20 April 2009

VdGG - shows starting to trickle out

Looks like Van Der Graaf Generator will be traveling a bit further west on their upcoming jaunt to the US for NEARfest. Just announced:


Thursday, June 25, 8 pm VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR & THE STRAWBS (acoustic )

Tix are $33.ADV/$35. DOS through
www.beachlandballroom.com or 216-383-1124

11 April 2009

LTE reunion mega-boxed set announced


"The LTE Box Set is the ultimate souvenir of Liquid Tension Experiment's 10th Anniversary Reunion Tour.

Included in this deluxe package is both the NYC and LA shows in their entirety (on both CD and DVD), as well as the Liquid Trio Experiment 2 CD and two items that are exclusive to this set and will not be available separately: Live In LA on BluRay disc and a bonus CD of all of the improv jams from the other LTE 2008 shows.



Box Set Includes:
  • LTE Live In NYC (2 CD)
  • LTE Live In NYC (1 DVD)
  • LTE Live In LA (2 CD)
  • LTE Live In LA (1 DVD)
  • LTE Live In LA (1 Blu-ray) Available only in the boxset
  • LTE Bonus Disc (1 CD) Available only in the boxset
  • Liquid Trio Experiment - When the Water Breaks: Live In Chicago (1 CD)
  • 24 Page Booklet

REVIEW: The Crystal Caravan - The Crystal Caravan (2009, Garageland Records)

After two reviews covering music that is spacier, more electronics, perhaps a bit more expansive in some ways, it feels to this reviewer like it’s time to rock out with our…


Where did that come from?

Anyway…while I certainly love long, expansive tracks, byzantine song structures, and lyrics sung in different languages, I also have a love for psychedelia and 1970’s rock. Thankfully there are a few newer bands out there making music in just such a style…Black Bonzo’s latest album is the Uriah Heep album that never was, and Wolfmother has released some strong, if slightly stylistically unoriginal hard rock. The Crystal Caravan works in just this arena…loads of organ and keys, rough and ready, preacher in the wilderness vocals, and a rhythm section that is four to the floor/balls to the wall from open to close. Their name evokes strong 1970’s connections as well…as a big fan of the Doors, I’d like to think that it’s referring to two of my favourite songs from their earlier albums ("The Crystal Ship" and "Spanish Caravan," respectively). But don’t look for much subtlety here, ladies and gentlemen…this is raw rock and roll at its most primal.

Oh, we get some gentleness…”Tombstone Eyes” offers up some beautiful, glistening arpeggios and a touch of country vibe here and there, in the same way that a song like the Rolling Stone’s “Salt of the Earth” is country-ish. There’s also some gorgeous piano playing that again reminds me of the Stones and Ian McLagan. But this is pretty much the proverbial exception that proves the rule on this self-titled debut release…elsewhere we get wailing guitar and breakneck rhythms on “Down Under,” strong echoes of the Steve Miller Band on “Dead Inside” (well, at least on the opening bit), and a fun almost syncopated bit that opens the otherwise pretty straightforward “A New Time is Coming.”

Niklas "RG" Gustafsson’s vocals occasionally take on a similar timbre to Jim Morrison’s, but his voice is thankfully not a clone (not like anyone could really copy Morrison’s vocals from an inflection and delivery standpoint). Björn Lohmander and Stefan Bränberg are both solid players, with suitably fuzzy lead work and buzzy, crunchy rhythm guitar playing liberally mixed through. But for me, the musician highlights are certainly Jonas Lindsköld’s organ playing and the loose but powerful rhythm section of Pierre Svensson and Christopher Olsson on bass and drums respectively. Music like this lives and dies as a result of whatever pulse is resting at the center of the musical beast, and The Crystal Caravan has a smoking rhythm section in these two. Of special note are the percussive accents and colours added by Annika Bränberg throughout…her conga and hand percussion really adds to the sonic mix.

There’s not a lot to analyse here, people…The Crystal Caravan isn’t about deftly orchestrated unison sections or song structures in alternating 7’s and 9’s. You’re not getting cosmic lyrics about a group of pixies living in teapots, or made up languages and 9 album arcs about the ecological destruction of the world, and the returning settlers from another world…or about marmots coming out of the sky and standing there. You are however getting some fun and guilt-free hard rock that has both eyes set firmly on the golden days of the 1970’s, where sex, drugs and rock and roll ruled in equal parts. Break out the joss sticks and the bell bottoms…The Crystal Caravan is here to rock out.


Produced by Dennis Lyxzén. Mixed and Mastered by Pelle Henricsson at Tonteknik Recording Umeå, Sweden. Recorded by Björn Lohmander and Stefan Bränberg at Caravan Audio Umeå, Sweden. Backing vocals on track 1,3,5,6,7,9 by Dennis Lyxzén. Backing vocals on track 3,7 by Lars Eriksson. Photos by Jonas Lindsköld. Layout by Björn Lohmander and Jonas Lindsköld. All songs are written and performed by The Crystal Caravan.

1. Between The Mountain And The Spoon (03:27)

2. Tombstone Eyes (03:09)

3. Down Under (04:23)

4. Wicked Mind (04:21)

5. Dead Inside (04:11)

6. A New Time is Coming (03:21)

7. Train Song (03:51)

8. Flying High (Or So It Seems) (03:03)

9. Monkey (03:50)

10. Desert King (08:57)

Niklas "RG" Gustafsson - Vocals

Björn Lohmander - Guitar

Stefan Bränberg - Guitar

Jonas Lindsköld - Organs

Pierre Svensson - Bass

Annika Bränberg - Percussion

Christopher Olsson - Drums

Band line-up changes

1) Brought to my attention by Gary Lauzon - Gary has left The Rebel Wheel for personal reasons, and the band has deputised former Nathan Mahl bassist Claude Prince to step in and fill Gary's prodigiously talented shoes. We wish Gary the best of luck with his future musical endeavours, and welcome Claude to the group!

