The Fantastic Worlds of Franck Carducci

Franck Carducci - Oddity
Franck Carducci

Oddity (Vocation Records V0C2257, 2011)

Amsterdam-based French multi-instrumentalist Franck Carducci is an emerging talent in the progressive rock scene. His solo album Oddity brings a fresh new voice, with dreamlike characters inspired by English literature and Greek mythology. Carducci’s sound is inspired by the British prog masters of the 1970s and 1980s.

The first piece on the album is an engaging 14+ minute epic titled ‘Achilles,’ which reveals a vocal and guitar style that is remarkably familiar, taking you to early Pendragon (one of the leading British neoprog bands of the 1980s). The delightful acoustic guitar, keyboards and flute melodies will attract Genesis fans.

‘The Quin’ is another lengthy melodic piece where Carducci demonstrates his talent as a vocalist with Pendragonesque vocals, mesmerizing keyboards and a brilliant mix or electric and acoustic guitars and even an unexpected Australian didjeridu.

On ‘The Eyes of Age’ Carducci treats the listener with charming folk-rock, featuring mandolins and fiddle.

‘Alice’s Eerie Dream’ is a long blues rock piece with excellent guitar work, where Carducci shows his licks in Jeff Healy fashion. As much as I like the piece and blues rock, I’m not sure what it’s doing in a progressive rock album.

‘The Last Oddity’ is a beautiful track with several types of keyboards, including the ever popular mellotron. Carducci mixes regular vocals with electronic processed vocals described as ‘ground control voices.’

Franck Carducci plays bass, piano, guitars, drums, and mellotron on the album, accompanied by an excellent cast of musicians, including John Hackett on flute; Phildas Bhakta on drums; Richard Vecchi on keyboards and guitar; Florence Marien on vocals; Michael Strobel on guitar; Niko Leroy on Hammond, synths; Larry Crockett on drums; Marianne Delphin on vocals; Christophe Obadia on guitar and didgeridoo; Vivika Sapori-Sudemäe on violin; Yanne Matis on vocals; Gilles Carducci on mandolin; and Fred Boisson on drums.

The album includes two bonus pieces, Carducci’s version of the Genesis classic ‘The Carpet Crawlers’ featuring violin; and a radio edit of the blues rocker ‘Alice’s Eerie Dream.’

The cover artwork does not do justice to the music.

Oddity is an outstanding album by one of the new talents in the symphonic progressive rock style.

Interview with Progressive Rock Legend Jon Anderson

Jon Anderson - Photo by Tami Freed
Jon Anderson, the legendary progressive rock vocalist that fronted Yes for many years is back with numerous projects. The most interesting by far is Open, a long musical suite with four movements produced by Jon and Jane Anderson that has brought back the wondrous sounds that Anderson is known for. Jon Anderson composed the music and wrote the lyrics. Stefan Podell made the orchestration and additional music.

You made many progressive rock fans very happy with Open. When did you start working on this project?

About a year ago…I started with an acoustic guitar, put down a framework, and then Stephan Podell did a wonderful orchestral arrangement…We talked about how best to make ‘Yes fans’ enjoy the journey, I think that was my motivation…

What instruments do you play on Open?

Just acoustic guitar.

And in general, what instruments do you play?

I’ll play anything, not great, but just enough to make it work…I love piano, and guitar mostly.

Who else participated in the Open recording?

Jane Luttenberger Anderson on angel Vocals; Stefan Podell on music and orchestration, 12 string guitar, classical guitar and bass; Zach Tenorio Miller on piano; Zach Page on electric guitar; Alexandra Cutler-Fetkewicz with Jon Fink and Susan Lerner on strings; Kevin Shima on acoustic guitar and vocals; Brian Hobart on Percussion; Stephan Junca on drums and African Percussion; Charles Scott on drum kit; Cal Poly A Cappella group (Robert Foster, Ian O’Rourke, Madelyn Frey,Jacob Stringfellow, Aaron Wolfe, and Amy Stevens); and additional backing vocals by Billy James.

The complexity of Open reminded me of your legendary solo album Olias of Sunhillow. Will there be more music in this direction?

I’m just working on the next ‘opus’…called ‘Ever’

You’ve had recent solo tours, including one with your with your old friend and former Yes colleague Rick Wakeman. How did that work out?

Rick Wakeman (left) & Jon Anderson (right)
Rick is fun to work with, he’s playing better than ever, and the songs we do are great to sing. Audiences love the banter between us,…and the new songs really have a different energy.

