Two of Greenslade’s best recordings, Greenslade & Bedside Manners Are Extra, are now available as a double CD. Greenslade was formed in 1972 by former Colosseum keyboardist Dave Greenslade, former Colosseum bassist Tony Reeves, former King Crimson drummer Andy McCulloch, and vocalist and second keyboard player Dave Lawson, who had performed with Episode Six and The Alan Bown Set.
Greenslade’s dual keyboard and no guitar line-up gave it a unique sound within the early 1970s progressive rock wave. Another Greenslade characteristic was the captivating fantasy artwork made by Roger Dean artwork.
This set contains the group’s first two albums, both originally released on the Warner Bros. label in 1973. The booklet includes all the lyrics, and annotation by Alan Robinson.
Casio has re-entered the professional synthesizer market with two new synthesizers. The XW-P1 is a 61 key performance synthesizer with Casio’s exclusive (HPSS) Hybrid Processing Sound Source. The keyboard provides virtual analog monophonic leads and basses, drawbar organs, complex layers, stereo pianos, drums and more.
The XW-G1 groove synthesizer is designed for the DJ and club performer providing an interactive step sequencer and a sample looper for digitally capturing performance patterns and external instruments. Both synthesizers were presented at the 2012 Winter NAMM Show.
“The XW series are not just new keyboards, they represent a new direction for Casio in the musical instrument business,” said Mike Martin, general manager of Casio’s Electronic Musical Instrument Division. “Casio’s formula of value and quality that has been the foundation of award winning instruments like Privia has been applied to a new product category, and the XW-P1 and XW-G1 are just the beginning.”
A six oscillator monophonic solo synth is one of the sound engines in both the XW-P1 and XW-G1. Two virtual analog style oscillators, two PCM based oscillators, a noise oscillator and an external oscillator via mic and line inputs can be combined to make up a single solo synth tone. Each oscillator has an independent filter, envelopes, independent key tracking, portamento, two LFO’s and access to master resonant filter.
“The solo synth has an incredibly deep and powerful design. Among countless others, the oscillators even have access to waveforms from Casio’s original CZ synthesizers. It can create a variety of classic analog sounds, but also has the power to deliver sounds with an aggressive edge,” said Mike Martin. “Everyone is going to be surprised by the expressiveness and range of sounds the solo synth can create, but that is just one aspect of these products.”
In addition to the solo synth, the XW-P1 performance synthesizer is armed with an arsenal of gig ready sounds like stereo pianos, vintage electric pianos, strings, brass, guitars, basses, drums and more. It also has a new drawbar organ mode providing nine steps for each drawbar, vibrato, percussion and rotary speaker control. Rounding out the XW-P1’s sound-set are HexLayer; a HexLayer is a single sound comprised of 6 components, allowing complex layers, splits and velocity switched sounds.
The XW-G1 groove synthesizer has 420 built-in sounds, solo synth and PCM based sounds. It also has the ability to sample. A 19-second sample looper captures internal sounds as well as external instruments allowing the performer to create layers and overdub sounds on the fly. Sampled sounds can even be saved in Flash ROM so they remain in memory after the keyboard has been powered off.
The XW-P1 will be available in March 2012 for an MSRP of $699.00 and the XW-G1 will be available in April 2012 for an MSRP of $799.00.
Testimony Two is a Christian rock album by multi-instrumentalist Neal Morse. The multifaceted musician is known for his progressive rock projects (Spock’s Beard and Transatlantic) and also his hard rock excursions and born-again Christian albums.
Testimony Two contains an uneven mix of Christian testimonial songs, melodic rock, hard rock and some progressive rock.
Disc 1 begins with the melodic soft rock song ‘Mercy Street’. The next piece titled ‘Overture No. 4’ starts with a promising symphonic rock introduction with admirable keyboard work that is drowned by disruptive heavy metal chords. ‘Time Changer’ is a piece led by powerful bass that features multi-layered vocal parts a la Gentle Giant as well as interesting guitar and violin solos, and epic keyboard passages inspired by early Yes.