2) Dave DeMarco has left Oblivion Sun to pursue different musical directions, and has been replaced in the group by Keith Macksoud, bassist for Present, among other bands. Also, it has just been announced that drummer Chris Mack, also of Iluvatar, has moved on from OS. That position is currently open.

Steeleye Span 40th Anniversary US tour dates

STEELEYE SPAN - 40th Anniversary USA

September 2009

Sat 19th Steeleye Span Somerville Theatre, 55 Davis Sq, Somerville, Cambridge MA
Info: www.WorldMusic.org or 617-876-4275

Sun 20th Steeleye Span B.B. Kings, NY
Mon 21st Steeleye Span Sellersville Theatre, Sellersville PA
Tues 22nd Steeleye Span Birchmere, Alexandria VA

In other ZpZ news...

A teaser for the forthcoming Zappa plays Zappa DVD, Son of Roxy & Elsewhere, has been officially posted to YouTube. It may be found here:


(Even though embedding is apparently available for this video, I will simply provide a link to it instead.)

I will likewise not comment on the title, nor the fact that we've been teased for several years about the imminent release of the original Roxy performances on DVD, yet this is coming out.

(Apologies for the mess up in the tags below...Blogger won't allow me to use an ampersand in a tag, hence we get 'son of roxy elsewhere' instead of the proper title.)

Zappa plays Zappa news

(brought to my attention by reader FZDolfan)


Read the post dated 1 April 2009.

An excerpt:

"Here's a funny story... sort of.... So we're getting ready to leave for Japan and Australia and we've been rehearsing away like a good little teenage rocking combo. Diligently re-distributing parts and practicing our new musical responsibilities in the wake of Aaron Arntz's departure. We decide to stop for a moment and we say to ourselves where is Ray White?

He was supposed to be here today wasn't he? Yep today's the day for Ray. Let's call him. He doesn't answer any of his phones and they all say they are disconnected. Is he suddenly in the witness protection program? What has happened? We decide to look at our e-mails. I had one in my in box from Ray.

Ready for the hilarious punchline? Ray quit via e-mail with no advance "romance" notice whatsoever.

This sort of thing happened to Frank often. It never stopped him. While it is not enjoyable to deal with, it is predictable. History repeats itself..."

I will refrain from commentary as I know nothing more than what is posted here...or there, rather...

10 April 2009

CD REVIEW: Øresund Space Collective - Good Planets Are Hard To Find (2009, Transubstans Records)

OK, so…

I have been listening to Good Planets Are Hard To Find, the latest release by Øresund Space Collective, for a few days now, and I am at a loss. I simply don’t know how to review this. This is not because I find the music lacking, or unenjoyable…it’s been a lovely soundtrack for 3 solid days of work. I am digging the vibe, the grooves, the heavy Indian influence (loads of sitar!). But I’m simply unable to figure out a good way to get this review started.

Øresund Space Collective releases small quantities of fully improvised space rock (this release, according to the band’s website, is limited to 1000 copies). Theirs is a sound that seems to fall generally speaking into the same branch of space rock as bands like Ozric Tentacles and Hidria Spacefolk in a lot of ways…trippy, groove oriented, instrumentals that sprawl out over 10 to 20 minutes in some cases, incorporating some heavy bass/drum groove interplay and a bit of playful musical sensibility. On this release, ØSC adds in copious amounts of sitar work, bringing a distinct eastern vibe to the proceedings. This isn’t space rock in the jackbooted alien, Hawkwind mode, not is it pataphysical humour-based like Gong…this is dance your arse off festival music.

There is some good variance in general sound on this album…it’s not like every song sounds like little more than a variation on a theme. The title track, which opens the album, exhibits a lot of the heavy sitar play that I really enjoy here. “Space Fountain” opens with a tight drum and bass groove, and just a smidge of light blanga. “Orbital Elevator” does this a bit better and a bit heavier, with some nicely sweeping synths and a good bit of crunchy rhythm guitar. If anything, songs like this one and the preceding “Space Fountain” could do with a bit more heaviness, and if there is a complaint to be made about this release, it’s that…so much of the album rests in a comfortable rhythmic groove that the band seems to not want to leave. A bit more tempo change would do wonders for me.

In some ways, “MTSST” best exemplifies this…there’s a touch of rhythmic/tempo shift throughout the track’s 19:28 length, but overall the song isn’t something that can be easily focused on the entire time. That doesn’t mean I don’t groove to its space-y sitar laced goodness…but it does mean that focused listening does not do the piece any amazing wonders.

I won’t say that space rock is a dirty secret for me…I certainly enjoy quite a bit of it. And I enjoy Good Planets Are Hard To Find, much as I have enjoyed other material I’ve heard Øresund Space Collective. But this is not music that rewards focused, attentive listening. Sit back and groove to it, or better yet, get up and dance to it. Play it at your next party. Take it for what it is…lengthy excursions to the further reaches of altered consciousness…

1. Good Planets are hard to Find 9:43

2. Space Fountain 8:51

3. Orbital Elevator 16:12

4. PF747-3 19:35

5. My heel has a Beard 6:01

6. MTSST 19:28

Recorded on Nov., 2007 at the Black Tornado Studios, Copenhagen, DK

Tobias –Guitars

PIB- Drums



Luz- Percussion

Mogens- Hammond, Synths

Dr. Space- Synth

KG- Sitar, Guitar, Hammond

09 April 2009

Porcupine Tree 2009 tour dates

Thu 24 Sep NY, NY TERMINAL 5


07 April 2009

NEKTAR - Fortyfied samples available

Nektar has made samples from their forthcoming double live album, Fortyfied, available on their website. Go to http://nektarsmusic.com/ to check it out.

