30 September 2008

LAZULI signed to ROSfest 2009

LAZULI are a French rock ensemble from the region of Alès, France, currently recognized as an arousing, enchanting and vigorous prog rock band. The band was formed in 1998 and is made up by a sextet Yohan Simeon (percussion), Frederik Juan (stand-up drumkit/percussions, respectively assorted percussion, marimba or vibraphone), Sylvan Bayol (Chapman Stick & Warr Guitar), Dominic Leonetti (vocalist, lyricist and acoustic guitars), Claude Leonetti (La Léode, a midi-electronic plug-guitar instrument), and Gédéric Byar (guitar).

To date the band have produced three albums. Lazuli (1999) - Amnésie (2004) - En avant doute (2007). Their live performance is what makes this band very special and it is the style of music that makes them want to be seen live. Their music has been best described as a blend of prog rock, retro and modern spots weaved together with alternative/warm world music – the edge between pop and rock with heavy beats and rhythmic sounds creates a lush musical landscape.

Lazuli comprehends a strange and rare set of instruments, such as Marimba, Chapman Stick, Warr Guitar, Vibes, several Percussions and a "Léode" (an instrument invented by band member Claude Leonetti). And instead of presenting the listeners with off-topic, strange and unapproachable musicality, the band focus on the creation of emotional landscapes, driven by the excellent vocals of Dominic Leonetti and the thoughtful construction of the musical architectures.

Lazuli's concerts have an unexpected quality, most of their musical shows being appreciated or even well-awaited. Except a 1999 notable concert, held at FIMU in Belfort, most of the band's important concerts were held in these recent years. In July 2005, their attendance at the Montreux Jazz Festival earned them acclaim, plus an award for best rock band "Under The Sky Award". The band has been invited twice to play the Baja Prog Festival which has improved their popularity. They have been invited by the legendary group Ange and played a full concert in Bergerac, Dordogne (France). They have played at the German festivals Colos-Saal, KOMMZ-Festival and they've repeated some of the German stage previous performances, while every new programmed event is spot on interesting. In 2008 the band headlined the prestigious Burg Herzberg Festival to a crowd of over 2500.

Popular, yet not hesitantly remarkable, LAZULI are recommended for their resounding artistry, playing a lot of art rock, and modern concept music.

Lazuli have already won the hearts of the RoSfest promoters and are ready to embark onto RoSfest with an outstanding and stunning performance. Look for them to headline on Saturday, May 2nd, 2009.

LAZULI website -
LAZULI Myspace -
Check out the bands bio and MP3 -

UKZ (Jobson/Gunn/Minnemann/Lippert/Machacek) Teaser Today!


Sept. 30 2008

Teaser track being released for download later today!!! Stay tuned.

REVIEW: Spock's Beard Live (DVD/CD)

Spock's Beard has a pretty extensive live discography, when you think about it...

Official Live Bootleg/The Beard is Out There (1996)
Live at the Whisky and NEARfest (1999)

Don't Try This at Home (April 2000)

Don't Try This @ Home Either (2000) (From the Vaults, Series 3)

There and Here (2000) (From the Vaults, Series 4)

Gluttons for Punishment (2005)

Following on the heels of this lengthy list of live progressive goodness, the band has released yet another double live CD, partnered on DVD this time, under the pithy title Live. At least it does what it says on the label, eh?

As this album was recorded on the tour for the group's most recent studio release (the eponymous Spock's Beard), the setlist relies heavily on that album. Fully 6 of 11 tracks from that album are performed here, including the 4-part epic "As Far as the Mind Can See" (I count that 4-part composition as a single song, even though it is indexed as 4 individual tracks for ease of playback). Nick D'Virgilio and company did a great job selecting tracks to play from the new album, selecting the stronger compositions and playing them with passion. Highlights include the powerhouse show opener "On A Perfect Day," the m
oody and eerie "Rearranged," and the elegiac "The Slow Crash Landing Man," filled with great keyboard tones (including some epic organ patches) and wonderful singing courtest of D'Virgilio.

Fans of the band's earlier work when Neal Morse was still a member need not be disappointed that the early work has been ignored; several Neal-era songs are also covered here. The closing medley of "The Water" and "Go The Way You Go" is an appropriate way to close out the show, and the vocal interplay on "Thoughts (Part 2)" is as solid as ever, even without Neal's voice as part of the mix.

The band is playing a swell as ever; this show seems to have been particularly strong, without some of the hijinks and insanity that seem to follow the band from time to time. This seems a group with a purpose, putting on the show of their lives, rather than an average night out at a club or venue. It is possible that the show was edited to excise things like lengthy asides and/or jokes, but I don't necessarily see evidence of that.

Unlike the previous Gluttons for Punishment release, Spock's Beard has also seen fit to offer this show up on DVD. Dolby 5.1 and LPCM 2.0 soundtracks are pretty standard, of course, and the show is nicely shot in 16:9 widescreen (no notes on letterboxed or anamorphic on the case). Lighting is decent, and camera angles are used to reasonably good effect. I wish shots would develop a little longer, but at the very least individual shots are given a few seconds before cuts in most cases. Quick intercuts work well when there's something exciting happening (the opening of "In The Mouth of Madness" is a good example of where quick camera cuts work well), but in general, cameras should linger. Sound quality for both the DVD and CD releases is very good, not leading to listener fatigue.

Fans of Spock's Beard will already have this, so I would be preaching to the converted. New listeners not familiar with the group may find this a good way to stick their toes in the water, as Spock's Beard invests their songs with great energy live, making these perhaps definitive versions to listen to.


