All posts by Angel Romero

Angel Romero has been writing about progressive music and world music for many years. Publications include Eurock (USA), Marquee (Japan), and Nuevas Músicas (Spain). He founded the websites progressiverockcentral.com and worldmusiccentral.org. Angel also produced Musica NA, a music show for TVE (Spain) featuring fusion, avant-garde, world music, new age and electronic artists.

Prog Masters ELP Live in South America

Emerson, Lake, and Palmer – Once Upon a Time in South America (Rock Beat, 2017)

For fans of Emerson, Lake, and Palmer and keyboards in general, Once Upon a Time in South America is a real treat. The 4-CD (also available on vinyl) collection features live performances in South America by the legendary progressive rock band Emerson, Lake, and Palmer.

The majority of the concerts took place in 1993 in Chile and Argentina. Even though most of the pieces that appear on Once Upon a Time in South America are familiar compositions by the band, there is a lot to discover.

One of the great qualities about Keith Emerson was that he used a wide range of keyboards and his variations and improvisations on familiar melodies made his music highly enjoyable and refreshing.

This album features two versions of Pictures at an Exhibition, one of their most iconic works that has rarely appeared on other recordings.

Throughout the album, Keith Emerson delivers stellar keyboard performances. As I mentioned earlier, he liked to modify familiar melodies with new solos and other variations, switching keyboards and sometimes embedding familiar melodies from movies and other sources.

Carl Palmer is an impressive rhythm machine. He is renowned for his creative, varied and powerful drumming style.

Greg Lake also delivered masterful performances, although his voice suffered a little throughout the tour. In addition to his unmistakable vocals, he also played guitars and some great bass lines.

The tracks selected cover the band’s entire musical history, from their early hits Lucky Man and From the Beginning to Hoedown, Pictures at an Exhibition, Tarkus, Karn Evil 9 and Fanfare for the Common Man.

Buy Once Upon a Time in South America

Mesmerizing Sounds for Real or Imagined Films

Zero Times Everything – Sonic Cinema (ZXE Music, 2017)

Sonic Cinema is a fascinating sound exploration album by Zero Times Everything. The three musicians create a magical world of cinematic sounds that draw influences from various progressive music genres.

The album opens with the industrial sounds of “And Now This.” It’s followed by “Events in a Field” a mix of ambient and minimalist electronics.

On track 3, “Led” Zero Times Everything plays a mix of hard rock riffing and progressive rock lines.

Next is “Accident,” where you’ll find a mix of ambient sounds, effects, drones and distorted guitar.

“Natron 40” presents mysterious mechanical sounds and progressive rock-style guitars.

The eerie track 6, “Ghost” reveals hypnotic enveloping sounds and odd beats.

On track 7, “Kapital” the influences turn towards Berlin and Dusseldorf, with trance like Berlin-style sequencers, symphonic passages and robotic voices.

“Vox Populi” features a cacophony of sounds and voices with underlying sequences and string synths.

Track 9, “Schizoid” introduces nightmarish sounds, child voices and increasingly high pitched psychedelic guitars.

The album concludes with “The Cathedral of All Saints” where you hear a childlike organ sound and reverberating synths that morphs into deep ambient electronica.

The lineup includes Richard Sylvarnes on Kaoss pads, loops, synths, rhythms, guitars, and vocals; Pietro Russino on guitars, loops, and violin; and Tony Geballe on guitars, synths, and loops. Special guest: Sønje Sylvarnes on vocals.

Buy Sonic Cinema

Guitar Maestro Steve Hackett Releases Video for ‘Behind The Smoke’

Renowned guitarist and composer Steve Hackett (formerly of Genesis) is set to release his latest album ‘The Night Siren’ on March 24th , 2017 through InsideOut Music (Sony). In the meantime, Hackett has released a brand new video for the album’s opening track ‘Behind The Smoke.’

I’m thrilled with this video for the track ‘Behind the Smoke’ from my new album The Night Siren,” says Steve Hackett. “Director Ivan and the I-Code team have created an extraordinary film here resembling an epic movie! It perfectly matches the song, which laments the predicament of refugees throughout the ages. More compassion is needed in this world for those escaping persecution and death.”

