Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Special Providence

Welcome to The Closet Concert Arena fellow progheads; as usual the door is always open!  After staying home to celebrate birthday #242 for the homeland last week, I thought it a good time to log some frequent flyer miles.  This week the search for all things prog brought me to Hungary, a country I need to visit more often based on the music I have been listening to these past seven days.  The Concert Closet was filled to capacity with the sounds of Special Providence, a four man instrumental band covering a lot of acreage in the prog garden..so off we go...


Special Providence refers to themselves as "Progjazzrockmetalturbochill" and one of the EU's best known instrumental quartets.  With five albums spanning more than a decade, Special Providence is one of those bands that has manged to fly low "under the radar" here in the US.  However;  this is the search for all things prog, I live for the hunt, and my radar screen has been blipping for a while...let's get right to it...

First serving on the platter is "Irrelevant Connotations" from their October 2017 release "Will."  The whole progjazzrockmetalturbochill mystery is solved with this song...top notes are a hodgepodge of Pat Metheny, Herbie Hancock, Dream Theater, Al DiMeola, and Camel--just to name a few.  If it is possible to be absolutely unique in a real stand-alone way, Special Providence found it by taking all their favorite bands and placing them in a Waring blender.  The pallet is completely splotched with colors running down, over, through, and across each other.  Meanwhile somebody pushed all the buttons on the mood elevator and hopped out to watch...

Next up is "Kiss From a Glacier," found on the band's 2015 release "Essence of Change."  As the curtain is drawn back you feel as though Robert Fripp has commandeered the controls...some quick Frippertronics followed up with a jolt of Frank Zappa during his "Hot Rats" days.  Special Providence has taken extreme liberties in the prog garden by mixing, blending, and creating almost at will.  The canvas has been pelted bullet-like with paint balls that leave a rainbow colored bruise...

Liner Notes...calling Budapest, Hungary home, Special Providence is comprised of Zsolt Kaltenecker on keyboards, Marton Kertesz on guitar, Attila Fehervari on bass, and Adam Marko on drums.  Noticeably absent is a lead (or backing) vocalist; Special Providence makes prog magic sans voice.  The band released their first of five albums in 2007 and have since opened for Haken, Spock's Beard, Dream Theater, Steve Hackett, and Beardfish.  While that's one way to get your name out there--it don't mean nothing without talent to back it up, and these guys back it up with talent to spare...

Special Providence has played jazz fests and prog fests all around the globe, and you can find out more about what makes them unique and purchase any or all of their albums at Special Providence and SP bandcamp.  You can also follow the band on Facebook
SP Facebook and Twitter @SpecialProvid.

Final spin this week is a song called "End of Childhood" from the band's 2007 debut "Space Cafe."  Tension wrapped in jazz piano greets the listeners as laser first hits disc, and the mood gently settles into Eddie Jobson territory.  Special Providence are wonderful storytellers--which truly is an art when done without words. They squeeze real emotions from every note their instruments emit...think Flim & The BB's with a bit of an edge--and a dark side...

I chose "Distant Knowledge" from the "Will" album as your carbo load this week...lots of energy on this cut, and a canvas splayed with a sampling of what the band dabbles in.  A melange of a blend of a multi-genre walk through the prog garden you might say...

Zsolt went a little off the rails with his keyboards and the rest of the band followed him down the rabbit hole.  Special Providence is the date that shows up in a suit and tie only to take you to a mosh pit--so you are wise to be prepared for anything and everything.  Adam does raise the ante a bit with his drum work, and by the time you reach the end your mind is still wrapping itself around all that just happened.  Enjoy the ride and just wait for it...over and over...   
               
                   

Once again fellow progheads we have timed out...run the course...finished the week.  The 2018 prog garden is producing a bumper crop at a record pace; Special Providence is the result of the nurturing the garden provides.  The search for all things prog continues to dig deep for treasures like this...one of the joys of the journey.

Special Providence waltzes the prog garden the way honey badgers roam open terrain, going anywhere and everywhere.  Of course, Special Providence won't disembowel you--but they will send your mind into progjazzrockmetalturbochill euphoria...

So the journey continues...until next time...