On A Perfect Day

In The Mouth of Madness

Crack the Big Sky

The Slow Crash Landing Man

Return to Whatever

Surfing Down the Avalanche

Thoughts (Part 2)

Drum solo

Skeletons At The Feast

Walking On The Wind

Hereafter (Ryo solo)

As Far As The Mind Can See (Dreaming In The Age Of Answers, Here's A Man,They Know We Know, Stream Of Unconsciousness)


The Water/Go The Way You Go

29 September 2008

Andrew Latimer Health Update

Taken from the Camel Productions website...a positive update, and one that brings me some cheer:

Once again, it has been a long time since our last post, but this time it’s all good news. Andrew is doing fantastically!

At the last update on our News page, I said things were looking positive and they have continued this way. This journey is by no means over for us yet, but there is a tangible sense of ease in the air. It is such a gift to spend time together, simply enjoying each other’s company, and especially to see him looking so much better. We often talk of the future and can’t resist looking forward to the possibility of touring again. Not an epic tour, but something he likes to call a ‘tour-ette’.

There are still a number of challenges to deal with. One of the side effects he has to deal with is severe joint pain. This seems to come and go, and it moves around his body to various points. Unfortunately, the joints that are most effected are in his hands. I can’t pretend we weren’t alarmed the first time this occurred but we did feel a bit reassured when the pain stopped and didn’t revisit for several days. This now seems to be a bit of a cycle, coming and going without warning. Until he is off all medication, we can’t know for sure, but I refuse to think that it is permanent. That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.

There isn’t a day that passes now where he doesn’t have a guitar in his hands, even on the days when they hurt him. He has tuned the guitars down a bit, so they won’t unduly strain his hands or fingers, and although his playing is a bit stiff at times, his sound is intact. His strength is slowly returning. It’s a day by day process. He still needs to rest and sometimes that’s hard because he often feels like his ol’ self and does a bit too much. He has regained a lot of his energy and most of his hair! I think I can cautiously say that time will truly be the greatest healer now.

We are hoping to have a new DVD for the holiday season, but I’ll leave that for another newsletter, when I am confident of our release date and the material to be included. Now that Andrew’s treatment is not so intensive, I have a bit more time and will turn my attention to getting some of the items you’ve been asking for back into our shop.

We had always thought we could keep Andrew’s progress up to date on our site, with pictures and details of his experiences as he moved through the treatment stages. For a lot of reasons this was not achievable and, with hindsight, it was probably best that we didn’t. There were times when he was so terribly unwell. Seeing him like that would have been more upsetting than necessary. So, now that he seems to truly be on the other side of it all, we’ve included a short slide show. The pictures were taken by Andrew and me. You can get an idea of where we were, and where we are now.

So, just a short message to give you our positive news and to thank you, as I always do, for the phenomenal solace you have so generously offered.

My kindest regards,
Susan Hoover

Some Updates/Blog News

I wanted to make a quick post, after a long weekend, to update you, Constant Readers, with an idea of what will be coming this week and in weeks to follow.

I had made brief mention of an idea for a regular interview feature. This is definitively a go. I have contacted a number of musicians, all of whom have expressed interest in participating. This will be in an abbreviated, '10 questions with' type format. I've already got the following people lined up for interviews in the coming weeks:

Dave Kerman
(Thinking Plague/Present/5UUs/et cetera)
Cyndee Lee Rule
(solo artist, has played with Nik Turner, Harvey Bainbridge, Systems Theory)
Lynnette Shelley
(The Red Masque)
Matthew Parmenter
Bill Berends
Gary Lauzon
(The Rebel Wheel)

Alan Benjamin
Frank Camiola
(Cardboard Amanda/Frogg Cafe)
Graeme Murray

There's several other people I am waiting on response from, so rather than tease names that might not come to pass, I'll leave you with that tantalizing list.

I still have several albums and DVDs that I plan on covering for you all soon...I've not forgotten about them. Expect the
Spock's Beard and Marillion live DVD reviews soon. I'm also going to be taking a look at Robin Taylor's newest group, Art Cinema (which I posted about HERE).

And as a final update, here's what I've been treating my ears to the past few days...

Premiata Forneira Marconi
- Per un Amico
Premiata Forneria Marconi
- Storia di un Minuto
- Prologue
- Ashes are Burning
- Scheherazade and Other Stories
- 1001 Degrees Centigrades
- Kohntarkosz
- UK
- Danger Money
Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso
- Da qui messere si domina la valle

What have YOU been listening to?

28 September 2008

Joe's Garage to be staged in LA

(From zappafan.net)

The Open Fist has announced that it will present the world premiere of a stage adaptation of Frank Zappa’s classic rock opera Joe's Garage. This production is adapted for the stage by Pat Towne and Michael Franco, will be directed by Towne and feature musical direction by Ross Wright and choreography by Jennifer Letteleir. The production, produced with permission from the Zappa Family Trust, will run September 18 through November 22.

Joe's Garage
tells us the story of Joe, a simple guitar player in a garage band, as he is drawn into the dark and nightmarish world of the music business. As Joe deteriorates from betrayal, disease, and madness, our narrator, the Central Scrutinizer asserts that music is responsible for his demise, and is therefore evil. The piece uses the simplicity of a high school musical to focus on myriad issues from governmental surveillance of its own citizenry to the sexual escapades of the Catholic Church to the avarice of the music business.

Towne recently directed an award-winning production of
Gorey Stories, a theatrical adaptation with music of the works of Edward Gorey, for the Sacred Fools Theater. A founding member of the Zoo District Theatre Company, Towne has directed and performed in several of its productions including the world premiere of Bulgakov’s Heart of a Dog at the Ivan Franko National Theatre in Kiev, Ukraine. Among his other credits, The Real Live Brady Bunch Off-Broadway.

Franco has received LA Weekly, LADCC, Ovation and Garland Awards for his work on such productions as
The Room, The Swine Show, Gorey Stories, Heart of a Dog, Uppa Creek, The Master and Margarita and Nosferatu for The Zoo District, The Sacred Fools and The Open Fist Theatre Companies.

