Mead Halls in Winter: Big Big Train as Community

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Grimspound, 2017.  Art by Sarah Ewing.

One of the wildest and most disturbing aspects of modernity is how compartmentalized everything becomes.  One important thing (a person, an idea, an institution) becomes isolated and, in its isolation, takes on its own importance, its own language (jargon), and, naturally, its own abstraction.

During the past 100 years, a number of groups have tried to combat this.  In the U.K., most famously, there were a variety of literary groups: The Inklings; the Bloomsbury Group; and the Order Men.  In the States, there were the southern Agrarians, the Humanists, the Lovecraftians, and the women (no official name–but Isabel Patterson, Claire Boothe Luce, Dorothy Thompson, and Rose Wilder Lane) who met for tea once a week and shared stories.

The first such known group in the English-speaking group was the Commonwealth Men, meeting in London taverns from 1693 to 1722, attempting to combine British Common Law thinking with classical and ancient philosophy.

Continue reading “Mead Halls in Winter: Big Big Train as Community”

2017: The Year of Big Big Train

Hello Progarchists!  I’m back. . . though a little later than I had meant to be.

For those two of you (ha) who you have been waiting eagerly to know my favorite album of 2017, I give you not one album.  Oh no, not one. . . but two albums and two EPs: Grimspound; Second Brightest Star; London Song; and the Merry Christmas EP.

All by one band, of course.  And not just any band, but an extraordinary band.  The best prog band in the world (tied with Glass Hammer, at least to my ears and soul), the band that reveals every.single.thing.that.is.good.in.prog, Big Big Train.

Grimspound 2017
Best album of 2017, 1.1, Grimspound.  Art by Sarah Ewing.

Greg, David, Dave, Nick, Rachel, Rikard, Andy, Danny, and, that 9th BBTer, Rob—congratulations.  Whatever other hells happened in the world in 2017, 2017 will always be, to me, the “Year of Big Big Train.”  You overwhelmed us not with quantity, but with quality.  And, dare I say it: with love.

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Straight from BBT: The Update

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Art by the amazing Sarah Ewing

Hi all

Following the April release of “Grimspound”, Big Big Train are releasing a companion album, “The Second Brightest Star”, on Friday (June 23rd).

The album features 40 minutes of new songs and instrumentals which explore landscapes, rivers and meeting places and take the listener on voyages of discovery across the world and to the stars.

Alongside the new tracks, there is a bonus selection of 30 minutes of music where songs from the “Folklore” and “Grimspound” albums are presented in extended format.

You can hear the title track at: https://soundcloud.com/big-big-train/the-second-brightest-star/s-q7qZY

“The Second Brightest Star” is available to order now for delivery commencing on 23rd June from our official stores:

* Burning Shed – https://burningshed.com/store/bigbigtrain
CD and limited edition double gatefold 180g seafoam green vinyl. (All vinyl copies will include a code for a complimentary hi-res download.)

* The Merch Desk – http://themerchdesk.com/merchdesk/index.php?route=product/category&path=87_115
CD

* Bandcamp – https://bigbigtrain.bandcamp.com/album/the-second-brightest-star
Hi-res download

The album will be released on Spotify and other download and streaming services in July.

Best wishes,
Andy, Danny, Dave, David, Greg, Nick, Rachel & Rikard

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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Sarah Ewing, Prog Artist

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BBT’s Folkore; Art by Sarah Ewing.

I’ve been thinking alot about BBT today and going through my CD and blu-ray collection of their albums.  I must admit, all of the art BBT commissions and inspires is pretty amazing (do the Brits use “pretty” as a modifier, or is this an Americanism?).

I have an original Jim Trainor hanging in my college office, after all.  I’m rather taken with it.

Looking at Sarah Ewing’s cover for FOLKLORE today, I found my way to her official website.  I found myself gazing in dazed amazement.  What an eye and imagination she has.

If you have a few moments, treat yourself and fall head over heels into her world.  It’s quite glorious.  So much so that it took me a bit to come to my world.  Thank you, Sarah.  What a treat.

http://sarahlouiseewing.com/home.html

 

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.

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