How is Rick doing health wise?

He’s really very well.

Will you be recording more with Rick Wakeman?

I hope this next few weeks we will work together.

Argentine Stick virtuoso Guillermo Cides mentioned recently that he will be working with you and Australian Truey Marks on a new project in 2012. Can you share some details about that?

Ask him to contact me please…

How do you find the time to play in so many projects?

It’s that time of my life, after nearly dieing in 2008, I realized I should try and finish my work…well, there’s more than I would believe…so I just keep working on the music…it helps everything…

You are a singer and also a songwriter. How do you work as a composer?

I usually sing with guitar, record everything I do, almost everyday a new song comes…it’s wonderful.

Where do you get your inspiration from?

The divine ‘love’ that surrounds us.

I’d like to take you back to the early 1970s. Yes made albums that are considered progressive rock masterpieces. I’m talking about Fragile, Close to the Edge, Tales from Topographic Oceans and Relayer. What was happening at that time that led you and your band mates to compose such incredible music?

I was driven to try new music, we were being told to write ‘hit songs’…I just felt it would be a waste of the talent within the band, so I chose to escape, and help create new music…it is wonderful to look back at those times; we were in perfect ‘harmony’ with each other.

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

I would start with Tony Levin, Billy Cobham, etc etc…

In this age of economic turmoil and social unrest, do you have a message you’d wish to impart through your music?

Change is good…and Change we must…

Jon Anderson
What music genres, groups or CDs are you currently listening to?

Amharic music…Ethiopian…

We interviewed the Senegalese singer Baaba Maal and asked what song was he completely addicted to – the one song that he will sing along with every time – and he told us his song was “One Love” by Bob Marley. What is your one song?

‘I will fix you’…and a million others…

What do you like to do during your free time?

Paint, cook, watch Soccer and ‘American Football..walk with my Janee.

What country would you like to visit?

China, I’ve been there 3 times, amazing culture……..Africa…India.

Which is your favorite city?


What was the first big lesson you learned about the music business?

No such thing as a free lunch…

What other projects are working on?

A zillion projects…tons of them…

Video of the Week: Concerto for Piano and Electric Ensemble by Kotebel

This week we present a the video Concerto for Piano and Electric Ensemble by Kotebel, a renowned Madrid-based progressive rock band. This is a preview of their upcoming new CD titled ‘Concerto for Piano and Electric Ensemble.’

Kotebel has released 5 albums since 2000, including the critically acclaimed ‘Omphalos.’ “The main body of the [[Concerto for Piano and Electric Ensemble]] album is formed by the four movements that comprise the ‘Concerto for Piano‘,” says keyboardist and founding member Carlos Plaza Vegas. “It is pure music; no reference to extra-musical elements. However, the other four pieces on the album are based on conceptual elements.”

The band was formed in 2000 as an eclectic project, immersed in the mainstream of progressive “art” music. Kotebel’s music is an elaborate, yet accessible blend of avant-garde symphonic rock, with a wide range of influences from classical music to jazz to world music.

Kotebel’s actual line-up includes Carlos Franco Vivas on drums and percussion; César Garcia Forero on guitars; Jaime Pascual Summers on bass; Adriana Nathalie Plaza Engelke on keyboards; and Carlos G. Plaza Vegas on keyboards.

To pre-order Kotebel’s ‘Concerto for Piano and Electric Ensemble’ CD go to

Yes Releases In The Present: Live from Lyon Box Set

Yes - In The Present: Live from Lyon Box Set
The current line-up of progressive rock band Yes has released a new box set with a collection of live pieces. “In The Present – Live From Lyon” contains live recordings made in Lyon, France on December 1st 2009. It includes many of Yes’ classics from their peak progressive rock era as well as newer pieces.

In addition to the two live audio CDS, the box set includes a 55 minute DVD with interesting excerpts from the live performance, candid interviews and behind the scenes footage.

The line-up on this collection includes Benoit David on vocals (he replaced Jon Anderson while Anderson was ill), maestro Steve Howe on guitar, Chris Squire on bass, Alan White on drums, and Oliver Wakeman on keyboards.

