All posts by Professor Mark

Foreign Land, an Album for Prog Lovers Who Enjoy Epic Long Pieces

The Far Meadow – Foreign Land (Bad Elephant Music, 2019)

I really enjoyed the Far Meadow’s Given the Impossible, especially “Seamless Shirt”, with Marguerita singing the lyrics to Simon & Garfunkel’s classic, “Scarborough Fair”. That album was a magnificent surprise for someone who had never even heard of the band. When I heard they were working on the follow up I knew I had to hear and review it.

I am pleasantly surprised again by Foreign Land, which stands on its own with innovative sounds thanks to Eliot Minn, filling every corner of this record with legendary keyboard play. The keyboard work absolutely, separates this band from many of their peers globally. The fine tune of the delivery and the inspired choices made, are simply stellar.

The Far Meadow – Foreign Land

With the loss of Keith Emerson, fewer bands seem inspired to use the keyboard as a central instrument of their production. The Far Meadow, with Minn, stand out, holding the line. Place my early vote now for Eliot Minn, “keyboard performance of the year” in progressive rock.

You hear Minn’s work early and often on the opening track of Foreign Land. “Travelogue” opens with soft keys, but later powerful keyboard innovations will bring back memories of Keith Emerson’s highlights. Later, the organ work he has designed will take you back to early Gabriel – era Genesis. It simply must be heard to be believed. And then that piano…oh my. So, brief recap, synthesizers, organ, and piano. A song to make every keyboard prog fan happy. One of the best songs of the year, so far. But wait…there is more.

Foreign Land is an album for prog lovers who enjoy epic long track albums. Only five tracks with enough space to take in the world and its many flavors. The kind of album you have been waiting years to hear. Extended tracks that allow every band member to shine supreme.

The second major weapon this band has is the exquisitely wonderful voice of Marguerita Alexandrou. I loved her voice on Given the Impossible, but she is used more sparingly on Foreign Land, but in places where only the sophistication of her voice was vital to the sound. She drives the music to a higher level with each note she sings. Her elegant voice adds such magnificence to the overall sound the band delivers.

“Sulis Rise”, is a good example of the strength of these two key members of this band. Alexandrou’s voice highlights the story, bringing beams of the light she is describing. Then Minn delivers Genesis – level keys that take you right back to memories of the early ‘70s.

I have neglected the other members of the band far too long. Denis Warren’s lead and rhythm guitars have their excellent solo moments throughout the first two and final three tracks. Keith Buckman’s bass guitar is ever present adding background depth to the sound. Paul Bringloe’s drums are well placed and help keep a great beat.

Then, there is that classic opening of “Mud”! That pipe organ sound just absolutely caught me by surprise. It sounded so fantastic I wish it had continued throughout the entire song. The lyrics at times took me back to Peter Gabriel’s opening story for the live version of “Supper’s Ready”.

“The Fugitive”, is another great story set to those awesome keyboards and some of the best lead guitar work on the album. The buzzing lead guitar and bouncing bass help buoy the mid-section of the song.

“Foreign Land” is one hell of an album closer. Spellbinding lead guitar, followed by Alexandrou’s voice, then deep bass, and keyboards supporting. Alexandrou sounds very similar to Kate Bush in her early days, melded with Barbara Streisand on this and most of the album – excellent!

Then Minn gives us those deep keys and Warren the heavy guitars you may remember from early IQ and Genesis. Stunning.

Foreign Land is a perfect follow up album. The Far Meadow is definitely on my watch list now. Wish I could get over to see them at Summer’s End. Get this album and go back and complete the catalog. If you miss the music, we used to hear on the radio daily, back in the 1970’s, and that we used to take for granted, please don’t take the Far Meadow for granted. There are too few of these stellar bands left on this planet.

The Far Meadow are:

Marguerita Alexandrou – lead and backing vocals
Paul Bringloe – drums and percussion
Keith Buckman – bass guitar
Eliot Minn – keyboards
Denis Warren – lead and rhythm guitars
All titles written by The Far Meadow with Paul Mallatratt (1, 4 & 5), Nok (1, 4 & 5) and Lawrence Pollinski (4).

Mixed by Joe Gibb
Mastered by David Elliott
Art & design by Brian Mitchell

The Far Meadow will be making their debut appearance at Summer’s End in Chepstow in October 2019, with more dates to be announced throughout the year.

