Category Archives: Classic Rock

Classic rock bands

Heofon – “5th Key”


Well, tonight, I have another wonderful sounding band and album to offer for exploration. Heofon is the name of this British Columbia, Canadian band. They have released their debut album, 5th Key, this year, in the same year as Tool’s long-awaited magnum opus, Fear Inoculum. Why that is important, will become crystal clear…soon.

Heofon is made up of multi-instrumentalists: Simon Haiduk, on bass, cello, synth, guitar, drum programming, mixing, and mastering: Chris Niebergall, on electric and acoustic guitars, Didgeridoos, synth, and mixing; and Tim Niebergall, on drums. The band has been playing together since 2008. Unlike Tool, they have been working on 5th Key, since 2016. The album was recorded in 432Hz tuning, and it was released June 21, 2019. Three months before Fear Inoculum.

The cover art was created by Simon Haiduk. Song iterations were created by Chris Niebergall and Tim Niebergall.

Heofon describes their music as ‘Mystic-Prog’. Heofon means, the home of God, or heaven. Their influences include Tool, King Crimson, and Pink Floyd, among others.

On “Embers”, it sounds as though Heofon had been in the studio, listening to Tool shape and mold Fear Inoculum. The deep bass as lead electric guitar, playing amongst the synths and keyboards sounds a lot like Tool’s opening title track. Only 5th Key was released three months before Fear Inoculum. That deep, pounding bass with drums is just perfect. Primal like Tool, yet with enough imagination and originality of its own. A strong opener and killer symphony of metal. The only thing missing here is a lead singer like Maynard James Keenan. But this symphony is good enough without words.

“Blue Ripple”, opens with cool synths and buzzes. Silent and slow-moving synths and bells welcome you to track two. More of that powerful bass and drumming as the rhythm builds. The lead electric guitar on this track is one of the best on the album. But that bouncing bass is irresistible.

“5th Key”, is the title track and it opens with cool bell chimes and syths, along with that menacing bass. Those guttural drums and bass are joined by the backing of Didgeridoos and some wonderful keys. When the lead electric guitars fire up, the entire soundscape moves like a force charging ahead to victory.

With a title like, “Nusku Talks”, meaning the spoken word of the ‘god of fire and light in ancient Babylonian, Girru’, you know this track is gonna rumble with power. And so, it does. Those deep bass chords hit the floor and drop below. The banging drums only help them sound heavier.

“3rd Key”, is an alternative to the title track. This track is lighter, and airier. Keys and symbols, percussion, and yes that bass thud. The keyboards are soft and light.

“Ambrosia”, surprises you at the opening with brilliant light rays of keyboard sunshine, before warm electric lead guitar chords fill the air. The deep bass is still present, but cool Dave Fielding/Reeves Gabrels/Robert Smith guitar sounds fill the air. One of the best songs on the album.

 

“Vortexed”, is just what it sounds like it would be. Full of cool keyboard and syth effects at its opening. It builds a little like the Smashing Pumpkins’ “Quasar”, however, they do not unleash the raw power of the guitars, like the Pumpkins. Instead, this song grinds slowly, with punctuated bass.

“Omniscience”, is full of stars and wonders keyboards and synth effects. Deep space sounds a plenty. One of my favorite tracks.

“Hero’s Journey”, is a deep, standing bass concerto, before the strings, keys, and drums enter the soundscape. More bass and deep sounds than I have heard in one song this year. An over 9:40 epic journey of sitting bass, cello, Didgeridoos and synths. The best and longest song on the album.

“Amenti”, is full of beautiful space keys and what sounds like electric waves of ocean. Pulsating space sounds fill the soundscape and bring to close, one of the best instrumental albums I have heard all year.

No, Heofon is not Tool. And that is a good thing. I hear many similarities between the two bands, only with the use of the standing bass and the cellos, this album may be even deeper sounding than Fear Inoculum. Get this album and let it take you away like it did me. The journey is worth the price of admission.

Track List

  1. Embers – 8:45
  2. Blue Ripple – 5:36
  3. 5th Key – 9:10
  4. Nusku Talks – 6:55
  5. 3rd Key – 6:51
  6. Ambrosia – 7:00
  7. Vortexed – 9:14
  8. Omniscience – 2:37
  9. Hero’s Journey – 9:43
  10. Amenti – 1:56

www.simonhaiduk.com

www.featherlore.net

www.spiritedceramics.com

https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=435183877323386

https://heofon.bandcamp.com/album/5th-key

https://music.apple.com/us/album/5th-key/1474427747?app=music&ign-mpt=uo%3D4

Silent Like Lightning – “Moving Mountains”


Silent Like Lightning considers themselves a progressive, post rock, band. They are based in Austin, Texas. The group was founded in early 2016. The band members include: David Houghton, guitarist and vocalist; Trevor Holden, guitarist; Kyle Duncan, bassist; and Braedon Avants, the drummer.

I found this fantastic band on CDBaby.com, like I do most of my new favorites lately. They released their debut album on September 27, 2019.

“Indeterminacy”, opens the album with a tip of the hat reworking of Mason Williams’ classic, “Classical Gas”, on acoustic guitar; after what sounds like a coin toss. The coin toss reminded me of some those famous westerns I have watched in the past. But, from there on out, this is all innovation from Silent Like Lightning. This acoustic and electric guitar instrumental is a wonderful welcome to the band and one of the best songs on the album. If this song is “not definitely or precisely determined or fixed”, it is not to me. It is a band defining welcome, to some intimate and defining musicianship, that forthrightly defines this band as a presence to be reckoned with in the world of progressive rock. What I am saying is this is Steve Hackett/Steve Howe level playing on your debut album! They have opened the door and made a statement that they are here to stay! They could have stopped the album here and have been considered great. But instead, they went on to deliver one of the best albums of the year.

“Ode”, opens with another welcoming intro, complete with effects and soft electric guitar chords. We hear David Houghton’s first vocals, “Stars I see, the same stars my ancestors looked upon. Stars so far. Once inspired great men now inspires me. Each age is a dying dream. Or a dream come to birth. Late at night I dream of you. But you’re not the one I want to wake up to. A tree bears fruit. Of vibrant hues. Yet with time all beauty slowly fades away. Each age is a dying dream. Or a dream come to birth”. Lyrics of deep feeling and emotion, and remember this is a debut album. The drums, bass, and guitar music is both innovative and stirring. I hear bands like Genesis and others, but it really is definitely more unique than other bands I have heard this year, or in the past. Emotional and moving rhythms and a feeling to the music which requires you to want to stay and hear even more.

“Saudade”, opens again with beautiful acoustic guitar and either wind blown sand or sea. It is simply perfect on a relaxing Saturday or Sunday…or any day for that matter. Only 1:44, and you will wish there was more…

“Broken Music Box”, opens with unbelievable electric guitar work, then it transitions to acoustic guitar, before the Hackett-like electric guitar re-enters the soundscape. Another one of the best songs on the album. The perfect interplay of acoustic and electric guitar makes this one of the best guitar-based albums I have heard this year….by miles. Guitar work unlike what I have heard before. Stunning. Then they top it with rain and thunder as the bass, drums and guitars continue to weave their magic. One of the longest tracks on the album and you will love every minute and note as it goes by.

“One Day…”, opens with the sound of back spinning guitar. David Houghton, sings, “One day I’ll move mountains. But for now, I’ll close my eyes”. Yes, and you should and just take this in. Slow acoustic guitar and a vocal round spins through your ear drums. At 1:27 minutes it speeds way to fast to appreciate all its goodness.

“Bounds of Set”, opens with more wonderful guitar, the sounds of a film projector and traffic; before the guitar work takes over the soundscape. They weave wonderful mazes of interconnected guitar and bass, that you could just close your eyes and listen to all day long. The inter-mitten percussion work helps keep it interesting. Then, David Houghton sings, “When I see the sun in the morning, night begins to fade. Watching mist in the distance ebbing, daybreak. Springtime comes and thaws out the ice that winters left behind. The age-old adage ‘flowers don’t grow in the snow’. I have gone beyond I have gone beyond the bounds of set. I am unique in my flight. When chasing the sun. The sun never sets. Keep the ground moving and your path will be lighted always. It never sets”, bringing back wonderful memories of, yes, Midlakes’s The Courage of Others album.

“En Yhet”, is more wonderful, sweeping and at times weeping guitar. Yeah, George Harrison would love this short 1:41 minute interlude. Like a voluminous ocean rising up and preparing to crash on land.

