Tag Archives: Progressive rock

Interview with Icelandic Band Lucy in Blue

Rising Icelandic act Lucy in Blue has released a superb new album titled “In Flight.” The band delivers an exquisite set of songs deeply influenced by psychedelia and progressive rock, especially early 1970s Pink Floyd, King Crimson, Camel and Gentle Giant. It’s beautifully-crafted material with timeless soaring guitars, mesmerizing keyboards, soft vocals, creative bass lines, psychedelic effects and multi-faceted drums.

Lucy in Blue – In Flight

Lucy in Blue was founded in 2013. The young band released its self-titled debut album on Bandcamp in 2016. The lineup includes Arnaldur Ingi Jónsson on keyboards and vocals; Kolbeinn Þórsson on drums; Matthías Hlífar Mogensen on bass and vocals; and Steinþór Bjarni Gíslason on guitar and vocals.

How did you come up with the band title Lucy in Blue?

When Naldo and Matti had just met and started jamming, they were also taking a physics class together. Both of them had a hard time with the mathematical concepts in the class and their focus always seemed to be on music so it looked like they would fail the class. But nearing the end of term they had their final chance to save their grade by doing a group presentation. An exchange student from South Africa called Lucy was the third member of their group. When Lucy discovered their musical aptitude and lack of mathematical grace she offered to write the whole presentation by herself on the condition that the boys in the band played for her while she wrote. Steini and Kolli were eventually persuaded to do so, even though they had to play through the night.

The band struggled to keep playing after midnight, but Lucy provided them with caffeinated drinks from her home country, packaged in blue. All the while Lucy wrote and, in an absent way, commented harshly on their playing ability. Improving as band at a staggering rate after that gruesome night (even though Naldo and Matti flunked their physics class) they decided to name the band Lucy in Blue, even though they never heard from the South African girl again.

Lucy in Blue

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

Earth, wind and fire.

How did your musical ideas evolve throughout the years from your debut album to your new recording, In Flight?

Those years are all a haze, so we can‘t really comment on that.

Tell us a little about the band members and their background.

Naldo started playing music quite young, starting with the baritone horn in a brass band in school. He slowly shifted all his focus to the piano, and keyboards eventually, studying both classical music and jazz, while always strumming a bit on the guitar at home and now in his solo project, Dread Lightly.

Kolli started playing the drums at the age of 10 and soon started to grow steadily as a musician as his interest in the craft enveloped him, playing along with everything from Metallica to Frank Zappa. At the age of 15 he started learning jazz drumming and a bit of classical percussion which led him to meet Naldo, and they played in a pop group for a few months before Lucy got together.

Steini has been playing guitar since the age of 7. He went on to take guitar lessons for for a few years, studying popular music. He took a big jump in skill when he discovered the world of thrash metal. He and Matthías had gone to school together in the small town of Hveragerði and had played together on a few occasions and was yearning for something new when Matti contacted him.

Matti grew up around a lot of musicians as his father was in one of the biggest pop groups of Iceland at that time. He started to play music when he got his first bass on his 10th birthday but the real interest started when he was a teenager and started listening to the rock bands of the 1970s. After finishing elementary education in Hveragerði he went to Menntaskólinn við Hamrahlíð, a school renowned for drawing in all the creative and strange kind of people. There he met Naldo on his first day and soon they started to share their favorite bands with each other. For the past couple of years he has played every kind of music with a large amount of professional musicians and the obsession of analog synthesizers has become a big part of his sound resulting in a empty wallet and a electronic solo project named Endlessly.

After Matti, Steini and Naldo had jammed once or twice Matti came to see Unmusical Smooch Depot, the pop group Kolli and Naldo were in, play an off-venue Iceland Airwaves gig. He persuaded Kolli to try jamming with them and what followed were 30 minute jam sessions over Em and A and an eager enthusiasm for jamming out psychedelic tunes. Matti introduced them to the magic of Pink Floyd and Trúbrot and eventually the boys discovered the exciting world of prog.

