Fractal Mirror #4

I’m thrilled by this news.  The first three albums were extraordinary, and I’m sure #4 will live up to expectations.  And, to make it all even better, FRACTAL MIRROR is now a part of the Bad Elephant Music family.  In addition to Kscope and Karisma, who doesn’t love Bad Elephant!!!

No. 4

Bad Elephant Music is delighted to announce that internationally renowned progressive rock band Fractal Mirror is joining the family for the release of its new album, Close To Vapour, in early 2018.

For this, their fourth album, core members Leo Koperdraat and Frank L Urbaniak are joined once again by Brett Kull (of Echolyn, and producer for label-mates Valdez) and founder member Ed van Haagen guesting.

“We’re extremely pleased to join the diverse Bad Elephant Music family”, said Frank. “We are confident that together we’ll be reach a wider audience with Close to Vapour. For us this reflects a dramatic step forward in both composition and production, and we’re grateful for BEM giving us this opportunity, and for the confidence they’ve shown in us”.

David Elliott from Bad Elephant had this to say: “I’ve been a keen follower of Fractal Mirror’s music since Strange Attractors, their first album, and we’ve been talking over the last couple of years about working together. The stars finally aligned after I met Frank at RoSFest this year, and with Close To Vapourthey’ve produced their finest work yet. We’re proud to be associated with the guys, and delighted to be once again working with Brett!”

Close To Vapour will be released on CD and high quality digital download in the first quarter of 2018.

Fractal Mirror are:
Leo Koperdraat: voice, Mellotron, guitars, keyboards, recorder and programming
Frank L. Urbaniak: drums & percussion

with:
Brett Kull: guitars, bass, keyboards, backing vocals
Ed van Haagen: occasional keyboards

Leo and Frank formed the band in 2013 (with Ed van Haagen, pictured above), after discovering each other’s demos posted on online music forums. Both have long been involved in the progressive music scenes in their relevant home countries, The Netherlands and the United States. Frank was involved in the progressive scene during his college years in Essence, with Larry Fast, which led to Synergy and Larry’s involvement with Peter Gabriel and others.

Fractal Mirror’s music represents a multitude of progressive, pop, rock and indie influences, having drawn comparisons to David Bowie, Tears for Fears, R.E.M. Psychedelic Furs, Blackfield and No-Man. Their debut album, Strange Attractors, gained positive reviews, with follow up Garden of Ghosts, making the shortlist for a Grammy award nomination. By third album Slow Burn 1 the band had secured the talents of Brett Kull (Echolyn) as producer, and to add additional musical embellishments.

Their new album, Close to Vapour, introduces further influences from the likes of The Grays, Jellyfish, Pugwash and Beck. Lush vocal harmonies abound, with perhaps a rougher musical edge being introduced, all without losing the characteristic Fractal Mirror sound. Close To Vapour will be released by Bad Elephant Music in the first quarter of 2018.

Fractal Mirror website

Lunatics United: A Partial and Subjective Guide to the Singles of Tears for Fears

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The first TFF b-side compilation, 1991.

Though best known in the prog community for their actual albums–such as SONGS FROM THE BIG CHAIR or EVERYBODY LOVES A HAPPY ENDING–Tears for Fears is also the master of the single.  Perhaps this is an artifact of the innumerable remixes of the 1980s, the decade of their origins, or, perhaps, the ideas of Roland Orzabal and Curt Smith just never stop and cannot be contained by an album. Looking over their history as a band and as individuals, I think I’ll choose the latter explanation.  Throughout the band’s thirty-four year career, amazingly enough, Tears for Fears has only released six studio albums.  In that same period, though, the band has released dozens of singles, each different in style, theme, and genre.  While their albums tend toward the progressive pop of PET SOUNDS by the Beach Boys or SKYLARKING by XTC, their singles range all over the place, traversing and, at moments, transcending, both space and time.

One can, however, effectively divide the singles into three types: covers; rock and pop cinematic outbursts; and prog and electronica experimentalism.  The band has released these in a variety of forms: box sets; cd singles; one compilation album; and as bonus tracks.

Continue reading “Lunatics United: A Partial and Subjective Guide to the Singles of Tears for Fears”

I Love You But I’m Lost: New Tears for Fears

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The new greatest hits compilation from Tears for Fears.  Available November 10, 2017, from Mercury Records.

As I’ve had the opportunity to argue many times over on Progarchy, Tears for Fears is my favorite pop band, and I consider Roland Orzabal the greatest living writer of pop music. Huge claims, I know.  But, then again, I’m from Kansas, and I’m a Birzer.  If I didn’t speak with apparent hyperbole, my brain and soul might just very well explode.

My feelings toward TFF have been with me since I first heard SONGS FROM THE BIG CHAIR, 32 years ago.  If my convictions about TFF and Orzabal have wavered, I’ve not been aware of such.

Seeing them live has only further convinced me in my claims.

