Bologna’s Earthset Perform Concert Film For Silent Science Fiction Film, “L’Uomo Meccanico”

This is pretty cool. Earthset, a band from Bologna, Italy, sent me this video and some additional info about a live concert they recently did to go along with footage from the Italian movie “L’Uomo Meccanico,” or “The Mechanical Man.” It’s a science fiction silent film from 1921 that apparently was quite influential in the history of film. Earthset’s music for the film is experimental and atmospheric, but it has its heavier moments to go along with the movie. There’s a lot of interesting guitar work, and I think it’s a cool idea to bring these films back to life with contemporary music.

Here’s some more info from the band about it: Continue reading “Bologna’s Earthset Perform Concert Film For Silent Science Fiction Film, “L’Uomo Meccanico””

Luke Simpson’s Null Terminator – “Zero Integration”

Null Terminator - Zero IntegrationNull Terminator, Zero Integration, 2021
Tracks: Electrotechnics (4:15), Intercorporeal Kinetics (6:23), Transeuphonic Gnosticonduction (8:29), Atmophysical Mobilogics (10:44), Invisible Panmechanicosophy (14:35), Integration (7:20)

In computer coding, a null terminator is a control character representing the value zero. It can also signify the end of a string of code. At least that’s what Wikipedia tells me. I’m an historian, not a computer programmer. Anyways, that California musician Luke Simpson chose to name his music project after this comes as no surprise when you look at his background. While he studied music in college, he ended up spending a decade as a software engineer, so it seems logical to blend the two into an instrumental album.

Despite the absence of lyrics, Zero Integration is a concept album, and a darn good one at that. Simpson describes the concept, 

In the far future, the Catholic Church has developed over the centuries into a galactic government body. Null Terminator is an agent in their employ, flushing out evil wherever it hides in the darkest corners of the cosmos. The recording on this album is a personal reflection by Null Terminator on the process of perfecting himself for service in this eternal project.

The album is a healthy balance of keyboards and guitars, and it has an energy to it that reminds me of an 80s movie where the character is preparing for something while some sort of hype music plays. That isn’t to say the music sounds like it’s from the 80s, although I think Simpson may have been influenced by the synth sounds of the 1980s sort of like Haken with their album Affinity. The production here is definitely contemporary, and the guitars keep the keyboards from dominating. The music can range from that hype-me-up energy to a more foreboding sound, such as on “Invisible Panmechanicosophy.” Say that ten times fast. 

Parts of “Transeuphonic Gnosticonduction” could be from a soundtrack to a scene from a sci-fi movie or tv show. It starts off with a rather mysterious ethereal sound before transforming into prog keyboard heaven with touches of early 70s Deep Purple and early Mannheim Steamroller thrown in. It all comes together with the guitar by the end. 

There are moments that remind me of ELP and others that remind me of Dream Theater, especially Jordan Rudess-era DT. I think Simpson’s style of keyboard playing reminds me the most of Rudess, if I had to pick any particular player to compare him to. The guitars have a bit of a Petrucci flair as well, and the combo of keyboards, guitar, and bass shredding together definitely gives a Dream Theater vibe, even if it isn’t quite as heavy. 

Luke Simpson shows off an incredible amount of talent on this album. The melodies and soundscapes are well-developed without being overworked. The songs tell a story without words. And the beautiful artwork – both the cover art and the other pieces inside the CD’s sleeve packaging – helps further tell that story. If you can make your way through the big words in the tracklisting, you’ll find Zero Integration has a lot to offer. 

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THE SOURCE: Ayreon’s Deeply Moving 9th Album

A review of Ayreon, THE SOURCE (Mascot, 2017).  Summation: Arjen Lucassen climbs ever higher in the prog pantheon.


On April 28, 2017, Arjen Lucassen releases the ninth studio album of his progressive rock space opera project, Ayreon.  Entitled THE SOURCE, Lucassen’s latest–to no one’s surprise–throws everything the great man possesses into it.  From heavy guitar riffs to Queen-inspired vocal melodies to Celtic folk, the album comes in at over 88 minutes long.  Quite an amazing feat, even for Arjen Anthony Lucassen.

After all, what can’t the man do?

If I tried to pretend objectivity, I’d be readily and truly accused of dishonesty.  Since I first listened to Ayreon–well over a decade ago–I was quite taken with it.  Since then, I have collected every thing that Lucassen has done–from Star One to Guilt Machine to The Gentle Storm to Ambeon to Stream of Passion to his solo work.

Continue reading “THE SOURCE: Ayreon’s Deeply Moving 9th Album”

Science Fiction, Prog, and Prog Metal: A Lecture

Arjen, Lego Style
Arjen, Lego Style

I had the great privilege of lecturing for John J. Miller’s college course, Hon252, THE GOOD, THE TRUE, AND IRON MAIDEN.  If you’re interested, here’s my lecture on “To Tame a Land,” and the connection between science fiction and progressive music.  From Yes and ELP to Cosmograf and Aryeon.

iron miller

Hello, Patricia Tallman!

One of the many exciting things about writing for an active website is finding out who is following you. Every week, receives new followers at its own website (through wordpress—we’ve over 2,400 subscribers as I type this), through twitter, and on Facebook. We have some accounts on some other social media, but I’ve (–Brad) have never quite figured out to use them.

Maybe Chris or Carl can.

More often than not, understandably, the follows come from musicians, agents, and music fans. Makes sense. But, every once in a while, one comes out of left field.

This week, I was thrilled to see that Patricia Tallman is following us on twitter.

Patricia-TallmanCurrently the CEO of Studio JMS, Tallman will be familiar to most of you as the face of Lyta Alexander, the most powerful telepath in the Babylon 5 universe. By season of that greatest of all TV shows (EVER!), she is the post-Vorlon weapon of mass destruction. And, what a character and what an actress. I become rather taken with her from the first moment she flashed those intense eyes, red hair, and brilliant intellect on screen.

She also has appeared as an actress and stunt person in numerous TV shows and movies, including various incarnations of Star Trek, Army of Darkness, and Austin Powers.

And, back to B5 for a moment. As most of you probably know, Christopher Franke, German krautprog demigod composed all of the music for the series. Naturally, it’s rather good though now currently difficult to find.

Pat Tallman, whether you’re joining us because you’re a music fan or simply because you know we’re YOUR fans, welcome. Glad to have you aboard.