(PLEASE NOTE: you must sign up to be a member of the site to access the streaming samples.)

DREAM THEATER - Summer tour dates as of 6 April 2009

06/06/2009 - Sweden Rock Festival (Main Stage) - Solvesborg, Sweden (FESTIVAL)

06/10/2009 - Luzhniki - Moscow, Russia (DT Headlining show with Special Guests TBA)

06/12/2009 - 02 Academy - Leads, UK (DT Headlining show with Special Guests FROST*)

06/13/2009 - Guildhall - Southampton, UK (DT Headlining show with Special Guests FROST*)

06/14/2009 - Download Festival - Castle Donington UK (FESTIVAL)

06/16/2009 - Exhibition Grounds - Tel Aviv, Israel (DT Headlining show with Special Guests EPHRAT)

06/18/2009 - Coliseum de Lisboa - Lisbon, Portugal (DT Headlining show with Special Guests FROST*)

06/20/2009 - Kobetasonik Festival - Bilbao, Spain (FESTIVAL)

06/21/2009 - Hellfest - Clisson, France (FESTIVAL)

06/23/2009 - Tollwood Musikzelt - Munich, Germany (DT Headlining show with Special Guests FROST*)

06/24/2009 - Amphitheater - Gelsenkirchen, Germany (DT Headlining show with Special Guest Neal Morse)

06/26/2009 - Graspop Metal Meeting - Dessel, Belgium (FESTIVAL)

06/27/2009 - Sportzentrum - Wettingen, Switzerland (DT Headlining show with Special Guests CYNIC)

06/28/2009 - Gods Of Metal Festival - Milan, Italy (FESTIVAL)

06/30/2009 - Tesla Arena - Prague, Czech Republic (DT Headlining show with Special Guests CYNIC)

07/01/2009 - Sportarena - Budapest, Hungary (DT Headlining show with Special Guests CYNIC)

07/03/2009 - Kaliakra Rock Festival - Kavarna, Bulgaria (FESTIVAL)

07/04/2009 - Kucukciflikpark - Istanbul, Turkey (DT Headlining show with Special Guests CYNIC) *NEW*


08/29/2009 - The Greek Theater - Los Angeles, CA

REVIEW: OSI, Blood (2009, InsideOut Music)

It’s been three years, and thus the two-headed beast that is OSI awakens from deep sleep to present us with another slice of electronic-inspired prog in the form of Blood, their third LP.

OSI has been a shifting, unsettling musical entity. While the first album drew equally from the talents of Mike Portnoy, Kevin Moore, Jim Matheos and Sean Malone to create an impressive debut release that added a significant dollop of electronic modern-ness to the often staid genre of progressive metal. 2006 (yep, three years following their debut), OSI returned with Free, which saw Portnoy’s participation greatly reduced, and Malone replaced by Joey Vera (Armored Saint, Fates Warning) on bass. Blood sees further shifts in band line-up, with Matheos handling bass as well as guitar, and Portnoy replaced by Gavin Harrison, currently of Porcupine Tree and one of the more busy progressive rock drummers currently active in the genre. Also guesting on Blood is Opeth frontman Michael Åkerfeldt on the appropriately titled “Stockholm.”

Moore’s vocals are subtle, mixed down, not overly nuanced, but perhaps perfect for the sound the band has crafted here. There’s an eerie sense of distance here in his vocal presentation, a kind of disconnect, that suits the processed, chopped up music Moore and Matheos has crafted here. Meanwhile, his keyboard sounds rely more on mood than flash. Little buzzes, sweeps, moog and processed Rhodes-like electric piano are constants in his sonic repertoire, and it’s his sense of mood and colour and shape that perhaps hint most at what was lost when he left Dream Theater in 1994. Matheos acquits himself well on bass, and his guitar playing exhibits every bit as much awareness of space and shape as Moore’s keyboard playing does. If you’re buying this to hear Matheos let loose and show off, you’re making a mistake…his playing is restrained, subtle, and centered around the needs of the song and arrangement.

Gavin Harrison’s performance here is not a surprise. There’s a reason he’s so well regarded as a drummer, and his abilities are showcased well here. When he has to let loose and pound, he does so with admirable force and dexterity…no plodding dinosaur beats for him. Elsewhere he adds little touches of percussion and subtlety (I keep coming back to that word a lot here) adding to the arrangement without distracting from the arrangement. He’s the right drummer for this material, certainly.

While I continually have used the word subtle, or variations thereof, throughout the first few paragraphs, that should not imply that Blood is simply a bunch of laid back grooved and late night chill out music. Songs like “False Start,” "Be The Hero" and “Blood” have all the hallmarks of progressive metal, just tuned and shaped a little differently. “False Start” sees Matheos rip on rhythm guitar, his bass playing tight and heavy, while Harrison lets fly with some impressive rolls and fills propelling the song forward. Add to that some carefully placed keyboard bits and Moore’s disaffected, distanced vocals, and you have an interesting mix that really succeeds as a result of the tension inherent in the two different styles. “We Come Undone,” on the other hand, is far more keyboard driven, opening with a gentle, yet slightly unsettling keyboard line, brushed traps and hi hat (processed by the sound of it), and more of Moore’s trademark vocals. I like the variety of keyboard sounds here, and this song certainly fits the bill as late night chill out music, albeit with a twist. Like so much music in this genre, nothing is really ever as simple as it seems.

