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:

Ampersand, Volume 1

IZZ - Ampersand, Volume 1
IZZ

Ampersand, Volume 1 (Doone Records, 2004)

Ampersand, Volume 1 is the third album by the great American progressive rock band IZZ. The disc has two types of tracks. The first set, tracks 1-7, are studio tracks. The rest are live recordings with pieces from earlier albums.

IZZ goes acoustic on the first track, ‘Ancient Memory.’ The song begins in folk-rock style with acoustic guitar and vocal harmonies clearly influenced by early Crosby, Stills and Nash. Midway through the piece, keyboardist Tom Galgano treats the listener to one of his tasty, although brief synth solos. Tom Galgano is a skillful keyboardist and the sounds he extracts out of the synthesizers are engaging, not the old presets other bands use. I’m always expecting the solos to last a little longer.

The acoustic tone continues with the ballad ‘Afraid to Be Different.” Things turn electric with the dynamic ‘The Wait of It All’ which includes engaging male vocals and the outstanding female vocals of Annemarie Byrnes. Her voice is not only gorgeous, but her delivery is perfectly suited for progressive rock. I’d love to hear more of her in future recordings. She is undoubtedly one of the finest vocalists in the current progressive rock scene. ‘The Wait of It All’ also features another of Tom Galgano’s signature synth solos.

Ampersand features some short tracks where some of the band members showcase their talent. ‘One Slice to Go’ is one of these; a delightful acoustic guitar piece by Paul Bremner.

‘Confusion’ shows us an elegant pop piece with deep The Beatles influence. It could easily have been a radio hit if the radio gatekeepers wouldn’t keep the doors closed to independent music.

‘The Bar Song’ is another ballad. It’s followed by ‘My Best Defenses,’ a solo piece by IZZ’s other female vocalist, Laura Meade. She sings a beautiful song, accompanying herself on the piano. IZZ has managed to bring together three excellent vocalists. It’s striking, especially when you think that many of the modern bands have very weak vocalists.

The rest of the album is live cuts. ‘Molly’s Jig’ has a Celtic flavor. ‘Razor’ and ‘Another Door’ are well known pieces from earlier albums. The album closes with IZZ’s great progressive rock epic, ‘Star Evil Gnoma Su.’

The line-up for this recording included Tom Galgano on keyboards, vocals, acoustic guitar; Paul Bremner on guitars; Brian Coralian on electronic drums, acoustic drums, programming; Greg Dimicelli on acoustic drums; and John Galgano on bass, vocals, guitars, piano. They were joined by Annemarie Byrnes and Laura Meade on vocals.

Ampersand, Volume 1 shows IZZ incorporating outstanding female vocals, and still showing two tendencies: melodic pop-rock ballads and state of the art progressive rock.

Renowned Musicians Jon Anderson and Italian Composer Marco Sabiu Release New Single

Jon Anderson and Marco Sabiu - Limitless Lives
Famed Yes vocalist and songwriter Jon Anderson and Italian composer, conductor, international producer and arranger Marco Sabiu have a new single titled “Limitless Lives.” The recording was co-written and performed by Anderson and Sabiu, and is now available as a digital download. The song is also available on Marco Sabiu’s most recent album ‘Audio Ergo Sum‘, which was presented on February 18, 2012 on live TV before an audience of 12 million; the album has consequently reached iTunes Italy Top 10.

Progressive rock legend Jon Anderson, who has one of the most familiar voices in modern music, and is best known for his work with Yes, Vangelis and Kitaro, had this to say about his musical collaboration with Marco Sabiu: “A good friend of mine, musician Alessandro de Rosa put Marco Sabiu and I in touch with each other just last month. I was instantly connected to Marco’s music; he sent me the music track and within moments I had sang the song and lyric and sent back to him. Marco loved my singing, so we talked about releasing the song on his new album. I love his ‘Limitless’ theme for the song, as I wrote the lyric I realized we have so much to learn in this life, and we are truly Limitless human beings.”

The collaboration with Jon was born by chance, as most of the best things often do,” says Marco. “What I found in Jon is the ideal musical partner: I’ve never met anybody who has understood my music and bettered it so quickly and effectively as Jon did. I was always very passionate about prog-rock, and being able to work with a legend like Jon is an honor, and truly exciting.”

Along with being a highly respected arranger (Take That, Kylie Minogue, Pavorotti, Morricone), Marco is currently a TV star and crossover chart artist in his native Italy, as well as orchestrator and conductor for major Italian rock stars, including the arena act Ligabue. Jon Anderson and Marco Sabiu are planning to record a full album together and a tour in 2013.

