Frost* – Numbers (official video)

Frost*, the progressive supergroup formed in 2004 by producer/songwriter Jem Godfrey, has returned in 2016 with an exciting new  album – their third, ‘Falling Satellites’. For the current Frost* line-up, Godfrey is joined by John Mitchell, Nathan King and Craig Blundell.

To support the album the band have just released “Numbers” as a single.

Catch them on tour if you can in June/July in the UK.

frost 1

 

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Big Big Train – Folklore

Released May 27th on the band’s own English Electric label, ‘Folklore’ is Big Big Train’s much anticipated follow up to 2013’s impressive ‘English Electric (Full Power)’. Can they do it again?  First impressions by Tim Darbyshire

Big Big Train are purveyors of modern progressive soul music, making classic pastoral-style English progressive rock with each track telling a story – fitting for an album called ‘Folklore’.  According to vocalist David Longdon, ‘Folklore’ completes the ‘Albion trilogy’ of releases, the others being ‘The Underfall Yard’ (2009) and ‘English Electric (Full Power)’ (2013)

Big Big Train is made up 8 musicians; founder members bassist Greg Spawton and guitarist/keyboardist Andy Poole, vocalist David Longdon, drummer Nick D’Virgilio (Spock’s Beard), guitarist Dave Gregory (XTC, Tin Spirits), keyboard/double bass player Danny Manners, violinist Rachel Hall (Stackridge) and  guitarist/keyboardist Rikard Sjöblom (Beardfish). A  brass quintet comprising Dave Desmond – trombone, Ben Godfrey – trumpet and cornet, Nick Stones – French horn, John Storey – euphonium and Jon Truscott – tuba and a string trio (Lucy Curnow – violin, Keith Hobday – viola,  and Evie Anderson – cello) further augment the impressive sound palette.

Ideally I would prefer to review this album in 6 months’ time, once it has had the chance to ingrain itself into my psyche. Big Big Train are an acquired taste – a band that demands repeated listens. For instance, I didn’t fall for ‘English Electric’ instantly, but now regard it as essential. ‘Folklore’, after 5 or 6 proper listens is already growing. Initially it didn’t appear to hit the consistent peaks, but each listen is revealing more to me. Either way, it’s already my favourite album of 2016.

The title track kicks off proceedings with a folky celtic-flavoured scene setting fanfare. (See video below).  Things quieten down for the start of ‘London Plane’ (with plenty of flute and Hammond) and the gentle ‘Along The Ridgeway’ with beautiful acoustic and brass passages, leads into ‘Salisbury Giant’, a short piece led by Rachel Hall’s violin and David Longdon’s plaintive repetitive vocal. Equally evocative is ‘The Transit of Venus Across the Sun’, again with more colliery style brass, which contains a first for Big Big Train – a trancey chanted chorus sung in Latin.

‘Wassail’ brings us back into familiar territory, having been issued on the 2015 EP of the same name. ‘Wassail’ is probably the most upbeat song on the album and refers to the English pagan ritual of praying  in order to ward off evil spirits and bless the apple trees so that they would yield a bountiful crop.

Only Big Big Train could get away with a 7 part track about a pigeon (‘Winkie’) saving the lives of the crew of a downed World War II plane. Told in just over 8 minutes, ‘Winkie’ seems rushed, even though it’s an interesting story. ‘Brooklands’ – about the now disused racetrack in Southern England clocks in at just over 12 minutes and showcases the the whole range of the band’s sound.  The album’s closer ‘Telling The Bees’ is currently the stand-out track for me (along with ‘The Transit of Venus Across the Sun’) – possibly because it’s the simplest and most direct. It recounts the tradition of bee-keepers telling their bees what’s happening in their lives, and one case in particular where on the bee-keeper’s death, the bees left the hives and went to his funeral.

There are many standout performances contained in the 70 minutes of ‘Folklore’, with vocalist David Longdon – who was the other candidate when Genesis chose Ray Wilson to replace Phil Collins – shining throughout. Rikard Sjoblom provides fluid guitar lines to compliment Dave Gregory’s jazzier input, and Greg Spawton’s deep bass pedals really add warmth to a beautifully recorded album.

These are busy days for the band, with ‘Folklore’ closely following the release of the live in the studio blu-ray ‘Stone And Steel’.  An EP of  ‘Folklore’ leftovers (possibly to be titled ‘Skylon’) is in the works, and a re-recording of their early albums is planned for next year with the release of a 3 cd set ‘The Station Masters’.

