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...

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Decking the Halls of The Closet Concert Arena

No matter how, when, where, or why you celebrate, festive holiday greetings to all my fellow progheads!  Now that 2017 is in the final stages of existence I feel it is only appropriate that we celebrate all the new discoveries found in the prog garden these past twelve months.

By now you know full well I abhor "Best Of" lists; too subjective, argumentative, and time wasting.  Why bicker, debate, and argue over who was better/more prog/the most creative when the option to simply try it all and focus on what we prefer is always on the turntable?  And does it really make the music better if it sold the most copies?  By that logic we would all be worshiping at the altars of Engelbert Humperdinck and Slim Whitman...

These past 52 weeks proved to be an exciting time in the world of progressive rock.  Several new bands released first albums while still others expanded their catalogs, offering second releases and more.  Many artists worked with new bands or went the solo route, thus expanding their stake in the prog garden.  Time for a walk through said garden so as to enjoy one last time the rich bounty 2017 brought forth...



The year opened excitingly enough; I was fortunate to land an interview with Jordan Rudess.  He was extremely cordial, polite, humble, and down-to-earth.  Jordan continues to stretch the boundaries of prog music with his innovative ideas and creativity.  He also plays a mean keyboard; enjoy Jordan's interpretation of "White Christmas" here...




Nick Beggs, Nad Sylvan, Rikard Sjoblom, Malcolm Galloway, and Will Geraldo are among those who either released solo work away from their bands, performed with new bands and/or collaborations, or presented new music with their existing bands.

Abstract Aprils and Seconds Before Landing also joined the ranks of bands expanding their acreage in the prog garden as they released new material this year. One of the things I find rewarding is discovering new bands and following along as they grow and build their body of work, gaining a wider audience along the way.

I realize not every off shoot in the prog genre is appealing to every proghead; there are sections of the prog garden I prefer not to travel myself.  However; I find it more gratifying to promote the music I like rather than tear down that which I do not.

Time for another holiday interlude; Greg Lake performing one of my personal favorites...



Several musicians passed through the veil in 2017.  Though not progressive artists by definition, one could make the argument that without Chuck Berry and Fats Domino laying some of the early groundwork for rock 'n' roll to take hold, progressive rock may never have built its foundation.

Prog rock has not been immune to loss and tragedy as many icons recently left the garden prior to 2017.  Greg Lake, Keith Emerson, Chris Squire, John Wetton, and David Bowie each left a huge mark on the genre in his own unique way.  Without the inspiration these and other artists used to blaze the trail, we may never have been graced with many of the prog giants we enjoy today--or will tomorrow.  Prog rock thrives and continues to grow because new artists, inspired no doubt by these and other pioneers of the genre, enter the fray all the time.

Progressive rock has birthed many off-shoots of the genre; neo, classic, alt rock, metal...the list continues to grow.  There are those who believe anyone playing prog outside the "established boundaries" are heretics to the entire genre.  I however believe that by definition the boundaries of prog need to be challenged, stretched, and--dare I say--twisted.  There is not a bigger fan of King Crimson on the planet than yours truly, but I can also appreciate the talents and "view through a different lens" Gregorian Rock provides.  And without the antics and mayhem of Dreadnaught, the prog garden would be a bit too dull and dreary.

Time now for your holiday dose of Christmas Frippertronics...



So fellow progheads, I would like to take this time to thank you sincerely for making the search for all things prog the best idea I ever let my daughter talk me into.  The journey has been nothing short of an absolute blast, and without you it would never have been even close.  As we make our way to the end of the ride that is 2017, I wish you all a Merry Christmas, Joyous Noel, Happy Kwanzaa, Happy Hanukkah, and Happy Solstice...regardless of how you celebrate, thanks for bringing some of that revelry to the Concert Closet these past twelve months.

So the search for all things prog will once again take a short hiatus to celebrate the holidays, clean out the debris from 365 days spent traveling, and get ready for a new and exciting 2018.  Thanks for coming, and I look forward to discovering and sharing all things prog with you again...until next time...

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Cell 15 "Chapter One"

Hello once again fellow progheads and welcome to the final new music review for 2017! What a year it has been; the Concert Closet has logged countless miles, traveled to numerous countries, and crossed most of the continents in the search for all things prog.  The payoff has been more than worth it; so many bands, so much new music, and the privilege of speaking with so many great artists about their craft.  My intention is to wrap up the year on a high note, so The Closet Concert Arena is off to the holiday metropolis known as Pennsylvania to check out Cell 15...



