Kim Seviour leaves Touchstone

Touchstone's 2014 Christmas gig at Bilston Robin 2

Sad news from  Touchstone

It is with regret that we announce the departure of Kim Seviour from Touchstone.

Kim has decided to leave due to ongoing medical issues. Here are a few words from her…”I’m sure that this will come as a shock to many people, and for that I’m very sorry. As many of you will know, I’ve dealt with a health condition, M.E for the last five years of being in Touchstone. The condition and the lifestyle changes that it has resulted in, including a move cross-country, have made it impossible for me to commit to Touchstone in the way that it truly deserves. I need to take time to concentrate on my health and getting myself back to peak condition. Who knows what lies ahead after. I love my boys to bits and we’ve shared many amazing adventures, which would have been impossible without the support of incredible music lovers, and friends such as yourselves. I wish the guys the very best and know that they will continue to make awesome music, which I fully support all the way. For those who can make it, I would love to see you and share a drink at HRH, which will be my last Touchstone gig. Thank you so much for everything, I love you all. God bless xxx”

All the band fully accept this situation and support her decision and we know that you will join us in wishing Kim all the very best for the future. We will still be in very close contact. It’s been an amazing journey for all of us and we sincerely appreciate all the fantastic support from our fans and friends, given to us over the years.

Kim will be leaving after our performance at Hard Rock Hell on Friday 20th March, so if you want to get a last chance to see this lineup, it’s a trip to North Wales…!!!

As for the future of Touchstone, there are no immediate plans for a new release; the band is currently on indefinite hold and remaining members will pursue other projects.

At some time in the future the Touchstone phoenix may arise again…;

Kim will be a very hard act to follow with her dynamic stage presence and distictive voice. I first saw her ar her very first gig with the band, supporting The Reasoning at Crewe Limelight.

This incarnation of Touchstone should go out with a bang at HRH Prog.

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Farewell to The Reasoning

The Reasoning at Trinity Live in Leamington Spa

So Cardiff’s The Reasoning join Breathing Space, Stolen Earth and Crimson Sky in the roll-call of bands that I’ve travelled considerable distances to see who are now no more. I have often likened being a fan of bands at this level to being an away supporter of a lower-division football club; there’s a camaraderie with fellow-fans, and you end up staying in unfashionable places like Crewe, Swansea or Mansfield.

The Reasoning were one of three bands that emerged following the implosion of the original incarnation of Karnataka, a band I had loved on record but never had the chance to see live, and featured their original lead singer Rachel Jones (as she was then). I travelled down from Cheshire to South Wales by train the day after a hurricane to see their very first gig at The Uplands Tavern in Swansea back in January 2007.

They were still finding their feet at the time, but they still made a strong impression with a melodic twin guitar hard rock sound and three lead vocalists, enabling them to do interesting things with harmonies. I later saw them play a couple of stunning gigs at The Limelight Club in Crewe,and at The Point in Cardiff, when they gave the impression that they were hungry and going places. Not only were they tight but there was also a passionate intensity to their music. At one point, when they managed to get support spots for artists like Fish in sizeable venues, they looked as though they had a chance of breaking through to the next level.

They went through a lot of changes over the following years, which might have cost them some of that early momentum. They had started out as a six-piece band with Rachel sharing lead vocals with guitarist Dylan Thompson and keyboard player Gareth Jones. There was a short-lived seven-piece lineup featuring former Fish keyboard player Tony Turrell and additional backing singer Maria Owen-Midlane. Then they took the form of a slimmed-down five-piece band with Rachel as the main vocalist and Tony Turrell handling the male vocals on the older material live.

Although all the different incarnations had their strengths and their supporters, for me nothing quite equalled the magic of the early days when Dylan, Gareth and original drummer Vinden Wylde were in the band, and the first two albums “Awakening” and “Dark Angel” remain favourites.

Owain Roberts of The Reasoning at Bury MetI find it impossible as an outsider to imagine just how hard the still-unsolved disappearance of guitarist Owain Roberts in 2012 hit the band. For a while there was considerable doubt as to whether they would continue. They eventually regrouped with new guitarist Keith Hawkins to record what would be their final album, “Adventures in Neverland”. Although they’d announced they were working on a follow-up, provisionally titled “Horrorscopic”, the only live activity in the past two years bar a couple of warm-up gigs were their appearance at the HRH Prog in 2013, and what turned out to be their final live appearance at last year’s Trinity charity event in Leamington Spa. The cancellation of a proposed tour last Autumn and the indefinite postponement of the album meant today’s announcement that the band were finally calling it a day shouldn’t really be a surprise.

