Tag Archives: featured

Renaissance Announces Tour and New DVD “Live at The Union Chapel”

Influential progressive symphonic rock Renaissance has announced the release of a new DVD Live at The Union Chapel, videotaped at The Union Chapel in London UK on April 16, 2015 by Paul Green Productions, with lighting by Russell ‘Tigger’ Matthews.

Renaissance is led by legendary vocalist Annie Haslam. The DVD includes favorite classics as “Carpet of the Sun”, “Ocean Gypsy”, “Mother Russia”, “Ashes are Burning” and newer pieces “Symphony of Light” and “Grandine il Vento.” The DVD is NTSC all-region, with LPCM stereo and Dolby Digital surround audio tracks. A Blu-Ray version is planned in 2016.

In support of this new DVD, Renaissance will be touring the United States and United Kingdom. The current lineup of Renaissance includes Annie Haslam on lead vocals, Rave Tesar on keyboards, Tom Brislin on keyboards, Mark Lambert on acoustic guitars, Leo Traversa on bass, and Frank Pagano on drums.

Watch the DVD trailer:

Tour Dates

USA
Feb 12 – The Birchmere – Alexandria, VA – tickets
Feb 13 – Keswick Theatre – Glenside, PA – tickets
Feb 19 – The Newton Theatre – Newton, NJ – tickets
Feb 26 – Renaissance on the Moody Blues Cruise Miami, FL – tickets

UK
(dates April 17 through 26 with Curved Air)

April 14 – Trading Boundaries – Fletching
April 15 – Trading Boundaries – Fletching
April 17 – Opera House – Buxton
April 18 – The Stables – Milton Keynes
April 19 – Robin 2 – Wolverhampton
April 20 – Academy – Newcastle
April 21 – ABC – Glasgow
April 24 – Academy – Bournemouth
April 26 – Shepherds Bush Empire – London

Tundra Jazz

Oddjob – Folk (Caprice, 2015)

Swedish jazz-rock band Oddjob has recreated traditional folk songs related to herding and transformed them into contemporary jazz pieces. There are barely any visible folk music elements aside from the brief field recordings of herding calls.

The music resolves around the outstanding fiery interplay between the trumpet, saxophone and piano supported by creative drumming and bass lines. There are also exquisite laid back occasions like tracks 3 and 7, titled simply “Folk #3” and “Folk #7”.

The lineup includes Peter Forss on acoustic bass, Per “Ruskträsk” Johansson on saxophones, bass clarinet and alto flute; Goran Kajfes on trumpet and modular synthesizer; Daniel Karlsson on grand piano and Crumar organ; and Janne Robertsson on drums.

Oddjob delivers beautifully crafted jazz pieces inspired by traditional folk music.

Buy Folk

Interview with Chronotope Project

Dawn Treader by Chronotope Project is one of the best electronic music releases of 2015. Progressive Rock Central talks to multi-instrumentalist and composer Jeffrey Ericson Allen, the artist behind the project.

Why did you name your current endeavor Chronotope Project?

The term “chronotope” was coined by the Russian philologist Mikhail Bakhtin, from the Greek words for time (chronos) and space (topos), and refers to their confluence in works of art and literature. It felt like an ideal descriptor for the music I compose, which has strong reference points to spiritual, literary and mythological/ archetypal memes. There is an additional sense of the transcendence of space and time, an endeavor to discover and express the universal which lies behind particulars.

Chronotope Project studio
Chronotope Project studio

What drew you to music?

I’ve been a musician all of my life, starting at the age of eight, when I began cello studies with my grandfather. When I was young, there was always music playing in my family home, mostly classical. I longed to know where it came from, what it was, how I could be a part of it. I cannot remember a time when my head was not filled with melodies, rhythms, and musical gestures. Although I am also dedicated to language, philosophy and literature, music begins where words fail, emotionally moving, intellectually stimulating, connecting directly with the body. Music is my lifetime lover, an unfailingly inspiring muse, the water in which I swim.

What do you consider as the essential elements of your music?

My style, while still falling roughly into the ambient or space music genre, might more accurately be described as “contemplative art music.” Form figures more prominently in my work than in the generally more diffuse, stream-of-consciousness pieces of my fellow ambient composers (not a criticism–I love much of this type of music as a listener). You can find many classical forms present in my work: theme and variation, passacaglia, rondo, sonata. Increasingly, I have been tightening up on form and relying less on pure texture or ambience.