Performances of
Joe's Garage will be Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm Sundays at 7pm at The NEW Open Fist Theatre (6209 Santa Monica Blvd. -former home of The Actor’s Gang) in Hollywood. Tickets are $15-$25 and can be purchased by calling 323-882-6912 or by visiting www.openfist.org.

PFM to play two dates in Canada in November

Italian progressive rock stalwarts Premiata Forneria Marconi (PFM for most of us) have a pair of dates scheduled for Toronto and Quebec City in November.

Quebec City Grand Theatre, November 23: Stati Di Immaginazione
Tickets: $49.50 and $44.50 (students: $39.00 and $34.00) plus applicable service fees. Box office: (418) 643-8131 (Residents of Quebec, 1-877-643-8131). Tickets are available for this show from www.grandtheatre.qc.ca and www.billetech.com. Show at 8 PM exactly, doors open at 7:40 PM.

Toronto Music Hall, November 25:
35 e...un minuto
Doors open at 7pm, concert begins at 8pm
Main Floor and Front Balcony: $50.00 plus applicable taxes and service fee, Rear Balcony: $40.00 plus applicable taxes and service fee
Tickets are available online through
www.themusichall.ca and www.ticketmaster.ca.
Tickets are also available through the Music Hall's Box Office (147 Danforth st - Toronto, 416-778-8163), at Sanremo Records (3650 Langstaff, Vaughan, 416-743-4170) and at MVP (604 College st, Toronto, 416-534-6121).

The Danforth Show is a co-production of the Confederazione degli Imprenditori Italiani nel Mondo (CIIM) and The Italian Cultural Institute.

The two shows will be quite different from each other. The Quebec show (Stati) is based around their most recent album, the progressive opus
Stati Di Immaginazione. Projections and multimedia aspects promise to add to the show's power. The Toronto show (35 e...un minuto) is said to be a balanced look at the band's lengthy career and extensive catalogue.

A quick and dirty PFM bio (
borrowed from Wikipedia): Premiata Forneria Marconi (PFM, translates out to Award Winning Marconi Bakery) is an Italian progressive rock band that achieved a high level of popularity in the 1970s, with success in both the British and American charts. They were the first Italian band to have success abroad. Between 1973 and 1977 they released 5 albums with English lyrics for the international market. They also had several successful European and American tours, even playing at the popular Reading Festival in England and appearing on a very popular national television program in the U.S.A (Midnight Special, broadcast on NBC 21 February 1975...yes, at one time progressive music got seen on major American netowrk television!).

Check the band out online at

Curved Air continues reunion

9/27/2008 - London, UK - After a thrilling performance at this year's Isle of Wight Festival, the legendary progressive rock band Curved Air's re-union Tour continues with 6 more U.K concerts in October, an Italian mini tour in mid November and Japanese dates in Jan 2009. Curved Air's new album Reborn (Classic Curved Air Revisited) is available at all concerts and from www.curvedair.com

Curved Air originally formed in 1969. They were a groundbreaking progressive art-rock band renowned for their showmanship. Each member pushed the boundaries of possibilities for rock music performance. Darryl Way with his flamboyant virtuoso exploration of electric violin, Francis Monkman with his brilliant innovative sound manipulation using the VCS3 synthesiser, keyboards and fiery intricate guitar playing. and Florian's expressive approach to rock drumming. Vocalist Sonja Kristina won the hearts of a generation of music lovers and was voted top British Female Vocalist of the 70's whilst the three top twenty albums that this lineup released are regarded as classics.

Curved Air's current line-up features three original members - the pioneering rock violinist, Darryl Way, with drummer Florian Pilkington-Miksa plus new members Andy Christie on Guitar and Chris Harris on Bass - and of course iconic vocalist Sonja Kristina.

Curved Air vocalist Sonja Kristina's other project in collaboration with composer/ producer Marvin Ayres (www.marvinayres.com) is called MASK and on October 6th they release a single and video 'Technopia' ahead of their forthcoming second album release. The Technopia video is directed by Pavel Rudanovsky and features London Clubland celebrity Mika Doll. Technopia is currently in heavy rotation at art/gothic clubs, and at London fashion events popular with the fashion, art and experimental clubbing audience.

MASK will appear in national in-club PAs during the autumn, and a series of performances to promote the single and the forthcoming album 'Technopia' are being planned for 2009. The audience will experience an ambient Tim Burtonesque contemporary gothic show with artist and director Pavel Rudanovsky and his event styling team Unfashion Events. The performances will feature exciting artistic visual effects and 3D technology.

The first MASK album, 'Heavy Petal', was released in Dual Disc format (CD and DVD) in 2005. MASK toured extensively throughout the UK, playing many festivals including several stages at Glastonbury, clubs and new music venues.

'Heavy Petal' video "Lambent Spire" was selected for film festivals in London and Europe, and the dance mix of the track "Waking the Dream" charted in the Music Week club charts in 2006.

Check out the 'Technopia' video on youtube:



08-Oct Queens Hall, Edinburgh

09-Oct The Duchess, York

11-Oct Union Chapel, London

12-Oct Colchester Arts Centre

30-Oct Holmfirth Picturedome, Nr Huddersfield

31-Oct Stables, Milton Keynes

13-Nov Italy

14-Nov Italy

15-Nov Italy

16-Nov Italy

2009 CLUB CITTA', Kawasaki (Tokyo) / gig

16-Jan 2 shows

17-Jan (Kawasaki is a satellite city of Tokyo)

27 September 2008

Arjen Lucassen announces retrospective boxed set

Arjen "Ayreon" Lucassen has announced a massive 3-CD, 1-DVD retrospective boxed set, titled Timeline, to be released on InsideOut Music November 2008 (early 2009 North America).

Arjen says: "I've been asked many times before to release an Ayreon compilation album, but it just didn’t feel right to present fragmented bits of story by lifting individual songs out of their greater contexts. However, my attitude changed after I completed my 2008 album 01011001, in which I connected all the previous Ayreon releases, musically as well as lyrically. Having completed the circle, so to speak, it seemed like a fitting time to put all things Ayreon into perspective and create an Ayreon timeline outlining the entire story."

