Our Top 10 Prog Albums of 2016

pmr-2016-top10

 

1 BIG BIG TRAIN – Folklore
top5-bbt-folklore

2 MARILLION – F.E.A.R.
top5-marillion-fear

3 HAKEN – Affinity
top5-haken-affinity

4 RIVERSIDE – Eye Of The Soundscapetop5-riverside-eots

5 THANK YOU SCIENTIST – Stranger Heads Prevailtop5-tys-stranger-heads

6 SYD ARTHUR – Apricitytop5-syd-arthur-apricity

7 STEVEN WILSON – 4 1/2top5-sw-4-1_2

8 VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR – Do Not Disturbtop5-vdgg-do-not-disturb

9 STICK MEN – Prog Noirtop5-stick-men-prog-noir

10 OPETH – Sorceress
top5-opeth-sorceress

Advertisements

Riverside – Eye Of The Soundscape

riverside-eots-08-small

Released via InsideOutMusic, Riverside’s ‘Eye Of The Soundscape’ is described by the band as a complementary instrumental album including 13 experimental and highly atmospheric compositions, which showcase their ambient electronic side.  Review and photos by Tim Darbyshire.

Warsaw based Riverside’s ‘Eye Of The Soundscape’ is a double cd consisting entirely of  instrumental pieces recorded over the last few years. Although this release was already in the planning stages before the untimely death of Piotr Grudzinski in February 2016,  it now represents a poignant send off to the band’s much missed guitarist.

‘Eye Of The Soundscape’ is the band’s seventh album and contains over 100 minutes of often ambient music spread over two discs. In truth, Riverside fans who already have the band’s cds are only getting four new tracks (around 35 minutes worth). The new tracks are ‘Where The River Flows’, ‘Shine’, ‘Sleepwalkers’ and ‘Eye Of The Soundscape’.

All the tracks from the limited edition bonus cds of ‘Love, Fear And The Time Machine’, and ‘Shrine Of New Generation Slaves’ are included here, and the collection is completed by two 2016 versions of songs from the ‘Rapid Eye Movement’ album. (‘Rapid Eye Movement’ and ‘Rainbow Trip’).

There’s plenty of variety contained in these instrumentals, ranging from the out and out ambient drift of ‘Eye Of The Soundscape’ to the upbeat ‘Machines’. ‘Night Session – Part Two’ has a lonesome sax accompanied by an offbeat drum pattern, and ‘Promise’ is a gentle acoustic guitar dominated piece. ‘Sleepwalkers’ is soft techno with an inquisitive synth melody and  ‘Rainbow Trip’ is delightfully mellow – the track ‘Where The River Flows’ is included below and gives a fairly good indication of what this release is all about.

‘Eye Of The Soundscape’ should be seen as a bridge between the first six Riverside albums and the next studio release. Taken at face value, this is a smooth compilation of (mostly) relaxed instrumentals with unobtrusive drum beats pinning the music. If this is your introduction to Riverside, I’d recommend you check out the last two cds, 2015’s ‘Love, Fear And The Time Machine’ and 2013’s ‘Shrine Of New Generation Slaves’

The loss of guitarist Piotr Grudzinski might have reduced Riverside to three members, but the good news is they are committed to carrying on as a three-piece, with a live guitarist to be added for gigs. Two shows have already been announced in their native Poland for 25th and 26th February 2017 – marking the anniversary of Grudzinski’s death.

More details can be found at Riverside’s website.

CD1 (50:03):
1. Where The River Flows (10:53)
2. Shine (04:09)
3. Rapid Eye Movement (2016 Mix) (12:40)
4. Night Session – Part One (10:40)
5. Night Session – Part Two (11:35)

CD2 (52:26):
1. Sleepwalkers (07:19)
2. Rainbow Trip (2016 Mix) (06:19)
3. Heavenland (04:59)
4. Return (6:50)
5. Aether (08:43)
6. Machines (03:53)
7. Promise (02:44)
8. Eye Of The Soundscape (11:30)

 

 

Riverside…..And Then There Were Three

riverside2016

After the untimely death of guitarist Piotr Grudziński earlier this year, Polish band Riverside have announced their intention to carry on as a three piece……..

From the band’s website:

Dear Friends,
We’d like to thank you again for your friendship and support throughout this most tragic time for us and we’d like to officially announce that we have made a decision about our future.
We have decided that we are not going to do a casting for a new guitarist. Thus we have ceased to be a quartet and have become a trio. In this line-up we will prepare our new studio album. Both in the recording studio and on tour – if we get back to touring – we will be playing with session guitarists, who are our friends, whom we know and like. But the line-up of Riverside will be as shown in the picture.
Yes, we do realise that this is not going to be the same band. We know that for many of you the story of Riverside ends here, this year, and that “Eye of the Soundscape” might be the last Riverside album you’ll buy. We know that some of you can’t imagine this band without the characteristic guitar of Piotr Grudziński and for you Riverside has ceased to exist. But our story is not over yet; with a flaw, with a scar, with a wealth of new experiences, we have decided to go on.
We know stories of many bands that have survived and have been successful, in spite of all. And we want to be the living proof that giving up is not an option and that we can be an inspiration for others, too. For as long as we can, we’ll continue to do our best to create and meet with you wherever the emotions are running high. Grudzień will still be with us. We are definitely not going to forget him. He’s a part of our lives. But in order for the memory of him to survive, we have to continue. And we want to. So we’re embarking on another journey and we are thankful to everyone who will join us.
Our plans for the nearest future?
Next year we’re going to start working on a new album. Marked by the circumstances, it will probably be a return to heavier and more intense sound. But before that, in February 2017, on the anniversary of Piotr’s death, we’d like to play our first gig. A very special gig which will be an exceptional event. We’d like to play it with guests, with friends, for Piotr, for us. And for you. We’d like our music to be the hero of that day, we’d like to let it speak for itself. We’ll give you more details about it in the coming weeks.
The river will never be the same again but it doesn’t mean it has to stop flowing.
Best regards,
Mariusz Duda, Piotr Kozieradzki, Michał Łapaj

riverside-eots

Released on october 21st, ‘Eye Of The Soundscape’ is a complimentary instrumental release – features 13 experimental and atmospheric compositions, including tracks previously used as bonus material for the ‘Shrine of New Generation Slaves’ and ‘Love, Fear and the Time Machine’ albums, rarities 2007/2008 (a new mix of ‘Rapid Eye Movement’ and the single ‘Rainbow Trip’) and four new compositions (‘Where The River Flows’, ‘Shine’, ‘Sleepwalkers’ and ‘Eye Of The Soundscape’ – over 30 minutes in length).
The album will be available as 2CD-Mediabook, 3LP (With both CDs as bonus) and Digital Download.

Preorder now from Burning Shed.
CD 1:
1. Where The River Flows (10:53)
2. Shine (4:09)
3. Rapid Eye Movement (2016 mix) (12:40)
4. Night Session – Part One (10:40)
5. Night Session – Part Two (11:35)
CD 2:
1. Sleepwalkers (07:19)
2. Rainbow Trip (2016 mix) (06:19)
3. Heavenland (04:59)
4. Return (6:50)
5. Aether (08:43)
6. Machines (03:53)
7. Promise (02:44)
8. Eye Of The Soundscape (11:30)

 

riverside2016-2

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