Video of the Week: Ganga by Mrigya

This week we focus on Mrigya, one of the most exciting fusion bands from India. Ganga is a piece featured in the 2010 album The Composition of World Harmony (EMI Music India/Virgin Records India)

Mrigya is an exciting Indian group based in Delhi. On their debut album, titled The Composition of World Harmony, Mrigya mixes impassioned Indian classical and folk music as well as Hindustani and Sufi vocals with phenomenal jazz fusion and a potent rhythm section.

The group’s leading instruments are the violin, the electric guitar and vocals. Band members include Sharat Chandra Srivastava on violin; Gyan Singh on tabla, dholak and mridangam; Rajat Kakkar on drums and percussion; Indraneel Hariharan on bass guitar; Sachin Kapoor on keyboards; Karan Sharma on guitars; Qadir Niyazi on Sufi vocals; and Sukriti Sen on Hindustani vocals.

Mrigya is turbo charged Indian fusion of the highest caliber.

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Celtic Calling

Judith Mateo - Ashes
Judith Mateo

Ashes (Warner Music, 2011)

Ashes is the latest offering by Spanish fiddler Judith Mateo. Even though she was not born in the Celtic regions of Spain, Celtic music runs in her blood. On Ashes she mixes Celtic fiddling with fiery rock, including a version of Kansas’ classic rock song ‘Dust in the Wind.’

The best cut is Sept.97, an instrumental tribute to Danny Doyle. Judith Mateo celebrates her life changing trip to Ireland in 1997, where she met Danny Doyle. This captivating cut combines fretless jazz bass and keyboards with the fiddle melodies.

Another keeper is a track titled Bollywood, where she blends Bollywood dance music with electronic beats and her fiddle melodies.

Most of the album, however, falls under the category of Celtic rock. Mateo pays another tribute on ‘De Fiestas’, a piece by a well-known Spanish rock musician and flute player named Jose Carlos Molina, who was the leader of Ñu, a Spanish band inspired by Jethro Tull. Molina appears as a guest on flute.

Mateo is an accomplished fiddler, who many times gets drowned by the excessive hard rock electric guitars. On Ashes, she incorporates unnecessary rapping that doesn’t really belong there.

Judith Mateo has a passion for Irish culture. She has performed throughout Europe and has released Tir Nan Og (Universal Music Spain, 2003) and Mientras el cielo no se caiga (Balinaboola SL, 2007).

Psychedelic Prog Band Astra Releases Video to Promote New Album The Black Chord

L to R: Stuart Sclater, Richard Vaughan, David Hurley, Brian Ellis, Conor Riley - Photo by Noa Azoulay-Sclater
San Diego-based progressive rock band Astra has released a video featuring ‘Quake Meat‘, a piece from its upcoming album titled The Black Chord.

The Black Chord will be available in North America on March 27th. Astra will be hosting an album release show in San Diego on March 16th. The show will be at The Casbah with Dead Meadow, The Loons and Joy. The show will also feature visuals by Operation: Mindblown.

Astra released their debut album titled The Weirding in 2009 on Rise Above Records in the UK and on Metal Blade Records in the USA.

Band members include Richard Vaughan on vocals, electric guitar, mellotron m400, minimoog, rogue moog, sound effects; Conor Riley on vocals, mellotron m400, minimoog, rogue moog, arp odyssey, oberheim 2-voice, crumar orchestrator, Hammond a-100 organ, grand piano; Brian Ellis on lead electric guitar, electric 12 string guitar, acoustic guitar; David Hurley on drums, percussion, flute; and Stuart Sclater on bass.

Original Yes Vocalist Jon Anderson Releases Statement To The Press

Jon Anderson
In a press release distributed this afternoon by Jon Anderson’s publicist, the legendary progressive rock singer, composer and songwriter provides a response to recent rumors circulating about him. Jon Anderson is the well-known vocalist who was a member of Yes for many years, during their most creative years.

Jon Anderson addresses the rumors circulating in list serves and blogs about being asked to re-join Yes. The press release states that these rumors are unfounded and false. The rumors started after Yes officially announced on February 6th that they were going to hire vocalist as Jon Davison lead vocalist for the upcoming tour dates in New Zealand, Australia, Japan, Indonesia, and Hawaii. Davison is currently Glass Hammer’s vocalist, has performed in a Yes tribute band and is a former bass player for psy prog band Jon Sky Cries Mary.

Yes’ most recent vocalist, David Bernoit, fell ill last year and news reports from today mention that he is not coming back.