Tracklisting is as follows:


1995: The Final Experiment

1) Prologue 3:17

2) The Awareness 6:36

3) Eyes of Time 5:05
4) The Accusation (acoustic version taken from the Special Edition) 3:43

5) Sail Away to Avalon (single version) 3:40

6) Listen to the Waves 4:40

1996: Actual Fantasy (Revisited)

7) Actual Fantasy 1:31

8) Abbey of Synn 9:25

9) Computer Eyes 7:17 10]

10) Back on Planet Earth 7:04

1998 Into the Electric Castle

11) Isis and Osiris 11:09

12) Amazing Flight 10:21

Total time CD1: 73:53


1998 Into the Electric Castle

1) The Garden of Emotions 9:40

2) The Castle Hall 5:48

3) The Mirror Maze 6:23

4) The Two Gates 6:23

2000: The Universal Migrator parts I and II

5) The Shooting Company of Captain Frans B Cocq 7:42

6) Dawn of a Million Souls 7:44

7) And the Druids Turned to Stone 6:32

8) Into the Black Hole 10:17

9) The First Man on Earth 6:54

2004: the Human Equation

10) Day Two: Isolation 8:46

Total time CD2: 76:14


2004: The Human Equation

1) Day Three: Pain 4:53

2) Day Six: Childhood 5:04

3) Day Twelve: Trauma 9:23

4) Day Sixteen: Loser 4:47

5) Day Seventeen: Accident? 5:41

2008: 01011001

6) Age of Shadows (edit) 5:39

7) Ride the Comet 3:39

8) The Fifth Extinction 10:27

9) Waking Dreams 6:23

10) The Sixth Extinction 12:16

2008: New previously unreleased Ayreon track

11) Epilogue: The Memory Remains 9:16

Total time CD3: 77:23


1] The Stranger from Within (5.1, available on Actual Fantasy Revisited)

2] Valley of the Queens (available on Star One – Live on Earth)

3] Isis and Osiris (available on Star One – Live on Earth)

4] The Two Gates (available on Star One – Live on Earth)

5] Teaser: The Human Equation (available on the special edition of The Human Equation)

6] Day Eleven: Love (5.1, available on the special edition of The Human Equation)

7] Come Back to Me (available as CD ROM track on the EP Come Back to Me)

8] Loser (Star One version, previously unreleased)

9] Farside of the World (5.1, available on Actual Fantasy Revisited)

10] Back on Planet Earth (5.1, available on Actual Fantasy Revisited)

11] Featurette Actual Fantasy (available on Actual Fantasy Revisited)

12] Computer Eyes (available on Stream of Passion – Live in the Real World)

13] Day One: Vigil (available on Stream of Passion – Live in the Real World)

14] Day Three: Pain (available on Stream of Passion – Live in the Real World)

15] The Castle Hall (available on Stream of Passion – Live in the Real World)

16] Release Party 01011001 (previously unreleased)

17] Beneath the Waves (5.1, available on the special edition of 01011001)

18] Teaser 01011001 (available on the special edition of 01011001)

19] Featurette Epilogue: The Memory Remains (previously unreleased)

Total time DVD: approx 2 hours

Nektar tour dates

Nektar has announced the following tour dates for Europe and the US on their official website:

Fri 7th Nov 2008 Leverkusen Germany Scala Jazzstage
Sat 8th Nov 2008 Dortmund Germany Musiktheater Piano

Sun 9th Nov 2008 Germany Munich Garage

Mon 10th Nov 2008 Miltenberg Germany Beavers

Tue 11st Nov 2008 Pratteln Switzerland Z 7 Konzertfabrik

Wed 12nd Nov 2008 Fulda Germany Alte Piesel

Thu 13rd Nov 2008 Lorsch Germany Musiktheater Rex

Sat 15th Nov 2008 Schwerin Germany Der Speicher

Sun 16th Nov 2008 Berlin Germany Frannz Club

Mon 17th Nov 2008 Germany Jena Rosenkeller

Wed 19th Nov 2008 Nuernberg Germany Hirsch

Thu 20th Nov 2008 Germany Osnabrück - Haus der Jugend

Fri 21st Nov 2008 Hannover Germany Musikzentrum

Sat 22nd Nov 2008 Germany Lüdenscheid - Dahlmann Saal

Sun 23rd Nov 2008 Germany Hamburg - Fabrik

Mon 24th Nov 2008 London UK Borderline

Fri 1st May 2009 Glenside Philadelphia PA USA Keswick Theater

Get more up to the minute updates

StanJam reminder (TONIGHT!)


StanJam is coming up on Saturday September 27th. This is the first benefit to help our friend, Stanley Whitaker in raising some much needed money to help him cope the the mounting bills from his medical needs. Stan's radiation treatments have begun so the timing is very good for helping Stan during this period when he cannot get out and work.

Some of the players will include Alan Benjamin, Paul Sears, Anthony Setola, Greg Phillips, Keith Macksoud, Chris Mack, Dave DeMarco, Cyndee Lee Rule, Dave Newhouse, Paul Reed Smith, Gary Grainger, Tony Bunn, Roy Witte (aka Boomer), Winn Krozack and more special guests. The event will combine many artists who haven't played together before. There should be some special moments and some unique new music created right on the spot.

Doors are at 6pm and we'll go as long as we can. Admission is $15 but we'll happily take as much as you can spare to help Stanley through this tough time. We'll be recording the event to be aired later on the Gagliarchives.

(No Prog Content) Wacken Records overview Part II

This is the second part of my Wacken Records showcase, covering additional releases not discussed in yesterday’s feature.

