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December 13, 2014

Progressive Rock Review: Lunatic Soul-Walking on a Flashlight Beam

Release Date: October 13, 2014
Label: Kscope

There is a magical quality to music and some musicians know how to tap into the magic.  Lunatic Soul is a band that knows how to do this.  Walking on a Flashlight Beam is a phenomenal experience to behold and it is because of this magical quality, which can paint pictures in the listener’s mind that can rival those hanging on the walls on the world’s museums and affect the emotions the way lines from a poem can.  It makes for an experience that lingers.    

Formed in 2008, Lunatic Soul is the side project of Mariuz Duda, the vocalist and bassist for the Polish progressive rock band Riverside.  Duda (vocals, bass and acoustic guitars, ukulele, keyboards, percussions) is accompanied by Wawrzyniec Dramowicz (drums) on Walking on a Flashlight Beam, Lunatic Soul’s fourth release.  This nine track album is a work of great art.  The music is dark, intricate, intense, harmonious, and much more, while the vocals are soulful, sparse, and powerful. 

Walking on a Flashlight Beam is a wondrous album that gets off to a grand start and never lowers the bar.  The haunting “Shutting Out the Sun” lures the listener with its sounds of waves crashing onto a beach.  Its slow, brooding build-up creates a great, dark atmosphere.  There is a sense of tension and foreboding that is heightened every time a new sound is introduced, exquisitely building on each other, and behind it all is a portrayal of tragic beauty.  With its great energy and soothing vocals, “Cold” starts out with a dark atmosphere reminiscent of the previous song, but morphs into a lighter and less foreboding one.  The song has a magical quality to its music that will keep you coming back for more. 

“Gutter” is a sprawling epic of a song.  The vocals are absolutely top notch, and probably the best on the album.  There is a sense of the mystery running throughout the song, and there is a sense of being on an adventurous journey. “Star Sellotaped” is a short, spacey interlude that calls to mind visions of the cosmos. “The Fear Within” enriches and expands upon the atmosphere of the previous songs. The music is creepy and unsettling, making for an all-around haunting song.

Showing off a lighter side, “Treehouse” is a brilliant, emotional, and understated.  Breaking with the dark atmosphere of the previous songs, “Treehouse” is has a hopeful air about it and the music is calm and embodies images of joy.  Nothing short of being a grand song, “Pygmalion’s Ladder” is a progressive rock masterpiece.  The music is intricate and complex, displaying the wide range of influence and creativity that Lunatic Soul brings to the table.  It is poetry in the form of music.  “Sky Drawn in Crayon” is an ethereal and ambient song.  It definitely sends out positive vibes and a warm, comforting atmosphere.  

Capping the album off is the title track, “Walking on a Flashlight Beam.”  It reveals in its majestic atmosphere and it is a thing of beauty. 

Lunatic Soul’s Walking on a Flashlight Beam is an absolute gem of an album.  Once again, the progressive rock genre proves itself to be at the forefront of making outstanding music.  This album is nothing but top notch quality and is easily one of the top albums of the year for me.  I think that once you listen to it that you will agree too. 

4.5/5 Stars

Key Tracks: Shutting Out the Sun, The Fear Within, Pygmalion’s Ladder

Tracks: 
1.Shutting Out the Sun
2.Cold
3.Gutter
4.Star Sellotaped
5.The Fear Within
6.Treehouse
7.Pygmalion’s Ladder
8.Sky Drawn in Crayon
9.Walking on a Flashlight Beam


Brian McKinnon

December 13, 2014

Review Provided By Prog Rock Music Talk



December 12, 2014

Uriah Heep coming to The Ridgefield Playhouse!!!




March 1, 2015 at 8PM

The British Rock Legends returns with their classic rock hits “Look At Yourself,” "Gypsy," “Bird of Prey,” “Easy Livin’” and many more!  URIAH HEEP is considered one of the ‘Big Four’ pioneers of hard rock and heavy metal in the late ‘60’s and early ‘70’s along with BLACK SABBATH, DEEP PURPLE & LED ZEPPELIN – URIAH HEEP still enjoy legendary status.



December 10, 2014

Captain Beefheart 'Commodore Ballroom, Vancouver 1973' Rare Concert Recording Now Available!


London, UK – Continuing with their series of historic Captain Beefheart concert releases, Gonzo Multimedia has just released on CD a rare live recording of the Captain and his Magic Band in concert at the Commodore Ballroom in Vancouver in March of 1973! Don Van Vliet (born Don Glen Vliet; January 15, 1941 – December 17, 2010) was an American musician, singer-songwriter, artist and poet known by the stage name Captain Beefheart. His musical work was conducted with a rotating ensemble of musicians called the Magic Band (1965–1982), with whom he recorded 13 studio albums. Noted for his powerful singing voice with its wide range, Van Vliet also played the harmonica, saxophone and numerous other wind instruments. His music blended rock, blues and psychedelia with avant-garde and contemporary experimental composition. Beefheart was also known for exercising an almost dictatorial control over his supporting musicians, and for often constructing myths about his life.

