The Neal Morse Band Powerhouse Live

The Neal Morse Band – The Similitude of a Dream: Live in Tilburg 2017 (Radiant, 2018)

The Similitude of a Dream: Live in Tilburg 2017 is a four disc set with two audio CDs and two DVDs featuring the powerhouse progressive rock act The Neal Morse Band. The band did a worldwide tour in 2017 and this performance in Tilburg (The Netherlands) is a live presentation of the concept studio album The Similitude of a Dream that was released in 2016.

On The Similitude of a Dream: Live in Tilburg 2017 you’ll find five outstanding instrumentalists. The music is a combination of epic progressive rock, classic rock and Christian ballads. The instrumental passages are top notch, with brilliant ensemble and solo work and the climactic sections that progressive rock fans enjoy so much. The vocal parts, on the other hand, are catchy, with plenty of pop hooks and sing along sections.

Religion plays an important role in Neal Morse’s life. The Similitude of a Dream is loosely based on a Christian allegory by John Bunyan called The Pilgrim’s Progress. This means that you’ll find Christian lyrics and messages throughout the album. I don’t think Neal Morse is trying to push any agenda, it is just a reflection of his current stage in life.

The lineup includes Neal Morse on lead vocals, keyboards, and guitars; Mike Portnoy on drums and vocals; Randy George on bass, bass pedals and vocals; Bill Hubauer on keyboards, mandolin, saxophone and vocals; and Eric Gillette on guitars and vocals.

The set is also available on Blu-Ray and digital download audio.

 

 

Buy The Similitude of a Dream: Live in Tilburg 2017

The Art Rock of Laura Meade

Laura Meade – Remedium (Doone Records, 2018)

Remedium is the first solo album by singer-songwriter Laura Meade, the IZZ vocalist. While IZZ plays progressive rock, Remedium is an elaborate album that incorporates theatrical, experimental and accessible avant-garde influences.

 

 

Laura Meade demonstrates her talent as a songwriter and vocalist with beautifully-constructed songs in which she uses a wide-range of meaningful vocal techniques and overdubs. She’s joined by her colleagues from IZZ on keyboards, guitars, bass, drums and electronic beats who occasionally add some progressive rock instrumental moments.

 

 

Remedium showcases the music of a superb vocalist who explores sounds beyond the tired mainstream.

Buy Remedium

Spock’s Beard for the Masses

Spock’s Beard – Noise Floor (InsideOut Records, 2018)

American rock band Spock’s Beard is still described as a progressive rock band. However, their new double album Noise Floor is not what you would expect from a progressive rock band.

The opening track, “To Breathe Another Day”, gives you a pretty good preview of what the album is about. It’s hard rock with pop hooks, pretty much AOR. The only prog rock is the outstanding work by keyboardist Ryo Okumoto, who injects intricate keyboard solos and atmospheres.

Track 2, “What Becomes of Me” is a pop ballad where Ryo Okumoto shines again and Alan Morse delivers a great guitar solo. The next song, “Somebody’s Home” combines AOR with progressive rock segments.

The longest song is “Have We All Gone Crazy Yet.” It’s a mix of hard rock with progressive rock. The prog parts kick in halfway through the track and the listener gets treated to superb keyboard instrumental work.

Track 5 “So This is Life” is sappy and sounds a lot like the Beatles, although Spock’s Beard are much better instrumentalists.

On “One So Wise, it’s more AOR with pop hooks. Superb bass lines from Dave Meros; and mellotron, organ and synth work from Ryo Okumoto.

“Box of Spiders” is an instrumental, composed by Ryo Okumoto. Without the vocals, the band switches to full, satisfactory progressive rock mode. The listener is treated to spectacular work from all instrumentalists. The band should form a prog rock side project and leave Spock’s Beard to AOR, hard rock and ballads.

 

 

Disc 1 ends with the anthemic hard rock “Beginnings,” featuring pop hooks.

Disc 2, titled Cutting Room Floor contains four short tracks. The first three are forgettable AOR songs. The only keeper is the last track, a great instrumental titled “Armageddon Nervous,” where the musicians get yet another opportunity to shine.

The current incarnation of Spock’s Beard includes Ted Leonard on lead vocals; Alan Morse on electric and acoustic guitars, backing vocals; Ryo Okumoto on keyboards; and Dave Meros on bass guitar, backing vocals.

Guests include Nick D’Virgilio on drums and percussion, backing vocals; Eric Gorfain on violin; Leah Katz on viola; Richard Dodd on cello; and David Robertson on English horn.