Forever Slave
Tales for Bad Girls: Lady Angellyca is probably a young goth boy’s (or girl’s) dream…every picture I have seen of her features the requisite high boots, striped arm warmers and socks, striped hair, and pale alabaster skin in vogue among the current generation of gothic scenesters (where are the crushed velved Edwardian jackets, Robert Smith like hair and existential ennui and angst that typified my generation, huh?). Musically…a mix of Evanescence, Lacuna Coil and maybe White Zombie. Some electronics, layered female vocals, a touch of beauty and the beast vocal work (gruff male ‘beast’ vocals, lilting female ‘beauty’ vocals) and a fairly typical glossy metal backing are the key words here.

Yes, the subject matter is a bit edge-pushing…we have songs about AIDS, same sex relationships, misogyny, virtual relationships, paederasty, and so on. Having said this, so many bands of similar ilk have covered the same general topical ground in the past that it’s hard to actually think of a song about two girls liking each other as being boundary pushing…hell, we’ve had a pair of female-sung top 40 hits in the past few years titled “I Kissed a Girl,” you know?

Lady Angellyca is a pleasant singer to listen to…she has a sweet voice, and layers of her vocals in harmony sound especially nice. But the music is just a bit too cookie cutter and generic for my tastes. This is a genre that’s been pretty well mined out over the past few years, and Forever Slave doesn’t add a lot to the already slim pickings in a pretty specific musical field.

01. Dickhead! 4:56

02. Say Good-Bye 4:02

03. GothiX Girls 3:53

04. Pulse 0:24

05. Kristin A.I.D.S. 4:53

06. Afterlife 4:54

07. Our Story 3:41

08. Mar, no te vayas 4:40

09. The Lovers 4:00

10. Larmes et Roses 4:22

11. My Girl (She loves her) 4:25
12. Gasoline 4:06

Axel Rudi Pell
Tales of the Crown: Not a Wacken Records release at all; this is coming out on SPV Records. ARP has had a long career, with 17 releases over 19 years showing him to be among the more consistent creative acts in European metal. Tales of the Crown is his 18th release, due for North American retail sales on 24 October 2008.

I love Euro-metal…especially traditional sounding stuff. When I say traditional, I mean harmony guitars, a nice balance between uptempo, balls to the wall rockers and mid-tempo power ballads (emphasis on the power more so than the ballad), and thick, punchy production that brings the guitars and vocals to the fore. Tales of the Crown does not disappoint in this respect; Axel Rudi Pell’s guitar playing is as incisive as ever, and Johnny Gioeli’s vocals have a nice rough edge to him. He’s less polished than a Mats Levin, yet he sings with enough soul in his voice to really these songs. I love his performance on the soulful “Crossfire,” which comes complete with 125% of your RDA of emotional guitar soloing. “Touching My Soul” is a sublime ballad, Gioeli’s vocals suitably pensive and pleading, with Pell’s guitar matching him emotion for emotion.

The title track is suitably epic sounding, with nice keyboard orchestration, thick layers of crunchy rhythm guitar, and lush choral vocals. The main riff is hummable and addictive sounding; the song as a whole is one of the strongest points on a very solid metal album.

Tales of the Crown is a worthy addition to Axel Rudi Pell’s extensive curriculum vitae, and a great place for the new listener to jump in and discover this criminally under-rated axe slinger.

1 Higher
2 Ain’t Gonna Win

3 Angel Eyes

4 Crossfire

5 Touching My Soul

6 Emotional Echoes

7 Riding on an Arrow

8 Tales of the Crown

9 Buried Alive

10 Northern Lights

26 September 2008

Peter Hammill US/Canada tour dates

Go see him!

September 30 Great American Music Hall, San Francisco CA
October 2 The Rhythm Room, Phoenix AZ

3 The Soiled Dove, Denver CO

4 The Cashew, Kansas City MO

5 Shank Hall, Milwaukee WI

7 The Abbey, Chicago IL

9 The Magic Bag, Ferndale MI

10 The Winchester Tavern, Cleveland OH
11 Club Cafe, Pittsburgh PA

14 Phoenix Concert Theatre, Toronto, CANADA www.ticketweb.com

15 Palais Montcalm, Quebec City, CANADA

16 Le Gesu, Montreal, CANADA

17 Pepper Jack Cafe, Hamilton, CANADA

NUANCE Art Rock Festival 2008 Details (Toronto)

NUANCE - Art Rock Festival
Date - Sat Oct 4th 2008.
Venue - Legion Hall Br-10, 1083 Pape Ave. Just south of Oconnor drive. East York, Toronto (Minutes from the Don Valley Parkway, a short bus ride from TTC station, lots of free parking)
Time - Doors open at 2:30pm, event runs till 9:30pm with a 90minute dinner break.
Door Cover - $20.00. Children 12 and under free.
Website - http://www.myspace.com/nuancegta

Performing Artists...
The Rebel Wheel
Wilton Said...
COUNTERPOINT (Featuring former members of Cerafim and Plenty)
Lorne Hind 360

In addition, we once again have DJ Stan Hilborn from FM 98.5, CKWR "Adventures In Plasticland" MCing the event. Check out http://www.myspace.com/adventuresinplasticland for info on his show.

And what is a Prog/Art Rock Festival without a place to buy some music. Mike from Records on Wheels in Dundas will be on hand again selling the performing artists CD's as well as other well known and not so well known prog artists.

Contact recordsonwheels@cogeco.net for more information regarding available merchandise and orders.

Sound clips of some of the performing artists are now up.

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.”


(No Prog Content) Wacken Records Overview, Part I

Wacken Records is a ‘new’ label with a longer history. Previously releasing music under the Armageddon Music banner, they release heavy metal and hard rock albums from an international range of artists.

While metal is usually o
utside my normal remit here (I love metal, but this is a prog blog, not a metal blog, and as such generally don’t cover it unless there is a crossing of genres...progressive metal certainly has its place here), I’d be remiss to not mention the new releases that have been sent to me, in the hopes that some of you have similarly wide musical interests and might find some of this interesting. I certainly do.

