Pioneering psychedelic progressive rock band Gong will be releasing a 13-disc boxed set titled “Love From The Planet Gong: The Virgin Years 1973-75.” The collection is curated by Steve Hillage and released with the full involvement of original members.
Released to coincide with Gong’s 50th Anniversary, the anthology includes the band’s classic years in a remarkable package that includes: their essential first four Virgin studio albums plus bonus tracks; previously unreleased, multi-tracked full gigs, the complete John Peel Sessions from 1973 and 1974; previously unreleased quad Pye and Westlake mixes of ‘You’ re-formatted to 5.1 surround-sound, and artwork including rare and previously unseen work by the late Daevid Allen.
Gong was a psychedelic rock band formed in the late 1960s when Australian musician Daevid Allen was refused entry back into Great Britain following European tour dates with Soft Machine. He decided to stay in Paris, where he began working together with Gilli Smyth and various musicians on what would eventually be recognizable as Gong.
The first recordings from the band were Magick Brother, Mystic Sister in 1970. Followed by albums such as Camembert Electrique, Flying Teapot, Angels Egg and You. These last three albums followed the fortunes of Zero The Hero and told the tale of the pothead pixies and was told over the course of the three albums and became the Radio Gnome Invisible Trilogy.
Following the release of You in 1974, Daevid Allen and Gilli Smyth left Gong and Steve Hillage became the band leader. He also left in 1975 to pursue a solo career. Gong continued in a jazz fusion-oriented direction under Pierre Moerlen, which was very different from the original musical concept of the band.
Gong returned years later and recorded several albums until the death of Daevid Allen. The band continued with a post-Daevid Allen lineup.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Spacious Mind – The Drifter (Trail Records TR-020, 2018)
Trail Records never fails to deliver the good stuff. The Drifter is a collection of tracks by the fabulous psychedelic progressive rock band The Spacious Mind, from Sweden.
The Spacious Mind recreates the enchanting atmosphere of progressive psychedelia generated by Echoes-era Pink Floyd, with a boatload of acid guitars, vintage keyboards, spellbinding effects and modern electronic sounds.
The material on The Drifter includes tracks from the late 1990s through the mid-2000s. Great stuff indeed.
Psychedelic progressive band After Nations has announced the release of a new album titled Consteleid, scheduled for release on August 1st.
Guitarist Andrew Elliott said about the new recording: “This is definitely our most ambitious work to date. I’ve really focused the past few years trying to develop as both a song-writer and guitarist, and in working with Travis and Zack to create something that feels like it represents where we are musically. I think the ideas and themes all feel more developed, more mature, more focused – and the album feels more expansive in the sonic ground it covers. I hope people will experience and feel that when they hear it.”
The band will be presenting the new album across the US Midwest, southwest, and West Coast later this summer. This time they’ll be joined by an additional guitarist, David Sandoval (Eat the Sun, Chaff, Kenaima).
“In the past, I’ve written guitar parts for albums that I have to condense down for live performances,” says Andrew Elliott. “I couldn’t play everything that’s there, it’s just not possible, so I’d focus on critical parts and cut other things. With this album, I just didn’t feel we could do that. The writing is all interdependent; everything has a place, every part is serving the music. It just doesn’t have the same energy, feeling, or texture without all of it being played live. So I reached out to Dave – an incredible musician and friend from past tours – and asked him if he’d want to join us. He was down, and here we are.”
8/17 Lawrence, KS at Replay Lounge
8/18 Colorado Springs, CO at Triple Nickel
8/19 Denver, CO at 7th Circle
8/21 Salt Lake City, UT at The Underground
8/22 Boise, ID at The Olympic
8/23 Salem, OR at The Space
8/24 Portland, OR at Kenton Club
8/25 Seattle, WA at The Central
8/29 Oakland, CA at Elbo Room
8/30 Las Vegas, NV at TBA
8/31 Phoenix, AZ at Rogue
9/1 Albuquerque, NM at TBA
Superfjord – All Will Be Golden (Svart Records, 2018)
All Will Be Golden is the second album by Finnish psychedelic rock band Superfjord, scheduled for release September 21, 2018. The band plays a superb mix of Pink Floyd-inspired space rock, progressive jam rock, trance music and mantra chants
The band includes Jussi Ristikaarto on guitars, electronics, vocals; Mikko Kapanen on guitar, vocals, percussion; Ilari Kivelä on drums, percussion; Teemu Soininen on bass; Juho Ojala on keyboards; and Jussi Peevo on drums, percussion.
All Will Be Golden is a mesmerizing album by a rising talent in the field of progressive psychedelic rock.
Belgian keyboardist Dominique Vantomme has released a fabulous genre-defying album where progressive jazz meets psychedelic rock.
Vegir has a cutting edge sound where analog keyboards (including distorted electric piano) meet the spellbinding psychedelic guitar and effects of Michel Delville, Tony Levin’s remarkable bass and Chapman stick sounds, and the powerful, creative drumming of Maxime Lenssen.
Vegir is an exceptionally good album featuring engaging and instinctive progressive jams that highlight the beauty of electronic keyboards.
Static is an indie progressive rock project by keyboardist Dave Kerzner. It’s a concept album about the disruptions and disorder in ordinary life and about passing through this “static interference” in our minds towards the goal of lucidity and joy.
The majority of the album contains beautifully-crafted progressive rock with vocal and guitar echoes of David Gilmour, Roger Waters, Steven Wilson and prog rock classic acts plus forward-thinking arrangements that bring together space rock, sound effects and electronics.
As indicated, the majority of the album is highly enjoyable state-of-the-art progressive rock. I would skip tracks 5 and 6, which stray away from the progressive rock vibe and head towards catchy pop. The remainder of the album includes all there is to like about progressive rock: majestic mellotron, memorable synth and guitar solos, exquisite cello, long epics and grand finales.
But there is more, Static features the great Steve Hackett, a musician that deserves an award for his talent and generosity, appearing as guest on numerous progressive rock albums. And Kerzner also used the rising star of prog rock artwork, Ed Unitsky.
The lineup on Static includes Dave Kerzner on vocals, keyboards and guitar; Fernando Perdomo on guitar, bass and drums; Randy McStine on guitar, effects and backing vocals; Derek Cintron on drums; Durga and Lorelei McBroom on backing vocals.
Guests: Steve Hackett on guitar; Matt Dorsey on bass and backing vocals; Nick Mason on drums; Colin Edwin on bass; Ewa Karolina Lewowska on backing vocals; Chris Johnson on guitar; Stuart Fletcher on bass; Alex Cromarty on drums; Ruti Celi on cello; and Nick D’Virgilio on drums.