Jon Anderson’s publicist indicates that Anderson is busy with his solo career. He is currently on tour performing solo, as well as recording new music. Jon also had this response to recent quotes in the news by Chris Squire that he is in regular communication with Jon: “I haven’t spoken with Chris in four years, and the only e-mail I have received from him in the last 3 years was him asking for free tickets to my show in Mesa, Arizona, last week – very sad, but true.”

Jon Anderson has one of the most recognizable and imitated voices in rock music. He is best known for his work with Yes, Vangelis and Kitaro, as well as his innovative solo efforts. Anderson recently completed a successful tour of the United States’ east coast in with fellow Yes member Rick Wakeman and a solo tour of South America.

Jon’s solo tour promises to deliver an exciting mixture of material from his prolific solo career, collaborations with Vangelis and classic Yes songs, along with new compositions from his new CD ‘Survival & Other Stories’.

Anderson recently released an epic musical work titled “Open, which is a return to the long-form progressive rock composition that Jon Anderson is best known for.

Jon Anderson US 2012 Tour Dates:

2/02/2012 – Mesa Arts Center – Piper Theater – Mesa, AZ –
2/04/2012 – Wheeler Opera House – Aspen, CO –
2/17/2012 – American Music Theater – Lancaster, PA –
2/19/2012 – Newton Theatre – Newton, NJ –
2/22/2012 – Anthology – San Diego, CA –
2/24/2012 – Ovation Green Valley Ranch Resort & Spa – Henderson, NV –
2/26/2012 – One World Theatre – Austin, TX –
2/28/2012 – Kessler Theater – Dallas, TX –
3/01/2012 – Carolina Theatre – Durham, NC –
3/03/2012 – Parrish Auditorium Miami University Hamilton – Hamilton, OH
3/05/2012 – World Cafe Live – Wilmington – Wilmington, DE –
3/07/2012 – Theatre of Living Arts – Philadelphia, PA –
3/08/2012 – Baltimore Sound Stage – Baltimore, MD –
3/10/2012 – B.B. King Blues Club & Grill – New York, NY –
3/14/2012 – Infinity Hall – Norfolk, CT –
3/15/2012 – Wilbur Theatre – Boston, MA –
3/17/2012 – Narrows Center For The Arts – Fall River, MA –
3/19/2012 – Bergen Performing Arts Center – Englewood, NJ –

Argentine Rock Music Legend Luis Alberto Spinetta Dies at 62

Luis Alberto Spinetta
Luis Alberto Spinetta, one of the most important figures in Argentine rock music died today, February 8th, 2012 of lung cancer. He was 62.

Composer, guitarist, poet and vocalist Luis Alberto Spinetta was one of the pioneers of rock music in Argentina and was a member of legendary bands Almendra, Pescado Rabioso, Invisible, and Spinetta Jade. He was also a well-respected musician throughout Latin America.

Luis Alberto Spinetta was born on January 23rd, 1950 in Buenos Aires. His nickname was El Flaco (the skinny guy).

In 1967 he formed a band called Almendra with school friends. This was one of the first rock bands in South America that composed its own songs and recorded in Spanish. Almendra released two influential albums: Almendra (1969) and Almendra II (1970).

The next band he formed was Pescado Rabioso, a rock group that had harder sound. Pescado Rabioso released Desatormentándonos (1972), Pescado II (1973) and Artaud (1973).

In 1974 Spinetta started a new band called Invisible. The sound was more laid back, combining blues rock with engaging ballads and some jazz elements. Invisible released three albums: Invisible, Durazno Sangrando and El Jardín De Los Presentes. Durazno Sangrando is considered one of Spinetta’s finest works. On El Jardín De Los Presentes Spinetta introduced new elements such as bandoneón, which added an Argentine folk music flavor. Spinetta also showed his skills as a guitarist, with beautiful instrumental solos.

After dissolving Invisible in 1976, Spinetta embraced jazz fusion, combining rock, jazz and Latin American rhythms. He released one of his finest works, A 18´ del Sol (1977) and later formed fusion band Spinetta Jade. This new band released Alma de Diamante (1980), Los Niños Que Escriben En El Cielo (1981), Bajo Belgrano (1983) and Madre en Años Luz (1984). The first two albums were solid fusion. The latter headed in a pop direction.

In the mid-1980s, Spinetta dissolved Spinetta Jade and produced a series of solo albums. He formed a new band in the late 1990s called Spinetta y los Socios del Desierto. The group released three albums: Socios del Desierto (1996), San Cristóforo (1998, live) and Los Ojos (1999).