Lucy in Blue

What guitars, keyboards and other instruments do you use?

In the keyboard section we have a Nord Stage 2, Hammond XK-3c, Prophet REV2 and a Moog Sub 37, in addition to an everchanging synth collection in the hands of Matti.

Kolli uses Gretsch drums, zildjian cymbals and a 6.5 x 14” Ludwig Supraphonic snare drum.

The bass rig includes a Rickenbacker 4003s, FBT amflifier and a TC Electronic RS212 and Steini plays a Modified 60th anniversary Fender Stratocaster through a Farfisa/FBT stereo amplifer rig.

And what effects do you use to develop your progressive and psychedelic sounds?

Lots of delay and pathos.

Lucy in Blue

How’s the progressive rock scene in Iceland in terms of bands and venues?

Iceland has a wealth of progressive rock bands, like Trúbrot, EIK and Icecross, but they were only persistently active during the 70‘s, but we‘ve had access to all the main venues of the rock scene downtown, mostly playing with metal bands. A lot of the metal bands are quite progressive, though, and the metal scene is blisteringly vibrant so it‘s not a bad crowd at all.

Mainstream media ignores progressive music. How do you promote your music?

Unsuccessfully, through mainstream media.

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

The heavenly vocals of Árstíðir or Graduale Nobili could be a welcome addition to our sound at some point. And of course, if time is on our side, we hope to someday work with Megas.

Aside from the new album, do you have any additional upcoming projects to share with us?

After the release of In Flight we plan to release some more albums, as well as singles. And we all have our Sally on the side, although we haven‘t released much individually except for Heift, the raw and seething black metal lovechild of Kolli, Matti and Alli from Auðn.

Extensive Guitar Sessions by Peter Banks

Peter Banks’s Harmony In Diversity – The Complete Recordings (The Peter Banks Music Estate/Cherry Red Records, 2018)

This mammoth 6-CD set contains all the recordings made by former Yes guitarist Peter Banks with his band Harmony In Diversity. The recordings were made during 2005 and 2007.

Peter Banks’s Harmony In Diversity – The Complete Recordings

The boxed set includes instrumental guitar-fueled rock with funk leanings, classic rock, jam rock improvisations, guitar experimentation and some progressive rock as well.

Peter Banks plays all guitars and is joined by drummer Andrew Booker and bassist Nick Cottam, who mixed the recordings. Drummer Dave Speight appeared on the volume 6 of the set.

The album includes an extensive booklet and the audio was remastered.

There is nearly 6 hours of music, rarely heard before by the talented Peter Banks and his colleagues.

Caravela Escarlate, Keyboard Delights from Brazil

Caravela Escarlate – Caravela Escarlate (Karisma Records, 2019)

Caravela Escarlate is a Brazilian symphonic progressive rock band founded in 2011. The group features keyboard wizard Ronaldo Rodrigues, who uses a wide range of keyboards. The Scarlet Caravel’s sound is deeply influenced by the classic progressive rock bands of the 1970s.


Caravela Escarlate – Caravela Escarlate

Although vocals appear on a few tracks, most of the album is instrumental, showcasing Rodrigues’ talent on the synths, organ, mellotron and other instruments. He’s joined by the powerful drums of Elcio Cáfaro. Influences include ELP, Peter Bardens (Camel), Sagrado Coracao da Terra, Jon Lord and Gentle Giant.

David Caravelle – Vocals, bass, guitars and violins; Ronaldo Rodrigues (Massahara, Arcpelago) – Keyboards; Elcio Cáfaro – Drums.

The Myriad Guitars of Michel Héroux

Michel Héroux – Now (Michel Héroux, 2019)

Now is an deeply satisfying album of instrumental guitar rock music by Canadian musician, educator and composer Michel Héroux. Now combines dazzling guitar hero rock, mesmerizing avant-garde jazz guitar similar to Bill Frisell’s work and skillfully-crafted progressive rock.