“Ancient Seven”, opens with powerful affects, then a glowing electronic guitar, amidst keyboard effects. The bass is a wonderful leader as the electric guitar soars higher and higher. This is the longest song on the album, at 8:12 minutes, and the wonderful cadence of the drums is soothing.

“Foreign Landscapes”, has deep, foreboding bass and orchestrated effects. Stringed instruments fill the soundscape as gentle lead electric guitar fills the air. The song does paint a vivid picture of a landscape, as the strings, acoustic and electric guitar weave rhythms into time.

 “Thirst”,  opens with bold drums and full bass, as Houghton sings, “Through the desert all night long. Show me water, guide me on. The only source is on your lips. But you tell me to resist. Walking through the desert. Oasis at my feet. Thinking I found water. Only for a mouth of sand. On through morning day too soon. Lips cracked stained to black. Sometimes clear skies just delude”. Another wonderful journey in time with this band. The instrumental second half of the song that follows, will take you as deep as Death Valley, if you are willing to follow.

 “Halls of Valhalla”, is the closer, and what a powerful epic it is. Houghton sings, “May the halls of Valhalla sing to you. May the halls of Valhalla stand to greet you. Others fade. Remain the same. Words of praise never fade. Nor a noble name. I have gone beyond the bounds. I have gone beyond”. The vocal, “prayer” at the end should hit you deeply and emotionally.

Silent Like Lightning, has created and unbelievably powerful debut album. On,  Moving Mountains, this band issues a summons, to give them a listen, and I am sure you will feel this album needs to be part of your record collection, after an initial hearing. For a band to sing and play this level of music on their debut album is quiet a feat. Most bands take years of performing and perfecting their craft to reach this level. Yes, this band is silent, like lightning. You cannot imagine such a perfect album on a band’s first time in the studio. They have mastered their craft and now offer you the opportunity to listen to one of the most magical albums of the year. Please get this and enjoy.

Track List

  1. Indeterminacy – 5:41
  2. Ode – 6:24
  3. Saudade – 1:44
  4. Broken Music Box – 6:51
  5. One Day… 1:27
  6. Bounds of Set – 6:36
  7. En Yhet – 1:41
  8. Ancient Seven – 8:12
  9. Foreign Landscapes – 4:28
  10.  Thirst – 6:55
  11.  Halls of Valhalla – 3:30

http://www.silentlikelightning.com/

https://www.facebook.com/silentlikelightning/

https://store.cdbaby.com/cd/silentlikelightning

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCswE-fbP6YKqn_d6Sh65TuA

https://www.radiofreeamerica.com/schedule/koop

Tool – “Fear Inoculum”


One of the most anticipated music releases of this year was to be Tool’s new album. The anticipation was so global, that once Fear Inoculum, was released, on August 30th, 2019, with special packaging for the CD, it sold out before the end of the day. As of the writing of this review, in mid-October, there are no updated release plans for any CD version. Which is a real shame. This is one of my favorite albums of the year and I do like to have the hard copy of my favorites. I was forced to buy my version on I-Tunes, because, for a while, you could not download the album on the band’s website. Here is hoping they will release it on CD, for the holiday shopping season. After all, why wouldn’t you want the world to have your CD if they want it and will pay to get it?

I must begin this review with the disclaimer that I have never heard a Tool album or any of their music before. So, as you can imagine Fear Inoculum, is a wonderful surprise addition to my music catalog.

I think Fear Inoculum, is a great place to start, for those who share my initial exposure to the band. Tool has released four albums prior to this. However, it has been 13 years since their last album 10,000 Days, which was released in 2006. The rest of their discography includes: Lateralus, in 2001; Ænima, in 1996; and their debut Undertow, in 1993.

For those of you new to Tool, the band is made up of: Danny Carey, on drums and synthesizer; Justin Chancellor, on bass guitar; Adam Jones, on lead guitar; and Maynard James Keenan, on vocals.

Lustmord, created all of the waves and water sound effects.

Fear Inoculum, opens with its title track, “Fear Inoculum”, which is unique in itself. Many bands place the title, or epic closer as the last song. But this title track is perfectly placed to give the listener an introduction to the concept and album theme, which will play out through the songs. The concept is fear, and trying to overcome your fear to the point that you can inoculate yourself from it. Or as my mentor and hero FDR used to say, “There is nothing to fear but fear itself”.

The title track opens with bell like chimes, followed by very deep and ominous bass chords, as gentle drumming and percussion are added to the soundscape. The perfect, slow progression of added bass, then lead guitar and keyboards sets the table for what will come next. Keenan’s first vocals, “Immunity. Long overdue. Contagion, I exhale you. Naïve. I opened up to you. Venom in mania”.

This lyrical intro is perfect. Sometimes we are innocent to the contagion of fear. We let it get a foothold, until later we believe, as Keenan sings, “The deceiver says, he says. You belong to me. You don’t wanna breathe the light of the others. Fear the light. Fear the breath. Fear the others for eternity”. Yes, that is exactly how fear works. But thankfully this song is rejecting fear. Not only rejecting, providing an impetus for inoculating yourself from fear, for eternity.

Meanwhile some of the best music of the year is being laid down to provide the perfect conditions for both building fear and expelling the same. Later, Keenan sings, “Bless this immunity”. And closes the song with “Deceiver. Chased away. A long time. Coming!” The best, and one of the longest songs on the album, besides my favorite, “Invincible”. Complete with an instrumental extravaganza ending for bands to envy for years. This drum assault will live on in your memories and ears.

 Everything about this song celebrates the 13 year wait for its airing. The band has put together the perfect blending of Motorhead, Dream Theater, Queensryche, ACDC, Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, Van Halen and Metallica in one song, first, and then an album. Bands will be trying to match this power for years…maybe 13 more…ha, ha. Please watch the live video of this song to really get the band’s ultimate interpretation and power playing of this song, complete with a light show that will also stun and amaze.

“Pneuma”, is another minute and a half longer than the opener. It is as just as good. Slow grinding electric guitar with intricate percussion, before more guitars, bass, and then that wonderful long bowed bass. Just a thumping madness when the drums begin their precision punch. Everyone drum pound, a gut punch. Like a heart punch to wake you or your soul up from its slumber. All the instruments firing like a well-oiled, hard-bodied, muscle car revving its engine in top form. Pneuma, the word means, “the vital spirit, soul, or creative force of a person”. Keenan sings, We, are spirit bound to this flesh. We go round, one foot nailed down. But bound to reach out and beyond this flesh”. Become Pneuma”. Yes, please. Like an echo of Pink Floyd’s Time, “You are young and life is long and there is time to kill today. And then one day you find ten years have got behind you. No one told you when to run, you missed the starting gun”. So yes, reach for your potential.

Keenan sings, as if summoned by Roger Waters, “We are will and wonder. Bound to recall, remember. We are born of one breath, one word. We are all one spark, sun becoming. Child, wake up. Child, release the light!” What a effervescent anthem, if ever there was one!

 “Litanie Contre la Peur”, is one of the shortest songs on the album at 2:16. Either a keyboard or synthesized guitar’s, endless chord. It is amazing in its ability to stir your thoughts. Like some of the wonderful work in between songs on Dark Side of the Moon. ‘Litany against fear’ is its English translation. Potentially a reference to Frank Herbert’s book Dune, and the scene where Paul Atreides tempts the pain box.

“Invincible”, is my favorite song on the album. But not because it is the third longest. It’s the lyrics on this one. Oh, and yes…the drums. The lyrics took me back to two of my favorite songs from the past. The first is Peter Gabriel’s warrior in “San Jacinto”. Just like Gabriel, Tool describes their warrior so well. You imagine you are him, or you are there looking long into that field or forest. Keenan sings, “Long in tooth and soul. Longing for another win. Lurch into the fray. Weapon out and belly in. Warrior struggling. To remain consequential. Bellow aloud. Bold and proud. Of where I’ve been. But here I am!”

The atomic thump of the drums throughout and near the end of this song are an anthem or symphony in themselves, especially when supported by plucking deep bass guitar. The guitars are great too. One of the most primal anthems I’ve ever heard…since Gabriel’s breath taker.

The other song which this one reminds me of is the band O.S.I.’s famous song “Hero”. In fact, at times, Keenan’s voice reminds me of Kevin Moore. Is “Invincible” a story of a warrior of the jungle, past, or from “Desert Storm”…you decide? It’s your dream.