Disc: 1

1. Siberian Khatru
2. I’ve Seen All Good People
3. Tempus Fugit
4. Onward
5. Astral Traveller
6. Yours Is No Disgrace
See all 8 tracks on this disc

Disc: 2

1. Owner Of A Lonely Heart
2. South Side Of The Sky
3. Machine Messiah
4. Heart Of The Sunrise
5. Roundabout
6. Starship Trooper

Disc: 3

1. Interviews (DVD)
2. Excerpts From The Live Show (DVD)
3. Roundabout (DVD)
4. Machine Messiah (DVD)

Nemo’s Insurrection

Nemo - Revolu$ion

Revolu$ion (Quadrofinic, 2011)

Revolu$ion is the latest album by French progressive rock band Nemo. Revolu$ion is a concept album that centers on an uprising to obtain freedom and equality. The first cut on the album, ‘Liberté, égalité, Insurrection!’ is a short instrumental piece with piano and electric guitar in classic symphonic rock style.

On ‘Je suis un objet’ the dramatic vocals enter the scene evoking French progressive rock legends Ange. There is excellent instrumental work on keyboards and acoustic guitar. However, midway through the piece, the atmosphere is ruined with heavy metal chords that drown out the keyboards. Thankfully, the metal disappears and the last part has an epic nature.

‘Revolu$ion’ contains good keyboard and vocal sections. The entire track is filled with unnecessary hard rock and heavy metal chords that interrupt the progressive rock moments. Some of the 2000s bands seem to think that if you want to illustrate drama and tension, you have to use heavy metal. Not so, the best progressive rock masters create high drama without having to use any metal.

‘Aux Portes du paradis’ brings some desperately needed calm, with excellent slide guitar parts.

‘Seul dans la foule’ is a long piece that has more of the great vocal work as well as notable guitar segments. Around four minutes into the track, the hard rock chords come back and it turns into a hard rock fest.

‘Chiens en lasse’ offers delectable vocal and guitar work.

The 24-minute piece ‘Loin des yeux (Barbares Partiers VIII a XII)’ is meant to be the great epic track in the album. Although it has some good moments with majestic keyboards, the hard rock and metal guitar is overwhelming.

The final piece is titled ‘Notes pour plus tard’.

Musicians on Revolu$ion include: Guillaume Fontaine on keyboards and vocals; Lionel B. Guichard on bass and vocals; Jean Pierre Louveton on guitar and lead vocals; Jean Babtiste Itier on drums and vocals.

The overall impression is that Nemo is formed by skilled musicians who are able to create fine progressive rock, but their heavy metal tendencies spoil many of the pieces. They really need to decide if they want to evolve into true progressive rock or regress into a heavy metal band.

Moog Releases the Miniataur Bass Synthesizer

Moog Music has announced the release of Minitaur, the newest addition to Moog’s Taurus Bass Synthesizer family. Minitaur is a compact and powerful analog bass synthesizer that features a classic one knob per function layout. It is the first instrument in the Taurus family that does not have foot pedals.

The Minitaur is 21.59 centimeters x 13.3 centimeters (8.5″ x 5.25″) and weighs less than 1.4 kilos (3lbs). It will be introduced at Winter NAMM Booth #5000 at the Anaheim Convention Center, January 19-22, 2012.

The release of Minitaur marks the next chapter in the Taurus family history, by introducing a new form factor, control interface and increased level of accessibility. “The Minitaur has all the growl, snarl and body associated with the Taurus family of bass synthesizers. We’re really excited to be able to offer this in such a compact package that is both immediately playable as an extremely versatile analog synth and also integrates seamlessly into the world of MIDI and USB control environments,” says Cyril Lance, Chief Engineer of Moog Music.

The Taurus Bass Pedals enjoy a nearly 40-year history and have made a seismic effect in the music world since their introduction in the mid-Seventies. “The Taurus opened up so many possibilities for me…it also opened up a whole way of looking at what I do,” says Geddy Lee, of the multi-platinum band Rush.

In 2009, Moog Music released the Taurus 3 Bass Pedals, a modern reinterpretation of the classic Taurus Bass Pedals. The Taurus 3 is currently used by artists such as The Black Keys, Animal Collective, Jean Michel Jarre, Yes, Weezer, Rush, and The Dave Matthews Band.

Since the inception of Moog Music, Bob Moog tested his ideas, instruments and sounds on musicians as a key part of the product development process. In keeping with this tradition, Minitaur has been presented to a broad array of producers, artists and songwriters including Geddy Lee of Rush, techno legend Derrick May, Flying Lotus, Moby and renowned record producer Nick Raskulinecz as a part of the final product development process. The enthusiastic response from these artists marks the beginning of the next generation in the Taurus Bass Synthesizer line.

