My Top 5 Albums of 2015

My Top 5 Albums of 2015 in reverse order……. by Tim Darbyshire

5. Riverside – Love, Fear And The Time Machine

riverside

Poland’s Riverside returned in 2015 with their 6th album – ‘Love Fear And The Time Machine’.  Less heavy than previous offerings, it is arguably the band’s most mature work, with the album seeing the band revisit their melodic and atmospheric progressive rock leanings. Nice and laid back in places, this album was a very pleasant surprise for me in 2015.

www.riversideband.pl/en

4. Max Richter – Sleep

mrsleep

German-born Max Richter’s 8-hour long ‘Sleep’ is designed as suggested by the title,  as music you can sleep to.

I’m a big fan of Robert Rich’s 7 hour ‘Somnium’ sleep-inducing  music and this is just as good but completely different in style.  Richter mixes minimalist composition and contemporary classical to create a calming, soporific experience.  The music is equally effective whether you choose it as your daytime soundtrack or you sleep with it.   Hauntingly beautiful in parts, almost perfectly silent in others, this is a true masterpiece.

maxrichtermusic.com

3. Mew +-

mew

+ – (pronounced Plus Minus) is the sixth studio album by Danish band Mew. Difficult to classify, Mew have been variously described as indie, dream-pop and progressive.

2015’s +- is a well crafted collection of songs, if maybe not as immediate as its 2009 predecessor ‘No More Stories Are Told Today…..’.  After a couple of listens, stand out tracks are ‘Satellites’, ‘Making Friends’ ‘Water Slides’ and ‘My Complications’.

Huge sounding in places, dreamy in others – typical, magical Mew. I just hope we don’t have to wait another 6 years for the next album.

www.mewsite.com

2. Big Big Train – Wassail

bbtwassail

Big Big Train’s ‘Wassail’ EP contains 4 tracks,  including 3 new studio offerings – ‘Wassail’, ‘Lost Rivers Of London’ and ‘Mudlarks’.  These 3 tracks certainly whet the appetite for 2016’s proposed new album ‘Folklore’.

Quintessentially English as ever, Big Big Train’s arrival in Prog’s top division has been a long journey since their formation in 1990.  They are now an 8-piece band with the original two members (Greg Spawton and Andy Poole) being augmented by vocalist David Longdon, drummer Nick D’Virgilio (Spock’s Beard), guitarist Dave Gregory (XTC, Tin Spirits), keyboardist Danny Manners, violinist Rachel Hall (Stackridge) and guitarist/keyboardist Rikard Sjöblom (Beardfish).  A 5-piece brass ensemble adds to the diversity on this EP.

The sound is warm pastoral progressive rock with strong melodies…if you’re not familiar with Big Big Train, check them out!

www.bigbigtrain.com

1. Steven Wilson – Hand.Cannot.Erase.

swhce

No surprises here – ‘Hand.Cannot.Erase.’ Steven Wilson’s 4th solo album consolidates his position in the current Progressive music scene.  I wasn’t sure he could improve on 2013’s excellent ‘The Raven That Refused To Sing’ – but I think he has.

No weak tracks on the album, it’s an album of highlights (‘Three Years Older’, ‘Perfect Life’,  ‘Routine’, ‘Ancestral’ et al) coupled with a beautiful deluxe packaged version of the CD/Blu-Ray and a stunning tour, 2015 belonged to Steven Wilson.

Steven and band will be on tour for the first half of 2016 (including a return to Canada in March) when they will be performing the entire album – make sure you don’t miss them.

stevenwilsonhq.com

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IQ Live On The Road Of Bones

IQ announce the release of the latest CD in their occasional limited edition self produced ‘Archive Collection’ series.

Available exclusively at live shows and the IQ website, ‘Live On The Road Of Bones’ is a two hour  double CD recorded at a recent gig at The Met Arts Centre in Bury, UK.

The CDs come in a 6 panel digipack format and features live versions of all the material on disc 1 of 2014’s excellent ‘The Road Of Bones’, along with a selection of live favourites stretching back some 30 years.

Catch the band live in 2016:

Jan 29    Colos-Saal    Aschaffenburg, Germany
Jan 30    Zeche    Bochum, Germany
Apr 01    Neuberinhaus    Reichenbach, Germany
Apr 08    John Dee    Oslo, Norway
Apr 09    Slaghuset    Malmo, Sweden

Don’t delay on this one, all previous IQ Archive Collection editions are sold out and will not be reissued.

