Category Archives: New CDs

Moon Letters – Until They Feel the Sun

Moon Letters – Until They Feel the Sun

Moon Letters is a Seattle, Washington based progressive rock band. I found the band and previewed their new album, Until They Feel the Sun, on the Seattle Progressive Rock Festival’s website: http://seaprogfest.org/artist/index/2019.html.

The band just completed their show at the SeaProg Festival, on the Columbia Theater Main Stage; opening day 2, of the festival at 7pm, on June 8th of 2019. Until They Feel the Sun was released on the same day. The band also played Seaprog in 2017.

This band had a wonderful time at SeaProg and played their new album track by track. Missing the entire Until They Feel the Sun  album live was very unfortunate, however, I had other obligations. After the success of their performance and the coverage they are receiving from critics and progressive rock websites, I doubt it will be their last. I plan to attend as many as I can see in the future.

The band is made up of John Allday, on keyboards, vocals, and trumpet; Mike Murphy, on bass, vocals, and trumpet; Kelly Mynes, on drums and percussion; Michael Trew, on vocals and flute; and Dave Webb, on guitars.

The members came from other local progressive bands with names like: Autumn Electric, Wah Exit Wound, Panther Attack! Bone Cave Ballet, Cumberland Big Band, Bill Green Quartet, Cantrip, Chaos and the Cosmos, and Spacebag.

Until They Feel the Sun  opens with a wonderful instrumental tribute to “Skara Brae”, one of the best-preserved Neolithic settlements in Western Europe. It is also a UNESCO World Heritage site. Royal, high note lead electric guitars, along with the thunder of drums bring regal power to the track. Then the thunder drums get heavier as wonderful synthesizer adds to the chorus of instruments driving the song higher. They finish with wonderful flute and birdsong.

“On the Shoreline”, opens with flute, just like Peter Gabriel played on the first Genesis’ album, From Genesis to Revelation. The flute fills the air as Michael Trew sings his first lyrics. You can hear that perfect G to Revelation, adolescent vocal sound that I remember from childhood. Lyrics that remind you of songs like , “Fireside Song”, “Take your hand, it’s very cold. Take you to my home, sit beside the fireplace”…remember that one. Easily one of my favorites already. The flute and warm guitar brings back so many memories, then Allday lays on the Banks’- like keyboards from ….And Then There Were Three…leaving you drifting on a sea of reminiscence…

“What is Your Country” opens with gulls and thunder. Then harmony vocals that follow, encapsulate a return to that G to Revelation sound. Wonderful vocal harmonies blended well with drums and bells. Dreamy keys and effects that take you to the finish.

“Beware the Finman” has a strong heavy guitar and gut punching drum opening. The heaviest song on the album. Oversize guitar licks meet raised vocals. Is it a warning of the coming of more men like Erik Finman, of Bit Coin fame, or something much more? You decide. The keys and electric guitar solos tell a sinister tale of their own.

“Those Dark Eyes” opens with brilliantly played guitar plucking and cool eerie backing vocals. That driving synthesizer pulsating with the drums is awesome! At times you can hear a Doors/Manzarek organ sound, bringing with it more elegance. Then full power keys and synthesizers. Enough to make both Dream Theater and Genesis fans smile with joy. Some of the notes and sounds on those keys have not been heard for a very long time. Taking you back to the very beginning of prog. Another of the best songs on the album. Excellent lyrics, “And now we have our children three. You take them bathing in the green, green sea”.

“Sea Battle” opens with air raid siren keyboards; before more keys, electric guitar, bass, and drums get the battle under way. Probably my second or third favorite song on the album. I am fairly certain this will also make my end of the year list. It is just as epic its title promises. Like ELP’s “Mars the Bringer of War”, only set at sea. 9 minutes of epic progressive music like it used to be. So much wonderful keyboard work you will want to put it on repeat. I did.

“The Tarnalin” is another interesting story. Does it follow the story of Mr. McDonnell’s novel? Or does it stand on its own? You choose.

