Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Getting Surrealistic with Viridian Groove

Autumn Equinox greetings fellow progheads!  Hard to believe it is that time already...and while I hate to see summer fall off the calendar so soon, I am excited to continue the search for all things prog. Walking through the prog garden I discovered some new growth in the experimental section...so wasting no time, I packed up the Concert Closet and headed to Venezuela to expand my horizons and bore deeper into the sounds of The Viridian Groove.



The Viridian Groove refer to themselves simply as an experimental/progressive rock band.  I have only made the journey to "The Land of Grace" once or twice in the past, so discovering more progressive music in this part of South America is a bit exciting; I can feel the prog juices starting to flow already...let us get to that buffet and see what is on the menu...

Viridian Groove released their debut album "Surrealistic Sweven" this past April and my first slice from the disc is a bit on the "altered states" side, "Uthominis."  The song opens as if walking through a time warp of sorts...everything seems a bit off center...and then the mood goes from dark to calm; almost serene. The vocals come in stage right like voices breaking through a veil of unconsciousness slowly and methodically.  The horns play off the guitars quite nicely and the bass line keeps everyone in check. There is an "otherworldly" atmosphere to this piece; think New York Dolls covering early Pink Floyd, with a touch of Brian Eno/David Bowie and their mid 70's flair and artistry.

Viridian Groove  certainly grasp the concept of experimental; meandering through this album you feel as though you're being pulled into intermittent mood altering pods...be soothed here for a bit then move down the oscillating hallway for a small dose of tension and mystery...yet further down, don't be alarmed by the jazz fusion feel...you are in the right place and everything is going to be OK...

Next up on this existential mood elevator is a cut called "Juxtaexposing." The piece opens as though I am overhead looking down into an ICU ward at a patient in distress...and then the mood quickly picks up, the atmosphere changes, and Viridian Groove is channeling Frank Zappa at his experimental/prog best.  I believe I detect a touch of captain Beefheart wafting in the air as well.  The vocals are strung between fiddles and horns while the percussion work grabs the entire piece by the neck...

Liner Notes...The Viridian Groove calls Valencia, Venezuela home and is theoretically a two-man band...but as with their music, nothing is quite as it seems with The Viridian Groove.  Victor-Lio Angulo on guitar, bass, cuatro, and keyboards, and Jose Luis Vazquez on vocals are the founding members and heart and soul of the group.  For their initial release, Viridian Groove included Daniel Cruz on violins, Enrique Lara on woodwinds, and Miguel Mendoza on drums and percussion. Additional sound provided by Douglas Dominguez on drums, Veronica Lozada on strings, Flavio Gasparini on guitars, and Laura Diaz-Santos on background vocals.  A crowded studio indeed for a two-person operation...

       

Third and final course from this Venezuelan prog feast is called "Planetarius," another cut that attempts to defy logic.  Viridian Groove seems to enjoy walking the listener down a path in the prog garden lined with random imagery and wild sound.  Much is happening in the foreground and the background here; best to just strap in and enjoy the ride.  The Viridian Groove staked out their prog garden plot in the vicinity of Ivan Perilli and The Happy Graveyard Orchestra; serious musicians who prefer to choose their own destiny...

This week I opted not to post a video clip since none seem to be available...The Viridian Groove is a new comer to the prog garden with "Surrealistic Sweven" coming out barely five months ago.  I encourage all my loyal proghead followers to check out The Viridian Groove on their Bandcamp website Viridian Groove Bandcamp.  Listen--and make a purchase!  Their music is also available on iTunes and Spotify...of course the support your purchase provides is much appreciated.  The Viridian Groove are also on Facebook at Viridian Groove FB and you can follow the band on Twitter @viridiangroove.


                


Once again fellow progheads it is time to say goodnight.  The Viridian Groove may be a tad off the beaten prog path, but they have a sound well worth checking out.  The prog garden has strong roots and continues to flourish because of its diverse growth, and The Viridian Groove pushes that envelope just a bit...