While it can be disappointing as a fan to see a band you’ve followed call it a day, sometimes you do have to recognise when something has run its course. Nothing can take away their legacy or their recordings. Sometimes the spirit of a much-loved band lives on in new bands formed by former members. And sometimes the creative forces behind a band take off in exciting new directions.

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The Reasoning call it a day

The Reasoning at Trinity Live in Leamington Spa

Announced today on The Reasoning’s Facebook page:

A very good afternoon to you one and all, I hope you are well? I promise to keep what we are about to say very short, sweet and to the point. It is with a very heavy heart that we impart the following bit of news – The Reasoning have decided to call it day. We part in the knowledge that we have achieved many wonderful and great things as a band and as individuals but, the time has come to be honest and realise that as a musical group, we have explored as much as we can. Though we have enjoyed our journey with you immensely, we have also had occasions where it seemed so tough to carry on and as we approach the 3rd anniversary of the disappearance of our dear friend Owain, this seems like the right time to gently put the band to bed.

We want to thank all the bands, press and fans for the amazing loyalty, support and love. We have done many incredible things, been to many amazing places and played to so many amazing people. Our music lives on with you and in our hearts. This is not the last you will hear of us as musicians but I’m afraid, it is the last you will hear from us as a band. We are all parting on good terms and with firm friendships established. This is a decision we all feel is the best thing for the band and its musical legacy.

Thank you all once again, you will never know how much we truly love you all. Be well, take care and we’ll all see you on the road sometime soon. “The View From Where I Stand Begins To Change, Something Is Happening To Me…….”

The Reasoning xxxxx

It’s always sad news when a band splits. The Reasoning made a significant impact on the prog scene since they emerged at the beginning of 2007, and their first two albums in particular remain classics of the modern prog genre.

Matt Cohen and drummer Jake Bradford-Sharp are now working on a new project Ghost Community with Riversea’s Marc Atkinson, Also Eden’s Simon Rogers and former Crimson Sky keyboard player Moray McDonald. As for the rest of the band, I hope we haven’t heard the last of Rachel’s vocals.

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This is what I like to see

Noel Gallagher's iHigh Flying Birds: Chasing Yesterday - Unft for Takeof. Steven Wilson's Hand Cannot Erase - Sonic and Spiritiual Modernity

A screencap from The Guardian showing Dom Lawson’s five-star review of Steven Wilson’s “Hand Cannot Erase” alongside Alexis Petridis’ detailed review of one-time media darling Noel Gallagher’s allegedly ‘seismic’ new album that could be summed up with the word ‘meh’.

It’s difficult to imagine this a couple of years ago, when it would have been very unlikely for The Guardian to acknowledge artists like Steven Wilson.

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TT?

Triang TT Class 31

Back in my teenage years I used to have a TT3 gauge layout. It was all dismantled when I went away to University, and when I returned to the world of model railways in my late twenties I switched to the more readily available N gauge. The track is all long gone, but most of the rolling stock, such as this class 31 diesel, survives.

TT3, three-quarters the size of the already extablished 00 gauge, was introduced by Triang in 1957. But sales never reached critical mass and production ceased by the late 60s, by which time the significantly smaller N gauge had appeared on the horizon. TT3 never completely died out, but has long become a specialised scale reliant on kits rather the 50 year old ready-to-run models. Even now you still regularly see TT layouts at exhibitions; there were two at the Eastleigh show last weekend.

It was a different case in the former East Germany, where TT became a popular scale in the days of Communism. Manufactured by Zeuke, who later became Berliner Bahn, and are now Tillig, it remains in production today. Just as in OO vs HO, British and German models shared a track gauge of 12mm, but have different scales, Britain’s 1:100 to Germany’s 1:120. The reason, as in the larger scales, is that it’s impossible to get a dimensionally accurate model of a British steam locomotive to go round corners, and having an underscale track gauge is the least bad compromise.

In recent years, other manufacturers have entered the 1:120 TT market, including Arnold, the long-established Gernan brand now owned by the British Hornby group.  Prompted by this, and by rumours that some of the original Triang tooling still exists, there’s been a long thread on RMWeb about the possibility of Hornby bringing back TT in some shape or form.

It’s not going to happen, and the realist in me knows it makes more sense for Hornby/Arnold to follow up their N Gauge Brighton Belle with more British N. Which is precisely what they’te now planning on doing.

But it’s always fun to speculate. If Hornby did venture into British TT, what should they make? And should it be 1:100 to match the old TT3, or 1:120 to be consistent with the continental models?