In my current phase of creative work, I am making pieces with relatively complex, almost orchestral textures. As to elements, there is frequently an underlying sequenced ostinato figure, an element of “fire,” scintillation or almost molecular quickening. This lends some suggestion of the Berlin School style to the work.

The “earth” element (besides its selective appearance in acoustic and sampled percussion) is established with a foundation in the bass, presented either with a layered drone or a bass line suggesting the underlying harmonic progression. This may be felt as a slowly undulating shift or oscillation between stable and unstable tones of the tonic.

Harmonic sonorities floating over these bass tones, painted with various layered pads, are frequently colored with suspended fourth or unresolved seventh and ninth chords. These kinds of harmonies evoke mystery, and a feeling of searching or longing in the composition.

My melodic lines commonly develop in very long, slow phrases, with substantial “breathing” between them. A second or third line often plays in counterpoint, weaving common melodic motifs in dialogue with the central melodic voice. These constitute, together, what I think of as the “water” or emotional element to the piece.

The element of air or ether appears with the atmospheric textures that surround and permeate all of these other layers. These textures vary from natural soundscapes, such as wind and water, to more abstract synthetic ambient sounds that identify the work in the ambient electronic genre.

Jeffrey Allen
Jeffrey Allen

Who can you cite as your main musical influences?

Individual composers who have been deeply influential include Erik Satie, Klaus Schulze, Brian Eno, Robert Rich, Maurice Ravel, Arvo Pärt, Ralph Towner, and J.S. Bach. Various world music traditions have also informed much of my music making, including Indian raga, traditional Japanese music, West African rhythms, and Balinese gamelan, to name a few. Over the years, I have made a fairly considerable study of musical scales and modes as they appear both in Western and non-Western musics, and these inform a good deal of my compositions.

Tell us about your first recordings and your musical evolution.

An early acoustic /electronic album was “Vanish into Blue” (1992). This eclectic album bridged new acoustic, world and space music styles, and featured acoustic cello, sax, tabla, and silver flute as well as an array of electronic instruments. It was featured several times on Hearts of Space and received very favorable reviews. I composed for, arranged and recorded two albums with the acoustic ensemble Confluence, “Sanctuary: Romances for Guitar and Cello,” and “Amber Moon.”

While these albums also involved a certain amount of synthesizer sweetening, they were primarily acoustic. I played cello, recorders and keyboards on these albums. I also gained some facility with production techniques and mixing, as I was the primary recording engineer on these projects.

An acoustic / electronic CD of music I composed for the mask drama The Descent of Inanna appeared in 1998. This was an exploration into mythological / archetypal imagery that has become a persistent theme throughout my later work.

As Chronotope Project, I released four albums prior to signing with Spotted Peccary Music: “Solar Winds,” “Chrysalis,” “Event Horizon” and “Dharma Rain.” All of these recordings are available through CD Baby and Bandcamp, and continue to receive periodic airplay.

These albums have traced a progression from more traditional space music to the more eclectic and classically inspired style of the present, involving increasingly subtle use of texture, more counterpoint and other classical forms and procedures, and a more unified personal style.

Do you ever take your music to the stage or is Chronotope Project a studio concept?

At this point in time, Chronotope Project is strictly a studio-oriented proposition. Given the number of simultaneous tracks involved, I would be hard-pressed to recreate any of my compositions on stage. I won’t discount the possibility of another incarnation of my work that more readily permits of live performance, but for the moment, no real-time presentations are being offered.

 

Chronotope Project - Dawn Treader (Spotted Peccary Music, 2015)
Chronotope Project – Dawn Treader (Spotted Peccary Music, 2015)

 

You play acoustic and electronic music instruments. What instruments do you play and which do you like best?

Cello is my primary instrument, and will always be my first love in music. Ironically, it has played–thus far–a fairly limited role in Chronotope Project. I have a beautiful 1917 Steinway grand piano, which I love to play, and study regularly with a teacher. I also have a nice collection of flutes, recorders and Irish whistles, which do figure prominently in recent recorded works, as well as a Japanese thirteen string koto, the long zither which appears on one track (“Basho’s Journey”) on “Dawn Treader.”

I play a variety of hand percussion instruments, including djembe, frame drum, dumbek and the very versatile hybrid acoustic / electronic Korg Wavedrum.

