Video of the Week: Robert Rich “Alhambra” Live at Earth Frequency 2012

Robert Rich - Photo by Brian Tirpack
This week we present a live performance of renowned American synthesist Robert Rich at Earth Frequency festival in Australia. “Alhambra” was captured on February 19th, 2012

Rich is back in the United States and announced a possible USA concert trip in late Spring. He accepted an invitation to play at “Electric Forest” in northern Michigan, around June 30-31. Other possibilities include an unconfirmed concert in Nevada at an eclipse around May 21. Other smaller gigs in between might be added. “… so please contact me directly if you want to make something happen,” said Rich.

Robert Rich is one of the leading artists in the ambient and global electronica music scene. He has a new album titled Medicine Box.

A California native, Rich began experimenting with electronics at a young age. By the early 1980s he was recording and performing his own sustained sound environments and improvised music.

Soundscapes Concert Series to Present Synthesist Mark Jenkins

Mark Jenkins
The Soundscapes Concert Series returns to the Nazareth Center for the Arts on Friday, March 23, with Mark Jenkins of the UK.

A leading figure in the UK’s electronic music scene for over 20 years, Mark Jenkins has performed as a member of White Noise and with singer Arthur Brown and members of Can, Gong, Van Der Graaf Generator, and Tangerine Dream. He is the author of the acclaimed book and CD “Analog Synthesizers” and is the first musician in the world to release a CD created entirely on the Apple iPad.

Mark has created music for concert performances, advertising, TV and CD releases and has performed at the London Planetarium, London Royal Greenwich Observatory Planetarium, London South Bank, Carnegie Science Center Pittsburgh, National Theatre Brazil, and in France, Holland and China.

Doors open at 7:30 pm and the concert is at 8:00 pm. The concert is free. Donations are requested to support the musician and to enable the Nazareth Center for the Arts to pay operating expenses. The NCA is located at 30 Belvidere Street, Nazareth, Pennsylvania 18064 just off of Route 191 on the southwest corner of Belvidere Street and South Spruce Street. Check the NCA site for parking information.

The Soundscapes Concert Series is the concert companion to the Galactic Travels radio program on WDIY-FM and to Thought Radio on WMUH-FM and presents electronic music to the Lehigh Valley.

Future concerts:

Sunday, April 22: Wave World (Netherlands)
Friday, May 11: Broekhuis, Keller, and Schonwalder (Germany)

More at: http://soundscapes.us

Behind the Curtains

Paidarion - Behind the Curtains
Paidarion

Behind the Curtains (Seacrest Oy, 2011)

Behind the Curtains
is the second album by Finnish prog band Paidarion. The group combines progressive rock with jazz fusion and traditional jazz-infused ballads.

Paidarion is known for its virtuoso instrumentalists. The band was formed in 2006 with musicians from two well-known progressive music bands in Finland: Mist Season and Progression.

Electric bass plays an important role throughout Behind the Curtains with attention-grabbing solos on tracks 1, 6, 8 and 10. Most of the bass parts are played by bass maestro Jan-Olof Strandberg (from the band Progression) although Behind the Curtains features a guest appearance by renowned American bassist Michael Manring, who plays two solos.

The guitarist on the album is Jaan Jaanson, who showcases his fine technique with guitar solos throughout the album. Elina Hautakoski is the lead female singer in the tracks that feature vocals. She has an excellent smoky voice that would feel at home singing the blues and traditional jazz. At times, her vocals feel a little awkward within the fusion context.

The drummer is Kimmo Pörsti, who is able to switch easily from subtle jazz to fiery rock style drumming.
Skillful horn master Risto Salmi plays tenor and soprano solos.

Album highlights include the instrumental ‘Behind the Curtains’; ‘A Small Wish’ with its dual vocals and series of guitar, bass and sax solos; another instrumental titled ‘Trapeze’ which has more of a progressive rock rather than fusion; the longest cut titled ‘A Vertical Rope’ with a fusion feel and another serpentine collection of solos; the organ fugue meets galloping prog rock of ‘A Leap Into the Unknown’; fusion piece ‘Paidarion’; and the last track titled ‘The Final Show’ with a beautiful violin solo that transitions to jazz fusion-infused melodies on bass, saxophone and electric guitar.

Classic Progressive Rock Band Wally Reunites and Releases Montpellier

Wally - Montpellier
One of the legendary 1970s prog bands from the UK, Wally, has reunited and recorded a new CD titled ‘Montpellier‘. The album contains reworked demos from the Wally’s earlier incarnation, along with new material written by founding members Roy Webber and Paul Middleton. The CD came out on February 10, 2012 in the UK on Gonzo MultiMedia.