Were they to stick to the old 1:100 scale, I’d suggest models representing the same steam/diesel transition era as the old Triang range. The possible initial models might be the following:

  • Class 47 diesel
  • Standard class 5MT 4-6-0
  • Mk1 coaches, initially TSO, CK and BSK
  • 16t mineral, Vanfit, 5-plank Highfit and BR brake van

That’s essentially a cross-country secondary main line in a box. You could even sell the whole lot as a train set, perhaps with two of each wagon for a decent length train, along with a double-track oval. I chose the 47 as the most numerous diesel class, and the Standard Five because it ran on multiple regions.

Were they to choose 1:120, the fact that there already is a British outline ready-to-run locomotive in the shape of the class 66 diesel made by Hobbytrain suggests a very different approach. Instead of the mid 1960s, go for the present day. Start with a range of modern British loading gauge wagons that run on both sides of the channel; intermodal flats, Cargowaggons, Polybulks, steel carriers etc. If successful, then perhaps expand the range to include some British multiple units, perhaps a Voyager or 170.

But all this talk makes me want to get out my old TT3 stock and see how much of it still runs. I’ve considered both a small shunting layout using Peco HOm track (Designed for HO scale metre-gauge models), or just getting an oval of Tillig sectional track to use as a test circuit.

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Secrets of Angels Trailer

Karnataka have released a trailer for their new album “Secrets of Angels”. Pre-orders should ship in early March.

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Lonely Robot Launch Party

John Mitchell, Heather Findlay and Steve Hogarth

John Mitchell held a launch party Lonely Robot’s Please Come Home on Monday 23rd Feb at The Lexington in London. It was a star-studded event, with attendees including Steven Wilson, as well as the many musicians who’s guested on the album, such as Heather Findlay and Marillion’s Steve Hogarth (above)

Heather Findlay duetting with John Mitchell on

Although the event was laregly a meet-and-greet, John Mitchell did play a short acoustic set accompanied by Liam Holmes on piano, and joined by two of the guest singers who’s appeared on the album. Here’s John and Heather duetting on “Why Do We Stay”, one of the album’s highlights.

Kim Seviour singing

Touchstone’s Kim Seviour was the other guest on stage, for the song “Oublette”. The album, perhaps the first essential progressive rock album of 2015, was released on the day of the event, and you can read my review here.

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White Willow cover The Scorpions

Scorpions songs work remarkably well with female vocals and spiralling clarinet.

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Kyrbgrinder announce new album

Kyrrbgrinder - Chronicles of a Dark MachineKyrbgrinder, the dynamic metal power trio fronted by drummer and vocalist Johannes James announce their long-awaited third album “Chronicles of a Dark Machine” on Cherry Red Records.

It’s released on March 2nd, but you can pre-order it now from the above links.

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Lonely Robot – Please Come Home

John Mitchell - Lonely RobotJohn Mitchell is a well-known figure in the British progressive rock world, lead guitarist of both Arena and Frost*, and frontman for the current incarnation of 80s veterans It Bites. Now, after more than a decade as a member of multiple bands at the same time, he’s finally launched a solo project, Lonely Robot.

John Mitchell plays the majority of instruments himself aside from drums by Craig Blundell. Guest musicians include Mitchell’s Frost* bandmate Jem Godfrey appears on keys, and Marillion frontman Steve Hogarth who finds employment on piano on a couple of songs. Legendary virtuoso Nick Beggs also makes an appearance on bass and Chapman Stick. Likewise Mitchell handles the majority of the vocals himself, although he’s joined by guests including former Mostly Autumn singer Heather Findlay, Touchstone’s Kim Seviour and Go West’s Peter Cox. Finally, voice actor Lee Ingleby provides background narration right across the record.

The end result is a varied but hugely impressive album. It goes from dense guitar-heavy industrial prog-metal to gorgeous ballads to uptempo 80s-style pop-rock, with imaginative arrangements that frequently veer off in unexpected directions. There is plenty of fluid lead guitar, but this is an album about songcraft and atmospherics rather than a guitar-chops record, and Mitchell keeps the solos short and to the point. It’s all given the sort of clear and crisp production we’ve come to expect from anything John Mitchell is involved with.

Highlights include the guitar-shredding instrumental opener “Airlock”, the beautiful duet with Heather Findlay, “Why Do We Say”, the ambitious and kaleidoscopic title track, the somewhat Tangerine Dream-like “Are We Copies” and the soaring ballad “Humans Being”, featuring a guitar solo from Nik Kershaw. But this is one of those albums that doesn’t have any filler; every song has something to commend it.

While there are certainly echoes of It Bites and of Frost*, this record is its own thing, and despite the variety it hangs together very well as a coherent musical whole. The various guest artists all enhance the record without stealing the show, and the end result is the first essential record of 2015 from the British progressive rock scene.

Thus review also appeas in Trebuchet Magazine.

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