Full track listing is as follows:

Disc 1:
Intro
Sacred Sound
Outer Limits
From The Outside In
Born Brilliant
The Road Of Bones
Without Walls

Disc 2:
Ocean
Ryker Skies
Guiding Light
Until The End
Headlong
Out Of Nowhere
The Wake

 

IQLiveOnTheRoadOfBones

Anthony Phillips Deluxe Reissue Wise After The Event

Deluxe 4 disc clamshell boxed set scheduled for February 5th, 2016

Esoteric Recordings/Cherry Red  have announced ‘Wise After The Event’ is to be the second deluxe reissue from original Genesis guitarist Anthony Phillips. Originally released in 1978, this new set will feature 3 cds and 1 dvd.

This deluxe edition features a new stereo mix of the album, a newly re-mastered version of the 1978 stereo mix, a CD of demos, out-takes and extras, and a DVD of a  5.1 Surround Sound Mix of the album. The booklet contains a new essay by Jonathan Dann, including interviews with Anthony Phillips and the album’s producer Rupert Hine. The package also contains Peter Cross’ intricate artwork.

‘Wise After The Event’ was Ant’s second solo album after the beautifully pastoral ‘The Geese And The Ghost’ in 1977, and delivers a strong set of accessible songs with progressive overtones. Guest players on the album include King Crimson alumni Michael Giles and Mel Collins.

I’m assuming the packaging will mirror that of 2015’s impressive reissue of ‘The Geese And The Ghost’. It’s great to see Ant’s back catalogue receiving the deluxe treatment, this release coming on the back of the 5 cd anthology ‘Harvest Of The Heart’, and the 5cd ‘Private Parts & Pieces I – IV’.

Preorder now from Burning Shed.

Full Track listing:

CD 1 – Wise After The Event – New Stereo Mix:

1. We’re All As We Lie (4:34)
2. Birdsong (7:30)
3. Moonshooter (5:52)
4. Wise After The Event (8:45)
5. Pulling Faces (4:32)
6. Regrets (5:15)
7. Greenhouse (3:00)
8. Paperchase (5:28)
9. Now What (Are They Doing To My Little Friends)? (8:30)
10. Squirrel (4:28) – originally released as the B-side of the 7″ single release of We’re All As We Lie.

CD 2 – Wise After The Event – Demos, Out-takes and extras:

1. We’re All As We Lie – Link
2. Sleeping On An Interstellar Plane (Greenhouse demo)
3. Paperchase (instrumental demo)
4. Birdsong (instrumental demo)
5. Moonshooter (Cottage Tapes demo)
6. We’re All As We Lie (Cottage Tapes demo)
7. Pulling Faces (Cottage Tapes demo)
8. Squirrel (instrumental mix)
9. Wise After The Event (instrumental mix)
10. Magic Garden (solo piano mix)
11. We’re All As We Lie (7-inch single mix)
12. Regrets (piano mix)
13. Chinaman (basic guitar mix)
14. Now What (Are They Doing To My Little Friends)? (instrumental mix)

CD 3 – Wise After The Event – Re-mastered version of the original 1978 stereo mix:

1. We’re All As We Lie (4:34)
2. Birdsong (7:30)
3. Moonshooter (5:52)
4. Wise After The Event (8:45)
5. Pulling Faces (4:32)
6. Regrets (5:15)
7. Greenhouse (3:00)
8. Paperchase (5:28)
9. Now What (Are They Doing To My Little Friends)? (8:30)
10. Squirrel (4:28) – originally released as the B-side of the 7″ single release of We’re All As We Lie.

DVD (NTSC, Region Free) – Wise After The Event – New  5.1 Surround sound Mix:

1. We’re All As We Lie (4:34)
2. Birdsong (7:30)
3. Moonshooter (5:52)
4. Wise After The Event (8:45)
5. Pulling Faces (4:32)
6. Regrets (5:15)
7. Greenhouse (3:00)
8. Paperchase (5:28)
9. Now What (Are They Doing To My Little Friends)? (8:30)
10. Squirrel (4:28) – originally released as the B-side of the 7″ single release of We’re All As We Lie.

 

Screen Shot 2015-12-21 at 1.19.59 PM

 

The Musical Box – 2016 Tour Dates

Premier Genesis tribute band ‘The Musical Box’ returns to Ontario with 5 dates in late January 2016.

All 5 dates are the ‘Selling England By The Pound’ show, but the Mississauga date is a ‘Black Show’ – the version of the stage set is black as opposed to white.  Genesis performed Black Shows in the US and Canada only, on the last leg of the ‘Selling England By The Pound’ tour in 1974.

