Moog Releases the Miniataur Bass Synthesizer

Minitaur
Moog Music has announced the release of Minitaur, the newest addition to Moog’s Taurus Bass Synthesizer family. Minitaur is a compact and powerful analog bass synthesizer that features a classic one knob per function layout. It is the first instrument in the Taurus family that does not have foot pedals.

The Minitaur is 21.59 centimeters x 13.3 centimeters (8.5″ x 5.25″) and weighs less than 1.4 kilos (3lbs). It will be introduced at Winter NAMM Booth #5000 at the Anaheim Convention Center, January 19-22, 2012.

The release of Minitaur marks the next chapter in the Taurus family history, by introducing a new form factor, control interface and increased level of accessibility. “The Minitaur has all the growl, snarl and body associated with the Taurus family of bass synthesizers. We’re really excited to be able to offer this in such a compact package that is both immediately playable as an extremely versatile analog synth and also integrates seamlessly into the world of MIDI and USB control environments,” says Cyril Lance, Chief Engineer of Moog Music.

The Taurus Bass Pedals enjoy a nearly 40-year history and have made a seismic effect in the music world since their introduction in the mid-Seventies. “The Taurus opened up so many possibilities for me…it also opened up a whole way of looking at what I do,” says Geddy Lee, of the multi-platinum band Rush.

In 2009, Moog Music released the Taurus 3 Bass Pedals, a modern reinterpretation of the classic Taurus Bass Pedals. The Taurus 3 is currently used by artists such as The Black Keys, Animal Collective, Jean Michel Jarre, Yes, Weezer, Rush, and The Dave Matthews Band.

Since the inception of Moog Music, Bob Moog tested his ideas, instruments and sounds on musicians as a key part of the product development process. In keeping with this tradition, Minitaur has been presented to a broad array of producers, artists and songwriters including Geddy Lee of Rush, techno legend Derrick May, Flying Lotus, Moby and renowned record producer Nick Raskulinecz as a part of the final product development process. The enthusiastic response from these artists marks the beginning of the next generation in the Taurus Bass Synthesizer line.

More information at www.moogmusic.com/products/taurus/minitaur

Memorable Three Friends

Gentle Giant - Three Friends
Gentle Giant

Three Friends (Alucard ALU-GG 034, 2011)

Originally released in 1972, Three Friends belongs to the category of must have progressive rock albums. It was the band’s first concept album, centered on three childhood friends whose lives take them to very different places.

Gentle Giant played a groundbreaking style of music, mixing rock, jazz, classical music, early music and sound experimentation. The remastered version of Three Friends is now available and it is definitely worth acquiring. If you don’t have a really good sound system, you should listen to this album with headphones. It is full of beautiful details and nuances.

What separated Gentle Giant from other groups of their era was their ability to create elaborate musical counterpoints, enchanting call and response vocals, mesmerizing choruses, superb instrumental interplay and the use of a wide range of musical instruments, including some rarely used in rock music, such as the vibraphone.

The line-up on this album includes Kerry Minnear on keyboards, vibraphone, percussion, moog synthesizer, lead vocals; Ray Shulman on bass, violin, string guitar and vocals; Gary Green on guitars, percussion; Derek Shulman on lead vocals; Malcolm Mortimore on drums; and Philip Shulman on saxophones, lead vocals.

Three Friend begins with ‘Prologue,’ an intense piece with outstanding keyboard and bass work, guitar and sax interplay and the unmistaken vocals that characterized Gentle Giant.

‘Schooldays’ is a charming piece that takes the listener to childhood years with guitar and vibraphone, followed by call and response vocals. The second part of the track is a delectable combination of piano, mellotron and evocative vocals, including a guest ‘boy’s voice’ appearance by Calvin, Phil Shulman’s son.

The vibrant ‘Working All Day’ contains a series of counterpoints and skillful sax and bass interplay as well as sumptuous organ and synthesizer.

‘Peel the Paint’ dexterously uses chamber strings, bass and organ. ‘Mister Class and Quality’ presents several layers of counterpoints between bass, guitar and keyboards.

