Unified Past – Equilibrium

On the day that guitarist and keyboardist Stephen Speelman asked us whether it is true he looked like Yanni in the 90’s, it’s time for me to fill ina promise: the promise to review the latest album of his band  Unified Past. The band I had heard about long ago, but I never really listened to their music until this album came out. Mainly due to the fact that they are classified as progressive metal, and I’ve not been interested in metal for a number of years. That changes every couple of years, and so also now).

Unified Past - Shifting the Equilibrium - cover-art by Ed Unitsky

Unified Past – Shifting the Equilibrium – cover-art by Ed Unitsky

On this album, Speelman is accompanied by bass player Dave Mickelson, who’s rattling strings might have been a bit more up front in the mix, drummer Victor Tassone  and vocalist Phil Naro. The latter two I also know from projects like Andy John Bradford’s Ocean’s 5 and Corvus Stone, which are musically quite different from Unified Past.

The music of Unified Past certainly isn’t the kind of sky rocketing freak metal as we find for example on the albums of bands like Dream Theater in the last 10-15 years. Instead it’s more a mix of 90’s and 00’s metal, with the keyboards and guitar tunes playing an important role – making it all quite nicely bombastic at times.

Instrumentally, the band is as capable as vocal chameleon Phil Naro is on vocals (check his other projects and random Youtube videos to see what I mean), and as tight as 1980s hardrock skinnies. I haven’t tried to count, but I doubt there is a lot of 4/4 beat going on on this album, tempos change every time, and it’s hard to spot mistakes.

My favourite track is the impossile to identify, every track on the album has its own strengths. I love the keyboards on Smile, despite not being a big keyboard fan, and the vocals on Edged In Stone give me goose bumps. Peace Remains in this World could’ve been a hard rock classic from the 80s yet doesn’t sound dated at all, and Deviation from a Theme is a wonderfully built up instrumental – this time not going from small to big, but rather the other way round – with a shiver inducing guitar solo near the end.

The only issue I may have with the album is that the sound is quite dense, a little more dynamics would’ve been nice – even if this is classified as metal (the dynamic range meter gave a level of 6 as explanation)

Definitely recommended – and rock enough to also appeal to those who are not into full on metal.

My radio show got a special mention in a Murky Red review…

My radio show Angelo’s Rock Orphanage got a special mention in a Murky Red review by Memowakeman on ProgArchives.com:

“I first knew about Murky Red thanks to Colin Tench, a wonderful man who I’ve been in contact with for some time, who talked me about this Belgian band and project in which he is also involved. Later, listening to Angelo’s (our PA’s Angelo) radio show I listened for the first time to a Murky Red’s song, and later in the chat, I met Stef and Yolanda flaming, both musicians who are part of this band and who kindly shared to me their music. Now with this brief introduction, I would like to dedicate the review to these four great people.” ~ Memowakeman (Guillermo), Progarchives Special Collaborator

Galahad – Sleepers

The English quintet Galahad was founded in the mid 80’s, and as such celebrates it’s 30th anniversary in 2015, while at the same time commemorating 20th birthday of their album Sleepers. A remaster of this album, which is considered an underrated gem amongst neo prog fans, was released in 2015 for this purpose.sleepers

On the album, Galahad certainly shares sound elements with the likes of Marillion and IQ. The fact that singer Stuart Nicholson manages to sound like Fish and Peter Nicholls at times, may have something to do with that – something that has been brought up many times. It certainly isn’t a bad thing, let that be clear.

The remastered release of Sleepers has great sound, on all the original tracks as well as the two additional bonus tracks. A sound that sometimes oddly reminds me, but I found out I’m not the only one, of the Pet Shop Boys, not exactly a progressive rock influence. It’s not bad, but it might not be what one might expect from a band in this musical domain. Just listen to The Dentist (with funny lyrics about what happens at a dentist visit) to get the idea of how synth pop mixes with rock. 

