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...

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Gaillion "Renewal and Release"

Cool, crisp, "blowing-on-my-hands-to-warm-them" greetings fellow progheads!  Autumn (remember her?) seems to be making a hasty getaway as the mercury falls deep into the well of the thermometer.  As we here in the good ol' USA start to plan the holiday festivities that will wrap up 2017, I thought it might be appropriate to stay on domestic soil and keep the search for all things prog focused on the local scene...

I took the Concert Closet on a coast-to-coast journey this week...perhaps the best time to search the prog garden for hearty bounty; something that can stand up to--and raise the heat on--the cold weather creeping in.  A visit with Gaillion was just the remedy and all the warmth I needed for these past 168 hours.  The band's latest album, "Renewal and Release" made its debut in October.  Gaillion recorded one new song while remixing and remastering four previous single releases and putting them together on one EP.  The result is some very polished music and a most outstanding waltz through the prog garden.  But enough talk; headphones on...


Moving away from my usual way of doing things, I open the buffet with the final slice from this gem, "The Focal Point."  This is the new single Gaillion put on the album and it is brilliant.  The song opens as though the sound is coming through a poorly tuned AM radio--deliberately and just for a few seconds.  Gaillion then picks up the tempo and hits you with strong guitar and drum work.  There are top notes of Dreadnaught mixing with The Aaron Clift Experiment wafting through the headphones.  The vocals lay on top, riding on a heavy foundation and cutting through with the finesse of a jackknife slicing through rope...as Goldilocks would say, just right...

Scanning the balance of the buffet laid out before me, I sample a remix of "Letters From the Skipper."  This time around the drums seem cleaner, much more succinct as they draw the piece together.  Todd's vocals are once again the unpolished diamond this music needs to bring out the oomph...wrapping this music in silk would be akin to applying the proverbial lipstick to a pig; a mismatch that improves nothing.  Gaillion heats the branding iron and then applies it in doses just long enough to leave a mark but not a scar...soothing and penetrating.


Liner Notes...Gaillion the band is as much a testament to perseverance and determination as is this newest EP.  The band consists of Todd Howard on vocals, bass, and keyboards, James Vasquenza Jr. on guitar, and Don Gunn on drums and percussion.  Three bandmates, three hometowns; Seattle, NYC, and Ventura CA.  I detailed the specifics in a previous blog (June 2015), but suffice to say this trio has spent a lifetime building this band.

Having gone to school together in CT, they released their first full length album "Admit One" in 1989.  Traveling in separate circles but always keeping in touch, Gaillion reunited in a technological sort of way and has been releasing singles since 2015...hence their latest project.  "Renewal and Release" brings all their work from the past two years together, allowing you to purchase it as one EP.  The name alludes to their thought process, in a prog sort of way...

One last listen and I want to make it count...so of course I laser up "Lorelei."  The opening mood is almost sinister, as though someone is about to come up from behind and cut you off at the knees.  Quickly the tempo picks up as one more time smooth drum work leads the sound parade right down into your auditory canals.  James' guitar work is stellar as this remixed version has smoothed out the rough edges and left the listener with a clean firm sound.

Learn more about the journey Gaillion has taken at their website Gaillion.  The new album can be purchased at Gaillion iTunes and Gaillion Bandcamp.  For those so inclined, Gaillion can be found on social media at Gaillion FacebookGaillion Instagram, and Twitter @gaillionband.  You will find their full music library so take your time and walk slowly through the aisles...you wouldn't want to miss anything...

I chose "Backslide" for the clip-of-the-week to give you musical insight and a glimpse inside the remix/remaster work Gaillion has done.  Three people working in two time zones provides its own challenges, but Gaillion makes it seem elementary.  The bass on this song leads the guitar and drums through a labyrinth that spins you 'round and just before you lose your sense of direction, lands you firmly on your feet...well done...

                  

And as per usual, our time here in the prog garden this week has flown by much too quickly.  Gaillion is a bright spot in a multi-layered arena as they hit hard and fast but never seem to lose sight of their desire to enjoy themselves.  The band moves through the prog garden deftly, focusing on the acreage where the sound is full and the colors thrive.  Gaillion attempts to fill each five minutes of music with ten minutes of sound...every song bursting with energy.

And even more as per usual, the search for all things prog continues on.  The end of 2017 is beginning to appear on the horizon and before you know it will be in the rear view mirror.  So The Closet Concert Arena marches onward in the never ending attempt to bring as much new and as-yet-undiscovered prog music to light...until next time...

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Vuur, "In This Moment We Are Free - Cities"

Hello and welcome to the middle of fall fellow progheads!  Now that the US has caught up with the rest of the planet and set her clocks back one hour, the race to bring down the curtain on 2017 has officially begun...which puts the search for all things prog into overdrive...

