Astra! Great News–A Third Album Forthcoming

Astra posted this seven hours ago on social media.  Excellent news!  The first two albums are simply outstanding.  Great psychedelic prog.  The “Prisoner” ending is a little spooky, however!

astra update

First off, I have to apologize for just dropping off the map for so long. You all deserve much more than that and since so many of you have been nice enough to write and ask “What’s going on with ASTRA?” I wanted to give you all a status update.

Back when our drummer David Hurley left ASTRA in 2013, no one could really foresee the difficulties ahead. We knew carrying on without Dave would be a hard road to travel but we had no idea just how much of an impact his departure would have on us. The 5 of us had an undeniable chemistry that just worked so well in every aspect, but especially when it came to songwriting. After Dave left, I think we were all pretty bummed out and while we were working on writing material for our 3rd album, our frustrations slowly started cropping up. We decided to take a short break which turned into a long break, which turned into a longer break, which happens to be where we’re at now. Because of this long hiatus some of the guys have become extremely busy with their own musical projects which, unfortunately, now leaves very little time for ASTRA.

However, I do have some good news! I just recently spoke with all of the original ASTRA members, including Dave, and everyone is down to record a 3rd ASTRA album if we can get enough material together. Another bit of good news is that Stuart and I have been playing and writing together and we’re hoping that we can eventually make this 3rd album a reality.

Now, none of this is a guarantee but I think it is a step in the right direction. ASTRA will always be my baby and my first love when it comes to music and I don’t want to give up on her so I’m going to do all that I can to make this happen. This will most likely take quite some time since everyone is so busy but I will try to keep you all updated as best I can. I will also try to be much more diligent in responding to your emails and messages in the future.

Lastly, a huge THANK YOU is long overdue, so, thank you all for sticking with ASTRA through the years and for being such amazing fans. I love you all more than words can say and I’m going to do my best to bring some new ASTRA music to your ears as soon as possible.

Be seeing you,
-Richard Vaughan

Progressive Rock’s Novel: The Deep Pastoral Englishness of Big Big Train

By a curve of the river/at the end of the road/black waters rise again.–final lines of THE SECOND BRIGHTEST STAR

Tasteful.  Elegant.  These two words enter into my mind and soul, over and over again, at the beginning of every song on the new “companion” album by Big Big Train, THE SECOND BRIGHTEST STAR.  And, not just at the beginning, but in the middle of each, and at the end of each.

Tasteful.  Elegant.

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Artwork by the extraordinary Sarah Ewing.

As I look back over the history of Big Big Train (despite the rather mechanical image of the band’s title), the band seems to have a radically organic life to it.  It’s not changed as much as it’s become.

It began as an oak sapling that struggled in intense competition for light and nourishment.  After a burst of growth, it faltered a bit, and its Entherds, Gregory Aurelius Spawton and Andrew Epictetus Poole, decided to prune it considerably.  In doing so, they allowed it to grow in ways known only to the creator of nature herself.  As with all great things in this world, the band was not invented.  It was discovered.

Tasteful.  Elegant.

Spawton and Poole discovered the necessary talents of D’Virgilio, Gregory, and Longdon, then Manners, and then Hall and Sjöblom, realizing they could not become until they became one.  These Endherds chose not to mix oaks, but rather to graft new chestnuts onto the oak.  Somewhere in the mind of nature, the band had always existed—this profound mix of oak and chestnut—but it’s only come into its own over the past eight years.

Continue reading “Progressive Rock’s Novel: The Deep Pastoral Englishness of Big Big Train”

Rush and The Tangent: Influences and Speed

This morning, Andy Tillison, the mighty and mischievous redhead of the prog world, posted this wonderful essay on how much Rush has influenced him and his music.

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Delayed yesterday owing to the highly unpleasant news about Jonas – and only because I know he’s on the mend – here is the FOURTH of the albums I have chosen to represent some of the influential albums on The Tangent’s career. Once again to stress that this is not a chart, a “best of” – nor is it an effort to say or imply that The Tangent sound like this. Because today – i do not think we sound anything like this band, who (like the previous artist) hail from Canada

rush moving pictures
Perhaps THE greatest album in prog history?

So far my choices have been street credible and artistically laudable I think – and there will be those who heave a sigh of disappointment when they see that I chose an album by Rush. Indeed, I spent many years not having a great deal of time for this group and they didn’t really hit me until the mid 80s. But when they did… they did.

What I find so appealing about Rush – is something that Sally had also identified, independently of me before either of us met.. and that to us – to try an explain, is the MOTION in which Rush songs set themselves. Where many progressive bands take a stand on the hilltops- taking a view of the broader vista, Rush are always IN the landscape, travelling through it – usually at some speed! They’re looking at the hills that others are standing on – as they whizz past gas stations and motels, steel works and a very very familiar real world environment.

