Lobate Scarp Start Kickstarter for Second Studio Album

Southern California’s Lobate Scarp, headed up by Progarchy’s very own Adam Sears, recently announced a kickstarter to help fund their second studio album. From spacey album art courtesy of David A. Hardy to well-crafted progressive songs, Lobate Scarp deliver on all fronts. The band has announced that Billy Sherwood and Jon Davison of Yes, and Ryo Okumoto Spock’s Beard are scheduled to make guest appearances.   Rich Mouser, whose mixing repertoire includes Spock’s Beard, Transatlantic, and The Neal Morse Band, will once again mix the album, as well as join as a producer. There are multiple pledge levels with different rewards for each level. Definitely check it out: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/timeandspace/lobate-scarps-2nd-studio-album 

It’s a tough world out there for any line of work these days. I can only imagine how tough it is to make a go of it in the music industry, particularly in a genre where the fan base is spread so thinly across the globe. Kickstarters give fans of the genre the opportunity to support their favorite artists. If you haven’t heard Lobate Scarp yet, check out their recent EP and their first album.

Progarchy’s End of Summer Round Up

There has been a lot of quality prog released this summer. Overall I’d say there isn’t as much top tier level stuff (i.e., albums that rank with some of the best ever made in the genre), but there have been a lot of solid albums worthy of your attention released lately. This list won’t be exhaustive, but it should be a good starting point for people looking for some new music. Order is completely arbitrary. Ok maybe this first one is at the top for a reason.

Nad Sylvan – The Regal Bastard

Steve Hackett’s touring vocalist released his best solo album to date this summer. It is a little more accessible than the first two albums in the Vampirate trilogy, but it retains some of the same themes and motifs. Sylvan has a lot of talent, and this album stands above the crowd this summer. If you only listen to one album off this list, choose this one. And check out my interview with Nad from earlier this summer: https://progarchy.com/2019/06/30/the-vampirate-speaks-a-conversation-with-nad-sylvan/

Tool – Fear Inoculum

I’ve only ever passively listened to Tool, but I found this album to be quite good. Was it worth the wait for diehard Tool fans? I’m not sure, but this is a solid album that is heavy without being overpowering. Check out Rick Krueger’s review: https://progarchy.com/2019/09/01/tool-fear-inoculum/

Continue reading “Progarchy’s End of Summer Round Up”

Lobate Scarp – Last Few Days to Pledge for the New Album

Lobate Scarp have only a few more days to reach their goal of $36,090 for the Kickstarter for their new album, You Have it All. For those of you that are unfamiliar with Kickstarter, the band only gets the money if the goal is met or exceeded. If the goal is not met by August 8, 2016, the band gets nothing.

If their latest song, “Beautiful Light,” as well as their first album, Time and Space, are anything to go off of, You Have it All may very well be one of the best albums of 2016. However, this can only happen if they meet their Kickstarter goal: LSalbum2.com.

Check out the lyric video for “Beautiful Light.” It is a fantastic song, very much in the vein of Big Big Train, The Tangent, and Yes.

The band writes on the upcoming album,

You Have It All is centered on the 15+ minute title track. It’s a strong, uplifting piece made up of several parts. The album will consist of 7-8 tracks totaling to about an hour in length. It will contain some powerful tracks such as “Conduit” our first instrumental piece, and “Nothing Wrong”, an anthem of individuality and freedom. In the mix will be some prog-ballads such as our new single “Beautiful Light” and a story of love-lost-but-found-once-more in “And We Tried”. The final track will be the grandiose 9-minute “Flowing With the Change”, which deals with acceptance of the past and looking into the future with exciting possibilities.

For all prog fans out there, Lobate Scarp is a band not to be missed. Please consider pledging your support for their upcoming album – they have whole levels of goodies available for people who pledge their support. The prog world needs innovative bands like Lobate Scarp to keep the genre going, and that can only happen when the fans support the music.

LSalbum2.com

Check out this video for more info on the album campaign:

 

Lobate Scarp: You Have It All @LobateScarp

Get in early on what promises to be another amazing Lobate Scarp album, and a true highlight of 2016!

Their teaser single “Beautiful Light” is magnificent and it will surely leave you wanting more. I myself have been listening to it a lot lately!