The bittersweet ballad ‘Jayda’ is dedicated to Morse’s daughter, who had been diagnosed as having a hole in her heart that required open-heart surgery. The unexpected outcome had a profound effect on Neal Morse, with implications that are reflected throughout the album.
The hard rock cut ‘Nighttime Collectors’ has a ZZ Top feel. ‘Time Has Come Today’ includes great guitar melodies and keyboard work although the tendency to drown it with hard rock makes the piece very patchy.
The rest of Disc 1 contains a series of testimonial ballads, hard rock pieces and the semi-progressive rock track ‘Change of a Lifetime’ where yet again there is a conflict between creative keyboard work and excessive hard rock guitars.
Disc 2 only contains 3 tracks. ‘Absolute Beginner’ will please hard rock fans. ‘Supernatural’ begins in classic symphonic rock fashion, but quickly derives into an AOR ballad.
The best cut on the album is the 25-minute long suite ‘Seed of gold’ which is intended to be the great epic on the album. The first minutes bring back Morse’s progressive rock edge with superb keyboard, bass and guitars. Unfortunately, around minute three the music gets drowned out by heavy metal. Throughout the rest of the suite the music morphs into a piano ballad, hard rock, pop-rock and inspired instrumental parts with fine keyboard and dual guitars. As the piece gets closer to the end, Morse treats the listener to epic guitar hero style solos although close to the very end, the magic is yet again spoiled by the heavy metal nonsense.
The musicians featured on the album include Neal Morse on lead vocals, keyboards, guitars; Mike Portnoy on drums, vocals; Randy George on bass; Matthew Ward on vocals; Paul Bielatowicz on guitar; Steve Morse on guitar; Nick D’Virgilio on vocals, Alan Morse on vocals, Dave Meros on vocals; Eric Brenton on violin, Mark Leniger on saxophone.
Testimony Two has a surprisingly flat recording quality. I’m not sure what they did with the recording and mastering, but surely musicians this veteran could have done much better.
Overall, Testimony Two is a middle of the road album. With some editing and remixing, a full progressive rock album could have come out. Unfortunately, as is, it is a collage of various genres which dilute the most inspired moments.
Element 115 is the debut album by American space rock superband Secret Saucer. The group was formed in 2001 with members from various psychedelic and space rock bands, including Architectural Metaphor, Quarkspace, Star Nation, Nick Riff, Sun Machine, and Blaah.
On Element 115 you will find an excellent collection of instrumental pieces that combine the finest of psychedelic and progressive space rock. The group has carved its own niche, although you can hear influences from space rock pioneers Pink Floyd, Hawkwind and more recent acts like early Porcupine Tree and Ozric Tentacles.
The album was recorded during one long weekend jam. The musicians improvised on dual guitars, lots of synthesizers, bass and drums. However, the mesmerizing combinations of slide and glissando guitars, adequate drums, bass and electronics has cohesion and rich melodic content.
The participants in the album are Paul Williams on synthesizers and drums (Quarkspace, Church of Hed); Greg Kozlowski on guitar and bass (Architectural Metaphor), Jay Swanson on piano, synthesizers (Quarkspace), Steve Taylor on guitar, bass, drums (Star Nation, Sun Machine), Steve Hayes on synthesizers, bass (Star Nation, Sun Machine), Thomas Marianetti on drums, synthesizers (Sun Machine, Nick Riff), Bill Spear on bass (Sun Machine), Dan Schnell on acoustic & electric guitar (Sun Machine), Dave Hess on synthesizers, gliss (Blaahh).
Element 115 is an introduction to one of the finest space rock jam bands in recent times. Secret Saucer has released more albums which will be reviewed in future articles.
British prog bands Credo and Comedy of Errors will be touring the UK together in February 2012. Credo will present music from their successful Against Reason album.
Credo was formed in 1992 by guitarist Tim Birrell, bassist Jim Murdoch, lyricist and keyboard player Mick Stovold, drummer Paul Clark and vocalist Mark Colton. The band played their first live show in Aldershot in April 1992 as Ad Hoc, temporarily changing their name to Chequered Past before settling on ‘Credo’ in 1993.
