Tuesday, February 20, 2018

All Shall Be Well

As always, thanks for stopping by the Closet Concert Arena again this week fellow progheads!  Despite being in its early stages, 2018 has been quite active in the prog garden with no sign of slowing down any time soon.  Progressive music is many things to many people, and is interpreted as such by many artists. This week the Concert Closet takes a different tack, navigating  through the remaining days of winter via the Netherlands for some introspective listening with a band that sees the prog garden from an alternate perspective; welcome to the world of All Shall Be Well...

All Shall Be Well is self described as "...instrumental, cinematic music..."  The band likens their music to "...stories rather than songs."  There is a lot of acreage in the prog garden, and this week it looks like we are entering relatively new territory.  All Shall Be Well is one of those bands that views their craft through an entirely different lens.  Should be  a fun week; let's take the lid off the box and see what's inside...

Starting with a cut from the band's 2011 debut "ROODBLAUW" I chose the cut "There Will Always be at Least A Thousand Things You Don't Know."  Emitting strong top notes of Brian Eno in his ambient hey day and Robert Fripp's Soundscapes, this is a very soothing piece.  ASBW paints a very serene picture with gentle strokes on the canvas using a smooth brush. The colors blend beautifully, much like honey melting into a warm cup of tea.

Moving to their 2014 release "BLAUWGEEL" I set the stylus down on "Some Speak of the Future, Others of the Past."  Building on the cinematic, ASBW stays on an ambient path but takes a tangent road on the journey as they meld post-rock into their style to claim a spot in the prog garden all their own.  The drums take center stage on this cut as keyboards and synthesizers play a supporting role.  Top notes of Abstract Aprils seep through the headphones as your auditory canals are filled with excitement best described as "raging serenity."

Liner Notes...All Shall Be Well is originally from Haarlem, The Netherlands.  The band started creating stories in 2010 and have three albums on their resume.  The group consists of Joene, Vincent, Wouter, Bas, and Niels.  Rebuffing the corporate side of the music business, ASBW does things their own way, a la King Crimson.  Music is recorded, uploaded, and released through Creative Commons, making them as transparent and close to their fan base as Bent Knee.

Checking on their latest release "GEELZWART," I found a timeless piece, "Grieg's "Ases Tod' Reimagined."  This is album is three classical gems reworked and "threshed out" in their words, looking for unsuspecting harmonies.  Listening to this you understand why they feel more like storytellers than musicians--although they are pretty darn good musicians.  More of their soundscape/cinematic tendencies are shining through on this cut; the guitars fold into the drums like fresh berries rolled into a crepe...ASBW work splendidly with soft pastels, filling the canvas with delicate hues that soothe the mind and spirit.

All Shall Be Well have made their music available at these sites; All Shall Be SWell bandcamp,
All Shall Be Well soundcloud, and All Shall Be Well cdbaby.  Of course there is also the obligatory Facebook page All Shall Be Well FB and Twitter @AllShallBeWell.  Ample opportunity to check out the world of ASBW...this is a band that seems to shy from the spotlight while not being afraid to share everything in their velvet lined arsenal.


As an aperitif, I chose the cut below from the band's debut.  "Forgot Yesterday, Am Today, and Will Be Tomorrow" is a soothing port wine at the end of a stressful day.  I detect top notes of Flim and the BB's riding across the room along with just a sprinkling of Harold Budd.  The story starts out in a pleasant mood, strutting gently like a newborn fawn, only to turn abruptly and darken the
horizon--albeit to a duskier grey.  Even the drums are soft on the ears as the headphones fill with a restrained force...until...and then back again.  Pull up a seat in the prog garden and wait for it...dim the lights; you don't want to ruin the mood...



Well progheads, it seems another week has moved slowly by, yet so quickly do the days race past.  All Shall Be Well bring cinematic/ambient music to a different dimension, offering the listener a chance to hear through a different filter.  The sound is majestic and humble; striking while staying away from the din of the ordinary.

The search for all things prog has once again trod new territory.  Although The Closet Concert Arena has been host to many cinematic bands that paint extravagant pictures with the ease of drawing a curtain, few have been so deliberately outside the lines.  And once again the journey continues...until next time...

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Circu5

We are inching closer to spring fellow progheads!  Yes, winter continues her cruel joke; throwing a "Bombogenesis" at us like so much crystallized confetti one minute and then raising the mercury in the thermometer just enough to entice us the next.  But the Concert Closet continues to turn up the heat in the search for all things prog.  This week we travel to the UK and check in with yet another new entry into the prog garden, Circu5.

