Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Oceanica "One Dark"

Hello once again fellow progheads, and welcome to another leg of the journey on the search for all things prog!  This week the Concert Closet took the intensity up a notch or two as I decided to spend time with my friends over at Progressive Gears Records.   Recently, Ben Harris-Hayes, who many of you will recognize from Enochian Theory, released his debut solo album "One Dark" under the name Oceanica.  There is always something afoot over there at Progressive Gears, so I was very eager to give this a spin...

Being somewhat familiar with Enochian Theory, I am expecting nothing short of a wild ride through emotions, tempos, time changes; just another day in the prog garden you might say...

I open things up with "Start From The Start" and the  immediate imagery is striking; a carnival ride to chaos perhaps.  The guitars start out slow but quickly pick up the tempo as drums fill the song out and lead the listener across the many emotions of the prog garden.  Ben's vocals are strong enough to ride the current, but his guitar work shines the brightest on this cut...stings you right at the base of your auditory canals.  I get the feeling Will Geraldo has his fingerprints on this album somewhere...

Next up is "The Rose, Abloom." Right away the canvas bursts with bright colors that run pale as emotions pour through the headphones...guarded for a split second--then leaving nothing behind.  The "leaping all over the prog garden" style reminds me of Gentle GiantOceanica takes you crazy high and gloomy low; it is an extreme mood elevator ride--an experience you will relish. The keyboards on this cut are like a veil between two worlds; delicate and soft as you ride a gentle wave of serenity, then screeching through the headphones as you fall into a boisterous abyss...

Liner Notes...Oceanica is Ben Harris-Hayes, hailing from Brighton UK.  This really is a one-man show; Ben wrote the songs, played the instruments, laid down the vocal tracks, and even did the mixing and mastering.  I believe the only thing Ben didn't do was design the album cover...but I could be wrong...

When he isn't setting the standard for what it takes to make a solo album, Ben also plays guitar and keyboards for Enochian Theory.  He even handled vocals and song  writing for the band's swan song album in 2013, after which  Enochian Theory took an indefinite hiatus.  Following that, Ben put all his effort into creating this solo album.  You can follow Ben on
Facebook and Twitter @BenHarrisHayes and find the link to purchase his music at the Progressive Gears Records website PGR Oceanica.


Third in line for review this week is another song that fills your head with wonder, "Oubliette."  There are aromatics of Opeth laying atop this song, blending nicely with hints of Porcupine Tree  and New Order.  Ben is very good at leading the listener down a path lined with so many alternate routes and allowing you to lose yourself deep in the music...enjoy the free fall...

The ear worm this week is "The Oblivion Tree," a song that opens with a dark canvas gently bleeding.  The keyboards and strings flow so delicately, like ribbons of sound floating though your head.  There are top notes of Under the Psycamore in this piece...let them caress your spirit...


                             

Once again fellow progheads we've reached the other side of the rainbow.  Oceanica was seven days awash in abundant waves of emotion.  Ben Harris-Hayes crossed so much of the prog garden with this album; striking a gentle chord one minute and snapping a guitar string with ferocious intensity the next, all the while keeping the listener enthralled with music that runs miles deep.

If Enochian Theory returns from hiatus I will be very intrigued as to the journey their sound takes...if not, Oceanica is sure to keep Ben busy for the foreseeable future.  The ability and desire to strike out on another path made this album--at least for me--a must listen.  Having allowed the music to wash over me, I am grateful for the opportunity.

And once again the Concert Closet takes the search for all things prog onward.  The journey (hopefully) never ends...until next time...



Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Sir Chronicles "Who?"

Welcome back fellow progheads! After setting the clock back one hour, I have reluctantly come to the conclusion that summer is over--but the campfire is still burning strong in the Concert Closet.  This week I took the search for all things prog to one my favorite places in the prog garden...that section where fusion meets jazz meets contemporary prog; Italy.