‘The Night Siren’ is a wake-up call… the warning of a siren sounding in this era of conflicts and disagreement.

The album lineup includes Steve Hackett on guitar & vocals; Roger King on keyboards & programming; Nad Sylvan on vocals on Inca Terra; Rob Townsend on all things wind; Amanda Lehmann on vocals; Gary O’Toole on drums; and Benedict Fenner on additional keyboards & programming).

Also featured are vocalists Kobi Farhi and Mira on Israeli and Palestinian; Nick D’Virgilio on drums, from the USA; Malik Mansurov on tar, from Azerbaijan; and Gulli Breim on drums and percussion, from Iceland.

Additional musicians who add to the rich flavor of the album are Christine Townsend on violin and viola; Dick Driver on double bass; Troy Donockley on uilleann pipes; and Leslie Bennett on keyboards on The Gift.

Order The Night Siren

Life Begins with Argus Revisited

Martin Turner – Life Begins

Martin Turner – Life Begins (Dirty Dog Discs/Cherry Red, 2016)

This great 3-disc live set by former Wishbone Ash bassist and vocalist Martin Turner contains two audio CDs and a DVD. Although the material included here was available at concerts, this is the first widely-available version of this collection.

Wishbone Ash became very popular in the 1970s after the release of their iconic album, Argus, now a classic rock. Martin Turner plays some of the most memorable songs from that era, featuring an outstanding mix of folk-rock, blues-rock, progressive leanings and hard rock.

As with Wishbone Ash, Turner uses two electric guitarists who treat the listener to wonderful interactions and solos.

The lineup includes Martin Turner on lead vocals and bass; Ray Hatfield on guitar and vocals; Danny Willson on guitar and vocals; and Dave Wagstaffe on drums.

The live performance was made in 2010 at the Y Theatre in Leicester.

Buy Life Begins

Interview with Progressive Music Band iNFiNiEN

Philadelphia-based band iNFiNiEN has released Light at the Endless Tunnel, one of the most exciting progressive music albums in recent months. Their remarkable mix of progressive rock, fusion and world music attracted our attention so here is more about the band.

 

iNFiNiEN – Light at the Endless Tunnel

 How and when was iNFiNiEN formed?

In the fall of 2004, we were roommates and we jammed, which led to us writing songs. Our first gig was at a benefit concert at the World Café live in December 2004. We played our only two songs we had at the time.

What does the band name iNFiNiEN mean?

iNFiNiEN is a made up term from the book “An American Mystic” by Michael Gurian. The full-term was “Homo Infinien” which, in the context of the book, is representative the next evolutionary step of humans.

iNFiNiEN – Photo by Adam Hribar

 What do you consider as the essential elements of your music?

Polyrhythms, jazz harmony, progressive song structures, thoughtful and socially-conscious lyrics, driving bass grooves, exotic tonalities

Who can you cite as your main musical influences?

Farmers Market, Secret Chiefs 3, Mr. Bungle, John Zorn, John Coltrane, Meshuggah, Sun Ra, Ali Farka Toure, John McLaughlin, Veena Sahasrabuddhe, Jaco Pastorius, and many, many more (too many to name)

How long has the band been around?

12.5 years

Tell us about your first recordings and your musical evolution.

We discovered our own sound by jamming together. We recorded our jams and arranged our favorite parts into songs. As we went along, we were aiming to evoke visual impressions in the listeners. Our intention was to go beyond genre. There was also a psychedelic influence, without question. ; )

Your sound has elements of progressive rock, world music, jazz and beyond. How do audiences react to your music?

We’ve been very pleasantly surprised that the majority of our live audiences have viewed it as a breath of fresh air. People have given us a lot of positive support. Some find it “too complicated”, but for the most part, audiences really appreciate our approach.

iNFiNiEN – Photo by Adam Hribar

 

Despite all the media outlets available, most of the music that is played currently by mass media is pop or hip hop. How do you get your music out there?

When playing live, we try to associate with bands who are similar (sometimes hard to find). Online we try and reach out to the progressive and indie music communities or anyone who we think would appreciate it. Since it’s only the four of us trying to get PR for the band, our total reach is pretty limited.

What musical instruments do you use?

