Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Looking Glass Lantern

Welcome back to the journey fellow progheads!  As August redefines the "dog days," the sun continues to melt Mother Earth.  So to stay cool, I simply take the Concert Closet to another destination in the land known as the prog garden in the search for all things prog.  This week it seems a bit of time travel may have aided my search, as I find myself in the UK listening to the symphonic, hypnotic, and somewhat nostalgic sounds of Looking Glass Lantern.

Looking Glass Lantern is self-described as "Progressive rock with a nineteenth-century flavor." Knowing the UK is home to many a fantastic prog band, and combining that with my insatiable thirst for the new, different, and distinctive sounds that emerge from the prog garden, I am turning back the hands of time so as to delve deeper into the mystique that is Looking Glass Lantern...


Perhaps the curtain was lifted a bit with the image posted above; Looking Glass Lantern fuses classic prog with the essence and aura of Victorian England.  The resulting flavor is a twist on more than one tradition...

To open the prog buffet, I choose a full serving of the title cut from the first album, "A Tapestry of Tales."  The song opens in grand fashion; you feel yourself being drawn back to a different era...the intricate sounds interwoven with soft vocals. There are strong top notes of Alan Parsons Project and hints of early Genesis throughout this piece.  Looking Glass Lantern has captured a piece of the past here; there is an upbeat tempo wrapped around a narrative...quite the novel approach and extremely appealing...

Moving through the prog garden, I come across another interesting morsel, "A Scandal in Bohemia."
Hearing what appears to be a trend, I am immersed in another opening that peels the curtain back on a symphonic cornucopia. The drums sit just below the surface as keyboards and vocals throw colors at the canvas that meld together into something that would make Peter Max proud.  I pick up top notes of King Crimson's "Lizard" and perhaps a touch of Yes in their "Tormato" days...the music flows like raspberry coulis cascading gently down the sides of a cheesecake...yes please...

Liner Notes...Looking Glass Lantern is the creation of Graham Dunnington, who resides in the UK...a vague home address I grant you, but he nonetheless does his birthplace proud.  Graham put together two "concept" albums of a sort; both dealing with the life and adventures of Sherlock Holmes and his friend/sidekick, Dr. Watson.  While the Arthur Conan Doyle stories are well known and there have been several movies made, nothing quite like Graham's musical interpretation has previously pierced my auditory canals.

After performing with a prog band that is now defunct, the multi-instrumental Mr. Dunnington went on a solo bent under the Looking Glass Lantern banner, releasing "A Tapestry of Tales" in 2013 and "The Hound of the Baskervilles" the following year.  Setting up camp in the symphonic section of the prog garden, Graham has followed a trail blazed by the Alan Parsons Project with "Tales of Mystery and Imagination" in 1976...and while there are similarities, Looking Glass Lantern has wandered off the beaten path, taking the music to a more grandiose level.

My last serving from this ornate buffet is the title cut from "The Hound of the Baskervilles."  The opening is a bit dark and dreary; much like the story it reflects.  There is a sense of royalty flowing through the headphones on this piece; the keyboards lay on top of fine tuned drumming like cream in a milk bottle before homogenization buries it within.

Therein lies the intrigue; Looking Glass Lantern is a modern day throwback to days reflected best in mirrored chandeliers and claw foot furniture...everything seems so proper and majestic.  The harpsichord helps drive the point home, topped with vocals as fragile as a wine goblet.

Learn more about Looking Glass Lantern at Looking Glass Lantern...there you will find much to quell your curiosity.  You can also follow along, keep up with new releases, and hold an ear out for musings and such on Twitter @glass_lantern.  Looking Glass Lantern is available on Spotify, and Graham has set up a YouTube channel as well.  However; I encourage all my fellow progheads to show support for Looking Glass Lantern (and all prog bands) by purchasing their music.

The cut posted below--intended to pique your curiosity as well as whet your appetite-- is called "Six Pearls to Mary."  This song leaps through the headphones with proper thrust...intended to wake you for the "gentle" ride home.  The Victorian side of the music shines brightly on this piece...perhaps I should invest in a harpsichord...

                          


Well fellow progheads, I trust you enjoyed this week's futuristic walk through the past.  As summer begins to fade from the calendar, the sunsets can be striking--much like this stroll through a new section of the prog garden.  The biggest impression Looking Glass Lantern made for me is the connection between story and song.  Readers of Arthur Conan Doyle's works will notice the uncanny emotional  connection the written word has with the music.  More than simply bringing pages to life, Looking Glass Lantern paints with brush strokes that give the stories a pulse.