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

IO Earth

If you're new to the Closet Concert Arena, welcome!  If you're a returning proghead, thanks for coming back!  Either way I hope the visit this week entices you to make the Concert Closet a regular stop on your prog music journey...

Traveling back to the UK this time around; the prog garden has some wild varietals springing up and I am not one to turn away from a new adventure.  The search for all things prog implores me to delve into the sounds of heretofore unknown or low under-the-radar bands...and as luck would have it, this week's adventure paints quite the mental mural.  Even better, IO Earth is female fronted and comes complete with horns and a theremin...the lure is just too great!


IO Earth refers to themselves as a "...symphonic, contemporary, progressive rock band...truly genre defying..."  To me, that's a powerful statement and one that sets the bar fairly high--and garners my full attention.  Time to prepare the Concert Closet for a full set and find out what all the fuss is about...

I decided that to do IO Earth justice and give you my loyal followers a true glimpse behind the curtain, I would need to start at the beginning and hop through the band's catalog the way they hop through the prog garden; carefully, deliberately, and with skilled precision.  

The band's journey started with their 2009 eponymous debut; from that album "Storyteller" seems the logical starting point.  The music opens as if you're crossing the space/time continuum.  As you recognize that eerie sci-fi mind warp feeling tossing your mind around inside your head, you settle into a more familiar atmosphere and let guitars and keyboards wash over you like summer moonlight dancing across a rippling lake.                                                                                                                                           Perusing the IO Earth resume I discover an absolute beauty.  The title cut from the band's 2012 release, "Moments," immediately takes me to a Paul Winter Consort show...dim the lights, close your eyes, and prepare to be swept through the prog garden as gracefully as an eagle gliding across the horizon.  As the music picks up there is a mystical vibe floating across the entire piece.  The top notes range from Transatlantic to Rhavi Shankar to Al DiMeola...quite the invigorating lap around the prog garden!  The vocals are captivating as they caress your auditory sensors...

Liner Notes...Hailing from Birmingham UK, the current line-up for IO Earth includes Rosanna Lefevre on lead and backing vocals, Adam Gough on acoustic and electric guitar, keyboards, theremin, lead and backing vocals, and programming, Dave Cureton on lead, rhythm, and acoustic guitar, keyboards, lead and backing vocals, and programming, Jez King on violin and rhythm guitar, Christian Nokes on bass guitar and double bass, Luke Shingler on tenor and soprano saxophone, flute, and EWI, and Christina Jerromes on drums and percussion.  To be a member of this band one must be a multi-instrumentalist apparently--or one helluva singer...

The music of IO Earth has evolved much the way the band has; a gradual maturation with naturally occurring changes, additions, and a whole lot of talent.  The deeper I plunge myself into their music, the greater the feeling I have that IO Earth is more like a family than a band; they complement each other to a degree that the music flows seamlessly.  Discover for yourself what IO Earth is all about at IO Earth where you can purchase their entire music catalog.  Of course there is also a Facebook page and Twitter, IO Earth Facebook and @IOEarth to learn more about IO Earth and all the goings on.  

Listening to the band's third album "New World" released in 2015, I find "New World Suite;" yet another stunningly beautiful tapestry.  The imagery IO Earth projects with their music is nothing short of awe inspiring...the pallet drips with raw emotion as much as it reflects a captivating mural with colors pushing the boundaries of the spectrum.  I pick up aromatics of Big Big Train, Jean-Luc Ponty, and Jean-Michel Jarre.  As the song reaches its climax, let yourself be carried away by that theremin....oh yeah...

Continuing the waltz across the prog garden with IO Earth, their February 2018 release is called "Solitude" from which I chose the cut "Hold On" for your weekly eargasm.  The album is a concept dealing with depression and mental illness...hence the dark clouds hovering overhead.  However; IO Earth  is nothing if not optimistic and inspiring--the mood may be dark and ominous, but the pallet has definite streaks of light and shards of brightness; hope perhaps? 

                   

And with that we reach the end of this week's journey.  IO Earth has put together an impressive catalog on their (relatively) short journey through the prog garden.  Their ability to take personnel changes in stride--in relation to the band's continued trajectory--is a testament to both their commitment to the music and each other.  Family is the one sanctuary where rules tend to not exist, and the cohesive outer layer sometimes belies the stress within.  Yet with IO Earth there seems to be no "smoke and mirrors" just a strong desire to bring the best out of each other and to the listener.  That is the point, isn't it?