No photo description available.
It seems there is a never-ending export of great experimental  and cutting edge sound emanating from the Italian section of the prog garden.  This makes visit #3 with Sir Chronicles for me as I check out their new release, "Who?"  Here's hoping the third time is at least half the charm the first two were...
                                               
I feel the need to post a disclaimer here; first for Sir Chronicles fans familiar with their sound...this is not a "rank and file" album.  By that I mean the band really stretched themselves--so be ready.  For those of you hearing Sir Chronicles for the first time, leave your preconceived notions at the door because you are in for a treat.


 I begin with "What," a piece of music that puts the focus on fusion.  As the song opens I immediately hearken back to Can and their freestyle approach to prog.  Sir Chronicles leans a lot more on some incredible sax than Can ever did, but the vibe is there.  I pick up a touch of Flim & the BB's also; perhaps a bit more energy here but again, that sultry vibe.  This is the song you'd play in your '59 Cadillac Eldorado with the rag top down, gliding down the interstate...good times...

This album moves across the prog garden as smooth as  single malt in a dark, smoke filled nightclub.  And to set that mood my next choice is "When."  Once again Gabriele haunts you with his masterful sax playing; this time some wily keyboards slither in and wrap themselves around each note.  I sense aromatics of Eno in his ambient days with Moebius melding into his later work with David Byrne.  There is a hint of Happy Graveyard Orchestra  wandering through as well...

Liner Notes...still calling Italy home, for this project Sir Chronicles is a quartet comprised of founder Alessandro Bordino on electric bass and keyboards, Andrea Sartore on keyboards, Gabriele Borgogno handling that amazing saxophone, and Efrem Nota on drums.  Ettore Coraglia does the mixing and mastering.

Showing signs of maturity, Sir Chronicles seems to have grown up with this recording.  Their music always had a dark edge, that raging storm just on the perimeter that teases you with it's alternating fury and beauty.  To me this is a coming of age album for the band; their moment not so much in the sun but rather under the silver hue of a full moon.  Call it prog fusion, experimental, ambient,
avant-garde, jazz fusion...this album is a lesson in blazing your own trail.

Third time around I chose "Why." There is an amazing simplicity to the music streaming through the headphones.  Not to say it's basic--quite the opposite.  Sir Chronicles lays out simplicity quite beautifully, in an intricate kind of way...like how da Vinci painted a simple Mona Lisa...

Image result for sir chroniclesThe percussion work is refreshingly gentle.  There's the scat-like jazz lead-in you get while sitting in that smoke filled nightclub I mentioned earlier,  a hot spotlight illuminating the stage.  Once again Gabriele's sax mesmerizes like a siren at sea as keyboards ride the undercurrent.  I am reminded of Dave Brubeck throughout the entire album; it's almost a throwback to an era when music was appreciated for the bare bones, stripped down elegance that permeated the room.

Purchase the music of Sir Chronicles at Amazon and follow the band at Facebook and Twitter @AlessandroRiche.  The music can also be found on YouTube and Spotify, but the sound is so much better when you purchase the music and support the band... 

The sounds emerging from the clip below are the song "Where," and Alessandro's opening bass line is a groove even Tony Levin would be proud of...then Gabriele opens his saxophone case and once again magic flows through the headphones.  This cut is a bit funkier as Sir Chronicles shows their ability to fill the canvas by going back to basics.  Splashes of bright color intermingled with the grays you expect from a jazz fusion project.  Think Weather Report having an informal jam session in studio with Pat Metheny and David Sanborn, and off to the side Jaco Pastorius is just doing his thing...enjoy...


                        

Once again fellow progheads, we have reached the other end of the tunnel--and the focus is on the music.  Sir Chronicles took a minimalist approach to their latest project and the result is an album to truly appreciate; allow yourself to marinate in sound.  The music is clean and the images take you all over the fusion section of the prog garden.  What the album lacks in flash and glitter it more than makes up for with dedication to the art of making great music; and isn't that the objective after all?

Now the journey begins anew as the search for all things prog explores another untrod road...until next time...