More surprises await I am quite certain, hiding in plain sight as the Concert Closet scours the planet in the search for all things prog.  As always, it is my pleasure and honor to bring to you my fellow progheads the new, different, distinct, undiscovered, and uncommon sounds that abound here in the prog garden.  So of course, the journey continues...until next week...

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

House of Not

Warm "Dog Days of Summer" greetings fellow progheads!  The mercury refuses to settle down into the belly of the thermometer, which is fitting because the prog garden has been exceptionally hazy, hot, and humid while the search for all things prog continues on.  This week I decided to take yet another tangent and post a new episode of "...and now for something completely different..."  In a meager attempt to cool off during this heat wave, the Concert Closet treks north to visit friends in the cozy tundra known as Canada...welcome to the world of House of Not.



House of Not is a prog band on a mission; a five album odyssey actually, with three of said albums recorded and available for your enjoyment.  Record number four is due later this year, and the finale that rounds out the "trilogy plus two" is due later in the future.  The mission seems as simple as it is complex and grandiose; release a five album concept/odyssey chronicling the life/journey of one A. Nexter Niode.  Now my interest is piqued...my curiosity needle tilting toward red....

Giving in to my minor OCD affliction, I start with the first album, "Off the Path"  and continue the trend with the first song from said album, "Force of Nature."  The concept begins with a strong instrumental piece...do I hear a didgeridoo?  The drums get your pulse rate up as the keyboards and background vocals lay the groundwork for an inner cranium blast. Top notes of Spock's Beard flow through this piece like warm threads of caramel wrapping around an apple. House of Not has taken the first step...let the trek continue...

Diving into album number two entitled, "Sexus," I line the laser up on a cut called, "Is That the Best You Can Do?"  The opening is cautionary; almost surreal as the tempo builds slowly and purposefully. Vocals are haunting at first, then they move into the accusatory.  I get a sense of the original Jesus Christ Superstar release...a melodic, wide-open, emotional outpouring filling the canvas with bright colors that are explosive, exciting, and defiant all at once.  House of Not expands the journey and takes the listener deeper into the prog garden as Nexter comes of age.  I detect aromatics of Transatlantic and a hint of Roxy Music in this piece.

Liner Notes...House of Not hails from Toronto, Canada and the mastermind behind the entire project is one Brian Erikson.  Brian created and wrote the music, plays keyboards, performs vocals, and arranges orchestration...not too many hats.  Brian is joined by Ken O'Gorman on guitars, mixing, and production, and Eric Stever on guitars and FX.  The trio is accompanied by a myriad of guest performers and contributors; the who's who list includes Dee Brown, Dione Taylor, Stan Miczek, Troy Feener, Lou Roppoli, and Omar Ales.

Begun in 2002, the House of Not Project is an ongoing saga with Parts I, II, and III already released, and Part IV due before the sand falls out of the hourglass that is 2016.  With this "progventure," House of Not isn't just filling a canvas with pictures--they are creating an entire art book; a music portfolio of sorts.  House of Not has taken a unique approach to the concept album with this endeavor.  While the story may be complete, it has not been totally shared with the world; rather it is being brought to life in five distinct stages--a vast undertaking. Compelling orchestration and a strong foundation make this "pentalogy" a worthwhile journey.

My final selection for review this week is a cut from Part III, "On the Madness of Crowds."  The song is called "Was It As Good For You?"  The blues overtones drip from this cut like honey from the dripper...and just as seductively.  The vocals cut through you layer by layer, exposing your heart and then gently caressing it while it beats.  The background horns are understated just enough to keep you drawn in like moth to flame.  The album is worth purchasing for this cut alone...

Learn more about House of Not and this prog rock odyssey at House of Not.  There is also a Facebook page where you can check out their latest releases and keep up with the status of the journey at House of Not FB.  Be in the know when Part IV, "Evergone & The Immaculate Spectacular," hits the streets later this year.  Of course, you can also follow the band on Twitter at @HouseofNot .

The clip below is another from the House of Not's latest release, called "Running With the Crowd." Furthering the chronicles of Nexter, this piece has a more upbeat tempo, reminiscent of Alan Parsons Project with a shot of 10CC floating on top of the shot glass.  House of Not travels the entire prog garden as they roll out their story; storming through the metal section, waltzing through the melodic section, and traversing ever so delicately through the classic section.  House of Not has created a hybrid of sorts, all the while tilling up their own acreage.  