The search for all things prog has discovered some incredible artists, music, bands, and even prog specific record labels.  Every journey is an exploration unto itself, leading to a discovery that expands the boundaries of the prog garden.  IO Earth is one more jewel in the crown, and so the search continues...until next time...

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

ALIGHT - "Spiral of Silence"

Good evening fellow progheads and welcome to the Closet Concert Arena!  This week's installment finds the search for all things prog in one of my favorite prog places doing one of my favorite prog
things--listening to great prog music!  Italy is the setting on the GPS; Bolzano to be more precise as the Closet Concert Arena settles in for something a bit on the darker side...welcome to the gothic metal sounds of Alight and their new album, "Spiral of Silence," released April 27th on El Puerto Records.


Alight is described by drummer/founding member Mirko Montresor as "...melodic, gothic/black metal...electro and industrial prog metal...without stylistic boundaries..."  Gothic metal is pretty much new prog garden acreage for me; a female fronted prog band with lavish Italian heritage was the siren that lured me in.  The prog garden needs a larger female presence and this seemed like the opportune time to travel to Italy, so to the gothic metal section we go...

Serving up a large portion of "Absence of Essence" gets the party into full swing immediately. You  feel the guitars waiting to break out as keyboards hold the lid closed a bit--just a bit--and when the floodgates open the guitars pour forth across a layer of drums, pulling up just enough for vocals that have the stamina of Bent Knee's Courtney Swain.  The elegant, over-the-top trademark of Italian prog drips from this piece like warm chocolate running from a lava cake...so decadent...

With the taste of rich luxuriance that is gothic metal, I turn my attention to another hearty serving, "Walk to the Line."  Again guitars beat at the door as they accompany vocals that roll across the top with a velvet-like richness oddly reminiscent of Sonja Kristina of Curved Air.  With top notes of Delain and a whiff of Epica wafting through the headphones,  Alight delivers a multi-layered performance on this cut.

Catia Borgogno has the ability to simultaneously soothe and lay you to waste with her vocal range; her voice echoes down my auditory canals and reverberates across my spine.  Of course the drums are the foundation to another solid and stellar performance while keyboards dart throughout the entire arrangement.

Liner Notes...The current line-up for Alight is Catia Borgogno on vocals, Roberto Sieff on guitar, Monica Perulli on bass, and the aforementioned Mirko Montresor on drums.  Guest musicians on the album include Andrea Ferro and Giovanni Lanfranchi.  Alight released their debut "Don't Fear the Revenge" in 2009 and went through the obligatory line-up changes, growing pains, and self-discovery.  Refusing to adhere to musical or stylistic limitations, Mirko took Alight on a journey through the prog garden to find their niche...and goth metal seemed to be a perfect fit.

Learn more about Alight at Alight where you can purchase both albums in the band's "small for now" catalog.  You can also follow the band on Facebook Alight FB and Twitter @alightband.

The morsel posted below is the first single released from the new album, "The Portal."  Alight has mastered the fine art of anticipation; just as the song opens you are salivating for the head blows that are sure to come.  But the real thrill is while they do come through, they don't leave you stunned and dizzy.  Catia's vocals rain down like superbowl confetti as the guitars dance the perimeter and drums provide solid footing more than adequate to support the entire display.  Alight may dance macabre, but they still manage to fill the canvas with amazing colorscapes.

                     

Thus another stroll through the prog garden reaches the exit gate.  Alight has proven to be a worthy entry in the dark/goth/metal section...perhaps I will spend more time away from direct sunlight.  Nine years between album releases is a long time perhaps, but Alight used their time wisely, and "Spiral of Silence" is a testament of their dedication to the craft.

Now the Concert Closet will continue its dedication to searching out the best the prog garden has to offer...until next time...

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

BangTower

Once again, many thanks for dropping back into the Closet Concert Arena fellow progheads!  As is sometimes the case, the search for all things prog took a circuitous route through the prog garden over the past week; a bit of a different trajectory you might say.  This latest leg of the journey allowed me to cross paths with a band that is comprised of musicians extremely talented and well known in their own right.
Referring to themselves as both a "...progressive musical alliance"  and "...rock/jazz fusion," BangTower is the type of band I like to think I'd have been involved with (if I had anything close to talent); musicians and artists that made their own mark coming together to create new music, cross boundaries, and produce new stuff, all while having a helluva lot of fun doing it.  With all that typing, what say we venture to the buffet and start sampling the delicacies laid before us?