Despite winter's habit of freezing the tundra, the soil in the prog garden is quite fertile for this time of year.  Circu5  has been tilling acreage in a dark corner of the garden over which The Closet Concert Arena shines a bright light, illuminating what is proving to be quite a discovery.

Circu5 released their self titled debut in September, a concept album dealing with a child being raised as a psychopath by the government in hopes of curing the condition.  I can actually imagine my tax dollars being spent on a project such as this; perhaps this is more like a documentary soundtrack...hmm...

The story begins with "Coming Home," and it is the  dark opening you thought it would be.  The acoustic guitar is somewhat haunting; I sat in tense anticipation of an emotional eruption that never quite came to fruition.  Instead, this piece builds the mood and tempo as you tentatively walk the gloomy halls of a manipulated mind.  The vocals and guitar work well together, like salve on an open wound you just know will get worse before it gets better.

No time to waste as the second cut, "My Degenerate Mind" begins to bleed through the headphones.  This is the hard-edged, cranium penetrating piece with a raking riff you were afraid of--or perhaps hoped for.  Circu5 does tone it down a bit; no shattering glass to unnerve you, but  there are top notes of Queens of the Stone Age interlaced with aromatics of Spock's Beard running through.  Just trying to keep you off-balance enough...

Liner Notes...hailing from Swindon, Wiltshire, UK, Circu5 was born in the mind of Steve Tilling.  Steve is a multi-instrumentalist wearing far too many hats to list here individually; suffice to say he is the lifeblood of Circu5.  Many guest musicians performing on the album include Dave Gregory and Matt Backer on guitars, Phil Spalding on backing vocals, Johnny Warman on backing vocals, Andy Neve on keyboards and synthesizers, and Alan van Kleef on drums.  Lou Young is also credited as the psychologist on "The Chosen One - Resurrection." A crowded stage indeed.

This is album is a bit autobiographical; Steve says it "...mirrors the ups and downs in my life while making it..."  If Steve was willing to bare his soul and pour everything he had into this album, how can you resist?  Circu5--the entire entourage--walked many different paths through the prog garden on this album, although dark, damp, and macabre seem to be the  strong undercurrent.  There are glimmers of light as the transformation from psychopath to "mere mortal" begins to pierce the veil...there is a brilliance to the album as you listen all the way through...a vivid breakthrough as each track bleeds into the next.

You will learn so much more about Steve Tilling, Circu5, and the making of this album at Circu5.  The music is available for purchase there as well as several other sites, including Circu5 bandcamp,
Circu5 burningshed and Circu5 iTunes.  Lots of options, so make sure you get your copy.  You will also find a Facebook page Circu5 FB and Twitter @Circu5Band  for keeping up on all the latest.

My final selection for review  is "Blame It on Me."  This is a brooding piece...the soft acoustic opening can only keep the floodgates closed for so long.  There are top notes of Foo Fighters running through as the tempo and pace push the needle to the right.  Circu5 runs through your veins like a shot of adrenaline; the loud noises and taps on the lining of your skull interspersed with a sedative to help you ride out the highs without losing control.  There are flashes of Transatlantic permeating the headphones throughout this cut as Circu5 walks up to the prog/pop line and leans in.

I chose "The Amazing Monstrous Grady" as the song to lure you in with.  This cut is the turning point of the album; psychopath meets creator if you will.  The vocals slap you as you realize the manipulated confronts the manipulator and nothing is as it seems.  This song has strong top notes of Jethro Tull at their prog best running through it.  The guitars come at you like strobe lights careening down a winding tunnel...the drums leading your steps across unknown terrain...   


Once again we reach the conclusion of week well spent.  The prog garden continues to bring forth a hearty bounty from every acre.  Progressive music is proving to be greater than the sum of its parts; each sub-genre expanding the boundaries and spawning new growth.  The search for all things prog continues to be an adventure that redefines itself weekly, each new discovery a different facet of the jewel that is progressive rock.  So time to expand the search and discover more new and exciting gems hiding in the prog garden...until next time...

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Colin Tench Project "minor Masterpiece"

Welcome to February fellow progheads!  Despite winter's refusal to relinquish the bitter cold, this week The Closet Concert Arena turns the search for all things prog into an upbeat quest.  I, like so many others, was deeply saddened to learn of the untimely passing of Colin Tench this past December.  Having been anxiously awaiting the release of his newest album--work he seemed quite proud of--I held a private vigil hoping Colin's (now) swansong would still grace the airwaves.

