Tag Archives: prog rock

Soul Enema

Review: Soul Enema – Of Clans and Clones and Clowns

I’ve been struggling to find an album from this year’s crop of new releases that’s been able to hold my interest through repeated listens, but with “Of Clans and Clones and Clowns,” the latest after a very long wait from Israel’s Soul Enema, I think I’ve finally hit on something. The band’s first official release back in 2010, “Thin Ice Crawling,” was introduced as an album which takes risks, but with the new record which has been in the making for quite a long time, Soul Enema continued to work on diversifying and honing their sound.

Opener “Omon Ra” pretty much sets the tone for everything that’s to follow. “Of Clans and Clones and Clowns” walks a line between progressive and power, with plenty of ‘70s style synths and a very strong Eastern influence. The band members work brilliantly together. The harsh vocals add a nice sense of gravitas to the album’s heavier sections, while cliché clean/harsh pitfalls are deftly avoided.

Of Clans and Clones and Clowns

“Cannibalissimo Ltd.” shifts gears a bit and has more of a prog rock feel, with a main riff that will definitely work its way into your head and some killer lead work.

“Breaking the Waves” is a largely subdued progressive affair with a driving chorus that’s addictive as hell. “Eternal Child” is a successful ballad with a symphonic line serving as a backbone and wonderful vocal performance by lead singer Noa Gruman. This tune also features Ayreon’s mastermind Arjen Lucassen.

When an album is mixed and mastered by Jens Bogren we expect good things, and “ does not disappoint. The various instruments, vocals, and percussion are all distinct and well defined in the mix, with nothing overpowered or underserved.

In the end, everyone else who’s a fan of more lighthearted progressive fare should also give this album a spin, there’s a lot to like.

Listen to the album here.

Monolithic Elephant

Review: Monolithic Elephant – Monolithic Elephant

Mothership is a ‘70s hard rock-influenced, blues-based, heavy rock band. The band’s self-titled debut release is a 66-minute journey back in time with a focus on the bass, drums and guitar, along with the vocals. Monolithic Elephant is a three-piece outfit, hailing from Milan in Italy. The band is comprised of singer/guitarist Andrea Ravasi, singer/bassist Alessandro Riva, and singer/drummer Santo Carone.

Monolithic Elephant album art

Monolithic Elephant harkens back to when music was pure and heavy, not watered down. The band opens the album with “Moloch,” which intro is over a minute of ambient/atmospheric sounds, followed by a very Sabbath-inspired, heavy and plodding tones. With the following 2-song suite “The Unbaptized and the Virtuous Pagans,” the album inevitably falls under the heading “mostly instrumental” for its extended jam sections, but it’s worth noting that when there are vocals they come on with structure behind. The song continues the heaviness, but the tempo kicks it into another gear, energizing the song. The band often flirts with heavy psychedelic rock, as well as prog, but tunes remain to be rooted within the heavy genre. Monolithic Elephant don’t feel by any means tied to a formula, and drummer Santo Carone has his work cut out for him keeping the jams tied to the ground throughout the album. To his credit, he does, and even at these songs’ farthest out, there’s something for listeners to hold onto. It’s part of the overall balance that Monolithic Elephant seem to have a natural hold of, between stoner rock, jam and psych.

“Drawing Minds” opens with a classically inspired guitar intro that is very surreal and tranquil, showing off some dynamics in the confines of the music. That doesn’t last long before the heavy riffs kick in and hammer you. While the riffs are dark, heavy and ‘70s-inspired sludge, the solos are anything but sludge. Rooted in pentatonic, Ravasş showcases fiery chops that slide into more traditional rock soloing. Being a three-piece, the bass is present in the mix. Alessandro Riva has moments in the spotlight in which his chops are the focal point.

Monolithic Elephant unloads with a debut album that captures the energy of rock in a stripped-down sonic landscape. The riffs are heavy and crushing. As a three piece, Monolithic Elephant fills the room with sound. While the band could be considered a “jam” band, there is a method to the madness, and the trio showcases raw skill and ever-expounding energy.