Come on, all good people! Find out more details from the Kickstarter video below.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/timeandspace/you-have-it-all-a-new-prog-rock-adventure/widget/video.html

Yes is Still Epic

It seems to me the headline (“Yes: ‘No Epics’ on New Album“) gets the story wrong:

Drummer Alan White shed a little light on the new music during a recent interview, sharing his satisfaction with producer Roy Thomas Baker’s work behind the boards. Looking back on a botched attempt to record with Baker in the ’70s, White called it “A blessing in disguise, because it wasn’t turning out like we wanted it, but this one is. Roy’s doing fine. He’s doing a great job. He’s getting some great sounds on the instruments.”

Baker’s getting those sounds the old-fashioned way, too. As White put it, “We spent quite a while getting the drum sound right. Roy is quite meticulous about which microphones get the right sound. We were using about $50,000 worth of microphones on the drums alone.”

As for the songs, White added, “It’s all fresh music. Everything on the album was conceived within the last year or so. No epics on this album. There are some longer pieces with intricate parts to them, but there are some shorter tracks too which are right to the point.”

Well, that just sounds like it is more 90125 and less Topographic Oceans. So what!

90125 is one of their best albums. So… no reason to panic, Yes fans!

By the way, I find it annoying that the sensationalist headline makes White into the official spokesman for Yes.

How misleading.

At least the original story has a less misleading (although equally sensational) headline.

Speculation mode:

Perhaps the songs from the 70s’ Baker sessions may give us something of a taste of what is in store?

All of the songs associated with the Paris sessions have eventually surfaced, in one form or another. Two (“Tango” and a song once known as “Flower Girl” that was retitled “Never Done Before”) found a home on the 2002 In a Word box set. Four others — including “Dancing with the Light” and “In the Tower” — were part of an expanded remaster of Drama, the 1980 follow up to Tormato. “Everybody Loves You” was later reworked for Anderson’s 1980 solo album Song of Seven.

Additional material from the subsequent Drama sessions also made up the lengthy title track for Yes’ 2011 project Fly From Here, though White says this Yes new album will include all new songs. Don’t look for a similar suite of songs, either.

“It’s all fresh music,” White confirms. “Everything on the album was conceived within the last year or so. No epics on this album. There are some longer pieces with intricate parts to them, but there are some shorter tracks too which are right to the point.”

The title of that one song is actually “Dancing Through the Light.” There is also “Golden Age” and “Friend of a Friend.” These are all great bonus tracks on the Drama reissue.

A tip of the Progarchy hat to our friends in Lobate Scarp for the heads up about this news! (Follow them on Twitter.)

Don’t forget… Yes visits Canada starting next week!

Great Photos and Writeup of PROGRESSIVE NATION AT SEA

Our friend Adam Sears of Lobate Scarp alerted us to an excellent photo diary of the Progressive Nation at Sea cruise.  Enjoy.

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The cruise has now ended. As I write this, I’m walking the two miles from the Port of Miami toward downtown so that I can catch a train to Fort Lauderdale for my flight home. It’s a beautiful Miami morning. The walk is providing me time to reflect on the week and create a rough draft/outline of this chronicle. I expect to clean it up some on the plane. Once I get home, I’ll add some final touches, photos and videos.

I’m having a hard time finding the words to describe the experience of the last few days. Perhaps the word joyous would work best. At least that’s what I think separated this festival from other concerts I’ve attended. Pure joy. From both fans and artists. Everyone on board knew that this was something unique and unprecedented. The bands knew it wasn’t “just another gig” or “just another meet and greet.”

As I detail my day-to-day experience, I’ve decided to write for myself. I’m not sure who else might read this – friends, family, other prog fans. I’ll include enough information that even a non-fan would know what I’m talking about, but I am my main audience. I want to ensure that this memory stays with me as vivid in 40 years as it is now. I’ll likely include many seemingly insignificant, uninteresting details and encounters. Also, in some special moments, like the second Spock’s Beard set, I plan to include some backstory to help capture how the show made me feel. Let’s see if I’m successful.

Successful it is.  To keep reading Kris McCoy’s take, go here: http://www.spatter.net/pn14/01/

Time and Space (Best of 2013 — Part 12)

Continuing with the final three albums of my Top Thirteen of 2013, I now reveal that the #12 slot is reserved for:

Lobate Scarp

Their excellent “Time and Space” disc was actually released on December 12, 2012 (12-12-12) and although it is therefore technically ineligible for a Best of 2013 list, just as I found a loophole to get Chasing Dragons into the #11 slot for 2013, I have found a place at #12 for Lobate Scarp in my Top Thirteen of 2013.

In addition to my riffing on the band’s harmonious use of the number 12 by placing them at #12, my logic of inclusion is that I actually did not get this album until 2013, when somehow the band found a way to make the CD magically appear at home in a bundle of my snail mail. Captivated by the beautiful packaging and lyric booklet, I soon learned that what Carl concluded earlier on this year is absolutely true: this album is a first-rate achievement that deserves wider recognition.