On other tracks, like Sleepers and Exorcising Demons, the music is more comparible to the likes of Genesis and Marillion – influences that are nowadays also still very much present in the works of Tiger Moth TalesExorcising Demons reminds me of Marillion’s The Web in terms of atmosphere. The song Amaranth deserves mention as well – it brings rock with a beat, and has a very bombastic keyboard section in the instrumental mid section.

Looking at the complete picture, I like this album for what it is. It is a milestone in the career of Galahad and might have deserved more attention when first released, and certainly over time. At the same time, it’s not one that I would play every day – it may not be a blind buy to everyone.

David Bowie – Blackstar

When I ordered David Bowie’s Blackstar at the end of 2015, I was excited – looking forward to reviewing the album, as my first review of 2016. I was never a big fan of Bowie, until just over a year ago, and it was magical to discover his first 14 albums while getting the announcements of a new album that was ‘going to be different than anything he’d done before’. The video for the title track, and the audio track for Lazarus, which only got video added the day before the album was released, certainly showed that Bowie was up to something very new. Electronic music, with a jazzy, avant garde feel to it, and weird images of a blind folded Bowie in the video – indeed things he had never done before.

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After getting to hear his 80s work, which I didn’t like at all at the time, and discovering his 60s and 70s releases 30 years later, I can only confirm the obvious: Bowie was a chameleon, and very eclectic artist. Writing in past tense here, only a week after the release of Blackstar gives me the shivers. I’ve never been witness to something as unexpected as Bowie’s death, two days after releasing this magical album. Magical, and obviously created by a man who was aware of what was going to happen, but not ready to stop exploiting his own brilliant creativity.

With a lot of things in the world going bad, a lot of discussion was happening about the meaning of Blackstar, when the video was first released. Was it about IS, or about aliens, or something else? Either way, it is dark, electronic track, opening with haunting, twisted vocals in the first part, and a sound that is almost threatening. The switch to a more ‘classical’ Bowie vocal half way for a few minutes is just fitting, as well as the bit of saxophone at the end. Title track, and opening track to a short musical journey.

‘Tis A Pity She Was a Whore, also released as a single earlier is more upbeat, and has the saxophone sound in it from the beginning. With a title like this, it’s pretty clear that despite his distinguished looks off late, Bowie was never part of the politically correct establishment – always a rebel. This track is good old Bowie on moderne electronic jazz with a beat, and with his typical knack for lyrics. The almost out of tune sax work is ear catching once again.

On par in terms of darkness and thread with Blackstar, is Lazarus. A slow track that opens with sax, keys and a characteristic bass line. As became clear in the past week, this track was a farewell message from David Bowie to his listeners. Slow, musical and with Bowie’s emotional vocals, it gets the message across. His life, his ambitions, his goodby – packed again in typical Bowie lyrical style:

“This way or no way
You know, I’ll be free
Just like that bluebird
Now ain’t that just like me”

The dark, haunting beat with occasional riffs at the end, with no vocals, makes the listener feel the gap of Bowie being gone.

The opening riff of Sue (Or in a Season of Crime) which follows is a little more rocky, but is soon followed again by the electronic jazz sounds of Donny McLaslin’s quartet, a band selected and hired by Bowie for this album. Slow and dark, with an almost danceable pulse, the music carries Bowie’s vocal. Singing about a Sue, who has disappeared – without ever getting it clear whether she died or went to another man.

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After the closing notes of Sue, Bowie comes in singing something that sounds like a hysterical children’s rhyme at first, as a slow beat kicks in. This is Girl Loves Me, which has an almost industrial feel to the music, also due to the vocal effects. After January 10th, the repeating closing line ‘Where the fuck did Monday go’ is burned in my brain.

Dollar Days is a song that could’ve fit on one of his 70s albums, it has a great feel to it and features a wonderful saxophone solo by Donny McCaslin. Lyrically, it covers everything gone wrong in the world, if one is prepared to ‘listen through the lines’.