During his teen years in Lancaster, California, Van Vliet developed an eclectic musical taste and formed friendship with Frank Zappa, with whom he sporadically collaborated. He began performing with his Captain Beefheart persona in 1964 and joined the original Magic Band line-up, initiated by Alexis Snouffer, in 1965. The group drew attention with their cover of Bo Diddley's “Diddy Wah Diddy”, which became a regional hit. It was followed by their acclaimed debut album 'Safe As Milk', released in 1967 on Buddah Records. After being dropped by two consecutive record labels, they signed to Zappa's Straight Records. As producer, Zappa granted Beefheart unrestrained artistic freedom in making 1969's 'Trout Mask Replica', which ranked 58th in Rolling Stone magazine's 2003 list of the 500 greatest albums of all time. In 1974, frustrated by lack of commercial success, he released two albums of more conventional rock music that were critically panned; this move, combined with not having been paid for a European tour, and years of enduring Beefheart's strict discipline, led the entire band to quit. Beefheart eventually formed a new Magic Band with a group of younger musicians and regained contemporary approval through three final albums: 'Shiny Beast (Bat Chain Puller)' (1978), 'Doc At The Radar Station' (1980) and 'Ice Cream For Crow' (1982).

Van Vliet has been described as “...one of modern music's true innovators” with “...a singular body of work virtually unrivaled in its daring and fluid creativity.” Although he achieved little commercial or mainstream critical success, he sustained a cult following as a 'highly significant' and 'incalculable' influence on an array of New Wave, punk, post-punk, experimental and alternative rock musicians. Known for his enigmatic personality and relationship with the public, Van Vliet made few public appearances after his retirement from music (and from his Beefheart persona) in 1982. He pursued a career in art, an interest that originated in his childhood talent for sculpture, and a venture that proved to be his most financially secure. His expressionist paintings and drawings command high prices, and have been exhibited in art galleries and museums across the world. Van Vliet died in 2010, having suffered from multiple sclerosis for many years.

This extraordinary record catches the Captain at his best; live on stage in 1973. Someone who was in the audience that night later wrote: “The Captain Beefheart show was beyond my expectations, it washed over us with a magic gumbo of free-jazz, swampy blues, avante garde squawking and punky insolence. We loved it. We didn't know what it was, but we loved it. Captain Beefheart was at least twice as old as most of us in the room, but that wasn't an issue, not in the least. It rocked our world.”

Tracks:
Suction Prints
Low Yo Yo Stuff
Nowadays and
Woman's Gotta Hit a Man
Abba Zabba
Band Intro (without Alex St. Clair)
Sugar 'n' Spikes
Peon
I'm Gonna Booglarize
You Baby
Old Black Snake
Alice in Blunderland
I'm a King/Sugar
Mama
Mirror Man
Big Eyed Beans from Venus
Golden Birdies

To purchase Captain Beefheart 'Commodore Ballroom, Vancouver 1973' CD:
http://www.gonzomultimedia.co.uk/product_details/15758/Captain_Beefheart_and_his_Magic_Band-Commodore_Ballroom,_Vancouver_1973.html

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

December 9, 2014

Progressive/Celtic Review: Iona-Edge Of The World

Release Date: 24th December 2013
Label: Open Sky UK
Website



It comes as a refreshing change to review a band that I am very aware of, and that band is the progressive Celtic rock band from the UK, Iona. Beginning back in 1989, the band has not flooded the market with their releases, with only 7 studio albums across their 25+ year existence. The self-titled debut album was issued in 1990 and the latest studio release was the double CD, Another Realm, from 2011, although they have also released 4 live albums, the latest being the one under review, Edge Of The World. (2013)

 
Currently Iona is a 5 piece band comprising Joanne Hogg (vocals, keyboards and acoustic guitar), Dave Bainbridge (guitar, keyboards), Frank van Essen (drums, percussion and violin), Phil Barker (bass) and Martin Nolan (pipes, whistles and flutes). Two of the current band, Joanne and Dave, have been present from the birth of the band.

Edge of the World (Live in Europe) was recorded at various venues in the UK and The Netherlands during their 2012 Another Realm tour. The double album contains 20 tracks split equally over the two discs with a total playing time of around 130 minutes, again split almost equally across the discs with about 65 minutes each disc. The longest and shortest tracks across the release are “White Horse” and “Another Realm,” both on disc 1 and 11:10 minutes and 4:17 minutes respectively.