Rose Tattoo
Blood Brothers (Special Tour Edition): These guys have been around for practically ever. Hailing from Australia, their early releases were even produced by George Young and Harry Vanda, best known for their work with country mates AC/DC. Given this background, one might not be surprised to find out these guys share a similar musical sound to AC/DC. Having said that, they are definitely not cut from the exact same musical cloth.

Blood Brothers is the band’s 11th album, and comes close to the 30th anniversary of the band’s first full-length release. Expect energetic bluesy hard rock and roll, with punch, power, and a decided lack of finesse. “Black Eyed Bruiser” and “Slipping Away” are a powerful one-two punch as album openers, and “Once In A Lifetime” features some fantastically grungey slide guitar work courtesy of either Mick Cocks or Dai Pritchard.

Being that this is a Tour Edition release, extras have been packed into this re-release (the album came out originally in 2007). Wacken Records have packed in a 16:9, 5.1 DVD of the band’s performance from the 2006 Wacken Open Air Festival as a bonus.

Black Eyed Bruiser 3:31

02. Slipping Away 3:01
03. Once In A Lifetime 4:44
04. 1854 3:38

05. City Blues 4:47
06. Sweet Meat 3:53
07. Man About Town 3:18

08. Creeper 5:25

09. Stand Over Man 2:43

10. Nothing To Lose 3:20

11. Lubricated 2:27

- Live At Wacken Open Air 2006
01. Rock N´Roll Outlaw

02. Man About Town

03. Remedy
04. Black Eyed Bruiser

05. Assault & Battery

06. Tramp
07. Sweet Meat

08. Rock N´Roll Is King

09. Manzil Madness

10. Once In A Lifetime

11. Nice Boys

12. Bad Boys For Love

13. Astra Wally

GirlschoolLegacy: Girlschool is one of the seminal NWOBHM (New Wave of British Heavy Metal) bands. While they never got much critical recognition beyond the early 1980’s, they are the longest running all-female band in hard rock. Their style influenced bands like The Donnas, while their sound is straight ahead punk-influenced hard rock/metal…choppy guitar chords, pounding drums and a hundred pounds of attitude packed into each 4 minute blast of sound.

Legacy is the band’s first release in 4 years, and 28 years on from their first album, it’s obvious that the women of Girlschool feel they have as much to prove now as they ever have. The album is solid throughout…while no individual songs necessarily stand out, there’s a level of consistency here that is refreshing. The songs are all solid rockers, played with lots of panache and energy. Guests abound on Legacy, including Ronnie James Dio, Tony Iommi, Lemmy Kilminster, Phil Campbell, ‘Fast’ Eddie Clark, J.J. French, Eddie Ojeda and Neil Murray…a plethora of NWOBHM and classic metal guests.

Despite a history filled with changes, one things seems constant…Girlschool remains true to their rock and roll roots, sounding every bit as vital and alive with musical fire today as they did bursting out of the gate in the 1970’s.

01. Everything's The Same (feat. Kelly Johnson on percussion - her ashes)

02. From The Other Side

03. I Spy (Girlschool Mix)

04. Spend Spend Spend (feat. J.J. French - guitar solo)

05. Whole New World (feat. Neil Murray - bass, Phil Campbell - lead guitar solo)
06. Just Another Day (feat. Phil Campbell - guitar solo)
07. Legend (feat. Neil Murray - bass)
08. Still Waters
09. Metropolis (feat. Fast Eddie Clarke - guitar solo) Motörhead cover

10. Don`t Mess Around (feat. Eddie Ojeda - guitar solo)

11. Zeitgeist

12. Don't Talk To Me (feat. Lemmy on bass, vocals and triangle)

13. I Spy (Dio/Iommi Mix) (feat. Ronnie James Dio on vocals, Tony Iommi - lead guitar) - Bonus Track

14. Emergency - Bonus Track

15. London - Bonus Track

25 September 2008

Forthcoming articles and features...

I have the following planned for the next few days, time and energy permitting:

A long overdue review of the recent Spock's Beard Live DVD and 2-CD set
A long overdue review of the recent Marillion 2-DVD release Somewhere in London

A look at three recent releases from the newly christened Wacken Records label, covering cult Aussie pub rockers Rose Tattoo, NWOBHM stalwarts Girlschool and newer gothic metal band Forever Slave. No, it's not prog, but they were sent to me, and I will be covering them.

A look at the new Axel Rudi Pell release Tales of the Crown (European metal) and the newest release from 1980's thrashers Metal Church, This Present Wastelend (Kurdt Vanderhoof is also the founder member of prog band Presto Ballet).

I'm looking at maybe trying to get a weekly "10 Questions With..." feature going, about which more as it gels.

Remember, no promises on timing on any of this...when it gets up here, you'll be the second to know. The engines are still being primed here...we're not quite fully ready for takeoff again.

Thanks for reading.

Yes - In The Present Tour details

LOS ANGELES, Sept. 25, 2008—YES concerts have always been very special events, and this winter’s “In the Present” tour, hitting a total of 30 cities in November and December, will be no different, as Steve Howe, Chris Squire and Alan White play selections from hit albums like Fragile, Close to the Edge, Tales from Topographic Oceans and 90125 along with audience favorites like “Roundabout,” “Owner of a Lonely Heart” and “I’ve Seen All Good People,” some of the enduring classics that have made YES the most influential and groundbreaking progressive group in rock & roll.

The tour will get underway at the Hamilton Place Theater in Hamilton, ON, on Nov. 4 and run through Dec. 17 at the Hard Rock Casino in Miami., featuring guitarist Howe, bassist Squire and drummer White, joined by keyboardist Oliver Wakeman, the son of YES’ Rick Wakeman, and vocalist Benoit David, a Montreal, Quebec, native and vocalist in several YES tribute groups, who was discovered by the band on the Internet and invited on the tour.