Vuur is a band that while new to the prog garden, has members with rich prog soil running through their veins.  Anneke van Giersbergen is name not unfamiliar to many a proghead, having been vocalist for The Gathering and performing with Devin Townsend among others.  Vuur recently released their debut album "In This Moment We Are Free - Cities" on the InsideOut label.  Here Anneke sets out to cut her metal chops as it were, so let us queue up this latest and listen in...



The album opens with the cut "My Champion - Berlin."  There is an immediate keyboard/guitar energy burst that rattles around inside your head like pinballs pushing the machine into "tilt."  Anneke's vocals come through almost too smooth to partner with the mayhem that surrounds...much like an aria accompanying Dream Theater.  The canvas is pelted with paint balloons of every hue--mostly the bright ones that eliminate shadows. Vuur emerges from the smoke and fire with a mad rush; should be an interesting show...

My second helping from the buffet is "Sail Away - Santiago." The adrenaline rush is still on as Vuur continues to thrust themselves at you with all the gusto of a typhoon...I pick up top notes of Curved Air and After Forever crashing through my headphones.  The guitars strike fast and hit hard but do leave time for breathing (albeit intermittently) as the song carries on.  Meanwhile the drums keep up a frenetic pace that leaves you gasping but still standing as the music winds down.

Liner Notes...hailing from the Netherlands, Vuur, or "Fire" in Dutch, has the appropriately coiffed, red haired Anneke van Giersbergen on lead vocals.  Rounding out the band is Jord Otto and Ferry Duijsens on guitars, Johan van Stratum on bass, and Ed Warby on drums.  This may be Vuur's debut album, but their roots run deep in the prog garden.  Anneke has not only released solo projects, she has performed with Ayreon, Gentle Storm, and Danny Cavanaugh.  Coupled with my earlier mention of her work with The Gathering and The Devin Townsend Project, you realize Anneke knows her way around a sound studio.  The other members of the band have fairly extensive resumes as well so rookies they ain't...

My third selection is a more somber slice; the final cut "Reunite! - Paris."  A soft opening belies the adrenaline rush brought on by earlier servings.  The mood elevator does climb a bit as the song progresses.  Jord and Ferry manage to work up a lather--just not quite as frenzied as they had been previously, allowing Anneke's vocals to become the focal point.  Fear not my prog metal friends; Vuur seems unable or unwilling to slip a ballad into the mix.  The sound still tests your headphones, Vuur is just trolling another section of the prog garden before the stylus rests in its holster...


You can purchase "In This Moment We Are Free - Cities" at Vuur's website Vuur and
InsideOut Music where you will also find the rest of the InsideOut stable of prog artists.  Vuur boasts a Facebook page Vuur Facebook and Twitter account @vuur_band if you are so inclined.  As is seemingly the thing to do at the moment, Vuur also has a YouTube channel Vuur YouTube so you can keep up with new video releases and look behind-the-scenes at the making of "In This Moment We Are Free - Cities."

I chose "Your Glorious Light Will Shine - Helsinki" for your listening pleasure this week.  A song from the darker side of the garden, the headphones fill your auditory canals with a cacophony of sound from  the onset, and once again Anneke's vocals rest solidly on the shoulders of stellar guitar and drumming.  This song doesn't peel the curtain back; it tears it from the overhead rigging system to reveal a stage beset with a band more than happy to fill the arena with boisterous commotion.  Go ahead and turn the volume up...

                   

And as the sand drips slowly through the hourglass, so too another week in The Closet Concert Arena has slipped past like a ship in the night.  Vuur added a bit of Red Bull to the punch bowl this week...just enough to arouse your senses and awaken the nocturnal throng roaming the prog garden.

Prog has many facets, moods, and styles.  I believe it was best stated as "...a lifestyle--not a genre."  Progressive rock really is so much more because it has so much more; sights as well as sounds and  darkness as well as light.  For those who prefer not to stray far from the edge, contemplative as well as penetrating music.  Prog comes in many shapes and sizes and one need not prefer them all...like a connoisseur of the finer things in life, prog too can be subjective.  Vuur calls the progressive section of the garden home and yet they reach across the acreage to draw from many subsections as well.  Enjoy the amalgam; it's what makes prog so desirable...

Off now to continue the journey...tapping another vein as the search for all things prog winds through the remains of 2017...until next time...

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Hats Off Gentlemen It's Adequate; "Broken But Still Standing"

Prog rock greetings from "across the pond" fellow progheads!  Two weeks in Italy was fascinating and mesmerizing, but as always the search for all things prog continues on.  This week I take the Closet Concert Arena over to the UK for a visit with Malcolm Galloway and his band, Hats Off Gentlemen It's Adequate.  It seems Malcolm & Company have put together a new album titled "Broken But Still Standing," a concept LP dealing with evolution.