This week I am happy to learn the Colin Tench Project's minor Masterpiece has in fact been released and is now at the top of my playlist for the foreseeable future.  The Concert Closet lauds this much anticipated album as the search for all things prog takes a tangent road to celebrate Colin and the "minor Masterpiece" he was so anxious to share with the prog faithful.

The album opens with "See How She Runs," a melodic tune with top notes of latter day Genesis wading through, and perhaps a touch of Big Big Train.  The guitar work hits in quick blasts, riding a wave of keyboards and percussion to a quiet landing on a piano.  CTP is bold with a hint of mystique--just as you'd expect...

Moving further along the buffet line, "Sqeaky Door Time" quickly fills the headphones.  This is Colin channeling his inner Carlos Santana, and it sounds like he is having a grand time.  The canvas has been splayed with a battery of color that would impress Peter Max.

In my experience, very few prog albums were recorded with the dance floor in mind.  However; Colin lays a groove here that would make Frank Zappa smile and strut majesticly around the stage.  The mood transforms like a kaleidoscope; from funky, to ska,  to rockin'...and then changes into a jazzy velvet dinner jacket...smooth as Highland Park 18 year-old single malt...

Liner Notes...The Colin Tench Project suddenly and unexpectedly lost its leader in December and as they say, the hard part is the world just keeps turnin'.  I spoke with Colin via Facebook a few times about this album and the aura he gave off was pure excitement; I could feel it...you know that sense you get when you just know.

Colin plays guitar, piano, synthesizers, sings backing vocals and more.  Of course minor Masterpiece would not be complete without the other stellar performers on the album; Peter Jones and Joey Lugassy on vocals, Petri Lemmy Lindstrom on bass, Joe Vitale on drums and percussion, and Gordo Bennett on all orchestral instrumentation.  Christo Pellani and Eddie Young make guest appearances playing drums and cello respectively.  Yes, Colin surrounded himself with one helluva band;
he did like to do things in grand style...


My final selection this week is a darker piece with semi-ominous overtones, "Waiting for Gordo."  The tension mounts immediately as the piece opens.  I am taken back to my youth and Saturday morning cartoons when my mind was bathed in classical music...I close my eyes and the child conductor on the album cover comes to life and just commands that baton.  There is so much here; top notes of IQ and an earlier incarnation of King Crimson perhaps.  This song leaps at you much like a moth emerging from a cocoon; slow and deliberate...and suddenly the majestic thrust of the wings allows it to break free.  Gordo Bennett is stunning as he bounds about the orchestra pit hitting every note and breathing life into a vinyl disc...I can see Colin's smile from headphone earpiece to headphone earpiece as he sits at the piano and caresses such beautiful sounds from those keys...

You will find minor Masterpiece at CTP Corvusstone and CTP bandcamp.  Colin also has multiple Facebook pages; this one is a good start CTP Facebook.  Here you will discover some insight to the man and his music.  I know I tend to overplay my hand, but this is an album you will want to own as the Colin Tench Project collection is now finite...

I chose the cut below, "Now Get on Your Way," to wrap up our time this week.  The opening is just majestic; Colin blends prog with classical in a way that enables the music to enter your pores and flow through your entire being...you don't just listen to this album--you engage with it.  I get a John Wetton in his Asia days vibe from this piece as the lyrics crash all around you like an unexpected thunderstorm.  Gordo outdoes himself with the orchestrations, and Colin plays the guitar and synthesizer so fluidly it seems like he has four arms. This is an album to savor slowly...drink it in and let it the magic begin...


               

Well fellow progheads, another week has passed us by.  Fortunately we were able to spend it wrapped in a minor Masterpiece.  Colin put all he had into this album and the result is striking.  The music transcends the prog garden and takes you on that proverbial journey Timothy Leary was so fond of.  Music tends to paint pictures for me and the canvas laid out for minor Masterpiece is bursting with colors and images that come alive.

The search for all things prog is a journey I have been on for several years, and music like this is why I walk the prog garden each week.  There are top notes of  everyone from Al DiMeola to David Byrne flowing through the vinyl and it takes a passion few possess to bring all that together in a cohesive manner such as we have here.  Relish this one...

