Steven Wilson is welcoming the New Year with a half album of pieces that serve as an appetizer until he releases his next project.
This recording reflect the various musical influences absorbed by Wilson throughout the years. The album opens with a long piece titled “My Book of Regrets”. It’s a little deceptive as it begins sounding like pop-rock. Thankfully, around three minutes into the track, Wilson kicks in fiery progressive rock with a fabulous instrumental section featuring a fabulous guitar solo by David Kilminster and Adam Holzman’s knockout keyboard work. This is followed by a beautiful laid back dreamy symphonic rock section highlighting Wilson’s vocals and guitar and Nick Beggs notable bass lines.
The second composition on the album is a Year of the Plague (4.15), a charming instrumental recorded during the sessions for “The Raven that refused to Sing”. Wilson plays a wide-range of real and sampled instruments, accompanied by Holzman’s piano.
Track 3, “Happiness III” is a straight ahead classic rock song.
On the mesmerizing instrumental “Sunday Rain Sets In”, track 4, Wilson delivers a masterful mix of guitars, keyboards and that breaks out into powerful instrumental outbursts.
On “Vermillioncore” the band goes into high energy jazz-rock fusion and hard rock mode with some fine space rock moments.
The last track is a new version of the Porcupine Tree song “Don’t Hate Me.” It’s one of the best pieces on the album with captivating interplay between Wilson‘s male vocals and female vocals by Ninet Tayeb. There is also a memorable Fender Rhodes electric piano solo by Adam Holzman and spellbinding ambient keyboard atmospheres.
Influential progressive symphonic rock Renaissance has announced the release of a new DVD Live at The Union Chapel, videotaped at The Union Chapel in London UK on April 16, 2015 by Paul Green Productions, with lighting by Russell ‘Tigger’ Matthews.
Renaissance is led by legendary vocalist Annie Haslam. The DVD includes favorite classics as “Carpet of the Sun”, “Ocean Gypsy”, “Mother Russia”, “Ashes are Burning” and newer pieces “Symphony of Light” and “Grandine il Vento.” The DVD is NTSC all-region, with LPCM stereo and Dolby Digital surround audio tracks. A Blu-Ray version is planned in 2016.
In support of this new DVD, Renaissance will be touring the United States and United Kingdom. The current lineup of Renaissance includes Annie Haslam on lead vocals, Rave Tesar on keyboards, Tom Brislin on keyboards, Mark Lambert on acoustic guitars, Leo Traversa on bass, and Frank Pagano on drums.
Watch the DVD trailer:
Feb 12 – The Birchmere – Alexandria, VA – tickets
Feb 13 – Keswick Theatre – Glenside, PA – tickets
Feb 19 – The Newton Theatre – Newton, NJ – tickets
Feb 26 – Renaissance on the Moody Blues Cruise Miami, FL – tickets
(dates April 17 through 26 with Curved Air)
April 14 – Trading Boundaries – Fletching
April 15 – Trading Boundaries – Fletching
April 17 – Opera House – Buxton
April 18 – The Stables – Milton Keynes
April 19 – Robin 2 – Wolverhampton
April 20 – Academy – Newcastle
April 21 – ABC – Glasgow
April 24 – Academy – Bournemouth
April 26 – Shepherds Bush Empire – London
In 1970, the brothers Shulman founded progressive rock band Gentle Giant. Derek was the lead vocalist and played alto sax and bass, Ray sang and played bass and violin, and Phil handled the saxophone and added vocals. The rest of the band included Kerry Minnear on keyboards, who came straight from the Royal Academy of Music. Gary Green, a musician with a blues background, became the guitarist. Martin Smith was on drums.
Malcolm Mortimore replaced Martin Smith in late 1971 and was Gentle Giant’s drummer for the “Three Friends” album. John Weathers joined the band in 1972 and was the drummer featured in the “Octopus” album. The European edition of “Octopus” featured artwork by Roger Dean while the USA edition showed an octopus in a jar design created by Charles White.
Gentle Giant’s use of complex classical chord and time patterns, together with rock, blues, jazz and Early Music melodies and themes, set them apart from other progressive rock groups of their time.
Playing the Fool, the band’s official live album, was the last progressive rock-era album. Like other progressive rock acts, Gentle Giant switched to a pop direction in subsequent albums.
Live At The Bicentennial , released in 2014 contains live recordings made at Calderone Theatre and Hempstead, New York in 1976.