“Microburst Alert” is about as processed as they come, with loads of samples that sound as if they have been acquired from recordings at some scientific research station of control center. Keys, percussion, bass…everything has been manipulated within an inch of its life until nothing, I think, sounds like it did when initially committed to tape or digital 1’s and 0’s. And as an Opeth fan, I have to admit my biggest interest was in hearing how Mikael Åkerfeldt was integrated into the band’s sound. “Stockholm” gives us that opportunity, and I am thankful to say his voice has seen limited, if any, post-production processing, and we get his gloriously smooth tenor-baritone, filled with inflection and emotion, on a song that could easily have fit on an album like Damnation or Watershed. It’s eerie, it’s dark, and Åkerfeldt’s voice just makes it even more so. I hate saying a guest-driven song is the highlight of an album, but for this listener, “Stockholm” definitely is.

OSI is a tough nut to crack in some ways, and they are a hard band to easily recommend. They’re not really prog metal any more, they’re not electronica, they’re not ambient, even though they certainly have elements of each style, and explore each of them in time. Unlike supergroups like Transatlantic, OSI’s sound really is less about what each individual musician brings to the table and more about the chemistry that results from combining them…one could easily tell, for example, what Neal Morse or Roine Stolt brought to Transatlantic, yet OSI’s sound is entirely its own. Blood is an album that offers something new with each subsequent listen, unraveling and revealing secrets every time it’s spun.

1. The Escape Artist - 5:51

2. Terminal - 6:29

3. False Start - 3:05

4. We Come Undone - 4:04

5. Radiologue - 6:05

6. Be the Hero - 5:52

7. Microburst Alert - 3:49

8. Stockholm - 6:42

9. Blood - 5:24

Kevin Moore - Vocals, Keyboards

Jim Matheos - Guitar, Bass

Gavin Harrison - Drums

Mikael Åkerfeldt - Vocals on "Stockholm"

Tim Bowness - Vocals on "No Celebrations"

New Anekdoten collection

(from the page at KScope Records)

"It's been almost 18 years since the four of us started rehearsing together in a small house in the village of Djurås. Ever since then Anekdoten has been an ongoing part of our lives. ...”

Anekdoten are considered one of the leading bands in contemporary progressive rock. Their intensive, dark, dynamic and original music has also appealed to metal, goth and post-rock fans all over the world.

Anekdoten was formed in 1991 by Anna Sofi Dahlberg, Nicklas Barker, Peter Nordins and Jan Erik Liljeström and the line up has remained intact ever since. Together they have released 5 studio albums on their own Virta label and 3 live albums in Japan, selling over 85,000 albums in the process.

Chapters is a 2CD set which mixes tracks from the band’s 5 albums along with rarities and unreleased tracks.

Jan Erik explains the choices of tracks, “On the first CD you'll find our favourite songs from our 3 most recent albums. As a bonus we finally did a proper recording of a tune we wrote in 1998 called "When I Turn". The song was not included on from From Within because we couldn't play the piano properly. For this release we asked Per Wiberg of Opeth to help us out, so now we can finally release this baby into the world.

“The second CD mostly contains material from our early years. The disc kicks off with perhaps the most legendary Anekdoten song, the epic "Sad Rain", which previously only has been available in Japan. There are also demo versions of three songs from the Nucleus album. The creative atmosphere that surrounded these recordings made them far too good to lie gathering dust in the archives. Rounding things up are demos of Pieces" and "Prince Of The Ocean" songs that would be reworked, but not necessarily improved, for our most recent studio album A Time Of Day. All songs have been carefully (re-)mastered by Hans Fredriksson at Audiosense."

CD 1











11. WHEN I TURN (Previously unreleased)

CD 2

1. SAD RAIN (Alt. mix)



4. NUCLEUS (demo)

5. BOOK OF HOURS (demo)


7. 30 PIECES (demo)


06 April 2009

Ozrics officially announced for Progday!

OZRIC TENTACLES are a band that probably need no introduction to fans of progressive rock. The band was formed when the original members met at a festival on the grounds of Stonehenge in 1983. By 1984 they had released the first of their early cassette-only titles. Soon after they grew a large and devoted fan base and eventually become legends in the UK underground. They have now been a leader of the progressive/psychedelic music scene for the better part of two decades and have released over 20 albums. Their new CD, “The Yum Yum Tree,” will be released in April.

Led by founding member Ed Wynne, OZRIC TENTACLES continue the tradition of free-form instrumental space rock that made them famous. Long associated with open-air events, we're sure seeing the OZRICS close ProgDay weekend, as the sun sets on Storybook Farm, will be a special opportunity to experience this remarkable band.

ProgDay is the world's longest running progressive rock event. The 15th edition will take place on September 5th & 6th, 2009, at beautiful Storybook Farm near Chapel Hill, North Carolina. OZRIC TENTACLES joins MÖRGLBL and FRENCH TV for another great weekend of the best in progressive music! For more information and to hear music from all of this year 's ProgDay bands, please visit us at
www.progday.com .

04 April 2009

Additional Enid show announced

(Info courtesy of ProgressiveEars and poster KenA)

Tuesday 26 May 2009 should be marked in your diary, as that day will see The Enid return to the stage. Much time has passed since they last performed, this time will see original drummer, Dave Storey together with Jason Ducker and Max Read. The band will perform a major new work alongside a selection from the back catalogue.