“It’s All Around You”, takes you right back to G to Revelation. Some of the lyrics even remind me of those from, “In Hiding”.

“The Red Knight”, is full of more great powerful progressive rock music. Is the songs’ theme Miles Cameron’s book or the game Fortnight, you choose? Whichever, it is full of emotional playing and would sound wonderful live.

They close with, “Sunset of Man”. My favorite song. This deep and powerful closer is one of the best closers I have heard since TPC’s “Vision”. It moved me to rate it as one of, if not, the best songs I’ve heard this year. The lyrics and music are perfect. When everything comes together like this…magic happens. From the warm opening flute to the calming keys that welcome you to the vastness of this anthem, you should and will be amazed. Michael Trew’s vocals are at their best, and the lyrics match the caliber of play on this epic. “Oh Lyonesse, are you really lost? Once did the sun caress your golden shore. I swear it was here. I swear I can hear my mother laughing. I was asking She said, sometimes when you lose, you’re victorious. To forgive is a joy, and a light you can hold in your hand. For, if you do not soften your heart. You’re content to play your part, in the sunset of man” Yes, forgiveness is so important in this difficult world in which we live. Sit back and enjoy John Allday’s keyboards take you away to dream time, like Tony Banks used to do back in the 70s.

Please get this album and enjoy every minute of it, like I did. Right now, it is my favorite prog album of 2019. A wonderful surprise found exploring my backyard, on the Internet.

Track List

  1. Skara Brae – 2:50
  2. On the Shoreline – 3:37
  3. What is Your Country – 2:35
  4. Beware the Finman – 7:47
  5. Those Dark Eyes – 7:36
  6. Sea Battle – 9:00
  7. The Tarnalin – 4:34
  8. It’s All Around You – 1:10
  9. The Red Knight – 4:25
  10.  Sunset of Man – 7:29

All music copyright Moon Letters 2019 
Produced by Barrett Jones and Moon Letters 
Engineered and mixed by Barrett Jones at 
Laundry Room Studio – Seattle, WA 
Mastered by Jeffery McNulty at 
The Pachinko Parlour 
Logo by Suzanna Fisher 
Photos by Hans H. Bjorstad 
Model: Johannsdottir 

Links:

Nad Sylvan Releases Video for “Meet Your Maker”

Nad Sylvan, vocalist with Steve Hackett and Unifaun, has released the second single from his new solo album ‘The Regal Bastard.’ The video showcases the song ‘Meet Your Maker.’

Nad comments about the track: “This song features the fabulous Tania Doko on vocals, Tony Levin on bass and Nick D’Virgilio on drums. The rest is all handled by yours truly. ‘Meet Your Maker’ is a typical song, where still in the realm of prog – I bring in my R&B/soul influences combined with rock and dark theater. I don’t hear anyone else making that kind of noise at the moment, so I believe this is a unique piece of music, delivered by first rate musicians and production. So I’m very pleased with it.”

Nad Sylvan – The Regal Bastard

The Regal Bastard ’ is scheduled for release on July 5th, 2019. This album is the final part of the Vampirate trilogy that Sylvan began on 2015’s ‘Courting The Widow’.

Renaissance Releases Expanded Version of “Prologue” Album

Esoteric Recordings has announced the release of a newly re-mastered and expanded edition of the classic 1972 album by Renaissance, “Prologue”.

Formed in 1969 by former Yardbirds members Jim McCarty and Keith Relf, Renaissance had by 1971 experienced a series of line-up changes and had evolved into a completely different band from the one that had recorded the albums “Renaissance” and “Illusion”.

Renaissance – Prologue.

By June 1972 Renaissance included celebrated vocalist Annie Haslam, John Tout (keyboards, vocals), Jon Camp (bass, vocals), Terry Sullivan (drums, percussion) and Rob Hendry (guitar, mandolin, vocals).