Cell 15 identifies themselves simply as a prog rock band.  Admittedly that didn't grab me on the first drive by,  so I decided to take a second look behind the curtain and turn the volume up a bit...here is what I found.  The band's debut release is a concept album called "Chapter One."  The LP follows one man's journey through twenty years...if the name of the band is indicative of anything, it does not end well...

The title cut starts the carousel with a frenzy; the keyboards and drums seem to be leading a street chase and you feel yourself being pulled along like a rag doll in a pit bull's mouth.  There is no down time as guitars burst onto the scene; the manhunt is underway.  There are top notes of Liquid Tension Experiment in terms of fever pitch and hysteria, and I sense aromatics of Camel simmering just below the surface.  The week is shaping up to be a white knuckle ride...

The next serving on the buffet line is "Man With a Gun."  The adrenaline rush in this tune takes a much different route through your bloodstream; the inevitable tension usually attached to the climax of a horror movie.  I sense an Alan Parsons Project vibe permeating from this piece...think I, Robot with more cynicism.  The keyboards lead into vocals that at first seem strange and off trajectory, yet as the song progresses they are essential to the lifeblood of the music.  Cell 15 knows many ways to tell a story...



Liner Notes...Cell 15 is the brainchild of Robert Scott Richardson.  In 2011, with the concept of "twenty years in the life" embedded in his brain, Robert set out to turn his idea into reality; in 2014 "Chapter One" was released.  In addition to Robert writing the songs, playing keyboards and performing the vocals, the band is comprised of Shane Jones on lead guitar, Dan MacDonald on bass and vocals, and Kevin Thomas on drums and vocals.

Hailing from Mechanicsburg, PA, Cell 15 has released "Chapter One" independently although the band is affiliated with After 7 Records.  The album is the culmination of a life determined and dreams fulfilled.  Despite playing keyboards for several bands and performing alongside artists such as Derek St. Holmes and John Cafferty, Robert felt pulled toward the progressive side of the music spectrum.  Cell 15 was the outlet he needed to scratch that itch and the rest, as they say, is history...prog music history...

The last serving from this conceptual buffet is the song that closes the album out; "The Messenger." An upbeat lead-in to wrap up a glimpse into the life that was...and is about to be.  Cell 15 threw more color and mood at the canvas than Peter Marx on a coke high.  This piece is the culmination of a life not quite spent but rather beginning once more.  With top notes of Camel and Kansas wafting through the Concert Closet the mood runs on the high side while venturing toward the chaotic and frenzied...but just this side of the lunatic fringe.  Cell 15 brings everything full circle as the song reflects on a twenty year existence that was neither planned, dreamed, or imagined--but lived to the fullest.



Find out more about Cell 15 and purchase your copy of "Chapter One" at Cell 15.  The album is avaiable at cdbaby Cell15cdbaby as well.  Of course you can always follow or just check-in with
Cell 15 on Facebook at Cell15FB and Twitter @cell15band.  Cell 15 also has a YouTube Channel Cell15YouTube for those who prefer to never venture outdoors...😏

My choice for your listening pleasure this week is "Manny's Gone Home."  Smack dab in the middle of the album, this song is the turning point.  The mood is somber and almost seems lethargic if not despondent...you can feel the loss of self and (most) hope dripping from the lyrics like molasses from a spoon.  Cell 15 pulls you under with this song; and just when you think all is lost you start to get a sense of grit and determination pushing through clenched teeth...all is not lost even if I am the only one who believes in me...this is a tall glass of something that burns...


                     

And with that fellow progheads, the final curtain falls on 2017.  Cell 15 seems like a great way to close the prog garden for the season; a long journey ultimately bringing you home.  The search for all things prog has been nothing short of a perpetual joyride for me and I thank you for sitting shotgun across the prog garden on this splendid excursion.

2018 promises to be another bumper crop producing year...I have already been "inundated" with requests for reviews and interviews, and I hope to inject something different once again when the new year raises her head.  For now I simply thank you for reading, listening, learning, and enjoying.  The Closet Concert Arena will dim the lights as the holiday celebrations continue into the new year.  Of course I will present my final holiday post next week and from there join in on the revelry and hoopla that will take us all into 2018--safely I hope...until next time...