As I continue this journey searching out new and lesser-known prog bands, I have come to appreciate the many sides of prog.  The unifying link I believe, is the desire to bring real, honest, and emotion driven music to the masses.  Whatever the sub-genre, progressive rock is, was, and shall ever be at the forefront of the music class.   In keeping with the spirit of enlightening, I must continue the search for all things prog...until next week...    

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Transitory, the latest release by New Sun

Hello fellow progheads and welcome once again to the Closet Concert Arena!  September is turning the page from summer to autumn as days fall through the narrow sieve in the hourglass faster than raindrops in a thunderstorm.  In keeping with this time of change, I thought I would once again go slightly off course and post a new album review.  I have been engrossed these past 168 hours (and longer) in the latest release from New Sun, a band my loyal followers will remember from a review back in May 2014.  Setting the GPS for northern California, the search for all things prog ventures to the San Francisco Bay area and some serious listening time with New Sun's fifth album, "Transitory."

 
This album is a concept of sorts, telling the story of the transitory nature of human existence and life in general.  Opening with "Gravity Wells" I am immediately put at ease by the deceptive calm that is the ocean...soft percussion wrapped around velvety smooth guitar allows you to float away like so much driftwood rolling up on shore.  There is a darkness hovering however; just enough to keep you focused, waiting for the waves to swell...and then the tide rolls out without so much as a whitecap.  There are top notes of King Crimson, early Jethro Tull, and a touch of the dark side of Atomic Rooster floating through this piece...don't you just love being oceanside?

The next cut I dive into is called "The Beguiler."  The vocals start soft and inviting--but listener beware.  There is an almost subliminal warning siren riding the undercurrent...New Sun is tilling previously untouched soil in the prog garden as they bring a "classic prog meets her eclectic uncle" vibe to this song.  Imagine a Peter Gabriel fronted Genesis collaborating with The Moody Blues and Be Bop Deluxe...now you're getting close...

Liner Notes...New Sun was formed in the Silicon Valley area of California in 1993.  Founding members D.L. Erickson on guitar and Christopher Scott Cooper on vocals, guitar, and keyboards took the band through a few line-up changes, including the 1999 departure of Mr. Erickson.  Fast forward two decades and you discover New Sun has built a very loyal following on the left coast--specifically the northern California/Oregon area of these United States; although their music has traveled the globe.

New Sun is rounded out with Alex Kley on bass and despite his passing in January of this year, Chris Trujillo is still credited as the band's drummer; a tribute I can only describe as classy.  Chris did lay some tracks for the Transitory album and is greatly missed.  The new album also includes guest musicians Gus Fjelstrom on bass,  John Hasty on drums, Benito Cortez on violin, Rebecca Lomnicky on fiddle, and David Brewer on pipes and whistles.

New Sun doesn't re-invent themselves with this album; rather they expand their boundaries, stretch their abilities as artists and musicians, and move to a new level in the prog garden.  This recording does all that--opening and exploring an entirely new spectrum, seen through an "alternative view" lens and listened to with ears ripe for exploration as the listener whisks off on a journey they would otherwise never be exposed to...all for the price of a CD...


My final selection for review from this marvelous release is the title cut "Transitory."  Continuing on the dark path that permeates the album--but does not blot out the light--this cut alternates between quick hits and subtle jabs.  The drums on this cut, laid down by Chris, are extremely tight and carry the rest of the band like a Range Rover through thick forest.  Vocals cut through it all while the tempo takes you through a hectic pace allowing you the opportunity to catch your breath one moment so as to have it taken away the next.

Learn more about New Sun and purchase this incredible album at New Sun.  This would be a great time to expand your prog library by perusing (and purchasing) the other great releases New Sun has out there as well.  New Sun can also be found on Reverbnation at New Sun Reverbnation.  Check the band's Facebook page for news about upcoming shows, new releases, tour dates, and other critical band information at New Sun FB.  Don't forget to follow New Sun on Twitter so you will never miss a beat @NewSun_Band .

