Juha Kujanpää – Niin Kauas Kuin Siivet Kantaa – To Where My Wings Will Take Me (Eclipse Music, 2017)
Finnish keyboardist and composer Juha Kujanpää continues to charm with his fantastic mix of progressive rock and Finnish folk music traditions along with waltes, waltzes, Greek melodies and klezmer scales .
Juha Kujanpää combines a skilled progressive rock electric band format with renowned acoustic folk musicians, including members of innovative contemporary folk music ensemble Frigg.
On the prog rock you’ll find masterfully crafted orchestrations, electric guitar creations and echoes of Pekka Pohjola, Camel and Mike Oldfield. All this elegantly weaved with exquisite Finnish folk virtuosity, inspired by the region of Ostrobothnia, the stunning lake views of North Karelia and in a guest house in the monastery of Valamo.
The artists featured in Niin Kauas Kuin Siivet Kantaa include Juha Kujanpää on keyboards and reed organ; Timo Kämäräinen on guitars; Tero Tuovinen on electric and double bass; Jussi Miettola on drums and percussion; Tommi Asplund on violin; Alina Järvelä on violin; Kukka Lehto on violin; Joakim Berghäll on saxophone, flute and clarinet; and Teija Niku on accordion.
Dai Kaht is a great debut album by a Finnish band deeply inspired by 1970s progressive rock and Zeuhl, the innovative progressive music genre developed by French band Magma. Following Zeuhl tradition, the band members have created their own language, which they use in their songs.
Although the band’s sound definitely draws a lot of ideas from Zeuhl, the sound is more rock oriented, featuring two guitar players; it’s less jazzy and operatic than Magma.
The band members have adopted artistic names in their new language: Alemaahr Kempah (Atte Kemppainen) on vocals and bass; Willargh Shirow (Ville Sirvio) on guitar; Zwerie Stöbah (Tommi Ruotsalainen) on rhythm guitar; and Ozamö Sharif (Osmo Saarinen) on drums, vocals.
Dai Kaht is a remarkable Zeuhl album by a talented prog rock band from Finland with a promising future.
Mancunian Candidate is the new project of British-born, San Francisco-based multi-instrumentalist and vocalist Matthew Swindells. He was the drummer and vocalist with much-admired American progressive rock band Moth Vellum. Swindells was also lead vocalist for Matt Bissonette’s Raising Lazarus project and live tour drummer for celebrated English electronic music act Fila Brazillia.
The album Mancunian Candidate has a relatively short song format. The first half of the album sounds as if pop band The Police had gone progressive. The vocal style and part of the song structures are definitely closer to pop, but the arrangements and instrumental sections are totally different. In those parts, Mancunian Candidate delivers highly-skilled, masterfully crafted and climactic symphonic progressive rock, inspired by the great masters like Genesis and Yes.
One of the highlights of the album is track 5, “AnikusDominuscrappedonfactor” that has a progressive rock-era Yes flavor with notable drumming, keyboards, bass and guitar.
Another high point is “Circle lies Unbroken,” where Mancunian Candidate opens with a fabulous Mahavishnu Orchestra-style intro. It’s great to hear jazz-rock fusion added to the mix. Overall, one of the most “progressive” pieces in the album.
Other highlights include “The Air Has Changed” and the climactic “Fanfare for the Dammed,” where Matthew Swindells uses vocals that lean heavily towards progressive rock instead of pop. There is even a fabulous church organ section that recalls Rick Wakeman’s masterful work.
The last song is another goodie. It’s a progressive rock reprise of “Garden Party” with wonderful mellotron and an outstanding guitar solo.
The remarkable lineup includes Matthew Swindells on drums, vocals, keyboards and acoustic guitars; Matthew Charles Heulitt on electric guitar; Johnny Heyes on guitar; Andy Shepley on bass; Neil Fairclough on bass; Ollie Collins on bass; Jon Evans on bass; Matt Bissonette on bass; and Jasper Wilkisnson on mandolin.
Mancunian Candidate is an impressive recording that straddles pop and progressive rock and I look forward to listening to more of the progressive side of Matthew Swindells.
Philadelphia-based band iNFiNiEN has released Light at the Endless Tunnel, one of the most exciting progressive music albums in recent months. Their remarkable mix of progressive rock, fusion and world music attracted our attention so here is more about the band.
How and when was iNFiNiEN formed?
In the fall of 2004, we were roommates and we jammed, which led to us writing songs. Our first gig was at a benefit concert at the World Café live in December 2004. We played our only two songs we had at the time.
What does the band name iNFiNiEN mean?
iNFiNiEN is a made up term from the book “An American Mystic” by Michael Gurian. The full-term was “Homo Infinien” which, in the context of the book, is representative the next evolutionary step of humans.
What do you consider as the essential elements of your music?
Polyrhythms, jazz harmony, progressive song structures, thoughtful and socially-conscious lyrics, driving bass grooves, exotic tonalities
Who can you cite as your main musical influences?
Farmers Market, Secret Chiefs 3, Mr. Bungle, John Zorn, John Coltrane, Meshuggah, Sun Ra, Ali Farka Toure, John McLaughlin, Veena Sahasrabuddhe, Jaco Pastorius, and many, many more (too many to name)
How long has the band been around?
