Tag Archives: electronic music

A Finely-crafted Contemporary Celebration of Early Progressive Music

Maurizio Brunod, Giorgio Li Calzi, Boris Savoldelli – Nostalgia Progressiva (distributed by MoonJune Records, 2019)

Three forward-thinking Italian musicians celebrate the progressive music of the late 1960s and the early 1970s on Nostalgia Progressiva.

Maurizio Brunod, Giorgio Li Calzi, Boris Savoldelli – Nostalgia Progressiv

The album opens with “Formentera Lady,” a song that appeared on King Crimson’s Islands in 1971. The song is reconstructed with glitchy electronics, jazz trumpet, ambient electronics, soaring electric guitar and soft vocals.

Trsack 2 is the lovely “Mate Kudasai” from King Crimson’s album Discipline (1981), metamorphosed into a delightful bluesy version.

Although not a progressive music song, the trio reconstructs “Tomorrow Never Knows” by The Beatles (Revolver, 1966), transforming it successfully with mesmerizing loops, processed vocals, and guitars.

“Shipbuilding” is a song with lyrics by Elvis Costello that was written during the Malvines/Falklands War of 1982. In its new incarnation, it becomes a laid back song with vocals, guitar and spellbinding, gorgeous electronic ambience.

Next is Radio Activity, a song by German electronic music and techno pioneers Kraftwerk, included inn the album Radio-Activity (1975). Here, it reappears as a dub rock song.

The memorable song “I Talk to the Wind” from King Crimson’s In the Court of the Crimson King (1969) begins as an acoustic folk song that evolves into a trip hop wonder, featuring electronically-manipulated trumpet, similar to Jon Hassell’s work.

Another progressive rock classic, “Starless,” by King Crimson (Red album, 1974) in transformed into a futuristic piece with acoustic guitar, lead melody on trumpet and looped vocals.

“Taranaki” is the most jazz-oriented piece. This re-reading contains electronic beats, wordless vocals and soft trumpet.

Yet another gem from King Crimson appears on this recording, “Moonchild” (In the Court of the Crimson King, 1969). This version features exquisite acoustic guitar, vocals and trumpet.

The last track is “Gioco di bimba,” originally released by the fabulous Italian progressive rock group Le Orme (Uomo di pezza, 1972). It reappears with electronic beats and ambiance plus vocals.

Lineup: Maurizio Brunod on electric and acoustic guitar, samples; Giorgio Li Calzi on trumpet, fluegelhorn, keyboards, electronics; and Boris Savoldelli on vocals, electronics, and vocal synth 3D prototype.

Buy Nostalgia Progressiv

Ricochet, At the Early Edge of Electronica and Rock

Tangerine Dream – Ricochet (Virgin RecordsUniversal, 2019 reissue)

Ricochet was the first live album released by trailblazing German electronic music band Tangerine Dream. The release reviewed here is the remastered 2019 edition that includes the original tracks and great remixes by British musician Steven Wilson.

Tangerine Dream – Ricochet

Although Ricochet is still fundamentally an electronic music album, Tangerine added more guitar and drums, specially on the first half of track 1. This led to a sound closer to electronic rock with melodies playing a larger role. Nevertheless, most of the album is based on fascinating mellotron atmospheres and morphing sequences. Yet another masterful classic release by Tangerine Dream.

The tracks were recorded live in the UK and France during Tangerine Dream’s August–October 1975 European Tour.

The lineup included Peter Baumann on keyboards; Chris Franke on keyboards and drums; and Edgar Froese on keyboards and guitar.

Buy Ricochet

Rubycon, Berlin School Mastery

Tangerine Dream – Rubycon

Tangerine Dream – Rubycon (Virgin Records, 1975/2019 reissue)

Rubycon is part of the reissue set of classic Tangerine Dream electronic music albums. Rubycon was Tangerine Dream’s 6th album, first released in 1975.

The original album includes two tracks, Rubycon Parts 1 and 2. The album begins with layers of synths and mellotrons and mysterious sounds that seem like haunting whale chants. Slowly and gradually, the sequencers drift in, creating an ecstatic, trancelike atmosphere accompanied by bubbling sounds and distant melodies.

This new remastered version includes a bonus track, an extended introduction of Rubycon mixed by progressive music artist Steven Wilson.

The lineup during Rubycon was the same as one ther iconic Phaedra album: Edgar Froese on mellotron, guitar, gong, VCS 3 synthesizer, organ; Chris Franke on double moog synthesizer, Synthi A, organ, modified Elka organ, prepared piano; and Peter Baumann on organ, EMS Synthi A, electric piano, ARP 2600 and prepared piano.