The follower I Can’t Give Everything Away is possibly another hint at what was going to happen, Bowie singing about something being wrong and not being able to say more. Initially, the music very brielfy hints Tonight, due to the beat, but the saxophone and guitar change it back to fit with the style of the rest of the album. A mesmerising, hypnotic track to close a great album.

David Bowie was a very special artist. He changed styles more often than some people change underwear you could say, and most of it worked. Some artists go on and burn out, a lot go on for too long. Bowie never stopped, just started taking his time, and following time. This time, he managed to show how music can still progress, by mixing electronics, jazz, hip-hop and a hint of his own 70s work. If an artist has to go out on a  high, delivering a master piece, David Bowie has shown how to do it here. May he rest in peace and be with us forever.

Dedicated to the memory of David Bowie, a great artist. With a special thank you to my good friend Sonia Mota, possibly his biggest fan ever, for introducing me to his early works, 30 years late.

2015 in review – and not my top 10…

Yes! Here it is, not my top 10! I have been thinking about creating one, and even posted something on Facebook earlier this year that resembled a preliminar top 5. And now I decided that I’m not going to do it. I will give an overview, but there will be no ranking.

A moment of surprise with Daniel Gildenlöw...

A moment of surprise with Daniel Gildenlöw at the Night of the Prog festival…

The reason for that is very simple. I have not been able to listen to everything that was released in 2015.  Eveneven if I had, my personal tastes and mood of the day would have led to a different top 10 depending on when I posted it. So, instead, I’ll settle for an overview of albums that I really enjoyed, and a list of albums that I enjoyed less, with a short motivation.

The order? Random.

The motivation? Totally subjective.

The intention? Get the word out on the music.

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3Degree – Ones & Zeros Vol. 1

So, let’s start with the album that I reviewed most recently, 3Degree’s Ones & Zeros, Vol. 1. This is an album that I’ve been enjoying for a couple of months, after getting a review copy from founder Robert Pashman. A concept album in the traditional sense, telling about a world where a company called Valhalla Biotech has taken control over people’s health, by having them buy-in to technological life extensions on subscription basis. A dark theme, supported by layered guitar and keyboard melodies, thundering bass and intricate mulit-vocal arrangements. With symphonic rock, folk and occasional hard rock influences, a great album, that keeps the listener focused, as the downside of Valhalla’s offering becomes clear. ‘We regret to inform you, your father has been… deleted’. I’ve known the band since 2008, and this is easily their best album so far.

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Franck Carducci – Torn Apart

Then, the first 2015 release that I reviewed, Franck Carducci – Torn Apart. Franck released his first album Oddity in 2011, encouraged by his idol Steve Hackett. The album got him a name as a Genesis fan, and contained music in that vein, but more modern. On 2015’s Torn Apart, surrounded by a real, fixed band line up, he departs from somewhat from that, focusing more on guitar oriented rock, with still a strong progressive edge to it. The album rocks, but is far from a 13-in-a-dozen rock album, and it still contains hints of other progressive and classic rock acts. In my review I referred to BootcutGenesis and Deep Purple for example. My favourite tracks on the album are the combination of the sweet, beautifully sung Girlfriend for a Day and the heavy rock track Mr. Hyde and Dr. Jekyll. Interviewing Franck was a nice bonus later this year.

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Corvus Stone Unscrewed

The album that got me actively into reviewing music again, and eventually in playing it on internet radio as well, was Corvus Stone II, released in september 2014.  The band also released an album in 2015, that has spent quite a bit of time in my ears, entitled Corvus Stone Unscrewed. This album was released in digital download form only, and provided for free to all buyers of the first two albums of the band. On it, we find remixes of some tracks from Corvus Stone, the debut album and a series of new tracks, including the little gems Brand New Day (a melodic rock piece with a thumbing choo-choo train guitar rhythm and great melodies), and Landfill, a jazz rock piece in Corvus Stone style. Also worth mentioning is Early Morning Calls, a new version of the instrumental Early Morning Call with vocals by Sean Filkins and Phil Naro. Corvus  Stone do things their own way – with melodic guitars, surprising twists and without any regard for sticking to a single style. The remixes also show how much one man, Colin Tench, can learn about producing and mixing in a few years.