Having successfully transitioned into a live band with a series of sold out dates in London in 2015,  Big Big Train are planning more live dates in 2017.

CD tracklist:
Folklore
London Plane
Along The Ridgeway
Salisbury Giant
The Transit Of Venus Across The Sun
Wassail
Winkie
Brooklands
Telling The Bees

The double vinyl version also includes ‘Mudlarks’ and ‘Lost Rivers Of London’ which were both previously available on the ‘Wassail’ cd EP.

A high resolution audio version of the album is available from the band’s Bandcamp site.

For more detailed information, read David Longdon’s Folklore blogs where he describes the background stories to ‘Telling The Bees’,  ‘Folklore’, ‘Winkie’, and ‘Wassail’. Similarly, Greg Spawton’s blog details the stories behind the other tracks on ‘Folklore’.

The ‘Folklore’ sleeve liner notes have been made available as a downloadable PDF file here.

bbt folklore 1bbt folklore 4bbt folklore 3bbt folklore 2bbt folklore 5

Anthony Phillips – Sides (Deluxe Reissue)

Esoteric Recording’s excellent series of deluxe reissues of founding Genesis guitarist Anthony Phillips’ back catalogue continues with Ant’s fourth solo album – 1979’s ‘Sides’. Review by Tim Darbyshire.

Hot on the heels of the reissue of ‘Wise After The Event’ comes ‘Sides’. Following the same clamshell boxed format as the other reissues, this set is a 4-disc deluxe edition of the album. Disc 1 contains a 2016 stereo remix of the album. Disc 2 contains the bonus material (as on the Voiceprint 2010 double cd re-release). Disc 3 contains a remastered version of the original stereo mix of the album. Disc 4 contains a 2016 5.1 surround sound mix of the album on DVD-A. The deluxe edition also includes a double-sided full colour poster and a 20-page booklet with photos and extensive liner notes including a new essay written by Jonathan Dann. The whole package is once again adorned by beautifully intricate artwork from Peter Cross.

Musically speaking, ‘Sides’ is a departure from the pastoral progressive style Ant had developed on ‘The Geese And The Ghost’ and ‘Wise After The Event’. Ant’s record label at the time asked for a more song based approach to appeal to a wider mainstream audience. Consequently, for me the album has less appeal than its predecessors. That said, there’s still plenty to enjoy on ‘Sides’ – ‘Magdalen’ and ‘Nightmare’ especially are more progressive sounding, whilst ‘I Want Your Love’ and “Lucy Will’ are lovely ballads.

As ever, Ant is supported by an impressive list of musicians on this album, notably Michael Giles, John G Perry, Dale Newman, Morris Pert, John Hackett and Mel Collins along with producer Rupert Hine.

The new stereo mix  (by Simon Heyworth and Andy Miles) sounds fresh and warm, as does the 5.1 surround mix.  Although not my favourite album by Ant, I did enjoy revisiting ‘Sides’ for the first time in many years. Next up in the series is ‘1984’, Ant’s predominantly keyboard based 1981 album which will be released by Esoteric on June 24th.

AP Sides 1AP Sides 2AP Sides 3AP Sides 4

Track Listing:

DISC ONE: CD:
SIDES NEW STEREO MIX
1. UM & AARGH
2. I WANT YOUR LOVE
3. LUCY WILL
4. SIDE DOOR
5. HOLY DEADLOCK
6. SOUVENIR
7. SISTERS OF REMINDUM
8. BLEAK HOUSE
9. MAGDALEN
10. NIGHTMARE

DISC TWO: CD:
SIDES DEMOS, OUT-TAKES AND EXTRAS
1. UM & AARGH (INSTRUMENTAL MIX)
2. I WANT YOUR LOVE (INSTRUMENTAL MIX)
3. SISTERS OF REMINDUM (ALTERNATIVE MIX)
4. LUCY WILL (ORIGINAL MIX)
5. MAGDALEN (INSTRUMENTAL MIX)
6. SIDE DOOR (ORIGINAL MIX)
7. UM & AARGH (7” SINGLE VERSION)
8. SOUVENIR (INSTRUMENTAL MIX)
9. BLEAK HOUSE (ALTERNATIVE MIX)
10. NIGHTMARE (ALTERNATIVE MIX)
11. CATCH YOU WHEN YOU FALL (INSTRUMENTAL MIX)
12. BEFORE THE NIGHT (DEMO)