British musician and producer Steven Wilson remixed Gentle Giant’s “The Power & The Glory” in 2014 and “Octopus” in 2015. The Steven Wilson remix of Octopus entered the BBC Rock charts at 34 in November 2015. “Everyone in the band is delighted to hear that the music that we created in 1972 seems to be even more popular in 2015,” said Derek Shulman, former lead vocalist and North American chairman of Frontiers Records. “To see Octopus in the top 40 is such a pleasant surprise. Steven Wilson remixed the music in 5.1 with his usual respect and care. All the Gentle Giant team especially want to thank the old and new fans for keeping the music we created years ago still vital today.”
In 2017, Gentle Giant was inducted into Portsmouth Guildhall’s Wall of Fame. Phil, Derek and Ray Shulman, plus keyboardist Kerry Minnear appeared in person and were inducted by area media personalities Adrian Collis and Geoff Dorsett of Express FM’s Monday night Soft Rock Show. Gentle Giant’s lead signer Derek Shulman said, “This city is where we started it all, in fact memories of starting and ending the band are all about Portsmouth. We all went to school here, it’s where we made our lives. It’s an honor.” The British southern port city and naval base is where Gentle Giant and (their first band) Simon Dupree & The Big Sound were formed.
On September 29th, 2017 Gentle Giant released “Three Piece Suite.” It’s a specially curated selection of songs and compositions from the band’s first three albums (Giant, Acquiring the Taste, Three Friends) presented in both 5.1 surround sound and stereo. There are nine tracks from the albums, plus a pre-debut song, remixed by Steven Wilson. The choices were determined by the limited availability of multi-track master tapes from the era. Only a few songs from each album are known to exist as multi-tracks, with the rest presumably lost. Steven Wilson explained: “To create the new mixes, I used Logic as the software and Universal Audio plug-ins, which provide emulations of classic analog outboard effects, channel strips and old mixing desks…I used these tools to clean things up and bring out some more clarity, detail and definition in some of the instrumental interplay. There was never a question of trying to outdo the original mixes, but offer different perspectives on them.”
Gentle Giant’s Three Piece Suite includes the songs “Giant,” “Nothing At All,” and “Why Not” from the first album Giant; “Pantagruel’s Nativity,” “The House, The Street, The Room” from the second album Acquiring The Taste; “Schooldays,” “Peel the Paint,” “Mr. Class And Quality,” and “Three Friends” from the album Three Friends completes the list of the original recorded material.
The Whiskey Mountain Sessions contains a series of lengthy jams by Hillmen, a band that features two members of progressive rock band Djam Karet. These recordings made in a studio, but they were recorded live, without any overdubs. Although the band calls their still free improvisation, don’t think about hard to digest free jazz. Instead, Hillmen advance the music using blues, jazz-rock, psychedelia and progressive rock elements.
Hillmen use a mix of vintage and modern music instruments to develop their jams. The lineup on The Whiskey Mountain Sessions includes Pete Hillmen on drums, Gayle Ellett (Djam Karet) on organ and electric piano, Mike Murray (Djam Karet) on guitars, and Ralph Rivers on bass. Two guests appear on a handful of tracks: Steve Re on bass and Brian Carter on acoustic piano.
The Whiskey Mountain Sessions is a captivating demonstration of the progressive side of jam rock.
Singer-songwriter, bassist and guitarist Greg Lake is re-releasing his two solo albums “Greg Lake” (1981) and “Manoeuvres” (1983) as a 2-CD set.
The set includes four bonus tracks that have never been included on any re-issue of the albums, only on separate rarities albums.
The first album and its three bonus tracks include all of the members of rock band Toto with the exception of Bobby Kimball as Lake handles all lead vocals. Both albums also feature appearances by Gary Moore on guitar. The album’s booklet includes extensive liner notes.
Greg Lake is the co-founder of iconic progressive rock bands King Crimson and Emerson Lake And Palmer (ELP), and wrote the hit “Lucky Man” and co-wrote “I Believe In Father Christmas.”
Octopus, one of the great progressive rock classics of the 1970s has received the masterful treatment of English musician and producer Steve Wilson. The album, originally released in 1972, reappears with a fabulous new mix. Gentle Giant’s music is rich, complex and very beautiful at the same time. You need to listen to this gem with a really good audio system or high quality headphones to experience the marvelous sound.
Gentle Giant in 1972 was at its peak in creativity. Octopus was the band’s fourth album. You’ll find Gentle giant’s signature sound with madrigal vocal counterpoints, complex rhythms and changing time signatures, captivating instrumental and vocal interplay and call and response techniques, rock, jazz, classical and beyond. It’s one of those albums that you can listen to over and over again and you will continue to discover surprising new details. The lyrics were based on novels and philosophers.