The cut below is another that will take you to the ocean and mesmerize you with tranquility, allowing you to find your inner Zen, "Down By Sea. "  This beauty is a tribute to the Scottish sailors who went to sea in the 19th century and never made it home...of course the bagpipes at the end are such a pleasant surprise, much like finding the proverbial pearl in the oyster.  Violins are hypnotic as they brace you for the "onslaught" of guitar and percussion that sneak in behind.  New Sun reflects images of Gaillion and perhaps a touch of Dream Theater in their "Scenes From a Memory" days...just remember to stay with the bagpipes as they float you away...

                     

Thanks for checking in this week fellow progheads; I hope the sounds of New Sun were as therapeutic for you as they were for me.  This is an album that should catapult New Sun into the prog spotlight and get them some of that much needed exposure...we all know the prog garden flourishes best when shared and appreciated by the masses.  One of my main goals in writing this blog each week is to get the music that needs to be heard out there for all to grasp, recognize for its beauty and worth, and of course play over and over again...

As I continue this journey, I realize the prog garden is in good hands.  However; no time to rest on my laurels as the search for all things prog continues deeper into 2016 and beyond...until next week...

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Thank You Scientist

Welcome to the Concert Closet once again fellow progheads!  Leaving the Emerald Isle was bittersweet; Iron Mountain was an absolutely marvelous experience for me.  Of course time marches forward and the search for all things prog continues its weekly exploration.  Determined to bring you my loyal followers the brightest, most ground-breaking, and inspiring bands that dot the prog garden landscape, I travel a bit closer to home this week as my GPS guides my path to New Jersey and the exceptionally innovative sounds of Thank You Scientist.

  
Billing their sound as "Post Genre Sweet Potato Polka" immediately lets me know Thank You Scientist is not a band hung up on themselves.  It is actually quite refreshing to walk the prog garden and discover a band this free and unrestrained.  Time to clamp on the headphones and find out what the hubbub that is sweet potato polka is all about... 

Opening the buffet, I come away with a tantalizing cut called "My Famed Disappearing Act."  The frenzy that is the opening guitar riff is but a friendly warning of the furious tempo this band performs at. The spaces in between are quickly filled with violin, horns and keyboards...madness and mayhem prog style.  Meanwhile the vocals cut through like an ice pick pecking at a frozen pond.  The canvas is splattered with colors bright and livid...the top notes emitted here are redolent of  a "placid" Liquid Tension Experiment, the zany genius of Frank Zappa, and the off-the-cuff frankness of Harry Nilsson.

Stepping back for a quick intake of oxygen, I foray back to the buffet for a large serving of "The Amateur Arsonist's Handbook."  Once again the song opens as if the stylus was dropped into the middle of the vinyl; the race is on to catch that tempo.  Guitar work here is strong and fast while percussion manages to keep everyone on solid ground.  The vocals burst over the top like blasts of a tommy gun.  As the tempo takes a breath, some fine horn work makes it way to center stage.  Thank You Scientist are as free-wheeling as Bent Knee, fine tuned as Seconds Before Landing, and carefree as Gaillion.

Liner Notes...Thank You Scientist came to be in Montclair, New Jersey.  Founding members Tom Monda on guitar, Ellis Jasenovic on saxophone, and Andrew Digrius on trumpet joined forces with Salvatore Marrano on vocals, Cody McCorry on bass, Ben Karas on violin, and Odin Alvarez on drums to not only fill a stage--they created a sound that defies categorization.

Coming to life in 2009, Thank You Scientist released their first EP in 2011.  This was followed by their full length debut album "Maps of Non-Existent Places" in 2012, and the just recently released second album "Stranger Heads Prevail."  To say their style is a cornucopia of a melange of a fusion of a blend is not much of a stretch--over twenty instruments can be heard on their debut album alone. Thank You Scientist bring jazz fusion, metal, avant-garde, and classical together to create a sound that is not only unique, it is difficult to define or duplicate...the easy part is the listening and enjoying...