The tracks are taken from almost all of the studio albums, although for some reason, the album released in 2006, The Circling Hour doesn’t feature at all, and there are 7 tracks from the last studio album, Another Realm, which isn’t surprising considering the name of the tour.

Edge of the World starts with loud audience appreciation before the crystal clear voice of Joanne emerges over a subdued background. The whistles appear around 1:40 minutes and the track builds with the return of Joanne and the rest of the band seamlessly upping the ante, slowly generating a stunningly atmospheric opening track, “Irish Day” (7:39). Apart from the applause prior to the band starting, there is little to suggest that this is a live album such is the clarity and quality of the music. All too quickly, the 7:30+ minutes of “Irish Day” have gone and it serves as a superb opener to an album highlighting the supreme musicianship within Iona.

“Jigs” (7:03), track 4, “does exactly what it says on the tin,” to quote a UK advert. Jigs it states and unsurprisingly, jigs abound for the length of this track. Bass runs, piano, superb whistle and uillean pipes combine to form an amazing track.

The title track, “Edge of the World” (8:04) allows Dave Bainbridge to show his majestic skill on the guitar with a simply amazing first 2:30 minutes when the guitar atmospherics are replaced by terrific drumming and superb piano. Add into that scenario the beautiful voice possessed by Joanne and the band have hit the bulls-eye again.

The closing track of disc 1, “The Ancient Wells” (8:30) starts with those amazing pipes while the drums and bass play gently in the background. The sound builds with the keyboards becoming more prominent prior to more superb percussion and Joanne’s voice appearing. This track is certainly one that carries people along in an almost anthemic way. The pipes are always there, just behind the rich tones of Joanne and edge to the forefront again around the 4 minute mark. Just after the 5 minute mark, the violin changes the sound again and the feet start to unconsciously move to the rhythm. “The Ancient Wells” is a real tour-de-force of a track to finish off disc 1.

The third track on disc 2, “And The Angels Dance” (9:02) is another superb example of progressive folk rock or Celtic rock, call it what you will. A pacey atmospheric track with great guitar, drumming, vocals and whistles as the track builds to about the 3:50 minute mark, when pipes and fiddle combine perfectly to carry the track along and drops back into an almost military style drumming with superb whistle playing over the top. The band slowly fills in the background and the majestic pipes come in to take the song out at around 8:15 minutes with the rest of the track being taken up by Joanne explaining that the following 3 tracks will be played uninterrupted.

Track 7, “An Atmosphere of Miracles Part 3” (10:25) is another stunningly atmospheric soundscape. The pipes commence the song, which gently evolves into vocals, drums and an exquisite piano motif behind the vocals. The powerful voice of Joanne carries the track along before passing it onto a violin led passage and further on into another of those sublime guitar statements by Dave. The music drops away to leave an almost a cappella section, which is stunning in its simplicity. The song continues to change with driving drums and whistles with acoustic guitar before the return of the vocal, which leads on and into a pipe/piano passage. This is a track that builds and builds and then, it has gone.

The following track, “Castlerigg/Reels” (9:51) is again a bit of a giveaway and is another in the plethora of tracks that simply refuse to let your feet stay still. The finale to disc 2, “Columcille” (4:29) is an amazing soundscape with pipes and whistle which slowly builds in intensity and then it is over. Disc 1 ended with a tour-de-force, disc 2 ended with an emotional tinged slow air and both, in very different ways, epitomize what the band, Iona, is all about.

Edge of the World easily deserves, and gets, both stickers, “One to Buy” and “The Experience will last Forever” on the cover, and my advice is to get out and buy a copy of this album, as you will certainly not regret it.

5/5 Stars

Key Tracks: Irish Day, Edge Of The World, And The Angels Dance

Tracks:

Disc 1

 Irish Day
Today
Another Realm
Jigs
End Of The World
White Horse
Luke..the calf
Wave After Wave
Let The Waters Flow
The Ancient Wells


Disc 2

Chi Rho
Flight Of The Wild Goose
And The Angels Dance
Ruach
Divine Presence
Let Your Glory Flow
Atmosphere of Miracles Part 3
Castlerigg/Reels
Bi-Se I Mo Shuil Part 2
Columcille

 


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

December 9, 2014

Review Provided By Prog Rock Music Talk

December 6, 2014

Heavy Prog Review: Karmamoi-Odd Trip

Release Date: 15th Oct 2013
Label: Crisalide Music

There are many Italian progressive bands around and The Ancient One can now add another to his personal list for the first time, and that band is, Karmamoi. The album for review is the second release from the band, following on from the debut, the self-titled Karmamoi (2011) and is called Odd Trip. While doing a bit of research into the band, I also found out that Odd Trip is a year old and there is already a follow-up scheduled for imminent release. Still, this review will fit under the old adage, “better late, than never” and I will look forward to the shiny new release.