The last piece of the original album is a grand finale titled Three Friends where you’ll find majestic mellotron, organ, guitars and vocals.

This remastered version contains two bonus tracks, a live version of ‘Prologue’ and ’Out-Takes,’ which is a series of studio rehearsals and alternative versions.

The CD version comes in a gatefold digipack with lyrics and a booklet with personal comments by some of the musicians and 1970s photos.

Three Friends is an outstanding album that shows Gentle Giant at their prime. It has aged well and it is an essential album by one of the finest progressive rock bands of all time.

Earth Frequency 2012 Music Lineup Announced

Australian music festival Earth Frequency returns in 2012 with a wide spectrum of music styles, including reggae, dubstep, techno, progressive, world music, psytrance, folk, funk and down-tempo/chill. All genres will sit alongside each other harmoniously in a 4 day mix of music for all tastes.

The diverse line-up of electronic music artists includes Robert Rich, Tipper, Talpa, ill.Gates, Audio Injection, Electrypnose, Janover, Opiuo, Spoonhead, Protonica, Spoonbill, Tetrameth, Kalya Scintilla, Circuit Bent, Suncontrolspecies, Sun:Monx, Sensient, Dysphemic & Miss Eliza Feat MC Heinz, OneTastyMorsel, Sun In Aquarius, Meat Axe, Jigsaw, Mote, Lubdub, Merkaba, Blunt Instrument, bumble, Closer Apart, Goosebumpz, Interval, ShifteQ, Blatwax (Live), Xenoscape, Dusty Fungus, Instrumental Asylum.

The live band line-up includes well established and upcoming acts from the South East Queensland and New South Wales regions: Dubmarine, Kingfisha, Kooii, Wild Marmalade feat Si Fixion, Darky Roots, The Upsteppers, Temple Step Project, Fyah Walk, The Mank, Youngtree, Ali Baba, Mystic Beats, One Dragon Two Dragon, Euphonix, CC the Cat, Lore Crew, Imandan, Lady Abundance Project, Beatrice, Jekks And The Priests of Heka, Pagan Love Cult and Channelfree.

More at: http://www.earthfrequency.com.au

Psychedelia of Distant Lands

In the Labyrinth - One Trail To Heaven
In the Labyrinth

One Trail To Heaven (Trail Records , 2011)

In the Labyrinth is the project of Swedish multi-instrumentalist Peter Lindahl. One Trail To Heaven is a genre-defying compilation of some of his best work along with some previously unreleased recordings and alternate renderings of songs from Peter’s exclusive personal archive.

It’s hard to categorize In the Labyrinth. Although the group is frequently featured in progressive rock publications because of its psychedelic and progressive rock sounds, the band frequently ventures into world music territory, incorporating Indian, Middle Eastern and Celtic music influences and instrumentation.

There are basically three types of pieces on the album. One set contains progressive rock with enchanting mellotron and Floydian electric guitars. There are also songs that are deeply inspired by folk rock and the psychedelic sounds of 1960s British bands. Lastly, there are tracks where Lindahl and his colleague explore distant lands through the use of sitar, saz and many other traditional instruments.

Peter Lindahl provides vocals and plays mellotron, guitars, bass, saz, zither, mandolin, flute, synthesizer, piano, melodeon, viola da gamba, darbuka, daf, percussion, recorders, effects, programming; Håkan Almkvist plays sitar, e-bow guitar, electric bass, table. Guest musicians include Helena Selander on background vocals, Mikael Gejel on sampler and flute, Robert Eklund on archlute, Helena Jacobssen on background vocals, Stefan Andersson on electric bass, guitar & slide guitar; Kristina Fuentes on background vocals, Karin Langhard-Gejel on background vocals, Ulf Hansson on darbuka, and Marcos Chagallo on violin.

One Trail To Heaven is a wonderful record that skillfully brings together classic progressive rock, psychedelic music and the traditional sounds of the world.

Digital download version

Progressive rock Legends Pink Floyd to Release Immersion and Experience Editions of The Wall

EMI Records announced today that they will release Immersion and Experience editions of Pink Floyd’s The Wall, the masterpiece by bassist Roger Waters. This is the final episode of the recent ‘Why Pink Floyd?‘ reissues and extended releases. The Wall remains Pink Floyd’s biggest-selling album after 1973’s celebrated The Dark Side Of The Moon.

