Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Revisiting Sir Chronicles

Good evening fellow progheads and thanks for coming back to the Closet Concert Arena!  This week the unofficial "random whirlwind" search for all things prog continues its ramble through the prog garden as I journey back to Italy for a slice of deja vu.  Last summer  I discovered an
up-and-coming prog band that I believed showed signs of an ascending trajectory...turns out I was right...

I am happy to report that Sir Chronicles continues to mature and asked me to reprieve my earlier review of their music now that they have gone back to the studio and  re-worked their songs into a complete album.  More than happy to go back for a second helping when the first offering was so delectable...


Let's get the party started with "Tears of Love."  A quick stormy opening lead is the backdrop for a rather dark instrumental piece...the mood is fitting as the music rains down the inside of your skull like an all day spring shower, complete with gloomy skies and and a punishing wind.  The guitar picks up the tempo but the canvas remains dark; the penetrating drums serving mainly to exacerbate the downtrodden ambiance.  Sir Chronicles waves a dark brush across the underside of the listener's eyelids and a powerful mood is born...

Moving farther along the serving line, I am struck abruptly by "Genova City."  The opening bass line clashes with a lead guitar/drum cacophony that leads to an instrumental rumba sauntering through your mind.  Strong top notes of Seven Impale and Under the Psycamore permeate the room with perhaps a hint of Beardfish floating on top like so much foam on a mug of ale...


Liner Notes...Sir Chronicles is currently a two-man operation made up of Alessandro Bordino on guitars and bass, and Efrem Nota on drums.  This "dynamic duo" have done quite a bit since first appearing in the prog garden.  Their initial recordings earned them early praise, several awards, and the start of a loyal following; the decision to re-work and fine tune their music into an EP puts the emphasis on a commitment to their craft.  Many bands go through the growing pains of personnel changes, identity issues, and just plain attracting an audience...but talent, skill, and aptitude tend to outweigh chance...

Sir Chronicles is that lesson in determination, grit, and talent.  Today it seems almost anyone can release music to the masses and set up a YouTube or Spotify account. What separates the contenders from the pretenders is a desire to do what it takes and the refusal to give up and go home--along with the ability to back it up.  Sir Chronicles invites you the listener into their world...where they tend acreage in the dark, brooding, introspective section of the prog garden.

One more cut to review tonight; "Metronomy."  Opening with a bit of a funky bass line, this piece is much more uptempo than what I have been exposed to thus far...and it is a nice rabbit hole to wander down.  With top notes of a Jaco Pastorius/Narada Michael Walden jam session, the jazz fusion club is in full swing.  Sir Chronicles puts on a display here that peels back the curtain a bit, exposing their ability to change direction and cruise across the prog garden in funky style.

Hopefully your curiosity has been aroused...your intrigue spiked.  The urge to get the debut release from Sir Chronicles can be scratched at iTunes, Sir Chronicles iTunes and Soundcloud,
Sir Chronicles SC.  You can also follow the band on Facebook Sir Chronicles FB and Twitter
@AlessandroRiche.  Sir Chronicles even has a YouTube channel Sir Chronicles YT so you can not only catch their music, but dial into what inspires them as well.

This week I decided on the song "Sbrigidi" for your listening pleasure/temptation.  The sound is definitely crisper and cleaner this go 'round, and Alessandro's and Efrem's affinity for the jazz side of the prog garden is once again on display.  Of course on this cut the duo "takes it up a notch" as it were, bringing the ornate Italian flare so many bands from that area are known for.  Sir Chronicles hits you right from the get-go and gets your adrenaline racing...there is an Al DiMeola vibe crawling through the headphones as Sir Chronicles peels back yet another layer of the onion...

 

So fellow progheads, as we creep ever closer to the finish line of 2017 I am deeply pleased by all the new music I have heard this year and sincerely appreciative of the opportunity to bring it all to you.  Sir Chronicles has been an especially fun week in The Closet Concert Arena as I have been afforded the chance to listen to the band's refined sound.  Having heard them come full circle, I can say with absolute certainty that Sir Chronicles should be a name to remember...and a band not to forget.

And as we say every seven days in the prog garden, the search for all things prog continues on...until next week...

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Naryan

Hello once again fellow progheads and welcome back to the Closet Concert Arena.  Autumn continues her trek across the calendar this week as the search for all things prog travels to Finland to see how others handle the changing seasons.  With relatively similar temperatures in both locales, now seems as good a time as any to find out what the far reaches of the prog garden are producing.


