Rikard Sjöblom’s Gungfly: Friendship album out on Nov 9

gungfly-friendship

Rikard comments:

The idea for ‘Friendship’ came to me because of an old photo of me as a child. I found this old photo at my parents’ house, depicting me standing on top of this really tall treehouse in a glade near our house. Although I of course remembered it as being really high up in the tree tops as a child, this picture proved that it really was! As I reminisced about the treehouse I started thinking about my childhood friends with whom I built it. We were the best of friends and we spent so much time together in this little village where I used to live. This of course made me think about all the friends I used to have, these relationships where you hung out all the time, went through childhood together, grew up and knew everything about each other and then all of a sudden, for some reason, disappeared from each other’s lives. This phenomenon of falling out with someone is still a mystery to me, but I’ve learned to accept it, much like the separation of death it’s just a part of life and the nature of our course of life, I guess. So this is a collection of songs about and for all of my friends, dead or alive, past and present. I chose to base the stories around the treehouse in the glade, not because all of my memories are from there, but rather that it’s the place that made me think back on all of this.

Musically, what can I say? This is prog rock, but I want to be free to move in whatever direction the music wants to go and I happily go exploring where it wants to take me. Even though there are a few softer songs and sections, most of the album turned out to be a rocker; a collection of hard rock songs with lots of tricky parts, some heavier moments and some downright jazzy elements too!

Track listing:

1. Ghost of Vanity
2. Friendship
3. They Fade
4. A Treehouse in a Glade
5. Stone Cold
6. If You Fall, Pt. 2
7. Crown of Leaves
8. Slow Dancer (Bonus Track)
9. Past Generation (Bonus Track)
10. Friendship (Utopian Radio Edit) (Bonus Track)

Rick’s Reissue Roundup: Attack of the Spring Box Sets!

Shed a tear for the hardcore prog collector — actually, don’t.  This week has been absolutely crammed with articulate announcements looking to part fans from their hard-earned cash or pull them deeper into debt.  And no, I’m not talking about the upcoming Derek Smalls solo album.  Check out what’s coming our way as winter (hopefully) gives way to the spring of 2018:

Continue reading “Rick’s Reissue Roundup: Attack of the Spring Box Sets!”

Kruekutt’s 2017 Favorites: New Albums & Videos

by Rick Krueger

After the jump are the new albums and videos from 2017 that grabbed me on first or second listen, then compelled repeated plays.  I’m not gonna rank them except for my Top Favorite, which I’ll save for the very end.  The others are listed alphabetically by artist. (Old school style, that is — last names first where necessary!)  Links to the ones I’ve previously reviewed are embedded in the album titles.

Continue reading “Kruekutt’s 2017 Favorites: New Albums & Videos”

Watson’s Best Prog Albums of 2017: Part 3 — TOP TWENTY # # 10 — 1

Having previously (in the last couple days) shared my 20 “Honorable Mentions” and the first half of my TOP TWENTY ( numbers 20 through 11) I come now to the pay-off.  The following ten albums are, obviously my favorite discs, but also I submit, The Best 10 Progressive Albums of 2017.  Making no apologies for my penchant of melody over rhythm, of consonance over dissonance, I have selected ten works that are heavily laden with beauty and harmony rather than experimentation and edginess (hey! while my friends were listening to the Rolling Stones I was chilling to The Moody Blues)

THE TOP TWENTY:  # # 10 through 1

10)  COMEDY OF ERRORS/House of the Mind

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After their great 2015 release SPIRIT, this Glasgow band returns with their crowning achievement.  HOUSE OF THE MIND surpasses their prior releases with a mixture of large-scale symphonic fervor and slower and delicate textured emotionalism. The band is tight and Joe Cairney’s vocals are a real highlight. My favorite tracks are the two longer songs ‘House of the Mind’ and ‘Wandering Jacomus.’  Some of the best new prog is coming from Scotland and Comedy of Errors is perhaps the best of the best.  A+

Continue reading “Watson’s Best Prog Albums of 2017: Part 3 — TOP TWENTY # # 10 — 1”

Beyond Prog: GRIMSPOUND by Big Big Train

Grimspound
Artwork by Sarah Ewing.