The album “Prologue” was recorded in June and July 1972 and contained material written by Michael Dunford (a member of the group who had decided to skip performing with the band to concentrate on songwriting) and lyricist Betty Thatcher. Featuring such classic material as the album title track, “Kiev”, “Spare Some Love” and the epic “Rajah Kahn”, “Prologue” was also notable for the presence of guest musician Francis Monkman (of Curved Air) who would play VCS 3 synthesizer on “Rajah Khan”. The album would pave the way for the future success of Renaissance and would effectively be regarded as the band’s first true album.

This Esoteric Recordings edition has been re-mastered from the original Sovereign Records master tapes and adds the rare single version of “Spare Some Love” as a bonus track (appearing on CD for the very first time). The booklet features a new essay and exclusive interviews with Annie Haslam and Terry Sullivan and fully restores the original album artwork.

Banco del Mutuo Soccorso Returns with ‘Transiberiana’

Banco del Mutuo Soccorso, the groundbreaking Italian progressive rock band, has announced the release of ‘Transiberiana’, its first studio album in 25 years, scheduled to be released on May 10th, 2019 on Inside Out.

Banco del Mutuo Soccorso – ‘Transiberiana’,

I’m happy after working such a long time on this new Banco del Mutuo Soccorso album for Inside Out,” said Banco founding member Vittorio Nocenzi. “It fills me with joy and satisfaction as I was truly inspired from the very beginning! For too many years, the band was only dedicated to live performances, so it was about time we would go back to composing, playing and producing new stuff!

By choosing the ‘Transiberiana’ concept for this new piece of work, there are two main issues I’d like to point out: first the new Banco line up consisting of great musicians and great people, secondly, the presence of my two sons in the project: Michelangelo co-writing the album and Mario Valerio, who took care of a marketing and communication strategy related to it. These two elements have been the best gifts I could possibly imagine to receive! And this is an extra motivation if ever needed to do my best for reaching our goals.

I can only wish fans will enjoy this incredible project and look forward to see them live when we will go out to perform the album and classic Banco-tracks around the globe with Filippo Marcheggiani (lead guitar), Nicola Di Già (rhythm guitar), Fabio Moresco (drums), Marco Capozi (bass), our singer Tony D’Alessio and myself!

The last Banco del Mutuo Soccorso album, ‘13’, was released back in 1994. Longtime vocalist Francesco di Giacomo died in a car accident in Zagarolo (Italy) in 2014.

The current lineup of Banco del Mutuo Soccorso is: Vittorio Nocenzi on piano, keyboards and voice; Filippo Marcheggiani on guitar; Nicola Di Già on rhythm guitar; Marco Capozi on bass; Fabio Moresco on drums; and Tony D’Alessio on lead vocals.

Purchase Transiberiana

Frank Zappa’s Live Double Album ‘Zappa in New York’ Reissued as an Expanded Anniversary Edition

Frank Zappa’s enduring 1978 album Zappa In New York Deluxe

In celebration of its 40th anniversary, Frank Zappa’s enduring 1978 album Zappa In New York Deluxe, was released today as a suite of expanded anniversary editions.

Supervised by the Zappa Family Trust and produced by Ahmet Zappa and Vaultmeister Joe Travers, the versions include a deluxe 5 CD boxed set, 3 LP on 180-gram audiophile grade vinyl, and digitally. The 5-disc collection, which is enclosed in a limited-edition metal tin shaped like a New York City street manhole cover and complete with a replica ticket from one of the shows, includes the main album in its original mix, newly remastered by Bob Ludwig in 2018 and available for the first time since its debut.

The four additional discs are packed with significant Vault nuggets and more than three hours of unreleased live performances from the NYC Palladium concerts, representing every composition played during the concerts and the best alternate performances of every tune Zappa chose for the original album, all newly mixed in 2018.

To achieve the highest-level sound quality, the audio team went back to the original two-inch 24-track multi-track master tapes and transferred every reel at 96kHz 24-bit wavs.

“We are excited to bring you this new Deluxe version of Zappa in New York: an opportunity to re-examine and celebrate the source material of a great album while exploring the events of Frank’s life in late December 1976, Collections like these really show of the work ethic of a musical genius,” says the Zappa Family Trust in the album notes.