 “Legion Inoculant”, is another short interlude before your breath is taken away again by an epic. At 3:12, it opens like a UFO landing made with keyboards. Then cool keys and synthesizers help further sooth. Very trippy, indeed. Spacey voices. One cool short space trip. Taking me back to the Dark Side of the Moon.

“Culling Voices”, is a 10:07 minute anthem, that opens with those beautiful ‘light across the water at dawn’ keyboards. Then some of the best opening lead electric guitar chords on the album. They could have let this continue throughout the song.

The concept of silencing or eliminated voices or people. Keenan sings, Psychopathy. Misleading me over and over and over. Judge, condemn, and banish any and every one. Without evidence. Only the whispers from within”. He continues,  “Psychopathy. Misleading me over and over and over. Don’t you dare point that at me!”

Like a throwback to the Floyd’s Wishing You Were Here, you can almost hear Roger Waters in the spaces between the words and notes, sing, “We’re just two lost souls, swimming in a fish bowl, year after year. Running over the same old ground. And how we found. The same old fears”, or even a return to the carnage of Brain Damage. An excellent song full of power and majesty when the lead electric guitar, bass and those smashing drums let go of their grist.

“Descending”, opens with earthquake, lava moving on the land or ground rumbling effects. Then the ocean and waves. Slowly played bass, like Roger Waters taking over the album. Keenan sings, “Free fall through our midnight. This epilogue of our own fable. Heedless in our slumber. Floating nescient we free fall through this boundlessness this madness, of our own making. Falling isn’t flying. Floating isn’t infinite. Come, our end, suddenly. All hail our lethargy. Concede suddenly”. “Sound our dire reveille. Rouse all from our apathy. Lest we, cease to be. Stir us from our wanton slumber. Mitigate our ruin. Call us all to arms and order!”

Yes, like “Us and Them”, an anthem to wake ‘em up and break the apathy. Care for something, if not for yourself and the future. The grinding lead electric guitar that follows is some of the best on the album. This far into the album, I think I have found my favorite new drummer.  Danny Carey, on drums and yes synthesizer, what a wonderful and unique match. Usually the bassist or vocalist plays synthesizers. The drums are like John Bonham, great throughout this album.

Then Carey gets downright Rush “2112 Overture/The Camera Eye”, only sounding deeper, with the synths. Then he is back to banging the drums like he is trying to escape from a cage. The blistering lead electric guitar from Adam Jones, sounds of bowed Jimmy Page as the waves return, and suddenly you’re back at the end of Rush’s “Natural Science”…wow!

“Chocolate Chip Trip”, is another short side trip of 4:50. It takes you back to the Court of the Crimson King, and those beautiful water chimes and gongs. Followed closely by some Larry Fast-like, computer programming on synths. Very cool break between epics. Like that excellent intermission you always wished for, in-between movies, at theaters of the 1970s.

“7empest”, is the over 15-minute epic closer on the album. “Mockingbeat” follows, but it is merely a wave goodbye. “7empest” opens with some unbelievably wonderful guitar fret meandering from Adam Jones, with more percussion rhythms blending together to create a rhythm that could either hypnotize or put you to sleep. But then Carey is back with the kicking drums. On this one Keenan makes some growling sounds, like full on Jim Morrison, then for the rest of the song, he sounds like Mötley Crüe’s Vince Neil, on the song, “Dr. Feelgood”, (the only song I ever liked from that band). In fact, this song almost sounds like a 2019 version of “Dr. Feelgood’s” rhythm and beat, only louder.

Only this time the subject nature has changed. Instead of a drug kingpin, we have elevated the reach to the highest office in the land. Keenan sings, “Heat lighting flash, but don’t blink. Misleading. Tranquility ruse. You’re gonna happen again. That’s what I think. Follow the evidence. Look it dead in the eye. You are darkness. Trying to lull us in, before the havoc begins. Into a dubious state of serenity. Acting all surprised when you’re caught in the lie. We know better. It’s not unlike you. It’s not unlike you. We know your nature”.

Study those lyrics carefully: “Misleading. Tranquility ruse. Follow the evidence. Trying to lull us in, before the havoc begins. Into a dubious state of serenity. Acting all surprised when you’re caught in the lie”. If you have been living in America you would be blind not to know who they are talking about. Yes, “We know better”. Then, finally the smoking gun, “A tempest must be true to its nature. A tempest must be just that”. They nailed it…perfectly.

“Mockingbeat”, is a nice wave good bye to one of the best albums of this decade. Chirping and percussion. Like “Revolution 9” off the White Album.

Fear Inoculum, will sit comfortably on the shelf next to any of the greatest albums of all time that you wish to compare. For me Fear Inoculum, is this generation’s Dark Side of the Moon, Wishing You Were Here, and Animals all wrapped up into one. It has memories of every major stellar group you can name. And I’ve already named quiet a few in this review.Like those great albums mentioned, Fear Inoculum asks us to measure where we are now, and dares us to dream for more. It asks, like Pink Floyd on Dark Side, look at what you are doing to yourself, caught up in the machine. “You are young and life is long and there is time to kill today. And then one day you find ten years have got behind you. No one told you when to run, you missed the starting gun”.

Please get this album or listen to it, if only to appreciate what a band can do when they take their time and really try to create something lasting, like every major band from the 1960s and 70s did. This band is already famous, now they are shooting for legend.

Fear Inoculum was mixed and engineered by “Evil” Joe Barresi. Bob Ludwig, did the album mastering. Tool created the overall production. Engineering assistance was contributed by: Jun Murakawa, Morgan Stratton, Kevin Mills, Garret Lubow, Wesley Seidman, Scott Moore, and Greg Foeller. Guitar techs include: Dan Druff, Tim Dawson, Scott Dachroaden, Pete Lewis, and Sacha Dunable. Drum techs include: Bruce Jacoby, Jon Nikcolson, Joe Slaby, and Junior Kittlitz. Additional tracking: Mat Mitchel, Tim Dawson, and Andrew Means.

The artwork and video for Fear Inoculum was directed by Adam Jones. Alex Grey did the cover art, booklet art, video concept and video direction. Mackie Osborne created the design and layout. Joyce Su added additional art, visual effects, and design. Matthew Santoro produced CGI, video design, and acted as VFX director. Ryan Tottle & Dominic Hailstone created visual effects. Sean Cheetham created the Tool portraits. Photography was produced by: Kristin Burns, Alex Landeen, Travis Shinn, Lee Young, and Ann Chien.

Track List

  1. Fear Inoculum – 10:22
  2. Pneuma – 11:55
  3. Litanie Contre la Peur – 2:16
  4. Invincible – 12:46
  5. Legion Inoculant – 3:12
  6. Culling Voices – 10:07
  7. Descending – 13:38
  8. Chocolate Chip Trip – 4:50
  9. 7empest – 15:46
  10.  Mockingbeat – 2:06

https://toolband.com/

https://www.facebook.com/ToolMusic
Fear Inoculum. Available Now.

Fear Inoculum. Available Now.

Posted by Tool on Friday, August 30, 2019
Fear Inoculum cover

FEAR INOCULUM. Title track and album pre-order, Wednesday, August 7th. Links will be posted tomorrow, Tuesday, August 6th, on our band URL and social accunts. #tool2019

Posted by Tool on Monday, August 5, 2019

No-Man – “Love You to Bits”

Wow! Eleven years waiting for a new No Man album. Both Tim Bowness and Steve Wilson have been very busy with solo and other projects in the interim. They now return to deliver Love You to Bits, this November 22, 2019.

Can you dance to prog? Well…now you can, when its blended well with electronica, ambient, pop and fusion. Especially when that album “chronicles the aftermath of a relationship from different perspectives”. An album about Love and its affects.

Love You to Bits, is No Man’s seventh album, and possibly its most entertaining. The band is made up of Tim Bowness, the lyrics writer, who also sings lead and harmony vocals; and Steven Wilson, on guitars, keyboards and other instruments. The album was written and produced by No Man .

The band invited guest performers on Love You to Bits, including: Adam Holzman, (from Moonparticle, Steven Wilson, and The Fents), playing keys; David Kollar, from Komara, playing guitars; Ash Soan, from Aviv Gefen, on drums; Pete Morgan, playing bass; and the Dave Desmond Brass Quintet.