And once again The Closet Concert Arena sets off to continue the journey...until next time...

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Boundary Exception, "Teardrops on a Blank Page"

Thankful to meet again fellow progheads!  The prog garden is filled with many bands and artists both old and new.  Several are conjoined on many levels; the diagram connecting King Crimson and its derivatives would take more time and space than allowed here in the Concert Closet...suffice to say it would be one busy flowchart.  Yet there are also many other not-so-well-known artists that are cross-connected to several projects, bands, and ideas.  One such maestro is Peter Hamer.  This week the search for all things prog checks in with Boundary Exception, one of several projects for whom Peter is the  mastermind.


Hearkening back to my April 2016 interview with Peter, I recall his mentioning a female-fronted progressive rock "project" called Boundary Exception.  Knowing how deep Peter immerses himself into his enterprises and the quality of the work he produces, to say I was excited to learn Boundary Exception had at last released an LP would be a slight under statement.  My only regret is waiting a year to review it...so no time to lose...

Boundary Exception, like most projects under the Peter Hamer umbrella, comes off as a bit dark and brooding.  That is not a deterrent but rather a beacon of sorts, luring the listener like a sailor in rough seas chasing safe harbor...

My first selection from what promises to be a most rewarding week is a song called "Awake."  Michela "Micol" Speranzi's vocals are the smooth chocolate center of a baci di dama.  She rides the guitar beautifully and allows the bass to set a mood.  There are top notes of  Vuur running through the room, chased by aromatics of Ancient Bards.  Boundary Exception blends  gray hues with subtle pastels to produce an amazing canvas.

The next sound streaming through my headphones is "Last Goodbye."  As the guitar peels back the top layer of the song, I feel a surge of Mark Knopfler racing through my auditory canals.  Boundary Exception once again uses the dark to light up the room; Michela's vocals are as smooth as a pair of velvet slacks and the perfect foil to the metal-edged guitar and drum work hammering your skull lining with precision.


Liner Notes...Boundary Exception  hails from Turin, Italy and is fronted by the aforementioned Michela Speranzi on lead vocals.  She is joined by Michele Santoleri on drums and (of course) Peter Hamer on guitar.  Credits also include Giampiero Ulacco as mix and master engineer and Claudio Esposito the recording engineer.  The seeds for Boundary Exception were planted way back in 2015 when Peter reconnected with Michela, who immediately began working on songs and vocal tracks for the band.  Bringing his go-to drummer Michele into the fold all but made the debut album a foregone conclusion.  It took about 18 months; "Teardrops on a Blank Page" was released in January 2017...and worth every second of waiting.

Italian prog is generally of the ornate variety; big full sound, lots of imagery...basically a paint ball gun fired at a blank canvas and the resulting sound is usually either very good or very "different."  I don't recall any Italian prog bands I have been on the fence about.  Boundary Exception does not end that streak--Peter nailed it with this record, but of course it was not a solo effort. Michela's vocals along with Michele's drums work together to make "Teardrops on a Blank Page" a formidable first foray into the prog garden.

Learn more about Boundary Exception at PH Productions.  You will find the music--because I know you want to add to your prog library--at Boundary Exception bandcamp.  The album is also available on Amazon, iTunes, and other sites which can all be found here Boundary Exception Hyperurl.  Connect on Twitter @BoundaryExcept to stay informed on the important stuff...

For the listen-in this week I chose a teaser instead of an entire song with the intention of luring you to invest more than just your listening skills...Boundary Exception lets you taste the fruit with this almost two minute cocktail.  Go ahead, take the first sip; you'll be back to fill your glass...


And just like that 168 hours raced by...meanwhile we are just about another 24 hours from bidding ciao to January altogether.  It seems 2018 will be another fast-paced race around the sun...all the more reason to enjoy every step in the search for all things prog.  Boundary Exception shines a light on another side of Peter Hamer while exposing two more remarkable musicians making their way in the prog garden.  

There are so many facets to the prog genre which makes the search for all things prog that much more adventurous.  Boundary Exception is just one morsel served up at an exquisite buffet, and I for one am only too happy to try every course.  So time to take The Closet Concert Arena on another jaunt and see where we land...until next time...    

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Scarlet INside "The Room of MUndane THings"

Greetings once again fellow progheads!  2018 has started with much excitement; the subtle, soothing vocals of Dovile Lee and the robust explosion of Kayak were just the beginning of the prog garden's  latest crop.  This week the Closet Concert Arena heads to the UK yet again as the search for all things prog reconnects with an old friend and discovers something new and quite extraordinary...which comes as no surprise to those familiar with Kevin Kennie and Scarlet INside...