Track List

  1. Travelogue
  2. Sulis Rise
  3. Mud
  4. The Fugitive
  5. Foreign Land

The Claypool Lennon Delirium Brilliant Satire and Multifaceted Music

The Claypool Lennon Delirium – South of Reality (ATO records, 2019)

I was intrigued by the formation of this band from its first announcements in 2015/16. I have been a fan of Primus and Les Claypool’s work for some time. I have also enjoyed Sean Lennon’s solo work. When I heard their first album would be from the progressive rock genre, all I could imagine; before hearing the music, was, that it could sound like John Lennon singing on a Pink Floyd album?

Claypool Lennon Delirium – South of Reality

Well, Monolith of Phobos, their first album, from 2016, debuted and it did not disappoint. It sounded indeed, as if John Lennon was singing on a Pink Floyd album. Claypool’s bass intricacies and the warm sound of Sean Lennon singing over the top of the intricate keyboards, bass and lead guitar melodies was perfect. It became one of my favorite albums of 2016.

Then, I heard them play King Crimson’s classic In the Court of the Crimson King live, and I was a fan for life. They later made a studio version of this classic cover on their 2017, EP, Lime and Limpid Green…along with other classic covers like the Who’s “Boris the Spider”; “Astronomy Domine” from Pink Floyd, and “Satori (Enlightenment), Pt.1”, from the Flower Travellin’ Band.

Now they return with their sophomore effort South of Reality, and they have crafted an even better album than Monolith. This album picks up where Monolith left off. It is a bit more accessible than Monolith in the amount of more lyrically driven melodies. At this moment it sits atop my favorite albums of 2019.

On a Claypool/Lennon album, the lyrics to all of their music are simultaneously relevant, memorable and satirical.

The album opens with “Little Fishes”, which starts with some backmasking, quickly followed by a reminder of mercury in the assumed healthy choice of consumable fish. All set to this rockin’ little, unthreatening melody of picked bass thunder. It later discusses many of the changes that we as Boomers and early Millennials have had to contend with daily. Including 3D printers and the effects of an Internet that vastly controls our lives. When they go off on a wild musical scamper, you can only wish you were watching it live.

Next up is my personal favorite song, “Blood and Rockets”. “The Movement I, Saga of Jack Parsons”, is a wonderful story set to a fun beat. The story of Jack Parsons is worth a Google search. The fact that this band attempted to describe the story of this legend before the advent of the US Space Program, within a song, and found such a bouncy melody to tell it, is worth many replays. “Movement II, Too the Moon”, is a prominent and valuable instrumental movement section of the song.

“South of Reality”, the title track is another dynamic song about space and all its multitude of adventures. This time, as seen looking up from the Earth.

“Boriska” is an interesting Internet story set to spacey rhythms and music. Google the name of this, at the time, 11-year-old boy, who claimed to be from Mars. The story is fun to read and listen to, set to music.

“Easily Charmed by Fools” is a fun ironic turn of the satirical pen from Lennon and Claypool.

“Amethyst Realm” is a unique story from England. About a woman who claimed to have fallen in love with ghosts. Cool, spacey music with ghostly noises and voices.

“Toady Man’s Hour” is another favorite. I like to think it deals with the story of our current White House resident, President “Orange”. Even if it isn’t it about him, it is wonderful satire.

“Cricket Chronicles Revisited” opens the track, “Ask Your Doctor”, with wonderful sitar and Beatlesque wanderings. Sean sounds like John and George off Magical Mystery Tour. “Psyde Effects” is a cool verbal feast of ideas and sounds.

“Like Fleas”, immediately reminded me of Perry Farrell’s wonderful satire and lyrical twist in the song “We’ll Make Great Pets”. Yes, the Earth may be trying to shake humans off like fleas after all we have done to the climate.

Wonderful satire set to interesting and complex music. Bouncy rhythms filled with thick bass, weird and wonderful guitar and keyboards. Just what the doctor ordered to keep your mind off the current state on the tragic world political stage.

South of Reality was produced by Les Claypool and Sean Lennon. Claypool engineered and mixed the album at his own Rancho Relaxo studio in Sonoma County, California. South of Reality was released worldwide on Feb 22nd, 2019.

Track List:

Little Fishes – 6:07
Blood and Rockets – Movement 1 – Saga of Jack Parsons – Movement 2 – Too the Moon – 6:31
South of Reality – 3:29
Boriska – 5:26
Easily Charmed by Fools – 5:12
Amethyst Realm – 7:49
Toadyman’s Hour – 3:14
Cricket Chronicles Revisited – Part 1, Ask Your Doctor – Part 2 – Psyde Effects – 6:24
Like Fleas – 3:33