Tag Archives: Progressive rock

Lines in the Sky’s Parallel Travel

Lines in the Sky - Parallel Travel (Faster Steps Records, 2016)
Lines in the Sky – Parallel Travel (Faster Steps Records, 2016)

Nashville-based band Lines in the Sky is described as an alternative rock band and also a progressive rock band. Their new album Parallel Travel points more towards the alternative rock direction.

It’s true that the trio includes three great instrumentalists, who deliver notable guitar, bass and drum work. But the majority of the songs are fundamentally alternative rock.

The album opens with one of the best cuts, “History.” It’s an intimate song with beautiful vocal work accompanied by piano and ambient synths. Very different from the rest of the album.

Another high point is the piece “Admiral” that includes excellent instrumental sections showcasing great guitar, bass and drum work.

The high point is the final track, titled “Ocean,” where Lines in the Sky decide to explore their progressive side. The vocals and guitars quickly indicate that there are good things to come. “Ocean” grows into an epic with memorable progressive rock guitar work and a delightful laid back conclusion. I’d love to hear more of this side of the band.

The lineup on the album includes brothers Jesse and Bowman Brock and Zack Wakefield. Jesse is on lead vocals, guitar, backing vocals, keyboards and programming; Bowman plays drums and percussion; and their colleague Zack Wakefield is on bass and vocals. Stephanie Middletown makes a guest appearance on backing vocals.

Lines in the Sky by Parallel Travel shows us a young rock band with tremendous potential.

Memorable Live Recording by Rising Italian Progressive Rock Masters

Barock Project – Vivo – Live in Concert (Artalia ART002, 2016)

Italian progressive rock band Barock Project showcases its talent on its first live album titled Vivo – Live in Concert. As the name of the band indicates, Barock Project is deeply influenced by classical music and symphonic rock. The group of young musicians is led by keyboard maestro and composer Luca Zabbini.

Vivo – Live in Concert is a 2-disc set with live versions of some of the band’s most iconic pieces. There is also a Genesis tribute, with a version of Los Endos, an instrumental piece that appeared on Genesis’ a Trick of the Tail.

The repertoire includes straight-ahead symphonic progressive rock inspired by Baroque music, ELP, Genesis and the great Italian progressive bands of the 1970s and some hard rock in the Deep Purple vein.

The vocals are primarily in English although the album includes two songs in Italian that truly captivating. In fact, I much prefer when Italian bands sing in Italian. They have special charm within the progressive rock realm.

I gravitate towards the more progressive pieces. Highlights on Disc 1 include: “Coffee in Neukolln,” an epic piece where Luca Zabbini deploys symphonic keyboards, dreamlike classical piano and synths. There’s also fascinating call and response vocals and creative bass lines.

On the somewhat operatic “Fool’s epilogue” we get to experience the admirable skill of drummer Eric Ombelli and guitarist Marco Mazzuoccolo playing admirable classical-inspired electric guitar as well as fabulous shredding with jazz-rock elements. Zabbini also treats the listener with masterful electric organ and other keyboards.

Another high point is “Un altro mondo”, an exquisite vocal and piano duet with lyrics in Italian that builds into an epic with the addition of guitar, bass and drums and grand finale with synth solo. It’s followed by another fabulous Italian-language song that feels like PFM meets ELP.

The last track on Disc 1 is the remarkable rendition of Los Endos. A version that progressive-era Genesis would be proud of.

The high spots on Disc 2 are: “Overture”, a scrumptious keyboard fest by Luca Zabbini that sounds like a 21st Century version of ELP.

Another standout is “Skyline,” a long suite with various phases featuring memorable keyboard and guitar work. At times, however, they stray a little towards hard rock.

The final highlight is “The longest sigh,” where the band returns to state of the art progressive symphonic rock, featuring brilliant synth and mellotron work by Luca Zabbini and a great guitar solo by Marco Mazzuoccolo.

The lineup on Vivo – Live in Concert includes Luca Zabbini on piano, keyboards, acoustic guitars, vocals; Luca Pancaldi on lead vocals; Eric Ombelli on drums; Marco Mazzuoccolo on electric guitars; and Francesco Caliendo on electric bass.