Bells,Tibetan bowls, zils and chimes are also an important part of my acoustic toolkit, as I prize their crystalline tone and quality. I have been making increased use of the 24-stringed harpejji, an instrument akin to the lap steel guitar, played primarily by tapping on its frets. That instrument figures prominently in several releases to come.

Continuum and harpejji
Continuum and harpejji

What type of keyboards did you use at the beginning of your career?

My first electronic keyboards, acquired in the early 80s, were a Sequential Circuits Six-Trak, an Arp 2600 analog synthesizer, and a little later, a Korg T1 workstation (the only one of these vintage instruments I retain). I learned something from each of them, including elementary sound design, and each afforded me many hours of exploration and discovery. The Arp, in particular, required me to learn the basics of analog synthesis, as sounds are built up by connecting various modules with patch cords and adjusting knobs and sliders.

When digital synthesizers supplanted analog synths, something was gained and something lost, and the current renaissance in modular analog synthesis reflects a recognition of the remarkable versatility of these instruments.

When I have more cash on hand, I plan to put together my own modular rig. It’s tremendous fun, and appeals to my nerdy side, but the primarily, it’s the rich palette of analog sound that appeals to me now.

What keyboards are you currently using? Do you still have some of your earlier keyboards?

My flagship synthesizer is the Haken Continuum Fingerboard, which features a soft neoprene continuous-pitch playing surface and lends the possibility of much expressiveness to synthesizer performances. It is prominently featured on all of my recordings as Chronotope Project. But these days, most of my “keyboards” are virtual instruments, of which I have a great many. I do keep the Korg T1 mostly for its lovely weighted action, as well as a Yamaha S90ES, which also has a good feel, and many useful sounds as well. A Roland JV-1010 sound module provides a large variety of sounds and samples, and until just recently, I used an Oberheim Matrix-1000 for analog fattening.

And what type of effects or other electronic devices do you use?

All of my effects, too numerous to mention, are virtual now–no outboard reverbs, delays or compressors are in my rig. I do enjoy using a Korg “Kaosilator Pro” as a midi controller for various purposes, and employ a number of iPad apps as well.

How do you see the progressive electronic music scene in the United States?

It’s a mixed bag–both in terms of quality of work and diversity of style–and with the wide availability of outstanding production platforms and instruments, the various genres involved (IDM, ambient, electronic art music, etc.) are likely to diverge to the point at which the only thing they share is some of the means of production. It’s very hard to get perspective on something that is changing so rapidly, but it is an exciting time to be involved in electronic music.

Commercial radio and the mainstream music press ignore most electronic music except for electronic pop. How do you seek exposure for your music?

There are a number of outstanding radio programs and podcasts (such as Hearts of Space, Echoes, Star’s End, StillStream, Ultima Thule, and Galactic Travels) that feature ambient and electronic art music, several of which are widely syndicated and have large numbers of dedicated listeners. Exposure on these programs has widened my audience considerably.

Spotted Peccary Music, to which I have signed for at least six records, has a dedicated promotional team that makes and maintains contacts with radio producers, distributors and media, and does an excellent job of launching new projects and placing CDs in distribution.

At my end, the promotional work is more focused on social media and keeping my listeners informed through newsletters, and in many cases, personal letters.

Promoting this kind of music is not always easy or straightforward, but the listeners of this genre are highly motivated and do much on their own accord to stay informed. I communicate directly and personally with many individual listeners, and while this is more time-consuming than a “mass-media” approach, I value this correspondence very highly, and consider many of my listeners to be friends, not just faceless “fans.”

I would rather that my music connect very deeply with a few listeners than to have a huge fan base of casual listeners. Fortunately, this type of music cultivates very intelligent, immersive listening, and I have been richly rewarded for the time I have taken to address single listeners.

If you could gather any musicians or musical groups to collaborate with whom would that be?

Brian Eno to produce. Robert Rich as a collaborative composer. Steve Roach for sound design and analog sweetening. Ralph Towner to teach me his harmonic language. The ghost of Erik Satie for spiritual advisor and drinking buddy.

Do you have any upcoming projects to share with us?

My next album with Spotted Peccary Music is entitled “Passages.” This one is ready for mastering, and will be released sometime this year.

Other forthcoming titles with SPM are “Ovum,” “The Gateless Gate” and “The Cloud of Unknowning.” Substantial work has been done on all of these projects, to be released in roughly that order.

I am also planning a piano-based album, based on the musical language of Erik Satie, that will also feature cello and some electronic sweetening. This recording will be acoustic-oriented, and possibly appear on another label, depending on how well it may or may not fit into the Spotted Peccary array of genres.