The group’s itinerary includes performances at New York’s Hammerstein Ballroom on Nov. 14, Baltimore’s Ram’s Head Live Nov. 16, Cleveland’s House of Blues Nov. 25, Detroit’s Fillmore on Nov. 26, Cincinnati’s Taft Theater Nov. 29, St. Louis’ The Pageant Dec. 2, Chicago’s Chicago Theater Dec. 3, Atlanta’s The Tabernacle Dec. 7, Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium Dec. 10 and Orlando’s Hard Rock Live Nov. 14, with more dates to be announced.

Over the course of a remarkable 40-year career that has time and again redefined the boundaries of rock, YES have become renowned for their live performances since being formed in 1968 by Chris Squire and Jon Anderson, who shared a mutual interest in vocal harmonies and classical music. With drummer Bill Bruford, guitarist Peter Banks and keyboardist Tony Kaye, they became YES, earning a residency at the famed London venue The Marquee Club, where they played with the likes of Jimi Hendrix and Pink Floyd, releasing their self-titled debut album in July 1969.

Guitarist Steve Howe, who went on to play in the popular prog-rock groups Asia and GTR and continues releasing acclaimed solo albums and touring, brought an experimental cutting edge to YES for their 1970’s The Yes Album, their first album to top the UK charts. Drummer Alan White, who had been hand-picked to play on John Lennon’s Imagine and George Harrison’s All Things Must Pass, came aboard in 1972. YES then went on to conquer America and played at some of the largest paid attendance concerts of all time, including JFK Stadium in Philadelphia in 1976 to a crowd of over 130,000 people.

A dominant force in rock music for more than four decades, YES has created some of rock’s most enduring and compelling hits, selling more than 30 million albums worldwide. The group has defined music history with their dynamic instrumental contrasts and abstract lyrics. Their symphonic use of sound and innovative musical styles continues to make them the most successful progressive rock band in history and their amazing career continues to defy many of their rock counterparts.

Says Chris Squire: ‘In the Present’ perfectly describes our experience in rediscovering these songs all over again while performing them in concert, as if for the very first time.”


Nov. 4: Hamilton Place Theater, Hamilton, ON

Nov. 5: Massey Hall, Toronto, ON

Nov. 7: Hampton Beach Casino, Hampton Beach, NH

Nov. 8: Community Arts Center, Williamsport, PA

Nov. 9: Mohegan Sun, Uncasville, CT

Nov. 11: Hershey Theater, Hershey, PA

Nov. 12: The LC Pavilion, Columbus, OH

Nov. 14: Hammerstein Ballroom, NY, NY

Nov. 15: Paramount Theatre, Asbury Park, NJ

Nov. 16: Ram’s Head Live, Baltimore, MD

Nov. 18: Sovereign PAC, Reading, PA

Nov. 19: The National, Richmond, VA

Nov. 21: Borgata Events Center, Atlantic City, NJ

Nov. 22: Theatre @ Westbury, Westbury, NY

Nov. 23: Theatre @Times Union Center, Albany, NY

Nov. 25: House of Blues, Cleveland, OH

Nov. 26: The Fillmore, Detroit, MI

Nov. 28: Taft Theatre, Cincinnati, OH

Nov. 29: Riverside Theater, Milwaukee, WI

Nov. 30: US Cellular Center, Bloomington, IL

Dec. 2: The Pageant, St. Louis, MO

Dec. 3: Chicago Theater, Chicago, IL

Dec. 6: House of Blues, Myrtle Beach, SC

Dec. 7: The Tabernacle, Atlanta, GA

Dec. 9: Palace Theater, Louisville, KY

Dec. 10: Ryman Auditorium, Nashville, TN

Dec. 14: Hard Rock Live, Orlando, FL

Dec. 15: Ruth Eckerd, Clearwater, FL

Dec. 17: Hard Rock Casino, Miami, FL

Speaking of Happy the Man...

(courtesy of Bill Plummer from Oblivion Sun)

StanJam is coming up on Saturday September 27th. This is the first benefit to help our friend, Stanley Whitaker in raising some much needed money to help him cope the the mounting bills from his medical needs. Stan's radiation treatments have begun so the timing is very good for helping Stan during this period when he cannot get out and work.

Some of the players will include Alan Benjamin, Paul Sears, Anthony Setola, Greg Phillips, Keith Macksoud, Chris Mack, Dave DeMarco, Cyndee Lee Rule, Dave Newhouse, Paul Reed Smith, Gary Grainger, Tony Bunn, Roy Witte (aka Boomer), Winn Krozack and more special guests. The event will combine many artists who haven't played together before. There should be some special moments and some unique new music created right on the spot.

Doors are at 6pm and we'll go as long as we can. Admission is $15 but we'll happily take as much as you can spare to help Stanley through this tough time. We'll be recording the event to be aired later on the Gagliarchives.

Kit Watkins: free downloads

Kit Watkins, former keyboardist for Happy The Man and Camel, as well as a prolific solo artist in his own right, has released a number of his albums for free download through his website via the Creative Commons License (free to share with attribution for non commercial purposes and without using said material to create derivative works).

You can check out the selections (including a full DVD!) at the following site:


Magenta release double live album

Magenta are delighted to announce the release of their new Double Live CD Live at the Point. It is available to pre-order now from the Magenta shop www.magenta-web.com for dispatch from 29th September onwards. A general release date of 27th October will follow.

The album features over 100 minutes of live music recorded at their amazing performance at the Point in Cardiff in November 2007. All but two of the tracks performed have never been on a Magenta live album before. The album includes an extended selection from "Home," the rarely performed "Sloth" and the recent show-stopping arrangement of "The Warning" from Revolutions, making this an essential purchase for all Magenta fans. A live DVD of the COMPLETE performance will be released in the near future.