Rubycon refined the trailblazing sound of Tangerine Dream, one of the group’s finest recordings.

Buy Rubycon

Sverre Knut Johansen’s Spellbinding, Deep Sonic Landscapes

Sverre Knut Johansen with Robert Rich – Precambrian (Spotted Peccary, 2019)

Norwegian electronic music instrumentalist and composer Sverre Knut Johansen takes the listener on a mesmerizing voyage across the prehistoric progress of planet Earth and its inhabitants. He is joined by the great musician, sound investigator and composer Robert Rich.

Sverre Knut Johansen with Robert Rich – Precambrian

Together, Johansen and Rich create a splendid set of electronic music pieces that incorporate ambient textures, cinematic passages, soaring melodies and spellbinding sequencers combining electronics, samples, sound effects and natural sounds.

Each musical piece on Precambrian takes the listener through important geological periods and evolutionary occasions of Earth’s 4.6 billion year history.

The epochs on Earth are an exciting topic for me,” says Johansen, “so I was inspired to create an album around the concept of the Earth’s geological time scale. The music is epoch-based where I try to convey with nature sounds what might have happened on Earth, creating moods around certain events that have taken place, like oxygen, birds, water, and ice.”

The physical CD version of the album is beautifully packaged, featuring a trifold package and a gorgeous booklet, filled with stunning photography.

Buy Precambrian

A Whirlwind of Progressive Psychedelia

Quantum Fantay – Yemaya Orisha (Progressive Promotion Records, 2019)

Belgian band Quantum Fantay has gradually become one of the most exciting psychedelic progressive rock acts in recent years. The group combines the best of instrumental spacey progressive rock with transfixing electronic music and world music elements.

Quantum Fantay – Yemaya Orisha

The current line up includes Pete Mush on synths; Tom Tee on guitars; Jaro on bass; and Louis Van der Linden (who replaced Gino Bartolini) on drums. Guests include Charles Sla on flutes; Maera on vocals; and Rafaela on vocals.

Yemaya Orisha contains a set of masterfully constructed progressive music wizardry. So far, one of the finest progressive rock releases of the year.

Phaedra: Groundbreaking Electronica

Tangerine Dream – Phaedra (Virgin Records/Universal International, 2019 reissue)

Phaedra was Tangerine Dream’s fifth studio album, recorded in 1973. This was a groundbreaking German electronic music recording that influenced numerous musicians in Europe, North America and beyond. The style is what has become known as the Berlin School of electronic music, a mesmerizing, trance-like genre that includes sequencer-propelled electronic sounds as well as pre-ambient floating or space music.

Tangerine Dream – Phaedra

This new edition of Phaedra is remastered and includes two bonus tracks, exquisite remixes of ‘Phaedra’ and ‘Sequent C’ by progressive rock musician Steven Wilson.

In 1973, Tangerine Dream was signed by a small trailblazing record label called Virgin Records. This was an adventurous label that released some of the finest progressive music of the early 1970s. Tangerine Dream recorded Phaedra in November of 1973 at The Manor in Shipton-on-Cherwell, England. It was released in 1974 on Virgin Records.

Although Tangerine Dream was a German act, their sales were considerably higher in the UK. Phaedra achieved six-figure sales in the UK and reached number 15 in the UK Albums Chart.

The lineup during Phaedra included Edgar Froese on mellotron, guitar, bass, VCS 3 synthesizer, organ (and also made the cover painting); Chris Franke on moog synthesizer, VCS 3 synthesizer; and Peter Baumann on organ, electric piano, VCS 3 synthesizer, and flute.

Additional Tangerine Dream remasters are being released currently: Rubycon, Ricohet, Stratosfear, Cyclone, Encore and Force Majeure.

Expressing Loss Through Creative Music

Frédéric L’Épée – The Empty Room (2019)

French guitarist and composer Frédéric L’Épée explores various genres within the context of progressive music, ranging from classic progressive rock to ambient and looped electronic music and avant-garde explorations.

Frédéric L’Épée is best known as founder of the progressive rock band Shylock in 1974 (reunited again since 2012), the guitar band Philharmonie in 1988, the instrumental quartet Yang in 2002, and the acoustic rock band Lobotonics in 2008.

Frédéric L’Épée – The Empty Room

Additionally, L’Épée is also a solo performer, a contemporary music composer, and takes part in several collective projects (e-werk, Steppe Scape).