Artist Website: http://www.chronotope-project.com

Revisiting other Worlds

Dan Pound – “Return to other Worlds” (Pound Sounds, 2012)

This is the first two CD set released by ambient electronic music artist Dan Pound. This collection features remastered early works by Pound, made between 2004 and 2006, including considered a remastered edition of “Door Beyond Time.”

Dan Pound delivers a mesmerizing set of electronic soundscapes that combine ambient music atmospheres, shamanic tribal beats and world music elements.

“Return to other Worlds” is a fabulous collection of captivating atmospheric electronic music works by one of the finest musicians in the current scene.

Buy Return to other Worlds

Herbie Hancock Receives The Recording Academy’s Lifetime Achievement Award

The Recording Academy announced today that Herbie Hancock is one of the honorees of the Lifetime Achievement Award. One of the most influential and idiosyncratic figures in contemporary jazz, Herbie Hancock has been at the forefront almost every development in electronic and acoustic jazz and R&B.

A stylistically diverse and ever-intriguing canon of songs, including “Maiden Voyage” and “Rockit,” has helped earn him 14 GRAMMY Awards during his impressive five-decade-plus professional solo career. Some of his most influential albums include Empyrean Isles (1964), Maiden Voyage (1965), Mwandishi (1970), Crossings (1972), Sextant (1973) and Head Hunters (1973).

Other honorees include Ruth Brown, Celia Cruz, Earth, Wind & Fire, Herbie Hancock, Jefferson Airplane, Linda Ronstadt, and RUN DMC. John Cage, Fred Foster, and Chris Strachwitz are Trustees Award honorees; and EMT and Dr. Harvey Fletcher are Technical GRAMMY Award recipients.

A special ceremony and concert celebrating the honorees will be held in the spring of 2016.

Octopus Remixed

Gentle Giant – Octopus (Alucard, 2015)

Octopus, one of the great progressive rock classics of the 1970s has received the masterful treatment of English musician and producer Steve Wilson. The album, originally released in 1972, reappears with a fabulous new mix. Gentle Giant’s music is rich, complex and very beautiful at the same time. You need to listen to this gem with a really good audio system or high quality headphones to experience the marvelous sound.

Gentle Giant in 1972 was at its peak in creativity. Octopus was the band’s fourth album. You’ll find Gentle giant’s signature sound with madrigal vocal counterpoints, complex rhythms and changing time signatures, captivating instrumental and vocal interplay and call and response techniques, rock, jazz, classical and beyond. It’s one of those albums that you can listen to over and over again and you will continue to discover surprising new details. The lyrics were based on novels and philosophers.

This edition consists of 2 discs. Disk 1 features Steven Wilson’s remix of the original album plus a 16 minute live bonus track from 1976. Disc 2 is a Blu-Ray that contains a flat transfer of the original 1972 mix, and instrumental versions of the 5 stereo remixes, all in high resolution.

Octopus had different covers in Europe and North America. The original Roger Dean cover appears in this edition with an attractive booklet that includes lyrics, credits and photos.

The Gentle Giant lineup in Octopus included Kerry Minnear on keyboards, vibraphone, percussion, cello, Moog synthesizer, lead and backing vocals; Raymond Shulman on bass, violin, guitar, percussion and vocals; Gary Green on guitars and percussion; Derek Shulman on lead vocals and alto saxophone; Philip Shulman on saxophone, trumpet, mellophone, lead and backing vocals; and a new drummer, John Weathers on drums, congas and percussion.

Buy Octopus in North America

Buy Octopus in Europe

Splendid Renditions of Classics on Electric Guitar

Sam Coulson – Electric Classical

Rising guitar hero Sam Coulson recreates some of his favorite classical music pieces on Electric Classical, using two Fender Stratocaster guitars.
Electric Classical is an exquisite instrumental recording featuring solo guitar. Thankfully, Sam Coulson delivers a laid back sound that brings the guitar and the music to the forefront.

Coulson uses various captivating techniques, including memorable work on pieces such as the Spanish classical composition “Recuerdos de la Alhambra.”

Electric Classical is a splendid guitar album with a crossover appeal. You’ll find several very familiar melodies along with lesser known material that is just as good.