More details available at the band’s website.

tmb

Tour Dates for 2016:

JAN 13    BLACK SHOW    WESTBURY NY    USA    THEATRE AT WESTBURY
JAN 14    BLACK SHOW    TARRYTOWN NY    USA    MUSIC HALL
JAN 15    BLACK SHOW    RIDGEFIELD CT    USA    RIDGEFIELD PLAYHOUSE
JAN 16    SEBTP    NEW YORK NY    USA    GRAMERCY THEATRE
JAN 17    FOXTROT    WILMINGTON DE    USA    THE GRAND OPERA HOUSE
JAN 20    SEBTP    OTTAWA ON    CAN    ALGONQUIN COMMONS THEATRE
JAN 21    SEBTP    ST-CATHARINES ON    CAN    PERFORMING ART CENTER
JAN 22    SEBTP    KINGSTON ON    CAN    GRAND THEATER
JAN 23    BLACK SHOW    MISSISSAUGA ON    CAN    LIVING ARTS CENTRE
JAN 24    SEBTP    LONDON ON    CAN    MUSIC HALL
JAN 28    BLACK SHOW    CLEVELAND OH    USA    PLAYHOUSE SQUARE CENTER
JAN 29    BLACK SHOW    GREENSBURG PA    USA    PALACE THEATRE
JAN 30    BLACK SHOW    N. TONAWANDA NY    USA    RIVIERA THEATRE
JAN 31    SEBTP    KITCHENER ON    CAN    CENTER IN THE SQUARE
FEB 4    BLACK SHOW    MILWAUKEE WI    USA    THE PABST
FEB 5    SEBTP    ST-CHARLES IL    USA    ARCADA THEATRE
FEB 6    BLACK SHOW    ST-CHARLES IL    USA    ARCADA THEATRE
FEB 11    SEBTP    WINNIPEG MB    CAN    BURTON CUMMINGS THEATRE
FEB 12    SEBTP    SASKATOON SK    CAN    O’BRIANS EVENT CENTRE
FEB 13    SEBTP    CALGARY AB    CAN    THE MARQUEE
FEB 17    SEBTP    VANCOUVER BC    CAN    COMMODORE BALLROOM
FEB 18    SEBTP    PORTLAND OR    USA    REVOLUTION HALL
FEB 19    BLACK SHOW    SAN FRANCISCO CA    USA    REGENCY BALLROOM
FEB 20    SEBTP    PASADENA CA    USA    THE ROSE
FEB 22    BLACK SHOW    LA MIRADA CA    USA    LA MIRADA THEATER
FEB 25    SEBTP    DENVER CO    USA    THE ORIENTAL THEATRE
MAR 3    BLACK SHOW    MONTCLAIR NJ    USA    WELLMONT THEATRE
MAR 4    SEBTP    GLENSIDE    USA    KESWICK THEATRE
MAR 5    BLACK SHOW    GLENSIDE    USA    KESWICK THEATRE
MAR 6    BLACK SHOW    WASHINGTON DC    USA    HOWARD THEATRE
APR 14    SEBTP    ST-EUSTACHE    QC CAN    LE ZENITH
APR 15    SEBTP    VALLEYFIELD    QC CAN    SALLE ALBERT-DUMOUCHEL
APR 16    SEBTP    SHERBROOKE    QC CAN    THEATRE GRANADA
APR 17    FOXTROT    LAVAL    QC CAN    SALLE ANDRE MATHIEU
APR 21    SEBTP    VICTORIAVILLE    QC CAN    LE CARRE 150
APR 22    SEBTP    BROSSARD    QC CAN    L’ETOILE
APR 23    SEBTP    ST-HYACYNTHE    QC CAN    CENTRE DES ARTS
APR 27    SEBTP    TROIS-RIVIERES    QC CAN    SALLE J.A. THOMPSON
APR 28    SEBTP    RIMOUSKI    QC CAN    SALLE DESJARDINS-TELUS

Genesis – The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway, The Ultimate Record (by Robert Ellis)

Book review by Tim D

Published in late 2014 by The Rock Library, Robert Ellis’ deluxe limited edition hard backed book ‘Genesis – The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway, The Ultimate Record’ is a must for all early Genesis fanatics with 180 pages of colour and black and white images, most never published before. Limited to a worldwide release of 500 copies, this book is a worthy addition to any serious Genesis collection.