A promotional video for the CD which also features footage from the DVD can be seen at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cze9Oawm6qk or at www.magenta-web.com

Track listing:
Disc 1
1. Opus Three
2. Speechless
3. Envy
4. Hurt
5. Moving On
6. The Journey
7. Towers Of Hope
8. Demons
9. Morning Sunlight
10. The Dream
11. The Visionary
12. Anger

Disc 2
1. Man The Machine
2. Genetesis/The Warning
3. Sloth
4. The White Witch (excerpt)

Capillary Action - So Embarassing

This one has been sitting here for far too long, so it almost deserves a "Backlog Post #2" label, but I'm going to skip that in the title. Jonathan Pfeffer, mastermind/singer/guitarist for Capillary Action dropped me a line a while back and wondered if I'd be interested in checking his band out, mentioning that they had worked with semi-local faves Skeletonbreath in the past. Intrigued by that working relationship, I encouraged him to send me the CD to review.

The album is titled So Embarrassing, and it features the core trio (Pfeffer, Sam Krulewitch - Keyboards and Dan Sutherland - Drums) along with Spencer Russell on bass, 4 horn players, 3 string players and an extra percussionist. As one might assume from the extensive musician list, the music is occasionally dense and quite often chaotic. I can see how these guys could share a stage with a band like Skeletonbreath, as they seem to ply some of the same musical waters, albeit in quite different directions (Capillary action features vocals, something Skeletonbreath eschews in their klezmer/punk/cabaret mix). Their material tends to be a bit more diverse, with wildly divergent bursts of direction...one moment is quiet and jazzy, almost lounge music in style, and the next is thrash jazz out of the John Zorn/Naked City oeuvre. The shifts can be startling...this is NOT easy listening music at all, and if your tastes lean toward the traditional/symphonic end of things, I think you'd find yourself running and screaming into the night.

It'd be easy for someone to say that music like Capillary Action's material on this album takes no skill to play...it often veers wildly toward noise, and anyone can make noise. That misses the point. This is pretty carefully organised and structured sound here, and that takes immense skill to pull off convincingly. I can't think of many bands that have or had the musical skill to make chaos work well...Zappa could do it, and Naked City as mentioned above made a career out of making the unlistenable enjoyable. The fact that Pfeffer tempers the noise outbursts with moments of melody and structure ties things together nicely...it's the spoonful of sugar that helps the medicine go down, so to speak.

HIGHLIGHTS: Gambit, Bloody Nose, Father of Mine

RECOMMENDED IF YOU DIG: Cheer-Accident, Naked City, Skeletonbreath, Kayo Dot, King Crimson (at their more improvisational)


24 September 2008

Better Place Recordings

I was gobsmacked yesterday to receive a message from Ketil Einarsen, who has played with White Willow and Jaga Jazzist, among other groups, alerting me to the new label he has started with Rhys Marsh, who now is the new singer in White Willow (according to the mail). The label is called Better Place Recordings, and according to the website...

"Quite simply, this is music that would be heard more widely, if the world was a better place. Hence the name, you see? But they're not really idealists — they swing more to the side of the realists."

Currently the label is home to a few artists...

Rhys Marsh And The Autumn Ghost
“Inspiring and gorgeous, albeit heartbreaking, classical-countered sophisticated pop.”

Trondheim-based Rhys will release his debut album, ‘The Fragile State Of Inbetween’, in October. For this organic and lush affair he's drafted in an incredible amount of musicians to accompany him. Seventeen, in fact, taken from such bands as Jaga Jazzist, Änglagård and Anekdoten.

On the record you'll hear lots of hushed voices, acoustic guitar, piano, double bass, fretless bass, three drummers, two flutes, trumpet, pedal steel, a string section, lots of Mellotron and, despite the potential for complete wall-of-sound syndrome, still an impressive amount of space.

“70’s prog and folk, 80’s art pop, 90’s indie... And a whole lot more.”

Led by Ketil, who handles the flutes, songwriting, vocals, percussion, keyboards, guitars and arrangements, Okasa also features a who's who of talent. At the last count, he was joined by Brynjar (keyboards, accordion, guitars, bass, studio tech and producer), Rhys (vocals), Gaute (guitars), Henning (bass), Finn (guitars), Haakon (banjo and guitars), Pål (drums), Martin (drums), Erik (trombone), Morten (clarinet), Sonja (lyricist) and Katarina (fx and good vibrations).

Okasa are currently working on two or three records. The first one, or maybe the first two, will hopefully surface early next year.


This is the newly-named project of Takashi Mori and Rhys Marsh. They're currently working towards a six-track EP. More on this soon.

“Swirling to the edge of chaos and dissolving into tales of quiet beauty and loss.”

This experimental indie-jazz ensemble, led by Gaute Storsve, will be releasing their follow-up to 2006's ‘Happiness Not Yet Won’ early next year, which will be called ‘Death Is Just The End’.

The best bit, for those of you who want to check out music before you buy it, is that Ketil and Rhys have posted a 5 song 'official bootleg' EP on the website, which you can download free of charge, to check out music by these artists:

1. Rhys Marsh And The Autumn Ghost, ‘I Watched, As You Disappeared’
From the forthcoming album ‘The Fragile State Of Inbetween’, released October 2008

2. Unit, ‘This Moment's Bliss’
From the forthcoming EP, released winter 2008

3. The Opium Cartel, ‘Three Sleepers’
From the forthcoming album, released winter 2008
In conjunction with Termo Records

4. Ignore, ‘The Doctrine’
From the forthcoming album ‘Death Is Just The End’, released winter 2008

5. Okasa, ‘Last Words’ (Very Rough Mix)
From the forthcoming album, released winter 2008

There's quite a bit here to get excited by, especially if you dig music that lays back a little bit, creating mood through light and shade as much, if not more, than intense musical pyrotechnics. I have to say that I am really enjoying the material I am hearing, and can't wait to try out more.

Better Place Recordings can be found HERE. I'd seriously consider bookmarking it for future explorations.