“Love You to Bits” opens with some very cool orchestration, and then Tim Bowness’ voice enters the soundscape. One of the best voices in prog, never disappoints. “What are you thinking? What are you dreaming? I’d like to know what’s on your mind”. The keyboards are warm and welcoming. A very danceable beat sets the mood and makes this latest album, by one of my favorite groups, a very accessible creation. At around the 2:54 minute mark, a cool riff that sounds similar to one I remember from Pineapple Thief’s “Nothing at Best”, enters and it is repeated to great effect. Bowness continues to unfold his feelings for a past love before us. The openness and clarity is something we absolutely need in this current state of ‘no contact’ world we live in. Everything seems to be cold and shared over an impersonal Internet. The fact that a human being is expressing feelings so freely is refreshing.

The same open feelings are expressed to different pulses and beats throughout the five songs that make the complete set of side one or “Love You to Bits”. Trance, electronica, ambient, and freely danceable music is used to transmit this wonderful self-expression. Reaching out person-to-person for interaction. Like it used to be. Not over some sanitized cell phone or Internet connection.

The laser cool guitar work and Depeche Mode like keyboards are wonderful. The Dave Desmond Brass Quintet’s closing requiem sound is the perfect punctuation to the end of side one of the album.

“Love You to Pieces”, is the second side of the album and it is also broken into five parts. It opens with gentle flute like sounds, then Bowness sings softly and emotionally. “All of the heartache. All of the signs. All of the waiting. All of the time. All of the things we should have known. I thought of the future”. The gut feeling of a sudden end to a relationship.

This side of the album starts out more subdued, and more questioning of what has happened in the past. There is contemplation of the time spent, and the memories of what will be missed. This is a song of regret for a very dynamic and potent love, not a one-night stand.

On part 2, Bowness uses voice modulation to great effect.

On track 3, we get the powerful lyrics, “It felt like the future”.

On the closing track 5, I got a sense of the rhythm and keyboards I remember from 10CC’s “I’m Not in Love”.

This album, forces the listener to contemplate how much they want to hear those words, “I Love You”? I think it is the Holy Grail that we all seek from birth; and in many different ways. Just to belong to the society we live within, and the world as a whole. Imagine that feeling, set to music. That is what you get with No Man’s latest creation. It also, hopefully, makes you appreciate how important and fragile love is, and to try to preserve it.

Tool might have written the album of this year…capturing the current anti-social climate which has engulfed the world. No Man envisions a return to the feeling of normalcy and caring, which existed before this nationalistic fervor, that has gripped the world. They explore what it feels to be in love and to lose it. Their vision is more expansive and inclusive of more of the Earth’s residents. Their vision transcends time. Both good and bad times. We will always search for love like the Holy Grail. “No Man is an island”, and Love You to Bits may be the greatest affirmation of the band’s origin. After all,…”Love is all we need…”

Please get this album if you have ever loved, wanted love, or dreamed of what it would be like to be in love.

Track List

  1. – 4:53
  2. Love You to Bits (Bit 2) – 1:03
  3. Love You to Bits (Bit 3) – 1:35
  4. Love You to Bits (Bit 4) – 5:15
  5. Love You to Bits (Bit 5) – 4:19
  6. Love You to Pieces (Piece 1) – 6:03
  7. Love You to Pieces (Piece 2) – 4:02
  8. Love You to Pieces (Piece 3) – 3:03
  9. Love You to Pieces (Piece 4) – 2:02
  10.  Love You to Pieces (Piece 5) – 3:44

Love You to Bits was produced by NoMan, and the album was mixed by Bruno Ellingham. Matt Colton mastered the album for Caroline International.

https://www.facebook.com/nomanofficial/?ref=nf

https://burningshed.com/no-man_love-you-to-bits_cd

YYNOT – “Resonance”


I found YYNOT’s debut album, released in June of 2018, late in 2018, and reviewed it for another webzine. I was completely surprised, like I bet most fans, when I first heard their live cover of Rush’s “2112 Overture”. I was overwhelmed by the playing which sounded so authentic and close to the sound of one of my favorite bands. However, I was absolutely blown away when I heard the voice of 19-year-old Rocky Kuner, sing Rush’s lyrics almost as well as Geddy himself.

So, to make a long story short, I became a fan and when I heard their new album, Resonance, was already in the works and coming out in 2019, I wanted to be early to the party this time. Resonance, YYNOT’ssophomore release, made it to online stores on September 19, 2019.

In case you are new to the band, like I was last year, YYNOT is made up of Billy Alexander, the band leader, lead guitar player, keyboards player, and backing vocalist; Tim Starace, on bass;
Joel Stevenett, on drums and percussion; Rocky Kuner, on lead vocals; and Tony Morra, on drums, and percussion.

YYNOT, opens the album with a signature instrumental called, “Synergos”. The slow plucked lead guitar at the opening is a nice intro, before Starace’s flowing bass takes the stage.
Joel Stevenett’s drums and rhythm build, and your memories of all those early Rush concerts come back into focus. But there is some wonderful unique chords being played and most importantly indicating that this album will be much different than their debut. This is a more mature band, full of amazing energy.

They follow an intense opener with their first hit song, and probably one that will draw a lot of new fans, “Wildest Dreams”. This song allows Rocky to paint the soundscape with her beautiful voice and fill your ears with her dreams. The video that supports the song is a good look at a band on top of their game. Rocky sings, “So much to do and be counted upon. Sharing all of your heart can never be wrong. But unfolding too much all at once can slip through your hands”. Yes, indeed. “Imagine yourself living your wildest dreams”. Yes, I think she and the band are enjoying that moment…for sure.

“Bully”, can be interpreted many ways. I see some inference pointing back to the king on the cover of “A Farewell to Kings”, as well as the current state of political and social affairs around the country and globe. Any bully shades their fear and doubts by attacking or projecting the same fears or doubts on others. Rocky sings, “Words can also strike a blow like a chisel chipping away. A mean streak to feel the need for power over the weak”. Fast moving and accelerating, like early 80s Rush. One of the album’s best. They do intertwine some Rush chords towards the end, but it is a welcomed addition to the mix.

“Future Unknown” is amazing! This will be a live show favorite request…for sure. The lead electric guitar solo at the beginning, along with the sounds of the wind; paint a picture of a desert, or an amazing Montana ‘Big Sky’ afternoon, or maybe, even lazing around in a cornfield in Iowa in the morning. A perfect mood set for Rocky to provide the best lyrics and vocals on the album, “I wish there was something to touch, that could light all of my dreams. If I could trust. Not chained to fears and doubts but set my mind free. How good that would be”. This is her song, their song, and it is as real and authentic as YYNOT this time. The best song on the album for me. For me this, is the song that sets the band apart from being a cover band to hopefully rocketing them into the starshine.

“Open Book”, is the second hit off Resonance and it is a great one. Rocky sings, “Always gonna say how I feel. Never gonna break on a deal. Never fake. Always real”. Yes, if we could all live our lives that way. Good song with a powerful lyric.

“Chemical Burn”, opens with one of those cool Rush-like, electric lead guitar, sword shows. Then powerful bass and drums bounce in for another blistering instrumental. Count this in as another live show favorite.

“She Said I Love the Rain”, is another powerful showcase for Rocky’s vocal. Her feminine influence with this band helps separate YYNOT from all of the other Rush copies, and other rock bands dominating the stage. She balances out the band’s sound perfectly. The band brings the power chords, bass and drums, but Rocky adds the top layer of the cake with her vocals and attitude.

“Heart and Soul”, comes at you full tilt with grinding guitars and drums. Then it settles back as Rocky sings, “Give me a chance to prove my love. All I ever want is to be the one you’re dreaming of”. A good, hard rocker.

“Blind Luck”, opens like most YYNOT songs. But this song has a wonderful surprise, a nice guest violin by Macie Slick. Yes, it will bring back memories of Rush’s “Losing It”, but this is an original composition full of YYNOT’s heart and soul. A powerful moment of glory for this band.

“Precious Time”, has a wonderful wandering electric lead guitar opening with bass added like sprinkled salt or pepper. Just enough to add flavor. Then, Rocky sings, “Such a fine line between drive and ambition. Driving so fast you don’t know what you’re missing. Like a bird in the sky. Or a gentle kiss goodnight”. A great love ballad and solid closer.