 Naryan, a band originating in Tampere, Finland, has released two albums on the Progressive Gears label.  Their eponymous first album came out in 2013, and their follow-up "Black Letters" hit the streets in January 2016.  The band describes their sound as "melancholic" and "atmospheric" which leaves a lot to the imagination.  Images of an ornate stage draped in black crepe and lace complete with glowing candelabras fills the mind...so straight to the buffet for what promises to be a sumptuous extravaganza as I get this review started...

With two albums being served up this week, I will play along logically and start with the first release;  cuing up "Ungettable."  As the song peels back the curtain you feel as though you are ocean-side watching a piano recital, the tide lapping at the pedals while the mood begins to slowly build...and then the crescendo erupts as the remaining players emerge on the surf.  Naryan comes straight at you with raw emotion dripping from every note...

Naryan emits top notes of Anathema and Porcupine Tree on this tune...a mesmerizing piece that bounces around the inner workings of your head like a frenzy of pellets in a Pachinko machine...

Next up from the same album is a more complex cut, "Never Give Up."  Naryan once again goes straight for the heart strings as passion pores out like nectar from a honeycomb, sticking to everything in its path.  Vocals start to pour forth as the tendrils of a flute flirt with gentle guitar work laying a path that gets a bit rocky while the tempo begins to pick up the pace.  Once you're inside the labyrinth the walls begin to close in; you feel pressure from all sides...and "Never Give Up" becomes a mantra that leads you through the eye of the storm.

Moving across the aisle to Naryan's second release, I immediately immerse myself in the title cut, "Black Letters."  Tommi Niemi's vocals are deep and dark as they waltz across some intricate violin work.  Once again Naryan takes you down a gentle path only to toss you into an abyss and watch you fall--but the landing is "almost-soft;" as though  you were thrust onto a pile of floor exercise mats.

Liner Notes...as I mentioned above, Naryan hails from Tempere, Finland and is  a member of the Progressive Gears family of prog artists. The band consists of the aforementioned Tommi Niemi on vocals, Lauri Kovero and Raino Ketola on guitars, Eveliina Sydanlahde on bass, flute, keyboards,and backing vocals, Nona Onnela on violin, and Tommi Tanhuanpaa on drums.



Started in 2009 by Lauri as an instrumental project, Naryan has gone through several line up changes and additions. Couple that with a maturation  in regard to arranging, writing, and performing, and the result is an amazing version of Naryan confidently leaping through my headphones today.  Working with the Progressive Gears team sets the expectations bar high as the bands builds its album library...

Staying with the "Black Letters" album, I serve up a platter of "764."  Clever guitar work introduces the cut as top notes of Anathema once again waft through the air.  Dark colors start to run down the canvas, streaking randomly while an ominous cloud settles over the mood.  Eveliina's piano saunters off toward the Radiohead section of the garden--and suddenly the bottom falls out as you tumble toward chaos a la Katatonia...only to land safely once again in the warm embrace of Eveliina and her keyboards.

You can purchase both of these albums at Naryan bandcamp and Progressive Gears.  Social media provides several options for connecting with and learning about the band; their website, Naryan,
Facebook, Naryan FB, and Twitter @Naryanband.  Naryan also has a YouTube channel
Naryan YT so you can experience the music for yourself before making that ever important purchase...

To entice you into increasing your music collection, I chose "Sad to Listen."  This is a bonus clip of sorts as it is not found on either of their albums...you're welcome...🎶  Naryan enjoys toying with the listener; the gentle opening lures you in like a siren call until the clouds roll back, dark skies open, and Naryan rains down with emotions that bleed like an open wound.  The violin tears right through you like a fine-edged scalpel, the drums hit you with a steady thump, and the bass keeps everyone's pulse on an even keel.  The aromatics you detect have a Metallica hue, with perhaps a twinge of
Porcupine Tree making the air heavier still...


Naryan hits hard, heavy, and fast.  There is a Jekyll and Hyde feel to the music as they start out of the gate with a genteel air--only to drop the facade and deliver a wallop to your emotions that pushes the envelope.  Naryan doesn't blast you like Opeth; they prefer the slow, deliberate crawl inside your mind so as to seep into your subconscious...bursting out like a great white attack...and then slinking back to reload...

Naryan straddles different sections of the prog garden; drawing from the melodic and blending it with metal that isn't too sharp or piercing and tying it together with the gentle strings of a violin.  Naryan brings you a full basket of fervor to accompany you on your journey...

And as quickly as it began, the week draws to a close.  Naryan is a dark jewel sparkling in the shadows of the prog garden. Not to worry--the Concert Closet is on a mission to search those shadows and unearth more prog that hits with absolute sincerity.  The journey continues...until next time...