Andreas Sala

ANDREAS SALA Launches Guitar Playthrough for New Song “Hue”

From PR wire:

Andreas Šala, guitarist and composer who plays with bands SubscaleThe Ralphand If And When We Die, released a play-through video for the song “Hue” taken from his upcoming solo album Pleasure Dome. Watch the video on below.

Asked about the inspiration for the new song and the album overall, Šala who plays Wreck Guitars’ BlueMorpho 6 in the video, said: “Well I wanted to make a solo record for quite some time now but I just couldn’t decide in which direction I want to take it. But when I got my hands on the BlueMorpho melodies just started to pour out of me and I knew what I had to do. I felt like a kid again.

Pleasure Dome differs from the albums he releases with Subscale and The Ralph in that is more ambient and minimalistic. “I wanted to do something a bit different. For the past 5 years I was composing mostly metal for The Ralph so I wanted to take a step back. I’m a huge Joe Satriani fan (and 80′s/90′s instrumental music fan in general) and I always liked “bigger than life” melodies so it seemed  like a logical step to make a guitar driven instrumental album,” Andreas continues.

As mentioned, Andreas uses Wreck Guitars’ 6-string model BlueMorpho. “I was going for a blend of a old-school ’80s lead sound and modern rock/metal sound. I record everything digitally so I have more room to manipulate the sound later on in the mixing process. The guitar goes straight into my audio interface (an old-school E-MU 0404USB) with nothing in between. I use mostly Ignite Amps products — Emissary for the amp simulation and NadIR for loading the cab impulses. For the cab impulses I use mostly Catharsis‘ IRs. BlueMorpho is loaded with Dolezal pickups which are pretty hot and punchy which was great for tracking rhythm guitars.

Watch a playthrough video for the new song “Hue” below, and follow Andreas on YouTube. Make sure to check Andreas’ other band The Ralph on Bandcamp and Facebook.

Visit Wreck Guitars official website and Facebook page.

The Fierce and the Dead

The Fierce and the Dead

The Fierce And The Dead was originally born out of sonic experimentation when making Matt’s second solo album, Ghost, and they’ve developed into one of the most original bands in the UK rock scene. Their unique brand of instrumental rock music, fusing rock, post-rock, punk and progressive elements, has made a huge impression through one full-length album and two Eps, as have their incendiary live performances, most recently as part of the Stabbing A Dead Horse tour of the UK with Knifeworld and Trojan Horse. Continue reading

Shineback

Shineback

Shineback the highly anticipated new project from Tinyfish frontman Simon Godfrey. Following on from Tinyfish’s 2010 album The Big Red Spark, the project explores elements of cinematic music, electronica and rock which seeks to exemplify the true nature of what it means to be a progressive musician in the 21st century. Continue reading

Gekko Projekt

GEKKO PROJEKT: From the City of Orange to the Prog Universe

Coming from the city of Orange, California, Gekko Projekt brings progressive rock spiced with the Californian desert flair. Their soulful, often laid-back sound shows that progressive rock is not only about virtuosity, although the members of the band are real connoisseurs of the genre. With experience on their side, Gekko Projekt is determined in giving prog a different meaning.

Gekko Projekt

All of you guys are experienced in music and all of you have worked in different projects prior forming Gekko Projekt. What made you come together and pursue a career in progressive rock?

Vance: All of us were, well, bordering on being rabid prog fans as teenagers, and all of us played prog back then.  For all of us, prog was our musical first love.  The situation was a little different in Britain, where Peter grew up, in that there was actually a prog scene still happening there with Marillion, Quasar and other bands, so people have actually heard of his early bands, Janysium and Mach One.  America, where the rest of us were, had moved on from prog to punk and metal, so there was less opportunity for prog bands.  The instrumental State of Siege on the first Gekko Projekt album was originally performed and recorded by Pax, a band I was in in Los Angeles in the 1980s.  We used to play clubs around LA like the Troubadour, but the audiences at the time were looking for something more along the lines of the Clash or Black Flag.