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Gekko Projekt – Reya of Titan

In the world where science fiction and music come together, I did not only find 3Degree this year, but also the wonderful Gekko Projekt, who released the album Reya of Titan. This album tells the story of Reya, an asteroid miner, who after an accident ends up stuck on Saturn’s moon Titan, for 26 years (and the rest of her life afteward). This story is accompanied by music that has roots in both symphonic rock and strong influences from jazz rock, with the experienced Peter Matuchniak on guitar, Vance Gloster on keyboard, Rick Meadows on bass and Alan Smith  on drums. For this album they took on board female vocalist JoJo Razor – with great results. The guitar is jazzy at times, Genesis like at others, while the keyboards mix the sounds of the 70s with everything that came after. All supported by  very solid drumming and often Rush like bass.  JoJo, and sometimes one of the other band members lay out the story on top of that. My favourite tracks on this one are the jazzy Frienda and This is Now Our Home.

Two albums that I like a lot because they are completely different from other releases (as well as from each other), and rooted in the artist’s own past are Amadeus Awad – Death is Just a Feeling and Transport Aerian – Dark Blue.

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Amadeus Awad – Death is Just a Feeling

Amadeus Awad has been through a lot in his still short life. He’s seen relatives die, relationships end and at some point attempted to end his own life as well. Looking at how he approaches his works a hyperactive musician nowadays, he seems to have found the way out of misery. Death is Just a Feeling is the story of his suicide attempt, packed in symphonic and metal influenced music. The album is fairly short, but lays down the right atmosphere to tell about all the things the artist has gone through – translated into guitar riffs, and massive leads, but also subdued acoustic pieces. On vocals, he made use of the services of the angelic Anneke van Giersbergen,  Ayreon mastermind Arjen Lucassen and his good friend Elia Monsef. Narratives in the low, mesmerizing voice of Dan Harper complete the picture. A gloomy album, but beautifully executed heavy progressive rock. As said, I don’t do a top 10, but this one would have been very close to first place, if not on it.

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Transport Aerian – Dark Blue

A man that also has gone through a lot, but in different ways, is Transport Aerian’Hamlet. Moved from a former Soviet country to Belgium, he is a scientist, but also a musician. One who is very much looking for different sounds, and with a dislike for anything that is ‘only for the money’. On his album Dark Blue, he cooperates with German vocalist Rachel Bauer. Here, I’m just going to quote from my review earlier this year, as it best sums up the music. “This album for sure is what the title suggest, dark, but not pitch black (although Jim Morrison’s work with The Doors is almost white compared to this). The music is haunting and minimalistic (Sand Horizon), experimental at times (Black), leaning towards industrial in places (Full Body Acces), while building almost psychedelic soundscapes in others (Epitaph) – and then there is something close to hard rock or metal as well (Crossbreed).” Like other albums in this list, this is also a concept album, “a one-piece musical diary that tells a surreal love story, which is being recited throughout the album’s temporal and spatial space from the face of two main characters” – in Hamlet’s own words.

2CD Wallet with Spine.pdf

Tiger Moth Tales – Story Tellers Part One

To avoid going on forever, I’ll just add one more detailed description here. Peter Jones, under the moniker Tiger Moth Tales surprised us in 2014 with Cocoon, a modern day homage to the progressive rock giants of the seventies, with Peter himself on all instruments, and with a dash of brilliant humor added to the music and lyrics. He repeated that in 2015, with Story Tellers Part I, which is worth mentioning here not only because it is a continuation of the concept of Cocoon, but also because it was conceived in only 28 days – in February of this year. Peter wanted to participate in a contest where you are allowed only to spent one month on an album, but his record company found the result so good that they decided not to participate, but release it as an album just before summer. Once again, a hint of 70s, a lot of Peter Jones typical musical and lyrical humor and a joy to listen to. If you need a single track to sample what I mean, listen to the 6 minute A Kid’s Tale, which tells a kids tale indeed, in a humoristic way, and ends with a wonderful instrumental. Peter Jones saw his breakthrough in many areas this year, and will hopefully around much longer (we need Part Two!!).