And that, fellow progheads, is another chapter written in the search for all things prog.  House of Not was a bit of a departure this week...a break from the norm in that the band has a story to tell and is in the process of doing just that.  The ability to cross over so many sub-genres in the prog garden while painting a vivid, dramatic, and vibrant canvas makes the concept/odyssey all the more intriguing. Just one more reason to set up a comfortable chair under an umbrella and bask in the richness and beauty that abounds in the prog garden.

Carrying on the search for all things prog, the Concert Closet refuses to rest on its laurels, preferring to continue the journey...until next week...

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Sir Chronicles

Hello and thanks for coming back, fellow progheads!  A week sitting oceanside was just what the prog doctor ordered...and now the search for all things prog resumes.  Continuing the journey after a seven day sojourn, I decided to take the Concert Closet on a return trip to Italy, a progressive music "mecca" of sorts.  This week I spent time enjoying the melodic, captivating sounds of Sir Chronicles.

Billing themselves as a "...prog/rock and fusion project..." Sir Chronicles peels back the outer layer of your cerebellum so as to delve that much deeper into your consciousness...striking you in the center of your thought process.



Having been away from the prog buffet, I am eager to get started, so let us saunter up and grab that first serving; a platter filled with "Tears of Love."  The opening storm peppered with the barking of stray dogs prepares you for a dark, cautious walk down a rain soaked alley.  The bass line wakes your inner gate-keeper, but there is little cause for alarm--this storm is not life threatening.  Top notes of  Under the Psycamore come through delicately, blending with hints of Radiohead as Sir Chronicles fills the canvas with various pale to dark hues...

Going back for more, Sir Chronicles serves up a mind teaser called "Disturbing."  Waiting for the intro, you begin to feel a swarm of bees haunting you from the inside...and then the drums take over. As the music builds its strength, the swarming never fully subsides--but it is overtaken by strong gusts of guitar and bass.  This song is a heavy hitter with aromatics of the Crimson ProjeKct wafting through.  Listening once more just to feel the electricity travel my spine, I sense a Flim & The BB's vibe here as well.  Sir Chronicles tends to acreage in the prog garden usually hit with heavy rain as the sunset begins to dull the skyline...not so much a profound darkness as simply the next stage in the cycle...and that bass line has a scent of Stanley Clarke...

Liner Notes...Sir Chronicles hails from one my favorite prog hotspots, Italy.  Bra, in the Piedmont region, Province of Cuneo to be a bit more precise.  Band members are Alessandro Bordino on bass guitar and keyboards, Edoardo Barbero on guitar, Ettore Coraglia on keyboards and mastering, and Efrem Note on drums.  Relative newcomers to the prog garden, Sir Chronicles is in the process of recording eight original tunes, all written and composed by founding member Alessandro.

Bringing a new perspective to the prog garden, Sir Chronicles takes the listener into deeper but not necessarily rugged terrain...the thinking person's prog you might say...notice their logo.  Sir Chronicles furrows deep into the auditory recesses that lie dormant in so many...kicking at your slumbering unconsciousness...

The last serving this week is a live  cut called "Sbrigidi."  The acoustics are not the best, but the piece is worthy of a listen.  Sir Chronicles tends to move in for the kill after setting you up for the attack...slowly moving around you with methodical precision.  However; on this song they burst through with a bit more fervor up front and then back peddle--just a bit.  The bass has a special place in this band; it stands front and center in most of their music...and while Chris Squire may be smiling down from prog heaven, this does not equate to Sir Chronicles being a one-trick pony.  This is a band that has chops and is tending their own acreage in the prog garden quite nicely, thank you very much.

Learn more about Sir Chronicles at their website, Sir Chronicles.  Social media links include the usual Facebook at SC Facebook, where you can check out the band's music, tour dates, and other information, and Twitter @AlessandroRiche to keep up with the band's latest musings.  Sir Chronicles also has a YouTube channel at SC YouTube where you can hear not only their music, but also discover what motivates and inspires them.   
    
I chose the clip below for your listening pleasure and education this week, "Genova City."  Once again the bass sits upright and bold as Alessandro channels Jaco Pastorius this time.  This song takes you through the streets on a smooth and steady ride, handling oncoming traffic and chaos like a Hummer at a Bumper Car carnival ride.  Sir Chronicles may be youthful both as a band and in terms of its members; but here youth is not wasted on the young.  Enjoy the ride and don't worry about the airbag deploying...you are safe here...  