I found Scarlet INside a little over two years ago and was instantly drawn to the singularity of the sound.  There are bands that dabble in this section of the prog garden, but Scarlet INside found a corner and nurtured it in a way that would make Frank Zappa and Captain Beefheart proud.  Scarlet INside recently released another absolute gem, "The Room of MUndane THings."  This is a review I have been waiting to write since the last Scarlet INside album, so no time to waste...

The title cut opens with a bass line that immediately draws you in and holds you captive, much like a cobra rising slowly as the charmer's pungi hypnotizes ever so deliberately.  There are hints of Peter Gabriel lurking beneath the surface, entwined with subtle aromatics of Focus oddly enough...

Kevin has a way of bopping you over the head without ever making a physical move; his lyric style and composition are such that you feel changed after listening to his music.  Nothing bad or
bizarre--but your eyes have been opened and music will never taste the same again...

Moving across the album randomly, a method I believe best serves music that takes to a label the way a cat takes to a bath, I drop the stylus on "DEad PEople's THings for SAle."  This piece immediately takes me to ELP's "Peter Gunn" for some reason...and I am honestly not sure why.  Scarlet INside builds tension masterfully here, much the way Alfred Hitchcock did in his movies.  Kevin's vocals haunt as they sit on top, riding the high hat like a warning flash at a nuclear power plant.  But the best part of this song is Kevin's ability to take anything in the room and evoke exemplary sound from it.  He is to music what Robin Williams is to comedy; you don't dare move lest you miss out...


Liner Notes are short, sweet, and probably familiar; Scarlet INside is Kevin Kennie and vice versa.  This one man prog event hails from Glasgow UK.  He does have human assistance when performing live, but the recordings are mostly all Kevin.  Brian Johnstone is credited on the album for rearranging, keyboards, and backing on the song "POison Signals."  Otherwise Kevin wears many hats to go with his many thoughts and ideas...

The prog garden needs Scarlet INside and more bands like this.  I remember the amazement when I heard my first Frank Zappa album--nobody was doing anything close to that.  While it may be impossible to make that statement today absolutely in regard to Scarlet INside, at best Kevin could hold a musical peer convention in the back seat of a Honda Pilot and have plenty of leg room...

Next up as we fall deeper into the abyss that is this Room of MUndane THings, I discover an especially poignant track--at least by Scarlet INside standards-- called "Sally Learns."  On this piece Kevin seems to project his inner King Crimson; he is Jamie Muir-like in his ability to bring forth music from inanimate objects and he is Robert Fripp-like with that guitar.  The vocals are a John Wetton/Adrian Belew concoction that can only be explained once heard...and man, is this song amazing!

While there is the ever-present dark cloud hanging over the piece, the sounds emanating from a child's toys accompanied by the innocent laughter is as soothing as it is unsettling.  Kevin is quite the lyricist too; "Create the sound from silence/The harmony of the worlds/The perfection of a semitone/When it vibrates (right) down into the bone."  All the while the background is filled with sounds designed to awe, frighten, amaze, and dare I say inspire.

Go behind the curtain that shrouds Scarlet INside at Scarlet INside. There is of course Facebook
Scarlet INside FB and Twitter @ScarletINside where you will kept well informed about all things Scarlet INside.  Naturally you will want to purchase "The Room of MUndane THings" and other albums in the Scarlet INside library...they can all be found at Scarlet INside bandcamp and
Scarlet INside soundcloud.  It has been a while since I stood on a soapbox, but please support the artists by purchasing their music!

This is where I would normally post a track from the album to entice you to listen deeper and make a purchase.  However, this week is a bit different...no song from the album posted here, but I do have a live clip that will give you a bit of a glimpse inside the mind that is inside the head that sits atop the man behind the curtain...

Scarlet INside is the type of band I would have started when I was younger--if I had even a smidgen  of the talent Kevin has--not to mention the guts, desire, and drive required.


                   

Once again the sand has run through the hourglass and seven more days have fallen off the calendar.  Scarlet INside proves unequivocally that progressive rock is more than just a genre--it is an ever changing mood, a thought, an idea--a garden filled with more mystery and imagination than one can hope to fully capture in this lifetime.