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Edison's Children

Warm holiday greetings fellow progheads!  I know I've been saying it repeatedly, but the end of 2017 is creeping dangerously close to a foregone conclusion.  So before the hourglass runs dry, the Concert Closet takes the search for all things prog back to the UK for one last listen.  This week I check in with a band I have been enjoying as they fly low under the radar; Edison's Children.



Edison's Children is like the quiet kid in math class who dresses well and aces all the tests...good pedigree; just admirably humble.  Referring to themselves as "...Sci-Fi Prog with a Pink Floyd edge..." has definitely tweaked my listeners.  Time to sit under a set of headphones and dim the lights...

Starting the walk across the prog garden with "Stranger in a Foreign Land" I find myself stepping through acreage rich with an uptempo beat.  The bass flows seamlessly with the drums, carrying the vocals across the top like caramelized sugar on a creme brulee...once the shell is cracked, it all becomes the best part.  There are top notes of Crack The Sky and perhaps a touch of Nad Sylvan as well.  Edison's Children smacks the canvas with a wide array of colors...pale blue to bright red to scorching orange to sullen gray...as they blend together you get the impression this ride is quite the mood elevator...

Digging deeper into the band's resume, I come across "Light Years."  The dust on the stylus sound that opens the song is actually quite impressive; I feel like I am listening to George Harrison jam with that impressive all star band he used to call his friends...the dark clouds overhead are tempered with a gentleness and serenity that allow you to relinquish control, knowing you are safe so long as the music is playing.  Edison's Children emit a fragrance reflective of The Strawbs on this cut; soothing, mesmerizing, and a bit haunting...complete with candles burning brightly in the background...


Liner Notes...Edison's Children is the determined collaboration between Pete Trewavas and Eric Blackwood.  The band splits home turf between Sugar Loaf NY, and Aylesbury, England--since these are Eric and Pete's respective hometowns.  You may recognize these two as card carrying members of the prog garden who gained entrance prior to joining forces.  Undoubtedly you know Pete Trewavas from Marillion and Transatlantic; Eric Blackwood was  a member of Crimson Steele, Blackwood, and Sunblister.  For a time Eric left the music world to work in the "movie biz" (east coast version) and explore his passion for photography.  Fortunately for us mere mortals, he ultimately joined forces with Pete, breathing life into Edison's Children for our enjoyment here in the prog garden.

Pete and Eric are accompanied by many special guests, all of whom are well known in their own right.  They include Ian Mosley, Mark Kelly, Steve Rothery, and Steve "h" Hogarth--all Marillion alums.  Also appearing are Robin Boult, Henry Rogers, Chris Mack, Andy Ditchfield, and Rick Armstrong...you know, son of the "first man on the moon" Neil Armstrong.  Besides crowding a well-built stage, it almost appears to be Marillion 2.0, but that would be an injustice--and an
inaccuracy--all around.

Rather, Edison's Children is an extension of two artists who needed an outlet for the other stuff floating in their head and auspiciously they found it.You can learn much more about Edison's Children at Edison's Children and their Facebook page Edisons Children FB.  Their music can be purchased directly from their website and/or on Amazon.  With three albums on their resume you will definitely find something to satisfy your auditory canals.  Don't forget to follow Edison's Children on Twitter @edisonschildren



My third selection for review is feasibly a bit more on the ominous side; "Final Breath."  The piano/percussion opening sends a chill up your spine; the notes strike like hammer blows...deliberately and haltingly.  When the song reaches its climax you are pelted with hailstones seemingly from nowhere.  While there is a strong Marillion feel to this piece, it is tempered with top notes of early Pink Floyd and a dash of Gentle Giant.  Edison's Children changes the aura in the room with the finesse of a fine sherry; so subtle you cruise right through.

Have a listen to "Spiraling" from the band's 2011 release "In the Last Waking Moments."  Edison's Children opens the door just enough to let their inner Spock's Beard out.  The acoustic guitar carries the vocals like driftwood gently to shore while the keyboards build a gentle cocoon around the entire piece holding it all together.  Might as well dim the lights and relax...


And with that another seven days fades from the 2017 calendar.  Edison's Children may have come about through equal parts chance, happenstance, and determination, but that does not make the band a lesser part of the prog whole.  Artists finding an avenue of escape for work that doesn't fit the constraints of their existing band are part of what makes the prog garden the beautiful labyrinth that it is.  Every once in a while the search for all things stumbles across a gem hiding in plain sight, and Edison's Children is one such pearl in the oyster bed.

Now the journey moves on, winding down its 2017 run while gearing up for what lies in wait behind the curtain that is 2018...until next time...