The Empty Room relates to the emotions experienced by individuals who face one day the loss of a beloved person. L’Épée started co,mposing the material in The Empty Room nine years ago. The process was long as L’Épée suffered several big losses in his life during that time. “The Empty Room is about mourning, but it doesn’t make it a sad album,” says L’Épée. Rather, it is a questioning about loss, letting go or managing pain. “How grief can turn into a vessel of serenity and peace. Though we all have to face it one day or another, the process is different for each of us.”

L’Épée believs that only music can carry such deep and subtle feelings.

The lineup includes André Fisichella and Volodia Brice on drums; Nico Gómez on bass; Laurent James and Frédéric L’Epée on guitars; and Olivier Innocenti on bayan.

Buy The Empty Room from Bandcamp

Fusion and Electronics Around the Drums

Manu Katché ‎– The Scope (Anteprima Productions, 2019)

French drummer, singer, songwriter and composer explores various genres on his ninth album, The Scope. The biggest innovation on The Scope is the addition of various forms of electronica.

Manu Katché ‎– The Scope

The highlights include the superb opening instrumental piece, “Keep Connexion,” where jazz fusion meets funk and West African kora; “Glow,” a track where soulful male and female vocals combine funk jazz with chamber strings; “Overlooking,” a piece where jazz fusion meets chilled electronica and Latin jazz; the exquisite and mesmerizing trip hop meets funk jazz song “Please Do”; the song “Don’t U Worry” where rock, edgy electronica and neosoul are intertwined; and the bluesy “Goodbye For Now.”

On the downside, the prerequisite, annoying hip hop song and a cheesy electropop bonus track.

The lineup includes Jerome Regard on bass; Manu Katché on drums and vocals; Patrick Manouguian on guitar; and Jim Henderson on keyboards and programming.

Guests include Jim Grandcamp on guitar; Kandia Kouyaté on kora; Faada Freddy on vocals; Jazzy Bazz on vocals; Jonatha Brooke on vocals; Frédéric Kret on cello; Michael Nguyen on viola; Hugues Borsarello on violin; Kayla Galland on vocals; and Alexandre Tassel on flugelhorn.

Tony Palmer & Tangerine Dream Announce “Live At Coventry Cathedral 1975” Deluxe Box Set

Tangerine Dream – Live at Coventry Cathedral 1975

 “Live at Coventry Cathedral 1975” is the title of an exclusive box set of Tangerine Dream’s filmed and directed by Tony Palmer.

In December 1974, German electronic music pioneers Tangerine Dream were invited to play in the grand setting of Rheims Cathedral, a groundbreaking move. Afterwards, they were then invited to perform in the cathedrals of York, Liverpool and Coventry. The tour attracted extraordinary coverage in the media, especially at Coventry Cathedral, an iconic building rising on the ruins of the old cathedral bombed to rubble by the Germans in 1940, as a celebration of peace and reconciliation, as well as a lasting showcase for great contemporary art.

This DVD features the live recording soundtrack (unlike the previous issue), and also contains footage of Tangerine Dream from the legendary music program, All You Need is Love.

This deluxe box set brings together both the film DVD and memorabilia together for the first time, along with a signed and numbered certificate by Tony Palmer, the director.

To pre-order: burningshed.com

Mesmeric Electron Birth

Steve Roach – Electron Birth (Timeroom Editions, 2018)

Electronic music wizard Steve Roach recorded Electron Birth in front of a live audience during a remarkable performance at Tucson’s Galactic Center on February 11, 2018.

The album Electron Birth consists of 54:49-minute long progressive electronic music piece titled “Electron Birth” and a second composition called “Cloud Currents.”

Steve Roach’s electronic styles vary from album to album. In this case, Steve delivers a transfixing set of intricate, multilayered and constantly evolving, fast-paced electronic pulses generated by sequencers and other devices along with shape-shifting harmonic layers. This is the new generation of what is known as the Berlin-style of electronic music.

After the high energy construction, Steve takes the listener to another level of consciousness with “Cloud Currents.” It’s a dreamy, peaceful and delightful track of morphing ambient music that lets you sit down and relax.

The instruments used on Electron Birth include Oberheim Xpander, Emu Esynth, Korg Wavestation, Nordlead 2 and 4, TTSH Arp 2600 clone and Eurorack expander, Doepfer MAQ 16 Sequencer, DSI Mono Evolver, and Mackie VLZ 4 – 32 channel mixer.