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August 31, 2014

Soft Machine Legend Hugh Hopper 10-CD Set Of Unreleased Recordings To Be Released By Gonzo Multimedia


London, UK - Hugh Hopper and Soft Machine fans worldwide are rejoicing to the news of the pending release of HUGH HOPPER - DEDICATED TO HUGH, a 10-CD Archival Celebration of the music of bass guitarist, composer, Hugh Hopper comprised of previously unreleased Hi-Fidelity recordings. Compiled by Michael King, a Canadian Hugh Hopper Scholar, the CDs will be released individually, beginning with Volume One, entitled 'Memories'.

This ten part series is to compliment a heretofore large body of work (over sixty titles) by presenting previously unreleased concert and studio recordings, with a focus on Hugh’s compositions as performed by groups under his leadership. All proceeds are to benefit Hugh's Hopper's family.

HUGH HOPPER - DEDICATED TO HUGH 10-CD set features:

Volume 1 - Memories
Hugh introduces a selection of rare tracks from across his career

Volume 2 - Frangloband
Live at Triton Club, Paris 2004

Volume 3 - North & South
Co-credited with Scottish drummer Mike Travis (Gilgamesh)
Live in Aberdeen 1995

Volume 4 - Four by Hugh by Four
One-off quartet live at Bimhuis, Amsterdam, 2000

Volume 5 - Heart to Heart
Co-credited with guitarist Phil Miller (Hatfield/National Health/In Cahoots)
Studio duet performance, Amsterdam, 2007

Volume 6 - Special Friends
Rare concert recordings, 1992 through 1995, of Hugh's project with Phil Miller, Didier Malherbe (Gong), Pip Pyle & Elton Dean - a.k.a. Short Wave.

Volume 7 - Soft Boundaries
Triton, Paris concert recordings with Elton Dean, Sophia Domanich & Simon Goubet 2005

Volume 8 - Bass On Top
Improvised studio session with pianist Slava Ganelin & drummer Aahron Kaminsky, Israel 2007

Volume 9 - Anatomy of Facelift
Five live performances of Hugh's signature composition, Facelift, as performed by Soft Machine, 1969 through 1971. Includes extracts from Lois Frith's University Thesis: Anatomy of Facelift

Volume 10 - Was A Friend
Various rare tracks, including duets with drummers Chris Cutler (Henry Cow) & Seb Rockford and concluding with Hugh's final musical performance: Was A Friend, performed by Denis Colin Trio, 2008

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Hugh Hopper began his musical career in 1963 as bass guitarist in the Daevid Allen Trio alongside drummer Robert Wyatt. In 1964 Hugh founded The Wilde Flowers with his elder brother, Brian Hopper. Passing through their ranks were fellow Canterbury legends Kevin Ayers, Richard Sinclair, Robert Wyatt, and also Pye Hastings & Richard Coughlin who went on to form Caravan.  After dissolving the Wilde Flowers Hugh became the roadie for his friends, The Soft Machine, then a Avant-garden pop group and house band of London's UFO Club, alongside The Pink Floyd.

In 1969 Hugh replaced Soft Machine's original bassist Kevin Ayers, who left following two exhaustive American tours. Hugh's trademark bass sound (often delivered through fuzz boxes) and his compositions raised the music of Soft Machine to heights unmatched by their contemporaries. With the addition of saxophonist Elton Dean the 'classic quartet' developed a massively successful following in England and continental Europe, headlining numerous Festival's and producing the timeless and ground-breaking double album Soft Machine 'Third'.

After leaving the Soft Machine in 1973 Hugh worked with many pillars of the jazz-rock fusion scene such as Gary Boyle's Isotope, Alan Bowen's Gilgamesh, Stomu Yamashita's East Wind and Carla Bley's celebrated big band. He also co-founded quartets with fellow Soft Machine member, saxophonist Elton Dean, namely Soft Head & Soft Heap. In the 1980's, 90's and into the 21st century Hugh composed a wealth of extraordinary music for his own groups and participated in countless improvisational settings and guest appearances.

The music Hugh Hopper is a wonder to behold, a player of high distinction with trademark sound by turns gritty and gorgeous. Gonzomultimedia is honored to present this superb series celebrating the musical legacy of Hugh Hopper, for fans, friends and first time discovers.