Tell us about your first recordings and your musical evolution.
We discovered our own sound by jamming together. We recorded our jams and arranged our favorite parts into songs. As we went along, we were aiming to evoke visual impressions in the listeners. Our intention was to go beyond genre. There was also a psychedelic influence, without question. ; )
Your sound has elements of progressive rock, world music, jazz and beyond. How do audiences react to your music?
We’ve been very pleasantly surprised that the majority of our live audiences have viewed it as a breath of fresh air. People have given us a lot of positive support. Some find it “too complicated”, but for the most part, audiences really appreciate our approach.
Despite all the media outlets available, most of the music that is played currently by mass media is pop or hip hop. How do you get your music out there?
When playing live, we try to associate with bands who are similar (sometimes hard to find). Online we try and reach out to the progressive and indie music communities or anyone who we think would appreciate it. Since it’s only the four of us trying to get PR for the band, our total reach is pretty limited.
What musical instruments do you use?
Our live set up is drums, bass, guitar, and keyboard. On recordings, we’ve used oud, saz, sitar, bulbul tarang, tabla, organ, exotic percussion sounds, and some Moog.
And what effects do you use?
Guitar: whammy, ambient delays, and reverb
Bass: volume swell, chorus pedal, octaver
Keyboard: sounds including clav, Wurlitzer, Rhodes, some pads, etc.
How’s the current progressive music scene in your area?
The Tri-state area’s progressive scene is pretty vital. And we’ve been lucky to play with such bands as Consider the Source, Kayodot, Reign of Kindo, Tea Club, Out of the Beard Space, and many others.
If you could gather any musicians or musical groups to collaborate with, whom would that be?
We don’t have a good answer for this question. On a related note our guitarist Matt Hollenberg has actually been playing music for John Zorn, one of his heroes and main influences, for the last two years in the organ trio Simulacrum with John Medeski and Kenny Grohowski.
Do you have any upcoming projects to share with us?
Bassists Julie Slick and Marco Machera met the Three of a Perfect Pair Music Camp in 2011. They started collaborating in April 2014 to play a short series of concerts in Tuscany, after Julie’s European tour with The Crimson ProjeKCt.
Very instinctively, new songs were written during a few days of rehearsals. The spur-of-the-moment bass duets ended up being so satisfying and well-received that Julie and Marco ultimately decided to write and record more material together. They named their project EchoTest. The group’s live performances and albums include various acclaimed musicians such as Pat Mastelotto, Tim Motzer, Zach LoPresti, Ali Wadsworth, Ian Gray, and Greg Rosen.
EchoTest have reinvented the role of solo electric bass and superbly display the songwriting abilities of the duo, characterized by a mesmerizing combination of loop music, ambient soundscapes and interlocking bass patterns.
Fourth Dementia (2014)
Slick Mix Vol II (2015) Le Fil Rouge
Live in Philadelphia (2016)
Markus Reuter will be on tour in the USA this Fall, after finishing two weeks tour with Stick Men in Europe (between October 11-23). Reuter will be celebrating the 20th anniversary of his own project Centrozoon.
The American tour is a combination of live concerts, live radio shows and radio interviews.
Reuter’s most recent recording is Prog Noir with Stickmen.
November 3 – WDIY/Bethlehem, PA
Radio appearance at Galactic Travels (with host Bill Fox) – 11:00 p.m.
November 4 – WPRB/Princeton, NJ
Radio appearance at Music with Space (with host Mike Hunter) – 12 midnight
November 5 – Mt. Laurel, NJ
Private show: Living Room Concert Series – time TBA
November 6 – WXPN/Philadelphia, PA
Radio appearance at Star’s End Radio (with host Chuck van Zyl) – 2:00 a.m.
November 8 – WLFR/Pomona, NJ
Radio appearance at Digital Dreams Radio (with host Mark Dickson) – 10:00 p.m.
November 9 – Charlottesville, VA
Live at IX Art Park – 8:00 p.m.
November 10 – Asheville, NC
Live at Living Room Concert / Streamside Concerts – 8:00 p.m.
November 11 – Charleston, WV
Live at Kanawha United Presbyterian Church – 8:00 p.m.
November 12 – Baltimore, MD
Live at (venue TBA, time TBA)
November 13 – Beacon, NY
Live at Quinn’s – 8:00 p.m.
November 15 – Philadelphia, PA
Live at The Rotunda – 8:00 p.m.
Event Horizons Concert Series
with special guests: Chuck van Zyl, Nocturne Blue
November 17 – Farmington, CT
Live at Edge Media Space / Farmington H.S. (Rm. 809) – 7:00 p.m.
November 18 – Bordentown, NJ
Live at The Cosmic Crossings
with Centrozoon and Nocturne Blue
November 19 – New York, NY
Live at Spectrum – 8:30:00 p.m.
with special guest Nocturne Blue
November 20 – WVKR/Poughkeepsie, NY
Radio appearance at Secret Music (with host Scott Raymond) – 11am
November 20 – Branchburg, NJ
Private show: Living Room Concert Series – time TBA
February 4, 2017 – Dallas, TX
Live at I Came for the Light and Stayed for the Shadows (time TBA)
With Nocturne Blue
Progressive rock, jazz-rock fusion, ambient electronic music and beyond