DISC THREE: CD
SIDES THE ORIGINAL STEREO MIX RE-MASTERED
1. UM & AARGH
2. I WANT YOUR LOVE
3. LUCY WILL
4. SIDE DOOR
5. HOLY DEADLOCK
6. SOUVENIR
7. SISTERS OF REMINDUM
8. BLEAK HOUSE
9. MAGDALEN
10. NIGHTMARE

DISC FOUR: DVD
SIDES THE 2016 5.1 SURROUND SOUND MIX
1. UM & AARGH
2. I WANT YOUR LOVE
3. LUCY WILL
4. SIDE DOOR
5. HOLY DEADLOCK
6. SOUVENIR
7. SISTERS OF REMINDUM
8. BLEAK HOUSE
9. MAGDALEN
10. NIGHTMARE

 

 

Haken – Affinity

UK prog-metallers Haken have just released ‘Affinity’ on Inside Out, and I’m pleased to say, they’ve maintained the quality of their recent output – 2013’s ‘The Mountain’ and 2014’s ‘Restoration’ EP. – Review by Tim Darbyshire

Housed in a retro 1980s style sleeve, ‘Affinity’ is loosely a concept album based around the evolution of computing and humanity, the relationship between man and machine, human behaviour, modern society and and it also asks if artificial intelligence will ever surpass the human capacity to create/recreate life. According to vocalist Ross Jennings, ‘Affinity’ “is more like a soundtrack to a series of recurring themes than an actual concept album.”

Having enjoyed the 1970s style of ‘The Mountain’ and ‘Restoration’ – especially the nods towards Gentle Giant style vocal harmonies – I was unsure what a Haken album influenced by 1980s sounds – 90125 Yes, Toto, King Crimson Discipline era etc – would sound like. What Haken have delivered is another quality album that just sounds like Haken to me.

Kicking off with ‘Initiate’, ‘1985’ and ‘Lapse’, we’re in familiar territory from the off – crazy rhythms, great basslines, quirky time signatures, anthemic vocals, all full of energy. ‘1985’ pays homage to Yes ‘Owner Of A Lonely Heart’ territory. The centrepiece (and longest track at over 15 minutes) is ‘The Architect’ featuring guest vocals from Einar Solberg of Leprous. This song encompasses the full range of Haken’s sound – it’s huge sonically with plenty of subtlety contrasting with the full on aural battery. ‘Earthrise’ continues in anthemic style, ‘Red Giant’ slows things down slightly before the pace picks up again with ‘The Endless Knot’. ‘Bound By Gravity’ closes out the album with a relatively slower feel, proving again that Haken aren’t just about intricacy and heaviness.

The limited edition double CD contains an instrumental version of the CD, an enjoyable if not essential listen. The European version is housed in an attractive hard digibook, whereas disappointingly in comparison the US version comes in a soft digipak.

The band are currently on tour in Europe, hopefully they will return to Canada/US later this year to promote ‘Affinity’

More info and tour dates are on Haken’s website.

haken2haken4haken3haken1

 

 

 

King Crimson – Beat and Three Of A Perfect Pair coming in 5.1

From DGMLive website:

DGM have confirmed the next releases in its celebrated King Crimson 40th anniversary CD/DVD-A series for an October release. ‘Beat’ (1982) and ‘Three of a Perfect Pair’ (1984) have been remixed in stereo and 5.1 surround sound by Steven Wilson with Robert Fripp.

Confirmation of full track listing / contents and a pre-sale announcement will follow in the next two weeks. Also it should be noted that all material on both titles will also be a part of a forthcoming King Crimson boxed set – “On and Off The Road 1981-1984”, also due for release in October 2016.

It has also been confirmed by David Singleton that ‘Discipline’ will be included in the new box set, neatly putting all 3 1980s King Crimson output in one place.

Following on from the recent ‘Live In Toronto 2015’ official bootleg series double cd set, a ‘full’ live release is planned also for later this year –  CD/Blu-ray, ‘Live In Takamatsu’, presumably to coincide with the European tour later this year.

Exciting and expensive times for the King Crimson fan!