More information at

Memorable Three Friends

Gentle Giant - Three Friends
Gentle Giant

Three Friends (Alucard ALU-GG 034, 2011)

Originally released in 1972, Three Friends belongs to the category of must have progressive rock albums. It was the band’s first concept album, centered on three childhood friends whose lives take them to very different places.

Gentle Giant played a groundbreaking style of music, mixing rock, jazz, classical music, early music and sound experimentation. The remastered version of Three Friends is now available and it is definitely worth acquiring. If you don’t have a really good sound system, you should listen to this album with headphones. It is full of beautiful details and nuances.

What separated Gentle Giant from other groups of their era was their ability to create elaborate musical counterpoints, enchanting call and response vocals, mesmerizing choruses, superb instrumental interplay and the use of a wide range of musical instruments, including some rarely used in rock music, such as the vibraphone.

The line-up on this album includes Kerry Minnear on keyboards, vibraphone, percussion, moog synthesizer, lead vocals; Ray Shulman on bass, violin, string guitar and vocals; Gary Green on guitars, percussion; Derek Shulman on lead vocals; Malcolm Mortimore on drums; and Philip Shulman on saxophones, lead vocals.

Three Friend begins with ‘Prologue,’ an intense piece with outstanding keyboard and bass work, guitar and sax interplay and the unmistaken vocals that characterized Gentle Giant.

‘Schooldays’ is a charming piece that takes the listener to childhood years with guitar and vibraphone, followed by call and response vocals. The second part of the track is a delectable combination of piano, mellotron and evocative vocals, including a guest ‘boy’s voice’ appearance by Calvin, Phil Shulman’s son.

The vibrant ‘Working All Day’ contains a series of counterpoints and skillful sax and bass interplay as well as sumptuous organ and synthesizer.

‘Peel the Paint’ dexterously uses chamber strings, bass and organ. ‘Mister Class and Quality’ presents several layers of counterpoints between bass, guitar and keyboards.

The last piece of the original album is a grand finale titled Three Friends where you’ll find majestic mellotron, organ, guitars and vocals.

This remastered version contains two bonus tracks, a live version of ‘Prologue’ and ’Out-Takes,’ which is a series of studio rehearsals and alternative versions.

The CD version comes in a gatefold digipack with lyrics and a booklet with personal comments by some of the musicians and 1970s photos.

Three Friends is an outstanding album that shows Gentle Giant at their prime. It has aged well and it is an essential album by one of the finest progressive rock bands of all time.

Earth Frequency 2012 Music Lineup Announced

Australian music festival Earth Frequency returns in 2012 with a wide spectrum of music styles, including reggae, dubstep, techno, progressive, world music, psytrance, folk, funk and down-tempo/chill. All genres will sit alongside each other harmoniously in a 4 day mix of music for all tastes.

The diverse line-up of electronic music artists includes Robert Rich, Tipper, Talpa, ill.Gates, Audio Injection, Electrypnose, Janover, Opiuo, Spoonhead, Protonica, Spoonbill, Tetrameth, Kalya Scintilla, Circuit Bent, Suncontrolspecies, Sun:Monx, Sensient, Dysphemic & Miss Eliza Feat MC Heinz, OneTastyMorsel, Sun In Aquarius, Meat Axe, Jigsaw, Mote, Lubdub, Merkaba, Blunt Instrument, bumble, Closer Apart, Goosebumpz, Interval, ShifteQ, Blatwax (Live), Xenoscape, Dusty Fungus, Instrumental Asylum.

The live band line-up includes well established and upcoming acts from the South East Queensland and New South Wales regions: Dubmarine, Kingfisha, Kooii, Wild Marmalade feat Si Fixion, Darky Roots, The Upsteppers, Temple Step Project, Fyah Walk, The Mank, Youngtree, Ali Baba, Mystic Beats, One Dragon Two Dragon, Euphonix, CC the Cat, Lore Crew, Imandan, Lady Abundance Project, Beatrice, Jekks And The Priests of Heka, Pagan Love Cult and Channelfree.

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Psychedelia of Distant Lands

In the Labyrinth - One Trail To Heaven
In the Labyrinth

One Trail To Heaven (Trail Records , 2011)

In the Labyrinth is the project of Swedish multi-instrumentalist Peter Lindahl. One Trail To Heaven is a genre-defying compilation of some of his best work along with some previously unreleased recordings and alternate renderings of songs from Peter’s exclusive personal archive.