The Wall ‘Immersion‘ 7-disc set features a DVD with a film clip from the 1980 tour and a ‘Behind The Wall’ documentary, plus, for the first time, CDs of excerpts from Roger Waters’ original demos and work-in-progress versions of songs on the final album. Additionally, among these previously unheard versions are David Gilmour’s original demos of “Comfortably Numb” and “Run Like Hell.” The Immersion box set also includes The Wall Live, compiled from the 1980-1981 original tour.

Both ‘The Wall’ Immersion box set and Experience edition include a rare recording of “Another Brick In The Wall Part 1.” A highlight for fans, this demo showcases the evolution of the final track. Additionally, “The Doctor” explores the origins of the landmark track “Comfortably Numb,” giving further insight into Pink Floyd’s early demo recordings.

About The Wall

In 1978, after finishing Pink Floyd’s Animals stadium tour, Roger Waters devised the concept for the album ‘The Wall.’ The album is a partly autobiographical story about a fictional rock star named Pink looking back at his early life and reflecting on the nature of fame and success.

Waters presented his band mates David Gilmour, Richard Wright and Nick Mason with an extensive demo of songs. Pink Floyd recorded their eleventh album ‘The Wall’ throughout 1979 in France, New York and Los Angeles, assisted by co-producer, Bob Ezrin and engineer, James Guthrie.

An adjunct to the sessions was the famous addition of a group of students from London’s Islington Green School, who recorded their backing vocals (“We don’t need no education…”) on “Another Brick In The Wall, Part 2” at Pink Floyd’s own Britannia Row Studios in London. This became the world’s introduction to the album with the release of its first single, an instant success, accompanied by a promotional film which included several of the groundbreaking images from the story, including Gerald Scarfe’s brilliantly realized marching hammers.

The Wall was originally released in November 1979. It topped the album charts in the US, France, Germany, Sweden and Australia. “Another Brick In The Wall, Part 2” – Pink Floyd’s first UK single since 1968 – became a Number 1 hit, selling more than one million copies within weeks of its release.
Between 1980 and 1981, Pink Floyd gave 31 performances of The Wall in the US, UK and Germany. It was an impressive show that included a 40-foot wall, constructed, brick by brick, across the front of the stage during the performance.

In 2010 and 2011 Roger Waters toured a new production of The Wall to huge international acclaim. He was joined onstage in May 2011 at London’s 02 Arena by guitarist David Gilmour and drummer Nick Mason. He continues to tour in the Southern Hemisphere and North America in 2012.

Pink Floyd: ‘The Wall’ Immersion box set, Experience edition and Collectors 180g 2LP Vinyl edition will be released February 28, 2012 through EMI. The 2CD remastered Discovery edition is out now.

Progressive Rock Festival OhioProg 2012 Canceled

In a press release distributed today, organizers of progressive rock festival OhioProg 2012 announced the cancellation of the event.

OhioProg 2012 turned to crowd funding platform to make tickets available for the 3-day progressive rock festival in an attempt to ensure enough people would attend to cover the costs and expenses of holding such a grand event,” said the press release.

The deadline for the Kickstarter campaign was January 2, 2012. Only 60 tickets pledged. Organizers needed aproximately 400-450 tickets pledged at the various levels to reach the funding goal.

The festival adopted Kickstarter’s project criteria which is all-or-nothing funding. Since the goal was not reached, OhioProg 2012 has been canceled. In addition, since funding on Kickstarter is all or nothing, all pledges have been automatically canceled.

We thank the many that did pledge and committed to attending the festival,” said the organizers. “The support meant a lot. We’d also like to thank those at the Canton Palace Theatre and those in the Canton area who have been very gracious to our staff and efforts. And of course all of the bands who were invited to perform at OhioProg 2012, we thank you for believing in our event.”

To join the OhioProg mailing list to be notified of future related events visit the OhioProg website at www.ohioprog.com.