                           

Well  fellow progheads, we find ourselves once again at the end of a an incredible week...seven days filled with impressive prog created by another "uncovered gem" from the prog garden.  The search for all things prog is back on track and continues to bring you the prog garden's finest.  Getting the Concert Closet back on the trail, I am off to find yet another undiscovered treasure...until next week...

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

The Music, Bands, and Progressive Styles of Will Geraldo

Hello fellow progheads and welcome to another installment of the Concert Closet's search for all things prog!  Summer moves through the hourglass much too quickly for my liking, so to make the most of what sand is left in the top half of this time marker, I must be curious, careful, and calculating...with an emphasis on curious.  This week I take the Concert Closet to a land that has become a prog "hotspot" of sorts for me; Brazil.

Recently, I was fortunate enough to get an interview with Will Geraldo, whom my loyal followers will recognize as one half of the duo that is "The Opposite Of Hate."  What you may not know is Will has his hand in several other prog projects as well, a la Peter Hamer.  So this week in my never ending search for all things prog, I sit down with Will to discuss his many  talents, bands, and current projects.  Of course it wouldn't be the Concert Closet without some great music, so you will also hear clips from Will and his many prog enterprises as well...


Closet Concert Arena: Will, you are quite active in the prog garden; The Opposite Of Hate, Violent Attitude If Noticed, Death By Visitation Of God, and a solo release.  I take it music is your lifeline?

Will Geraldo:
 I guess there is no way of denying it, is there?  But you are right, if I am not producing for clients I am working on my own stuff.  So yes; music is indeed my lifeline.

CCA: Does each band have  a connection to the other; some common bond that led you to branch out and explore other realms, ideas, and/or thoughts?

WG: Lyric wise, yes.  All lyrics across every band are somehow connected through a central character.  Music wise, there were a few occasions when a song from one band appeared--although in a different form--in another band.  Personally, I love the idea of this connection because it is something I always look for in the work of other artists I like.

CCA: The Opposite Of Hate is a long distance two-man operation...how does it work with your other bands; are the members closer to home or do you just enjoy long distance recording?

WG: TOOH started because some songs I wrote were rejected by the guys in Violent Attitude If Noticed.  I really liked those songs and did not want to just "throw them away," so I thought of friends who could take on a new project; Silverio Simioni was first in my mind and when I approached him, he promptly accepted.

Distance was not an issue because TOOH was conceived to be a studio project, and on that front there is no time or space when it comes to modern recording--but mind you--we do have the "Fantastic Four" in place in case of a multi-million dollar contract for concerts... =D

Here is a taste of The Opposite Of Hate for those who may have missed my earlier blog on this band...or for those who did see it and want more.  The song is called "Beginnings" and holding true to TOOH's mission, the headphones swarm your ears with sound from the get-go.  This piece is heavy, but not quite as dark as the initial eruption implies.  Ironically, the vocals invoke an almost nervous tranquility...the mood swings and sways like Poe's pendulum...back and forth...back and forth...
   

                       

CCA: What do you do when you need to "re-energize" or take a fresh approach?  How do you avoid redundancy in the music and keep one thing or idea from spilling into the other...or is that even necessary?

WG: I don't feel it's necessary as a means to "freshen up" ideas given that each band I'm in takes a different approach to their music.  In other words, when I write a song I bring it to the band in which it is more likely to work.  If it sounds like modern prog/post punk I take it to Violent Attitude If Noticed.  If it is more guitar oriented/prog metal, it goes to The Opposite Of Hate.  If the sound is more electro/industrial, then I bring it to Death By Visitation Of God.  Now; if it doesn't sound like any of the above, I will simply keep it for my solo project...(laughing)...and yes I do take a break at times but that is mainly because I am tired and/or my daughter asks for some of my attention.

Time for a sampling of that modern prog/post punk Will says he brings to Violent Attitude If Noticed;  "The Spell Will Never Be Broken."  The opening piano hides perfectly the underlying mood slap that erupts behind the ominous words that echo through your auditory canals one minute in..."The spell will never be broken..." and suddenly shades of Porcupine Tree emerge, pelted with a lighter shade of Opeth and the ominous brooding of Tool...a most intriguing sound indeed.  VAIN bears down on the emotions while hammering away on the inside of your head...ever so gently...


                     

CCA: What other artists, alive or dead, would you like to perform and/or record with and why?

WG: Peter Gabriel.  Both his approach to music--regardless of genre--and his creative process have always had a big impact on the way I work, so I would love to share the same stage/recording studio with him.

Not many people know this, but I actually sent a resume to his Real World Studio with the hope of perhaps working for him...didn't happen though...