Tickets £10 are avaialble from the venue:


Night of the Prog IV bands announced

NIGHT OF THE PROG IV: The line-up for the 4th Night Of The Prog Festival has been finalised. The festival will be held at 10 and 11 July at the World Heritage listed Loreley Freilichtbühne in St. Goarshausen, Germany.

Tickets can be bought at the Wiventertainment shop or via www.ticketmaster.de where you can pay by credit card.


Friday 10. July 2009:

Also Eden
Agents of Mercy (feat. Roine Stolt, Nad Sylvan)

Saturday 11. July 2009:

The Pineapple Thief
Pure Reason Revolution
Steve Hackett & Band
Mick Pointer & Friends playing Marillion's Script For A Jester's Tear

Saga: The Human Condition Tour 2009

The Human Condition Tour 2009 (Special guest: It Bites/**without It Bites)

16.04.2009 D-Worpswede/Music Hall
17.04.2009 D-Worpswede/Music Hall

18.04.2009 NL-Uden/De Pul

19.04.2009 NL-Purmerend/P3

22.04.2009 D-Hamburg/Fabrik

23.04.2009 D-Oberhausen/Turbinenhalle

24.04.2009 D-Hildesheim/Vier Linden

25.04.2009 D-Geseke/Antonianum

26.04.2009 D-Aalen/Stadthalle

28.04.2009 AT-Woergl/Komma

29.04.2009 D-Remchingen/Kulturhalle

30.04.2009 D-Metzingen/Stadthalle

01.05.2009 D-Speyer/Halle 101**

02.05.2009 D-St. Wendel/Saalbau**

03.05.2009 CH-Pratteln/Z7**

05.05.2009 D-Augsburg/Spectrum**

06.05.2009 D-Nürnberg/Hirsch**

07.05.2009 D-Giessen/Hessenhalle**

08.05.2009 D-Eich/Altrheinhalle**

09.05.2009 D-Bonn/Brückenforum**

12.05.2009 NL-Appeldorn/Gigant**

13.05.2009 D-Aschaffenburg/Colos-Saal**

15.05.2009 D-Rottweil/Alte Stallhalle**

16.05.2009 D-Schweinfurt/Stadthalle**

17.05.2009 CH-Winterthur/Garden Club**

20.05.2009 D-Ulm/Ulmer Zelt**

22.05.2009 CZ-Karlovy Vary/Amfiteátr Loket**

24.05.2009 DK-Copenhagen/Amager Bio**

03.07.2009 D-Bad Arolsen/Outback**

04.07.2009 D-Mössingen/Mössingen rockt Open Air**

Some Brief Thoughts on Saga’s new album, The Human Condition

…I miss Michael Sadler.

…Rob Moratti has a decent voice, but it is a bit less individual than Sadler’s was.

…Saga has gotten heavier on this release! At times I thought I was listening to Dream Theater…

…keyboards seem less heavily involved in the mix.

…Ian Crichton is entirely far too underrated as a guitar player.

…many moments don’t really sound like the Saga that I know from past releases.

…having said this, “Avalon” and “You Look Good To Me” really do remind of older Saga…but different.

…I’m not sure how Moratti will handle the older material, and I am intrigued to find out.

Yes, this is Saga reborn for the later end of the 21st century’s first decade. Saga has gotten heavier while still maintaining several of the classic Saga elements. As Ian Crichton puts it, “It’s still us, of course with a different twist, some of the ideas on the CD are more prog than before.”

I do think Jim Gilmour’s keyboards could either be mixed higher, or he could pick patches that are less guitar like (this is something that bothers me about Jordan Rudess at times with Dream Theater...he can pick patches that sound so close to a distorted guitar that it can be difficult to discern his playing until he steps out to solo at times)…he’s shown himself to be a very able player, and he should be showcased more. Ian Crichton is as strong as ever on guitar, and his brother Jim’s bass playing is solid and in the pocket. Jim pairs up exceedingly well with Brian Doerner (ex-Helix) on drums, and they are the pulse that drives Saga’s music forward.

(NB: Doerner will be replaced on tour by Chris Sutherland, as Doerner is dealing with health issues)

Of course, everyone is curious how new boy Rob Moratti carries himself. His singing is good. His voice is perhaps a little less unique than Michael Sadler’s…Sadler has a voice that you immediately recognise, and Moratti simply can’t match that personality. He handles the material very well, and I can’t agree with some criticism I have read that says his voice is flat and featureless. Having said that, he’s simply not a Michael Sadler clone. That’s a good thing for Saga in a way…the new guy sounds different, and that means change and growth. I might have been more upset had they picked a clone, as it’d infer a fear of change that would result in stagnancy and petrifaction/ossification. I think it’s going to take some getting sued to a far different voice fronting Saga…the proof is going to be in how Moratti handles the classic material in a live setting, and we’ll find that out soon.

For me, the highlights of The Human Condition include the opening title track, a 7-minute slice of music verging on prog metal, with heavily processed vocals that hint at a potential interesting direction for the band. As mentioned above in the pseudo-bullet points, “Avalon” and “You Look Good to Me” hint at the older Saga sound, with just enough new shine to make them different from what has come before. The band is playing with confidence, and Moratti doesn’t show any hesitance in fronting a band with a history that stretches back over 30 years. One hopes Saga gives Moratti more than one album to prove himself, unlike some bands who changed singers and only gave the new guy one album and tour before hanging it up (coughGenesiscough)…
The Human Condition is a solid, if sometimes unspectacular rebirth of a band for a new generation of listeners.

