Tag Archives: Sanguine Hum

HRH Prog 3

Jessie May Smart of Steeleye Span at HRH Prog 3HRH Prog is now in its third year, and it’s second at Hafan-Y-Mor, the former Butlins holiday camp just outside Pwllheli in north Wales.

Pwllheli is a long way from anywhere, at the far end of a winding single-track railway line, and the train stops many, many times at little request stops where the train might only stop if you know how to pronounce the station. So by the time I finally got there after a whole day’s travelling I missed the opening band. But I did catch most of The Dream Circuit’s set, with a space-jam sound that owed a lot of Ozric Tentacles.

Knifeworld were the most eagerly anticipated band of the Thursday night. They opened with a brand new song which Kavus Torabi dedicated to his great friend, the late Daevid Allen of Gong. With his white and gold Gresch guitar, Torabi looks most un-prog, but with it’s Zappa-style horn orchestrations, psychedelic soundscapes and layered vocal harmonies the music is as progressive as it gets. There were one or two who didn’t ‘get’ what they do, implying they’re not “proper prog”, but it’s their loss. Knifeworld are the real thing.

Thursday headliners The Skys, hailing from Lithuania had a far more traditional prog sound, but were very good at what they did. They displayed some strong Floydian atmospherics at times, with a harder-rocking edge at others. They had a great keyboard sound with big washes of Hammond, and one guitar solo in particular was brain-melting.
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Esoteric Showcase 2013

Esoteric Showcase 2013

Following on from their very successful showcase event at The Underworld in 2012, Esoteric Recordings put on another event at The Borderline in London, again featuring Sanguine Hum and Tin Spirits, who’d played at that earlier show.

Esoteric Showcase 2013

Opener was Esoteric’s most recent signing, solo looping maestro Matt Stevens. He’s made quite a name for himself supporting the likes of Panic Room and Barclay James Harvest over the last couple of years, as well as playing lead guitar for The Fierce and The Dead. His distinctive instrumental act sets him apart, using a single acoustic guitar and and a set of looping pedals to build a big, layered sound far richer than you’d expect one man to produce on his own. He’s an innovative and talented musician, and a larger-than-life character with a strong stage presence. It will be interesting to see how his career develops now he’s “signed”.

Esoteric Showcase 2013

At last year’s showcase event, Sanguine Hum didn’t really impress. Though by all accounts they were a great band on record, their live act needed a lot more work, though to be fair the running order, which saw their set sandwiched between The Reasoning and Panic Room didn’t do them any favours.

A year and a bit on, and they are much, much improved. No longer like rabbits in the headlights, they’re orders of magnitude better, far more self-confident, far tighter, and playing with a lot more energy. With a set largely drawn from their new album “The Weight of the World”, they showed good use of dynamics and atmospherics, with touches of Porcupine Tree, Pineapple Thief and mid-70s Zappa. The stagecraft and presentation still has room for improvement, but they’ve come a long way in a short space of time.

Esoteric Showcase 2013

Tin Spirits, featuring one-time XTC and current Big Big Train guitarist Dave Gregory are always an entertaining live act, and their set was no exception. Unusually for a prog band they don’t have a keyboard player, relying on the twin lead guitars of Dave Gregory and Daniel Steinhardt for all the atmospherics and textures. Bassist Mark Kilminster makes an engaging frontman, supported on vocal harmones by the rest of the band. They display a love of vintage guitars, with Dave Gregory’s Rickenbacker and Daniel Steinhardt’s Gibson Flying V alongside the more common Les Pauls and Telecasters.

The set drew largely from their d├ębut album “Wired to Earth” with a couple of new songs thrown in for good measure, some material with a laid-back jazz-rock mood reminiscent of Steely Dan, other moments recalling early Wishbone Ash, though despite the awesome virtuosity of the musicians they never descended into self-indulgent noodling. Every time I’ve seen this band they throw at least one classic prog cover into the set, this time it was a mesmerising take on King Crimson’s “Red”. They ended with a progged-up version of XTC’s “Towers of London” to end a great evening.

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