CCA: With all your work in the prog garden, have you been successful as far as album sales?

WG: Nope...(sinister chuckle)...I laugh--but it is obviously sad.  Music really is democratic these days with the Internet and all, but getting the music to the right people takes money out of my pocket. To get the music out there I need to invest heavily, but being an independent artist means there is not much of a budget...and so the vicious circle continues...

CCA: You run the gambit of the prog genre; metal, jazz fusion, neo, classic, art, and post rock; is there a personal favorite amongst all the styles, moods, and emotions?

WG: I enjoy mixing genres; whereas you have prog along with electro and loads of experimentalism. That is why I mentioned Peter Gabriel earlier; his music is the perfect example.

OK...back to the buffet for a serving of Death By Visitation Of God...a deep cut from the other side of the prog garden called "Am I My Brother's Keeper?" The name of this band sent my imagination in two directions; would this band produce deep, intricate, multi-layered classic prog, or extremely heavy, kicking the back of your skull prog metal?  Will goes all in from the skull thumping metal side of the garden. Top notes of Liquid Tension Experiment and Haken waft through like a stunt man in a Quentin Tarantino film--right in your face.  Tendrils of Rush seem to lay on top as momentum builds to a crescendo.  Will goes for the throat with this cut; DBVOG builds a solid drum foundation and strengthens it with guitar work that coats like Teflon.  Not for the faint of heart...

                   

CCA: What are your feelings on the state of progressive music today?  Are there real opportunities for the next up-and-coming prog band?

WG: I don't see that there is.  I have actually read some interviews with big name bands and artists and they are the first ones to turn down the idea of new music and/or fresh ideas coming up.  It seems to me that being discouraging is exactly their point.

In terms of labels, most of the albums we hear have some relation with previously released material; there may be a member from an existing band coming out with a new project or something along those lines--yet even this will push away opportunities for new names.

CCA: What else does the worlds need to know about Will Geraldo?

WG: That he is committed to his music and that means passion...and, as with anything in life, when there's passion there's truth.  To put it simply; there are no pre-conceived ideas to what I write. My music is totally based on feelings, regrets, anger, happiness...and that's life in general, isn't it?

There is a lot out there still waiting for a chance to be known--not only Will Geraldo.

With that last statement still marinating in my head, I believe I would be derelict in my duty as the searcher for all things prog to not include a piece from Will's solo works.  I chose "The Writer" for (hopefully) obvious reasons.  If his work with prog bands seems to have a hard edge, dark side, or an "in-your-face" approach, his solo work is 180 degrees from that place.  This particular song resonates from deep within and echoes with hope and desire.  The guitar and keyboard work blend together very smoothly, the way a silk lining complements a velvet jacket.  The drum work is poignant; hitting hard in all the right places, all the while leaving room for telling vocals when the vibe swings toward gentle.  Mood elevator going up...


There is a lot more to learn about Will Geraldo; his bands, his music, and his many  prog adventures...http://www.willgeraldo.com/ and http://willgeraldo.bandcamp.com/releases are great websites to familiarize yourself with and start right in.  Band websites include TOOHVAIN, and DBVOG. Each band also has a Facebook page; Will's personal page is right here at
Will Geraldo FB along with his Twitter account @Willgeraldo .  Whatever you do, please spend time listening to the many sounds, styles, and interpretations of Will Geraldo...and help push his album sales over the top!  The prog garden flourishes because of artists like this.

That, my fellow progheads, is a lot to digest.  Will Geraldo undoubtedly brings a passion to the prog garden that in undeniable; I applaud him and his work.  Hearing statements about how difficult it is to get new prog out to the masses is what motivates me to keep the Concert Closet on this quest.  The search for all things prog will never end because there are so many artists and bands in the garden yet to be heard--and I sincerely believe they have a right to be heard.  People will decide for themselves what they like or dislike, but you need to hear the music to make that decision.  Please continue to listen to the new prog bands as they make their way through the prog garden.

And just like that, it is off to continue the search for all things prog...while I air out the Concert Closet.  One week of fun and adventure, and the Concert Closet will be back in the prog garden bringing you another prog up and comer...until August 9th...

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Blind Spectrum

Welcome back fellow progheads!  Hope you are staying cool with the recent heat wave that has swept through the prog garden--and I don't mean just the sun and her ultraviolet rays!  Things have been "sizzling" around here for a while as the Concert Closet has taken the search for all things prog on a summer whirlwind.  Last week's venture to Portugal was quite absorbing; Then They Flew dug deep into an inner chamber so as to arouse your outer being.  This week the Concert Closet heads back to familiar territory; New York USA and a listen-in with Blind Spectrum.



