26 September 2008

A couple brief thoughts on the 4 bands currently signed for NEARfest 2009…

PFM: this is the only one of the “Big Three” Italian bands I have yet to see live. Having said this, I have been making myself familiar with their catalogue, and while there’s one or two albums I find myself really enjoying, in general I find them less interesting than Banco or Le Orme. I think Banco has probably had a somewhat more consistent and enjoyable (for me) career and discography, while Le Orme’s high points are nearly sublime in their perfection.

Having said this…Storia di un minuto and Per un amico are incredibly solid albums, filled with highlights, and I really like them.


Oblivion Sun: I am not overly familiar with the band as such, but the pedigree…Stan Whitaker and Frank Wyatt from Happy the Man, Chris Mack from Illuvatar…not a bad set of bands to be formed from. Their debut album has gotten rave reviews, and Stan/Frank’s previous project, Pedal Giant Animals, was the basis for this new group. I hope things relating to Stan’s current health issues don’t keep the group from playing, though I’d certainly understand if things need to be rearranged. But I am looking forward to seeing these guys, and picking up both releases, very soon.


Beardfish: I’ve written about these guys in here before, I am pretty sure. Their previous two albums, Sleeping in Traffic Part 1 and Sleeping in Traffic Part 2 are killer slabs of vintage sounding progressive rock, with enough contemporary edge to keep them sounding fresh and vital. Rikard Sjöblom is a modern prog mastermind, and the band members are no slouches when it comes to composing, arranging and performing music filled with dynamics and humour. I am very psyched to see this group live finally…and I wonder if their signing (and the fact that Beardfish now makes up the majority of Andy Tillison’s band The Tangent) means that The Tangent will be signed to NEARfest as well…


Quantum Fantay: Another band I am not overly familiar with, but what I have read suggests Ozrics-style space rock. I loved Hidria Spacefolk (who ply similar musical waters), and felt the Ozrics were tedium incarnate. I have no idea what this group will bring, but I’m willing to give them a listen.

From their NEARfest bio: “Hailing from Belgium, Quantum Fantay begins when two crazy friends, Pieter Van den Broeck (Pete Mush) and Wouter De Geest (Jaro), combine their musical visions and creativity. The result is the music of Quantum Fantay and their brand of liquid space rock. Drawing influences from, without being derivative of, bands such as Ozric Tentacles, Hawkwind and Hidria Spacefolk, Quantum Fantay create soundscapes and rhythms that wholly draw in the listener. Using hypnotic waves, atmospheric soundscapes, psychedelic synths, haunting melodies, woody groovy basslines with energy driven and experimental drums, a Quantum gig is a show to remember. To make the band live breathable and even more interesting the two neighbors attracted drummer Gino Verhaegen, guitar player Dario Frodo and flute-player Karel Slabbaert (Charles Sla). Quantum Fantay, a name that came out of a typing error for the word fantasy, was on it's way.

The year 2005 saw them release the album, "Agapanthustherra" to critical acclaim while 2007
saw the release of "Ugisiunsi," their second studio album recorded at "Pete's Mushroom Land" recording studio. This creation was a step further in terms of production and playing. 2008 has been an exciting year for the band as their first album has been re-released and a new live album titled, "From Herzberg to Living Room," are added to their catalog and recordings for the next studio album are fully on.”


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