Singer-songwriter Tim Bowness’ fourth solo album is an ambitious affair. It’s a concept album in which a fictitious 1970s classic rock musician reflects on his life and career, and covers themes of fame, ageing and the fear of being made irrelevant by younger and more vital acts. The album features an impressive supporting cast including Porcupine Tree’s Colin Edwin and The Pineapple Thief’s Bruce Soord as well as guest appearance from Kit Watkins and Jethro Tull’s Ian Anderson.
The first two numbers, “Worlds of Yesterday” and the lengthy “Moonshot Manchild” set the overall mood, dreamy and elegiac, Tim Bowness’ sometimes understated vocals set amidst rich keyboard-led arrangements with swirling Mellotron playing a significant role, flute fluttering in and out of the mix, and violin adding yet more colour. “Kill the Pain that’s Killing You” with its squalling guitars and skittering percussion is a change of pace, one song on the album that rocks out. The nine-minute “You’ll be the Silence” is suitably epic without descending into instrumental bombast, while the short but darkly atmospheric title track oozes foreboding. The album closes with “Distant Summers”, a distillation of many of the album’s strengths, and featuring Ian Anderson’s evocative flute solo over a wash of Mellotron; none more prog.
The fictional discography of Jeff Harrison of Moonshot references the iconic artwork of “Dark Side of the Moon” and “In the Court of the Crimson King”, and these are echoed in the music as well along with the more contemporary sounds of Porcupine Tree and latter-day Marillion. But more than anything else the album draws heavily from the sonic palette of the second half of the 1970s, an Indian Summer of progressive rock when the genre was losing the Zeitgeist but nevertheless produced some classic albums that have stood the test of time. This record is Tim Bowness’ homage to that era, and it’s as much about the gorgeous layered arrangements as it is about his excellent songwriting. It’s also an album that works as a continuous piece rather than just a collection of songs. Tim Bowness has done an superb job at evoking the spirit of a past era whilst framing it in a contemporary context.
Following their début album “Deadwood”, Cyclocosmia’s EP “Immured” consists of a single seventeen-minute song telling the story the story of a Roman Vestal Virgin sentenced to live burial for breaking her vows of chastity, and features Greek singer Aliki Katriou who was attracted to the project by its feminist themes. Aliki Katriou sings all the clean vocals, and shares the extreme metal vocals with Cyclocosmia mainman James Scott, demonstrating her versatility as a singer.
From the ethereal opening section with Aliki Katriou wordless chant-like vocal to the instrumental symphonic metal conclusion that repeats the same melody, “Immured” contains many twists and turns. Passages of full-on death metal give way to beautiful and highly melodic sections and back again, instrumental and vocal motifs and themes repeat across the record in differing forms. The result is a record that combines doom-metal dynamics with ghostly vocals that strongly fit the theme, and sounds quite unlike anything else.
Alan’s second solo album picks up where the celtic sweep of his debut left off. But this time there’s a harder -edged incisiveness more reminiscent of his work with Pallas. The acoustic under-pinning of the last album takes a back seat behind driving guitars and exuberant keyboards.
Lyrically it’s angry and direct, covering everything from the frustrations of struggling and moribund relationships to the rise of the post-truth narcissist.
As well as vocals Alan provides guitars, basses, drum programming and bass pedals, with Mike Stobbie and Scott Higham returning on keys and drums respectively.
There are also contributions from Jeff Green (lead guitar), Lazuli’s Claude Leonetti (Leode) and Steve Hackett (HarmonicA) Additional vocals come courtesy of Magenta’s Christina Booth, Harvest’s Monique Van Der Kolk and Weendo’s Laetitia Chaudemanche.
Another of the major figures of progressive rock has left us; John Wetton passed away yesterday after a long illness. My Twitter feed was flooded with tributes both from fans and from fellow musicians. I never met him myself, but a lot of people I know knew him personally, and he was much loved as a person as well as a musician.
John Wetton is of course best known for King Crimson in the 1970s and Asia in the 1980s. The three albums he recorded with King Crimson, “Larks Tongues in Aspic”, “Starless and Bible Black” and “Red” remain landmarks in the progressive rock canon, pushing the envelope for what a rock band could be with a level of improvisation previously only seen in jazz, then switching gears with gorgeous elegaic ballads. “Starless”, which closes “Red” remains on of the greatest pieces of rock music ever recorded.
The supergroup Asia were an altogether different beast, sometimes dismissed as too commercial by genre purists, their polished sound emphasising Wetton’s songwriting and soaring voice, and that self-titled début remains a classic. And then there were all the other bands over the years, Family, the short-lived UK, and stints with Roxy Music and Uriah Heep.
So farewell John, and thanks for all the music. His bandmate in Asia, Geoff Downes has asked us all to listen this song in his memory.
Poland’s Riverside are to return to the live arena with an extensive European tour with an as-yet unnamed guest guitarist bringing them back up to full strength.
During “Towards the Blue Horizon Tour” we will play in a new live line-up with a guest guitarist who will make our music sound the way it should, not only because he’s a great musician but, most of all, because he’s got the kind of modesty and humility about him which has always been very important to us on stage. Additionally, we’re going to present a lot of compositions which we have not played live before. Our concerts will also be filled with emotions we haven’t felt before. Together with you, we want to dive into this and make each composition sound more mighty than ever.
We’re becoming a different band, more mature, more serious, more experienced. Piotr is gone, but he will always be with us and we are still a live band. Which we’re going to prove soon during our “Towards the Blue Horizon Tour”.
The band have announced 27 dates across April and May, including three in the UK, in Edinburgh (Liquid Rooms) on May 19th, Bristol (Beirkeller) on May 21st and London (Islington Assembly Hall) on May 22nd. A further tour will follow in the Autumn.
Ayreon premiere a 12-minute epic from their forthcoming science-fiction prog-opera “The Source”, which features all eleven guest singers and sees mainman Arjen Lucasson indulging in some deep guitar and keyboard nerdery.
Disappointingly only two of the eleven singers involved are women this time, but both of them are big names.