Blind Spectrum refers to themselves as a prog band in the same vein as Rush, Dream Theater, and Yes.  In the prog garden, that is a fairly large cross section and quite a bit of acreage to till.  So with not much else clogging the agenda for the next seven days, let us see what Blind Spectrum is bringing to harvest...

The opening course is a multi-layered piece called "A Perfect World."  Jazz overtones entwined with top notes of Rush open this tune.  The vocals come in from a seemingly far off place, circling the perimeter of your skull as the bass and drums lay a solid foundation.  Blind Spectrum leaps out of the gate and proceeds to ramble full speed across the prog garden...and the week has just begun...

Going back for a second helping, I find "The Stranger You Became" on the serving platter.  Coming from the "moody" side of the garden, I detect top notes of Gaillion and hints of Spock's Beard tossed into this mix.  The guitar work seems to lay on top like cotton candy threads carried by a summer breeze.   Blind Spectrum takes the mood down a notch on this cut; not dark so much as cautious and wary.

Liner Notes...coming to life in Wallkill NY, Blind Spectrum entered the prog garden in 2013.  The quartet consists of Sean Butler on keyboards and lead vocals, Wyatt Mehmeti on guitar, Doug Faulkner on bass, and Eli Mehmeti on drums and vocals.  Originally a trio, Sean was added as the desire to grow into a more "progressive" band grew, and they began to write/record more original material.  Blind Spectrum is a relative new comer to the prog garden; searching for acreage in which to lay down more permanent roots...in the meantime, their sound continues to evolve.



My third serving from the buffet this week is a live cut from "the early years" of Blind Spectrum called "The Traveler Part I."  There are two parts and each is a separate piece.  Oddly enough they seem to have been written/performed/recorded at different times.  Part I leans more toward a melange of early Yes with a touch of Marillion tossed in the blender to make it interesting. It plays out like a jam session; Blind Spectrum still finding their path.  The guitars are cutting while the drums enter stage right and take over.  Sean's keyboards make their entry in grand fashion, splashing brightness and intensity on a canvas up to now filled with primary colors.

The phrase "diamond in the rough" is extremely overused, much like the term "awesome."  However; here it seems to fit...Blind Spectrum has the making of an exceptionally good prog band.  Unafraid to venture into unfamiliar territory, dabble in the experimental, and come right at you with every weapon in their arsenal.  Blind Spectrum wanders the length and breadth of the prog garden, taking from each section pieces that will make them a stronger whole.  You can dig deeper and learn more about Blind Spectrum at BlindSpectrum ReverbNation.  You can also follow the band on Facebook at BlindSpectrumFacebook and of course on Twitter @blind_spectrum.

The clip below is the second half of the Blind Spectrum early years; "The Traveler Part II."  This one is bit cleaner and crisper; I told you they were evolving.  The keyboards open quickly with heavy drumming moving in to fill your head space.  Guitars find their way and begin to seep into your consciousness.  Blind Spectrum is a band making the right moves, and fortunately for them, there are numerous paths in the prog garden to follow, each with its own unique offerings.  They may not be the next Rush, Yes, or Dream Theater...yet.  But given time, Blind Spectrum may very well be the band that inspires yet another up an comer...

        
So this week fellow progheads, the search for all things prog unearthed a find not as rare as one would think--a band still finding its way; learning the old fashion way.  Blind Spectrum is carving out acreage in the prog garden with precision, skill, and some good ol' grit and determination.  We, as fellow progheads, need to support this "next generation" of progressive rock artists, lest we end up sitting in an old La-Z-Boy recliner, cueing up the same album time after time...

Blind Spectrum is but a glimpse of what I set out to do with this blog; find bands that need--and deserve--our attention.  Bent Knee, Atlas Volt,  Aaron Clift Experiment, Fire Garden, Scarlet INside, Timelight, Fire on Dawson...the list could go on for pages.  These are bands that I truly believe have expanded the boundaries of the prog garden and made this genre all the better for it.  Blind Spectrum has that potential...

Now, as is my custom, I remind you that the search for all things prog must continue, and the Concert Closet will carry on this never-ending journey...until next week...

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Then They Flew

Good evening once again fellow progheads; welcome to another installment of my weekly search for all things prog.  Getting back into the hunt for new, unknown, and somewhat obscure progressive rock springing up in the prog garden, I took the Concert Closet to a place I have not visited enough; Portugal.