Tell us more about your beginnings with Gekko Projekt.

Vance: Rick Meadows should be credited as the founder of Gekko Projekt.  Rick and I played in a blues-rock band at the time, and sometimes at rehearsal we would start playing a bit of a prog tune together.  The rest of the guys were not as prog-oriented, so it didn’t really go anywhere.  We also would go to jam sessions, and Peter came to some of those.  The three of us found common ground and wanted to get together, but Peter was committed to Evolve at the time.  Finally, Rick said to me, “Let’s just do it,” and he and I and Alan began playing together, auditioning guitarists.  I didn’t know Alan at the time, but he and Rick had played together since their early teens.  We were playing some material off of King Crimson’s Red and the first UK album, just to get the band started.  A few months later the demands of Evolve tapered off, and Peter was able to join the band.

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So far, you released one full-length album called Electric Forest released in 2012. How would you describe it to someone who didn’t hear it?

Vance: Some have been calling it melodic prog, and I like that.  Most of the songs are instrumental, and we try to create an atmosphere, an audio world in each song.  We don’t have the rapid-fire unison lines that you find on some prog albums—which there’s nothing wrong with—but we wanted to do something a little different.  We put energy into creating interesting and evocative harmonic structures, but, at least on our first outing, we’ve kept many of the song structures simpler.  Our goal was to create music that people could listen to over and over and still find it takes them on a journey.

I find your sound calming and soulful, it’s indeed relaxing. Is it the way of reflecting your personalities on music? Or is it just made on purpose?  

 Vance: We are not aggressive personalities, so there may be something in what you say.  But I think the sound is mainly a reflection of the kinds of music we enjoy listening to and playing.  We figure that if we like it, there’s probably someone out there who will also like it!

The song „Avatar Jones“ is on Progstravaganza, it’s personally one of my favorites off the sampler and off the album. It pretty much summarizes what I meant by telling of your soulful sound. Is there any special meaning of this particular song? Anything that separates it from other songs off Electric Forest?

Vance: Avatar Jones incorporates a lot of what I think makes a satisfying—for me, anyway—prog song.  It fuses lots of styles.  It starts with jazz piano, goes into a mildly hip-hop feel, then aggressive rock, and that’s just the first 30 seconds.  But it has a story and a theme that welds it all together.  The story is about a would-be messiah who finds that the real wisdom is to walk away from being “the wise one”.

The structure of the song is more linear (a sequence of sections) rather than having repeated verses and choruses.  Some of the other songs on the album are more verse-chorus.  I go back and forth on the question of structure.  This kind of structure is often more satisfying to hard-core prog fans, but it can make it hard for others to find their way into the music.

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I heard about the song that Rick and you started together called Escape from the Mines of Titan. Was it originally assigned for the second GP album?

Vance: We are in the process of recording it at the moment, provisionally for the second album.  We wrote this one a bit differently from some of the other tunes.  It started with Rick recording some bass sections, and I rearranged them a bit and put together a demo with drum machine, keyboards and a scratch guitar added, and presented that to the band.  There will be other songs on the second album that are also related to Titan (the moon of Saturn).

Rick and you were together in a progressive blues rock bands WZMG and the Coot? I have to admit that it sounds pretty interesting „on paper“. Can you tell something more about these bands? How much of that heritage you applied to the Gekko Projekt music?

Vance: It was a fun band to be in, and I enjoyed recording the album Blues Transmission, released in 1999.  There was lots of skill in that band.  Damien Meadows (Rick’s son) is a great rock/funk drummer.  Greg Watmore is a stellar blues guitarist.  Ted Zahn is a great singer and songwriter, and he sings on Peter’s solo album.  They always did a great job with my songs, and we got to do a greater variety of styles than the “blues rock” label would make you think of.  But I think both Rick and I longed to play music that was more challenging musically.