In late 1974 Genesis released ‘The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway’, a double concept album based around a Peter Gabriel-penned story centering on Rael, a New York street punk.  It proved to be Gabriel’s swansong with Genesis as he left the band at the end of the accompanying tour in Summer 1975.  Nowadays, ‘The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway’ has attained almost mythical status among fans but in late 1974 the band decided to perform the entire double album to unsuspecting and sometimes bewildered audiences who were still expecting to hear ‘Supper’s Ready’ and ‘The Cinema Show’.

Despite 102 live performances between November 1974 and May 1975, the show was never filmed (although several good audio recordings exist).  Photographer Robert Ellis documented the band at Island Studios during the recording sessions in September 1974 and photographed the live show in the UK, Paris, and Cascais (Portugal) in 1975.

The ambitious stage show was the first rock show to use multimedia to illustrate the story line.  The music was backed up by slides projected onto three large (for 1974/5) screens behind the band.  The slides rarely worked perfectly, lighting was minimal and early attempts at pyrotechnics nearly killed members of the road crew in Oslo!  Despite these unforgiving conditions, Robert’s images accurately record the show for posterity.

Each book is signed by the author, Steve Hackett has added some kind words and each track is treated in turn in the book with images from the stage show.  Also included is a ‘special promotional supplement’, a 24 page booklet of Robert’s photos from Peter Gabriel’s only reunion show (to date) with Genesis  – the ‘Six Of The Best’ WOMAD Benefit Festival in (a very wet) Milton Keynes in 1982.

According to Robert, “I want this book to be seen as a companion to the album, not a critique of the songs, the band, or the show – more an extended super deluxe packaging for a live album that never was.”

This is without doubt a quality production – with a hefty GBP 85 price tag, but worth every penny.  For more information and more sample pages see The Rock Library/Robert’s website.

 

16th December UPDATE from Robert Ellis via Twitter:

Thanx guys!! only a very few of this numbered edition left. Take a look inside..book2look.de/book/J7xoef8Joi

Big Big Train – ‘Stone And Steel’ Release Update

Originally planned for the end of 2015, Big Big Train’s ‘Stone And Steel’ is now scheduled to be released 7th March 2016.

‘Stone And Steel’ will feature nine cuts from the band’s 2014 Real World Studio rehearsals/performance and four live tracks from the recent gigs at Kings Place in London.  As the release contains nearly three hours of music (and documentary video), and all tracks will be mixed in 5.1 as well as stereo, it was decided to release ‘Stone And Steel’ on Blu-Ray only.

‘Stone And Steel’ will be the first release since June’s CD EP ‘Wassail’ and will fill the gap before the eagerly awaited follow up to the frankly stunning ‘English Electric – Full Power’.

In the meantime, the band have made a live version of Judas Unrepentant from the August 2015 Kings Place gigs available on their YouTube channel. For more information about ‘Stone And Steel’ and all BBT projects new and old, see Big Big Train’s website.

If Big Big Train are unfamiliar to you, I can recommend them wholeheartedly – buy their CDs, support the band, you won’t be disappointed.

BBT

Index – The Art of Steven Wilson’s Music by Lasse Hoile & Carl Glover

Book review by Tim Darbyshire

‘Index’ is a newly published collection of selected artworks, many unseen before, of Steven Wilson’s various projects.

Published in September 2015 by The Flood Gallery to coincide with Steven Wilson’s two nights at The Royal Albert Hall in London, ‘Index’ is a deluxe hardback artwork collection covering the period from Porcupine Tree’s  2002 album ‘In Absentia’ through to Steven Wilson’s fourth solo album in 2015 ‘Hand.Cannot.Erase.’ Originally available in two editions, the sold out red covered ‘Royal Albert Hall Edition’ (limited to 800 copies), and the standard green edition.

The book contains photographs from long term Steven Wilson collaborators Lasse Hoile and Carl Glover. Lasse has been working with Steven since 2002 and Carl since 1994. As well as 340 photographs (178 of which are unpublished before), the 240 page book features an introduction from Steven Wilson and an interview in the form of an extended conversation between Lasse and Carl.

The projects covered include Porcupine Tree, no-man, Blackfield, IEM, Bass Communion, Continuum, and his solo releases. The size and style of the book fits comfortably alongside the deluxe editions Steven Wilson is so keen on producing. Of course, the quality of the images is such that it can be appreciated without being a fan of the music.

The Green edition is still available from The Flood Gallery and Burning Shed

Marillion Announce 2016 US/Canada Tour

Marillion will be spending a lot of 2016 on the road in support of their as yet untitled 18th studio album – happily the 13 date North American Tour includes 2 dates in Canada. Tickets are already on sale from the usual outlets and selling fast.