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Vol. 1 – Memories – Now Available!

This is the first of a ten part series compiled by Michael King. He writes: “My first encounter with the music of Hugh Colin Hopper backdates to the summer of 1976. While visiting a friend I was intentional played a record titled Volume Two from a British rock group about whom I knew little, The Soft Machine. The experience was staggering and prompted a radical reappraisal for the conventions I had been conditioned to accept as ‘progressive’. Once smitten I undertook to follow and purchase a spate of seriously inventive record albums that Hugh Hopper released and appeared on, namely; Hoppertunity Box, Rogue Element, Soft Heap, Cruel But Fair and Two Rainbows Daily. Throughout these works I found Hugh’s textural bass guitar by turns anchored and animated the music with ample good taste. Here was a rarefied musician who avoided overplaying his instrument in favour of approaches reflecting his personal musical Zen”.

Technically, by processing his bass guitar with fuzz box, flanger, wha-wha, octave pedal effects, his use of tapes loops, and later on computer programming, Hugh constructed multilayer soundscapes with great attention to detail. His creative template embraced aesthetics well beyond the orthodox roles assigned to the bass guitar and its practitioner. As example, Hugh cleverly adapted the time altering effects of the repetitive tapes loops he was creating with two tape recorders in the early sixties - to his bass guitar - by playing such repeating patterns in real time. Furthermore, minimalist mutations and modularity often characterize the rhythmic, harmonic, melodic foundations of Hugh’s musical compositions (many displaying melody lines of uncommon length). These aspects, alongside a brilliant capacity to freely improvise, (dynamically from a whisper to a roar) distinguish Hugh Hopper as a consummate musician of great standing, one who thrived in myriad musical settings”.

This first volume has the strapline “Many Friends” and features a dazzling range of Hopper plus collaborators over a period of some thirty five years.

1. Memories – Hugh Hopper’s Demo with Soft Machine
Hugh Hopper, bass guitar/acoustic guitar;
Mike Ratledge, piano/organ; Robert Wyatt, drums/vocals
Recorded August 6th, 1969. Regent Studios, London, U.K

2. Was A Friend – Hugh Hopper Franglo Band
Patrice Meyer, electric guitar; Pierre Olivier-Govin, saxes;
Hugh Hopper, bass guitar; Francois Verly, drums
Recorded May 29th, 2004. St. Jean-aux-Bois, France

3. Shuffle Demons – North & South
Steve Kettley, tenor saxophone; Paul Flush, keyboards;
Hugh Hopper, bass guitar; Mike Travis, drums/percussion
Recorded August 23rd, 1995. Aberdeen, Scotland

4. Playtime – Hugh Hopper Interprets Alan Gowen
Hugh Hopper – computer programming
Recorded circa 2002. Whitstable, U.K.

5. Debonaire – Hugh Hopper Franglo Band
Patrice Meyer, electric guitar; Pierre Olivier-Govin, saxes;
Hugh Hopper, bass guitar; Francois Verly, drums
Recorded May 29th, 2004. St. Jean-aux-Boix, France

6. MGH – Hugh Hopper & Nigel Morris
Hugh Hopper, fuzz bass; Nigel Morris, drums/percussion
Recorded circa 2002. California and Whitstable, U.K.

7. Long Piece – Hugh Hopper Computer Collage
Hugh Hopper + Many Friends = Many Surprises
Recorded circa 2002. Whitstable, U.K.

For more information: http://www.hugh-hopper.com/

To purchse Hugh Hopper – Memories vol. 1: http://www.gonzomultimedia.co.uk/product_details/15691/Hugh_Hopper-Memories.html

