For fans of Emerson, Lake, and Palmer and keyboards in general, Once Upon a Time in South America is a real treat. The 4-CD (also available on vinyl) collection features live performances in South America by the legendary progressive rock band Emerson, Lake, and Palmer.
The majority of the concerts took place in 1993 in Chile and Argentina. Even though most of the pieces that appear on Once Upon a Time in South America are familiar compositions by the band, there is a lot to discover.
One of the great qualities about Keith Emerson was that he used a wide range of keyboards and his variations and improvisations on familiar melodies made his music highly enjoyable and refreshing.
This album features two versions of Pictures at an Exhibition, one of their most iconic works that has rarely appeared on other recordings.
Throughout the album, Keith Emerson delivers stellar keyboard performances. As I mentioned earlier, he liked to modify familiar melodies with new solos and other variations, switching keyboards and sometimes embedding familiar melodies from movies and other sources.
Carl Palmer is an impressive rhythm machine. He is renowned for his creative, varied and powerful drumming style.
Greg Lake also delivered masterful performances, although his voice suffered a little throughout the tour. In addition to his unmistakable vocals, he also played guitars and some great bass lines.
The tracks selected cover the band’s entire musical history, from their early hits Lucky Man and From the Beginning to Hoedown, Pictures at an Exhibition, Tarkus, Karn Evil 9 and Fanfare for the Common Man.
Renowned guitarist and composer Steve Hackett (formerly of Genesis) is set to release his latest album ‘The Night Siren’ on March 24th , 2017 through InsideOut Music (Sony). In the meantime, Hackett has released a brand new video for the album’s opening track ‘Behind The Smoke.’
“I’m thrilled with this video for the track ‘Behind the Smoke’ from my new album The Night Siren,” says Steve Hackett. “Director Ivan and the I-Code team have created an extraordinary film here resembling an epic movie! It perfectly matches the song, which laments the predicament of refugees throughout the ages. More compassion is needed in this world for those escaping persecution and death.”
‘The Night Siren’ is a wake-up call… the warning of a siren sounding in this era of conflicts and disagreement.
The album lineup includes Steve Hackett on guitar & vocals; Roger King on keyboards & programming; Nad Sylvan on vocals on Inca Terra; Rob Townsend on all things wind; Amanda Lehmann on vocals; Gary O’Toole on drums; and Benedict Fenner on additional keyboards & programming).
Also featured are vocalists Kobi Farhi and Mira on Israeli and Palestinian; Nick D’Virgilio on drums, from the USA; Malik Mansurov on tar, from Azerbaijan; and Gulli Breim on drums and percussion, from Iceland.
Additional musicians who add to the rich flavor of the album are Christine Townsend on violin and viola; Dick Driver on double bass; Troy Donockley on uilleann pipes; and Leslie Bennett on keyboards on The Gift.
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?
“Devil on an Indian” by American rock band The Raptor Trail is a concept album about a young man that struggles with his American Indian heritage after being raised in a Christian family. The story mirrors the experience of multi-instrumentalist Matt Meyes. Although he has paternal and maternal Native American ancestry, he was raised by a white Protestant family.
Musically, The Raptor Trail crosses various rock genres with ease. The band plays a mix of classic rock, hard rock and sometimes ventures into progressive rock (“Wolf Medicine”) and other territories like in the piece “Dream Catcher” that has a trance-like tribal ambient feel.
The Raptor Trail’s sound is characterized by the outstanding vocals and remarkable solo guitar work of John Meyer, as well as the sound of a new hybrid instrument named guijo. The guijo was developed by Matt Meyes. It has an electric guitar body and a banjo neck.
The album ends with an apocalyptic explosion of the sun featuring a mix of rock band instrumentation and numerous sound effects.
The lineup includes Gene Bass on drums and percussion; Matt Mayes on vocals, guijo, acoustic guitars and banjo; and John Meyer on lead and background vocals, lead and rhythm guitars, and bass.
Needlepoint is yet another superb progressive music band from Norway. The Oslo-based group plays a mix of progressive psychedelic rock and jazz-rock with Canterbury influences.
Some of the songs have a well-structured form, featuring charming folk-rock-style lead and harmony vocals, memorable electric organ work and remarkable bluesy/psychedelic guitar solos. Other times, the band goes into jazz-rock territory with exquisite Canterbury leanings and some jam moments.
The lineup on Aimless Mary includes Bjørn Klakegg on guitar, vocals and additional bass; David Wallumrød on clavinet, organ, Prophet 5, percussion and background vocals; Nikolai Hoengsle Eilertsen on bass, additional guitars, background vocals and percussion; and Olaf Olsen on drums.