Now there are a lot of other albums that I listend to and really enjoyed, but I can’t go into details on all of them. Here’s a list of albums that are definitely worth a listen:

  • Murky Red – No Pocus without Hocus A massive and progressive leap forward from their debut Time Doesn’t MatterDeep Purple meets Pink Floyd and The Doors

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    Murky Red No Pocus without Hocus

  • Kinetic Element – Travelog A trip back to the giants of the seventies, with great keyboard and guitar work. Go retro, without sounding dated
  • Drifting Sun – Trip the Light Fantastic Not the most renewing, yet also not retro, a must listen if you like 70s rock in a modern jacket
  • Anuryzm – All is not for All Progressive Metal form the United Arab Emirates. Very well executed, but I’m not metal head enough personally to play it often
  • Echolyn – I heard you listening Symphonic rock, meets folk rock, meets great musicians. A great album, but not their best ever.
  • hfmc

    Hasse Froberg & Musical Companion – HFMC

    Hasse Fröberg & Musical Companion – HFMC The former Flower King singer set up his own band. Recommended to Flower Kings fans for sure.

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    The Tangent – A Spark in the Aether

    The Tangent – Spark in the Aether Andy Tillison is still around, despite having a heart attack earlier this year. Great music, just not as good as Not As Good As the Book

  • Unreal City – Il paese del tramonte Bombastic, Italian, with great keyboard, guitar and mellotron work, but the vocals are an acquired taste among rock fans
  • Sylvium – Waiting for the Noise Good music, and well executed live. I was at the CD presentation in March. Just a little too much Porcupine Tree, need to get their own identity
  • Light Damage – Light Damage A symphonic band rooted in 70s and 80s prog, looking for a more modern sound. Good, but not there yet, although good enough to tour with Franck Carducci
  • And many more… sorry if I haven’t listed you all.
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Steven Wilson – Hand.Cannot.Erase

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Lonely Robot

But wait… no Steven Wilson? No Lonely Robot? No Gong? No Arena? Indeed. None of those are listed. For three reasons. First of, I focussed mainly on the so called ‘little ones in the shadows’, as was always the intention of this blog. Not the big bands. Second, because I simply have not heard everything, although I did hear the four I mentioned. And third, and most important, because I was not very much impressed by the work of the so called ‘big ones’. Steven Wilson is a brilliant producer, and a great musician, as he has proven many times in the past. However, although the music is well executed and the production is great, I was simply completely unimpressed by Hand.Cannot.Erase. I heard almost nothing that wasn’t done before, which is a disappointment when coming from the man who accuses others of not being progressive enough (no matter how right he may be as far as these others are concerned). The same holds for the Lonely Robot album, an effort by Arena’s John Mitchell. Again, well executed, but nothing really new – a lot of *Frost and It Bites. What also didn’t help in this specific case was the production. The vinyl sounded ok, although I got somewhat annoyed by the synths, on the CD the dynamics were completely gone. It simply didn’t work for me, and I hardly played it after the first three listens.

I could go into detail on more examples, but I won’t, except that I have to mention that I have both Pink Floyd’s – The Endless River and David Gilmour’s Rattle That Rock and both give me the feeling that sometimes we should be careful to not stretch things too long.

I’m looking forward to 2016 already, because I met a lot of new people, in real life and online, and all related to the great music this blog is about. Let’s see if we have another year of great music ahead, I’d love to be unable to create a top 10 again next year. Provided it is for the same reason of course – too much good stuff to choose from.