Michel Héroux

Personnel: Michel Héroux on guitars; Vincent Yelle on bass; and Francis Fillion on drums.

Carl Palmer Announces Prog-Rock Camp in Philadelphia

Groundbreaking British rock drummer Carl Palmer has announced a Prog-Rock Camp to be held November 8-10, 2019 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Carl Palmer was a founding member of the legendary progressive rock band Emerson Lake & Palmer. 

The event is envisioned as a musical learning experience for drummers, guitarists, bassists, keyboardists and vocalists called Carl Palmer’s Prog-Rock Camp. The instructors include  Carl Palmer’s ELP Legacy and very special guests: guitarist Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal (former Guns N Roses; Sons Of Apollo) and Derek Sherinian (former Dream Theater, Alice Cooper, Sons Of Apollo).

The camp will run for 3 days in Philadelphia. Registration is now open and is on a first, come first served basis. A sell out will be 100 registrants.

“This camp will be a special dream come true for me,” says Carl Palmer, who has spent many years as an educator and demonstrator of advanced percussion. “It is not designed to be a ‘fantasy’ event, but rather, a complete three day educational adventure for those who really want to improve and advance their musical craft. Of course, fans who want to take in the experience, are welcomed, as well.  This is a chance to sit one on one with some of the contemporary musical greats and learn.”

Carl Palmer

The Camp will begin on Friday, November 8th and will include three days of events. Among the highlights: Master Classes with Carl Palmer, guitarists Paul Bielatowicz and Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal, bassist  Simon Fitzpatrick, and keyboardist Derek Sherinian; An informative Q&A with Carl Palmer, his band, and the special guests; a complete Saturday evening concert with Carl Palmer’s ELP Legacy featuring the greatest music of Emerson Lake &  Palmer; the world premiere of a never-before-seen complete concert film: ELP Live In South America 1997; performances by bands assembled  from the attending campers; plus seminars on artist management & booking; a seminar by a renowned life coach; new music technology displays; a Palmer Art Event and much more!

The cost to attend Carl Palmer Prog Rock Camp is $1,399 and includes all events, classes, concert, meals, parking, and hotel lodging.  A deposit is required at registration, which will cap at 100 campers.

November 8th – 10th, 2019 • 2300 Arena • Philadelphia, PA

carlpalmer.com/ProgRockCamp/ProgRockCamp-Main.php

A Hypnotic Trip from Sonora Sunrise

Sonora Sunrise – The Route through the Canyon (Trail Records, 2019)

The Route through the Canyon is an album by Russian progressive music band Sonora Sunrise. They are based in Altai, a mystical land in southern Siberia with olden mountains where you still find ancient shamanic rites.


Sonora Sunrise – The Route through the Canyon

The culture and wilderness of Altai inspires Sonora Sunrise. Their music is a superb mix of progressive rock, psychedelia, space rock along with ambient and Berlin-school electronic music. It is a spellbinding sound developed with electric guitars, effects, soundscapes, vintage analog synths from the Soviet Era, and a rhythm section.

Sonora Sunrise includes Artem Demidov on guitars, soundscapes; Dmitry Shershnev on keyboards, guitar; Alexey Shulepov on bass; and Vitaliy Khard on drums. Vocalist Katya Zlobina appears on various The Route through the Canyon tracks, delivering entrancing performances.

Captivating Progressive Innovations from Steve Hackett

Steve Hackett – At The Edge Of Light (InsideOut Music, 2019)

At The Edge of Light is Steve Hackett’s 26th studio album. The multifaceted guitarist continues to fascinate with a set that brings together progressive rock, pop, classical music, and world music.

The album opens with a high energy piece titled “Fallen Walls and Pedestals,” where Hackett showcases many of his influences: Eastern strings, superb progressive rock guitars and heavy drums.


