Space Rock Maestros

Beyond-O-Matic - Time to Get Up
Beyond-O-Matic

Time To Get Up (Trail Records, 2010)

Beyond-O-Matic was a San Francisco-based space rock band that unfortunately is no longer active. This album is as far as I know Beyond-O-Matic’s second and final recording and it is progressive space rock at its finest. Time To Get Up contains dreamy and flowing music, with captivating psychedelic vocals and extended trance-like jams featuring outstanding synthesizer and guitar work along with less conventional instruments such as electric accordion, flute, melodeon, and harmonium.

The pieces featured in Time To Get Up were recorded 2003-2004. At the time, Beyond-O-Matic included composer and multi-instrumentalist Peter Fuhry on guitars, vocals, flute, accordion, bass, effects; Stenzo on synthesizer, samples, effects; Anthony Koutsos on drums; and David Jayne on drums and tabla. Guest musicians who participated in the sessions include Melody Paine on bass, Rachel Shane Shultz on bass, KJ Luker on backing vocals.

Trail Records has been doing an admirable job, recovering lost progressive rock gems in the areas of psychedelic and space rock. They tracked down this album and remastered it, giving Time To Get Up improved sound quality and new life. The CD came out in 2010.

Time To Get Up is a masterful collection of highly creative laid back space rock. It’s a must have for any space rock music fan.

Serbian Fusion Jazz Quartet Eyot Releases “Live in Nish” DVD

Eyot
Groundbreaking Serbian fusion band Eyot has a new DVD titled “Live in Nish,” released by Ninety and Nine Records in New York.

Eyot is a quartet of Serbian musicians that have risen to international prominence with their recent appearances in Cannes (France).

Eyot’s sound includes the soft solo piano stylings of bandleader Dejan Ilijic, Sladjan Milenovic’s hypnotic microtonal Bill Frisell-esque guitar atmospheres, and a metamorphic rhythm section of Marko Stojiljkovic and Milos Vojvodic. It is the fusion of east and west, and the encounter of ancient and modern.

The Expert Craft of Sebastian Hardie

Sebastian Hardie - Blueprint
Sebastian Hardie

Blueprint (independent, 2012)

Blueprint is the first studio recording by legendary Australian progressive rock band Sebastian Hardie since 1976’s Windchase. Blueprint brings the classic line-up from the 1970s: Alex Plavsic on drums, percussion; Peter Plavsic on bass guitar; Mario Millo on lead guitar, vocals, mandolin; and Toivo Plit on keyboards.

Despite the years, Sebastian Hardie remains loyal to symphonic rock, delivering an album with extensive instrumental passages full of captivating guitar melodies and outstanding keyboard atmospheres, combining classical music, blues and jazz infused progressive rock. Toivo Plit contributes a wide palette of keyboards, including electric organ, epic mellotron and synths. Meanwhile, Mario Millo uses mesmerizing slide guitar, wah wah and other creative guitar effects.

Sebastian Hardie released two excellent albums in the mid-1970s, Four Moments (1975) & Windchase (1976). They disbanded in the late 70s. The band reformed a few times for special occasions. Getting Sebastian Hardie together again for Blueprint was no easy task. All the musicians had their separate careers and while the majority still lived in Sydney, drummer Alex Plavsic was based in Queensland, about 1000 kilometers from Sydney.

Uplifting and delectable, Blueprint is an expertly crafted new album by one of the significant masters of Australian progressive rock.

Music samples and MP3 downloads:

CD available from http://shoponmarsmusic.com

Andalusian Prog Jams

Imán Califato Independiente - Edición Especial 30 Aniversario
Imán Califato Independiente

Edición Especial 30 Aniversario (Aristillus, 2006)

Imán Califato Independiente, the legendary Andalusian progressive rock band celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2006 with the release of a collection of live recordings. Although Imán only released two albums, they were a favorite of the rock festival circuit in Andalusia (southern Spain) and other parts of the country. While the studio albums were more structured, the live performances featured extended pieces in jam rock fashion, combining symphonic rock, cutting edge fusion, blues, Flamenco and Arabic music influences.

Edición Especial 30 Aniversario contains music extracted from long forgotten tapes recorded during Iman’s live performances. Drummer Kiko Guerrero and sound engineer Pepe Almadana kept these tapes in their archives. Thanks to the persistence of music fans, these recordings made in 1978 and 1979 were recovered. For the first in many years, progressive rock music fans were able to experience Iman, during its golden era.

The album features 2 jams, ‘Improvisación atmosférica’ (atmospheric improvisation) and ‘Improvisación 1-B’ and two well-known pieces that never made it to the studio: ‘Tema de Abdu’ and ‘La forja de los Tarantos.’

Musicians featured include the core band members Kiko Guerrero on drums and percussion, Manuel Iman on guitars and vocals, and Marcos Mantero on keyboards. The band’s first bassist, Iñaki Egaña, appears on tracks 2 and 4, and Urbano Morales, the secnd bassist, is featured on tracks 1 and 3.

The CD booklet holds vintage photos, detailed information about the band and biographies of all the musicians.