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Crocodile "Howling Mad Black Music Under Hot Stars"

Thanks for coming back to the Concert Closet fellow progheads!  The prog garden continues to produce an abundance of great music and this week's feature bears that out.  As autumn continues to produce bright colors in nature, so to does the prog canvas explode with vibrant hues that cover the spectrum.  This week the search for all things prog takes me back to Austin TX, to visit a band I have enjoyed since first hearing their sound.

                                           Howling Mad Black Music Under Hot Stars. The new album by Crocodile. Out now.

www.crocodileatx.com

#Austin #AustinMusic #AustinProg #album #release #howling #mad #black #music #under #hot #stars #love #rock #secondalbum #crocodile

Crocodile just released their second album, "Howling Mad Black Music Under Hot Stars." About twenty months removed from their debut release, the band describes this latest addition to their catalog as a "prog album comprised of love songs."  Seems a trifle odd...a bit like describing the federal government as a nurturing entity.  As the saying goes however; the proof is in the pudding.  So let's grab a bowl of custard and drop a laser on that disc...

The festivities begin with "Dark Inverted Jubilee."  The upbeat tempo as the curtain peels back is reminiscent of Transatlantic with top notes of Steely Dan.  Vocals blend smoothly with guitars that throw a velvet punch and keyboards that tease just enough to pique your interest.  Crocodile has picked up where they left off; time to take this listening party a bit deeper...

   "The Genie (in full flower)" is the next serving, and the mood continues to be upbeat--despite the macabre tension lurking in the background.  Crocodile makes music that makes me feel safe, unaware that Pennywise the clown is lurking behind the not-quite-closed-tight closet door...
There is an ELO meets Gentle Giant vibe coursing through this tune...here come those bright colors splattered on a frayed canvas...

Liner Notes...making their home in Austin TX, the current line-up of Crocodile is Kevin Sims on guitar and vocals, Ted Thomas on bass and vocals, Thomas Shaw on keyboards and vocals, and Greg Seale on drums.

Album Cover
Their first album, "His Name Is Stan And He's A Bad Motherf**cker" was released in February 2018.  This, their second release, hit the Internet just weeks ago.  One personnel change between albums isn't bad; some bands never survive the rush of the first release and the madness and mayhem that causes egos to explode.  Still others melt down because album #1 was the dream and there was no long-term plan or focus.

Crocodile is different...their path seems well defined, and combined with the talent coming through the headphones, I expect the prog garden will be filled with more music from this quartet.  Despite their penchant for long album titles, the music cuts right to the chase.  Soft grooves on one cut bootlegging into hard driving guitar on the next make Crocodile a challenge to categorize and a joy to listen to.

You can purchase both of the band's albums at their website Crocodile and at Bandcamp.  They can also be found on Facebook and Twitter @crocodileatx

Logo (back cover)
The final song for review this week is the first cut on the album,
"(Arrival) Small Eden."  The opening takes me back to Spirit and their fresh approach to the prog garden at the time.  Sounding like an "in the moment" improv jam session, this is a song to simply fall headlong into.  Kevin's guitar leads the keyboards  masterfully across the gentler acreage of the prog garden until the song wraps up and he decides to make statement of his own...and all the while Greg is the drum major, keeping everyone focused and on point.

Your ear worm this week is "Avis Ender," the final cut on the album.  This one starts out clean and crisp, a bit like latter-day Jethro Tull.  Tom's keyboards sit back from the crowd on this piece but are oh, so essential--like the all the nutrients hiding in that power bar...you don't taste 'em but you do feel a surge of energy.  Turn this one up a bit and be glad there are bands that refuse to be categorized...    


                  

One of the many reasons I continue the search for all things prog and bring new music to you is the fun of finding bands that make it.  Hundreds, if not thousands of bands release a demo, EP, or a first album.  The challenge is getting your sound heard and appreciated--and then putting out album number two.  Here I am already looking forward to album number three from these guys.  How big the Crocodile catalog gets depends on how long the desire to keep doing what they're doing lasts...hopefully the fire burns for quite a while.