The star on Noise Floor, from a progressive rock perspective, is Ryo Okumoto. It would be great to see him collaborate more often with like-minded progressive rock instrumentalists.

 

 

Buy Noise Floor

The Extraordinary Indonesian Progressive Jazz of Dwiki Dharmawan

Dwiki Dharmawan – Rumah Batu (Moonjune, 2018)

A group of superb musicians from the jazz fusion and world music scenes got together in La Casa Murada studio in northeastern Spain in 2017. What they recorded is Rumah Batu, an extraordinary genre defying album that combines progressive jazz, Indonesian music, flamenco and other influences.

Indonesian pianist, composer and producer Dwiki Dharmawan is an acclaimed maestro, known for his eclectic music work and openness. In La Casa Murada, he was joined by a stellar group of musical colleagues: Vietnamese-French electric guitar wizard and note-bending innovator Nguyên Lê; famed Spanish flamenco fretless bass player Carles Benavent (Paco de Lucia’s bass player); and the formidable rhythm section of UK-based bassist Yaron Stavi and drummer Asaf Sirkis.

Although most of the album was recorded in Spain, additional musicians were recorded in Indonesia, adding a strong Southeast Asian essence to the album: Indonesian suling flute virtuoso Sa’at Syah; Ade Rudiana on kendang percussion; Dewi Gita on lead vocals; Teuku Hariansya & Indra Maulana Keubitbit on Rapa’I Acehnese percussions; Nyoman Windha’s Gamelan Jass Jegog Balinese gamelan and percussion; and Smit on vocals and LaLove traditional Sulawesi flute.

Although the majority of the album is instrumental, track three features the mesmerizing and evocative vocals of Dewi Gita.

 

 

Rumah Batu is an exceptionally expressive and imaginative album featuring an impeccable kaleidoscope of jazz and Indonesian sounds.

Buy Rumah Batu

Stick Men Announces Latin American Tour

Progressive rock musicians Tony Levin, Markus Reuter, Pat Mastelotto plus David Cross will be touring Latin America in 2018. The celebrated progressive music artists will perform in Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Mexico, Peru, Bolivia and Guatemala. For David Cross, these will be his first live concerts ever in Latin America outside of Brazil, where he recently played with local progressive group Dialeto.

David Cross is the well-known violinist from King Crimson between 1972 and 1974. Stick Men features virtuoso touch-style guitarist Markus Reuter, drummer Pat Mastelotto and Chapman Stickist Tony Levin.

Stick Men – Prog Noir

Stick Men’s most recent album is Prog Noir. David Cross’s most recent collection is Being Cross and the double album Midori where David and Stick Men first collaborated.

Tour Dates

Aug 24, Fri – São Paulo, SP, Brazil (Club Carioca)
Aug 25, Sat – Niteroi, Rio De Janeiro, RJ, Brazil (Teatro Municipal) 2 shows
Aug 28, Tue – San Miguel de Tucumán, Argentina (Teatro Alberdi)
Aug 30, Thu – Mar Del Plata, Argentina (Teatriz)
Aug 31, Fri – Buenos Aires, Argentina (ND Teatro)
Sept 1, Sat – Rosario, Argentina (Vorterix)
Sept 3, Mon – Montevideo, Uruguay (Las Trastienda Club)
Sept 5, Wed – Cordoba, Argentina (Teatro del Libertador San Martín)
Sept 6, Thu – Santiago, Chile (Teatro Nescafé de las Artes)
Sept 8, Sat – Lima, Peru (Teatro Municipal)
Sept 13, Thu – Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia (Teatro Centro Boliviano Americano)
Sept 14, Fri – La Paz, Bolivia (Teatro 16 de Julio)
Sept 18, Tue – Guatemala City, Guatemala (Teatro Lux)
Sept 19, Wed – San Salvador, El Salvador (venue TBA)
Sept 20, Thu – Escazú, San José, Costa Rica (Jazz Café)
Sept 23, Sun – Mexico City, Mexico (Centro Cultural Robert Cantoral)
Sept 24, Mon – Monterrey, Mexico (Escena Monterrey)

Brainticket’s Live Spontaneous Electronic Music

Brainticket – Zürich / Lausanne

Brainticket – Zürich / Lausanne (Purple Pyramid, 2018)

Brainticket was one of the great Swiss progressive music acts of the 1970s. The double album Zürich / Lausanne features a set of live experimental performances where electronic music meets jazz improvisation and avant-garde sound experimentation.