Zappa In New York includes expanded packaging which features previously unseen live photos by Gail Zappa together with extensive liner notes by band members Ruth Underwood and Ray White (who were part of Zappa’s band for these shows) as well as a perceptive essay by Joe Travers with Australian writer Jen Jewel Brown. Underwood also contributes a solo piano version of “The Black Page” that has been newly recorded for this special edition.

‘The Black Page’ has proven to be one of Frank Zappa’s most intriguing and enduring compositions. It is performed in many kinds of venues all over the world. It is taught and studied in schools. Perhaps most exciting is that it is adaptable and lends itself to a variety of orchestrations and re-workings, as Frank Zappa himself demonstrated. I am proud that after forty years, mine is finally among them. It is my love letter to Frank and Gail,” Underwood writes in the liner notes.

Purchase Zappa In New York Deluxe

Big Big Train to Release New Album ‘Grand Tour’

Celebrated British progressive rock band Big Big Train has announced the release of its new studio album, ‘Grand Tour‘. The release date is May 17th, 2019.

Inspired by the 17th and 18th century custom of the Grand Tour, where young men and women travelled to broaden the mind, Big Big Train have made an album of songs set in distant lands.

Grand Tour includes nine new tracks that will take listeners on an epic journey over land and sea and through time and space.

There are songs inspired by the legacy of the Italian Renaissance genius, Leonardo da Vinci; songs telling the story of the rise and fall of Rome; of the beautiful mosaics of Ravenna, and of the shipwreck of a great poet, lost in a tempest off the coast of Italy,” says Big Big Train drummer, Nick D’Virgilio. “Along the way, the story of mankind’s greatest ever journey is told.’

Vocalist David Longdon adds: “Grand Tour is a celebration of the human experience, of science and art, and of what it means to be alive.”

Grand Tour will be available on double heavyweight gatefold vinyl (featuring a 24 page booklet), digipack CD (featuring a 52 page booklet), on standard and hi-resolution (24/96) download, and on streaming.

Previous albums include Merchants Of Light, Grimspound, Second Brightest Star, English Electric: Expanded Edition, Folklore, Far Skies Deep Time and Stone’s Throw From The Line.

Celebrated Yes Vocalist Jon Anderson Reveals New Album, 1,000 Hands

Groundbreaking progressive rock vocalist Jon Anderson (Yes) has announced the release of a new album titled 1,000 Hands that will be released on March 31, 2019.

“I’ve spent long periods of time making some records, but I’ve never taken a journey quite like this one,” says Anderson. “To say that 1,000 Hands has been a long time in coming would be quite an understatement, but I’m thrilled that it’s finally a reality and that my fans will now be able to hear it. And I think they’ll be delighted to hear music that’s timeless. It’s one of the best things I’ve ever done.”

Jon Anderson – 1,000 Hands

Anderson started the album (originally titled Uzlot – “it means a lot of us”) approximately 30 years ago, working with a group of musicians that included Yes drummer Alan White and bassist Chris Squire. Nevertheless, due to his demanding touring commitments with Yes, Anderson had to put the record on hold. “Before you knew it, I started getting involved in other projects and tours, and years went by,” he clarifies. “I would listen to the tapes from time to time and think, ‘This could have been a great album! One day I’ll finish it.’”

Respected producer Michael T. Franklin (Bruce Hornsby, Brian Wilson, Roger McGuinn) had at one time begun working on orchestrations for the album, but once more Anderson’s packed schedule required the project to be put on hold. Ultimately, a year and a half ago, Anderson and Franklin decided to continue to work on the album and were determined to finalize it. “Our ideas still matched,” Anderson says. “Michael knew everything I wanted to do and how I wanted the music to sound, so we agreed to go for it.”

The final work took place in Franklin’s Solar Studios in Orlando, Florida. Anderson laid down backing vocals to his original lead tracks, and Franklin brought in an superb group of rock and jazz legends to complete the songs: fellow Yes colleague Steve Howe, Ian Anderson, Jean-Luc Ponty, Billy Cobham, Chick Corea, Steve Morse, Rick Derringer, Jonathan Cain, and the Tower of Power Horns are just a few of the guests on 1,000 Hands.