With just a bit of an eager stride, I saunter to the buffet and start the feast with "This Is My Town," taken from the 2016 release "With N Without."  The song opens with a bit of hard driving guitar and quickly moves toward a funky jazz-like groove akin to Little Feat. Must be the weather; the prog garden seems to be blooming with bands that have a little extra hitch in their giddyup lately...even the drums kick you in the skull just a bit...gonna be a jam packed week...

Next up on the platter is "Frankie's Silver Hammer" from the 2017 album "Hey, Where'd Everybody Go?" BangTower  plays like they're in an eternal jam session; you feel the energy flowing through the headphones with the force of ocean waves crashing on the beach.  The hammer in question here is in reality an axe--guitar to be more specific.  The drums stand sentry but the guitar is in the spotlight front and center.  I sense Be Bop Deluxe top notes as the tempo swings from a smoke filled jazz club to that 70's glam/art rock mood...

Liner Notes...BangTower claims the USA as their hometown.  While that may seem a bit vague, the reason is their line-up--and the need for an extended stage for live performances.  The core of the band is Neil Citron behind the controls and on guitar, Percy Jones on bass, and Walter Garces on drums.  Others involved in this alliance, both in front of and behind the curtain, include Jon Pomplin, Robby Pagliari, Frank Banali, Rodger Carter, Joan Fraley, Chris Colovas, Justin Stone, Josh Greenburg, and Gary Crite.  Hence the "Made in the USA" tag...

BangTower has three albums in their catalog and a fourth due later this year.  With a vibe that runs from Weather Report to Dreadnaught, the band covers a lot of acreage in the prog garden.  One of the things that impresses me about BangTower is the ease with which the music comes together and flows.  There is a "cascade-like" effect as one song rolls into another...like warm maple syrup caressing a stack of flapjacks...

One more track to tickle your listeners..."Groove Snake" from the 2010 release "Casting Shadows."  A bit edgier than what I've played previous--and that's a good thing.  There are top notes of a Spirit/Return to Forever/Wishbone Ash  "family gathering" wafting through the headphones.  BangTower isn't afraid to change the mood or scenery as they move from song to song; each individual album is like a retrospective of where the band came from and where it's headed.

Learn more about BangTower at their website BangTower
 where you will also find links to purchase their entire catalog; the band records on the Declassified Records label.  You can also purchase BangTower music at BangTower bandcamp.  For those so inclined, you can follow them on Facebook  BangTowerFB and Twitter  @BangTower .

For your listening pleasure this week I chose "Hair of the Dog."  This cut brings you right to the heart of what BangTower is all about; serious musicians making serious music and having a good time doing it.  The best job to have is one where work time resembles play time and that is what is happening in this video...no props, no circus environment, no dry ice effects--just artists playing a groove and getting deeper into it as they feed off each other's skills.  I always I knew I had the wardrobe to be in a band--I just lacked those darn musical ability skills...

                       

It seems we've reached the bottom section of another blog post fellow progheads, which usually means we have unearthed another gem in the prog garden and spent the last 168 hours or so listening, savoring, and  appreciating.  BangTower is by definition a band greater than the sum of its parts--and the parts are of the high end quality type.

One of the pleasures of wandering the prog garden is discovering the side projects, alternate bands, solo efforts, and other previously unknown works of many of the artists residing here.  BangTower is so much more than three guys, each with impressive resumes, jamming together...this is an alliance built on respect for each member's talent and what they bring to the recording studio.  I'm sure it happens in other genres as well, but in the prog garden there seems to be a lot of appreciation among the artists for the talents each brings to the table...one reason why the search for all things prog is an endless journey.  Of course the only way to prove that theory is to continue the search...until next time...