Needlepoint was formed in 2010 as a trio. Earlier albums include The Woods Are Not What They Seem (BJK Music, 2010) and Outside The Screen (BJK Music, 2012).
Four of today’s finest progressive music artists got together to record an improvised album titled The Stone House. Although the music was not written or rehearsed, it’s not free jazz. Instead, Wingfield, Reuter, Stavi, and Sirkis treat the listener to remarkable electric musical explorations where the four musicians engage in an ongoing creative dialog.
The four instrumentalists constantly cross musical boundaries, injecting ambient electronics, prog rock machinations, psychedelia, jazz-rock and beyond.
The collaboration features British guitarist Mark Wingfield, multifaceted German musician Markus Reuter on Touch Guitars’ AU8 model; bassist Yaron Stavi; drummer Asaf Sirkis.
The Stone House demonstrates the fascinating results of unconstrained musical exploration.
Acclaimed progressive rock guitarist and composer Steve Hackett has a new album titled ‘Summer Storms & Rocking Rivers’ (Esoteric Antenna EANTCD21065) recorded with Hungarian band Djabe. It’s set for release in March 2017.
The two disc set includes a DVD featuring a concert in Bratislava in July 2011. It also contains a bonus documentary, the piece Jacuzzi / Overnight Sleeper (recorded in November 2013) with the Hungarian Symphony Orchestra and the promotional video of the song Tears for Peace.
“Summer Storms and Rocking Rivers” includes Steve Hackett solo material such as The Steppes and Ace of Wands, together with progressive rock-era Genesis material such as Firth of Fifth, Blood on the Rooftops, In That Quiet Earth and Los Endos.
“Light at the Endless Tunnel” is the third album by an extraordinary American band that delivers a superb style of forward-looking progressive rock that incorporates rock, jazz and world music elements.
Good vocalists are essential in progressive rock and Infinien has one of the best vocalists I’ve heard in a really long time. She uses jazz inflections similar to the work of Esperanza Spalding. In fact, many times throughout the album, it feels like Esperanza Spalding is singing with a progressive rock band.
Light at the Endless Tunnel takes the listener into a wide-range of directions, blending the familiar with unexpected Middle Eastern elements, Indian vocal percussion, soul and lots more.
The band features extremely talented musicians who showcase their talent with looped guitars, creative bass lines, imaginative drum patters, Ethiopian scales, spectacular guitar solos, exquisite keyboard ambience, epic intensity, and Canterbury-ish keyboards plus an orchestra with real strings and horns. In other words, state of the art progressive rock.
The lineup on Light at the Endless Tunnel includes Jordan Berger on electric and upright bass, background vocals, and additional percussion; Tom Cullen on drums and percussion; Matt Hollenberg on guitars, bulbul tarang, tabla, Moog Minitaur; and lyricist Chrissie Loftus on vocals, piano, keyboards, organ and additional percussion.
The iNFiNiEN Chamber Orchestra conducted by Jonathan Salmon features Mark Allen on flute, clarinet; Jordan Berger on double-bass; Mary Bryson on harp; Monique Canniere on violins; Maura Dwyer on violin, cello; Gloria Galante on harp; Christen Hooks on viola; Andriana Markano on viola, violin; Ben Mulholland on French horn; Bob Quaile on oboe; Rebecca Schlappich on violins; and Andrea Weber on cello.
Every year, there is at least one progressive music act that stands out from the rest and Infinien is undoubtedly one of the best. This is one of the progressive rock gems of the past few months. Highly recommended.
One of the progressive rock sensations of 2017 is Italian band Cellar Noise. The young group plays symphonic rock inspired by 1970s classic acts loaded with mellotron, organ, and synths interweaved with guitar. Their debut album is titled Alight (Btf – AMS).
Multi-faceted Italian musician Fabio Zuffanti is the artistic director of the project.
Maxophone, one of Italy’s classic progressive rock bands is back with a new album after many years. The new recording is titled La fabbrica delle nuvole (the cloud factory) on AMS Records.
La fabbrica delle nuvole contains progressive symphonic elements as well as fusion. The lineup includes original members Sergio Lattuada on piano, keyboards and vocals; Alberto Ravasini on guitars, keyboards and lead vocals; along with Marco Croci on bass and vocals; Marco Tomasini on guitar and vocals; and Carlo Monti on drums, percussion and violin.
Maxophone is an essential name within the vast realm of Italian progressive rock. Like many other acts, they disbanded after only one self-titled LP, Maxophone that was released in 1975 and became a collector’s item.
Progressive rock, jazz-rock fusion, ambient electronic music and beyond