Steve Hackett – At The Edge Of Light

Next, Hackett continues with the song “Beasts in Our Time,” where the listener is treated to rich, dramatic and dream-like cinematic symphonic moments intertwined with peaceful acoustic guitar sections, a sax solo and a memorable electric guitar wild ride with outstanding symphonic parts.

Track 3, Under the Eye of the Sun” features ornate vocal harmonies, fast-paced rock, epic guitar segments, mesmerizing Armenian duduk and ambience. Progressive rock meets world music. Can’t get better than that.

It is no secret that Steve Hackett also loves the blues.  “Underground Railroad” is a blues gospel tribute to African American traditions and the route some slaves used to escape from the southern USA.

“Those Golden Wings” begins with a charming neoclassical symphonic piece with Steve Hackett’s gorgeous signature acoustic guitar and vocals. It progresses into a cinematic sections with magnificent choirs and strings. Classical meets progressive rock and shredding guitar.

On track 6, “Shadow and Flame,” Hackett returns with the world music influences by adding Indian elements. It’s spectacular progressive rock highlighting Hackett’s electric guitar along with remarkable sitar work performed by the wonderful Sheema Mukherjee, who used to play with Transglobal Underground.

“Hungry Years” is a sing along pop song with a toe tapping beat.

Track 8, “Descent” consists of an ominous march with orchestral drums and exquisite strings that give way to Hackett’s extraordinary guitars folowed by “Conflict,” a short symphonic piece.

The album ends with a tranquil ballad called “Peace.”

The lineup:  Steve Hackett on acoustic, 12-string and electric guitars, dobro, bass, harmonica and vocals; Durga McBroom on vocals; Lorelei McBroom on vocals; Nick D’Virgilio on drums; Simon Phillips on drums;     Sheema Mukherjee on sitar; Gulli Briem on drums, percussion; Malik Mansurov on tar; Jonas Reingold on electric bass; Paul Stillwell on didgeridoo;     Rob Townsend on saxophone, bass clarinet, duduk; Amanda Lehmann on vocals; John Hackett on flute; Gary O’Toole on drums; Roger King on keyboards, programming and orchestral arrangements; Ben Fenner on keyboards; Dick Driver on double bass; and Christine Townsend on violin, viola.

The album is available in several formats, including a Mediabook CD with an extra DVD with a 5.1 surround sound mix and behind the scenes footage; double vinyl LP and CD, jewel case CD and digital version. The CD booklet contains lyrics, credits and great photos.

Curved Air Live at Their Prime


Curved Air – The Second British Rock Meeting 1972 (The Right Honourable Recording Company/Cherry Red, 2018)  

This fantastic surprise is a high quality live album by progressive rock pioneers Curved Air at the peak of their career. While most of the first progressive rock bands were fronted by men, Curved air featured the fabulous lead vocalist Sonja Kristina. Another Curved air innovation within progressive rock was the use of violin as a lead instrument.

The Second British Rock Meeting 1972 shows the versatility of Curved Air and the beauty of progressive rock with a mix of exploratory rock, classical music, blues, jazz, and jam rock.  This album is the third volume of the Curved Air Rarities Series and the only recording of its kind, featuring Curved air improvising, with extended, delectable versions of the band highlighting the talent of innovative keyboardist Francis Monkman and groundbreaking violinist Darryl Way supported by an inspired rhythm section.

The lineup included Sonja Kristina on vocals and acoustic guitar; Darryl Way on violin, Francis Monkman on keyboards and guitar; Florian Pilkington-Miksa on drums; and Mike Wedgwood on bass.

The CD booklet includes an introduction by Francis Monkman, who mastered the audio and supervised the release personally, together with two essays authored by attendees at the festival as well as previously unseen pictures.