Big Big Train, GRIMSPOUND (Giant Electric Pea, 2017).  Tracks: Brave Captain; On the Racing Line; Experimental Gentleman; Meadowland; Grimspound; The Ivy Gate; A Mead Hall in Winter; and As the Crow Flies.

The band: Greg Spawton; Andy Poole; David Longdon; Nick D’Virgilio; Rachel Hall; Danny Manners; Dave Gregory; and Rikard Sjöblom.

The Rating: Perfect.  Beyond prog.

Go, go, go said the bird: human kind

Cannot bear very much reality.

Time past and time future

What might have been and what has been

Point to one end, which is always present.

–T.S. Eliot, “Burnt Norton.”

There can be no doubt that Big Big Train is not just one of the best bands of third-wave prog, but also one of the best bands of the rock era.  I suspected this when I first heard THE UNDERFALL YARD back in 2009 and was moved at every good level of my being.  Subsequent releases from the band have only confirmed this for me.  Every note, every lyric, and every brushstroke matter for the band.  They take their music seriously, and they take us—their followers—seriously.  Aside from the music (if there is, in any reality, such an “aside”), it’s clear that the two founders and mainstays of the band, Greg Spawton and Andy Poole, know how to form and leaven communities.

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Without Compare: FOLKLORE by Big Big Train

Big Big Train, FOLKLORE (Giant Electric Pea, 2016). 

The band: Greg Spawton; Andy Poole; Danny Manners; David Longdon; Dave Gregory; Rachel Hall; Nick D’Virgilio; and Rikard Sjöblom.  Engineered by Rob Aubrey.

Tracks: Folklore; London Plane; Along the Ridgeway; Salisbury Giant; The Transit of Venus Across the Sun; Wassail; Winkie; Brooklands; and Telling the Bees.

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By chance, the new issue of PROG arrived at the same time as FOLKLORE.  A glorious day.

The centerpiece of third-wave prog, Big Big Train, matters.  How they write music matters; how they write lyrics matters; how often they perform live matters; how they package their music matters; and how they market what they do matters.  They are a band that has evolved significantly over twenty-plus years of existence, a restless band that never quite settles on this or that, but rather keeps moving forward even as they never stop looking back.  In their art, they move forward; in their ideas, they move backward.  All to the good.

Continue reading “Without Compare: FOLKLORE by Big Big Train”

Big Big Train’s FOLKLORE Arrives in Michigan

It’s not everyday that a Big Big Train album appears in my mailbox.  An immense thanks to Kathy Spawton and Greg Spawton for sending it, and to the band for signing it!

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Veronica Rose celebrates with SONGS FROM THE BIG CHAIR, BBT style.

Continue reading “Big Big Train’s FOLKLORE Arrives in Michigan”

Radiant Monday Special: Rikard Sjöblom

Rikard Sjoblom

“The Unbendable Sleep”

Back by popular demand we are having a sale on Rikard Sjoblom’s latest solo album,
“The Unbendable Sleep”!
For this week ONLY this AMAZING new album will be ONLY $12.99! Get your copy today and
don’t forget to grab one for a friend to help
spread the love of music around!
Thematically, “The Unbendable Sleep” goes around the usual subjects: love, life, death, and it deals a lot with self-esteem and believing in yourself. “Sounds cheesy, I know, but it’s pretty important stuff,” Rikard continues. “I found myself singing about mirrors quite a lot and that’s also referring to just that, looking into the mirror and not recognizing the person staring back at you.”
Check out this moving track from the album…
You can purchase this KILLER album HERE!

The Incomparable Gift of Excellence: Big Big Train’s STONE AND STEEL

Big Big Train, STONE AND STEEL (GEP, 2016), blu-ray; and Big Big Train, FROM STONE AND STEEL (GEP, 2016), download.

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The band’s first blu-ray.

Twelve stones from the water. . . .

