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...