So once again fellow progheads the sand has fallen through the hourglass.  The search for all things prog found a true gem this week and I hope you enjoy this album as much as I have.  Getting into the prog garden requires a bit of luck and an adult dose of determination; staying requires grit, thick skin, a strong will, and a little thing called talent.  The journey continues...until next time...

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Apostles of Chaos "What's Inside?"

Greetings once again fellow progheads!  Thus far the  fall harvest from the prog garden is quite impressive--but I want to venture a bit further back at the moment.  This week the Concert Closet takes the search for all things prog to what can arguably be referred to as ground zero for the prog garden; England.  A common stop on the journey where many a great new prog band resides, this week I visit Apostle, a band recording for the Progressive Gears label.



For those of you darting your eyes back and forth from the title of this week's review to the last word in the paragraph above, allow me to explain...Apostles of Chaos released their album "What's Inside?" in March.  Since that time the seemingly obligatory personnel changes combined with the members of the band taking serious introspection into their music and the direction in which they want to take it lead to a bit of name change.  Simply put; chaos is out, Apostle is in.  However; in my never ending desire to keep things as complicated as possible, I titled the review as the album dictates.  Confused yet?  Hopefully your befuddlement will fade once the music is cranked up...

My immediate impulse is to let the music flow through the headphones starting with "Reaper."  There is a Dream Theater quality to the opening; a bit ominous, heavy, and foreboding.  The drums lay heavy across the entire piece and the guitars drive the point home.  Ryan's vocals are heavy enough to ride across that sound wave without losing any of their edge.  Apostle comes through on this song with a determination to hit you straight on, much the way Marillion creeps into your cerebellum throwing sound waves all over the place.

Traveling down the disc a bit I find another intriguing cut, "In Your Eyes."  There is a Spock's Beard quality to this piece and the canvas is splayed with brighter colors this time around.  Apostle shows off an ability to cover major ground in the prog garden as they go from grim darkness to a more melancholy stride flecked with top notes of Machines Dream and Violent Attitude If Noticed.

Liner Notes...Coming together in Yorkshire England back in 2017, the current line-up for Apostle is Ryan Hanson on vocals, Richard Lidster on guitar, Shaun "Tin Tin" Ellis on bass, Chris "Egg" Allen on keyboards, and Marcus Murray on drums.  Apostle draws influence from many facets of the prog era ranging from Led Zeppelin to Rush, blended with a shot of Marillion and Transatlantic, tossed with just a hint of The Strawbs to pique one's musical pallet.

Despite having as many albums as name changes on their resume, I expect a lot from this band in the future;  "What's Inside?" is a stellar first offering.  Apostle can rattle you with boisterous metal, soothe you with delicate piano, fascinate you with intricate guitar work, take you back with sounds reminiscent of prog giants past, and blaze a trail forward with music best described as their own.

For my last serving this week I went with the title cut.  Once more Apostle makes a bootleg turn across the prog garden as they show off an ability to draw from decades past to make music of the prog future.  Top notes that range from Deep Purple to Jethro Tull makes this band all the more desirable to even the casual listener...once you put the headphones on it's easy to fall into the abyss...

Immerse yourself further in Apostle at Apostle and keep up with the changes at FaceBook and Twitter @AOC_Bandpage_UK.  Music can be purchased on their website as well as the Progressive Gears site Progressive Gears.

Your ear worm this week is the song "Drifter."  This song has a bit of everything; strong lead in, heavy guitar/drum wallop, and melodic riff harking back to the 70's.  There are aromatics of Kansas rising from the headphones with this cut along with a touch of Kinetic Element.  Enjoy the ride and don't forget to focus...

                       

Once again fellow progheads we enter the final turn for the week.  Apostle turned out to be a vibrant multi-faceted band capable of cranking up the heat on one song while serenading you with the next.  This is the type of band I imagine Adrian Belew could take in an entirely new direction much as he did with Talking Heads.  Don't interpret that to mean I think Apostle needs a new axe man--I don't.  Richard does just fine and the band is in good hands...it's just one of the many crazy thoughts that enter my head as I wander the prog garden looking for the next new thing; "what would happen if..?"