I stayed for a long listen with a band that delves deep into the inner reaches of that special part of the brain where music appreciation lies...and grows.  With luck persistence, nurturing, and care, it should bloom into one "ginormous" collection of vinyl.  Welcome to the ambient and thought-provoking sounds of Then They Flew.



Then They Flew categorize themselves as instrumental/post rock.  Never was totally keen on the definition behind that title, but after listening to their music these past seven days I find their roots meander into the darker metal section of the prog garden while drawing on the emotional strings of Eno/Byrne, Moebius, and Porcupine Tree.  Now that the appetite is whet, time for a sample from the buffet...

First up on the platter is a dark piece from the gloomier section of the garden called "Owls."  There is something about the music right from the opening; it hits you like a warning shot--listener beware. Everything starts out as if you wandered into a Twilight Zone episode...and then the mood flips as abruptly as a bootlegger's turn.  You get a sense that these birds of prey are on the hunt--and no one is safe.  The phoned-in vocals lead right into the eye of the storm as the drums foretell an ominous trek. Guitars strike hard and fast, and before you realize it, you have run the gauntlet...

The second serving from the murky side of the prog buffet is a  bit more somber; "Rooftop."  The opening is soft-jazz like; Chick Corea music for a funeral procession perhaps...until the clouds open and the full onslaught of Then They Flew is thrust through the headphones like a typhoon hammering Tahiti.  Just as swiftly however; the mellow vibe returns and Then They Flew walk you through an emotional tempest all over again.  There are strong top notes of Brian Eno at his ambient best; Another Green World comes to mind. I also detect the emotional depth of early Simon & Garfunkel
writing--not prog at its core perhaps, but just as soul searching.

Liner Notes...hailing from Lisbon, Portugal, Then They Flew is comprised of Bernardo Sampaio on guitars and keyboards, Goncalo Oliveira and Tiago Silva on guitars, Marcos Janela on bass, and Hugo Gouveia sitting behind the drum kit.  Then They Flew also credit their string quartet consisting of Lyza Valdman, Eliana Magalhaes, Rita Cardona, and Ester Griessenberger.



New to the prog garden; perhaps...but Then They Flew arrived with a full entourage and plenty of starter material to take root in the outer fringes of the shadow laden, foreboding section.  Think King Crimson's "Red" with an impish twist; Then They Flew appears able to build on a theme and broaden it as they dig deeper into their own mystery.

My final selection from what is a full course prog buffet is another punch to the inner lining of the cranium called "Evergreen/Aftermath."  Following their trademark subtlety upon arrival, the song opens slowly and deliberately...you can feel tension in the air, but it does not seem to be dangerous. The canvas starts to fill with colors from the darker side of the spectrum--but there are streaks of light burning through, like lightning during an evening thunderstorm.  There is an Abstract Aprils quality to the tempo here...you keep waiting for the hammer blow that never hits while feeling a surge of tranquility all at the same time.  Darker hues flow down, but more and more brighter, "easier on the eye" colors begin to roll right over...the sense of hope after witnessing a storm uproot a mighty oak.

Then They Flew has burrowed deep into the prog garden amongst the thick, thorn covered underbrush; drawing deep on the poignant and affecting.  Not quite to the level of disturbing, but well aware that there is always something lurking in the dark...

The clip posted below is a song called "An Enemy Will Bring Us Together."  I chose this because it seems to come from behind a locked door...you know the place...where you keep things that don't necessarily frighten; you just don't want to wrestle with them everyday.  However; the door is now opened...the levee broken...and you forget why you kept it locked up in the first place.

Then They Flew takes your childhood fears and puts them to music, thus pulling the fangs and taming the beast.  Once the strings pierce the veil and guitars are led by a drum that is equal parts stern and soothing, nothing seems as it was...

Learn more about Then They Flew at ThenTheyFlew.  You will have the opportunity to purchase their initial release "Stable As The Earth Stops Spinning," released in October 2015.  You can also connect on Facebook, TTF Facebook as well as Twitter, @thentheyflewpt .  The band also has an Instagram account at TTF Instagram.  Many ways to connect, but remember to focus on the music...


Once again fellow progheads, we have moved ahead one week on the calendar...just about one-third through the month of July.  The world keeps spinning and the prog garden keeps growing.  One more band brought to light translates to one more band as yet uncovered and destined for discovery.  The Concert Closet moves from Portugal to the next stop on the journey, keeping up the search for all things prog...until next week...

