Tuesday, September 26, 2006


Below is some of what I have been listening to recently.

White Willows new album is their best yet. After the very heavy “Storm Season”, “Signal To Noise” is much lusher and more symphonic and even poppy in some areas. If released as a single “Joyride” might even be a hit! Well, maybe not.

The new Mars Volta is also their best yet. No ambient interludes to detract from the music. This album is electric from beginning to end. Their most assured and mature recording yet without a doubt!

The first batch of Hammill remasters has just been released (25th September). Most welcome indeed. Some interesting bonus tracks too. The second batch is slated mid October. Also, The first batch of Steve Hillage remasters (Fish Rising/L/Motivation Radio/Green) are slated for the end of October with the second batch mid January next year. No details of bonus tracks yet.

I have, surprisingly, been enjoying the ELO remasters. Having always known them for their pop hits I was surprised at the “prog” aspects to their stuff, particularly the album “On The Third Day”. No doubting Jeff Lynne’s knack for writing memorable pop songs, but the production techniques applied and the arrangements are even by today’s standards breathtaking.

The PLP album was re-released a couple of years ago to mark the 10th Anniversary of Pars debut prog album. It is a classic of keyboard driven prog. Pars use of instruments like Hammond organ, church organ, harpsichord, mellotron and synths is equal to that of Emerson and Wakeman in their heyday. As the title suggests the music is Gothic, cathedral like and now, not just remastered but with certain musical elements re-recorded, this sounds absolutely gorgeous.

White Willow ~ Signal To Noise
The Mars Volta ~ Amputechture
Peter Hammill ~ Chameleon/Silent Corner/In Camera/Nadir Remasters
ELO ~ Third Day/Face The Music/World Record (Remasters)
Par Lindh Project ~ Gothic Impressions (10th Anniversary Re-edition)

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Cyclops Label

I have just received the latest catalogue from GFT (Mail Order). This and the Cyclops label are run by Malcolm Parker. How he manages to do both is beyond me. You can even phone up GFT for placing an order and are likely to get Malcolm taking orders on the other end!

Cyclops is an excellent progressive rock label and have signed many, many excellent bands over the years. Probably the most well known are Mostly Autumn and Pineapple Thief. They are not a huge label and seem to struggle to keep things going. Malcolm’s philosophy for signing acts seems to be based on what he likes to listen to, rather than any consideration of commercial potential. I know if Malcolm recommends something, even though it is on his own label, it will be worth hearing. For instance, he is making a big thing for a new signing called The Gift, who have just released an album called “Awake and Dreaming”. I know nothing about this band but will get it just based on Malcolm’s glowing praise. Based on past experience I know I will not be disappointed.

There are so many releases to recommend from the label and I heartily endorse anyone to try them out. Order from GFT to, which stocks an impressive array of prog titles, which are usually hard to get from the likes of Amazon and Play.com. If you are in any way a fan of prog rock then support GFT and Cyclops. They are a rare thing in today’s marketplace and we need them.

Here are my favs from the Cyclops label. Looking at it I am surprised by the diversity of sounds and styles on show. Check 'em out!

Grey Lady Down ~ Fear
Lands End ~ The Lower Depths
Manning ~ The Ragged Curtain
Mostly Autumn ~ The Spirit Of Autumn Past
Nautlilus ~ What Colours The Sky In Your World?
Parallel Or 90 Degrees ~ Afterlifecycle
The Pineapple Thief ~ 12 Stories Down
Saens ~ Escaping The Hands Of God
Sensitive To Light ~ Almost Human
Sinkadus ~ Cirkus
Sphere3 ~ Comeuppance
Tr3nity ~ Precious Seconds
Trion ~ Tortoise

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Dream Theater ~ Score

Rightfully regarded as the premier progressive metal band, this is the third triple CD live album by the band in 5 years! For this latest one, part of the concert was augmented by a full orchestra to enhance the more symphonic pieces like “Six Degrees Of Inner Turbulence” and “Octavarium”. On the evidence of this live album the band are surely one of the most accomplished rock bands around. The energy and technical ability on show is nothing short of breathtaking. How the band work together at each twist and turn is staggering. At around 3 hours, the band never let up for one minute. All band members are masters of their instruments. Keyboardist Jordan Rudess is particularly impessive throughout, especially using the Continuum keyboard on the opening of “Octavarium”. Nice pic of his gigantic synth rig on the inside of the CD cover! The sound quality is absolutely top notch too. These guys do know how to do live albums! The other sets, “Live Scenes From New York” and “Live At Budokan” are in their own way as equally impressive live documents of this very impressive band.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Pip Pyle

This week has been overshadowed by the sudden death of Pip Pyle. Anyone knowing anything about prog rock will have heard his name. He played on classic 70’s albums such as Gong’s “Camembert Electrique”, Hatfield and the North’s and National Health’s studio albums. Not only was he a master drummer but his compositions, like “Fitter Stoke Has A Bath”, from HatfieldsThe Rotters Club” are complex and witty. His “Phlakaton” from National Health’sOf Queues and Cures” is his answer to all those interminable drum solos we endured during that period of excess! Very funny and very Pip Pyle. By all accounts he was an affable guy, full of joie de vivre and will be sadly missed by those who knew him personally and those who just know him by his music.
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