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Notice Grace

Hello once again fellow progheads and welcome back to the warm and spacious Concert Closet!  As 2017 continues her spiral into the ever after, I thought it a great time to leave the cold tundra behind and spend a mild seven days down south.  Escaping the snow flurries, frost, and biting wind,  I made my way to Georgia for the chance to listen in with Notice Grace.


Notice Grace walks a bit of a different path through the prog garden; self-described as "...progressive rock that blends the heavy with the melodic..."  The holiday season is upon us which usually leads to music and sounds that are joyous and thankful, happy and upbeat...but when did I ever take The Closet Concert Arena down the obvious path?  Let's walk this tangent trail and see what happens when heavy blends with melodic...

Opening the review is a tune that throws dark colors at the canvas with a gentle glove covered fist, "City on a String."  The piano opening peels back the curtain on a rainstorm; the song tumbles down around you with a mild mannered thump as guitars bleed through the drums luring you toward a small light in the center of your vision.  There are top notes of Kansas and Transatlantic floating through this piece.  Picture a concert thrown askew while the band plays everything except  their
hits--much to the crowd's approval.  Normalcy is tossed aside just long enough for Notice Grace to alter your perception of preferred music...


To keep the melodic carousel revolving I run down a song with a bit more kick, "Protect This Sacred State."  A quick percussion-led intro takes the listener down a rabbit hole that echoes with a
metal-tinged cacophony of sound, much like Psicolorama and Violent Attitude If Noticed.  Notice Grace even gives off a Gungfly vibe here; perhaps a bit of the Moody Blues from their Seventh Sojourn album?  The metal overtones are actually subdued a bit as the piece comes together more like that hard-edged rock song your parents hated simply for the guitar riffs.

Liner Notes...Notice Grace hails from Snellville, Georgia and consists of Zachery Kinsaul and Gib Heuett on guitars and vocals, Dennis Svela on bass guitar, keyboards, and vocals, Mark Pruitt on keyboards, and Howard Williams on drums.  The band has one EP on their resume, "Movements" which came out in 2014.  This was followed up with two single releases; "Abandonment" and "City on a String"  both hitting the airwaves in 2015.

Notice Grace occupies acreage in an area of the prog garden set aside for bands with roots more in line with The Aaron Clift Experiment and Seven Second Circle.  As advertised; moments of pure rock are tempered with the softer melodic side...much like 10cc jamming with Jethro Tull.

The final offering for review this week is the title cut from the "Movements" album.  More "theatrical" than previous songs from the disc, this one lays a foundation with percussion and bass that allows the guitars to slice through at just the right moments.  There is a haunting vocal wending its way throughout  that takes the listener on a journey through an albeit short-lived dark cloud, much like driving with your headlights off--just for a moment--down the interstate.  There is a controlled adrenaline rush; you govern your own destiny with the flick of a switch.  Learn more about Notice Grace at their website Notice Grace. You can purchase their music at this site or on iTunes, CD Baby, and Amazon.  Follow the band on Facebook at NoticeGrace FB and keep up with the latest on Twitter
@noticegraceband .

My selection for your listening pleasure this week is the June 2015 release "Abandonment."  This song immediately picks up as if you were six songs into a live set; no need for warming up.  Notice Grace builds layers of music without coming off as ornate or ostentatious.  I find myself waiting for what I call the "Blue Oyster Cult" moment; when the smoke from the dry ice machine gives way to that ear-piercing guitar blowout.  Although it never materializes, Notice Grace doesn't necessarily disappoint; they simply find other ways to grab your attention.

As you watch the video you realize Notice Grace is grounded enough to not take themselves too seriously; this is the prog garden after all.  Music--even that which lies on the darker side of the spectrum--doesn't need to furrow your brow constantly.  It is actually a bit refreshing to find a band that can paint with dark colors and still crack a smile...


Once again fellow progheads I find myself at the end of a week wondering where the time went and realizing there are only so many grains of sand left in the 2017 hourglass.  Notice Grace takes their rock 'n' roll pedigree and hits it with hues from the progressive rock pallet...another corner of the prog garden cultivated.  Listening to Notice Grace unfold all around me I realize their music is more suited to an artisanal beer than a single malt; nothing wrong with that...

So the search for all things prog enters the home stretch for 2017..and of course there is always uncultivated acreage in the prog garden waiting for the tiller to unearth another gem and expose it to the light.  So the journey continues...until next time...