The new album is due around Spring, and once again the band are in partnership with PledgeMusic to fund the release:

http://www.pledgemusic.com/projects/marillion

The band will be supported by John Wesley (live guitarist from Porcupine Tree) on all dates.

Tour Dates are as follows:

October 21: San Francisco The Regency Ballroom, CA
October 22: Beverly Hills Saban Theater, CA
October 25: Denver Paramount Theatre, CP
October 27: Chicago Vic Theatre, IL
October 28: Chicago Vic Theatre, IL
October 29: Northfield Hard Rock Live, OH
October 31: Toronto Danforth Music Hall, ON
November 01: Montreal Virgin Mobile Corona Theatre, QC
November 02: Québec L’Impérial Bell, QC
November 04: Boston Royale Boston, MA
November 05: Washington 9:30 Club, DC
November 06: Philadelphia Keswick Theatre, PA
November 08: New York PlayStation Theater, NY

marillion us tour

Hypergraphia: The Writings of David Sylvian 1980–2014

Book review by Tim D

‘Hypergraphia – The Writings Of David Sylvian  1980–2014’,  is an impressive hard backed offering featuring 638 pages, mostly in full colour.

Released in November 2015 ‘Hypergraphia’ is the final release from David Sylvian’s label Samadhisound. Four years in the making ‘Hypergraphia’ is published in a limited edition of 3,000 copies worldwide, with an extra 500 signed and numbered copies which naturally sold out very quickly.

The first thing that strikes you when handling the book is the sheer quality of it – the pages are printed on prime stock paper and the volume is pleasingly weighty.

The book is a comprehensive collection of David’s lyrics and poetry covering his career to date from 1980, accompanied by artwork and photographs relevant to the writings. Long time art collaborator Chris Bigg was responsible for the design of the project, and it has to be said this volume is a real treat for fans. Sylvian has curated or contributed all the art, with notable offerings from artists as Atsushi Fukui, Anton Corbijn, Katharina Grosse, Tacita Dean and Kristamas Klousch.

Aesthetically pleasing throughout, the book is a chronological journey of David’s work with three major interviews underpinning the sections for each release. The contents section clearly sets out format so you can look up your favourite album or period, but really the reader does not have to know who David Sylvian is to enjoy the artwork and writings included.

The quality and content of the book is simply stunning – nothing more really need be said. Couple this with Chris Young’s excellent biography ‘On The Periphery – David Sylvian A Biography’ and you really have the comprehensive guide to Sylvian’s story.

For more information and ordering see http://davidsylvian.com/hypergraphia/

David Sylvian – Playing The Schoolhouse (CCS51)

Review by Tim D

A limited run of 300 cds released by Confront Recordings, ‘Playing The Schoolhouse’ is an EP length composition by David Sylvian recorded in Norway in March 2015

Released in mid October – and instantly sold out – ‘Playing The Schoolhouse’ (CCS 51) finds David Sylvian in avant garde jazz territory. Based on an improvisation with Jan Bang, the single 15 minute track sees Sylvian playing ‘found objects, samples, and additional field recordings’, with Bang adding ‘found objects and dictaphone’. There are also contributions from Otomo Yoshihide and Toshimaru Nakamura.

Confront Recordings, the brainchild of owner Mark Wastell, specialises in small run editions, named the ‘Confront Collectors Series’. All releases are housed in a DVD sized metal casing with stickers to denote which release it is. Inside this case, the CD has the look of an old vinyl record, and a tasteful postcard completes the set. Pricing is also very attractive, only GBP 10.00 including worldwide delivery, or just GBP 8.00 in the UK.

According to Mark Wastell on the Confront Recordings website, “David has been a long time admirer of what we do and the way we do it – and a loyal customer too – as well as a contemporary of a number of the artists on our roster. I asked David to write a ‘single’ for the label and he presented me with the 15 min ‘Playing The Schoolhouse’.”

David Sylvian himself says: “Mark’s approach to running his label is one I admire. Along with numerous other labels I could mention, this is a one man operation and a labour of love. He brings to light work which might otherwise never be heard. Others do the same and, in my opinion, deserve support. It’s wonderful that so many have shown an interest in this piece that lies so far from the songwriting most seem to hunger for. I’m grateful for that.”

I know this kind of music is challenging for many people – no recognisable ‘instruments’, no melody, structure or rhythm – but for me this is a worthy addition to David’s catalogue and a rewarding listening experience.

A second (again limited) run is planned for December 2015, for more details see www.confrontrecordings.com and davidsylvian.com