Credo released their debut album – Field of Vision – in 1994, to some success in the UK and Neo Prog strongholds across Europe. The original intention was just to sell the album at gigs on cassette, but UK label Cyclops approached the band, signed them up and released the album on CD shortly after.
Extensive touring followed, when suddenly Mick Stovold decided to leave the band. His replacement, keyboardist Mike Varty (Landmarq, Shadowland, Janison Edge, Mick Pointer’s Marillion / Script For A Jesters Tour), marked the emergence of the Credo we hear today.
Following a horrific run of bad luck, ill health and assorted disasters, Credo continued with a new drummer, Martin Meads. Their second album titled Rhetoric came out in 2005 on the F2 label. The Rhetoric Tour culminated in a fabulous show in Katowice, Poland that was released as a double live album and DVD – This is What We Do.
Credo’s latest album, Against Reason, was released on 11 April 2011 on the F2 label. The current line-up includes Mark Colton on vocals & percussion, Mike Varty on keyboards & backing vocals, Tim Birrell on electric & acoustic guitars, Martin Meads on drums, Jim Murdoch on bass & backing vocals.
Comedy of Errors
Progressive rock band Comedy of Errors was founded in January 1984 with members coming from in and around the Glasgow area, Scotland. The line-up included vocalist Joe Cairney (vocals), keyboardist Jim Johnston, drummer John MacPhee, guitarist Mike Barnard and bassist Steve Stewart (bass), who was replaced by Mark Spalding. Various lineup changes followed as did the music and eventually the project faded away.
One man however kept faith in the original concept, dropped out of the prog scene completely, stayed in his room, kept writing new material and revising songs and waited…and waited…. It was hoped these mini-rock symphonies would, at some point in the future, see the light of day and find an appreciative audience. And so it was, thanks to those who kept faith in the music, the new incarnation of Comedy Of Errors came to release their debut album Disobey. The line-up on Disobey features original members Joe Cairney (vocals), Jim Johnston (keyboards, guitars), Mark Spalding (guitars, bass and backing vocals. Guersts include Bruce Levick on drums and Hew montgomery on bass.
Thursday 2nd February
Greatfield Swindon, SN4 8EQ Doors 7.00
Friday 3rd February
Pentonville Road, London
Saturday 4th February
The Wesley Centre,
The new single by Danish psychedelic progressive rock band Øresund Space Collective will be available today. Titled “Chased by Space Police” (Prog Sphere Records), the single can be downloaded for free.
The single includes high resolution artwork in PDF, designed specially by Påhl Sundström of Klotet and Villebråd. Chased by the Space Police was recorded during It’s All About Delay session on March 10th-11th, 2006 in the Black Tomato Studios, Copenhagen.
Previously unreleased, this track is a journey through space and far beyond. Starting in a progressive rock manner with Hammond taking a lead it develops further towards more psychedelic space-led sound. Clocking a little over 13 minutes, Chased by the Space Police is a good introduction to what can be expected throughout 2012.
Kazachstán is an excellent new progressive rock band from Ostrava in the Czech Republic, near the Polish border. Although the group cites Pink Floyd as an important influence, they clearly have developed their own sound. Their 2011 titled V hrudi pták means ‘The Bird Cage’ and it combines classic progressive rock with Czech folk and classical music influences. Kazachstán uses unconventional musical instruments such as the evocative kaval flute, as well as solo brass instruments.
All the pieces have a captivating nature, with poetic vocals that take you to different moods and musical worlds. The highlights of the album include the 10:12 minute epic, “Mé duse klid’ featuring outstanding electric guitar, kaval and brass work; the chamber-style ‘Ve tmách’ with an exquisite mix of vocals, acoustic instruments and electric guitar; and the grand finale guitar epic titled ‘Komediant.’
Kazachstán’s line-up includes Robert Hejduk on lead guitar and keyboards; Alan Grézl on acoustic guitar, vocals, and kaval; Jiri Nemecek on brass instruments; George Geršl on drums; and lyricist Jaroslav Žila.