My final selection for review is a cut from Thank You Scientist's debut called "Blood on the Radio." This song is another straight from the Waring Blender; I believe I hear a dozen different instruments come through the headphones in the first fifteen seconds the laser is on the disc.  Even more astonishing is the fact that everything melds together flawlessly.  When the vocals begin to seep through from behind, they are simply the chocolate glace on the eclair.  The guitar work moves to center stage and proceeds to hold court, but rest assured all the players have their share of the spotlight; the only thing Thank You Scientist doesn't thrust at you is bursts of individual ego...

Thank You Scientist bound across the prog garden effortlessly, gathering ideas like flowers for a wedding bouquet while leaving behind music that takes root in all the different acreage and
sub-genres that are progressive rock.  They may have created a few new ones along the path as well...

The tune posted below is from their latest release called "Blue Automatic."  Thank You Scientist continue to challenge the person charged with mixing their albums as sounds burst through every nook and cranny that is the compact disc.  Horns blare but never drown out the vocals; drums hold a steady and forceful beat don't step on anyone else; guitars once again stand up and shout yet they never let you forget the rest of the supporting cast...hell, even the strings have their moment!  I recommend playing this cut over and over until you can fully appreciate what you are hearing...

Learn more about Thank You Scientist at their website Thank You Scientist and the  website of their record label Evil Ink Records. They also have a bandcamp site TYS bandcamp.  Any and all of their music is worthy of being added to your prog music collection so please support the band and make a purchase.  You can keep up with tour dates, musings, and other band information on their Facebook page TYS Facebook and Twitter @TYScientist.



Another post in the clouds fellow progheads; although I hope Thank You Scientist stays echoing in your head a bit longer...this is a band destined to leave a mark.  Thank You Scientist is currently touring the US so you have the opportunity to catch this act live and see firsthand how seven musicians can produce one astonishing sound from twenty different instruments...hope they take care of their roadies...

As is the custom each week at this juncture, time to reload the Concert Closet and continue the search for all things prog.  The 2016 leg of this journey has been quite the ride thus far...here's to that streak continuing ad infinitum...until next week...       

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Iron Mountain

Welcome back fellow progheads!  Despite August having wound down as summer races toward its inevitable end, the sun continues to burn a bright orange hole in the sky.  In an attempt to stretch the solstice as far as possible, I decided to log some serious travel miles and loaded the Concert Closet to continue the search for all things prog in Ireland.  Seems like a great time to spend a week immersed in some incredibly hot and intense instrumental prog.

I do believe this is my first official visit to the Emerald Isle, and like I always say; "Go big or go home."  Following the haunting sound of flutes like a moth to flame, I find myself awash in the sounds of Iron Mountain.


Iron Mountain bills themselves as an instrumental Irish rock band with influences that sprawl across the prog garden, taking root in the post rock, kraut rock, psychedelic, and folk metal sections. Hmmm...the lure of folk metal alone drew my gait in their direction...so let us exit the Concert Closet for a closer look and listen in on what the prog buffet is serving up this week.

Starting with an absolute mind twister, I drop the laser on "Opium" to get things started.  The opening takes me right to the middle of...nowhere...outside deep in the wild...high above K2 looking down...
Iron Mountain hits you in the back of the neck and spins you right around--what a week it will certainly be!  The folk metal reference burns brightly on this tune as Iron Mountain bursts forth releasing all their pent up tension as the song unfolds.  Flutes and percussion reign supreme as the music moves forward with a tribal energy that dares you not to close your eyes and dim the lights...

Once I fully absorb the sounds that just exploded all around me, I crawl back to the buffet for a second assault..."Enthralldom." The tension picks up right where "Opium" left off; the darkness doesn't loom so much as it totally envelops you...much like a shroud wrapped around your entire being, allowing you to become immersed in the sound.  Iron Mountain emits top notes reminiscent of King Crimson's earlier days when Jamie Muir squeezed sound from every item in the room.  The foreboding mood even takes me to KC's "Red" days...but I also sense some of the emotions Beardfish would embed in their music as well.  Iron Mountain stalks the dark outer edges of the prog
garden--but mainly as a sentry.  This is a band that can stand up to the class bully and send him home whimpering without so much as balling up a fist...