Rocky is incredible…but Resonance is excellent! Better than the debut album. The Rush influence is still there, but you can hear more of their own sound on every track. More powerful, tighter playing and excellent songwriting. The musicianship is up to their usual high standards. But with songs like “Future Unknown”, “Open Book”, “Wildest Dreams”, and “She Said I Love the Rain”, the band is building its own catalog of memorable reasons to come to its shows.

My gut feeling, is that with the debut album, everyone came to the shows to watch and listen to their favorite Rush covers. I bet more fans will show up wanting to hear Resonance songs. Please give this album a spin and I think you will agree.

T rack List

  1. Synergos – 3:10
  2. Wildest Dreams – 4:13
  3. Bully – 4:35
  4. Future Unknown – 3:36
  5. Open Book – 5:01
  6. Chemical Burn – 5:13
  7. She Said I Love the Rain – 4:17
  8. Heart and Soul – 4:02
  9. Blind Luck – 4:48
  10. Precious Time – 5:01

https://yynotband.com/

https://www.facebook.com/YYNOTBAND/?ref=py_c

https://yynot.bandcamp.com/album/yynot-debut-album

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCpF9KnCcZM9KWovxn3TtZ9Q

http://rushcon.org/tribute/yynot/yynot.html

The video that started it all for me:

Odd Logic – “Last Watch of the Nightingale”


Last Watch of the Nightingale, is Odd Logic’s eighth album. Their last album, Effigy, back in 2017, was my introduction to the band. I reviewed that dynamic album and learned of the power and extended influence of this band.

Odd Logic is a Washington state progressive metal band. The members of the band also play live in a local cover band, that plays primarily Dream Theater, (Forsaken Fortress).

For Last Watch of the Nightingale, the band members include: Sean Thompson, on guitar, bass, keyboards, and vocals; and Pete Hanson, on drums and guttural vocals. The album will be released on September 28, 2019.

Odd Logic began writing and recording the music for Last Watch of the Nightingale, back in 2017, just after the release of their killer album Effigy. In fact, almost 80% of the album was completed in early 2018. The final track was cut on September 1, 2019, meaning the band had spent at least 190 days creating this epic.

The Last Watch of the Nightingale, is another great concept album for Odd Logic. In summary, the story involves, “a long-time ship captain of trade, Jengu, who departs from his wife for one last journey on his faithful ship the Nightingale. Each song brings he and his crew deeper into an unusual storm, eventually bringing the captain to a state of anxiety and comatose dreaming. At the point of the ship’s submersion, he uses his last energy to release his caged nightingale, (bird), that his wife, Anlia gave him for protection on his long sea voyages. The bird arrives home, and because it has reappeared, Anlia knows the fate of her husband”. By the way, the band notes: “More than one nightingale is not a flock, it is a “watch”.

The CD artwork includes “journals and shipping records that were recovered for both husband and wife. They are key to filling in the rest of the story”.

The album opens with, “Last Watch”, an over 6-minute epic instrumental, featuring innovative electric guitar, bass, and power drumming, after the opening orchestration and effects. The opening piano and strings are wonderful. The pace builds until, the full gamut is unleashed. Power hammer drums, grinding guitars, and overwhelming bass create a blistering anthem-like drum and guitar attack that few bands have accomplished this year. Every once in while they give you keys and orchestration, but they continually return to that torrent of merciless seas of guitar and drilling drums. A very serious opening track to start this epic album. The only thing that I can remember that is remotely close is Dream Theater’s “Caught in a Web” or “The Mirror/Lie”, but this song is heavier! I think those tracks might have been the inspiration to drive harder. That diving bell at the end is epic!

“Garden of Thorns”, comes at you full pace. Electric guitar, bass, and in your face drumming, with keyboards flowing behind. Then Sean Thompson’s first vocals, “All this time away at sea. Torn between the loves of my life. Point me south when my journey’s done. Imagine me close to home, will you. But navigate until then. We must sail on”. A rugged captain willing to sail on. Soft keys rain down as he sings. More of the power of “Caught in a Web” or “The Mirror/Lie”, emerges, only this time set to a story of navigating a stormy sea. Later, Thompson sings, “Oh, midnight on a sea so still. The world has never been so real”. Another power driver of a song filled with storied lyrics and emotion.

“Absence”, opens with a drum salute, then Thompson sings, “I’m sitting on a tall ship thinking of you. Would you notice that I’ve got a clean pair of shoes? If I could say anything, just look at the stars. It’s a perilous journey but I’ve come this far”. Later he sings, “Riding the ocean, I feel alive and well”. Grinding guitars and great vocal harmonies teamed with expert counterpunch drumming, bass and supporting keyboards.

On “Chance of Gods”, Thompson sings, “What does it mean if I see no stars. Help me to breath if I labor to sound the call. Sun fall and dreams, fog and mist, it’s day 5. In deep thought below, sail and deck, tonight”. Rain and stormy conditions increase, as do the melancholic piano sounds, deep bass and low guitars. One of the most dramatic moments on the album occurs as Thompson unleashes and epic scream, “How will this night end?” Then, “Now I know, and I know very well. That my soul belongs to the chance of Gods”. Power music follows. The band eclipses the power of Awake, as Sean’s vocals and the relentless torrent of guitars and drums outlast Dream Theater.

“Dreaming in Color”, opens with beautiful piano, before Thompson sings, “I know my eyes are not certain. Blinded by scenery. Corridors of water lead my way.
Shout your name to get me through this night. It is the first time dreaming in color”. The dream sequence music is quite unique and otherworldly.

“Of the Nightingale”, is full of cool drumming, more keyboards, with unique signatures. Then, the grinding guitars begins to roar. And so, does Pete Hanson, with those guttural vocals. Then Thompson sings, “Some things refuse to change. Some things are lost in the world. Some things return the same. Like circles”. Then he sings, with quiet piano pounding out the cadence, “Faith, repent, please, exception forgive, regret, these may be my last words”. This keyboard driven song is wonderful.

 “Sorrow”, is an enormously emotional instrumental song full of passionate music following the sad storyline.

“Boundary Division” is a 23-minute epic closer, the likes of which I have not heard so far this year. It opens with what sounds like a gong. Then crushing drums, riveting electric guitars and bass. A thunderstorm of musical sound. Thompson sings, “Full go into the storm, it is now or never. I know the longer we go we will reach the moonlight shining. Embrace the quickening pace, we will use its power.
We face the eternal race to sail right through the eye”. Then, quietly he sings,
“Hello, my hands, we know the meaning of our life. Breathe in, breathe out, we’ll find the boundary division”. The music in between the story lyrics is full of passion and power. I refuse to divulge the full storyline. Sean closes the song with a wonderful closing paragraph, “Hello, to all who know the meaning of their life.
To those who dare to find the boundary division. You know we never know the fate of every night. So, go on and… Welcome home!”

Last Watch of the Nightingale is testament to the ever-growing musical ability of Odd Logic. If this album gets the right exposure globally, they should be drawing crowds the size of Dream Theater. I am a Dream Theater fan, and Odd Logic’s music is much more engaging than Dream Theater’s latest. They just don’t have a major label supporting them, like DT. Sean Thompson’s voice is comparable to James LeBrie’s. The musical ability that fills this album should be heard by a wider audience. I hope those in the music industry that have the power to help bands grow, will take heed of this call and pick up this album, and appreciate it in its completeness. Please listen to this on CDBaby or the band’s Bandcamp site and then go get it, and experience it in full surround sound. It is one of the best albums I have heard this year.

Track List

  1. Last Watch – 6:17
  2. Garden of Thorns – 6:17
  3. Absence – 5:31
  4. Chance of Gods – 6:27
  5. Dreaming in Color – 8:03
  6. Of the Nightingale – 8:16
  7. Sorrow – 4:09
  8. Boundary Division – 23:00

Thomas Ewerhard, created the artwork, design and layout. Kevin Hunter, prepared the preliminary/conceptual consultation, and Ben “Jammindude” Straley, provided additional consultation.

The album was mixed, mastered and produced by Sean Thompson at Offseason Studios.

http://www.oddlogic.band/news

https://oddlogicrock.bandcamp.com/album/last-watch-of-the-nightingale

https://store.cdbaby.com/cd/oddlogic8

https://www.facebook.com/OddLogicband/

PRoPoRTIoNS – “Vision from a Distant Past”


PRoPoRTIoNS is a progressive rock band, with jazz fusion influences. The band members come from different parts of the world and their music sounds, at times, like it is actually beyond the realms of this world.