It’s hard to categorize In the Labyrinth. Although the group is frequently featured in progressive rock publications because of its psychedelic and progressive rock sounds, the band frequently ventures into world music territory, incorporating Indian, Middle Eastern and Celtic music influences and instrumentation.

There are basically three types of pieces on the album. One set contains progressive rock with enchanting mellotron and Floydian electric guitars. There are also songs that are deeply inspired by folk rock and the psychedelic sounds of 1960s British bands. Lastly, there are tracks where Lindahl and his colleague explore distant lands through the use of sitar, saz and many other traditional instruments.

Peter Lindahl provides vocals and plays mellotron, guitars, bass, saz, zither, mandolin, flute, synthesizer, piano, melodeon, viola da gamba, darbuka, daf, percussion, recorders, effects, programming; Håkan Almkvist plays sitar, e-bow guitar, electric bass, table. Guest musicians include Helena Selander on background vocals, Mikael Gejel on sampler and flute, Robert Eklund on archlute, Helena Jacobssen on background vocals, Stefan Andersson on electric bass, guitar & slide guitar; Kristina Fuentes on background vocals, Karin Langhard-Gejel on background vocals, Ulf Hansson on darbuka, and Marcos Chagallo on violin.

One Trail To Heaven is a wonderful record that skillfully brings together classic progressive rock, psychedelic music and the traditional sounds of the world.

Digital download version

Progressive rock Legends Pink Floyd to Release Immersion and Experience Editions of The Wall

EMI Records announced today that they will release Immersion and Experience editions of Pink Floyd’s The Wall, the masterpiece by bassist Roger Waters. This is the final episode of the recent ‘Why Pink Floyd?‘ reissues and extended releases. The Wall remains Pink Floyd’s biggest-selling album after 1973’s celebrated The Dark Side Of The Moon.

The Wall ‘Immersion‘ 7-disc set features a DVD with a film clip from the 1980 tour and a ‘Behind The Wall’ documentary, plus, for the first time, CDs of excerpts from Roger Waters’ original demos and work-in-progress versions of songs on the final album. Additionally, among these previously unheard versions are David Gilmour’s original demos of “Comfortably Numb” and “Run Like Hell.” The Immersion box set also includes The Wall Live, compiled from the 1980-1981 original tour.

Both ‘The Wall’ Immersion box set and Experience edition include a rare recording of “Another Brick In The Wall Part 1.” A highlight for fans, this demo showcases the evolution of the final track. Additionally, “The Doctor” explores the origins of the landmark track “Comfortably Numb,” giving further insight into Pink Floyd’s early demo recordings.

About The Wall

In 1978, after finishing Pink Floyd’s Animals stadium tour, Roger Waters devised the concept for the album ‘The Wall.’ The album is a partly autobiographical story about a fictional rock star named Pink looking back at his early life and reflecting on the nature of fame and success.

Waters presented his band mates David Gilmour, Richard Wright and Nick Mason with an extensive demo of songs. Pink Floyd recorded their eleventh album ‘The Wall’ throughout 1979 in France, New York and Los Angeles, assisted by co-producer, Bob Ezrin and engineer, James Guthrie.

An adjunct to the sessions was the famous addition of a group of students from London’s Islington Green School, who recorded their backing vocals (“We don’t need no education…”) on “Another Brick In The Wall, Part 2” at Pink Floyd’s own Britannia Row Studios in London. This became the world’s introduction to the album with the release of its first single, an instant success, accompanied by a promotional film which included several of the groundbreaking images from the story, including Gerald Scarfe’s brilliantly realized marching hammers.

The Wall was originally released in November 1979. It topped the album charts in the US, France, Germany, Sweden and Australia. “Another Brick In The Wall, Part 2” – Pink Floyd’s first UK single since 1968 – became a Number 1 hit, selling more than one million copies within weeks of its release.
Between 1980 and 1981, Pink Floyd gave 31 performances of The Wall in the US, UK and Germany. It was an impressive show that included a 40-foot wall, constructed, brick by brick, across the front of the stage during the performance.

In 2010 and 2011 Roger Waters toured a new production of The Wall to huge international acclaim. He was joined onstage in May 2011 at London’s 02 Arena by guitarist David Gilmour and drummer Nick Mason. He continues to tour in the Southern Hemisphere and North America in 2012.

Pink Floyd: ‘The Wall’ Immersion box set, Experience edition and Collectors 180g 2LP Vinyl edition will be released February 28, 2012 through EMI. The 2CD remastered Discovery edition is out now.

Progressive rock, jazz-rock fusion, ambient electronic music and beyond