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Tuesday The Sky, "Drift"

Another grateful thank you to everyone returning to The Closet Concert Arena fellow progheads!  Mother Nature seems to have finally gotten it right, much to my chagrin, as there is now more chill in the night air than my evening drink.  So to warm the Concert Closet up a bit I took the search for all things prog over to the InsideOut Music section of the prog garden to check out a fascinating release from a band/side project created by prog guitarist Jim Matheos; Tuesday the Sky.


For those familiar with Jim's day job--guitarist for Fates Warning--a spoiler alert of sorts...Tuesday the Sky is by no means an extension of that band.  Rather it seems an outlet for Jim's inner Brian Eno; the master of ambient music.  Tuesday the Sky is apparently the place Jim goes to allow his alter-ego an opportunity to come out and play...a section of the prog garden separated from the rigors and demands of progressive metal.  Tuesday the Sky flows through the prog garden like fudge rolling across a marble slab; just watching makes you want more...

Starting out with the first cut "Today the Sky" is akin to having an Eno/Fripp flashback; the sounds wash over you like slow motion 8mm home movies...lots of emotion mixed with a twinge of longing and inner peace.  The opening is much like an old Victrola that wasn't cranked fast enough; the sound is equal parts eerie and fascinating.  Tuesday the Sky takes you on a journey that gets more exciting note-by-note.  The dripping irony is the lack of a thunderous metal backdrop...




Following along the grooves in the vinyl I am captivated by the song "Vortex Street."  There is no missing the ambient mood...that dream-like "falling through the air" feeling as if the entire world were in slow motion...truly captivating.  I sense Abstract Aprils as much as Fripp from his Soundscape days; the atmosphere is soothing; the mood serene.  Tuesday the Sky actually takes the listener on an adventure with this piece...close your eyes and feel the tension flow from your body much the way coffee spills from a cup in zero gravity...

Liner Notes...Tuesday the Sky is of course the brain child of Jim Matheos, who plays guitars and bass on the album.  Joining Jim is Lloyd Hanney on drums; additional guests on the record are Kevin Moore playing  keyboards on "It Comes in Waves" and "Drift," and Anna Lynne Williams on vocals for "Vortex Street" and "Westerlies."  Tuesday the Sky may simply be an ethereal side venture for Jim, but don't let that cause you a moment's hesitation as to whether it is worth listening to--it is.

One needs to approach instrumental music from a different vantage point, whether you are the listener, the performer, or the writer.  Here in The Closet Concert Arena, it is more than just going "voiceless."  The mood is usually more somber or reserved...the mood elevator is often stuck between floors.  The canvas illustrations tend to be larger as the colors run from soft, obscured hues to bright patches that fade away behind darker, more ominous tones that tend to overwhelm if left to their own devices.  However; Tuesday the Sky fills the album with distinct a passion that carries you across the threshold of emotions like so much salt spray crashing over driftwood on the shore...



Learn more about Tuesday the Sky at Tuesday the Sky and InsideOut Music.  This album, along with others in the Inside Out catalog are available and well worth adding to your vast and varied prog collection.  You will also find the band on Facebook at Tuesday the Sky FB.  For those inclined to dig deeper ((the Concert Closet is cavernous) you can also find Jim Matheos at Jim Matheos and
Jim Matheos FB .

For the listen-in this week I chose the second cut, "Kite."  Opening like raindrops running across a windshield, the song captures what I consider the essence of what Tuesday the Sky attempts to convey throughout; music, especially of the prog variety, flows naturally and needs no preconceived
pattern to follow.  Ambient music--while not an entirely different animal--does offer an alternate perspective from which to view the prog garden.   



How far this project goes has yet to be determined, so enjoy the present and wrap yourself in the cocoon that is "Drift" and let your mind sail away...Tuesday the Sky is a splendid way to spend time while wandering through the prog garden...so be sure to avoid a strut that would prevent you from enjoying the music and the surrounding scenery...

And thus another week falls from the calendar. Tuesday the Sky is a rare (and hopefully not one-off) gem Jim Matheos has put together outside the Fates Warning realm.  The ambient section of the prog garden tends to be under appreciated and perhaps even a bit overlooked.  While  Brian Eno, Tangerine Dream, Harold Budd, Robert Fripp, Cluster, Moebius, and a select group of others walk this section of the prog garden extensively, the following and appreciation has always been underwhelming.  Ultimately this is what makes bands like Tuesday the Sky the remarkable, precious nuggets they are...the lack of concern for the mainstream and pure desire to make music that appeals to themselves as artists.

Which means of course that while this stop is complete, the journey continues...The Closet Concert Arena moves forward in the search for all things prog...until next time...