You were active playing live in the US. Any chance to see you in Europe?

Vance: I would LOVE to do a European tour, and so would Peter, but it’s a big and expensive undertaking.  Spock’s Beard had a very successful Kickstarter project for their latest CD, and that allowed them to fund a European tour.  I would love for us to do something similar, but being realistic, a European tour will not happen until next year at the earliest.

What do you guys listen to when you all come up together for a recording session? Do you have time to listen to any other music or are you striclty focused on working?

Vance: I’ve known Alan Morse for many years, and I’ve always been knocked out by what he does with Spock’s Beard.  I’m also a big fan of The Tangent, and all of us in the band continue to enjoy classic prog music.  But in getting ready to create something for Gekko Projekt, I try to listen to music that has not been incorporated into prog often, if at all.  That seems like more fertile ground for contributing something new to prog.  I’ve recently been thinking of adding a bit of my Tibetan throat singing to a song the next album.

What are your future plans?

Vance: We are currently in the middle of recording the second Gekko Projekt album.  We have basic tracks down for more than half the album, and we’re working on recording overdubs for them.  At the moment, I’m spending a lot of time getting everything dialed in.  This album will have more vocals, and we believe it will show an evolution musically.  We are looking forward to getting it out!

Gekko Projekt is:

Peter Matuchniak – guitars
Vance Gloster – keyboards, vocals
Rick Meadows – bass
Alan Smith – drums, vocals

Links:

http://www.gekkoprojekt.com/

https://www.facebook.com/GekkoProjekt

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Gekko Projekt – Electric Forest

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Long before the time Gekko Projeckt and their debut “Electric Forest” rolled around, each of the musicians that comprise this quartet were experienced performers, and this maturity translates well into their poppy melange of prog rock. At forty minutes and ten tracks, they have created an album that even the most delicate rock listener could appreciate. Their talent is evident throughout, although this relatively unambitious take on prog leaves me in want for excitement.

The sounds of King Crimson, Rush, and Camel all find a place in Gekko Projekt. Above all, “Electric Forest” may be seen as an instrumental rock guitar album with a smattering of ‘vocal’ songs. Instrumentally, Gekko Projeckt find a familiar nook for themselves, drawing in the exploratory nature of fusion jazz with the classic style of symphonic prog. “Electric Forest” is then filtered through a sheath of poppy melodies and accessible song structures. For the most part, this works pretty well, thanks in large part to guitarist Peter Matuchniak’s elaborate performance. With particular regards to the beautiful instrumental “Cognitive Dissonance”, Peter is skilled with melodic lead playing as much as he is with finding the perfect guitar tone for the mood.

GP

Though fairly few in number, Gekko Projekt throw some vocals our way. Of these, “Black Hole” is the most memorable, a warm and catchy track with some vocals I might expect to find in a folk rock album. The voices- performed on the album by Vance Gloster and Alan Smith- are not excellent from a technical perspective, but warmth and feeling is there. Instrumentally, the music is rarely complex, and, with the exception of Peter’s guitar work, the musicianship does not really stand out, although I have a feeling that this is more a result of the fairly straightforward song structures rather than the talent of the musicians themselves.

In short, “Electric Forest” is a pretty enjoyable album to listen to; a fine piece of music to put on while relaxing. It delivers the warmth and sound of prog, however exchanging the genre’s typically challenging song structures for accessible compositionship. Fans of Camel will enjoy what Gekko Projekt have to offer.

Tracklist:

1. Particle Dance (3:42)
2. Black Hole (4:54)
3. Cognitive Dissonance (4:44)
4. London Vibe (2:21)
5. Avatar Jones (6:03)
6. Erdinger (5:00)
7. Martian Sunrise (5:25)
8. State of Siege (2:32)
9. October Skies (5:48)
10. Particle Coda (1:12)

Line-up:

* Peter Matuchniak – guitars
* Vance Gloster – keyboards, vocals
* Rick Meadows – bass
* Alan Smith – drums, vocals