As for me I am quite content with the line-up Apostle has put together.  So while I sit back and enjoy another run through the disc, the search for all things prog continues on...until next time...

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Pattern - Seeking Animals

Welcome back fellow progheads!  It feels like forever since the lights in the Concert Closet have been turned on!  The summer was a whirlwind and as much as I hate to see the sun start setting earlier, it is great to be back.  In between seeing a few fantastic live shows I was fortunate enough to be immersed in a plethora of great new prog; the fall harvest should be quite plentiful....

Sorting through dozens of new releases, new discoveries of old releases, new favorites, old favorites, and some music that simply fit like that favorite old T-shirt, the next leg of the search for all things prog starts with a listening session with Pattern-Seeking Animals, a new group comprised of old talent...as in time-tested and ready for a new adventure.



Pattern-Seeking Animals was originally intended to be an outlet for Spock's Beard songwriter and producer John Boegehold.  Once he put together enough material to qualify for an album, he set about assembling a band to bring his efforts to life.  Enter Jimmy Keegan, Dave Meros, and Ted Leonard.  Despite a (perhaps) unavoidable slight tilt toward Spock's Beard, Pattern-Seeking Animals has developed and nurtured a sound all their own. Their eponymous debut was released in July, so I have had quite a bit of time to become familiar with it.

"Orphans of the Universe" is an excellent jump off point; the piano intro is elegant and
tantalizing--for about 15 seconds.  Drums and guitars then join the fracas in what is best described as a carnival ride through the prog garden...bright colors stream across a canvas filled with excitement.  Ted's vocals are a cooling summer rain as they become entwined in the music like silk threads in a flowing scarf.  There are obvious top notes of Spock's Beard, but listening deeper I pick up aromatics of The Inner Road and The Mute Gods.

Playing farther down the album is a rather interesting piece called "We Write the Ghost Stories."  John's keyboards take center stage on this cut, leading the listener on a journey that is wondrous in its depth and muted extravagance.  This song comes at you directly--almost demanding your undivided attention.  While the lyrics are speaking to you, attempting to get your attention, Jimmy Keegan's drums grab you by the collar and slap you around a bit...just enough to let you know that this would be a good time to pay attention.

Liner Notes...Pattern-Seeking Animals is creator John Boegehold on keyboards and synthesizers, accompanied by Ted Leonard on vocals and guitars, Dave Meros on bass, and Jimmy Keegan on drums and vocals.  I have reviewed Jimmy with so many bands I've lost count...and he brings an exclusive sound to every band he performs with.  This is a band with no pretense about who they are; seasoned professionals who have collectively logged many a mile traveling the prog garden with countless bands.  Everyone contributes and the spotlight easily splits off in four directions illuminating every member of the group.

Finally I give you "These Are My Things."  This song travels a bit of a darker path yet manages to shine bright.  The soft opening sets you up for a boisterous finish.  Pattern-Seeking Animals as a whole are greater than the sum of their parts--and the parts are impressive.  The pleasure in this song is how seamlessly one instrument melts into the next; the music flows as smoothly as warm caramel rolling down the sides of a slice of cheesecake...


Pattern-Seeking Animals have managed to avoid being caught in a sound warp; yes they have musings of Spock's Beard, but there is way too much talent pressed into vinyl here for these guys to allow themselves to simply be another "cover band" with original material.  No; the top notes are there--undeniably--but top notes are to be expected.  Listen deeper and you will discover  Pattern-Seeking Animals sets the bar higher and achieves the ultimate goal; a sound and experience unique unto themselves.  Apparently John's musical alter-ego has a lot to say...

To purchase this album and other treasures in the Inside Out catalog go to the band's website
at Pattern-Seeking Animals or Inside Out Music.  You can also connect on PSA Facebook and Twitter @psanimals1.  In these days of easy access to technology I urge you to support the artists...

To entice you just a bit further I bring you the clip below; "No Burden Left to Carry."  As the song opens you can sense the urge to burst through the headphones.  Once again the top notes have  a familiar air about them, but fused with a touch of Asia and Gekko Projekt, Pattern-Seeking Animals continue to make their own mark in the prog garden.