Edición Especial 30 Aniversario brings back the live magic of one of the most original and influential progressive rock bands in Spanish history.

In The Mist of Morning

Nordagust - In The Mist of Morning
Nordagust

In The Mist of Morning (Karisma KAR054, 2010)

Norwegian band Nordagust is a rising talent in the area of symphonic progressive rock. They are inspired by Nordic mythology and are characterized by a dark, slow-tempo sound with somber vocals, heavy use of grand mellotron, Nordic folk instruments and wailing guitars.

The name of the band Nordagust originates from Nordic mythology. It was the spirit of the north wind, said to be exceptionally knowledgeable, and was believed to have understanding of all things. The life-force was also called “the grieving souls spirit”. The founders of Nordagust are very interested in Norse legends and its connections with Scandinavian folk music. Even though the band uses primarily electric instruments like guitars, keyboards and bass, Nordagust also uses the beautiful kantele, a folk zither primarily found in Finland.

Like many of the northern European prog bands, Nordagust has some elements of formulaic heavy metal, with guitar riffs that drown out the mellotron and are totally unnecessary. Dark and brooding atmospheres are certainly possible without the use of metal. Case in point, Norwegian folk singer Unni Løvlid. When Nordagust uses more creative non-metal guitar, it really shows great potential.

The band featured on In The Mist of Morning includes Daniel Solheim on guitars, keyboards, kantele, mandolin, lead vocals; Ketil Berg on drums, percussion and vocals; Knud Strand on bass; Jostein Skjonberg on keyboard, flute, vocals; Sissel Os on keyboards and vocals; and Guro Strand on guitar and keyboards.

Highlights of the album are ‘In the Mist of Morning’, the kantele-rich ‘In The Woods’ and ‘Frozen.’

Nordagust’s debut album In The Mist of Morning shows great promise and will please fans of dark and mellotron-driven progressive rock.

Alberto Rigoni’s Rising Bass

Alberto Rigoni - Rebirth
Alberto Rigoni

Rebirth (Nightmare Records, 2011)

Italian bassist Alberto Rigoni shows his masterful bass technique in a solo album titled Rebirth that incorporates a wide range of musical influences and genres.

The album opens with a fusion piece titled ‘Free’ with fine work on the bass and Federico Solazzo’s keyboards emulating Return to Forever. Track 2, ‘Rebirth’ is a graceful solo bass piece, where Rigoni showcases his talent in constructing bass melodies.

The solo bass work continues on ‘Story of a man’ with exquisite overdubbed bass lines and interplay. Rigoni is joined here by fellow bassist, renowned American bass virtuoso Michael Manring. Track 4, ‘The Net’ gets a little more experimental seeking the world of electronic music.

‘Emptiness’ is a hard rock song, with vocals, of little interest. ‘A New Soul’ brings back more of the outstanding overdubbed bass melodies. Michael Manring returns to provide another session of ebullient dueling basses.

‘With all my forces’ is the other heavy rocker on the album.

‘Ontogeny’ features a full electric ensemble, playing masterful progressive rock and fusion with more outstanding keyboard and bass work.

The final track is ‘White Shine,’ a delectable bass and piano.

Musicians featured on Rebirth include celebrated musicians: drummers Gavin Harrison (Porcupine Tree) and John Macaluso (Ark, LaBrie, Malmsteen); bassists Michael Manring and Yves Carbonne; Swedish vocalist Jonas Erixon (Alicate), guitarists Tommy Ermolli (Twinspirits) and Simone Mularoni (DGM, Empyrios); keyboardists Federico Solazzo (Alexia), Andrea Pavanello (Centrica), Filippo Lui and Emanuele Casali (DGM, Astra).

In addition to his solo work, Alberto Rigoni plays bass for progressive metal band TwinSpirits and is founder of the electropop duo Lady & the Bass.

Rebirth is a luscious electric bass album with a colorful range of exquisitely crafted progressive rock, fusion and neoclassical sounds.

The Missing Fireflies Unearthed

Locanda delle Fate - The Missing Fireflies
Locanda delle Fate

The Missing Fireflies (AltrOck Productions, 2012)

Italian band Locanda delle Fate made one of the most beautiful progressive rock albums of the late 1970s, Forse le lucciole non si amano più (Polydor, 1977). At the time, CDs didn’t exist and vinyl LPs had limited time capacity so two pieces, ‘Crescendo’ and ‘La Giostra’ were left out of the album.

The Missing Fireflies has rescued these masterful pieces that had been forgotten. At last they’ve been recorded, using vintage instruments, giving them a classic symphonic rock essence that connects them to the Forse le lucciole non si amano più spirit. In addition to ‘Crescendo’ and ‘La Giostra’, the band has recorded a short piano piece titled ‘Sequenza circolare’ that will delight classic Italian prog rock fans. The last studio piece is a recreation of the magnificent ‘Non chiudere a chiave le stelle’ which originally came out in Forse le lucciole non si amano più.

The current line-up of the band features Leonardo Sasso on vocals, Oscar Mazzoglio on keyboards, Luciano Boero on bass and Giorgio Gardino on drums joined by two new members, guitarist Massimo Brignolo and keyboardist Maurizio Muha.