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Spock's Beard "Noise Floor"

Thanks for being so loyal fellow progheads!  Always appreciate the weekly check-in; hopefully the prog garden "rumblings" reported by The Closet Concert Arena make it an easy decision.  This time the search for all things prog goes a bit off track, visiting a band I've been a fan of for a very long time.  While my preference in the Concert Closet is to bring to you primarily new bands, every now and then I like to take advantage of opportunities to check in with those who have solidified themselves in the genre and have a solid following, yet manage to stay low under the mainstream radar...not necessarily a bad thing.

And just like that the search for all things prog travels to the left coast of the US for a stop with  Spock's Beard to check out their new release "Noise Floor," which was released May 25th on InsideOut Music.


Studio album #13 for those keeping score at home, "Noise Floor" is a double album/CD release.  The first is eight original songs written by the members of the band; album number two is taken from the same recording sessions and includes outtakes, demos, and things that didn't make it to album number one for various reasons.

Moving straightaway to the music being served up, let us begin with "To Breathe Another Day."  As expected, Spock's Beard's musical jolt is immediate as they grab your auditory sensors and don't let go.  Ryo Okumoto stated that the music on this album has a "more immediate" impact than the band's previous work.  He should know; his keyboards are front and center here as the music washes over you like high tide in a hurricane...

Moving down the buffet line I discover a more subdued song, "So This Is Life."  A bit cerebral  perhaps as Spock's Beard reminds you just how much prog garden acreage they cover.  In an "odd but not bizarre" way, I sense top notes of an orchestral side of 10cc coming through.  The string section works beautifully with the guitars on this piece, and together they carry the vocals across the top, allowing them to sink through your pores much like whipped cream melting into a cup of hot chocolate.

Liner Notes...One of the few bands I've reviewed to (almost) need no introduction, Spock's Beard has a current line-up of Alan Morse on guitars and vocals, Ted Leonard on vocals and guitar, Dave Meros on bass and vocals, and Ryo Okumoto on keyboards.  Drummer Nick Virgilio returns for the first time since 2011, although there is no commitment beyond this latest release.

Spock's Beard has logged a few miles in the prog garden, having formed originally in 1992.  With over two dozen albums on their resume and (despite) several line-up changes over the years, this is a band with amazing staying power.  They  don't reinvent themselves with each release as much as they expand their horizons...you could say Spock's Beard is one reason the prog garden continues to move the boundary markers in every direction...

With so much to choose from, I'm in a music haze...for which the best cure is one more song.  In this case I choose "Box of Spiders."  In a move both typical and utterly amazing, Spock's Beard comes at you from all directions as the song opens, and continues to dart in and out traffic as easily as a hummingbird chasing nectar.  There is a mild Trans Siberian Orchestra vibe making its way through the entire piece, teasing you as they play with the buttons on the mood elevator...

If you are not already versed in the music and mayhem that is Spock's Beard you can gain that knowledge at Spock's Beard where the band's entire album catalog is available for purchase.  You can also find out more information at SB Facebook and @SpocksB.  Spock's Beard has been a regular in the prog garden for quite some time and every harvest seems varied, unique, and worthy of attention.  They don't just get better with age, they defy Father Time himself...


For my last listen I chose a cut from album #2, their collection of outtakes.  "Bulletproof" has a Gaillion meets Spyro Gyra feel to it; the jazzy undertones blending extremely well with the AOR sound that permeates the room.  That this song did not make the final cut tells you the depth of the writing, talent, and just plain prog ability that Spock's Beard possesses...one does not wander the prog garden twenty years aimlessly...

Your ear candy this week is the first official video from the album, the earlier reviewed "To Breathe Another Day."  Catch the keyboard foray into mayhem I told you about...there is a Crack The Sky meets Kansas energy level jolting your auditory sensors.  Three years since their last release and no beats missed...buckle up and enjoy the ride...


                     

There it is fellow progheads, and once again we have lapped the weekly calendar.  Spock's Beard has been around the prog garden a while yet their sound doesn't seem old, stale, or rehashed.  This is an album fresh and satisfying as warm bread from the oven--and you'll savor every slice while the maple butter melts in to every nook and cranny, sending your mind into pleasure overload.  With over two dozen albums in their catalog, Spock's Beard is on a level few bands, prog or otherwise, ever achieve...and their ability to push the boundaries makes them as relevant today as they were back in 1992...

Of course, this is where I remind you the search for all things prog is about to pull up stakes and continue the journey...until next time...