This edition consists of 2 discs. Disk 1 features Steven Wilson’s remix of the original album plus a 16 minute live bonus track from 1976. Disc 2 is a Blu-Ray that contains a flat transfer of the original 1972 mix, and instrumental versions of the 5 stereo remixes, all in high resolution.
Octopus had different covers in Europe and North America. The original Roger Dean cover appears in this edition with an attractive booklet that includes lyrics, credits and photos.
The Gentle Giant lineup in Octopus included Kerry Minnear on keyboards, vibraphone, percussion, cello, Moog synthesizer, lead and backing vocals; Raymond Shulman on bass, violin, guitar, percussion and vocals; Gary Green on guitars and percussion; Derek Shulman on lead vocals and alto saxophone; Philip Shulman on saxophone, trumpet, mellophone, lead and backing vocals; and a new drummer, John Weathers on drums, congas and percussion.
Italy is experiencing an impressive progressive rock Renaissance, a new golden age, with some of the finest artists in the current international scene. Syndone is one of the gems in the new batch of rock progresivo italiano.
Odysseas, the group’s latest album was released at the end of 2014. Even though you can listen to influences from ELP, Banco, and National Health, Syndone has evolved into a fabulous original band featuring spectacular keyboard work by composer and keyboardist Nik Comoglio and Gigi Rivetti, along with the equally outstanding vibraphone by Marta Caldara. The combination of lots of keyboards (with plenty of distortion), the multifaceted vocals and vibraphone make an exquisite mix.
The current lineup features Riccardo Ruggeri on vocals and acoustic guitar; Martino Malacrida on drums; Maurino Dellacqua on bass, Taurus bass; Marta Caldara on vibraphone, keyboards; Gigi Rivetti on piano, moog synthesizer; and Nik Comoglio on Hammond organ, piano, and other keyboards.
Musically, this is symphonic progressive rock at its best with jazz-rock fusion segments and an occasional incursion into world music (one of the pieces has a strong Middle Eastern flavor). Odysseas is a tribute to Homer’s Odyssey where the concept of travel is seen as the goal of the human being, always tended to look to the future: “the true travel is not to discover new landscapes but in having new eyes.” (Marcel Proust)
Syndone combines exquisite piano and vocal passages with scorching electric organ and fascinating synthesizer melodies. The drum work is also attention-grabbing. There is a good reason for that. One of the guests is masterful drummer Marco Minnemann. The other high profile guest is flutist John Hackett, Steve Hackett’s brother.
Syndone was founded in late 1989 by Nik Comoglio to form an ELP style trio. “We wanted a name that would evoke all together sacredness, Turin, spirituality and scored grooves (like an old vinyl LP) so I thought of Syndone, with the “Y” to distinguish it from the famous relic and make it International at the same time, without being blasphemous. This name in fact immediately evokes Turin in any part of the world… and I liked this!” says Nik. [Sindone is the Italian name for the Shroud of Turin]
After two recordings, “Spleen” (1991) and “Inca” (1993), the group disbanded. Eighteen years later, Syndone returned as a sextet with a new line up. Syndone doesn’t use electric guitar as a choice. All distortion sounds are generated by keyboards.
In 2010 Syndone released a new album titled “Melapesante” (Fading Records), a concept album based on the idea of the apple fruit and its meaning in history.
In 2012 Syndone released the splendid “La Bella è la Bestia” (BTF) in which the band invited the great Ray Thomas, flutist and co-founder of the Moody Blues, as special guest in an audio track on the album.
Odysseas is an immediate classic, a masterpiece that sets the standard for state of the art symphonic progressive rock.
The second album by Massachusetts-based band Eccentric Orbit showcases an exciting collection of high intensity instrumental progressive rock pieces that incorporate various influences, ranging from virtuosic symphonic rock and space rock to electronic sounds inspired by classic sci-fi movies.
Madeleine Noland’s keyboards play an essential role in the band’s sound. She uses synthesizers, mellotron, organ and wind synth. The band recently added Tom Benson, an electric violinist who also plays guitar synth and MandoBot (electric mandolin), creates outstanding solos and develops exciting interplays with the keyboards. Meanwhile, Bill Noland’s bass generates vibrant creative lines along with Rick Landwehr’s drums.
The fascinating album artwork includes vintage sci-fi movie posters and robots making music.
Creation of the Humanoids is an exceptionally good progressive rock album with epic compositions and vintage sci-fi atmospheres.