Although we normally associate ambient music with the cosmos or technology, multi-instrumentalist and composer Deborah Martin takes us into the realm of fantasy. She uses a mix of acoustic and electronic instruments to create mesmerizing creations that open the mind to a rich world of magical creatures.
“For this project I was inspired by the magical worlds of alchemy and wizardry,” says Deborah Martin. “Visualizing misty forests filled with magical creatures and realms of otherworldly visions, I wanted to create an album where each piece revealed a deeper mystery as if discovering lost and unknown secrets from long ago.”
The enchanting CD booklet artwork adds to this delightful voyage through musical worlds of mystery that blends expansive electronic atmospheres and melodic electro-acoustic passages.
The lineup includes Deborah Martin on acoustic guitars, dulcimer, synthesizers, loops and percussion; Matthew Stewart in ambient electric guitar, synthesizers, loops and percussion; Paul Frye on e-bow guitar.
Multi-faceted artist Daniel Lanois is set to perform at Moogfest 2016. Moogfest 2016 will take place May 19-22, in Durham, North Carolina.
As a disciple of Brian Eno, Lanois worked on classic Eno ambient electronic music albums such as Ambient 4: On Land (1982) and Apollo: Atmospheres and Soundtracks (1983). Lanois also collaborated with Eno in producing U2’s The Joshua Tree, Achtung Baby, and All That You Can’t Leave Behind.
Lanois has also produced recordings for Bob Dylan, Emmylou Harris, Peter Gabriel, Neil Young, and Willie Nelson. Lanois’ songs have been covered by a large number of artists as well.
In 2009, Lanois released Black Dub, the debut album by an eponymous group comprised of Lanois on piano and guitar, Daryl Johnson on bass, Trixie Whitney on vocals, and Brian Blade on Drums.
Recently Lanois has stepped into a solo career with 2014’s Flesh and Machine that combines all of the diversity of his career work in a new album and live show featuring dubbing, processing, and sampling in real time.
Naples progressive rock band BarnuM’S Freak released this independently-produced debut EP in 2014. Revolution Loading is a concept album about the spiritual growth process of mankind. The album’s title is a symbiosis or revolution and evolution.
Although the first track features fine vocal work by guest Manuela Papa, the majority of the album is instrumental. The band’s sound is characterized by the work of virtuoso keyboardist Sergio Vassetti and guitarist Massimiliano Romano.
BarnuM’S Freak style is deeply influenced by British progressive rock acts like Genesis, IQ, Camel and jazz-rock as well.
The lineup on Revolution Loading includes Sergio Vassetti on keyboards; Salvatore Oroso on drums; Massimiliano Romano on guitars. Guests featured: Alessandro Bagagli on bass and Manuela Papa on vocals.
Revolution Loading is a very promising debut album by a rising talent in the Italian progressive rock scene.
Rise of the Waterfowl is the second album by the talented northern California progressive rock band Farmhouse Odyssey. What’s so attractive about this band is that it has developed its own style of progressive rock incorporating European symphonic progressive rock and Canterbury influences along with characteristically American jazz-rock fusion and jam band elements. Furthermore, the vocals don’t pretend to emulate the usual suspects. And best of all, there is no hard rock or heavy metal pandering.
The opening piece ‘Daybreak’ begins with superb guitar interplay and jazz-modulated vocals but halfway through the track, keyboardist Alex Espe surprises and delights with a knockout pitch-bending keyboard solo that would make National Health really proud.
On ‘Slumberless Sun’ the band delivers an exquisite mix of jazz-rock and classic progressive symphonic rock featuring more outstanding guitar work, vocal overdubs and electric piano/synths.
The progressive rock fest continues with ‘Brain Song’, with great time signature changes, excellent lead and backing vocals, and guitar and keyboard interplay and an epic guitar solo.
Another notable aspect of Farmhouse Odyssey is the fact that the transitions and time signature changes work seamlessly. This band has excellent arrangement skills.
Track 4, “Calligraphy” combines prog rock guitars with jazzy keyboards and admirable creative drumming. Thatcher Holvick-Norton is one of the best progressive rock drummers I’ve heard in recent years. He is subtle and highly inventive. His captivating style of drumming borrows from skilled jazz techniques, moving away from pop simplicity and hard rock pounding.
The long instrumental ‘Space Revealed’ begins with a remarkable jazz-rock-style piano and guitar interchange. The piano at times sounds like it has tango inspiration. This instrumental track continues with a delectable piano and Steve Hackett-style guitar progression. The electric bass stands out here as well. As the piece continues, the band takes through jazz passages and Canterbury-style sections with electric piano, synths and symphonic keyboards. Drummer Thatcher Holvick-Norton, keyboardist Alex Espe and the band’s guitarists give way to a spectacular jazz-rock section that connects with the Mahavishnu Orchestra and National Health as well.