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

The Aaron Clift Experiment "If All Goes Wrong"

Hello and welcome once again to The Closet Concert Arena fellow progheads!  The unofficial summer season has officially started, and like the weather the prog garden continues to heat up.    This week the Concert Closet took the search for all things prog stateside as an alluring  prog siren was drawing me to Texas...

The Aaron Clift Experiment has been dialed into my radar since I first heard them almost four years ago.  Like a true fan I have enjoyed listening to their sound grow and mature.  Loyal readers will remember I reviewed their earlier music and interviewed Aaron; exceptional music and a modest, unpretentious band leader.  The Closet Concert Arena  also appealed to the masses last September regarding an Indiegogo campaign to help fund the band's newest project.  Success was achieved and The Aaron Clift Experiment  released studio album number three May 4th!  Now I have a reason to once again set the GPS for Austin and take the Concert Closet back to the Lone Star State for a  review of "If All Goes Wrong."


The Aaron Clift Experiment humbly offers the understated self description of being "a progressive rock band"...albeit one influenced by some of the standard bearers of the genre.  In previous work, Aaron and company have taken that influence and fused it with a modern twist, bringing to the prog garden a sound and style unique unto itself.  So let us find out what could possibly go wrong...

First up on the platter is a tune called "Faith."  The song opens like an intense flash fire; a quick burst of bright energy that tapers down to a manageable burn.  The drums and guitars are a throwback to the arena-rock sound that permeated the 70's...even when the music seems to settle down you discover it crouched in the corner, waiting to pounce again.  The Aaron Clift Experiment is pushing the boundaries and wandering farther across the prog garden.  This album may prove to be more of a statement than simply a new release...

Next up is "Castle in the Sky" and once again the drum work steals a bit of the limelight.  There is a trace of Transatlantic skirting the perimeter of the song.  The guitars and keyboards work together on this cut much like good gin and extremely dry vermouth...the drums are the dirty olive that brings it all full circle.

Liner Notes...The Aaron Clift Experiment calls Austin, TX home and is comprised of leader Aaron Clift on vocals and keyboards, Devin North on bass, and Tim Smith on drums and percussion.  For this album the band enlisted impressive guitar talent; Van Wilks, Arielle, and Dave North.  The band originally formed in 2012 as Aaron's solo project and quickly morphed into the trio that is the heart and soul of today's successful experiment.  With influences from King Crimson,  Pink Floyd, Gentle Giant, and  Marillion, The Aaron Clift Experiment took the prog garden by storm.  After being nominated for several awards, their journey culminated in a performance at RosFest in 2017.  The new album as well as their previous work can be purchased at the band's website
Aaron Clift Experiment.  You can also follow them on Facebook and Twitter, ACEFacebook and @AaronCliftMusic.  By now everyone knows my feelings about supporting the artists that make the music so please oblige and make the purchase.

The dessert course is the title cut "If All Goes Wrong."  A bit on the ominous side as the name suggests.  The aromatics here reflect The Strawbs right down to Aaron's smooth vocal style.  The pallet is tinged with grey hues that bleed gently as Tim's drums echo a melancholy sadness highlighted with wistful guitar work...just a reminder that beauty doesn't have to wear loud colors.

The lure to open your wallet is called "Wild Hunters."  The flavor here leans more toward the hard edge of the prog garden; think Circu5 jamming with Spock's Beard...washes over you like that jolt from the dentist drill.  The Aaron Clift Experiment hits the pallet with brighter hues this time combined with bullet-quick speed and precision.  The dance across the prog garden is coming full circle...

                    

 Once again the week seems to have raced by in about three days.  The Aaron Clift Experiment not only added to their resume with this album, they also expanded themselves as a group.  As I like to say (sometimes ad nauseum) this is what progressive rock is all about.

"If All Goes Wrong" is a turning point; the songs on this album move in several directions along a different trajectory than the band's previous work.  The music is tighter and crisper as Aaron, Devin, and Tim each come into their own.  The music runs the gambit; the album is as diverse a prog album as I've heard in quite some time.  One of the upsides to the search for all things prog is discovering a band and following their journey to success.

Now the journey continues...until next time...