This set of recordings were made in the 1980s and feature Joel Vandroogenbroeck on synths and electronics; Bruno Spoerri on lyricon and electronics; and Markus Fürst on percussion.

This was the year when the MIDi was introduced and the concert was part performance, part exhibition of the capacity of new technology. The final result is a fine example of live improvised electronic music from the mid-1980s.

Buy Zürich / Lausanne

Soyuz Inspiration

Gazpacho – Soyuz

Gazpacho – Soyuz (KScope, 2018)

Norwegian band Gazpacho is described as a progressive rock band, although their style is closer to minimalist post rock, with a strong melancholic and gloomy feel.

Soyuz’s better moments are the electronic beats, ambient soundscapes and trance-like guitars.

The lineup includes Jan Henrik Ohme on vocals; Jon-Arne Vilbo on guitars; Thomas Andersen on keyboards; Mikael Krømer on violin and mandolin; Kristian Torp on bass; and Lars Erik Asp on drums.

Buy Soyuz

Juno Reactor Releases Dancing-Robot Futurism Video “Let’s Turn On”

Electronic Dance Music (EDM) masters Juno Reactor have released a music video of the song “Let’s Turn On” that appears in its new album titled The Mutant Theatre.

The video features illuminated bodies in motion, suits of LEDs and lasers and reflective surfaces, in perfect sync with the wave of trance beats and bass synth growls.

The performers are the members of the Mutant Theatre, a collective of dancers, singers, and instrumentalists who have been dazing audiences with Juno Reactor since 2016.

InsideOutMusic Announces Spock’s Beard and Roine Stolt’s The Flower King’s Winter 2018 Tour

The InsideOutMusic label that has released some of the best-selling progressive rock acts in recent years, will be celebrating its 25th anniversary with a tour by two of its best-known artists, Spock’s Beard and Roine Stolt’s The Flower King’s.

Spock’s Beard said: “It will be a co-bill with Roine Stolt’s The Flower King’s revisited band, so each show promises to be a great evening of music. We’ve been getting a lot of questions about who will be playing drums on this tour, so at this time let me introduce our new touring drummer, Mr. Mike Thorne, from Saga! We are really excited to have him on board and are looking forward to seeing you on tour.”

Roine Stolt adds: “Asked to put together a band to go on the road, celebrate our label InsideOut’s 25 year anniversary; I was thinking of the ‘treasure’ that is the music I wrote for The Flower Kings during that same period. I felt compelled to bring out this music for yet another round and in the process bring in some old friends and some new.

The music is universal; some songs timeless and by November I hope to have an exciting set-list to not only celebrate my 1st album and the origin of all things “The Flower King” but to cover the rest of TFK’s history and eventually a new tune and a few new faces. Tune up the engine. Time to prog!”

InsideOut released a boxed with first set of The Flower Kings albums titled ‘Kingdom Of Colours (1995-2002)’ and has just released the second boxed set with the more recent albums: Kingdom Of Colours II (2004-2013).

Tour dates in 2018:

30th November – Cosmopolite, Oslo, Norway
1st December – Kulturhuset Studion, Stockholm, Sweden
2nd December – KB, Malmo, Sweden
4th December – Zeche, Bochum, Germany
5th December – Z7, Pratteln, Switzerland
6th December – La Machine, Paris, France
7th December – De Boerderij, Zoetermeer, Netherlands
8th December – Hedon, Zwolle, Netherlands
9th December – Islington Assembly Hall, London, UK
10th December – Academy Club, Manchester, UK

Colosseum Drummer Jon Hiseman Dies at 73

British musician and producer Jon Hiseman who founded seminal British progressive rock and jazz-rock bands Colosseum, Tempest and Colosseum II died June 12, 2018.

Philip John “Jon” Hiseman was born June 21, 1944 in Manchester, England. He studied piano and violin as a child. However, he became passionately interested in percussion during his early teens.
From 1969 to 1978 he led three groundbreaking jazz-rock groups: Colosseum, Tempest and Colosseum II.

He later recorded several albums with his wife, saxophonist Barbara Thompson.

Jon Hiseman released a solo album titled ‘A Night In The Sun’ with a band led by Márcio Montarroyos, made in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 1982.

In 1994 Colosseum got together again. The reformed group released a live reunion album and a new studio recording, ‘Bread and Circuses’ in 1997, followed ‘Tomorrows Blues’ (2003) and ‘Time On Our Side’ (2014).

Martyn Hansen wrote about about Hiseman titled ‘Playing The Band – the musical life of Jon Hiseman’, published in 2011.

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