Wally, led by singer-songwriter Roy Webber, was formed in Harrogate, Yorkshire in England in the early 1970s. In 1973, after playing the northern UK pub rock circuit, the group entered a new act competition organized by English music paper Melody Maker. The band made it to the finals held at London’s Roundhouse Theatre, but did not win. However, they caught the eye of one of the judges, “Whispering” Bob Harris, legendary DJ of The Old Grey Whistle Test.

The runners-up prize was the opportunity to record a session for Harris’s BBC radio show The Monday Program. Taking Wally under his wing, Harris secured a recording contract with Atlantic Records. “I really liked them,” recalls Bob Harris. “I liked the swirling sound they made…acoustic guitar, electric guitar, fiddle, Fender Rhodes piano and pedal steel guitar. I liked their harmonies, the way their voices matched. I liked their influences…David Crosby, Jackson Browne and Neil Young. But most of all I liked Roy Webber’s songs.”

The group’s eponymous debut album, recorded at Morgan Recording Studios in London, home of Yes and Black Sabbath, was released in 1974. It was co-produced by Bob Harris and renowned Yes keyboardist Rick Wakeman, who had seen Wally perform at the Roundhouse. “I will never forget the first time I heard Wally,” Rick Wakeman relates. “I was completely bowled over by both the music and enthusiasm of the guys in the band for what they were doing. Whilst singing their praises to all the music industry I came across over the next few weeks, which included my management at the time, and Phil Carson, who was the head of Atlantic Records, was discovering that my great friend Bob Harris was also a massive fan and this culminated in the pair of us having the privilege of producing their first album together.”

After Wally’s debut release, the band embarked on a series of tours throughout the UK, Japan and the United States. They opened for Yes at a concert in London at the Alexandra Palace and also made an appearance on The Old Grey Whistle Test. “The band recorded sessions for my ‘Sounds of the ’70s’ show on Radio 1 and played on Whistle Test,” says Bob Harris. “They slept on the floor of my London flat, we did big tours together, bought one-legged pedal steel guitars and broke the bar-bill record at Morgan as half of Harrogate arrived to put a drink on our tab, or a tab on our drink…we didn’t care. We were having far too much of a good time.”

The great thing about Wally for me was the fact that they were as tremendous on stage as they were in the studio,” adds Rick Wakeman, “so I had no qualms whatsoever when inviting them onto the bill at my ‘Journey To The Centre of the Earth’ concert at Crystal Palace in the summer of 1974, and as expected, they were tremendous.” Wally released a second album titled ‘Valley Gardens‘, but by that time continual touring had taken its toll and the band eventually parted after Atlantic ended their contract. Wally’s members would go their separate ways, only to reunite after a 30 year hiatus!

In 2009, the surviving members of Wally’s original line-up (Roy Webber, Paul Middleton, Pete Sage, Roger Narraway and Nick Glennie-Smith, augmented by Frank Mizen on pedal steel and Will Jackson on guitar) reunited and performed to a sellout crowd in their hometown of Harrogate. A DVD of the concert titled ‘The Urban Man’ was released later that year.

‘Montpellier is the band’s first studio release in decades’. “I’ve always believed that if music is placed above individuals as regards to importance, then it will live on forever,” says Rick Wakeman about Wally’s reunion.

“It’s a relief to report it still has all the qualities that made this instrumental band special all those years ago,” says Graham Chalmers of the Harrogate Advertiser about Wally’s new CD. “Emotional but not sentimental, epic but grounded, warmly melodic but with the emphasis on harmonies and the overall feel than the central riff.”

Rick Wakeman to Release Live Album in March 2012

Rick Wakeman - In The Nick Of Time
Legendary progressive rock keyboardist Rick Wakeman will be releasing his latest album In The Nick Of Time on March 19th, 2012.

The archive live album was recorded in 2003 during an extensive British tour with the New English Rock Ensemble. In The Nick Of Time comprises 7 tracks including: Catherine Parr/Beware Your Enemies, No Earthly Connection, White Rock and Wurm which is a track originally found on The Yes Album as part of Starship Trooper.

Rick Wakeman is best known as the keyboard wizard for the influential progressive rock band Yes. He’s had a brilliant solo career with now classic prog rock albums. In 1972, Rick Wakeman released his first solo album, one of the most iconic prog albums of all time, The Six Wives of Henry VIII. The album was a great success, to date selling over 15,000,000 copies worldwide. Other concept albums included “Journey To The Center Of The Earth” and “The Myths and Legends of King Arthur.”