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Burntfield "Hereafter"

Warm (and wet) weather greetings fellow progheads!  I appreciate you taking the time to come back to The Closet Concert Arena and I hope this week's journey made it worthwhile.  Since frequent flyer miles are not an issue, the search for all things prog traveled all the way to Amsterdam to find out  about Burntfield,  a relative new-comer to the prog garden.  With two EP's and a pair of singles already on their resume,  the May 7th release of "Hereafter" is the band's first full length album, released on the Progressive Gears label.


Excitement level is high in the Concert Closet as discovering new bands is one of the main reasons I volunteered for this gig.  Calling themselves "progressive alternative rock...music is discreetly spiced with AOR and hard rock elements..." Burntfield uses soundscapes, a brooding darkness, and haunting vocals to create some ornate imagery across the prog garden...so let's get started, shall we?

As is my wont, I begin at the beginning with the delicate instrumental "Now" allowing it to wash over me and roll into the next cut, "Sub-zero."  There is a gentle rain tapping at the window as the sky begins to bruise; sunset has arrived...the soft piano and violins simply record the occasion.  While you melt into the emotion of the moment, the clouds peel back on a sky now illuminated with an amazing moonlight.  The jazz fusion top notes are mesmerizing as Burntfield flows through the headphones as effortless as honey melting into hot tea.  Tight drum work sits just below vocals as smooth as suede and you are once again washed out to sea...

Next up for this mind massage is a beautiful yet solemn tune called "In The Air." As the curtain draws back darkness fills the mind--except for that lone sliver of light glinting off the piano and striking your eye.  The solitude of the song coats your mind like molasses rolling slowly off grandma's measuring spoon...the richness outdone only by the song's elegance.  There is a Wishbone Ash vibe here; Burntfield manages to penetrate deep and flow through you.  The canvas streaked with pastel hues running through soft grays as the boat rocks gently against its mooring...

Liner Notes...Recording on the Progressive Gears label, Burntfield resides in Amsterdam.  Band members are Juho Myllyla and Valtteri Seppanen on guitars and vocals, Maarten Vos on bass, and Steven Favier on drums.  The band started in 2012 in Helsinki and went through the obligatory 
line-up changes and  growing pains, releasing an EP in 2013.   Recording and touring filled Burntfield's agenda for much of the next three years as they put out two singles on either side of a second EP.  


Making Amsterdam their new home,    Burntfield spent 2017 in the studio.  Their efforts came to fruition earlier this month with the release of "Hereafter," the band's first full-length album. If my auditory canals are correct, it was time well spent.  Burntfield navigates the gentler side of the prog garden with relative ease.  There is a slight tinge of It's A Beautiful Day wafting through the music much the way lavender is folded into pastry; you aren't looking for it per se--but its presence is undeniable.  

Finally, I allow "Q&A" to spin in the carousel and stream through my headphones...another slow melt into bliss.  The acoustic guitar flows like spun sugar as it accompanies a vocal with just a touch of gruff; the tempo picks up a bit but the pallet remains splattered with softer hues as sunlight dances around the perimeter.  Burntfield gently ties a velvet bow around lines of poetry, offering you the opportunity to unwrap another prog garden gem.


Learn more about Burntfield at Burntfield and Progressive Gears/Burntfield.  Of course you will have the opportunity to purchase "Hereafter" and I would ask that you indulge that urge--we all need to support the artists.  You can also follow the band on Facebook Facebook/Burntfield and check them out on Twitter @BurntfieldBand.

The bait I chose to lure you in this week is "The Failure."  This cut opens a bit faster and uptempo; the acoustic guitar dances across your inner ear effortlessly.  You sense the headphones just waiting to burst and rain fireworks all over your mind.  Strong drums begin to work their way in as the explosion hits while managing to not destroy the beauty this album created.  Burntfield prefers the lighter side of the prog garden...enjoy the sights, sounds, and artistry...


                  

And thus my fellow progheads, another seven days winds down.  While this may be the first  Burntfield entry to The Closet Concert Arena, for sure it won't be the last.  Despite only having one full-length album in their catalog, the earlier EP's and singles allowed Burntfield to hone their craft and smooth out the rough edges "on the job" if you will.  So while the search for all things prog continues, I expect to find myself in Amsterdam again...until next time...