Track Listing:

1. The Human Condition

2. Avalon

3. A Number And A Name

4. Let It Go

5. Now is Now

6. Crown of Thorns

7. You Look Good To Me

8. Hands of Time

9. Step Inside

Band Lineup:

Rob Moratti - Vocals

Ian Crichton - Guitars

Jim Crichton - Bass

Jim Gilmour - Keyboards

Brian Doerner - Drums

03 April 2009

Umphrey's McGee - official live downloads for prog fans

This is kinda cool, actually:

"In the two months since the release of Mantis, we've been overwhelmed with the attention and appreciation from the progressive rock community. We admire the rich tradition that the community has, and the respect they have for many of the same artists that have had a lasting influence on us as well. We've been privileged to share the stage with such heroes as Adrian Belew, Mike Keneally and Stanley Jordan in recent years.

Our latest album "Mantis" has been touted as our most progressive studio album, and we are very proud of how it turned out. We were glad to take the time and flesh out our compositional approach on Mantis, and wound up with an album that stretched our songwriting and playing to levels we hadn't been able to produce in the studio before.

While we enjoyed the experience of taking our time in the studio, much of the Umphrey's McGee experience happens on-stage where we live 120+ nights a year. The challenge of reproducing some of our demanding compositions live while leaving room for both loose and structured improvisation brings out the best in us, and we encourage you to come and experience it with us.

We wanted to let you know that Jake, Kris and Joel have embarked on a new project, OHMphrey (http://myspace.com/ohmphrey), with OHM's Chris Poland and Robertino Pagliari. This project is rooted in progressive improvisation, and will release an album and support it with a few west coast shows. Furthermore, another improvisational fusion side project of ours, Kick the McGee, is thrilled to be teaming up with Morglbl from France for a show in Chicago @ Martyrs' on 5/20.

As a token of our appreciation, we're offering a free digital sampler of the "proggier" side of Umphrey's McGee to the progressive rock community, though it's really a little bit of everything to help provide context of the grander scheme of who we are as a band. In this sampler, you'll find a heavy-dose of prog-metal in Wizard Burial Ground, while a slice of the improvisation and instrumental dexterity that UM is well known for resides inside Higgins. An electric re-working of Safety In Numbers' acoustic End of the Road is a band favorite, and to give you a taste of some our our playing with special guests you'll hear Adrian Belew lending his guitar to King Crimson's Red and Mike Keneally stopping by for some extended on-stage antics and guitar pyrotechnics on Ringo. We've also included a bonus video of "Out of Order" from our PBS Soundstage performance.

Umphrey's McGee - Prog Sampler track list
1) Rocker part II (10.28.08)
2) Wizard Burial Ground (12.30.08)
3) Higgins (12.29.07)
4) End of the Road (2.17.08)
5) Search 4 (2.12.08)
6) Red (3.17.07 with Adrian Belew)
7) The Fussy Dutchman (12.30.04)
8) Ringo (2.12.08 with Mike Keneally)

To download, visit: http://tinyurl.com/umsampler

This will deposit the FREE download in your basket from our download site UMLive.net (run by Livedownloads.com). Registration at UMLive.net is free and required to complete the process. We'll keep this posted for the next 2 weeks, until April 17th, so grab it while it's hot.

To those who've checked out our albums and/or shows, and to those who are helping spread the word (and we encourage you to spread this around), we appreciate your support. Thanks for your continued interest in Umphrey's McGee, we hope to see you all on the road some time soon!"

Top 10 lists w/e 3 April 2009

The current Progarchives top 10 album list:

1) Selling England By The Pound - Genesis

2) Close To The Edge - Yes

3) Wish You Were Here - Pink Floyd

4) Thick As A Brick - Tull

5) Dark Side Of The Moon - Pink Floyd

6) Foxtrot - Genesis

7) In The Court Of The Crimson King - King Crimson

8) Animals - Pink Floyd

9) Per Un Amico - PFM

10) Moving Pictures – Rush

And, from Gnosis, a similar top 10:

1) King Crimson - In the Court of the Crimson King

2) King Crimson - Larks Tongues In Aspic

3) Banco del Mutuo Soccorso - Darwin!

4) Premiata Forneria Marconi - Per Un Amico

5) Änglagård - Hybris

6) Genesis - Selling England By The Pound

7) Hatfield and The North - Rotter's Club

8) Banco del Mutuo Soccorso - Io Sono Nato Libero

9) Yes - Close to the Edge

10) Genesis - Foxtrot

Some thoughts on the Big Six and their dominance of progressive music today...

I’ve been putting some thought into the subject of this post for a few days now…amazing what large doses of decongestants and other cold medications can do to your thought process, eh?

Anyway…this post is somewhat inspired by a post I participated in on the Mike Portnoy forum. The original post can be found here:


The long and short of it, as outlined in the initial post:

“1) Assign your own rating to the top ten

2) List your own top ten prog albums of all time

1) Selling England By The Pound - Genesis
2) Close To The Edge - Yes
3) Wish You Were Here - Pink Floyd
4) Thick As A Brick - Tull
5) Dark Side Of The Moon - Pink Floyd
6) Foxtrot - Genesis
7) In The Court Of The Crimson King - King Crimson
8) Animals - Pink Floyd
9) Per Un Amico - PFM
10) Moving Pictures – Rush”

The provided top ten apparently is the current top 10 rated albums as decided upon by participants at the Progarchives website. One of the posters at MP.com had this to say about the PA top 10:

“That reads like a top 10 list of 70s prog albums (one's from 69 and one from 81, but close enough...).

The predictable and decidedly retro-sounding (although certainly great!) Anglagard disc on position no. 15 aside, the first somewhat recent album on their list is The Perfect Element - and that only placed 35th!