Jon Anderson – Photo Credit: www.DeborahAnderson.com

“That’s where the title 1,000 Hands comes from, all of the brilliant musicians who played a part in making the record,” Anderson states. “Michael acted like something of a casting director, bringing so many great players. It was really exciting to hear the record open up and become what I had always envisioned.”

The sessions came out so well, in fact, that Anderson decided to include four new songs on the album, with brand-new lead vocals. “Jon is such a remarkable writer and singer,” enthuses Franklin. “His newer songs were fabulous, and they fit seamlessly with the rest of the album. Everything came together beautifully.”

Bookended by the utterly beautiful acoustic ballads “Now” and “Now and Again,” the album includes stimulating new progressive rock pieces (“Activate,” “Come Up”), poly-rhythmic wonders (“WDMCF”) and reggae pop (“First Born Leaders”).

Groundbreaking Band Dead Can Dance Releases Dionysus

Dead Can Dance, an acclaimed genre-defying duo has a new album titled Dionysus. The recording is the duo’s first album in six years and consists of two acts across seven movements that represent the different sides of the Dionysus myth.

“The Mountain” is the first movement of the album’s second act, where, explains Perry, “listeners will find themselves visiting Mount Nysa. This mountain was Dionysus’ place of birth, where he was raised by the centaur Chiron, from whom he learned chants and dances together with Bacchic rites and initiations.”

Formed in Melbourne in 1981 by Lisa Gerrard and Brendan Perry, Dead Can Dance released several spellbinding albums that incorporated African polyrhythms, Gaelic folk, Gregorian chant, Middle Eastern scales and art rock.

Buy Dionysus

Steve Hackett to Release Solo Album ‘At The Edge Of Light’ in 2019

Acclaimed guitar virtuoso Steve Hackett has announced the release of his new studio album ‘At The Edge Of Light’ on January 25, 2019. Steve Hackett was Genesis’ guitar player during the band’s highly influential progressive rock era.

‘At The Edge Of Light’ contains ten songs, featuring various musical genres, ranging from guitar-driven rock to epic symphonic orchestration, world music and atmospheric pieces.

Steve reveals: “In these dangerous times, deep shadows feel even sharper than usual and we find ourselves standing at the edge of light… The contrast between dark and light weaves its way throughout the album in many ways, from the sense of good fighting evil through to the interplay of dark and light opposites magically combining in cultures, including the heartbeat of India and primal tribal rhythms. Ultimately, this album embraces the need for all musical forms and cultures to connect and celebrate the wonder of unity in this divided world.”

At The Edge Of Light will be available in various formats, including a Mediabook CD plus extra DVD with 5.1 surround sound mix & behind the scenes documentary, double vinyl LP + CD, Jewelcase CD and digital album.

Steve Hackett – ‘At The Edge Of Light’

‘At The Edge Of Light’ was primarily recorded in Steve’s own studio but also around the world. The album includes international artists, such as Durga and Loreley of Pink Floyd vocal fame, drummers Nick D’Virgilio and Simon Phillips from USA, Sheema on sitar from India, Icelandic drummer/percussionist Gulli Briem, tar player Malik Mansurov and Swedish progressive rock bass player Jonas Reingold. This album also features Paul Stillwell on didgeridoo, Rob Townsend on sax, bass clarinet and duduk, Amanda Lehmann on vocals, John Hackett on flute, drummer Gary O’Toole, Roger King and Ben Fenner on keyboards, Dick Driver on double bass, violinist and viola player Christine Townsend.

Hackett recently played a series of Genesis Revisited shows with Orchestra and will perform two UK dates with acoustic sets in early December before touring Europe in April/May 2019. He also announced a UK tour in November 2019 with a much anticipated ‘Selling England By The Pound & Spectral Mornings & Album Highlights’ set. Upcoming tour dates are available at: hackettsongs.com/tour