Purchase Electric Classical in North America

Purchase Electric Classical in Europ

Best Progressive Rock Albums of 2015

Progressive Rock Central announces the 20 best progressive rock albums of 2015. The list is an alphabetical order and features artists from across the globe.

Apogee – The Art of Mind (Progressive Promotion Records, 2015)

Argos – A Seasonal Affair (Progressive Promotion Records, 2015

Dewa Budjana – Hasta Karma (Moonjune Records, 2015)

Dwiki Dharmawan – So Far, So Close (MoonJune Records, 2015)

El tubo elástico – El tubo elástico (2015)

Hands – Caviar Bobsled (ShroomAngel Records, 2015)

IZZ – Everlasting Instant (Doone Records, 2015)

Jane Getter Premonition – On (Madfish, 2015)

Juha Kujanpää – Kultasiipi – Goldwing (Eclipse Music, 2015)

Kinetic Element – Travelog (Melodic Revolution Records, 2015)

Magma – Slag Tanz (Jazz Village, 2015)

Nad Sylvan – Courting the Widow (Insideout, 2015)

Ozric Tentacles – Technicians of the Sacred (Madfish, 2015)

Seven Steps to the Green Door – Fetish (Progressive Promotion Records PPRCD030, 2015)

simakDialog – Live at Orion (MoonJune Records MJR068, 2015)

Stefano Agnini and Fabio Zuffanti – La Curva Di Lesmo (AMS Records, 2015)

Steve Rothery – The Ghosts of Pripyat (InsideOut Music CD SRM, 2015)

Steven Wilson – Hand. Cannot. Erase. (Kscope, 2015)

Yuka & Chronoship – The 3rd Planetary Chronicles (Cherry Red Records, 2015)

Yuri Volodarsky – Without a Word (AFL Music, 2015)

Rising Star of American Progressive Rock

Jane Getter Premonition – On (Madfish, 2015)

Jane Getter Premonition’s latest album, On, is one of the greatest surprises of the year in the progressive rock arena. The versatile guitarist has released a superb album where she brings together state of the art progressive rock with high energy jazz-rock and symphonic rock influences.

On features fabulous performances by Jane Getter and her stellar cast of musicians. After listening to On several times, the album gets better and better. Jane Getter uses a wide range of guitar techniques and styles, presenting dazzling solos, duets and interplay with her colleagues, demonstrating that she is one of the finest players in the current scene.

If the keyboards remind you of Steven Wilson, there is a good reason for that. The keyboardist is Adam Holzman, the musician that appears in Steven Wilson’s most recent (progressive) recordings. He has become one of the most significant keyboard players in the current progressive rock scene, delivering spectacular synth solos, captivating piano and organ work and majestic atmospheres.

The rest of the band includes virtuoso musicians Chad Wackerman on drums and Bryan Beller on bass.

Although Jane Getter provides some of the vocals, On also features one of the best American vocalists, Corey Glover (Living Colour). It’s a delight to listen to original vocals in progressive rock that don’t try to sound like Peter Gabriel or Jon Anderson.

Guests include Theo Travis on woodwinds and Alex Skolnick on guitar.

Jane Getter Premonition’s On is undoubtedly one of the best progressive rock albums of 2015.

Buy On in North America

Buy On in Europe

Symphonic Adrenaline

Without a Word is a fascinating album by composer and keyboard maestro Yuri Volodarsky. He brings together cinematic classical music with progressive rock and jazz. The album begins with Americana-flavored symphonic music that has strong connections to the music of Aaron Copeland.

As the album advances, progressive rock gradually steps in. Part of Volodarsky’s symphonic style reminds me a lot of the great British band The Enid. Later on, Yuri Volodarsky shifts to spectacular ELP-style progressive rock. But that’s not all, Volodarsky also delivers soulful blues piano and electric jazz.

Like other keyboard wizards, Yuri Volodarsky uses an arsenal of keyboard instruments, including piano, electric organ and various synthesizers.

The lineup on Without a Word includes Edward Tsiselsky & the ET Symphony Orchestra; Julian Coryell on guitar; Sergei Shanglerov on guitar; Sergei Terentiev on Rhodes piano; Dmitry Ilugdin on piano; John Flannery on bass; Mark Schulman on drums; and Joel Taylor on drums.

Yuri Volodarsky is a multifaceted artist who has worked as an actor, writer, and a director and producer of film, television, and video. His music projects include long form progressive rock pieces, many songs, soundtracks for movies and television series, music videos and jazz compositions.

Buy Without a Word