The new single–while, to me, surprising in the direction taken–does nothing to alter my previous claims.  Now available on iTunes, the new single is the first music the band has released since the 2014 Record Day exclusive EP of three covers, READY BOYS AND GIRLS?  Before that, the band had released two new songs as bonus tracks on its 2005 live album, SECRET WORLD.

The new single is a rather direct pop-dance single, with rave-like keyboards, high-pitched vocals, and an anthemic refrain.

For those of us hoping for a brand new album, we’re a bit disappointed, as the new single comes with a new greatest hits package, RULE THE WORLD.  A second new single, “Stay,” also appears on RULE THE WORLD (itself, available on November 10, 2017, from Mercury Records).

Let’s hope and pray that the rumored album, THE TIPPING POINT, is still forthcoming.

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

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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.

Forthcoming: THE TIPPING POINT by Tears for Fears

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Curt Smith and Roland Orzabal

I’m thrilled to learn that the forthcoming Tears for Fears album has a name: THE TIPPING POINT.  At the moment, the title is a tentative one, more indicative of the band’s desires and aspirations than of any confirmed realizations.

It’s been, amazingly enough, thirteen years since the band’s last studio album, EVERYBODY LOVES A HAPPY ENDING.

Westword has a really good article and interview here:

http://www.westword.com/music/roland-orzabal-of-tears-for-fears-talks-ahead-of-fiddlers-green-concert-9002721

I, for one, have no doubt that this will be a worthy successor to EVERYBODY and a brilliant album.  I’m pretty convinced that Orzabal is our great living pop musician.

Pre-Order New Steven Wilson

Just about two hours ago, the pre-orders for the new Steven Wilson album, TO THE BONE, began.  The release comes in four versions, with the deluxe box set being limited in number.

To pre-order from Steven Wilson’s official store, go here: https://store.universalmusic.com/stevenwilson/*/*/To-The-Bone-Box-Set/5IVP0000000

Below is the first video from the album.  According to the official write up, Talk Talk’s THE COLOUR OF SPRING and Tears for Fears’ SEEDS OF LOVE serve as two of the three inspirations for the album, labeled as “progressive pop.”  The third is Peter Gabriel’s SO.

NAO’s THE THIRD DAY

NAO, THE THIRD DAY (Kscope/Snapper, 2014).  Tracks: Great Plains II; Elsewhere; August; A Nice Little Place; Penrose; Do Something Useful; Wires; Pines of Eden; Dust; When to Stop.

NAO TTD cover art
Not sure if The Third Day is related to Genesis, but it is epic.

And God said, “Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear.” And it was so. God called the dry ground “land,” and the gathered waters he called “seas.” And God saw that it was good. Then God said, “Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds.” And it was so.  The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.  And there was evening, and there was morning—the third day.–GENESIS, Chapter 1

Though NAO’s Sam Healy is not religious in the least, there might be something culturally reflective here.  I have no idea, frankly.  But, I’m sure I’m not the only who imagined the Jewish creation story when reading the title of NAO’s third album.

Whatever the origin of the title, I was actually prompted to re-reveiw the album because of listening to the NAO compilation, LIBRARY STRIKES THE LIBRARY TWICE.  Listening to  the three tracks on that “best of,” taken from THE THIRD DAY, and listening to them out of context gave me an entirely new perspective on the 2014 album.

Continue reading “NAO’s THE THIRD DAY”

Massive SAND/Sam Healy Sale

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Sadly, not everyone is born a handsome Irish man.  Then, again, some are.  Sam Healy.

One of my all-time favorite musicians, Sam Healy (North Atlantic Oscillation), has his second SAND album, the extraordinary A SLEEPER, JUST AWAKE on sale for $9 (cd and download) or $6 (download).

Definitely worth taking advantage of.  SAND’s A SLEEPER, JUST AWAKE was certainly one of my top three albums of 2016.  Healy understands sound as well as anyone in the scene today (or yesterday).

https://www.musicglue.com/sandtheband

Up and Over: Mew’s AND THE GLASS HANDED KITES

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Such a hideous cover for such a perfect album.  What were these guys thinking with this cover?  It ranks up there with LOVE BEACH.

Many years ago now, I bought my first Mew album, FRENGERS, because of the recommendation of Big Big Train’s Greg Spawton.  Greg has impeccable music tastes (and book recommendations as well), so I was more than happy to learn of the Danish band.

I can state with no exaggeration that FRENGERS pretty much blew me away.

To a lesser extent, the same true of NO MORE STORIES.

Only very recently did I purchase AND THE GLASS HANDED KITES.  For whatever reason, it’s difficult to obtain in North America.  I had to order a used copy.

Whatever I thought of Mew’s other albums, this one is perfection itself.  It’s not only magnitudes better than their other albums (which are already excellent), but AND THE GLASS HANDED KITES is up there with PET SOUNDS, SONGS FROM THE BIG CHAIR, and SKYLARKING.

In other words, we’re now in the realm of prog-pop godhood.  Holy schnikees.  If you don’t have AND THE GLASS HANDED KITES, get it now.  Granted, the album art is simply terrible, but don’t judge an album by its cover!!!

A proper review is forthcoming.