Our live set up is drums, bass, guitar, and keyboard. On recordings, we’ve used oud, saz, sitar, bulbul tarang, tabla, organ, exotic percussion sounds, and some Moog.

And what effects do you use?

Guitar: whammy, ambient delays, and reverb
Bass: volume swell, chorus pedal, octaver
Keyboard: sounds including clav, Wurlitzer, Rhodes, some pads, etc.

 

 

How’s the current progressive music scene in your area?

The Tri-state area’s progressive scene is pretty vital. And we’ve been lucky to play with such bands as Consider the Source, Kayodot, Reign of Kindo, Tea Club, Out of the Beard Space, and many others.

If you could gather any musicians or musical groups to collaborate with, whom would that be?

We don’t have a good answer for this question. On a related note our guitarist Matt Hollenberg has actually been playing music for John Zorn, one of his heroes and main influences, for the last two years in the organ trio Simulacrum with John Medeski and Kenny Grohowski.

 

iNFiNiEN – Photo by Adam Hribar

 

Do you have any upcoming projects to share with us?

We have some things in the works. Stay tuned.

 

 

Discography:

How To Accept (2006)
iNFiNiEN (2009)
Light at the Endless Tunnel

Eterniverse Déjà vu

Light Freedom Revival – Eterniverse Déjà vu

Light Freedom Revival – Eterniverse Déjà vu (John Vehadija / Positive Imagination Media, 2017)

Despite the fantasy artwork by the great Ed Unitsky and the participation of Billy Sherwood and Olivier Wakeman, this album does not contain progressive rock. Instead, it’s a collection of sing along pop-rock and AOR songs by vocalist and songwriter John Vehadija.

I’m not sure why these type of recordings are marketed as progressive rock. Anyhow, if you like poppy rock like Asia or Styx, you might enjoy this album.

Richard Barbieri’s Intergalactic Soundscapes

Richard Barbieri – Planets + Persona (KScope, 2017)

Planets + Persona is a new album by British keyboardist, composer and sound designer Richard Barbieri. He’s well known for his work with a new wave band called Japan as well as his keyboard creations for Porcupine Tree.

Richard Barbieri creates remarkable instrumental soundscapes that have a cinematic feel, incorporating ambient electronic elements, ethereal jazz, distant voices, minimalism and other mesmerizing sounds.

Planets + Persona includes a piece titled “Solar Sea.” Barbieri has released a video of “Solar Sea” that has a 360° option, produced by Miles Skarin. To watch it in 360° you will need to view “Solar Sea” using the latest version of the YouTube app on iOS and Android. By moving your smartphone or tablet, you will be able to look around the 360 degree view.

To watch “Solar Sea” on a desktop or laptop computer, you will need the latest version of Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer or Opera. You will then be able to shift the view by clicking and dragging inside the video player or by using the WASD keys. For the most immersive experience, a VR headset is recommended.

Buy Planets + Persona in the Americas and rest of the world

Buy Planets + Persona in Europe

Drawn by the Sounds of the Desert

The Raptor Trail – “Devil on an Indian” (indie release, 2016)

“Devil on an Indian” by American rock band The Raptor Trail is a concept album about a young man that struggles with his American Indian heritage after being raised in a Christian family. The story mirrors the experience of multi-instrumentalist Matt Meyes. Although he has paternal and maternal Native American ancestry, he was raised by a white Protestant family.

Musically, The Raptor Trail crosses various rock genres with ease. The band plays a mix of classic rock, hard rock and sometimes ventures into progressive rock (“Wolf Medicine”) and other territories like in the piece “Dream Catcher” that has a trance-like tribal ambient feel.

The Raptor Trail’s sound is characterized by the outstanding vocals and remarkable solo guitar work of John Meyer, as well as the sound of a new hybrid instrument named guijo. The guijo was developed by Matt Meyes. It has an electric guitar body and a banjo neck.

The album ends with an apocalyptic explosion of the sun featuring a mix of rock band instrumentation and numerous sound effects.

 

 

The lineup includes Gene Bass on drums and percussion; Matt Mayes on vocals, guijo, acoustic guitars and banjo; and John Meyer on lead and background vocals, lead and rhythm guitars, and bass.

 

Buy Devil on an Indian