Press inquiries: Glass Onyon PR, PH: 828-350-8158, glassonyonpr@gmail.com

August 30, 2014

Progressive Rock Review: Farpoint-Paint the Dark

Release Date: 17th June 2014
Label:   10T Records

I am no stranger to the band, Farpoint, as they have been featured several times on the radio show after I stumbled across them with the 2003 album, Grace, and more recently with the superb 2011 release, Kindred. Now, landing on The Ancient One’s desk is album No 6, Paint the Dark. Farpoint hail from as far back as 1997, which makes them veterans in comparison with some bands, but relative newcomers compared to others. The music of Farpoint is relatively difficult to pigeonhole, which I tend to view as a “good thing,” mainly because to put a band in a particular category may, in fact, be to the detriment of the spread of the band. They have honed several styles that have influenced them and their music transcends several genres including prog, folk, rock, Celtic, classical and even shades of New Age and bluegrass. (Yes, I did indeed use the term bluegrass!)
The band is a 5 piece made up of Kevin Jarvis (guitar, keyboards, mandolin and backing vocals), Rick Walker (drums, percussion and backing vocals), Frank Tyson (bass and backing vocals), Dean Hallal (lead/backing vocals and rhythm guitar) and Abby Thomson (lead/backing vocals and keyboards). Kevin and Rick were founder members, although only Kevin has been present for all 17 years Farpoint have been in existence. Frank joined in 1999, Dean in 2006, with Abby being the newest recruit, joining in 2011. There are a couple of guests also appearing on the recording and they are Christi Hunter Brownlow on violin and Jennifer Meeks Weich on flute.
Paint the Dark is a 9 track album with a total playing time in excess of 60 minutes, with the final track, “Power” being the shortest on offer on the album at 2:56 minutes. The longest of the available tracks is track 7, “Vision Quest,” running on past the 12 minute mark. (12:16)
The opening track, “Up To You” (7:45) is an up-tempo affair which initially reminded me of early Rush, but this moves into some superb harmonized vocals from Dean Hallal and Abby Thomson over an acoustic guitar theme. Beautiful keyboards and electric guitar themes move the track into a rockier sound but those vocal harmonies soar over the music. There is a return to the keyboards/guitar passage around the 5 minute mark and the constant changes within the music certainly grab the attention. The 7+ minutes actually pass very quickly and this track forms an excellent starting point for the album.
Track 2, “Part of Me” (4:30) takes the acoustic/electric guitar style from the opener and with some superb little guitar runs between Abby’s voice, there is almost a folky feel to the music. The acoustic guitar passages after the 3 minute mark interspersed with those electric guitar moments are very satisfying.
“Gone” (7:44) has a gentle acoustic start which slowly leads into the “laid back” vocal style of Dean with some lovely guitar passages and strings/violin washes. A different style of track, but somehow maintaining the Farpoint sound and also has a little of both vocalists with Dean being the more prominent.
There are little “hooks” running through this track which reel you in very quickly. The last couple of minutes have a very Pink Floyd style guitar sound soaring over the bass/drums with those strings/violins adding to the atmosphere.
Next up is an almost “poppy” style song,”Half A World Away” (5:17), very catchy, but a bit lightweight in comparison to previous tracks, although there is still some of that exquisite electric guitar work. There then follows another change of style with the track “Who Are You” (6:04) which has a superb piano as the lead throughout the track and works amazingly well behind Abby’s voice, before there is a more insistent guitar which drives the track along. The strings also add to the atmosphere of this track.
“Stand” (8:18), “One More Sunset” (5:39) and “Power” (2:55) all demonstrate superb musicianship and remain firmly footed in the gentler side of this genre of music. There are times when, I feel, it would not have been difficult for any of the musicians to “let rip” but the band are restrained throughout but never does this let the music down in any way.
The longest track on offer, “Vision Quest” (12:15) has a spacey feel to the start before the violin suggests an almost medieval scenario, also supported by the drums, and slowly the pace picks up with some superb guitar work behind the violin/strings and the track then settles with acoustic guitar and keyboards. Around the 3 minute point there is a soaring electric guitar passage leading into a terrific acoustic guitar section, with the violin and electric guitar acting as backup and this section also sees the vocals reappear. There is a very country feel to this section with terrific drumming and keyboards. Just prior to 7 minutes, the track merges into sweeping synths with stunning acoustic guitar work and then a majestic flute passage with an electric guitar filling in the background. Terrific interplay between the acoustic and electric guitar moves the track back into the “country” feel again. Some wonderful spacey sounds return after the 11 minute mark and that electric guitar is so “floydesque” as it takes the track out.
Paint the Dark is a superb album and a worthy successor to Kindred. Paint the Dark is an album that transcends many different genres, mentioned in the introduction, throughout the 9 tracks. Once the album has finished, your mind is filled with all sorts of little hooks that have embedded into your brain almost without you being aware of it happening. Stunning playing by all the band highlights the fact that all the band members obviously enjoy what they are doing and that feeling leaps out the speakers at you.
Very simply, a “must have” album, Paint the Dark gets both “One to Buy” and “The Experience will last Forever” stickers on the cover and also comes with an instruction to “clear a space on your CD shelves as quickly as possible.”