I found the band’s second album, Vision from a Distant Past, available for listening on CDBaby.com. The album was released on September 1, 2019. Their debut album, Reboot, was released last year. Their music is a wonderful blend of Pink Floyd, Alan Parsons, and Larry Fast, with some definite jazz influences. The music is mostly instrumental, with keyboards and guitar playing the most prominent roles.

The band is made up of: Lennart Ståhle, (from Sweden), on guitars, flute and keyboards; Tomas Stark, (from Sweden), on keyboards, electric and acoustic guitar; Denis Boucher, (from Canada), on drums and percussion; and Andy Kubicki, (from the USA), on bass, keyboards and orchestration.

On Vision from a Distant Past, PRoPoRTIoNS uses special musical guests:
Jeremy Cubert, on Chapman Stick, on “Double Barrel”, and synthesizer on “Telemetry Drizzle”; John Eyre, on vocals for “Seagull’s Call”; Pierre Bordeleau, on vocals for “Open Door”; Stefan Kubicki, on electric guitar, on the tracks, “Floorcare” and “Colors of Light”; Richard Sheehy, on electric guitar, on “Temporal Induction”; and Dayron Luis San Juan Muguercia, on congas on “Floorcare” and “Pangaea”.

Every song on this album is absolutely innovative and entertaining to listen to from beginning to end.

“Temporal Induction” sounds like a Larry Fast computerized song until it changes completely into a Pink Floyd – like instrumental. It goes from completely outer space to inner space in minutes. Richard Sheehy, on electric guitar, takes over midway through the song to help give the track its David Gilmour – like edge. One of the best tracks on the album, and one of the best keyboard-oriented tracks I’ve heard this year. Absolutely mind-blowing and dynamic.

“Double Barrel” opens with fast moving computer-like keyboards. Jeremy Cubert, on Chapman Stick keeps a wonderful beat and rhythm. Some of the sounds reminds me of Steve Hackett’s carnival – like influences. The keyboards are wonderful throughout.

“Seagull’s Call” is my favorite song on the album. Kind of an ole English tale, by the seaside, with gull sounds and waves of the ocean. The acoustic guitar work and John Eyre’s vocals were perfect. The flute work is “Tullriffic”! The deep acoustic guitar is so warm and enchanting.

“Sticks in the Head” opens with soft flute and sorted percussion. Along with the deep piano, they create a deep, trancelike, Middle Eastern rhythm that begins to draws you in. Hypnotizing and at the same time wonderfully exotic and unique. A banquet for the ears.

“Floorcare”, slides in with orchestration, keyboards and synths, followed by Stefan Kubicki, on electric guitar. There is this Eastern Asian feeling to the opening, before the synthesizers take over and plunge you deep into an electronic realm of consciousness. The organ work towards the ending adds additional dimension to a very dynamic song. Kubicki’s guitar towards the end brings back many memories of Steve Hackett’s best. They add flute near the end with bells and chimes to top the cake.

“Colors of Light”, opens with some Hackett-like acoustic guitar and stunning piano. Percussion and drums add to the soundscape and power the song to another level. The guitar work is innovative and different than anything you may have heard this year. The “fireworks” display at the end is awesome!

“Open Door”, is full of deep sounding keys and great guitar and percussion. Pierre Bordeleau on vocals describes a world full of opportunity and achievement, if we only realize that there is an open door. “The open door, makes us free forever”. The drums and guitar solos are dramatic and inspiring.

“Telemetry Drizzle”, opens with cool percussion and drums. The climbing and cascading guitar work is memorable. This is the most jazz-influenced keyboard show on the album.

“Grift”, is a keyboard and drum workout. Then some excellent electric guitar soloing is added to take the song up a notch. Searing cool synths join in to take me back to the feel of “Hot Buttered Popcorn”, if anyone, besides me, even remembers that fun song.

“Splendid Illusion”, is full of splendid piano and synth effects.

“Pangaea”, is another beautiful piano, synth, and guitar concerto. The congas and birdsong add so much magic. As do the thunder, rain and atmospherics.

“Temporal Finale” is an absolutely wild space adventure. Arjen Lucassen would love this…I think. Unfortunately, it ends too soon.

Despite being a mostly instrumental album, every song is engaging and full of entertaining rhythm and music. Many of the tracks are danceable. When was the last time you read that in a progressive rock review? This band is absolutely original and playing what I think might be at the next level of progressive rock. The synthesizer work throughout this album and all of the music takes progressive rock in a new, and I think interesting direction. Please give PRoPoRTIoNS’ Vision from a Distant Past, a try.

Track List

  1. Temporal Induction – 4:18
  2. Double Barrel – 3:06
  3. Seagull’s call – 6:34
  4. Sticks in the Head – 5:16
  5. Floorcare – 6:04
  6. Colors of Light – 7:02
  7. Open Door – 4:31
  8. Telemetry Drizzle – 3:58
  9. Grift – 3:10
  10.  Splendid Illusion – 8:04
  11.  Pangaea – 4:44
  12.  Temporal Finale – 1:21

All music was written by PRoPoRTIoNS, except for “Splendid Illusion”, by Craig Clark.

Vision from a Distant Past was recorded at Board Potato Studio, USA; Studio Tan, Sweden; Old Road Studio, Sweden; and Studio ON|Reflexion, Canada.

Vision from a Distant Past was mixed by Andy Kubicki at Board Potato Studio, and mastered by Denis Boucher at Studio ON|Reflexion.

The album cover art was created by Alexis Kubicki. azkubicki.com

https://propsreboot.bandcamp.com/album/visions-from-a-distant-past

https://store.cdbaby.com/cd/proportions2

Cirrus Bay – “The Art of Vanishing”


Although it was released at the height of summer, back on June 30;
early fall is still a very good time to appreciate the wonderful calmness of Cirrus Bay’s new album The Art of Vanishing. With track titles like: “A Blossom of Hills”, “A Garment of Clouds”, “Eden”, “Falling Leaves”, and “The Poetic Sea”,  a listener knows to expect some wonderful, dreamy, awe inspiring music that will take you away from all of life’s worries and commitments. The duration of the album returns your mind to a time when we all had more time to appreciate the wonders of the world, along with beautiful, engaging music.

Cirrus Bay is a Buckley, Washington, based band. Buckley; to provide perspective, is a town in Washington on the outskirts of Washington’s largest mountain/volcano; Mount Rainier. In fact, it is only around 22 miles from Mt. Rainier. The perspective, of seeing that enormous mountain from sea level at merely 22 miles away, is an awesome sight, along with its intensity and beauty. It is an inspiring sight during each of the year’s seasons.

Cirrus Bay is made up of Tai Shan, on lead vocals; Sharra Acle, on vocals; Mark Blasco, on drums, bass, sax, vocals, and guitar; and Bill Gillham, on keyboards, guitars, recorder, banjitar, and vocals.

The Art of Vanishing, recaptures the feelings and emotions I felt back in the mid-70s for early and middle Genesis career, albums and music. That whimsical sound you remember hearing from David Hentschel’s influence on Genesis, and the early sounds of the band before the commercialism that took over on We Can’t Dance, are all here.

The warm, and whimsical, carefree, feeling is ever-present on the album’s first track, “A Blossom of Hills”. Beautiful acoustic guitar, original and innovative, but full of the memory of some of Steve Hackett’s best riffs; welcomes you to join in on the fun, about to be presented. I even hear some Led Zeppelin III and IV, in those strings. Tai Shan’s lead vocals, teamed with Sharra Acle’s backing vocal are the charms we have been missing in the music presented by most of today’s modern progressive rock.

Tai Shan sings, “I ride into the day, as life just fades away…through the rear window”. Then, Sharra Acle joins in, as together they sing, “A blossom in the wind, a brush across my skin. And soft the spark that follows. It’s a story inside unknown. A creation of sight and sound. Sky and ground. New places beckon, so wild and free”.

After their wonderful vocals, an almost eerily familiar sound of guitar, like Genesis “Ripples” or “Mad Man Moon”, or even “Horizons”; just mystical guitar that brings back so many great musical memories, while creating anew. I even hear some of the wonderful keyboard and guitar sounds I remember from IZZ’s height of career, “Deafening Silence”.

If that wasn’t enough to light up the memories, Shan and Acle return to deliver some of the best lyrics and vocals I have heard this year. The ladies sing, “Into waking hills. Into a sense of freedom. A shout from deep within, escapes into the sunshine. How we need the sunshine. Into green and gold. A world that will accept you. Stand with open arms. The beauty will embrace you. How we need the beauty”.