3RDegree – Ones & Zeros: Vol. 1

I missed the live gig of 3RDegree at ‘t Blok in The Netherlands earlier this year, unfortunately. Would have loved to finally meet Robert James Pashman, who contacted me at ProgArchives in March 2008, asking if his band qualified for inclusion in the site. At the time, the band just released Narrow-Caster, their third album, and the first one since 1995 at the time. Since then, they released two more – The Long Division, which I missed at the time (2012) and this years Ones & Zeros: Vol. Iwhich is the subject of this review. 

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First thing I noticed when listening to this album, and refreshing my memories of the initial contact with Robert, is that the common musical interests we had at the time (Rush and Marillion for example) are not the main influence in their music. Instead, many elements from progressive rock since the early 70s till today can be heard on this album, in an original mix defined by 3RDegree. I’ll leave it up to the listener to make up his mind about what comes from where. I myself spotted hints of Gabriel era Genesis (wonderful keyboard work on Circuit Court and More Life), as well as bits of Rush (the bass is not at all a copy of Geddy, but has the same impact on the music), vocal arrangements akin to those of Echolyn (and and one track (Life) that has a hint of 70s singer/songwriter material, not unlike the older works of one David Bowie.

The album, by means of advertisements in between the songs, and the very appealing voice of George Dobbs,  tells the story of Valhalla Biotech, a company that promises people the way to a longer life by means of technology – the way to ‘a longer you, a better you‘, in the not too distant future. People get biometric clothing, digital glasses, possibly even implants – and if they can’t pay their regular fees, these things will be disabled for a certain amount of time (presumably until payment is made). Throughout the album, the flaws of this system, and real failure leading to death of people become apparent. With the digital, bio and gen technology developments of recent years, and the money hunger of modern multi nationals in mind, not a very far fetched scenario. A scenario that 3RDegree manages to capture in lyrics as well as music. The gloom of this future is expressed in the music, that is sometimes uplifting (reflecting Valhalla’s commercial voice), to gloomy (The Best and Brightest, about the rat race between countries and companies), and culminating in the right out frightening We Regret to Inform You, which’ ever darker and mostly instrumental sections are interleaved by ever more worrying computer voice messages about the status of someone’s father in treatment. The closing message leaves the listener with goose bumps: ‘We regret to inform you, your father has been.. deleted’.

In summary – I love the (scary) story line, the bass and drums, the keyboards (with three keyboard players on board they’d better be good), the guitar leads and the vocal arrangements. Not much to dislike there, unless you are not into (progressive) rock at all, or if you don’t like occasional folk like acoustic guitar and vocal arrangements. Highly recommended.

The Prog Files and Angelo’s Rock Orphanage charity shows (part 2)

In two days, it’s December 23rd, and time for the second charity show I run this year on ISCK Rock Radio.

In this second episode, amongst the regular tracks, we’ll be playing music from the following list of charity related publications. Hope to see you all there!!

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Various Artists – Spirit of December Vol. 05
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Whole album is sold for Music for Relief, who spent their donations on three programs currently: Nepal Earthquake, Ebola Prevention and Mangroves and Ocean Protection.

Info: http://mrrmusic.com/music-wanted-for-2015-holiday-charity-release/
Sales: http://thereishoperecords.com/album/spirit-of-december-vol-5
Charity: http://musicforrelief.org

Tiger Moth Tales – Wassail Song

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Proceeds of The Wassail Song and Selling England for a Pound go the UK Guide Dogs organisation, which trains guide dogs and won’t stop until every blind adult and child in the UK has the possibility to use a guide dog.

 

Info: http://www.tigermothtales.com

Sales:The Wassail Song / Pete Jones Plays Genesis – Selling England For A Pound

Charity: http://www.guidedogs.co.uk

 

Kristoffer Gildenlow – Pass the Torch

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All proceeds go the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, which uses it to protect and raise orphaned baby elephants.