Buy Vivo – Live in Concert in North America

Buy Vivo – Live in Concert in Europe

Progressive Psychedelia from China

Zhaoze – Intoxicatingly Lost (Trail Records, 2016)

Intoxicatingly Lost, the latest album by Chinese progressive rock band Zhaoze is now available internationally through Trail Records. Zhaoze delivers a fascinating mix of instrumental psychedelic progressive rock, post rock and Chinese musical influences.

The quartet blends rock instrumentation such as guitar, bass and drums with Chinese musical instruments, including guqin (plucked zither) and xiao (a vertical bamboo flute).

Intoxicatingly Lost features mesmerizing cinematic atmospheres and melodies, featuring a fascinating interplay between guitars and guqin. Another innovation by this band is that multi-instrumentalist Hoyliang sometimes played the guqin with a cello bow.

 

 

The lineup on Intoxicatingly Lost includes Hoyliang on guqin, xiao and keyboards; Littledream on guitar; Roy on bass; and Seasean on drums and glockenspiel.

Intoxicatingly Lost is a magnificently-crafted recording by forward-thinking Chinese progressive music band Zhaoze.

Buy Intoxicatingly Lost

Greg Lake’s Solo Work Remastered

Greg Lake - Greg Lake / Manoeuvres
Greg Lake – Greg Lake / Manoeuvres

Greg Lake – Greg Lake / Manoeuvres (Creative Musical Arts, 2015)

Greg Lake, the memorable vocalist and bassist for King Crimson and Emerson Lake and Palmer, moved away from progressive rock in the 1980s. He recorded two albums, Greg Lake (1981) and Manoeuvres (1983) that feature 1980s-style AOR rock, hard rock and pop, with the typical reverberating pounding drums of the era.

Both albums are now available, remastered, as a two-disc set. The best part of the songs on Disc 1 are the guitar solos by the great Gary Moore (who passed away in 2011). Disc 1 has three bonus tracks that feature members of popular rock band Toto.

Disc 2 includes a great progressive rock song, “I Don’t Know Why I Still Love You” that has an Emerson Lake and Palmer feel, including majestic electric organ and synths by Tommy Eyre, fretless bass by Tristram Margetts and grand percussion by Ted McKenna. This band had a great potential as a progressive rock act, but the early 1980s was a cruel era for progressive rock in the UK.

The CD booklet includes extensive liner notes and interviews with Greg Lake.

Buy Greg Lake / Manoeuvres

Electric Fiddle Master Reconnects with His Progressive Rock Side

Darryl Way – “Myths, Legends and Tales” (Right Honourable Records, 2016)

Darryl Way, one of the great progressive rock violinists, has a new solo concept album titled “Myths, Legends and Tales”. Way was the founder of two excellent progressive bands from the 1970s, Curved Air and his own group, Darryl Way’s Wolf.

“Myths, Legends and Tales” is inspired by ancient and present day mythologies. The album features a mix of progressive symphonic rock and rock songs. Darryl Way plays all the instruments and also provides all the vocals. Way does an outstanding job with the arrangements, but where he really shines is with his fabulous violin solos and symphonic orchestrations.

Highlights on “Myths, Legends and Tales” include the instrumental “Orpheus and the Underworld,” where we find a series of fiddle styles and overdubs, ranging from scorching solos to romantic passages; and the captivating progressive rock song “Strange Goings On” that features Way’s best vocal work (including a mesmerizing spoken word section) and a superb violin solo.

Other high points include the dreamy, slow tempo instrumental, “Aphrodite”; the upbeat “Helter Skelter” composition, where Darryl Way gets closer to jazz-rock, delivering an infectious beat; and the final piece, a symphonic marvel full of magic and mystery titled “Prometheus Chained” where Way showcases his talent as an orchestrator and fiddler.

As a rock violinist I have always been searching for that elusive sound, turn of phrase and means of expression that would give the electric violin a legitimate voice in the idiom of rock music,” says Darryl Way. “With this album, I feel that I have come closer than ever before to achieving this goal. ‘Myths, Legends and Tales’ is another attempt by me to fly the flag for ‘prog rock’. I’ve raised the flag up the mast as far as I am able and can only now hope, that it will be seen and appreciated by the devoted fans of this neglected genre.”

It’s great to see this extraordinary violinist back in the progressive rock scene.