Tour Dates:

Sunday 4th September Aylesbury Friars at the Waterside Theatre
Monday 5th September Aylrsbury Friars at the Waterside Theatre
Thursday, 8th September, Beethoven-Saal, Stuttgart
Friday 9th September, Beethoven-Saal, Stuttgart
Sunday 11th September, Admiralpalast, Berlin
Monday 12th September, Admiralpalast, Berlin
Wednesday 14th September, Forum Karlin,Prague
Thursday 15th September, Forum Karlin, Prague
Saturday 17th September, House of Music & Dance, Zabrze
Sunday 18th September, House of Music & Dance, Zabrze
Tuesday 20th September, National Forum Of Music, Wroclaw
Wednesday 21st September, National Forum Of Music, Wroclaw
Friday 23rd September, Falkoner, Copenhagen
Saturday 24th September, Falkoner, Copenhagen
Monday 26th September, Sentrum Scene,Oslo
Tuesday 27th September, Sentrum Scene, Oslo
Wednesday 28th September, Sentrum Scene. Oslo
Friday 30th September, Filadelfiakyrkan, Stockholm
Saturday 1st October, Filadelfiakyrkan. Stockholm
Monday 3rd October, Mehr! Theater, Hamburg
Wednesday 2nd November  Stadsschouwburg Antwerp
Thursday 3rd November Stadsschouwburg Antwerp
Saturday 5th November Teatro degli Arcimboldi, Milan
Sunday 6th November  Teatro degli Arcimboldi, Milan
Tuesday 8th November Teatro Verdi, Florence,
Wednesday 9th November Teatro Verdi, Florence,
Friday 11th November Auditorium Conciliazione, Rome
Saturday 12th November Auditorium Conciliazione, Rome
Monday 14th November Teatro Coloseeo, Torino
Tuesday 15th November Teatro Coloseeo, Torino
Thursday 17th November Opéra Garnier, Monte Carlo
Friday 18th November Opéra Garnier, Monte Carlo
Monday 21st November, Palacio de Congresos, Madrid
Tuesday 22nd November, Palacio de Congresos, Madrid
Thursday 24th November, Auditori del Forum, Barcelona
Friday 25th November, Auditori del Forum, Barcelona
Sunday 27th November Le SIlo, Marseille
Wednesday 30th November Museumsquartier, Vienna
Thursday 1st December Museumsquartier, Vienna
Saturday 3rd December Salle Pleyel, Paris
Sunday 4th December Salle Pleyel, Paris

Anderson, Rabin & Wakeman Announce Tour Dates

2016 will see 2 bands touring YES music; YES (Jon Davison, Geoff Downes, Steve Howe, Billy Sherwood, and Alan White) currently in Europe touring Drama and Fragile, and ARW (Jon Anderson, Trevor Rabin, and Rick Wakeman).

Pleasing many YES fans, North American ARW dates were announced yesterday – actually just US dates – with the show being described as ‘An Evening of YES Music and More’. An album of new music is expected to coincide with the October/November tour.

The official press release takes a barely disguised swipe at present day YES stating: ‘the aim of the band will be to restore the standard of excellence in performance that they established with their 1990 shows‘ (By 1990 shows, they mean the 8 member UNION tour of 1991/1992)

Despite this eternal YES political bickering – and the inevitable fansite rantings ‘who is the real YES?’, the signs are maybe pointing to an uneasy (but commercially profitable) UNION 2 in 2018 for the band’s 50th Anniversary…….

ARW

ARW Tour Dates confirmed so far:

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

Tickets on sale soon…..

 

 

YES – Tales From Topographic Oceans 5.1 Release Coming Soon

YEStfto

Confirmed by Steve Howe at the recent YES concert in Newcastle, and now on the official YES facebook page,  1973’s epic ‘Tales From Topographic Oceans’ is the next YES album to receive the Steven Wilson 5.1 surround deluxe treatment.

From Steven Wilson’s Remixes Facebook page: Started in 2013 and finally completed in April this year (so that’s 3 years in the making folks), my remix of the double album “Tales from Topographic Oceans” by Yes will be released later this year. More information soon.

‘Tales’ will be the fifth YES release by Panegyric, following ‘The Yes Album’, ‘Close To The Edge’,  ‘Fragile’, and ‘Relayer’. Sid Smith has also confirmed he has written the new sleeve liner notes.