5/5 Stars

Key Tracks: Up To You, Gone, Vision Quest

Tracks:
Up To You
Part Of Me
Gone
Half A World Away
Who Are You
Stand
Vision Quest
One More Sunset
Power

Jim “The Ancient One” Lawson-Sr. Reviewer Prog Rock Music Talk


August 30, 2014


Review Provided By Prog Rock Music Talk



August 29, 2014

New Opeth Album: Stream Pale Communion On Spotify

Progressive Rock Review: Strattman-The Lie of the Beholder

Release Date: 17th June 2014
Label:   10T Records

Roy Strattman is a multi-instrumentalist and composer and his debut release, which has just appeared on my desk, is entitled The Lie of the Beholder. I did think that I had come across the name before, and with a little searching, I realized that Roy is the guitarist and joint composer in the prog band, Little Atlas. Little Atlas have issued 4 albums to date and the Ancient One was lucky enough to review the latest, Automatic Day

The record label describes Roy’s music as “a tour-de-force of cutting edge progressive rock, complex tense and shot through with dark and menacing textures alternating with unexpected stabs of beauty and organic calm.” The Lie of the Beholder therefore has a lot to live up to, and I have been tasked with deciding whether or not the album has been successful.

Although The Lie of the Beholder is a solo album, Roy, who plays guitar, keyboards and sings, did have a little help along the way. The album also features Nick D’Virgilio from Big Big Train on drums, Ricardo Bigai from Little Atlas on bass, together with a guest appearance from Steve Katsikas, also from Little Atlas, on piano and cajon. The cajon is a 6 sided box shaped percussion instrument from Peru.

The Lie of the Beholder is an 11 track album with a total running time of around 56 minutes. The longest and shortest tracks on offer are track 3 “A Candle in the Sun” and track 4 “Jaded,” playing for 7:40 minutes and 2:33 minutes respectively.

Opening tracks on any album have a tremendous job to do, in that they pave the way for the rest of the album, so how does “A Better World” (5:59) fare? The track opens up with some Spanish style guitar, the atmosphere changes via a spacey section with “astronaut” voices then the track explodes a la Porcupine Tree/IQ before settling back into more delicate Floyd style areas. This is both a hard hitting track and a laid back track neatly packaged. Synths, mellotron and urgent/angry guitar slashes permeate around a very “Gilmouresque” vocal section. “A Better World” is an opening track that that promises the listener that they are about to hear an amazing album.

“Caught inside the Rain” (6:11) is more psychedelically styled and contrasts the opening track beautifully. More mellotron and those urgent/menacing guitar riffs drive the third track, “A Candle in the Sun” (7:40) which is a hugely atmospheric slab of a track effortlessly shifting from the gentler to the more urgent areas. 

Two shorter, out and out rockier tracks follow in “Jaded” (2:32) and “The Scene of the Crime” (3:29) before another shift in direction raises its head in “Detonation” (5:11). A very gentle introduction belies the ruthless assault that is impending. Terrific guitar over keyboards suddenly ascends vertically into a heavy workout for the band. A beautiful vocal settles the proceedings down, but the “darker” side bubbles away in the background before reappearing. This is an imaginative track that sweeps in and out of the dark and light areas.

Almost right on cue, there is another diverse move in the music into an almost pastoral styling with “Solace” (5:35) which highlights acoustic guitar and flute/mellotron. This is a very melodic track which stands apart from the rest, simply because it is so different. This is followed by the title track “The Lie of the Beholder” (6:05) and we have re-entered the “darker, more menacing” side of the band, before a more gentle outro passage which seems to end very abruptly, but as the following track is “Connection Lost” (3:51), perhaps it is an attempt at some wry humor.

The penultimate track, “No Way Home” (5:48) is accessed via a beautiful acoustic guitar and electric guitar passage, great vocals, and just after the minute mark, an elevation of the sound before a return to the intro themes. Another step into the rougher side of Strattman, then slides back into the gentle phases and wheels back and forth. This track is another example of a powerful piece of writing and playing. 