Buy Myths, Legends and Tales

Marillion Announces New Studio Album: “FEAR”

British rock band Marillion has announces the international release of “FEAR”, its new studio album. FEAR will be available September 9th, 2016 on earMUSIC. “F E A R” stands for Fuck Everyone And Run, a title that is simply an appraisal of today’s world, its politics and increasingly-prevailing human behavior.

All worthwhile human impulses come from love. And all negative and destructive human impulses come from fear,” clarifies vocalist and lyricist Steve Hogarth. “This title is adopted not in anger or with any intention to shock. It is adopted and sung (in the song ‘New Kings’) tenderly, in sadness and resignation inspired by an England, and a world, which increasingly functions on an ‘Every man for himself’ philosophy. I won’t bore you with examples, they’re all over the newspapers every day.”

F E A R was recorded at Peter Gabriel’s Real World Studios in England. It is Marillion’s 18th studio album and will be available as a 1CD Digipak, Limited Edition Super Audio-CD, Vinyl and Digital.

Photo: Marillion in 2016 – Photo by Carl Glover-Simon Ward

Former Yes Members Reunite to Form Superband ARW

A new progressive rock superband called ARW will be touring this fall, ARW includes singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Jon Anderson, guitarist Trevor Rabin and keyboardist Rick Wakeman. All three are formerly Yes musicians.

 

Jon Anderson
Jon Anderson

 

Trevor Rabin
Trevor Rabin

 

The band will perform new music and Yes classics. Yes is one of the most successful progressive rock groups of all time. In the 1970s, Yes included founder Jon Anderson and Rick Wakeman. Yes released progressive rock classics such as Fragile, Close to The Edge, Tales From Topographic Oceans, and Going For The One.

ARW will tour North America in October and November 2016, followed by the rest of the world in 2017.

The following are confirmed dates. Additional dates to be announced soon:
Tuesday, October 4 – Orlando, FL Hard Rock Live
Thursday, October 6 – Hollywood, FL Seminole Hard Rock Casino
Friday, October 7 – Clearwater, FL Ruth Eckerd Hall
Sunday, October 9 – Durham, NC Durham Performing Arts Ctr
Monday, October 10 – Atlanta, GA Fox Theatre
Saturday, October 15 – Glenside, PA Keswick Theatre
Sunday, October 16 – Glenside, PA Keswick Theatre
Wednesday, October 19 – Boston, MA Wang Theatre
Friday, October 21 – Wallingford, CT Toyota Oakdale Theatre
Saturday, October 22 – Huntington, NY The Paramount
Monday, October 24 – Montclair, NJ Wellmont Theater
Wednesday, October 26 – Red Bank, NJ Count Basie Theatre
Friday, October 28 – Atlantic City, NJ Borgata Event Center
Saturday, October 29 – Akron, OH Goodyear Theater at East End
Tuesday, November 1 – New York, NY Beacon Theatre
Wednesday, November 2 – Pittsburgh, PA Heinz Hall
Friday, November 4 New – Buffalo, MI Four Winds Casino
Saturday, November 5 – Chicago, IL Chicago Theatre
Monday, November 7 – Nashville, TN Schermerhorn Symphony Center
Wednesday, November 9 – St Louis, MO Fox Theatre
Friday, November 11 – New Orleans, LA Saenger Theatre
Saturday, November 12 – San Antonio, TX Majestic Theatre
Monday, November 14 – Austin, TX ACL at the Moody Theater
Wednesday, November 16 – Denver, CO Paramount Theatre
Thursday, November 17 – Salt Lake City, UT Capitol Theater
Saturday, November 19 – Las Vegas, NV The Pearl
Sunday, November 20 – Phoenix, AZ Celebrity Theatre
Tuesday, November 22 – Los Angeles, CA Orpheum
Friday, November 25 – San Francisco, CA Masonic

Masterful Rock Symphony

Höstsonaten – Symphony #1: Cupid & Psyche (AMS Records, 2016)

Symphony #1: Cupid & Psyche is the latest album by Höstsonaten, one of the various progressive rock projects developed by the great Italian musician and composer Fabio Zuffanti. The current incarnation of Höstsonaten is a partnership between Zuffanti and Luca Scherani (La Coscienza di Zeno).

Höstsonaten is the most symphonic of Zuffanti’s projects, mixing classical music with progressive rock instrumentation. Symphony #1: Cupid & Psyche is an instrumental symphonic suite. This musical work is also envisioned as music that can also serve as ballet music, as great composers such as Stravinsky and Tchaikovsky did in the past.