Liner Notes...Iron Mountain originates in Limerick, Ireland and consists of Damien Mullane on guitar, Matt Bashford on Uillean pipes, low whistle, and Native American flute, Ronan Ryan on transverse wooden flute and flute head, Stephen Hughes on bass, and Ray Murphy on drums and percussion.  I feel confident saying this is the first band I recall citing credit for two members playing at least three different flutes...suddenly those kids in middle school music class don't seem so nerdy...

Iron Mountain formed in 2012 and released their debut "Unum" in April of this year.  Building a sound that draws from the early days of King Crimson, the psychedelic times of Pink Floyd, the dark side of Gentle Giant, and the multi-faceted emotions of Beardfish, Iron Mountain stalks the prog garden with very few peers.  Their sound harkens to the days when musicians cared more about people focusing on the music rather than the performers on stage.  Remember when album jackets unfolded to reveal a world you knew was calling your name?  Iron Mountain touches all those exposed nerves lurking in the back of your mind...luring you into the realm where hearing something for the first time was magical...

Slice of the music number three this week is called "Bonfires."  Once again Iron Mountain dives deep into the darkness right out of the gate; you sense yourself being stalked as you sit in silence... listening...waiting for the cranium pummeling that cannot be too far away.  Yet the deathblows never materialize--the sounds just roll over you like high tide slamming the shore.  There is a sense of Tony Levin and the Stickmen meeting K2 on this song...a purely mystical experience.

Learn more about Iron Mountain at their website Iron Mountain Band.  You can purchase their
music--and you know I encourage you to do so--at Iron Mountain BandCamp.  Dig a bit deeper and discover the artists behind the sounds at Iron Mountain Facebook.  Of course Twitter allows you to keep up with the band and their musings @IronMountainlk.  Whatever your choice of connection, you will want to add Iron Mountain to your prog rock collection.

I posted the song "Powow" here for your weekly listening experience.  I chose this particular tune because it seems to expose Iron Mountain the most; so much sound and so many moods...a cornucopia of their trademark folk metal sound.  Iron Mountain is tilling very uncrowded acreage in the prog garden; soil that is not heavily trod.  My hope is that their sound will grow, spreading across sub-genres under the prog umbrella, reaching an audience thirsty for new and extremely innovative sound.


    
Well fellow progheads, my first foray into Ireland was without doubt a fascinating experience.  Iron Mountain is not quite the throat punch that is the Dropkick Murphys, but for sure the Irish know how to play hard.  Taking no cues from subtlety, Iron Mountain comes at you full throttle but never hits with a fatal blow...the preference here is to wow and amaze with sounds you never imagined coming from your headphones.  The canvas may be dark and haunting at times, but Iron Mountain is fully capable of tapping into every emotion connecting auditory senses to the mind.

Now as is my custom, I must pack up the Concert Closet once again as I continue the search for all things prog.  I hope you will come back once again to discover where the journey has taken me...and you.  Until next week...

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Genre Peak

Hello once again fellow progheads!  Looking at the calendar you would believe summer is winding down...however looking at the thermometer it seems things are still sizzlin' just a bit...and the Concert Closet is still riding high on the search for all things prog.  This week, a bit more meandering as I continue my journey across the width and breadth of the prog garden.  Cutting though some deep growth, I find some acreage in the electronic section that needs attention...

California has always been a prog friendly state, so let us explore further.  Following the siren song that has been been toying with my inner ear, I am led to the Sacramento area; a hotbed of remarkable music, sounds, sights, and emotions...welcome to the world of Genre Peak.



Genre Peak paints themselves as "...electronic based cinematic music..."  My thoughts immediately wander to the "cool but not sure" corner of my brain...fortunately however; I decided to listen to the music before I listened to my cerebrum.  Join me now at the prog buffet for a platter filled with delectable morsels that will stimulate your senses...  