Celebrated Yes Vocalist Jon Anderson Reveals New Album, 1,000 Hands

Groundbreaking progressive rock vocalist Jon Anderson (Yes) has announced the release of a new album titled 1,000 Hands that will be released on March 31, 2019.

“I’ve spent long periods of time making some records, but I’ve never taken a journey quite like this one,” says Anderson. “To say that 1,000 Hands has been a long time in coming would be quite an understatement, but I’m thrilled that it’s finally a reality and that my fans will now be able to hear it. And I think they’ll be delighted to hear music that’s timeless. It’s one of the best things I’ve ever done.”

Jon Anderson – 1,000 Hands

Anderson started the album (originally titled Uzlot – “it means a lot of us”) approximately 30 years ago, working with a group of musicians that included Yes drummer Alan White and bassist Chris Squire. Nevertheless, due to his demanding touring commitments with Yes, Anderson had to put the record on hold. “Before you knew it, I started getting involved in other projects and tours, and years went by,” he clarifies. “I would listen to the tapes from time to time and think, ‘This could have been a great album! One day I’ll finish it.’”

Respected producer Michael T. Franklin (Bruce Hornsby, Brian Wilson, Roger McGuinn) had at one time begun working on orchestrations for the album, but once more Anderson’s packed schedule required the project to be put on hold. Ultimately, a year and a half ago, Anderson and Franklin decided to continue to work on the album and were determined to finalize it. “Our ideas still matched,” Anderson says. “Michael knew everything I wanted to do and how I wanted the music to sound, so we agreed to go for it.”

The final work took place in Franklin’s Solar Studios in Orlando, Florida. Anderson laid down backing vocals to his original lead tracks, and Franklin brought in an superb group of rock and jazz legends to complete the songs: fellow Yes colleague Steve Howe, Ian Anderson, Jean-Luc Ponty, Billy Cobham, Chick Corea, Steve Morse, Rick Derringer, Jonathan Cain, and the Tower of Power Horns are just a few of the guests on 1,000 Hands.


Jon Anderson – Photo Credit: www.DeborahAnderson.com

“That’s where the title 1,000 Hands comes from, all of the brilliant musicians who played a part in making the record,” Anderson states. “Michael acted like something of a casting director, bringing so many great players. It was really exciting to hear the record open up and become what I had always envisioned.”

The sessions came out so well, in fact, that Anderson decided to include four new songs on the album, with brand-new lead vocals. “Jon is such a remarkable writer and singer,” enthuses Franklin. “His newer songs were fabulous, and they fit seamlessly with the rest of the album. Everything came together beautifully.”

Bookended by the utterly beautiful acoustic ballads “Now” and “Now and Again,” the album includes stimulating new progressive rock pieces (“Activate,” “Come Up”), poly-rhythmic wonders (“WDMCF”) and reggae pop (“First Born Leaders”).

The John Irvine Band’s Finely Crafted Progressive Jazz-Rock

The John Irvine Band   – Metaphysical Attractions (John Irvine, 2018)

John Irvine is an excellent Scottish guitarist and composer inspired by some of the leading jazz-rock and rock hero guitarists. His music is on the progressive side of jazz-rock, incorporating influences from maestros such as Pat Metheny, Joe Satriani, John McLaughlin and Alan Holdsworth as well as classic progressive rock harmonies.

The guitar sounds are multifaceted, and highly satisfying. John Irvine also plays the bass and keyboards. Guests include Rob Ironside on saxophone; Gwen Kelso on flute; and Rich Kass on drums.


The John Irvine Band   – Metaphysical Attractions

Favorite tracks include “Hymn To The Winter Sun”, full of seductive grooves and memorable guitar work; the captivating “Me And My Idiophone,” where John Irvine uses an impressive arsenal of guitars supported by formidable creative drumming; and the progressive desert blues of “Sahara Yadouin.”

Buy the digital download version of Metaphysical Attractions or the CD from thejohnirvineband.bandcamp.com.