Jethro Tull’s Ian Anderson to Perform Thick As A Brick 1 & 2 in Denver

Ian Anderson
AEG Live has announced that legendary prog rock singer and flutist Ian Anderson and his band will be performing live at Temple Buell Theatre in Denver (Colorado) on Tuesday, October 23, 2012.

In the early 1970s progressive rock bands like Yes, Genesis, ELP, Pink Floyd, Gentle Giant and King Crimson were pushing musical boundaries, creating some of the best music made in the decade. Jethro Tull was part of this exciting music scene.

Jethro Tull’s brief ‘prog rock’ era peaked with 1972’s Thick As A Brick, a 45-minute continuous piece of music charting the difficulties of a child growing up and confronting a frightening and unfair world. The album was encased in a spoof local newspaper The St Cleve Chronicle, with a headline story that a precocious schoolboy called Gerald Bostock had been disqualified from a poetry competition because of the inappropriate nature of his epic poem, which Tull then allegedly used as the album’s lyrics.

Ian explains that the idea stemmed from the critics’ descriptions of 1971’s Aqualung as a `concept album’, even though it was just a bunch of songs a few of which had common themes. “In the light of the Aqualung reviews I deliberately set out to do a concept album that would in essence be a bit of a parody of other people’s concept albums and grandiose progressive rock adventures. I thought let’s take this slightly arrogant and pompous way of writing and presenting music to an extreme, with the fiction of a then 10-year old boy having written the lyrics. Of course it’s preposterous and really quite silly, but it was the era of Monty Python, when that sort of surreal British humor was quite well embedded in the British psyche.”

The album was a world-wide success, including a No 1 place on the American Billboard chart, and excerpts from the piece have regularly featured in Jethro Tull and Ian Anderson live shows. But Ian had steadily resisted record company suggestions that he write a follow-up.

The arrival of punk rock cast a shadow over a style of music that pop critics interested in ephemeral fads never cared for. To these critics, progressive rock became somewhat derogatory. But, Ian explains, “To me, anything is progressive if you are trying to take things on into a slightly new dimension, and draw upon different influences and push them into something that fits your own sense of inventiveness and your own career progression. So `progressive rock’ is a fine title.”

It was not until a chance encounter in 2010 with old friend Derek Shulman of Gentle Giant, who nagged him to consider a 40th anniversary sequel, that Ian gave it some serious thought – and surprised himself by not dismissing it out of hand this time. He had noticed that in recent years his audiences had been changing. “It wasn’t just old codgers, it was kind of a mix between old codgers and young codgers. It really struck me that there was this new wave of interest from youngsters who want something that is an alternative and antidote to the X-Factor and the very repetitive rock music that does tend to be the stuff of today. So I began to feel that it was not quite as undignified as I had earlier supposed to be doing something that was more in that kind of progressive vein.”

In February 2011 Ian spent a couple of days sketching out some ideas. “It was predicated on the idea of what might have befallen Gerald Bostock, this precocious child, where would he have headed in life? And the more I started thinking about that the more I thought that there were so many pivotal moments in my own childhood where, often quite by chance, I might have gone in one direction or in some completely opposite direction. I could have been anything from a soldier or a sailor or an astronaut to a thespian or a silviculturist – although when I left school I actually tried first to join the police force and then to be a journalist on the local newspaper, before music took over while I was at art college.

“So I imagined Gerald Bostock as this 10-year old kid entering into puberty who, by the look of the young male model who was photographed in 1972 as the notional Gerald Bostock, was obviously a rather swottish schoolboy who probably wasn’t very popular at school and probably wasn’t very good at sports. What sort of opportunities would he have had, who would he have been, what would he have been led towards? I started to write a number of scenarios, including a piece looking at his possible early life immediately post-puberty, and then another piece later on for each of these characters that Gerald might have become, leading through to adulthood. Then in the latter part of the album I drew all these things back into a common kismet-karma kind of future where, in spite of all these chance interventions, there is maybe some element of fate and we all end up where we were going to end up anyway, in spite of the fact that we may have taken some radically different roads along the way.”

Ian Anderson's Jethro Tull - Thick As A Brick 2
From that loose concept emerged Thick As A Brick 2. Recorded in November 2011 with Florian Opahle (guitar), John O’Hara (keyboards), David Goodier (bass) and Scott Hammond (drums), musically Ian has very deliberately echoed the feel of the 1972 album by using many of the same instruments, including a lot of acoustic guitar and lashings of Hammond organ, and to a large extent recording it with the band all playing live together, with the minimum of overdubs and no use of limiters and noise gates and other tricks of the trade, leaving engineer Steven Wilson (of Porcupine Tree) to tweak things himself. And, while there are ID points to allow separate tracks to be downloaded from iTunes, it is a continuous 53-minute piece of music with recurring musical themes.