No release date has been announced yet, but I’m expecting two versions, a CD/blu-ray and a CD/dvd-a following the previous releases . Hopefully it will be released to coincide with the Summer YES tour, where the band is playing ‘The Revealing Science Of God’ and ‘Ritual’ from the album.

YES Summer US Tour Dates:

YES-USA-2016

Jul 27: Columbus Celeste Center, OH
Jul 30: Atlantic City Tropicana, NJ
Jul 31: Bethlehem Sands Event Center, PA
Aug 02: Lewiston Artpark, NY
Aug 04: Lynn Auditorium, MA
Aug 05: Walingford Toyota Oakdale Theatre, CT
Aug 06: Westbury Theatre, NY
Aug 09: Staten Island St George Theatre, NY
Aug 10: Englewood Bergen Performing Arts Center, NJ
Aug 12: Port Chester The Capitol, NY
Aug 13: Morristown Mayo Performing Arts Center, NJ
Aug 16: Washington Warner Theatre, DC
Aug 17: Munhall Carnegie Of Homestead Music Hall, PA
Aug 19: Sterling heights Freedom Hill Amp, MI
Aug 20: Chigago Copernicus Center, IL
Aug 21: Milwaukee Pabst Theater, WI
Aug 24: Denver Paramount Theatre, CO
Aug 26: Anaheim The Grove, CA
Aug 27: Las Vegas Downtown Event Center, NV
Aug 28: Santa Barbara Arlington Theatre, CA
Aug 30: Los Angeles Orpheum Theater, CA
Aug 31: Saratoga The mountain Winery, CA
Sep 02: Reno Silver Legacy Casino, NV
Sep 03: Paso Robles Vina Robles Winery, CA
Sep 04: San Diego Humphrey’s, CA

 

 

 

Stick Men – The Mod Club, Toronto – 30th April 2016

To promote the forthcoming new studio album, Stick Men are currently on a 5 week North American tour – The ‘Prog Noir’ Tour.  30th April saw the band arrive in Toronto for a show at the Mod Club.  Review and photos by Tim Darbyshire.

Stick Men (Tony Levin, Pat Mastelotto and Markus Reuter) made a welcome return to Toronto and turned in an excellent performance to thrill the enthusiastic crowd. Playing tracks from the as yet unreleased album ‘Prog Noir’, older Stick Men material and covers by King Crimson (Tony and Pat are long term members of KC) and Mike Oldfield, the setlist was both varied and surprising.

Levin exclusively plays the Chapman Stick, Reuter plays his self-designed touch style guitar, and Mastelotto’s drumming encompasses not just the acoustic kit, but an electronic setup too, allowing him to add loops, samples, percussion, and more.

The highlights for me were ‘Level Five’, ‘Schattenhaft’ and the two longer improvs which highlighted the chemistry between the musicians on stage. I always like seeing bands at venues like The Mod Club, small 700 capacity all-standing where you can get close to the stage. The new material sounded strong, the album is out in September – why the delay? – in the meantime it’s worth picking up the double CD ‘Midori’ live in Japan 2015 (with David Cross also of King Crimson fame) at one of the shows on this tour.

Remaining ‘Prog Noir Tour’ dates:

MAY 1, SUN – Kitchener, ON, Canada (Dallas Night Club)
MAY 3, TUE – Auburn Hills, MI (Callahan’s Music Hall)
MAY 4, WED – Chicago, IL (Reggie’s)
MAY 5, THU – Chicago, IL (Reggie’s)
MAY 6, FRI – Milwaukee, WI (Shank Hall)
MAY 7, SAT – Dubuque, IA (The Venue)
MAY 8, SUN – Minneapolis, MN (Fine Music Cafe)
MAY 10, TUE – Moline, IL (Rascals)
MAY 11, WED – St. Louis, MO (The Old Rock House)
MAY 13, FRI – Louisville, KY (Headliner)
MAY 14, SAT – Columbus, OH  (Scarlet & Grey Cafe)
MAY 15, SUN – Cleveland, OH (Beachland Music Hall)

Stick Men setlist – The Mod Club Toronto, 30th April 2016

Hide the Trees
Schattenhaft
Cusp
Crack in the Sky
Time’s Insane Ashes
Mirage (Mike Oldfield cover)
Sepia
Plutonium
Horatio
Mantra
Soup
Sartori in Tangier (King Crimson cover)
Prog Noir
Level Five (King Crimson cover)
Encore:
Open, Pt. 3 – Truncheon