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...