The first track is the title track, “Time and Space.” While other bands will save their longest and most epic prog track for last (two examples from 2013’s best would be Dream Theater’s “Illumination Theory” and Sound of Contact’s “Mobius Slip”), Lobate Scarp instead kicks things off by putting their most epic track first! Wow. It’s a great way to establish their prog bona fides right from the get-go. Nicely done!

Next up is “Jacob’s Ladder,” the only track that is shorter than five minutes long. But it’s really catchy and gives us a chance to catch our breath after the epic opening.

The third track is the excellent “Beginning of Us,” which has an enchanting melody that hooks you in slowly. Then the excitement builds and soon you find yourself either singing or humming along. By the time we hit the second verse, things have gotten so funky, and the tasty synth is so perfect, we hardly expect the stratospheric guitar launch of the instrumental section that soon ensues. But off we go! Again, wow. This is a magnificent song that takes us on quite an interstellar journey in just under seven minutes.

The fourth track, “The Contradiction,” is also a supremely interesting musical journey that showcases the astonishing abilities of these fabulous musicians. These folks have supreme jazz sensibilities that really distinguish them as musicians and that mark their compositions with a peculiar brand of proggy individuality.

My favorite track on the album turns out to be the fifth track, “Save My Soul,” which starts out with an awesome heavy riff before pulling back and then slowly building up to yet more excitement. The track then goes on to have so many interesting changes and contrasts, including an epic horn freakout, that you want to stand up and cheer at the end of the thing. Amazing!

Track six, “Moment,” slows things down, but only for the first few minutes. Pretty soon Lobate Scarp finds their way into yet another one of their trademark grooves, and we get to go on another exhilarating ride with them. Zoom!

The concluding seventh track, “The Mirror,” is an ambitious musical extravaganza that even includes a gigantic choir singing in Latin. Whoa! Man, you have got to give this band kudos. They do not shy away from any sort of daring musical enterprise. Instead, propelled by their wonderful grooves, they boldly go… where no prog has gone before.

Do yourself a huge favor and buy a copy of this album. It is lovingly crafted by people who are obviously musicians’ musicians. Only rarely do ambitious projects like this succeed. But Lobate Scarp has made the jump to hyperspace and you are invited to come along for the ride to the higher musical dimensions of this upper-echelon labor of love.

Give Lobate Scarp some time and space—and volume!

January was incredibly busy. And February was incredibly surreal. When you edit a magazine titled Catholic World Report and the pope resigns while you are fighting the nastiest flu known to mankind, it is really surreal. And a new pope will soon be elected. Whew!lobatescarp_cover

But I’m putting all of that on hold for a few moments so I can write what is apparently my monthly—or is it bi-monthly?—post. I have grand plans to post much more often, but for now it is a monthly splurge. I intended (and promised, I’m ashamed to admit) to review the recently released Lobate Scarp album, “Time and Space”, several weeks ago. Russell Clarke has already penned a Progarchy.com review, but I wanted to also share a few thoughts about the album, in part because Russell and I have different takes on a few things about the album and because I have, at the moment, nothing to add to the many reviews of the excellent new Big Big Train album.

Upon first listening to “Time and Space”, my initial impression was quite positive. I’m happy to say that having now listened to it another 10 or 12 times, that impression remains and deepens.

Three things stand out. First, the production is exceptional. This album sounds fabulous: the sound is clear, warm, rich, and with a lot of depth and “room”, if that’s the right term. This album is worth getting just to listen to with headphones, volume up, in order to enjoy the variety of tones, the tasteful cello passages, the top-notch rhythm section, the robust harmonies, and lots of nifty details.