Track 6, ‘Shipwreck’ mixes jazz-rock stylings with striking symphonic mellotron. Can’t get better than that.
The suite ‘Speedbump Catalyst: Upon the Wheel, Blessing in Disguise, Energetic Tides, The Road Alone’ starts with mesmerizing piano and vocals with a dreamy Genesis-like sensation. This is the longest piece on the album, featuring terrific piano and keyboard work. For those who like comparisons, the vocal work reminds of Echolyn, but I find Farmhouse Odyssey much more interesting because of their classical, full blown prog rock and jazz influences. This is the longest piece and as you would expect it has an impressive epic guitar and keyboard conclusion.
Track 8, ‘Safe Passage’, is a delightful short piano and mellotron gem.
The last track, ‘From the Night Sky’ treats the listener to more of the wonderful combination of vocals, electric piano, mellotron and jazz drums and bass.
The lineup includes Alex Espe on vocals and keyboards; Thatcher Holvick-Norton on drums; Aaron Laughlin on guitar and vocals; Alex Pepe on guitar; and Ian Taylor on bass.
Farmhouse Odyssey’s Rise of the Waterfowl is a brilliant album by one of the emerging talents of American progressive rock. Highly recommended.
Cluster: 1971-1981 is the title of the upcoming 9 CD box set by German electronic music trailblazers Cluster. The 1500 copy collection is scheduled for release on April 15th, 2016.
Cluster had a tremendous influence on the development of electronic music. The original trio of Conrad Schnitzler, Hans-Joachim Roedelius, and Dieter Moebius released two iconic albums as Kluster before Roedelius and Moebius replaced the “K” with a “C” and continued as a duo. They produced eight albums in their most ground-breaking period between 1971 and 1981, two of them together with Brian Eno. Cluster anticipated much of what would later emerge in such varied styles as industrial, ambient, electro, and even synth pop.
The set includes collected reissues of all eight albums released by Cluster between 1971 and 1981, including their two collaborations with Brian Eno, as well as a previously unreleased album of two live recordings from 1972 and 1977.
All of the albums have been remastered by Willem Makkee. Cluster: 1971-1981 includes booklet with essays on each album, rare photos, and an exclusive text on the evolution and significance of the band by Asmus Tietchens.
Jesufåglar – Matka ajan rannoille (Luova Records, 2016)
This recording by Finnish band Jesufåglar originally came out in 2010 as a CD-R and it’s been reissued by Luova Records as a full CD. Jesufåglar plays an unconventional form of progressive rock that incorporates various elements, from classic symphonic rock inspired by the 1970s British and Finnish pioneers to jazz-rock fusion and occasional zany vocals that take the group into an avant-garde or Zeuhl direction.
Most of the album, however, features captivating vocal work by pianist, composer and singer Sanna Klemetti. The fine work developed by the flutes, guitars and creative drumming also play a crucial role in Matka ajan rannoille.
Jesufaglar comprised includes Sanna Klemetti on vocals and piano; Enni Kyttänen on vocals and violin; Taneli Hildén on vocals and flute; Tatu Säteri on guitars; Juho Kalliolahti on bass; Joel Pihlaja on drums; and Veli-Ville Sivén on organs.
Matka ajan rannoille is a sensational blend of shape-shifting progressive rock.
To celebrate its 50th anniversary, Italian progressive rock band Le Orme has re-recorded its classic Felona e Sorona album. The new 2-disc version is titled Felona e/and Sorona, featuring Italian and English language versions.
The new version features drum tracks recorded live during past tours while all the other instruments were recorded in studio. The idea behind this is to bring forward a live vibe.
American synthesist Craig Padilla creates electronic space music deeply inspired by the classic Berlin School sound. You’ll experience a cosmic voyage with drifting atmospheres and trance-like sequencers that recall the best works by Klaus Schulze and early Tangerine Dream.
Padilla uses a fabulous collection of analog and digital synthesizers along with sequencers and samplers.
Heaven Condensed is an exquisitely crafted set of hypnotic electronic pieces by one of the most talented synthesists in the American scene.
Trance-style electronic music duo Cosmic Gates has released a cinematic, traveling video for “am2pm,” the first single from their mix compilation series Wake Your Mind Sessions 002 (Black Hole Recordings). The video was directed by Gavin Heffernan and Harun Mehmedinovic, featuring scenic shots of The Death Valley (California), Los Angeles (California), and The Grand Canyon (Arizona).
German producers Claus Terhoeven and Stefan Bossems are behind Cosmic Gate, one of Germany’s most successful and lasting electronic acts. The duo has created some of electronic trance music’s iconic singles, including classics such as “Be Your Sound,” “Fire Wire,” and “Exploration of Space.”
Progressive rock, jazz-rock fusion, ambient electronic music and beyond