Wakeman also composes film scores. Some of his best known works include Ken Russell’s Liszttomania, Creepshow 2, The Burning, Kathleen Turner’s Crimes of Passion, the winter Olympics film White Rock, and many others.

Prog Rock Separation

Arena - Seventh Degree of Separation
Arena

Seventh Degree of Separation (Verglas Records, 2012)

There are albums that mark the end of an important musical phase in the life of a band; in this case a shift from progressive rock to another style. Genesis had ‘And then there Were Three’ and Yes had ‘90125.’ Arena’s is Seventh Degree of Separation. If you are looking for progressive rock, look elsewhere. Seventh Degree of Separation marks a solid genre change. Arena has moved from prog rock to a mix of AOR and tiresome heavy metal. The only piece that ventures into progressive rock is track 4, ‘The Ghost Walks.’

Seventh Degree of Separation is a concept album with interesting artwork. The deluxe edition comes with a bonus DVD with a documentary about the making of the album.

The line-up includes Clive Nolan on keyboards; Mick Pointer on drums; Paul Manzi on vocals; John Mitchell on guitars; and John Jowitt on bass.

IZZ Moves

IZZ - I Move
IZZ

I Move (2002)

I Move is the second album by IZZ, one of the most eclectic American progressive rock bands in recent years. IZZ is based in the New York and is led by the versatile Galgano brothers. On I Move, IZZ presents a wide range of musical influences. The first cut, ‘Spinnin’ Round’ features trip hop with hip hop beats and DJ scratching (no rapping) along with soaring guitar. It’s unconventional and they only use it once. It’s a strange opener and very different from what comes later in the album.

The following two songs venture into pop rock and alternative rock, with an occasional guitar solo. Track 4, ‘I Already Know,’ is a delicate gem, with superb slide guitar and vocals that at times sound like Steely Dan. There is excellent guitar and synthesizer work throughout the piece.

Songs 5 and 6 are soft rock efforts with ear catching melodies. Things get more interesting again on track 7, ‘Star Evil Gnoma Su’, a longer composition that features elaborate instrumental passages with counterpoints a la Gentle Giant and King Crimson. The synth and piano work is exquisite.

‘Another Door’ is a ballad with a great guitar solo. It’s followed by two additional soft rock songs with more of the fine keyboard work.

‘Knight of Nights’ is another long serpentine piece. It’s fascinating mix of epic Genesis and ELP-style keyboards with vocals inspired by guitarist Eric Johnson and Peter Gabriel.

Track 12 is a short and sweet Celtic ballad titled ‘The Mists of Dalriada.’ Things get festive with ‘Oh, How it’s Great!’ which has a PFM (Premiata Forneria Marconi) flavor, with more fine guitar and keyboard work.

The longest piece is track 14, ‘Coming Like Light,’ where IZZ’s musicians show their dazzling virtuosity with superb piano, guitars and synths accompanied by a turbo charged rhythm section that sometimes achieves breakneck speed, similar to what Yes did on Relayer. The album concludes with Light From Your Eyes.

The line-up on the album includes Tom Galgano on- keyboards, lead and backing vocals; Paul Bremner on electric and acoustic guitars; Brian Coralian on electronic and acoustic percussion, drum programming; Greg DiMiceli on acoustic percussion; and John Galgano on bass, acoustic and electric guitar, backing and lead vocals. Guests who participated in the recording are: Laura Meade on vocals; Anmarie Byrnes on vocals; Paige Rigilano provides spoken word; and Abigail Lombino also on spoken word.

Listen to samples or buy CD or MP3s:

Legendary Progressive Rock Band Sebastian Hardie Releases Blueprint

Sebastian Hardie - Blueprint
Sebastian Hardie, the legendary Australian symphonic progressive rock band led by guitarist Mario Millo, is back with a new album titled Blueprint. This is the band’s third studio album since the now classics Four Moments (1975) & Windchase (1976).

After disbanding in the late 1970s Sebastian Hardie was asked to reform and perform a one off show at Progfest ’94 in Los Angeles. The show was recorded and the CD Live in L. A. was released.

In July 2003 Sebastian Hardie reformed for a concert tour in Japan and later that year were special guests at the Yes concerts in Sydney and Melbourne.