Then enthralling piano, peaking the emotions and driving the sound higher. But we’re far from the end of this beauty. The wonderful soft acoustic guitars return, reminiscent of Led Zeppelin’s, “That’s the Way”, and the spirit of “Friends”. That acoustic spirit of real and organic, not funneled through electric. Natural, in all its glory. Additionally, the band uses banjitar, which provides yet another rural reference point for this music.

When the ladies return, their voices and the music sounds like the free-flowing fun of the 1960’s before all the tragedy. The innocence we felt before the riots and Nixon. That feeling of early CSN and Simon and Garfunkel. If you are old enough…you remember. If not, I think you will appreciate it anyway.

They sing, “Upon my waking eyes and ever-changing skies. Beautiful kingdom. A brush across the hair. To sharing in this land. To build the world and run free!”

This over 10-minute, epic song is definitely on my list of one of the best songs of the year. It has captured a lot of what I remembered and loved from the late sixties and early seventies.

How do you follow up that epic! With a wonderful acoustic guitar song, with the lovely name, “Undiscovered Isle”. Innovative guitar along the same lines I referenced in “A Blossom of Hills”, only more of it. The reference point and feel of traveling in the nearby San Juan Islands, that dot the Puget Sound, on a warm late spring or summer day.

What could be better than a “Garment of Clouds”? As someone who loves to watch clouds, I definitely understand and feel this song. Acoustic guitar and recorder open before Tai Shan sings, “I run to catch the day that slips away. Hoping to feel one more time. New emotions. Blossoms in the air, comes in a garment of clouds. I remember”.  Acoustic guitar rambles ahead as we wander amongst the forest or hills, looking up at the ever-changing cloud formations in the sky. An emotional memory full of soundtrack music. Then, Bill Gillham, on keyboards and Mark Blasco on sax create an inspiring closing section to the song.

“The North Country”, summons an opening organ-like sound that will take you back to Bank’s and early Genesis. The keyboard music from there on in, is original and innovative enough to entertain. This is a very entertaining instrumental with electric guitar added later in the song.

“Sooke Harbour” is an actual place on Vancouver Island, in Canada’s British Columbia Province. The recorder teamed with acoustic guitar opens the song like a soft caress. Then keyboards, sax and drums. A wonderful stream of music flows on like the Salish Sea which surrounds it. Another wonderful instrumental for the band to display their talent. How do you write about a place as magical as

“Eden”? How could any song embrace its mystic power? This song truly tries to capture it, with sounds that remind me of some of the Innocence Mission’s music. Tai Shan and Sharra Acle return on vocals. They sing, “Wind and sea. Stirrings of the place I long to be. At the edge of the heart of memory. And on these shores remain. Thriving from all that’s free from blame. Away from hate and pain”. I will not spoil the rest of the lyrics or story, but you really need to hear it for yourself.

With a title like, “Unexpected Wonder”, you know to expect something wonderful. Cool keys surrounded by soft sax…just amazing. Electric guitar and bass helping to provide the wonder. Piano and cascading Hackett-like electric guitar. Organ, then running keys, bass, drums and an electric guitar solo. More great instrumental music from Cirrus Bay. The sax solo is warm and wonderful.

“Lost and Profound”, opens with soft and wonderful piano, followed by sax. Piano that will take you back to “The Lamb” or Genesis “Ripples”. Another emotional instrumental full of passion. “The Dictator”, opens full of drive with guitar, bass, piano, and drums. The harmony of Tai Shan and Sharra Acle’s voices melding is wonderful. “It’s a time of misplaced trust”. Yes, we are going through that kind of time right now and this song speaks well to the effects of a dictator’s influence.

“Vanishing Place”, is full of wonderful, The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway – like piano, at its opening. Then, Tai Shan returns to sing. More innovative keys and synths that seem to build like “Snowbound” off, And Then There Were Three, or “One for the Vine” off Wind and Wuthering. This is the second longest epic on this album, and the album’s closer. The sax solo mingles well with the piano before drums, bass, and guitars join in. Tai Shan returns to deliver, “At the edge the sunlight fades. Lives are lost and feelings fade away. So, they say”. The band opens a wonderful instrumental section reminiscent of Genesis. Just sit back and enjoy the ride. Since I was fortunate enough to have bene given the expended version of the album, I will also review the two extra tracks provided.

“Falling Leaves”, is another acoustic guitar gem at its opening. Bill Gillham sings lead vocals on this song. He sings, “You slipped into my world so unexpectedly. I did not think someone could have this hold on me. I tried to hide. This twisting inside”. A thoughtful and reflective song of feelings of love as the seasons turn.  

“The Poetic Sea”, is a poetic piano concerto. Every minute is one you do not want to pass. Thank you for this addition. At over 12 minutes, it is the album’s longest song. A portrait of all that is great about the piano. Buy the album for this track alone!

This album is perfect in every way. It lives up to the craftsmanship and love these musicians have for their art. Every song has its, (sorry…I couldn’t avoid it), own special way. Please make this album part of your required listening for the year. Get this album and explore Cirrus Bay’s wonderful back catalog. It is full of whimsical and wonderful music like The Art of Vanishing.  

Track List

  1. A Blossom of Hills – 10:28
  2. Undiscovered Isle – 2:53
  3. A Garment of Clouds – 5:03
  4. The North Country – 5:17
  5. Sooke Harbour – 3:07
  6. Eden – 3:42
  7. Unexpected Wonder – 6:55
  8. Lost and Profound – 3:03
  9. The Dictator – 4:08
  10.  Vanishing Place – 10:08
  11.  Falling Leaves – 3:38
  12.  The Poetic Sea – 12:10

All tracks were written by Bill Gillham. The album was engineered and mastered by Mark Blasco. The Art of Vanishing was produced by Bill Gillham and Mark Blasco. The cover art was created by Lee Gaskins, who is famous for his otherworld album covers and art for Cirrus Bay. Photos for individual tracks were taken by Bill Gillham.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=muqbhnfZChM  

https://cirrusbay.bandcamp.com/album/the-art-of-vanishing https://store.cdbaby.com/cd/cirrusbay6

Concert Review – Moon Letters and Human Ottoman at the Parliament Tavern, in West Seattle, Washington on Friday, August 16th, 2019

I went to The Parliament Tavern in West Seattle, Washington, on August 16th, to see Moon Letters live, after reviewing their new CD, Until They Feel the Sun. I read about their show at SeaProg 2019, Seattle’s most well-known progressive music festival, and wanted to hear them live. It isn’t often that you go to a show expecting to hear another great band, and get introduced to a brand-new band that takes the show to another level. The Parliament Tavern show was my introduction to the innovative polyrhythmic rock of Human Ottoman. The show was my first progressive rock concert of the year and it was wonderful.

The show opened with Susan Lucia of Human Ottoman playing drums with Peter Daniel and Funk Jazz. Peter Daniel was well received and the band played some interesting jazz and funk noodling. It was great, but not the feature artists I was looking forward to hearing.  Peter Daniel on saxophones from 45th St Brass had the audience warmed up well with music and commentary. It was a good show, and I’d recommend any jazz lover to search them out.

Next up was Human Ottoman. I was already impressed with Lucia’s drumming with Funk Jazz, however, when Grayson Fiske rolled in that vibraphone on wheels, I knew we were in for a treat.

Human Ottoman is a dynamic quartet of musicians made up of Grayson Fiske, on electric vibraphone: Julian Kosanovic, on cello; David Robert Burrows, on bass: and Susan Lucia on drums; from Portland Oregon. Their music is dynamic and weird at the same time. But it is innovative and full of excitement. The band has been on a multiple city tour since releasing their new album, Rampage in August. Their music is in demand throughout the west and Mid-West. And for good reason. They often open each song slowly with vibraphone, cello and bass, then Lucia smashes the drums and they go full tilt. It is just amazing when they do.

The experience is hard to describe. It is creative wow. They open with each musician playing their instrument in different directions, before Lucia seems to bang the drum for an eruption of sound to begin. Then, the band plays at rapid speed and increased volume. It is amazing how they time these eruptions and all play their instruments at peak performance, in rhythm and with melody. 

Human Ottoman played the following songs: “DoeToe”, ” 3(5)+4″, “Drug Anthem”, “Yesterday”, “Real Eyes”, “construction”, and “100k Lazer Cats”. My favorite was “100k Lazer Cats”, with Lucia playing the drums with the bow.