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Kaprekar's Constant, "Fate Outsmarts Desire"

Greetings from the tail end of 2017 fellow progheads!  It won't be long before this year fades into our memories...and what a year it has been.  Deciding on some last minute travel, this week I took the Concert Closet to England to listen in with an incredible band that is a newcomer to the prog garden; Kaprekar's Constant.

  

Describing their sound as "Pastoral English music with a tale to tell..."  Kaprekar's Constant  has pulled hard enough on my earlobes that I just gotta take a walk through the delicate back corners of the prog garden and immerse myself in what promises to be a most satisfying and entertaining seven days...

Old habits die hard as once again I open the review with the first track on the album,
"Hors d'Oeuvre."  A splendid piece of music that sets the bar high for the remaining cuts on the LP...of course the opening is a bit of a teaser as random words are spoken/sung a cappella in what feels like a wave of anxiety.  Just as randomly the channel changes and a floodgate of emotions pours forth.  Saxophone as slick as bourbon poured over ice flows freely through this tune while vocals are intertwined with a plethora of passion...the canvas is splashed with colors the spectrum hasn't even recognized yet.

The music spills into the next cut, "Bluebird," as Kaprekar's Constant continues their free fall through your mind... top notes of It's A Beautiful Day and Van der Graaf Generator flow through the headphones, with aromatics of latter day Roxy Music melting like caramel into a flaming bananas foster; simple, elegant, and oh so delectably rich...


Liner Notes...Kaprekar's Constant is what happens when childhood friends stick together and wander into the prog garden.  The creators of the band and lifelong friends of whom I speak; Al Nicholson on acousitc, classical, and electric guitars, mandolin, and keyboards, and Nick Jefferson on bass, fretless bass, electric guitar, and keyboards, are joined on the record by Bill Jefferson on vocals, Dorie Jackson on vocals and backing vocals, Mike Westergaard on piano, keyboards, and backing vocals, David Jackson on saxophone, flute, whistles, and G# bell, and Phil Gould on drums, percussion, and 'dube.'  Paul Gunn is the person behind the spoken voice...yeah; about that "spoken voice..."

Paul "narrates" the songs with a tone that is at times soothing, startling, mesmerizing, and authoritative.  His voice can coat the song like the hard outer shell of a candy apple or wrap itself around with the finesse of chocolate ganache...

Alhough Kaprekar's Constant is new to the prog garden, the members are not.  Certainly my fellow progheads recall David Jackson from Van der Graaf Generator, Phil Gould from Level 42, and Dorie Jackson from her work with Francis Dunnery; prog veterans all, and one key to Kaprekar's Constant sounding like a stalwart on their debut release.

Go behind the curtain to learn more about Kaprekar's Constant  at Kaprekar's Constant.  "Fate Outsmarts Desire" was released on Uranium Club Records; you can purchase the album at their website Uranium Club or the group's Bandcamp website Kaprekar's Constant Bandcamp.  As is the standard these days, there is a Facebook page Kaprekar's Constant FB and Twitter @kaprekars to keep up on tour dates, music news, and other social events. 


My final selection for review from this delectable buffet is "Houdini (King of Cards)."  A mysterious opening befitting the subject and title, Kaprekar's Constant brings the Victorian abundance of Big Big Train to this cut.  David's flute is Ian Anderson-esque as Dorie's vocals meld with guitars and percussion to transcend even the highest expectations.  This song moves through so many time changes and moods yet remains as calm and in charge as a traffic cop in Times Square on New Year's Eve...

My choice for your listening pleasure is "Pearl of the Lake."  Kaprekar's Constant  fills your head with ornate sound despite the semi-dark overtones...I am taken back to early Moody Blues and perhaps a touch of the Italian prog band Pandora.  The music flows through the headphones smoothly and effortlessly; like a scimitar slicing through a wheel of brie.  A song to listen to whilst relaxed by the fire...oh yeah....


Once again a week spent strolling peacefully through the prog garden comes to an end.  Kaprekar's Constant was a delight; their music soothing and refreshing like a summer sun shower.  Realizing this is their debut album was as surprising as it was reassuring; the prog garden is definitely in good hands.

The search for all things prog enters the final turn as the race through 2017 begins to wind down...so much left to discover and so little time.  Of course, the journey will continue into 2018 (knock on vinyl) as the prog garden promises yet another bumper crop.  No need to rush things; enjoy the moment with Kaprekar's Constant...until next time...