Music Blog

All the music-related posts gathered together in one place.

Mantra Vega announce album release and launch party

Mantra Vega & Dave Kerzner Poster

Mantra Vega announce the release date of their long-awaited album “The Illusion’s Reckoning”

After almost 2 years in the making, Monday January 25th 2016 will see the release of The Illusion’s Reckoning from transatlantic project band, Mantra Vega co-founded by Heather Findlay and Dave Kerzner  (Sound of Contact).

“The Illusion’s Reckoning album features lead vocals from Heather Findlay; keyboards and vocals from Dave Kerzner whilst at the band’s core is rhythm section Alex Cromarty on drums and bassist Stu Fletcher along with lead, rhythm and acoustic guitarists Chris Johnson (Halo Blind) and Dave Kilminster.

Joining the project for special guest appearances are Nightwish‘s Troy Donockley on vocals and lead guitar; Arjen Lucassen (Ayreon) lead guitar; Irene Jansen (Star One/Ayreon) on vocals; Angela Gordon (Mostly Autumn/Odin Dragonfly) on recorders and vocals and Dutch woodwind player, Remko de Landmeter on Bansuri.

“The Illusion’s Reckoning is a concept album flowing more like a film score than a more typically linear piece. The album’s journey is painted with far reaching audio moodscapes which in their diversity, purposely echo thoughtful lyrical themes. The album is delivered in a predominantly progressive rock package, but at times takes on a hard rock, contemporary, retro, and even acoustic, folksy twist…”

And there is to be a “Moorland Gathering” the celebrate the launch

To celebrate the release, there will be a very special pre-release party gathering at The Lion Inn, Blakey Ridge (spiritual home of many of the band’s musicians) on January Saturday 23rd January. There will only 60 tickets available which will include a meal, one off acoustic performance from Heather, Chris, Angela, Stu and Alex (and may also feature one or two very special guests!) Slightly ahead of the scheduled release date, this event will be a chance to buy and hear the album for the first time!

Making this event all the more special is the fact that this will be a one off for the now retired, legendary moorland venue too!

Tickets for the event will be just £20 and will go on sale on Monday 30th November at 9am from

Depending on number wishing to travel via this option, there may be a coach/bus which will run from York across the North Yorkshire Moors and back for those wishing to travel from the nearest city.

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This piece on “Why I Will Not Buy Adele’s New Album 25” has to be one of the most ridiculous pieces of sanctimonious hipster dribble I have ever read.

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Secrets and Lies

Luna Rossa have released a video of the title track of “Secrets and Lies” ahead of their mini-tour in December.

The band will be played The Gate in Cardiff on Friday December 4th, The Chattery in Swansea on Saturday December 5th, and The Robin 2 in Bilston the following weekend on Sunday 13th.

The band will again be a four-piece lineup with the core duo of Anne-Marie Helder and Jon Edwards joined by Sarah Dean on Celtic harp and Andy Coughlan on double bass.

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Cloud Atlas – The Post Office Social Club

People always travel considerable distances to Mostly Autumn’s York gigs, and Cloud Atlas took advantage of many fans making a weekend of it to put on a gig of their own the following night at The Post Office Social Club, and they succeeded in pulling a respectable sized crowd containing a lot of familiar faces.

Sadly the advertised support, one-time Seahorse Chris Helme, had to pull out as short notice, but former Stolen Earth guitarist Adam Dawson was able to step into the breach as a late replacement. He played a mixture of originals and covers, ending with Stolen Earth’s “Mirror, Mirror” and “Silver Skies”, and finally the never recorded “Harlequin” recorded as a duet with Heidi Widdop.

Stolen Earth themselves began with an extended drone of keys, whistles and E-bowed guitar before launching into the distinctive riff of “Searchlight”. The proceeded to deliver one of the best performances I’ve seen them do, helped by an excellent sound mix. Dave Randall on keys was particularly impressive with swirling colours and textures, as was bassist Stu Carver; the band have a very tight rhythm section.

Set-wise it was much the same as at Bilston in August, drawn from the album “Beyond the Vale” plus Heidi’s solo acoustic cover of Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean” and the Stolen Earth oldie “Soul in a Jar”. One change was a rearrangement of the middle section of “Let the Blood Flow” with an electronica element that worked far better than the original. This time the band remembered to save one song for the encore, ending the evening with the epic “Stars”.

Cloud Atlas have one more gig scheduled this year, supporting Lifesigns at York’s Fibbers, after which they will be working on their second album.

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Mantra Vega announce January album release

Mantra Vega & Dave Kerzner Poster

Mantra Vega have announced that their long-awaited album “The Illusion’s Reckoning” will be will be released on 25th January, with pre-orders taken from 7th December from the Mantra Vega website.

The album is a collaboration between Heather Findlay and Dave Kerzner, with a band featuring Dave Kilminster, Chris Johnson, Alex Cromarty and Stuart Fletcher, with guest appearances from Angela Gordon and Arjen Lucassen amongst others.

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Gigspanner – Reading South Street Arts Centre

I first saw former Steeleye Span violinist Peter Knight back in 2007 guesting with Mostly Autumn at the memorable launch gig for the album Heart Full of Sky at the late-lamented Astoria, playing violin on several numbers where he’d guested on the album. So when his current folk outfit Gigspanner came to South Street Arts Centre in Reading it seemed like a good opportunity to expand my musical horizons a little.

Gigspanner are a very different beast from Steeleye Span, an acoustic trio with Knight’s violin accompanied by guitar and percussion, playing a mixture of traditional-style folk songs and evocative instrumentals with influences from many different parts of the world. Once or twice Peter Knight dispensed with the bow and played his instrument like a ukelele, much of the time his emotive and lyrical playing was the heart of the sound. He is an undoubted virtuoso, going from folk jigs and reels to evocative classical melodies.

Roger Flack’s guitar played more of a supporting role, though the occasional Mark Knopfler-style lead runs were impressive. Vincent Salzfaas on Congas, Djembe and other more exotic percussion added a world music touch, and the uncluttered and crystal clear sound meant you could hear everything perfectly, which is more than can be said for a lot of noisier rock gigs.

Not a rock band of any kind, not quite a traditional folk act either, but for something well outside my usual comfort zone it was an excellent gig.

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BBC News asks “Where are all the climate change songs?” They have presumably never heard of Marillion’s “Season’s End”.

Posted on by Tim Hall | 4 Comments

Good on Mostly Autumn, confirming that this coming weekend’s gigs in Verviers and Zoetermeer are still going ahead despite the attacks in Paris.

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If your awards ceremony has a “Best Re-Issue” award, it does rather suggest that you are living in the past. Especially if you give the “Inspiration” award to someone who’s been dead for 45 years.

Posted on by Tim Hall | 1 Comment

RIP Phil Taylor

Sad news to hear of the death of Phil “Philthy Animal” Taylor of the orginal classic lineup of Motörhead.

Motörhead are Britain’s equivalent to The Ramones; the stripped-down distilled essence of the spirit of rock’n'roll. They were always more than just their iconic frontman, Lemmy. Phil Taylor’s drumming was a vital part of their sound. Just listen to his playing on “Overkill”, perhaps his finest moment; his drumming can only be described as a force of nature.

Now we’re in an age where too many metal bands allegedly use programming for drum parts so impossibly fast no human can physically play them, Phil Taylor shows what a flesh-and-blood drummer could do.  In the late 1970s he was way ahead of his time, a huge influence on the next generation of metal than would come along a decade later with thrash.

Phil Taylor was a legend. And there aren’t many musicians you can honestly say that of.

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