V hrudi pták reveals a thorough knowledge of the finest progressive rock musical forms, with a distinct Czech poetic flavor, full of imagination and emotion.
The Orchestrion is fascinating mix or music and technology. Guitar innovator and musical explorer Pat Metheny demonstrates his ’Orchestrionics, a term he uses to describe “a method of developing ensemble-oriented music using acoustic and acoustoelectric musical instruments that are mechanically controlled in a variety of ways, using solenoids and pneumatics.”
With this project, Pat Metheny took advantage of today’s technology and he developed his own Orchestrion, which includes a large ensemble of acoustic instruments: pianos, drum kit, marimbas, “guitar-bots,” dozens of percussion instruments and even cabinets of carefully tuned bottles. Metheny worked for several months with a talented team of scientists and engineers to develop and assemble the “New Orchestrion” for this project.
“With a guitar, pen or keyboard I am able to create a detailed compositional environment or a spontaneously developed improvisation, with the pieces on this particular recording leaning toward the compositional side of the spectrum,” adds Metheny. “On top of these layers of acoustic sound, I add my conventional electric guitar playing as an improvised component.
Pat Metheny Talks About The Orchestrion
At least for me, this takes the term “solo record” into some new and interesting areas, somewhat recontextualizing the idea of what constitutes a solo performance by a single musician. This project is the result of a lifelong dream in this area that dates back to my early youth.”
RPWL, one of Germany’s most successful progressive rock bands will release its first concept album titled “Beyond Man and Time” in Macrh 2012. The recording is a musical journey through the world outside of Plato’s Cave. Beyond Man and Time will be released in a standard version as well as an exclusive bonus edition that includes an audio book. The album will also be presented live throughout Europe in April 2012.
The protagonist of Beyond Man and Time is on a journey and meets various characters, partly adapted from Zarathustra, as means towards new insight. The basic idea in this is a so-called “revaluation of values” in terms of a new way of thinking. In this world “beyond man and time” there already are creatures of higher knowledge that the protagonist meets allegorically 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 will also be a bonus edition limited to 2,000 copies. This exclusive edition includes an additional audio book that connects the music even more closely to the philosophical approach, plus a topographic map of the new world that is to be explored.
The band from Freising in southern Germany, created musical themes for every single character on “Beyond Man And Time”: Middle Eastern percussion, expanded Moog-soli and an Indian sitar take care of a well-placed, atmospheric and colorful adaptation. The musical journey naturally culminates in a 16-minute epic called “The fisherman”, and ends on a calm and meditative note with “Noon.”
“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.”
Lineup: Yogi Lang on vocals and keyboards; Kalle Wallner on guitars; Markus Jehle on keyboards; Werner Taus on bass; and Marc Turiaux on drums.
Vagalume is the debut album by Spanish progressive rock band Absente H. The group has been around for a few years, developing its concept of symphonic-progressive rock. Absente H is influenced by the classics of the 1970s like Pink Floyd, Yes, Genesis and Camel, and also by newer acts such as Flower Kings and Porcupine Tree.
Despite the previously mentioned influences, Absente H has developed its own sound which is based on epic pieces with engaging vocals, and musical interplay between the guitars, keyboards, flute and violin. If you like mellotron, you will find it used throughout the album. It’s hard to know if it’s a real mellotron or one of the emulators available, but the mesmerizing result is what counts.
The Spanish flavor of Absente H centers on the vocals which are in Spanish and sometimes reminds me of the great Argentine prog groups of the 1970s. David Pérez’s vocals make beautiful combinations with the background vocals of the two female singers. The lyrics cover a wide range of topics, ranging from environmental issues to movie tributes, mythology and timeless Spanish poetry by Rosalía De Castro.
The line-up on Vagalume includes David Pérez on vocals; Juan Pedro Miralles on keyboards; Jesús González on drums; Alfonso Pazos on bass; María José Izquierdo on flute & backing vocals; María Sánchez on violin & backing vocals; and Víctor García on guitars.
Vagalume is an impressive and immediately accessible debut recording by one of the most articulate progressive rock acts in Spain.
Progressive rock, jazz-rock fusion, ambient electronic music and beyond