After the concerts in Japan and the shows with Yes, band members decided to record another album and continue with live performances. The problem was logistics. Drummer Alex Plavsic was living and working 1000 kilometers away in Queensland while the other members were in Sydney with their own personal and work responsibilities. This provided limited opportunities to get together. to rehearse and record new material. But they pulled it off and composed material for a new cd. The six new pieces became the cd Blueprint.

Sebastian Hardie and Mario Millo solo albums are available on CD and MP3 at http://shoponmarsmusic.com

Flower Kings Vocalist To Release ‘Powerplay’

Hasse Fröberg & Musical Companion
Swedish singer Hasse Fröberg and his progressive rock group Musical Companion have announced the release of their second album. Powerplay’ is the second album by the Flower Kings vocalist & Musical Companion. One year after the release of their critically highly acclaimed debut ‘Futurepast‘ (Sept. 2010), Hasse Fröberg & Musical Companion entered the studio to record the backing tracks for ‘Powerplay’ (April 2012).

The line-up of the band is still the same, Hasse Fröberg: Lead vocals, rhythm guitar; Anton Lindsjö: Lead guitar, backing vocals; Kjell Haraldsson: Keyboards, backing vocals; Thomsson: Bass, backing vocals; Ola Strandberg: Drums, backing vocals.

Futurepast generated concerts in countries such as Sweden, Norway, Germany, The Netherlands and Belgium. With the release of ‘Powerplay’, Hasse Fröberg & Musical Companion is now confirmed for festivals such as RoSfest in Gettysburg (USA) and Night of the prog in Loreley (Germany) as well as performances on both sides of the Atlantic.

The sound engineer on ‘Powerplay’is Tomas Bodin. He’s a collegue with Hasse in the established and influential progressive rock band The Flower Kings. Even if Hasse likes studio work, he prefers the live scene: “Playing live is definitely the right element for us. I really can’t wait to take The Musical Companion and and the songs on ‘Powerplay’ on the road”.

The album is scheduled for release date April 23rd, 2012

Deadlock of the Spirit

RPWL - Beyond Man and Time
RPWL

Beyond Man and Time (Gentle Art of Music, 2012)

The new album by German prog band RPWL was eagerly awaited by fans. Although described as art rock, RPWL is characterized by a mix of melodic pop-rock and state of the art symphonic progressive rock.

Beyond Man and Time is a concept album based on a musical journey through the world outside of Plato’s (the Greek philosopher) cave. It begins with outstanding keyboard work, especially synthesizer solos on track 2, ‘We Are What We Are (the Keeper)’. Track 3, ‘Beyond Man and Time (Time Blind)’ is an excellent anthemic piece with epic electric guitar and delicate catchy vocals.

The next set of pieces goes into pop and hard rock direction. Progressive rock returns with a bang on track 10, which is the lengthy suite ‘The Fisherman (I. High as A Mountain Part 1 & 2 – II. the Abyss)’. This is symphonic rock at its best with sitar-like guitars, masterful mellotron passages, soaring electric guitar that would make Steve Hackett proud, hypnotic vocals and an epic grand finale.

The last piece is a beautiful song called ‘The Moon (the Eternal Moment of Return)’ with a great guitar solo.

Beyond Man and Time ’s central character is on a journey and meets various individuals, partly adapted from Zarathustra, as means towards new awareness. The basic understanding is a so-called “revaluation of values” in terms of a new approach of thinking. In this world “beyond man and time” there are already creatures of higher wisdom that the protagonist meets symbolically along his way: the keeper of the cave, the willingly blind, the scientist, the ugliest human, the creator, the shadow, the wise man in the desert, and the fisherman.

In addition to the regular version of the album there is also a bonus edition limited of 2,000 copies. This special edition includes an supplementary audio book that unites the music even more closely to the philosophical approach, plus a topographic map of the new world that is to be explored.

The goal is to open eyes, look further, see more, and see differently,” says vocalist Yogi Lang. “Words that everybody approves of are not going to lead to progress. We call that: “deadlock of the spirit”. Too many approaches of our time disappear in the void of the equal – the conformist.”

The line-up includes Yogi Lang on vocals and keyboards; Kalle Wallner on guitars; Markus Jehle on Keyboards; Werner Taus on bass; and Marc Turiaux on drums.

Beyond Man and Time contains excellent symphonic progressive rock pieces and demonstrates that RPWL has an enviable talent for making memorable songs, with ear catching melodic hooks.

Progressive rock, jazz-rock fusion, ambient electronic music and beyond