Deciding to dive right in, my first serving is an adult dose of "Hell on the Surface."  A dark curtain bathed in smoke draws back as vocals penetrate a mist wrapped in a drumbeat encased within some keyboard funk.  Sitting there, I sense aromatics wafting heavily toward a David Byrne/Brian Eno collaboration, with perhaps a tinge of Tom Waits roaming the perimeter.  The sound pulls you in for a closer examination as it bounces around the inside of your skull.  Genre Peak has tilled acreage in the prog garden that few have tended but many enjoy... 

Moving down the line for more, I fill the platter with "Body and Mind."  The song emerges gently, much like a bird breaking through its shell for the first time.  There is a calmness oozing from the headphones as I fall deeper into this song...and all the anxiety that has crept into my inner being is slowly melting away.  There are strong top notes of Robert Fripp in his soundscape days, and perhaps a touch of the Harold Budd/Brian Eno collaborations.  Genre Peak has prog roots that run extremely deep; there is so much happening when laser hits disc...

Liner Notes...the man behind the genius that is Genre Peak is one Martin Birke.  Born in 2005, the original line up of Genre Peak was Martin on electronic percussion, synthesizers, and vocals, Dan Panasenko on Chapman Stick, Stephen Sullivan on guitars, and Christopher Scott Cooper on guitar as well as engineering and mixing.  

Following the release of the band's first album in 2006, Martin decided to "tweak" Genre Peak; the three albums that followed were cooperatives recorded with guest performers...this impressive list includes Mick Karn and Gustaf Fjelstrom on bass, Tara C. Taylor on vocals, and Benito Cortez on violin.  Genre Peak has also worked with Jon Hassell, Arve Henriksen, Steve Jansen, Richard Barbieri, Matt Malley, and the list goes on...  

Along with heading up Genre Peak, Martin splits time with two side projects; Hardboiled Wonderland with Chris Cooper and Percy Howard, and 9 Microspheres, a completely ambient undertaking with Stephen Sullivan.  Martin Birke and Genre Peak have stretched the boundaries of the prog garden in that they have no fear, no limits, and an infinite supply of creativity; a never ending blank canvas on which to convey emotions, expressions, moods, and feelings.  They leave nothing yet everything to the imagination.

My final selection for review is from Genre Peak's latest album, "Your Sleekest Engine."  The song is called "Denizen Darklight" and the opening drum work  wastes no time going straight to your spine as it leads techno vocals through the labyrinth of your mind via the auditory canals.  Genre Peak continues to paint with dark colors--but the variations fluctuate and contrast to a degree that is most extraordinary; the darkness is all around but there is a brightness burning through that melts away the gloom and destruction, leaving you eager to pursue this avenue further.

The song posted below is from Genre Peak's 2006 release called "Ends of the Earth."  The song "Always Empty" was chosen for a few reasons.  First; being a cut from the band's initial release it is incredibly tight.  The sound roams across the prog garden in every direction yet manages to stay focused.  The percussion sits back just far enough for the vocals to intertwine with the synthesizers, melting down the back of your neck like hot fudge dripping off the sundae bowl...

Learn more about Genre Peak at Genre Peak and follow the band on Twitter @GenrePeak1.  Genre Peak also has a Facebook page at GP Facebook that will expose you to more about the band; upcoming shows, new releases, video clips, and downloads.  

Genre Peak music is available on iTunes and Amazon, and I encourage all progheads to buy the music and show support for Genre Peak and all members of the prog garden...please and 
thank you...

                 

Well fellow progheads, summer continues her relentless march toward the end of the calendar--even though the mercury stays high in the thermometer.  Hard to believe 2016 has passed the halfway marker heading into turn three.  So let's slow down the pace and enjoy the time with Genre Peak. This is a band with a full palette of prog to offer.  Despite setting up camp in the electronic/cinematic/soundscape section of the prog garden, Genre Peak crosses into many
sub-genres and blends them so well.  The mood hangs dark but the sound is enormous and
full-bodied.  Being a cooperative opens a gateway for so many emotions, styles, tempos, and attitudes to leave their mark on the music and the band...just one more way progressive rock stays ahead of the pack.

The calendar refuses to stop and so too does the search for all things prog.  The Concert Closet continues the never ending journey as we discover more gems hidden in the garden.  Until next week...

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...