 

Info: http://www.hulshout.nl/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/Press-Release-BES-EN.pdf

Sales: iTunes, or via the links in the info above

Charity: http://www.sheldrickwildlifetrust.org

 

Times Up – Meat to the Bone

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The band supports St Davids Hospice in Newport, Gwent, South Wales….It deals with  terminal illness, both in their hospital and through a home visit scheme

 

Info: http://www.timesup.co.uk 

Sales: C.D. ORDER LINE*

Charity: stdavidshospicecare.org

 

Steve Hacket et.al. – Spectral Mornings 2015

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Proceeds go the UK Parkinson organisation, supporting research and relief for this disease.

 

Info:  http://shop.cherryred.co.uk/shopexd.asp?id=5026 

Sales: http://shop.cherryred.co.uk/shopexd.asp?id=5026 

Charity:Parkinson’s UK – Homepage

 

 

Dave Brons – Based on a True Story
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Dave Brons, inspired by events in Paris and other things happening in the world decided to give all proceeds of his t-shirts and album until end of this year to charities supported by Giving What We Can.

Info: http://davebrons.com/change-your-world-and-change-theirs-as-well/
Sales: http://davebrons.com/merch/
Charity: https://www.givingwhatwecan.org/

How Major Tom dealt with copyright floating around his tin can

Copyright on music is an issue, as we all know. Of course, in the first place, copyright was invented to protect the original author of a work, e.g. a writer, a painter or a musician. Without that, the original author would probably loose a significant potential income. Over time, this has proven not to work exactly as intended, with copyrights being transferred to record companies and book publishers at virtually no cost to them. Just think of the The Beatles‘ rights being owned by first ATV, then Michael Jackson and now Jackson’s heirs. The ‘virtually nothing’ part is probably not exactly right in Jackson’s case, but it is in ATV’s. Just imagine Paul McCartney having to pay royalties to the Jackson family every time he wants to perform a track by The Beatles…

However, I didn’t start this post to debate whether or not this way of buying and selling copyrights is good or bad. In the end, writing and composing has a business component to it, and it’s up to the author or composer to protect his own rights or give up on them.

What really triggered me into writing this post was a beautiful Youtube video by Canadian astronaut Chris Hatfield. He was in space in 2013, as part of the ISS crew, and recorded his own version of David Bowies Space Oddity. Smart as he is, he didn’t just do this impulsively while in space – he actually prepared it very well. He worked with lawyers and with David Bowies publishers to get permission for not only recording the video (which has nothing to do with copyright), but also to have it published to the general public.

That wasn’t only smart, but also very necessary, given that laws in space aren’t exactly simple. The ISS, the International Space Station, is owned by NASA and the European, Russian, Japanese and Canadian space agencies. Different modules of the station are owned by these organisations, and in each of these, the laws of the owning country (or European law in case of the European part) apply. That was originally done to protect the Intellectual Property rights of the participating countries (a form of copyright (!) on the works of scientists). On top of that, broadcasting the video (via Youtube) in different countries makes the video subject to copyright and publication laws in the countries where it can be viewed. That, and the way different copyright owners look onto this subject, is the reason Youtube has been pulling videos off the net over the past couple of years – or subjected them to being accompanied by advertisements to pay for the copyright fees.

So, Hatfield did a good job preparing this, and he obtained the rights to publish the video on Youtube for one year and consciously removed it himself when that year was over. Meanwhile, the video had gotten over 20 million views, which led Hatfield and his son to pursue prolongation of the video. Successfully, so that 6 months later, just over a year ago, the video reappeared on Youtube for us all to enjoy another two years. A video David Bowie himself described as “possibly the most poignant version of the song ever created.” Major Tom went to space, but his name was Chris, and he came back with an awesome video that should stay around for much longer than three years.