Next up, was the reason I came to the show, Moon Letters. I met with Michael Trew and some of the other band members before the show and congratulated them on their recent invitation to the Rights of Spring Festival, next year in Sarasota. An invitation to RosFest is quiet an honor for any band, but particularly hard to receive for a band in the Seattle area.

Moon Letters did not disappoint. Michael’s use of the sword, reminded me of the sword used in the legendary Led Zeppelin movie, The Song Remains the Same. When he brought out the flute and played my favorite song on the new album, “Sunset of Man” I cheered loudly. The keyboards played by John Allday, were wonderful to hear live. Kelly Mynes, on drums and percussion, almost reminded me of John Bonham. I was actually afraid he would break the drums. A couple of things actually fell off the kit.

Moon Letters did a perfect job of recreating the emotion and feeling of the intimate story behind their album, Until They Feel the Sun. The set was the highlight of the evening, despite the wonderful discovery of Human Ottoman.

Fans of the band, and the progressive rock fans that will gather in Sarasota next year will be treated to a concert delivered by consummate professionals. I cannot wait until their next album; which I have heard they are already working on.

Moon Letters’ set included the following songs: “Those Dark Eyes”, “Sea Battle”, “The Tarnalin”, “The Red Knight”, “Sunset of Man”, “The Green Lady”, “Beware the Finman” and “Gypsy”, a Deep Purple cover.

Moon Letters:

https://www.moonletters.com/

https://www.facebook.com/MoonLettersBand/

https://moonletters.bandcamp.com/

Human Ottoman:

https://www.humanottoman.com/

https://www.facebook.com/HumanOttoman/

https://humanottoman.bandcamp.com/

Peter Daniel and Funk Jazz:

http://45thstbrass.com/

Edenbridge – “Dynamind”

Edenbridge – Dynamind

Anyone who knows me, knows I like Edenbridge. I thought they reached their peak with The Bonding. There were so many great stories and lyrics, as well as powerful orchestration on the album. The Great Momentum was a good album; however, it was not up to the caliber of The Bonding. So, it was with hope that I requested and received their new album Dynamind

Although it does not have the power of the lyrics and orchestration of The Bonding, it does have something that The Great Momentum was missing. Innovative keyboards, mixed well with blazing guitar, and a plethora of some added instruments and sounds.

Edenbridge has always reflected the effervescent spirit of their Austrian heritage in their music. That spirit is so well summed up in the classic movie of defiance and love of country, culture, in The Sound of Music.

“The Memory Hunter”, opens Dynamind, like many an Edenbridge song. Full of power drums hammering, bass supporting and those two lead electric guitars roaming like wolves on the hunt. Speed rock n roll, set to a heavy beat. Sabine sounds great as she sings, “How will you measure your life? Without a past. A trail of devastation, so dark and vast”. “Dreams don’t fly no more”. Lanvall has a cool mysterious keyboard sound integrated within the guitar roar, like a rolling synthesizer that gives this track some magic.

When I first saw the track titled, “Live and Let Go”, I thought this might have an ironic spin on the famous James Bond classic, Live and Let Die. (The band has covered Bond songs in the past). Instead, it is another traditional Edenbridge song. What really makes this band so great for me is Sabine’s singing. No other female vocalist quiet compares to her power, mixed well with emotion, and without the screaming that often accompanies female metal singers. And on “Live and Let Go”, she shines well above the music. She has a strong opening line, reminding me of The Bonding, “Here I stand”, and then she carries it on so well after, singing, “Live and let go. There’s a light in the dark to endeavor. Free to fly in a never-ending sky”. Full of enthusiasm and drive.


“Where the Oceans Collide”, opens like most Edenbridge rockers, full of spark and racing electric guitars, supported well with bass and thundering drums. What makes it different is Lanvall’s infusion of some cool keyboard sounds. Edenbridge albums are always full of intricate and innovative guitar sounds, but the keyboard extras he has added on this album stand out to me. Sabine sings some great lyrics, “This is not a dream. This is not a test. Colors clashing like a wave in crest. It’s the line of sight, where oceans collide”.

 “The Other Side”, has a wonderful mix of stringed instruments adding to the soundscape that the band creates. This one almost sounds like an Irish/Scottish jig at times; it is a rousing march full of imagination. Hammered Dulcimer and mandolin makes this one of the best and most original tracks on the album. Sabine sings wonderful lyrics, “The eternal quest for the better. Be different than you’re meant to be. Every march into a battle has the core inside the men. Your mind will feed the universe. The inner voice shall guide”.


“All Our Yesterdays”, is full of all of that orchestration I miss from The Bonding. Sabine sings glorious lyrics with emotion, “The coming of age. Where ever we go. Whatever we will know. The dust of a thousand ways. In all our yesterdays”. Another of my favorite tracks.


On “The Edge of Your World”, Lanvall has some more of those innovative cool keys and orchestration at the track’s opening. Sabine sings, “Where you are, is how you see. The edge of your world is a mystery. All you dare come, by and by the edge of your world is an open sky”. The guitar solos on this track are some of the most memorable on the album.

 “Tauerngold”, is full of wonderful acoustic and rhythm guitar mixed well with keys and the usual heavy electric, bass and pounding drums. Sabine sings, “We were bound for this glaring ideal. The call of nature is our vein of gold. It is the future we hold. It is the scream of the eagle. The Midas touch. It is the eternal raging stream. The merit real. The only ideal. The Holy Seal”. The music is always better when this band tells an elegant story of their native history.


Finally, Lanvall unleashes the album’s best keyboard/synthesizer intro on the album for the opening of “What Dreams May Come”. Yes, that is what I was dreaming of, more cool keys, like Tool’s new album. That keyboard was awesome. But the electric guitar pairings on this track are also wonderful. Sabine sings, “Home again. The end is just a new beginning. Those kindred souls. When life is just a heartbeat”.  The lead electric guitar solos remind me of some of the ones I remember off The Bonding


“The Last of His Kind”, is the longest and most epic track on the album at over 12 minutes. The opening, is worth the price of admission alone, but it gets even better. They finally let Sabine sing with quiet background sounds surrounding. Like they did on The Bonding. That is when her voice is allowed to completely reach its epic proportions, full of all her emotions. She sings, “Did you hear me, did anything change? Time, time and again. Appallingly high. Why, we’re holding on? Only to find, he is the last of his kind”. The song’s middle section with cool percussion, electric and rhythm guitars, soft drums and keys is the most elegant section of the album.

I beg Lanvall and the band to please listen to Tool’s new album and hopefully they will hear the cool quiet sections, like this, are just as powerful as all the bombast. Sabine picks back up, “We’ve forgone the chance moving on in trance. Holier than thou. We want it now. We need it, to feed it”. Thunderous guitars and drums as an epic soundscape builds, like the glory of The Bonding returning. Sabine closes the album elegantly with the words, “Oasis of light. A planet of grace. Where powers unite. Shall be our place!”

 
“Dynamind”, is a final closing thought set to song, with Sabine singing, “The Holy Grail of inner wealth will lead away. From the demotion and remorse, out of grey. When polarity will balance the world, rising above mankind. It’s Dynamind, for all!”

Edenbridge is: Sabine Edelsbacher, on lead vocals; Lanvall, on lead and rhythm guitars, bass, 6 & 12 string acoustic guitars, piano, keyboards, orchestration, Hammered Dulcimer, Kacapi, Bouzouki, and mandolin; Dominik Sebastian, on lead and rhythm guitars; Johannes Jungreithmeier, on drums; and Stefan Gimpl, on bass.

Dynamind will be release October 25th, 2019. It is another great album, by a favorite band. Get this for your collection. But hopefully, the band will return to the music and orchestration of The Bonding, and stay away from the standard grinding metal they are used to creating.

Dynamind will be available in the following formats: DigiPak CD, including bonus CD – 2 colored (blue with black swirls), Gatefold LPs with printed inner sleeves, CD in paper sleeve. 

Track listing: 
01. The Memory Hunter 
02. Live and Let Go 
03. Where the Oceans Collide 
04. The Other Side 
05. All Our Yesterdays 
06. The Edge of Your World 
07. Tauerngold 
08. What Dreams May Come 
09. The Last of His Kind 
10. Dynamind

https://www.edenbridge.org/

https://www.facebook.com/EdenbridgeOfficial/

https://edenbridge.bandcamp.com/