Also echoing the 1972 album, and the St Cleve Chronicle newspaper sleeve, the 2012 album is housed in a mock-up of a local news website www.StCleve.com, which Ian designed himself in a deliberately not-too-professional pastiche of community websites (and which will be accessible online, with an area where fans can add their own spoof local news stories). “It’s light-hearted most of the way through StCleve.com, with lots of fairly vulgar schoolboy smutty stuff, but there are also some serious bits and things that are quite observational of the parochial home counties way of life. There will be some familiar characters like Max Quad, and Angela de Groot who runs a fitness center now. And there will also be various people known to me and known to the world, although their names are slightly twisted around. But you’ll know who they are….” And the 18-month world tour, starting in the UK on April 14th, will also nod to 40 years ago and what Ian describes as the “amateur dramatics village hall” 1972 stage show with a new theatrical presentation involving videos and character actors.

“Unlike the original 1972 Thick As A Brick, the mood of the album is not really a spoof,” says Ian. “It’s not a funny thing; some of it is quite heart-aching and serious, and sometimes a bit intellectual, and sometimes a bit upbeat and amusing, but not in a spoof-fun way. It’s an altogether rather more serious work, and even when you think it’s being light-hearted and funny there’s a seriousness behind it.

It’s observational about stereotype characters. And one of the stereotypes I chose not to make Gerald, at least on the album, was a politician, as it seemed too obvious – although he does appear on the album sleeve as a recently unseated Labour MP who’s come to live in the St Cleve vicinity. He does however appear in other guises like a corrupt Christian evangelist, as an overpaid investment banker with huge bonuses and the kind of person we love to hate these days, and as a casualty of war as a repatriated serviceman helping those less fortunate than himself to acclimatize back into the real world with obviously a very bitter sense of the futility of war. Those are down moments and scary moments. But you need to take people through it. So you sometimes do it in a light-hearted way.

“Somebody may draw the parallel with Quadrophenia, but that’s completely wrong. This is not split personality, this is about totally different characters that we all might have become in our lives. If we’d walked on the other side of the road, or picked up the `phone, or read that article in the newspaper, things like that could have changed our lives. And that unmistakably is what happens to people in their lives, the friends they make, the relationships they enter into, perhaps in marriage or whatever else. This is all about – as it says in a couple of places – the what ifs, the maybes and might have beens moments in life.

“One of the pivotal moments on this album is the piece ‘A Change Of Horses,’ which fans will recognize from our stage shows over the last year or so. It’s about that point in your life where you say, if there’s ever going to be a change it’s got to be now. That happens to a lot of people perhaps in the forties or fifties, and I rather like the idea of this re-gearing, this re-evaluation, and there being a second part in your life where fate draws you to some conclusion. But it’s not just looking back, it’s also about looking forward. The what ifs and maybes were rich and exciting moments in my teenage years, filled with a mixture of promise and sheer terror, because it’s a scary world out there. So that’s what I’m exploring, and I think it works for people at both ends of the age spectrum, for the middle-aged Waitrose trolley-pushing shopper and the pubescent youngster who’s facing some decision-making.”

Ian confirms that Thick As A Brick 2 is a concept album. “Yes, it is very much a concept album! It is a concept album that I think is fairly grown-up and mature, but I think it should ring bells for people of all ages. It’s an intellectual proposition. I’m not sure how many people are going to be ready for that kind of a thing, but I think there will be enough people for it to be a worthwhile record to make. But it’s unashamed in its asking you to think about it and listen to it. Some of the music is pretty straight-ahead which you can just kind of groove to, and some things work without your being too cerebral about it. But the overall concept and indeed lots of the lyrics and parts of the music you are going to have to make a bit of an effort with. I think that some of us like to do that. Combine that with all the detail that’s gone into the peripheral aspect of presenting the album with the artwork, the stcleve.com website and so on, it all wraps up into a big package that I think will give people a lot of fun.”

Tickets go on sale Friday, March 9 at 10:00 am

Tickets available online at ticketmaster.com, at all ticketmaster outlets. To charge tickets by phone, call (800) 745-3000 and visit www.ticketmaster.com/outlets for a list of ticketmaster outlets.

Reserved tickets are $79.50 – $39.75 plus applicable service charges. All ages are welcome.

Tomorrow Will Tell The Story

Echo Us - Tomorrow Will Tell The Story
Echo Us

Tomorrow Will Tell The Story (Absolute Probability Recordings, (2012)

Tomorrow Will Tell The Story is the latest release by the uncategorizable project called Echo Us. Tomorrow Will Tell The Story is a mysterious sonic journey composed of musical collages composed of songs, electronic and acoustic musical passages and sampled sounds. Ethan Matthews is the artist behind the surreal project. He is joined by several collaborators, including singer-songwriter Henta, harpist Raelyn Olson and hermeticist Rawn Clark who contributes meditation canticles.