Symphony #1: Cupid & Psyche is inspired by Roman-era writer Apuleius’ “Cupid and Psyche”, which is part of the “Metamorphosis”. Zuffanti came up with a set of musical ideas appropriate for such a suite. He gave this material to Luca Scherani, who arranged it for string quartet, woodwinds and brass, sometimes using Zuffanti’s ideas and at times writing new arrangements of his own.

The final result is an album that beautifully brings together classical music and rock. In addition to the classical music orchestra instruments, such as violins, bassoon, and trumpet, Zuffanti and Scherani added powerful bass, drums, epic guitars and lots of keyboards, including Moog, mesmerizing mellotron, organ and piano.

In addition to classical influences and well-crafted classic symphonic progressive rock, Symphony #1: Cupid & Psyche contains engaging jazz elements and avant-garde moments.

The line-up on “Cupid & Psyche” includes Luca Scherani on keyboards; Fabio Zuffanti on bass pedal & devices; Paolo “Paolo” Tixi on drums & orchestral percussion; Laura Marsano on guitars; and Daniele Sollo on bass.

Formus String Quartet:

Sylvia Trabucco on first violin; Alessandra Dalla Barba on second violin; Ilaria Bruzzone on viola; and Chiara Alberti on cello;

Woodwinds section:

Joanne Roan on flute; Luca Tarantino on oboe; and Sofia Bartolini on bassoon;

Brass section:

Marco Callegari on trumpet; Alberto Repetto on horn; Federico Curotto on trombone; Maurizio Zofrea on tenor saxophone.

“Cupid & Psyche” is the first of a series of rock symphony projects that Fabio and Luca would like to work on in the future.

The “Cupid & Psyche” suite and ballet will have its live debut on October 22, 2016 at the Teatro Govi of Genoa under the direction of choreographer Paola Grazzi.

Symphony #1: Cupid & Psyche is a masterful symphonic rock suite by two of the most talented musicians in the current progressive rock scene.

Buy Symphony #1: Cupid & Psyche

Stick Men’s Forward Thinking Progressive Rock

Stick Men+ featuring David Cross – Midori, Live at Billboard, Tokyo, 10 April 2015 (Moonjune Records, 2016)

This fabulous special limited edition 2-CD set contains two live performances by Stick Men+ with a guest appearance by former King Crimson violist David Cross. Midori demonstrates that progressive rock and electronics are perfect companions. The album features a mix of ambient pieces and soundscapes, improvisatory progressive rock and classic symphonic progressive rock.

King Crimson is one of the essential progressive rock bands that never sold out to pop and AOR. Midori features three musicians who have been involved with one of King Crimson’s multiple versions: Tony Levin, Pat Mastelotto and David Cross.

Throughout Midori there are spectacular jams, mesmerizing soundscapes, violin and stick solos, and structured compositions showcasing the talent of the three musicians.

King Crimson fans will recognize some of the musical pieces such as the classic Larks’ Tongues in Aspic Part 2 (from Larks’ Tongues in Aspic), Industry (from Three of a Perfect Pair), The Talking Drum (from Larks’ Tongues in Aspic), Breathless (from Robert Fripp’s 1979 album Exposure), and “Sartori in Tangier” (from the album Beat). Additionally, disc 2 includes a version of Stravinsky’s “Firebird Suite.” The rest of the pieces are improvisations and new pieces composed by Stick Men.

Stick Men with David Cross
Stick Men with David Cross

This project came about in April of 2015. Stick Men performed four historic concerts in Japan, with special guest, iconic King Crimson violinist David Cross. Moonjune Records’ Leonardo Pavkovic coordinated the project. The live recording of the 2 Tokyo concerts was released as a double CD in Japan only, and now is available as well through MoonJune in a limited edition of 2500 copies, available only on MoonJune’s BandCamp and on Stick Men’s 2016 live shows.

The album lineup includes: Tony Levin on stick and voice; Pat Mastelotto on acoustic and electronic drums and percussion; Markus Reuter on Touch Guitars AU8, soundscaping and keyboards; and David Cross on violin and keyboard.

Midori, Live at Billboard, Tokyo, 10 April 2015 is an outstanding set of forward thinking progressive rock by one the finest acts in the current progressive music scene.

Buy the album from Moonjune’s Bandcamp website.