The search for all things prog has allowed me to hear music and interact with artists I might never have discovered otherwise. The prog garden is my sanctuary and The Closet Concert Arena my TARDIS if you will.  There are many styles, forms, and sounds to the world of music, but prog to me is the fountain from which it all flows.  Scarlet INside is a dark crystal burning bright in the prog garden and I hope you are warmed by the glow as you immerse yourself in all that is found inside its gates.  The journey continues...until next time...

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Kayak "Seventeen"

Welcome back fellow progheads!  Once again we find ourselves in The Closet Concert Arena continuing the search for all things prog.  What better way to follow up a trip to Ireland than refueling the Concert Closet and setting the GPS for the Netherlands?  This week we change tempo, mood, time zone, and decibel level as I take you my faithful followers to Hilversum in North Holland to check in with Kayak.



Kayak has been around for over 40 years yet managed to stay low under the radar--at least in the United States.  Kayak recently signed on with InsideOut Music and released album number
17-- appropriately titled "Seventeen" last week.  Hopefully  this will get them the exposure they deserve stateside and help them internationally as well.  For a band to have survived in any way, shape, or form for this long is no small feat and a milestone to be recognized. Alright already, enough talk...let's plug in those headphones and drop the stylus...

The album opens brightly enough with a tune called "Somebody."  Bart Schwertmann's vocals are complemented ever so perfectly with guitar and keyboard work that rides a wave designed to crash over your ears like ocean breakers taking down a surfer.  I pick up top notes of Crack the Sky and The Neal Morse Band as the music seems to cascade from the headphones, splattering the canvas with colors that Salvador Dahli would appreciate...

Perusing the playlist, I decide to check out a track called "Ripples on the Water."  A bit more serene than the prior offering as the opening piano bleeds gently into acoustic guitar that walks almost mystically right through the garden.  An instrumental piece, the music flows as delicately as tupelo honey, clinging to your ears as it drips slowly down.  The acoustic guitar leaves aromatics of Al DiMeola in the air, especially when the tempo picks up (just a bit).  Kayak goes deep with this cut; you can almost smell the freshness of the sunrise coming up over the lake while you're lying in the tall grass...

Liner Notes...Holland 1972; Kayak comes to life when founders Ton Scherpenzeel and Pim Koopman come together.  Originally playing with different bands, the duo brought other musicians into the fold and started what would become a journey through five decades and counting.  Of course the story includes bumps in the road and an 18 year hiatus...Kayak signed off from 1981 until regrouping in 1999.  At that time Ton (sans Pim) brought Kayak back together with the addition of a second vocalist and new guitarist; another short-lived experience.  Flash ahead to the present and Kayak has signed with InsideOut Music for the release of "Seventeen," the band's 17th studio record (one for each bird on the cover).

The current line-up is keyboardist/composer Ton Scherpenzeel--the only original member from the band's inception, along with Bart Schwertmann on vocals, Marcel Singor on guitar, Kristoffer Gildenlow on bass, and Collin Leijenaar on drums.  Camel guitarist Andy Latimer makes an appearance on the album too...



Learn more about Kayak, a band 46 years in the making, at Kayak Online as well as the InsideOut Music website Kayak InsideOut.  You can purchase "Seventeen" at either site along with their previous albums and check out other bands that make up the progressive stable at  InsideOut.  All of Kayak's music is also available online at Kayak Amazon  and for Apple aficionados at
Kayak iTunes.  The band has a Facebook page Kayak FB for keeping up with tour dates, videos, news, info, and the like.  Immerse yourself in all things Kayak...

One final slice of the buffet and it is a melodic piece called "Love, Sail Away."  Ton's keyboards share center stage with Bart's vocal talents as the canvas begins to fill with enlightening colors...hues that blaze a short trail of wonderment.  Echoes of Spock's Beard and Transatlantic flash through the headphones (which should come as no surprise), coupled with shots of Supertramp.  Kayak's journey through the prog garden has taken many twists and turns, all the while staying in the "currently on someone's playlist" section.

Offered up as a teaser of sorts to get you more in the mood to make a purchase, I bring you "Feathers and Tar."  Once again Kayak parades across the prog garden kicking up dirt and having a good time.  While Ton's strong keyboards seem to be a hallmark of their music, Kayak is not afraid to throw a good guitar riff at your auditory canals either...this is a band that enjoys life in the prog garden, so while you're here have a good time yourself...