The rest of the album contains three live pieces recorded in 1977 by Locanda delle Fate’s classic line-up which included Leonardo Sasso on vocals, Ezio Vevey on guitar, vocals; Alberto Gaviglio on guitar, flute, vocals; Michele Conta on keyboards; Oscar Mazzoglio on keyboards; Luciano Boero on bass; and Giorgio Gardino on drums.

The Missing Fireflies is a phenomenal album that brings back one of the legendary bands of Italian progressive rock. Let’s hope that this not a one-time reunion and that the band puts out more of their masterful music.

The album is available from most of the usual progressive rock outlets.

Progressive Rock and Fusion Group BangTower Releases Series of Videos

BangTower bassist Percy Jones
Los Angeles-based progressive rock and fusion act BangTower is releasing several new music videos over the next four weeks in preparation for the upcoming 2012 BangTower tour.

BangTower includes renowned Welsh bassist Percy Jones, who was a member of legendary fusion band Brand X, a group he formed along with Genesis drummer Phil Collins. BangTower also includes Canadian guitarist, engineer and producer Neil Citron. Completing this trio of virtuoso musicians is Los Angeles drum master Walter Garces, who also plays with 1960s psychedelic rock band The Electric Prunes.

Eight of the latest BangTower music videos were made by Marc Rubinstein of the internationally renowned Pig Light Show, as a glance to elements of handpicked upcoming live shows currently being designed. These video releases contain all the tracks from BangTower’s famed 2010 album ‘Casting Shadows‘ on Declassified Records, produced by Neil Citron (who also participated as engineer) and Jon Pomplin. The holiday video ‘I’ll Be Home For Christmas’ features a downloadable song Neil produced for the holiday season which is obtainable at no cost from the BangTower website.

Besides the eight videos from Pig Light show, a new music video of ‘BBA’, produced by Declassified.TV, has been released and is available in several formats. ‘BBA’ is ‘Casting Shadows‘s opening track. The video was shot during the recent tour preparations in Los Angeles with the ensemble’s founding members Neil Citron, Walter Garces and Percy Jones and a guest appearance by Los Angeles session musician Gary Crite on rhythm guitar and keyboards.

Listen to music clips and buy CD or MP3 downloads

The Local and Sleepsound in Dalston to Present a Weekend of Modern Musical Adventures in London

The Local have teamed up with Sleepsound Agency to present innovative modern electronic and acoustic music from England’s shores and a little bit further abroad on April 14. The result is The Dalston Residency, a multi-venue musical showcase spread over a weekend.

The weekend begins with a full length performance of Richard Knox and Frederic D Oberland’s “The Rustle of the Stars” at The Vortex Jazz Bar, where they will be joined by Angela Chan & Lidwine de Royer. 450 km from the arctic circle, ’The Rustle of the Stars’ is a phenomenon of austere beauty, a barely audible noise that occurs when the draught from human breath causes multiple collisions among the ice micro-crystals in the air. Also joining them for the evening will be the wonderful Clem Leek.

“On Sunday night, we have Jasper TX performing for us at Café Oto. Jasper TX is the musical moniker of Sweden’s Dag Rosenqvist,” says the press release. Using electric and acoustic guitar, piano, pump organ, melodica, glockenspiel, voice and various other instruments as a foundation for his compositions, Dag has managed to create his own musical universe. Elements of post rock, drone, improvisation, noise and lo-fi aesthetics are all filtered through a skewed melodic pop sensibility, often resulting in something quite unique. Also joining him will be Matthew Collings, and Ten.

April 14, 2012 19:00
Tickets for the whole weekend are £12 in advance.
Tickets for individual shows are £7 in advance / or £10 on the door.
Venue: Cafe OTO, 18-22 Ashwin Street, Hackney, London, E8 3DL

Tickets: thelocal.tv

Documentary About Apple Records, Record Label Run by The Beatles

Strange Fruit: The Beatles' Apple Records
The documentary “Strange Fruit: The Beatles’ Apple Records” is scheduled for release on DVD April 24. In 1968, The Beatles opened their collective door to musicians through theitr own record company called Apple Records.

Strange Fruit- The Beatles’ Apple Records is the story of a record label which came to exist under extraordinary circumstances, produced extraordinary records and was operated under extraordinary guidelines.

Although Apple Records released albums by The Beatles, the company also signed top international talent, including James Taylor, Mary Hopkin, Billy Preston, The Modern Jazz Quartet and The Iveys (who later became Badfinger).

Strange Fruit: The Beatles’ Apple Records features new interviews with former label Managing Director Tony Bramwell, members of Badfinger, The Iveys and Elephant’s Memory, Jackie Lomax, Brute Force and David Peel, plus musician and Beatles expert Chris Ingham, author and journalist Mark Paytress and Apple biographer Stefan Granados.

The film also includes archive footage of Apple artists and the organization for which they recorded as well as interviews from the vaults, location film, rare photographs and of course, the music upon which the label made its name.

Official Trailer:

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