Enchanting Potions

Ben Craven - Great & Terrible Potions
Ben Craven

Great & Terrible Potions (Desert Comb music DC1006, 2011)

With his second album, Australian singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Ben Craven enters the progressive rock arena in grand style. His new album titled Great & Terrible Potions immediately catches your attention. The artwork is by the great album designer Roger Dean, the artist that designed the legendary covers for Yes, Uriah Heep and Greenslade. In this case, Dean’s fantasy artwork incorporates an Australian feel.

Great & Terrible Potions is an ambitious album and Craven clearly pulls it off. He has that rare ability of being a great instrumentalist and composer at the same time. And Craven also plays all the musical instruments featured in the album.

Great & Terrible Potions begins with a beautiful yet ominous piano and keyboards track titled “Diabolique”. The instrumental piece grows more dramatic with the incorporation of powerful bass, drums and Keith Emerson-style organ.

“Nobody Dies Forever Part 1” is a fine rock song with a guitar solo at the end. It segues into ambient synths, distant sounds and a choir that morph into an excellent bluesy Pink Floydian-guitar that builds into an epic piece.

On “Ready to Lose”, Craven brings out the acoustic guitar. The folk style guitar and vocals transforms into a synth and electric guitar-driven neoprog rocker with more captivating guitar solo work.

“The Conjurer” brings back the acoustic piano in an anthemic piece that blends piano with delightful slide guitar evoking the sounds of David Gilmour. It builds into another superb guitar solo.

Ben Craven - Photo by Michelle Aziz
The next cut is “No specific Harm,” the great epic in the album. Craven combines majestic keyboards with Arabic sounding soaring electric guitar. The suite is set in ancient Egypt and Craven’s music takes the listener to this ancient world with his skillful cinematic compositions. Craven also shows here that he’s a respectable arranger, making transitions that flow naturally.

“Solace” is the calm after the storm. It’s a beautiful acoustic guitar and keyboards instrumental track that also grows into epic electric guitar.

“Nobody Dies Forever Part 2” is a short reprise of Part 1 that takes you into a simpler world.

“Great & Terrible Potions” begins as a vocals and piano ballad which adds more of the tasty slide guitar. It turns into a full blown symphonic rock fest with several layers of keyboards and electric guitar.

The album includes three bonus tracks. They are single-length edits of three songs, Ready to Lose, Nobody Dies Forever, and No specific Harm, intended for radio airplay.

Another bonus is the CD booklet which unfolds into a stunning mini-poster designed by Roger Dean.

Great & Terrible Potions is an outstanding album by one of the emerging talents in the progressive rock field.

CD (North America)

Digital Download (North America)

CD (Europe)

Video of the Week: Ochimini by Sintesis

Sintesis
This week’s video takes us to Cuba. Sintesis is a legendary progressive rock group that has been around since the 1970s. Síntesis was formed in 1975 as Cuba’s first progressive rock band. Their first incarnation combined influences from British progressive rock classics such as Genesis and Yes with Cuban folk music and nueva trova. Throughout the years, Sintesis changed line-up and evolved into a band that fuses progressive rock and jazz with Afro-Cuban music.

Since the 1980s, Síntesis is led by singer,bassist and composer Carlos Alfonso, a former member of the legendary Cuban fusion jazz band Irakere. The current version of the band features Carlos Alfonso on bass, guitar and vocals; his wife Ele Valdés, the original singer and keyboardist from the 1970s version of Síntesis; Madonna Alfonso on vocals; composer Esteban Puebla on keyboards and guitar; Michael Olivera Garcia on Cuban percussion; and Andrei Martinez on guitars.

On the Ochimini video, Sintesis is joined by the Conjunto Folklorico Nacional of Cuba (Cuban National Folk Ensemble).

Ochimini appears on the album Trilogía Ancestros Vol. III and also on Yoruba Celebration.

As an added bonus, watch the live version of the song Itewere which features (brief) superb keyboard work by Esteban Puebla.