Going by this list you'd think prog is dead and has been for 25 years. Thankfully, that's very far from the truth. But I guess this just goes to show that the prog scene is still dominated by old farts.”

So, is it? Is prog music dominated by the ghosts of the past? What makes bands like Yes, King Crimson, Genesis, Jethro Tull, Pink Floyd, and ELP such huge weights that it becomes a Sisyphean task to overcome their legacy? I think there’s a wide range of answers to this question, and I doubt I could get into all of them in a single post. But I’m going to try and wade through the heap of broken images that my mind can be at times, and see what I can add to the mountain of text and babble (banter, bicker, bicker, bicker, brouhaha, balderdash, ballyhoo…it’s only talk) about the subject.

The bands I listed above are the ones generally considered to be the Big Six…they were the most commercially successful progressive bands of their time, all releasing debut albums between 1967 and 1969. Among them we have the basis for much of what we consider to be the building blocks of progressive music today…lengthy compositions, influences moving beyond blues music, atypical rock band instrumentation, extensive use of synthesizers and sound manipulation, lyrics that move beyond politics or relationships. You have the melodicism that neo-prog bands drew from (as well as many of the more popular prog bands of the 1990’s), you have the explorations into atonality and improvisation that fueled the avant side of things. You have folk, you have jazz, you have space rock. While other bands of similar vintage would explore the outer expanses of these core ideas, these six bands were able to distill those disparate concepts into something that they derived artistic and commercial success from. The fact that these bands were able to find some degree of commercial success doing what they did brings them a weight that other bands can’t quite match.

I say this, and at the same time want to try and lessen it somewhat. Obviously commercial success is only one indicator of a band’s influence or importance. Bands like Gentle Giant, Van der Graaf Generator, Camel, Caravan, Magma…while not ascending to the same level of commercial/chart based success that a band like Yes would achieve, are every bit as important to the evolution of progressive music, and their influences can be heard in bands like discipline., echolyn, Spock’s Beard, and so on.
What I am getting at, I think, is that these bands are the foundation. They are the basis on which today’s prog builds and evolves. This grants those bands, rightly or wrongly, an additional sense of gravitas or importance. This does not mean that prog is dead…but it might account for some of the smell ;-)

Obviously prog and progressive music have survived to this day. In terms of diversity, prog is as alive as ever, with countless bands vying for our ears and a share of our record purchasing budget. And amongst these bands are bands that I think come close to embracing the same explorative nature that the progenitors of the genre had…they are progressing musically, exploring different forms, styles, influences, instrumentation, and so on, in the hopes of creating something new and different. There are also bands that are working in the same areas as many of the classic groups, working in a by now delineated and almost codified style. And that can be OK too. There’s certainly naught wrong with working a particular style and doing it with skill and panache.

There’s been a pretty wide divergence within fans of the genre between these two schools of musical thought. On one hand you have fans of the more stylistic bands, the so called lower case p prog bands, who feel put upon by a ‘prog elite’ that looks down upon them with derision for listening to bands that seem to do little more than ape some classic band’s work. On the other hand, you have the fans of the so called upper case P progressive bands, who feel that the other side derides them for listening to music that doesn’t sound like anything they are familiar with. It’s frustrating, especially for me, as I find as much to enjoy in wild, atonal, avant stuff as I do in a carefully crafted melodic song. There’s something of value in both sides, and this divergence is every bit as responsible (IMO) for the current state of progressive music as the ‘no commercial potential’ aspect of prog is.

Prog fans have a tendency, I find, of eating their own. I’ve seen this in other scenes as well, with one classic example being Nirvana (no, not the prog band Nirvana that released 5 albums from 1967-1970 in the UK). Of course most people know then as a result of the massively selling Nevermind album from 1991/1992, but they did have an earlier album release on Seattle based label Sub Pop. And I know a lot of people who stopped listening to them as soon as they signed to DGC/Geffen…as they stopped listening to Mudhoney and other bands of a similar ilk. It’s easy to say that those were a result of the indie nature of that particular musical scene, but I saw similar responses to Porcupine Tree signing to Lava/Atlantic. I see a similar kind of response to Dream Theater being involved with Roadrunner records, with people inferring changes in writing style/playing style/whatever being the result of label interference. I wasn’t deeply involved in the scene in the early 1990’s, but I wonder if the same kind of response was lobbed at echolyn when they signed with Sony/550.

We bemoan the fact that our favourite bands aren’t listened to by more people, yet bristle when a band starts showing signs of expanding beyond the comfy confines of the genre. At the same time, we point out bands that are mass-market bands, and try to assign a prog label to them. Radiohead, Tool, Muse…for some of us, calling these bands prog is as natural as breathing (and this is not the place for me to assign labels to any of those bands, save to say I enjoy material by all of them as much as many dedicated progressive bands). I think at times, if I were to use a metaphor, prog fans want to see the mountain come to Mohammed rather than the other way around…they want the mainstream to come to our favoured bands, hat in hand, asking to be guided, asking to find the way, rather than bands from this genre finding ways to move beyond the genre...

2 more bands signed to Summer's End 2009

Mr So and So were forerunners of the mid 90s prog scene, before signing to Steve Rothery's "Dorian Music" label for 1998s The Overlap. A lengthy hiatus ended two years ago, when the band began recording and gigging again, culminating in new album Sugarstealer. Already available as a download and due for release on CD later in the year, the album combines modern progressive rock and pop, with the dual vocals of Shaun McGowan and Charlotte Evans combining impressively.