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

The Security Project

Hello once again and welcome to the inner prog sanctum known as the Concert Closet fellow progheads!  A wild and hot summer thus far; lots of fireworks and no immediate end to the hoopla, so let's keep the momentum going!  As you know, I have taken the search for all things prog across the entire globe, touching down on every continent and scouring every nation, in the hopes of discovering new and lesser-known members of the prog garden.  This week the Concert Closet goes slightly off trajectory while holding true to its core mission...

While combing the garden for something new, I stumbled across a band not so much original as a reinvention...The Security Project.  Familiar names and faces in the prog garden yes--but performing together to breathe new life into the work of Peter Gabriel, both as a solo artist and his early Genesis material.  The Security Project joined forces in 2012; the 25th anniversary of Gabriel's "Security" album...hmmm...pieces starting to fall into place...



My initial listen is to The Security Project's version of "San Jacinto" and it truly is a remarkable piece.  The mood is exceptionally close to what Peter exuded.  The raw emotion bleeds all over the canvas as vocals pour over you...enveloping your auditory senses like seal skin earmuffs.  The subtlety of the guitars and percussion as they build to a climax is brilliant.  The Security Project has crawled inside Mr. Gabriel's head and took copious notes...should be quite the educational week...

Moving back to a buffet filled with wonder, I am perplexed as to what I should sample next, settling for "Fly on a Windshield" (not a bad thing...)  Once again TSP cruises in the right lane, capturing the essence of a beautiful song.  The acoustic guitar enters just boastful enough, while the vocals scruff along like sandpaper on glass...appropriately rough and not scathing.  The Security Project nails the mood and the emotion...of course there will always be a degree of separation; only Peter Gabriel is Peter Gabriel after all. However; these guys lived it the first time around so it was more of an open book test.

Liner Notes...The current line-up for The Security Project is Brian Cummins on lead vocals, Trey Gunn on Warr guitar and backing vocals, Michael Cozzi on guitars and backing vocals, David Jameson on keyboards and Eigenharp, and Jerry Marotta on drums, percussion, and backing vocals. Fuzzbee Morse has also performed with TSP on guitars and flute.  Lots of bleach in that gene pool; talents oozes from every inch of the stage.  A partial/combined resume includes stints not only in Peter Gabriel's band (post Genesis), but also King Crimson and Shriekback.  This is not a novice group nor a collection of wannabes trying to garner attention doing the county fair circuit...these guys have logged many miles in, through, and around the prog garden...

Musical Interlude #3 up for review this week is an absolutely marvelous version of "The Rhythm of the Heat." The percussion work unquestionably captures the feeling and sentiment that radiated from the original; Trey and Jerry work in harmony amazingly well as sound seems to ooze from their very pores. Brian is quite adept at seizing the passion Peter brought to his work and thrusting it back out like a T-Shirt cannon at a football game.  Each performer on the stage feeds off the energy of the others; it is almost a living, tangible force empowering the group to hit harder and more deliberate.

I chose the clip below because it is one of my favorite PG solo numbers and TSP paints a copy so real it could hang in The Louvre unnoticed by the experts..."Biko."  In and of itself "Biko" is a very powerful song; Peter Gabriel is a master at painting a picture with words and sound.  The Security Project was able--as is their wont--to pick up where Gabriel left off and drive that point home with a stake through the heart.  The drums hit you square and the bagpipes simply encapsulate the entire piece.

                                            

The Security Project tours extensively and has released one live album aptly titled, "Live 1."  You can learn more about The Security Project and purchase this amazing CD at The Security Project.  You will also find tour dates listed, and if it is at all possible I would encourage you to witness this band live.  Keep up with everything the band is doing at TSP Facebook.  Of course no band can reach the masses today without the benefit of Twitter, and The Security Project can be followed there as well @TheSecurProject.



Once again fellow progheads the sand has fallen through the hourglass as a great prog week winds down.  The Security Project, while perhaps occupying acreage in the lesser-known section of the prog garden, is made up of some major players in the genre.  While I do listen to and appreciate some tribute bands, I tend to come away feeling like I just bought a print of the Mona Lisa at Walmart being passed off as the real thing.

The Security Project however, is different.  Similar to The 21st Century Schizoid Band and select others, The Security Project is made up of members who were part of the original masterpiece...in the room so to speak when the first paint hit the canvas.  Bringing version 2.0 to the next generation and/or old timers who just cannot get enough, The Security Project will draw you back for more.

So...with my work complete for another 168 hours, I say --with perhaps a sly smile and a true appreciation for the opportunity--the Concert Closet once again sets off on the search for all things prog.  Until next week...