 

 

The Prog Files and Angelo’s Rock Orphanage Charity radio shows

On Wednesday December 16 and 23, The Prog Files / Angelo’s Rock Orphanage on ISKC Rock and Web Radio will give attention to a number of artists who are donating proceeds of music and merchandise to charity.
Their music will be played on the show, next to the regular programming, with a short announcement explaining where the proceeds of the songs go.

Below are the charities for the show on December 16th.

water

Various Artists – Spirit of December Vol. 05

Whole album is sold for Music for Relief, who spent their donations on three programs currently: Nepal Earthquake, Ebola Prevention and Mangroves and Ocean Protection.

Info: http://mrrmusic.com/music-wanted-for-2015-holiday-charity-release/
Sales: http://thereishoperecords.com/album/spirit-of-december-vol-5
Charity: http://musicforrelief.org

Armonite – By the Waters of Bablylon

Single sold for charity. Armonite and Children’s Hospital Trust in Cape Town coooperate in this. Proceeds go to the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s hospital.

Info: http://www.armonite.com/By%20the%20Waters%20of%20Babylon.html
Sales: http://www.armonite.com/By%20the%20Waters%20of%20Babylon.html
Charity: https://www.westerncape.gov.za/your_gov/149

Yak – Quest for the Stones

Whole album sold for charity, all proceeds to the Towerhill Stables Animal Sanctuary, where ‘unwanted’ pets and animals find a new home.

Info: http://www.yaksongs.com
Sales: http://www.yaksongs.com
Charity: http://www.towerhillstables.com/

Dave Brons – Based on a True Story

Dave Brons, inspired by events in Paris and other things happening in the world decided to give all proceeds of his t-shirts and album until end of this year to charities supported by Giving What We Can.

Info: http://davebrons.com/change-your-world-and-change-theirs-as-well/
Sales: http://davebrons.com/merch/
Charity: https://www.givingwhatwecan.org/

Il Ballo Delle Castagne – Live Studio

The Austrian (and according to some Italian) band Il Ballo Delle Castagne is the brain child of singer Vinz Aquarian and guitars/keyboard player Marco Gargegnani. They founded the band in 2007 and released four studio albums since then. The album under review here, Live Studio, is the fifth, and was recorded live (in band setting) in the Nadir studio in Genua, Italy. 

ilballo

Il Ballo Delle Cassagne is considered part of the Rock Progressivo Italiano (RPI) movement within progressive rock, but is more fittingly described as Dark Italian Prog. Unlike most RPI bands, they don’t copy the sound of the progressive rock acts that Italy brougth forth in the 1970s (PFM, Banco del Mutuo Soccorso, Le Orme, Museo Rosenbach), but rather create their own mix of styles. As a result, this album contains a mix of Italian prog, krautrock, space rock and even a little bit of jazz influences, creating a foundation for the dark, mysterious vocals of Vinz Aquarias and guest vocalist Marina Larcher. Her chants add a druidic feel to some of the tracks, lie Tema di Gilgamesh and Il Viaggio.

Musically, the album is varied, with a solid rhythm section (Diego Ranchero does seem to have some jazz background in his playing, just listen to Il Trema), space rock like guitars and enough from for some good old fashioned organ playing.

The album, which is released as a limited edition CD (108 hand numbered copies and a few also hand marked promo copies) contains three covers of the band’s own idols. The most interesting one for me was their rendition of Appearance of the Voice by Eloy. The track’s lyrics were replaced by Italian lyrics, and Vinz really shines on this one. Next to this, the covers are Areknames by Italian Franco Battioto and Fire in the Sky, by Ya Ho Wa 13. Both bands I don’t know, but the way Il Ballo Delle Cassagne  plays their works makes that they are now added to my list of acts to check out further, together with Il Ballo themselves.

The darkness of the bands sound may not be something one wants to hear on a daily basis, but at the right time and in the right place this is certainly worth listening – and listening attentively as well. Recommended!