Continue reading “Rush and The Tangent: Influences and Speed”

From White to Red: Ultravox, LAMENT (1984)

Review of Ultravox, LAMENT (Chrysalis, 1984).  Tracks: White China; One Small Day; Dancing With Tears in My Eyes; Lament; Man of Two Worlds; Heart of the Country; When the Time Comes; and A Friend I Call Desire.

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The end of the quartet of excellence.

Though the album came out in 1984, Ultravox’s LAMENT is as relevant today–perhaps more so–than it was then, at least in terms of its themes.

Considering the position that China now occupies in the world, especially when compared with its third-world status 1984, it’s hard not to wonder if Midge Ure had more than a bit of the prophet in him.  From Pale to Pink, from White to Red, the road toward totalitarianism is a slippery one.  Though Ure was probably thinking of Margaret Thatcher’s horrific betrayal of the people of Hong Kong on the first track, “White China,” he might well have been writing about the Red Chinese, the Nationalist Chinese, or the Koreans of 2017.  Or, he might have been talking about Britain and America, wrapped in Asiatic imagery.  It was, after all, 1984 (que Orwell. . . .)

Continue reading “From White to Red: Ultravox, LAMENT (1984)”

The Tangent: SLOW RUST OF FORGOTTEN MACHINERY–Album information

tangent slow rust

FROM INSIDEOUT music MAY 9 2017

The Tangent, the progressive rock group led by Andy Tillison, have announced the release of the first new music since 2015. Their new ninth studio album ‘The Slow Rust of Forgotten Machinery’ is set for release on 21st July 2017. The line-up for this album once again features Tillison on keyboards, vocals (and for the first time on a Tangent record – drums), Jonas Reingold on bass, Luke Machin on guitars and vocals, and Theo Travis on sax and flutes plus new member Marie-Eve de Gaultier on keys and vocals. There are also guest appearances from author/playwright and Chumbawamba founder Boff Whalley on vocals, and upcoming DJ/producer Matt Farrow.

Band leader Andy Tillison had this to say: “Roger Waters did prove the ability of Progressive Music to act as a vehicle to communicate ideas about the current world scene. In both Pink Floyd’s “The Final Cut” and his “Amused To Death” albums, Waters set a challenge to others in the genre. A challenge which has not been frequently accepted.”

The album sees The Tangent in political commentary mode once again – this time often focussing on the horrendous plight of refugees from war torn parts of the world – and the way in which they are treated by the West, and in particular by the tabloid press. The album laments the new trend in building walls and defending borders across the world yet takes time to look at the breakup of friendships and other more personal issues – along with a song about the fate of wildlife in the modern consumer world.

And it’s a Progressive Rock Record. Full of intricacies, long developed pieces, challenging arrangements and virtuoso playing from all members. New sounds and styles (the band have brought a DJ on board for some sections) – new voices and techniques (first female vocals in The Tangent since the “Not As Good As The Book” album 10 years ago). A new producer in the form of Luke Machin whose open and deep/clear sound is a major factor of this album, a new drummer in the form of Andy Tillison who decided at long last (after drumming for 30 years) to let his own performances guide the rest of the band rather than adding another musician later. And after 13 years of asking, Jonas finally agreed to play some double bass in a song where Luke also plays some Scat guitar and Andy does a full on drum solo.

“The Slow Rust Of Forgotten Machinery” also features stellar artwork from Marvel / DC Comics artist Mark Buckingham. The sleeve of the album is totally based on the music it contains and was especially created for this project.

The album will be available on limited digipak CD, gatefold 2LP + CD, and digital download, and you can find the full track-listing below:

Two Rope Swings
Doctor Livingstone (I Presume)
Slow Rust
The Sad Story of Lead and Astatine
A Few Steps Down the Wrong Road
Basildonxit

The band will head out on tour in support of the new record, once again joining forces with Sweden’s Karmakanic to present albums by both bands. The full list of dates is as follows:
Aug 26th 2017 – Bierkeller, Reichenbach, DE
Sept 1st 2017 – 2 days of Prog +1 Festival, Veruno, Italy
Sept 9th 2017 – The Boerderij, Zoetermeer
Oct 8th 2017 – SUMMERS END Festival, Chepstow, UK
Oct 21st 2017 – Progtoberfest, Chicago, USA
Oct 22nd 2017 – Shank Hall, Milwaukee WI, USA
Oct 24th 2017 – Token Lounge, Westland MI, USA
Oct 26th 2017 – Roxy & Dukes, Dunellen NJ, USA
Oct 27th 2017 – The Regent Theatre, Arlington MA, USA

Look out for more information in the coming weeks!
The Tangent online:
www.thetangent.org
https://www.facebook.com/groups/alltangentmembers/

INSIDEOUTMUSIC ONLINE:
www.insideoutmusic.com
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www.myspace.com/insideoutlabel

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