And there goes another seven days in the prog garden fellow progheads; time well spent indeed.  Kayak picked up right where they left off as Ton put together a solid line-up to continue the 17 albums-and-counting tradition.  The prog garden is thriving as 2018 starts out of the gate.  Kayak is but a part of what is promising to be a bumper crop here in the prog garden.  With their new album available, now is a great time to add to your prog music library.

Which makes this a great time to add to the frequent flyer miles logged by The Closet Concert Arena.  The search for all things prog starts the next leg of a seemingly never ending journey...until next time...

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Dovile Lee "My Fairytale"

Welcome to 2018 fellow progheads; feels great to be back at the helm of The Closet Concert Arena!  So much has happened since we last met I don't know where to start...so I will just thank you for including me in your New Year's resolutions and jump right into the 2018 version of the search for all things prog.

Trying to find just the right segue into what promises to be a stellar prog garden crop, I decided to take a circuitous route along an intentional, somewhat brooding,  melodic trail (some things never change).  With that said, the Concert Closet heads to Ireland this week on its first international journey and a listen in with Dovile Lee...


Dovile Lee released her debut EP "My Fairytale" this past November on Progressive Gears Records.  Referring to herself as Alt Rock/New Age, Dovile has a voice that transcends the prog garden in a way best described as delicate, haunting, and serene.  Wrapped in soft, reflective piano that at times walks to the duskier edges of the prog garden (just to peek over the fence), Dovile's voice cascades over your ears and coats your mind like ganache enveloping a layer cake.

The prog buffet opens this week with the title cut.  A delicate piano opening leads to sultry vocals as Dovile takes possession of your auditory canals, her voice 800 thread count Egyptian cotton smooth.  There is just enough percussion behind Dovile's voice to create a solid foundation without taking the spotlight away from those haunting vocals.  Dovile comes across like Enya with real emotion; you feel the raw sadness coming through the headphones as she tells you her fairy tale could end today...somewhere the wind just silenced a candle...

Moving the laser down the disc I find another ominous tune dripping with so much emotion you expect the speakers to melt; "Dead Man Walking."  Dovile once again pours her heart and soul into every syllable...top notes of a melodic Anneke van Giersbergen are echoing through the chambers of my cerebrum.  Dovile Lee paints with words the way Monet painted with a brush; delicately and with purpose.  The songs flow like  a spring rain; more than just a sprinkle but not so hard as to leave welts on your eardrums.

Liner Notes...Dovile Lee originally hails from Lithuania but currently resides in Ennis, County Clare, Ireland.  She speaks four languages (!) and by the sound of this album English would among those she is considered fluent in.  A child prodigy of sorts, Ms. Lee performed with a Lithuanian Choir, taking to singing and playing piano at a very young age.  She continues to offer her services as a wedding singer in Ireland; very humble indeed.

Dovile Lee tends to acreage in the New Age/Alt rock section of the prog garden, and I dare say I pick up top notes of Enigma as well as Enya and even Marcela Bovio--despite the obvious differences in their musical styles.  Learn more about Dovile Lee at the Progressive Gears Records website
Dovile Lee Progressive Gears as well as her own website Dovile Lee.  You can find her debut release at Dovile Lee bandcamp.


Dovile also has a Facebook page Dovile Lee FB and Twitter @DovileLee  where you will find information about performances, releases, videos, and the rest of the business side of the industry.  She even has a YouTube channel Dovile Lee YouTube for a deeper introspective into the artist and her influences and preferences.

One last song to spin, so I opt for "The House."  I chose this piece because Dovile goes a bit off script if you will.  Her voice still commands your attention--she can't help but dominate a room with those pipes--but the level to which she pushes herself with this song is inspiring.  Dovile relies more on her vocal ability and less on her piano skills, although she builds the perfect mood with some
"spooky-eerie" ivory work.

To perk up your listening skills, I chose the title cut "My Fairytale."  I dare you to tune in to those vocals and not come away with a new appreciation for voice training...


So the 2018 search for all things prog is officially underway.  As you must have noticed I am once again expanding the boundaries of the prog garden.  The standard bearers will always have a special place in my heart, music collection--and wallet.  But to deny or discredit the existence of the sub genres under the progressive rock umbrella would be selling the prog garden short.  I believe my faithful followers will agree that to be progressive one must be willing to push limits, challenge paradigms,  and expand horizons.  And with that I pull up stakes and look for the next stop on this never ending journey...until next time...