Yesterday, thanks to the fine folks at Burning Shed, the first blu-ray release from Big Big Train, STONE AND STEEL, arrived safely on American soil.  Then, today, thanks to the crazy miracle of the internet, Bandcamp allowed me to download FROM STONE AND STEEL.

In a span of twenty-four hours, my musical world has been thrown into a bit of majestic ecstasy.

2016 might yet be the best year yet to be a fan/devotee/admirer/fanatic (oh, yeah: fan) of the band, Big Big Train.  I’ve proudly been a Passenger since Carl Olson first introduced me to the band’s music around 2009.  And, admittedly, not just A fan, but, here’s hoping, THE American fan.  At least that’s what I wanted to be moments after hearing THE UNDERFALL YARD for the first time.

Continue reading “The Incomparable Gift of Excellence: Big Big Train’s STONE AND STEEL”

Rikard Sjöblom: Solo Album

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Photo by Simon Hogg.

Swedish progressive rock purveyors, Beardfish have been one of the most prolific bands on the scene for almost two decades. Founded by multi-instrumentalist Rikard Sjöblom, the band has been on a winning streak since 2001.

 

However, Sjöblom has been a part of different music projects over the years, most notably he released albums under the name Gungfly, and he has also been a part of UK progressive rock band Big Big Train recently.

Over the past few months, Rikard worked on a solo album which will be released in February 2016. Titled “The Unbendable Sleep,” the record brings eight songs which certainly possess quality to appeal to music fans of different genres. Sjöblom has once again created a diverse album, but in a more intimate format than we are accustomed to.

Speaking about his decision to release an album under his name at this point of his career, Rikard says: “There are a number of reasons why I did this, but the main one is that Gungfly which started out as a solo project later became more of a band with members and all that and it’s a really good band and I love it and all that but I guess to really be solo you almost have to use your birth name?

He continues: “I’ve only released one album under my name before and that was recorded in 2003, released in 2006. It’s called ‘Cyklonmannen’ and it’s an instrumental, musical interpretation of a novel with the same name written by Sweden’s only beatnik writer Sture Dahlström. It’s pretty obscure stuff! But, the guy who made quite a lot of the book covers for Sture is called Bernt Daniels and he’s the same guy who has painted the cover painting of ‘The Unbendable Sleep.’ So that was another reason, because when I asked permission from Bernt to use the book cover back in 2006 he sent me this postcard with this painting on it and it was Beste Schweizermilch, the very same painting you see on the cover of ‘The Unbendable Sleep,’ and I just fell in love with it and decided that I wanted to use it someday. So, it’s quite fitting that Bernt Daniels has made the cover paintings of the only two albums I’ve made as Rikard Sjöblom, don’t you think?

It also feels like it’s the right time to do it because right now I’m involved in many different interesting projects and I’ve longed to make something that is completely me now for a while, so it’s the right time!

Thematically, “The Unbendable Sleep” goes around the usual subjects: love, life, death, and it deals a lot with self-esteem and believing in yourself. “Sounds cheesy, I know, but it’s pretty important stuff,” Rikard continues. “I found myself singing about mirrors quite a lot and that’s also referring to just that, looking into the mirror and not recognizing the person staring back at you.

Sjöblom says that he has plans for performing these songs live. “I really want to take this music out on the road,” he admits, “but I don’t want to lock myself in with just doing band-stuff. At the moment I’m very much into to doing solo shows as well with just an acoustic (and maybe an electric too) guitar and my voice, but you can’t do that with all of the material, so there will be a full on band as well. Hopefully I can book something in the near future!

The Unbendable Sleep” will be available starting February as digital download and CD via Gungfly Productions. The vinyl version of the album will be available from Plane Groovy.

The Unbendable Sleep track listing:

01. Love And War Part One: I Am Who You Are
02. Realm of You and Me
03. Rhyme and Reason
04. Will We Cry?
05. Under Northern Skies (Villemo’s Song)
06. Building a Tent for Astor
07. Anna-Lee
08. Love And War Part Two: Lucky Star