Knowing Malcolm like I think I do, this album is sure to be an adventure. Since discovering Hats Off Gentlemen almost two years ago, I have found each new release to be distinctive and exceptional in its own right.  His music runs the gamut of the prog garden and dabbles in the ambient as well...truly an artist with a vision...and to the headphones I go...

With Hats Off Gentlemen It's Adequate, the best option is to enter the music realm with absolutely no pre-conceived notions about what to expect...so with a clean slate behind my forehead, I hit the "play" button.  As "Vent" fills the headphones I am immediately transported to another place in time...the mood is somber as a flute smooth as a sunset reflecting lake cuts through you gently. Vocals pick up the ambiance; darkness seems to set in quickly as the rest of the band circles around you.

Top notes of Gentle Giant and Traffic fill the room while the music takes you down a rabbit hole straight into "Almost Familiar."  Malcolm tends to fill the canvas with grays and assorted dark hues and that is true here.  There is something about his vocals though; their edginess slices through the gentle layer of guitar like an X-Acto knife cutting through cardboard...smooth, but just a tad rough around the edges.  This is not a knock--it's the rough edges that give the song credibility.


The ambient section of the prog garden is well represented, so moving down the playlist a bit I find a tune with a little more oomph if you will; "Let Me Out."  Continuing to use the darker crayons in the box, Hats Off Gentlemen creates an image filled with tension and a burning desire to rush forth...I kept waiting for something to grab my ears through the headphones.  The flute on this piece is nothing short of splendid; you can almost feel the flames roaring at your back.  Suddenly a bootlegger's turn into "Under the Skin" leaves you floating above the chaos and mayhem much like  Syd Barrett might be while staring down at Pink Floyd on stage today; a bit ethereal I imagine...

Liner Notes...Hats Off Gentlemen It's Adequate is the brainchild of multi-instrumentalist, vocalist, and song writer Malcom Galloway, who may or may not be joined on stage by flautist Kathryn Thomas, guitarist Ibon Bilbao, bass player Mark Gatland, and Rudy Roo sitting behind the drum kit.  I say may be joined because Hats Off Gentlemen It's Adequate is an overly informal project...and that is part of the draw for me.

Malcolm puts words together to create marvelous lyrics and the accompanying music is refreshing and unleashed...there are no hard boundaries; the parameters seem almost fluid.  Combine that with Malcolm's generosity of spirit--the band plays more charity gigs than some bands play gigs period--and you get the sense that Hats Off Gentlemen is more like a band's band...playing for the adrenaline rush that performing generates.

If you are still on the fence about Hats Off Gentlemen It's Adequate, do yourself a favor and explore deeper at the band's website Hats Off Gentlemen.  You can access and purchase "Broken But Still Standing" as well as the band's other releases.  You will also discover their music at
Hats Off Gentlemen cdbaby and find out more about the band at Hats Off Gentlemen Facebook and Twitter @itsadequate.

Closing out the review with the final cut from the album, "Close My Eyes."  While staying true to the darker side of the garden, this song does breach daylight a tad.  Drums and keyboards burn through the clouds as the song opens and the vocals share a somewhat poignant moment...a bit unusual for Malcolm perhaps, proving once again the prog garden is filled with surprises.



This week I offer you a glimpse into the making of the album as well as the mind of the artist.  The  clip below involves music from five of the first six cuts on the album; there are seventeen in total.  As with  a band such as Hats Off Gentlemen It's Adequate, the visuals in the video are as meaningful as the audio they interpret.  Let this entire clip wash over you like a warm shower after running a marathon...so welcome, relaxing, and invigorating...

The album opens on the ambient side of the garden, leaning toward aromatics of Eno and Pink Floyd.  As you listen you notice your pulse slowing down and everything around you becoming less significant, as if you are but a spectator viewing the world from stage left--much like Ebeneezer Scrooge as he floated through his own life with the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future.  Simply sit in your treasured comfy chair with a favorite beverage and relax...


So as we move further through the calendar watching October fade in the rear view mirror, it is but a matter of time when a blanket of snow covers the prog garden.  However, until that moment
arrives--and even after--the search for all things prog has miles to go before 2017 plays her swan song.

Hats Off Gentlemen It's Adequate is an ideal example of what prog is; music that does not follow a traditional pattern or path but rather evolves.  Hats Off Gentlemen manages to evolve both with every new album and every time you listen to the same album...there is so much there you can't take it all in on the first go-round.  So as the search for all things prog continues on, The Closet Concert Arena picks up the torch...until next time...