Formed back in 2008, Karmamoi released a single the following year, toured Italy and started work on the debut album in 2010. Although as a general rule, I dislike trying to fit bands musical styles into a neatly labelled box, rather than under the umbrella of progressive rock, Karmamoi do play melodic prog rock, albeit with a distinct leaning to the heavy side.

The band, at the time of recording Odd Trip, was a 5 piece, comprising, Daniele Giovaanoni (drums), Serena Ciacci (vocals), Alessandro Cefali  (bass), Fabio Tempesta (guitars) and Alex Massari (guitar). Since that recording, Serena, the female vocalist, has been replaced by Joline Forshaw.

Odd Trip by Karmamoi is a 12 track album with a total playing time of around 51 minutes. There are 3 tracks which are very short and I would term them interludes, or linking tracks, and they are tracks 1, 5 and 9. They are titled “Oxygen” parts 1, 2 and 3, with running times of 1:44 minutes, 0:56 minutes and 0:58 minutes respectively. Track 4, “If I Think Of The Sea” is the longest track on offer, running on for over 6 minutes. (6:34)

The 3 “Oxygen” tracks are strange little linking pieces of atmospherics with sound effects, the odd riff and electronic bleeps. The “meat” of the album is contained within the other 9 tracks, with track 2, “If” (4:14) the first full track on Odd Trip. Starting with the sound of someone moving around, it evolves into some heavy riffing guitars. This is certainly an interesting start and then everything falls away to leave the fragile vocals provided by Serena. The background slowly builds behind the voice and there is an ethereal melody about the track this far. Around the 3 minute mark, back comes the sound of movement again and then those thundering guitar riffs. The song then makes its exit to the plaintive sound of a telephone.

Track 3, “Labyrinth” (5:42), has a slightly lower riffing intro with some electronic sound in the background, before Serena enters much earlier than in the previous track. Crystal clear vocals soar over the fairly sparse background before Serena ups the power a notch or two. The track then drops back down to let the music build as it did before, then the guitar, bass and drums get a chance to shine with some subtle gentle guitar from Fabio soaring over all. A gentler form of riffing builds the song towards a finale then the music fades again to allow Serena to carry the song onwards, backed by some very neat bass runs.

“If I Think Of The Sea” (6:34) is a much more atmospheric song carried along by the subdued music and the stunning voice of Serena. Very different from what has gone before, the guitar, which takes center stage around the 3 minute mark, has a very subdued tone. Some ineffectual noises are heard in the background prior to the vocal building heralding the ending of the track. This is a very different approach by the band which pulls the listener quickly into the track.

The strangely titled “Samvega” (5:24) again has that subdued melodic starting point, which meanders along creating a very atmospheric soundscape. Around the halfway point the band have moved the music into the heavier side prior to everything becoming stripped back again. All in all a much laid back instrumental track which leads neatly into “Yours.”

“Yours” (5:08) is another complete style change with “yowling” guitars and powerful vocals leading into a driving animal of a track, easily the most powerful track thus far. There is next to no easing back on this track and then the voice fades leaving the rhythm engine to motor for a while. Serena re-enters the fray and the track moves up another notch on its race to the finish.

Track 8, the title track, “Odd Trip” (6:10) has a neat drum/bass interaction as an opening, the vocals taking over before passing onto a short guitar passage. An almost “funky” bass line merges into a full band blowout and the song drives along before being escorted back into the opening themes. More of that ultra-melodic guitar puts in an appearance before the build-up to the finale.

Another strangely titled track, “5+” (4:06) follows the last of the “Oxygen” linking tracks, and the spoken intro is soon into a heavy riffing passage. There are some more subtle guitar riffs as the song progresses before another atmospheric spoken piece. A repeat of the riffing then escorts the track out.

“Lost Days” (4:26) moves away from the riffing guitars to enter with a keyboard passage and “breathy” vocals and provides a very melodic track, showing the other side of the band. Cue the final track, “Aria” (6:11) and some powerful drumming, superb vocals herald a real rocker of a track. There are little hints at power riffing, but these are kept well in check.

Certainly, Karmamoi, are not an Italian band of the Premiata Forneria Marconi (PFM) family, but have a style all of their own. Flowing from almost Pink Floyd based atmospherics to the more power prog of Rush, Karmamoi have produced a midpoint mixture which makes for an extremely interesting and listenable album.

Odd Trip probably requires several listens, but when it does get inside the listener (or vice versa), it is a terrific slice of heavy prog.

4/5 Stars

Key Tracks: If I Think Of The Sea, Samvega, Odd Trip


Tracks:
Oxygen 1
If
Labyrinth
If I Think Of The Sea
Oxygen 2
Samvega
Yours
Odd Trip
Oxygen 3
5+
Lost Days
Aria
 


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

December 6, 2014

Review Provided By Prog Rock Music Talk