CD

Digital version

Electronic Brewing in the Ardennes

Ron Boots & Synth.nl - Refuge en verre
Ron Boots & Synth.nl

Refuge en Verre (Groove Unlimited, 2010)

Refuge en Verre is collaboration between two of the leading synthesists in The Netherlands: Michel van Osenbruggen (a.k.a. synth.nl) and Ron Boots. Refuge en Verre combines exquisite melodic and downtempo atmospheric electronic music with trance-like pulsating loops generated by sequencers.

This is the first album the two musicians made together. “We first met at a Synthesizer Meeting organized by the Dutch ‘Synth Forum’ in 2006 where we started talking about synthesizers and synthesizer music and found out that we shared the same fascinations,” says Ron Boots.

Michel van Osenbruggen and Ron Boots became good friends and so did their wives and children. Refuge en Verre was conceived in Belgium while on vacation. “In 2010 our wives decided to rent a house together in the Belgian Ardennes for a weekend,” says Boots. “We both brought a synthesizer and a laptop and tried to make music together for the first time and that went very well actually. We recorded quite some tracks there. After the weekend we decided that we should release this music on CD. So we started on finishing the music together when we got back in our own studios.”

The title of the album, Refuge en Verre, comes from the name of the house the two families rented in the French-speaking part of Belgium. “We got the inspiration for the music we played from the beautiful nature in the Belgian Ardennes and the nice time we had with our families over there,” adds Boots. “Most of the tracks were played live as improvisations in the temporary studio that we created in the rented house.”

Refuge en Verre is an inspiringly detailed electronic music work that showcases some of the best talent in the European space music scene.

CD

Digital version

Fusion for Tony Williams

Holdsworth, Pasqua, Haslip, Wackerman - Blues for Tony
Holdsworth, Pasqua, Haslip, Wackerman

Blues for Tony
(Moonjune Records MJR029, 2009)

This 2-CD set brings together four of fusion music’s heavy weights: guitarist Allan Holdsworth, keyboardist Alan Pasqua, bassist Jimmy Haslip, and drummer Chad Wackerman. Blues for Tony was recorded during a 2007 tour which celebrated the work of legendary 1970s fusion band the New Tony Williams Lifetime. Holdsworth, and Pasqua were members of the the New Tony Williams Lifetime in the 1970s. for this project they recruited Yellowjackets bassist Jimmy Haslip and reputable jazz and rock drummer Chad Wackerman.

Throughout the two discs, the four musicians exhibit their technical virtuosity and improvisational ability as they navigate the waters of electric jazz, rock, blues and funk.

Disc 1 contains ‘Blues for Tony’ which is led by Pasqua’s signature keyboard work. The second track is ‘The Fifth.’ This is the only piece composed by drummer Chad Wackerman and he adds swing to the mix. ‘It Must Be Jazz’ was co-written by the 4 musicians, who contribute multiple variations and unexpected turns. The rest of disc 1 contains pieces by Allan Holdsworth: his classic ‘Fred’ from the New Tony Williams Lifetime’s 1975 album Believe It, the guitar solo on ‘Guitar Intro’ and another classic titled ‘Pud Wud’ from the solo album Sand.

Disc 2 begins with more focus on the electric guitar by way of the Allan Holdsworth composition titled ‘Looking Glass’, from his 1985 album Atavachron. The next three pieces turn the attention to Pasqua’s outstanding keyboard work. He penned the solo piano piece ‘To Jaki, George and Thad’, the Mahavishnu-influenced ‘San Michele’ where Pasqua and Holdsworth provide fascinating interplay, and ‘Protocosmos.’ The album ends with ‘Red Alert,’ a funk fusion piece composed by Tony Williams Lifetime bassist Tony Newman which appeared in the 1975 album Believe It.

Drummer Tony Williams was one of the pioneers of jazz rock fusion. He played with Miles Davis, John McLaughlin, Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter, Wayne Shorter, and many other great musicians. His bands The Tony Williams Lifetime and The New Tony Williams Lifetime were musical nurseries for many musicians who later became well respected soloists and sessions musicians.

Blues for Tony is an outstanding set of virtuosic live performances by Allan Holdsworth, Alan Pasqua, Jimmy Haslip, and Chad Wackerman, four of the finest fusion musicians in the current music scene.

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