Spinetta y los Socios del Desierto disbanded in late 1999. Spinetta returned to his solo career, releasing Silver Sorgo (2001), Para los Árboles (2003), Camalotus (2004), Pan (2006), Un Mañana (2008) and Spinetta y las Bandas Eternas (2010).

To Shatter All Accord

Discipline - To Shatter All Accord

To Shatter All Accord (All Strung Out Records, 2011)

Discipline, from Detroit, is one of the leading progressive rock bands in the American Midwest. The group is a rarity in a sea full of Genesis and Yes followers. Discipline, led by keyboardist and composer Matthew Parmenter performs a darker form of progressive rock, inspired by Van der Graaf Generator.

Their eagerly anticipated new album To Shatter All Accord was released in late 2011. The opening track, ‘Circuitry’ disappoints with its aggressive hard rock guitar that drowns everything. In the middle of the track, Discipline gives a brief taste of its tremendous potential with a mix of jazz and progressive rock with saxophone, keyboards and elegant guitar that for a moment recalls the great American band Happy the Man. Unfortunately, the hard rock returns to close the piece.

‘When the Walls are Down’ is another hard rocker with the guitars drowning everything. I find progressive rock musicians playing hard rock and AOR a wasted talent.

The third piece, titled ‘Dead City’ still has hard rock guitar, but the keyboards and vocals manage to stand out. Two minutes into the piece, the electric guitar switches to melodic mode, creating fine interplay with the keyboards. Unfortunately, the guitar quickly reverts to hard rhythm mode.

The best cut is ‘When She Dreams She Dreams in Color.’ This is progressive rock at its best. The piece begins with poetic and nuanced vocals and keyboards that lead into a superb instrumental progression with delectable mellotron, a mesmerizing violin solo and intricate guitar work. This piece demonstrates that darkness and tension does not require hard rock or heavy metal.

The lengthy ‘Rogue’ is the 24-minute epic on the album. The track begins with acoustic guitar that leads into electric guitars and vocals. The piece goes through a series of excellent overdubbed vocal and instrumental passages and progressions that mix subtle tranquil moments with tension. There are more tasty mellotron and electric guitar solos, accompanied by delicate jazz rhythm guitar which is a welcome change.

The line-up on To Shatter All Accord includes Matthew Parmenter on vocals, keyboards, saxophone and violin; Jon Preston Bouda on guitars; Mathew Kennedy on bass; Paul Dzendzel on drums and percussion.

To Shatter All Accord shows us the potential of what could be one of the best progressive rock bands in the current scene. If Discipline reigns in the hard rock and replaces it with more creative arrangements, I foresee a bright future.

Swedish Prog Band Änglagård Release Video with the First Rehearsal for New Album

Swedish progressive rock band Änglagård have released a video which is the first of a series documenting the recording of their new album. The first video focuses on the preparations for the first drum session. This was the first time in eight years all members gathered to play together.

Änglagård was formed in 1991 when Tord Lindman and Johan Högberg were looking for musicians with an interest in the progressive and innovative music of the early seventies. Thomas Johnson and Jonas Engdegård replied to their ads and eventually joined the band. In September, Mattias Olsson joined the group, bringing his classical training as a drummer. Anna Holmgren joined Änglagård in the spring of 1992 replacing the previously engaged flute player.

Anglagard - Hybris
The first album was titled “Hybris“. The progressive rock community embraced the new band and they were invited to play at the annual Progfest in Los Angeles in May 1993.

The second album, titled Epilog, a completely instrumental affair, was recorded in the summer of 1994. The group disbanded in 1995. The recordings made during Progfest which were eventually released as “Buried Alive” in 1996.

In 2011, Änglagård got together again. The musicians began recording a new album that will contain the two new songs played in 2003 along with brand new material. The band returns to NEARfest in 2012 and more concerts are likely to happen.

The current line-up includes Jonas Engdegård on guitars; Anna Holmgren on flutes & saxophone; Johan Brand on bass guitars and Taurus; Tomas Johnson on pianos, mellotron & synthesizers; and Mattias Olsson on drums and percussion.

Prog Rock Band Yes Recruits Glass Hammer Vocalist Jon Davison

Jon Davison
Progressive rock band Yes has recruited Jon Davison (Glass Hammer) as lead vocalist for the upcoming tour dates in New Zealand, Australia, Japan, Indonesia, and Hawaii. “Yes really appreciate Jon Davison joining them for this leg of the tour and are sure this arrangement will satisfy all Yes fans,” said the official press release.

Yes was forced to cancel the last 3 shows of its European Tour in December due to the illness of lead vocalist Benoit David who has still not recovered. To avoid disappointing fans on the forthcoming Australasian leg of their world tour, Yes offered the role to Jon Davison, Glass Hammer’s most recent vocalist.