Now, beginning a review with praise for production values is usually the kiss of death, with a big, fat, “But…” to follow. But, no—there is no “but” to follow as, secondly, the music is also exceptional. Russell mentioned Spock’s Beard as a point of comparison, and I would add Neal Morse and Transatlantic. Considering that Adam Sears, the band’s leader, is the main lyricist, singer, and keyboardist, it seems apt that the group might draw some comparisons to Morse. The band’s site states, “From progressive rock influences like Genesis, Yes, and Phish, to the rock sensibilities of bands like Kansas, Muse, Faith No More and Styx, and a pop infusion of catchy vocals like Simple Minds, The Killers, The Police, Queen, and Foreigner; Lobate Scarp’s unique Progressive Space-Opera Rock music will surely take you on a musical journey you won’t forget.” That’s an interesting mix of musical influences and comparisons, and I can best hear Kansas, Styx, and Queen in the mix, as well as some Pink Floyd, especially in some of the guitar work by Hoyt Binder. The “space-opera” connection is, however, mostly lost on me; in fact, it is a bit confusing, because to my ears there isn’t much in the album—at least musically (more on they lyrics later)—that warrants such a description. Then again, I’m not exactly sure what a space opera is in a musical context, although the album that comes to mind for whatever reason is ELO’s “Time”, a personal favorite. While we at Progarchy.com rightly disdain most labels, or at least treat them as necessary evils, I would hazard that “Time and Space” is much more of a cross-over prog, or neo-prog, album, if only because the songs—while fairly complex and played with obvious skill—have an immediate accessibility. In fact, one of the real joys of this album is the presence of very good melodies, all of which stick with you and don’t become tired or stale after a few spins.

Third, and closely related to the first two, is the playing. The band’s promo material highlights the abundant contributions made to the album:

Over 50 musicians were involved in this progressive space-opera rock extravaganza. Guitars, Drums, Synths, Organs, Trumpets, Saxophone, Viola, Violin, Cello, Theremin, Glockenspiel, and a Latin singing choir were all recorded on this one. Peru Percussionist Alex Acuña (Weather Report) appears as a special guest percussionist and Rich Mouser (Spock’s Beard, Transatlantic, Tears For Fears) mixed and mastered the album.

One might understandably think the resulting album would be overly busy, with endless layers of keyboards, guitars, strings, and whatever else. Surprisingly—and happily—this is not the case, at least not until the climax of the final cut, “The Mirror”, which features a full-blown choir (and to good effect, I think). As mentioned, this album has a lot of room; it breathes well, and part of that is the restraint shown by Sears and Company, who are clearly aware that there is a time and place for a wall of sound approach (at the Big, Choral-Driven End!) and a time for a less-is-more approach. The majority of the album features a very tight four-piece rock group that uses proggy time changes and proggy solos, but without being overtly, relentlessly proggy. This approach, I suspect, might annoy the more purist prog fans, but I think the band demonstrates they know what they want to do, and they do it very well. Besides, the mastery of various styles—notably jazz, classic rock, and some Latin based motifs—is obvious and adds a lot of flavor to the proceedings.

For instance, “Save My Soul” begins with a prog-icized classic rock riff that eventually works into a muscular bass line before Sears enters with a steadily gaining vocal line that finally releases into a big, power-chorded chorus. Then, at about the 3:20 mark, the song breaks down into a funky, fusion-ish segue with vintage keyboards that brings to mind late ‘60s albums (“Bitches Brew”, etc.) by Miles Davis, before eventually works back into a ripping rock song with horns and organ joining the chaotic fray at the end.

And while all of the playing, again, is exceptional, I must single out Sears for his fine vocals (clean and pure in many places; rocking and more raw in others), Binder for his tasteful guitar playing (the sequence in the middle of “Beginning of Us” stands out), and Andy Catt for some dynamic, propulsive bass playing.

Finally, the lyrics. Contra Russell, I heard (and read) the lyrics as working on a couple of different levels: one inter-relational and the other spiritual, or metaphysical. This was confirmed by Sears, who shared the following in an e-mail regarding the song, “The Contradiction”:

I’m sure one may look at it and think that it is about a struggle in a relationship. While this can be true, the deeper meaning of “Contradiction” is about the connection of the spiritual world and the physical world. It is spoken from the point of view of the soul which exists in the spiritual/metaphysical world and this soul is talking to its physical world inhabiter, who is struggling with the contradictions of existing in both worlds. For instance, if there is indeed a spiritual or meta-physical world, this computer I’m typing only exists in the physical world and doesn’t exist at all in the meta-physical world. So it exists, yet doesn’t exist at the same time. If you respect and accept the contradiction your physical self and your soul will be brought together in a strong bond, but if you think too much about the contradiction or try picking it apart, it can drive you mad. “The Contradiction will bring us together or tear us apart.”

I’m not sure I’m on board with the metaphysics outlined here (they sound neo-gnostic, but that’s for another discussion), but the seriousness of the searching is hard to overlook (also readily evident in “Save My Soul”); this is not an ordinary love song. And I suppose the lyrics are what are most obviously “space opera” about the album. Regardless of the descriptive used, I think “Time and Space” is a very good album by a young and talented band that rewards repeated listens—especially loud and with headphones!