A very mellow, almost understated track, “The Fire Dies” (3:48) sees the album out. Slower and certainly catchy, this is perhaps an unexpected ending to The Lie of the Beholder, but one which seems to work in all sorts of ways. This track seems to wrap the album up in such a way, that you want to reach out and press play again and settle back for another run-through.

The Lie of the Beholder, which seamlessly moves from light into shade and tranquil into heavy, shows that Roy has not just made another Little Atlas album and called it a solo album, he has shown that he can provide a very different atmosphere. 

The Lie of the Beholder is an album that gets inside your head within a few listens and certainly merits both the “One to Buy” and “The Experience will last Forever” stickers on the cover. The advice is to give the album a few listens and then smile happily as you part with some of your hard earned cash without any regrets.

5/5 Stars

Key Tracks: A Better World, Candle In The Sun, The Fire Dies

Tracks:
A Better World
Caught Inside The Rain
A Candle In The Sun
Jaded
The Scene Of The Crime
Detonation
Solace
The Lie Of The Beholder
Connection Lost
No Way Home
The Fire Dies

 


Jim “The Ancient One” Lawson-Sr. Reviewer Prog Rock Music Talk

August 29, 2014

Review Provided By Prog Rock Music Talk

August 21, 2014

DREAM THEATER to Release “Breaking the Fourth Wall” DVD on September 30

Dream Theater in 2014
Grammy-nominated progressive metal titans–have announced the release of Breaking The Fourth Wall (Live From The Boston Opera House), a live Blu-Ray / DVD set of the band’s one-of-a-kind performance from the Boston Opera House on March 25, 2014. Produced by the band’s own John Petrucci, filmed and directed by Pierre and François Lamoureux, and mixed and mastered by Richard ChyckiBreaking The Fourth Wall (Live From The Boston Opera House) is over 2 hours in length, capturing the special evening, which featured guest performances from The Berklee College of Music Orchestra and Choir. Breaking The Fourth Wall (Live From The Boston Opera House) arrives September 30th.

The collection will be available in multiple configurations including Blu-Ray, a 2 DVD set, and a webstore deluxe exclusive Blu-Ray/3 CD set with poster, all currently available for pre-order via the Roadrunner Records webstore. Furthermore, Dream Theater have premiered a video of The Looking Glass (Live) taken from Breaking The Fourth Wall (Live From The Boston Opera House) which can be streamed on the band’s official YouTube Channel. All pre-orders for the webstore exclusive will receive an instant download The Looking Glass (Live).

Dream Theater’s John Petrucci commented on the special event saying, “In many ways, this was a huge homecoming for the band given the history of Dream Theater’s origins and ties with Berklee. With John and I both being alumni and Mike having been a professor at the college for 10 years, we saw the opportunity to perform together with the students of Berklee as a tremendous thrill and honor. We are extremely grateful for everyone’s hard work in making this special event a reality and to all who participated.” He continued, “All of the Berklee College instrumentalists and vocalists did an outstanding job that night and it was awesome to have one of its students, Eren Başbuğ orchestrate and conduct them live at the Opera House after having been a part of our latest studio release in the same capacity. Dream Theater has always had a great connection to the city of Boston and we knew that against the backdrop of the beautiful Opera House, this would end up being a historic stop on our Along For The Ride world tour and an evening most definitely worth capturing on video. Beautifully filmed and directed by Pierre Lamoureux and brilliantly mixed and mastered by Richard Chycki, this is in my opinion, a major highlight in our nearly 30 year career as a band. We are eagerly anticipating its release this fall and really hope that everyone enjoys it!

This past year Dream Theater earned a second Grammy nomination for “Best Metal Performance” for the single The Enemy Inside from their current self-titled worldwide smash album (released September 24, 2013 on Roadrunner Records). Dream Theater made a spectacular debut this past fall, topping Billboard’s “Hard Rock Albums” chart while simultaneously entering at #7 on the overall Billboard 200. The extraordinary chart position marked the group’s third consecutive top 10 debut, and also saw Dream Theater making top 5 chart debuts in Japan, Germany, Italy, Canada, Argentina, Switzerland, Holland, and Finland, as well as top 10 debuts in Denmark, Austria, and Norway, with career high debuts in the United Kingdom and Australia. The band recently announced new tour dates which will see them bring their spectacular live show to South America, Asia and Australia later this fall.