Fly From Here (2011) is Yes’ most recent studio album, with a line-up that includes Benoit David on vocals; Steve Howe on guitars and vocals; Geoff Downes on keyboards; Chris Squire on bass and vocals; and Alan White on drums and percussion.

Yes released a double live album in late November 2011 on Frontiers Records. In The Present—Live from Lyon was recorded in Lyon, France, on December 1st 2009. In The Present – Live from Lyon is a collection of Yes classics with new singer Benoit David. The package comes with a 55 minute DVD containing excerpts from the live performance, interviews and behind the scenes footage. The cover art features an original design by Roger Dean, author of most Yes album covers including classics ‘Fragile’, ‘Close To The Edge’ and ‘Drama’.

Next concerts:

Auckland, NZ
Vector Arena

Byron Bay, AUS

Melbourne, AUS
Palais Theatre

Sydney, AUS
State Theatre

Video of the Week: Dancing with the Moonlit Knight by Genesis

This week’s music takes us to 1973, to a classic piece by Genesis, one of the legendary progressive rock groups of the 1970s. ‘Dancing with the Moonlit Knight’ is included in the 1973 masterpiece Selling England by the Pound.

This music video shows Genesis during a 1973 concert. Vocalist Peter Gabriel appears dressed in costume “Britannia” which he wore during the performance of ‘Dancing with the Moonlit Knight.’ Selling England by the Pound is Genesis’ fifth studio album. It followed Foxtrot and became the most successful album up to then.

Genesis was one of the best and most influential progressive rock groups of all times. The classic line-up during its progressive rock era included Peter Gabriel on vocals, Steve Hackett on guitars, Tony Banks on keyboards, Mike Rutherford on bass and Phil Collins on drums. After Peter Gabriel and Steve Hackett left, Genesis changed direction and became a very successful pop band.

Throughout the 1970s and in the following decades dozens of progressive rock bands were inspired by Genesis. The most notable include Marillion and IQ.

Instrumental Rock Band Sleepmakeswaves Announces Australian Tour

Sydney-based instrumental rockers Sleepmakeswaves have announced an extensive Australian tour, celebrating the recent success of their debut album ‘…and so we destroyed everything.’

The band’s “(hello) Australia” tour sees them visiting 6 states in February and March, before heading to the USA showcase at SXSW in Austin, Texas and then embarking on a headlining European tour, including co-headlining Belgium’s Dunk! Festival, alongside Pelican, This Will Destroy You and 65daysofstatic.

All supports for the tour have now been announced, with Solkyri joining for a number of east coast dates, Mr Maps supporting both QLD shows and half of Tangled Thoughts of Leaving performing as the Ron Pollard Quintet in WA.

The band has also added more shows to their tour, including an afternoon all ages show in Brisbane.

Tour dates follows:

  • Thurs 9th February – Transit Lounge, Canberra ACT w/River of Snakes + The Fighting League
  • Fri 10th February – Espy Front Bar, Melbourne VIC w/Quiet Child + Gatherer + Solkyri FREE ENTRY
  • Sat 11th February – Evelyn Hotel, Melbourne VIC w/This Is Your Captain Speaking + Xenograft + Jarek
  • Fri 17th February – Gaelic Theatre, Sydney NSW w/Dumbsaint (single launch) + Solkyri + Batterie
  • Sat 18th February – Great Northern, Newcastle NSW w/Lander Configurations (album launch) + I Am The Agent + Solkyri
  • Thurs 23rd February – Crown and Anchor, Adelaide SA w/Canidae + Sparkspitter
  • Fri 24th February – The Bakery, Perth WA w/Usurper of Modern Medicine + Apricot Rail + Ron Pollard Quintet
  • Sat 25th February – Prince of Wales, Bunbury WA w/Heytesburg + Ron Pollard Quintet + kucka
  • Thurs 1st March – Macquarie Hotel, Port Macquarie NSW w/Stellar Green + Cleveland Blues and the Red Eye Junction FREE ENTRY
  • Fri 2nd March – Miami Tavern Shark Bar, Gold Coast QLD w/Mr Maps + The Matador + the seashallnothavethem
  • Sat 3rd March – Tyms Guitars, Brisbane QLD – all ages, 3pm
  • Sat 3rd March – Jubilee Hotel, Brisbane QLD w/Mr Maps + Solkyri + Screens
  • Fri 23rd March – Yours and Owls, Wollongong NSW w/Siren Lines + Elliphant

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