
1. Short Story [02:24]
2. Last Lunch [07:00]
3. Little Man [04:38]
4. In Celebration of Life [05:34]
5. Sogno E Incendio [04:44]
6. Emily [03:19]
7. The Perfect Wife [07:27]
8. Love is Forever [02:51]
9. Evil Smile [04:33]
10. Scintilla [06:27]
Regarded by critics and fans alike as one of the most interesting up and coming alt/art rock bands in Europe, Nosound inventively combines influences from ’70s psychedelia, ’80s/’90s ambient and contemporary alternative, progressive and post rock. The project started as a one man studio project in late 2002 by Giancarlo Erra, but has since grown into a five piece band, evolving into something unique, focused and powerful. The music is evocative and intense, with personal songwriting.
A cathartic album of emotional extremes, Scintilla marks the brave beginning of the second phase of Nosound’s fascinating career. Stay tuned for more information on Nosound and Scintilla, out this September on Kscope.
-###-
Nosound is:
Giancarlo Erra – vocals, guitar, keyboards
Marco Berni – keyboards, vocals
Alessandro Luci – bass, upright bass, keyboards
Paolo Vigliarolo – acoustic/electric guitars
Giulio Caneponi – drums, percussion, vocals
Nosound online:

That Blasted Pineapple Thief! YOUR WILDERNESS

Here I sit, totally spoiled.  I’m drinking a cup of coffee, listening to the wind whisper the many names of the Aspen, and watching the absurdly beautiful dance of the humming birds.  It’s already a perfect day, and I’ve not even gone to Mass yet.

But, I’m here to write about the latest release from The Pineapple Thief, YOUR WILDERNESS (Kscope; out officially on August 12, 2016).

YOUR WILDERNESS
A return to Soordian perfection.

One would be foolish to dismiss the talent of Bruce Soord.  The man is an audiophilic genius, and, when he produces or engineers an album, he’s every bit as good as Trevor Horn, Phill Brown, Rob Aubrey, and Steven Wilson.  He definitely brings his own sound to whatever it is he does, as distinct and yet as beautiful as any of the producers mentioned above.  His imprint on the first release of Matt Cohen’s Ghost Community is quite clear, and I’m presuming the same will be true for the second release of Zee Baig’s Fire Garden.

Continue reading “That Blasted Pineapple Thief! YOUR WILDERNESS”