‘I’ve always gotten the lot of my musical ideas from dreams and trance states- but this time was different..,” says Ethan. “Words and phrases came from completely outside of me into my mind very clear and vividly- and I’d never recalled them before. These were spiritual sayings and ideas that were quite alien to me. This became not only the inspiration for, but direct material lifted for The Archaeous of Water suite. This experience led me to discover Kabbalism and esoteric works such as The Seth Material along with other forms of spiritualism.”

Tomorrow Will Tell The Story is sometimes angelic, while other times it is dark and out of this world, creating variable moods and changeable atmospheres. It will appeal to music fans with a taste for the challenging and exploratory.

The CD album also includes two extra album tracks and one bonus track not originally slated for release.

Signed pre-orders for Tomorrow Will Tell The Story are on sale at www.echous.net.

All Rights Removed

Airbag - All Rights Removed
Airbag

All Rights Removed (Karisma Records, 2011)

Norwegian band Airbag has attracted the curiosity of Pink Floyd music fans with its attention-grabbing mix of progressive space rock and melodic rock. Imagine the offspring of Coldplay and Animals-era Pink Floyd and that will give you an idea of the group’s sound.

The Coldplay influence is larger in the vocal parts, which have a melancholic soft rock feel. Airbag‘s music really takes off when they venture into the instrumental sections with tasty keyboard atmospheres and guitar riffs and solos that would make David Gilmour proud.

Most of the pieces are pretty lengthy. The only short piece is a beautiful instrumental piece titled ‘Light them All up.’ The album ends with an excellent 17:21 suite titled ‘Homesick’ which is divided into 3 parts.

The band members featured in the recording are Anders Hovden on bass; Asle Torstrup on vocals, programming, keyboards; Bjørn Riis on guitars, vocals, keyboards; Henrik Fossum on drums; and Jørgen Hagen on keyboards, programming.

With its wonderful combination of elegant melodies and exquisite Floydian space rock, All Rights Removed is definitely an album you will want to have in your modern progressive rock collection.

Legendary Dutch Band Focus to Begin South American Tour

Dutch progressive rock band Focus will be touring Brazil and Argentina starting Friday, March 9th. The current version of the legendary band features founder Thijs van Leer on keyboards, flute and vocals and Pierre van der Linden on drums together with new members Menno Gootjes on guitar and Bobby Jacobs on bass.

The group’s latest recording is Focus 9 / New Skin, released on the Red Bullet label of Willem van Kooten. Focus will be playing the latest material as well their prog rock classics from the 1970s.

Tour Dates:

March 9
Belo Horizonte MG – ESOPO
Brazil
esopo.com.br

March 10
Pouso Alegre MG – Teatro Municipal
Brazil
ticketbrasil.com.br/novos/

March 14
Rio De Janeiro Teatro Rival
Brazil
rivalpetrobras.com.br

March 15
Goiania Bolshoi
Brazil
bolshoipub.com.br/eventos/semana
March 16
Votorantim Pedreira do Icatu
Brazil

March 17
Sao Paulo Carioca Club
Brazil
www.cariocaclub.com.br/events

March 21
Buenos Aires Teatro Coliseo
Argentina

Deep Water Ambience

Dan Pound - Medusazoa
Dan Pound

Medusazoa (Pound Sounds PS11, 2011)

American synthesist Dan Pound takes you on a fascinating underwater immersion with his latest CD, Medusazoa. The album is dedicated to the graceful movement and vibrant bioluminescence of jellyfish flowing and drifting with the ocean currents. It contains a series of tranquil ambient pieces with distant hypnotic pulses, dreamy drones, and flowing atmospheres.

A few years ago, during a music conference, I had the opportunity to visit the National Aquarium in Baltimore (Maryland). At the time, they had a temporary jellyfish exhibit and I stood for minutes, mesmerized, watching the strangely beautiful bioluminescent creatures. Medusazoa captures that sensation and would make a great soundtrack companion to such an exhibit.

Dan Pound used analog modular synth drones, patches and effects to make Medusazoa with the intent of making ‘pure underwater dream zone music.’

Dan Pound was classically trained. He learned piano, guitar and double bass at an early age and started writing songs soon after. Pound joined the local honor orchestra and was soon writing pieces for the entire ensemble. In addition to performing and composing, Dan has earned degrees in recording engineering and electronic music technology.

Over several years, Dan Pound has pieced together a home studio where he does most of his work now, recording and producing his music independently. He specializes in music for film and multimedia. He also records and produces his own albums on his Pound Sounds label.

Medusazoa is a fine example of atmospheric electronic music by one of the current talents in the ambient music scene.

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