I/O Earth are a remarkable find, having just released a remarkably assured self titled double album. The brainchild of British multi-instrumentalists Dave Cureton and Adam Gough, the album combines melodic prog with ambient, classical and world music influences, and features a variety of vocalists including Steve Balsamo (ChimpanA, the Storys). The 6 piece live version of the band will open the Sunday of the festival on October 11th.


Finally, we are delighted to announce that Official festival photographer Chris Walkden's superb photos of Summers End 2008 can now be seen at http://myweb.tiscali.co.uk/chriswalkden/SE08/

More information very soon - including more news of headliners and special guests!

Previous bands announced:

Pallas (UK) www.pallas.f2s.com www.myspace.com/pallastherockband
Parallel or 90 Degrees (UK) www.po90.com www.myspace.com/po90degrees
Quantum Fantay (Belgium) www.quantum-fantay.com www.myspace.com/quantumfantay
Godsticks (UK) www.myspace.com/godsticksmusic

Further details of the Festival, including further bands and first news of the weekend schedule will be posted very soon.

Stalk us mercilessly at www.twitter.com/summersendfest

Join the yahoo group at: http://launch.groups.yahoo.com/group/summersendfestival/

Email: summersend@btinternet.com

NEARfest tickets go on sale tomorrow

Just a reminder to everyone that NEARfest '09 Ticket Sale Day is this *_Saturday, April 4th at 10:00am!_*

*NEARfest '09 Lineup*
Friday: Van der Graaf Generator and the Steve Hillage Band
Saturday: Cabezas de Cera, Oblivion Sun, DFA, and Gong
Sunday: Quantum Fantay, Beardfish, Trettioariga Kriget, and PFM

*NEARfest 3-Day Bundle *
Lift - $200
Orchestra - $190
Grand Tier - $180
Balcony - $170

*NEARfest 2-Day Bundle *
Lift - $140
Orchestra - $135
Grand Tier - $130
Balcony - $125

Note: Any remaining Friday-only tickets will go on sale Saturday, April 11th at 11:00am ET

*Tickets may be purchased using the following methods:*

1. Online from the Zoellner Arts Center Tickets Website at https://ztickets.lehigh.edu/Online/bundles.asp
2. By phone at 610-758-2787 ext. 0 using Visa, MasterCard, or American Express
3. Zoellner Arts Center Box Office, Lehigh University, 420 East Packer Avenue, Bethlehem, PA

RoSFest - single band tickets to be made available

The long awaited anticipation is almost over and The Rites Of Spring Festival is ready to bring in the Spring with a blast of music. With a little over one month left to go before RoSfest we are sending out invitations to anyone who wants to attend the festival . We know the economy has taking its toll on many people and we know a festival can be a huge commitment for some. We want everyone and anyone who otherwise can not commit to an entire weekend to attend RoSfest in some capacity. RoSfest is creating a unique opportunity for anyone who can not commit to an entire weekend of music but might otherwise attend a single show. On April 3rd 2009 at 10 AM we are selling single concert tickets for the weekend. Tickets will be available at $25.00 each for the first 3 bands on Saturday and Sunday and $40.00 each for the two headliners. This pricing will not affect the Friday night showcase that price remains the same. Weekend passes will still be available as well as single day passes. Come on out and support RoSfest and bring on the Spring.

Tickets will be available 04/03/09 at 10 AM EST through the Keswick - box office at 215-572-7650

Abigail's Ghost new release updates

The highly anticipated follow-up to 2007's Selling Insincerity is well on its course for arrival in May 2009. Reserve your copy of the band's second album d_letion today. All pre-ordered copies will be autographed by the band and will be delivered before the record's official street date.

Head on over to Abigail's Ghost website and pre-order your album today:


Nektar announce new album release - Fortyfied

Nektar announces the release of a new double live album to celebrate 40 years of Nektar music. Track listing is scheduled to be as follows:

Disc 1:
Tab in the ocean..14mn 39s

Cryin’ in the dark..5mn 46s

King of twilight..4mn 18s

Dream nebula Pt 1..4mn 33s

Desolation valley..5mn 18s

Waves..3mn 11s

Remember the future Pt 2..18mn 48s

Doctor kool..10mn 11s

King of the deep..9mn 8s

Disc 2:

Where are you now.. 9mn 41s

Day in the life of a preacher..5mn 26s

Mr H..9mn 17s

Recycled Pt 1..17mn 29s

The debate..8mn 20s

Man in the moon..8mn 45s


Jeremy Irons to feature on New Touchstone album - Wintercoast!

TOUCHSTONE are proud and highly honoured to announce that the internationally-renowned actor Jeremy Irons is making a very special guest appearance on their new album, Wintercoast, due for release soon.

Jeremy Irons has won a raft of high profile awards, including an Academy Award® (Oscar) for Best Actor, a Screen Actors Guild Award, two Emmy Awards and two Golden Globe Awards, among others. He also won an Annie Award for voice acting in The Lion King. He is shortly due to appear at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre on Broadway, having returned after 25 years, co-starring with Joan Allen in a new play "Impressionism," written by Michael Jacobs.

To tie in with this announcement, you can now pre-order Touchstone’s new album Wintercoast by clicking the link below and not only will you get the album before it hits the shops and online outlets, you will also receive a limited-edition print which will include album artwork and narrative, autographed by the band. Please note numbers are strictly limited.


John Mayhew, former Genesis Drummer, dead

I know this is a touch old at this point, but after a little time off, figured I'd start here.

"Tragic end in search for drummer John"
"Family seek Genesis drummer"
"Interview with John Mayhew"
2006 interview with John Mayhew