                      


Thank you for coming back fellow progheads.  It has certainly been an interesting journey these past six years; I've learned quite a bit about music and about myself.  The prog garden continues to offer up bumper crop after bumper crop and I am content to reap every harvest.

Listening to Pattern-Seeking Animals was not just a form of entertainment, but an education of sorts as well.  We all know artists that have been members of several bands--sometimes on-again-off-again, but with Pattern-Seeking Animals it's different.  Here they celebrate their past experiences and use all they have gained through them to bring forth something new.  For me, it makes strolling through the prog garden the pleasure it is.  One song can take you in so many directions and open so many doors...the journey seems to last forever.

With that said, time to take the search for all things prog onward...until next time...

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

More Ambient Serenity from Abstract Aprils

A most sincere thank you to everyone venturing back into The Closet Concert Arena!  I thought this week the perfect time to travel down the ambient path...a tranquil journey I enjoy as much as I need.  This section of the prog garden is a wonderful place to clear your mind, body, soul, and just relax.



As an extra bonus, I reconnected with an old friend I met because of this blog, enjoying his music ever since.  Abstract Aprils is the filter your body needs when the world comes at you 500 miles an hour and all you want to do is step off the carousel for a time out.

Never known to follow the masses, Abstract Aprils recently released a series of singles with the end goal being a complete album.  So in keeping with that mindset let us sit under a set of headphones allowing a new crop of ambient sounds to wash over like that first breath of fresh spring air following a way too long winter doldrums...

"Blair Eyes" gets the party started...and quickly I remember why I so fell in love with the ambient section of the prog garden.  Simply stated this piece is a cleansing of the soul...the washing away of all the grime the world manages to fling at you.  By the end of the day you yearn for a long peaceful shower to wash it all away and this is it.  The top notes of Robert Fripp are so aromatic as to make you wonder if Abstract Aprils were part of The League of Crafty Guitarists.  Even Byrne and Eno come through delicately from a transcendent perspective...

The next sound to make its way through the headphones is "Bedroom," and a more aptly named piece of music I cannot think of at the moment.  The music melts across your auditory sensors and proceeds to cascade gently down your neck, flowing through your entire body like aloe on a sunburn. Abstract Aprils captures the essence of ambient music right here; there is a calming effect that slowly overtakes your mind and spirit as you listen.

Liner Notes...those of you with good memories will recall Abstract Aprils is the alter-ego of one Collin Welner who calls Missoula, Montana home.  Collin has been recording under the Abstract Aprils moniker for about five years with several recordings to his credit. The challenge with ambient music is discovery; I know it's out there and I enjoy the soothing benefits it offers but as of yet I have not found a radio station with this subgenre included in the playlist.

Collin is an artist in the truest sense of the word--he performs his craft because he enjoys it.  There are many in the ambient section of the prog garden who are recognized as great artists; Brian Eno, Robert Fripp, Harold Budd, Can, even David Byrne has some notable ambient music in his catalog.  Still others, Twyla Tharp and Philip Glass among them, have recorded music that would fall under the ambient umbrella.  But for every Eno the are dozens of Abstract Aprils--and I mean that in a most respectful way.  Collin has put together some beautiful recordings and soundscapes...all you need to do is tune in and relax...

The next piece to emit from the headphones like a calming siren is "The Dawning" and its seamless flow into "Glimme."  The music expands your thoughts as you get lost in the moment...wandering through the doors in your mind like a tourist at Buckingham Palace.

You can purchase these latest releases and more from Abstract Aprils at bandcamp and audiosocket.
There is facebook and Twitter @AbstractAprils for keeping with the latest information on the band.

I posted "I Won't Fight" for your relaxation and mental "aroma" therapy this week.  Here Abstract Aprils lays bare all there is in the world of ambient music; soothing soundscapes, gentle patterns, and a sound that seems to come mildly from the other side of a mountain.  The canvas is running with pastel hues as the brush floats silently across its face, leaving a picture as delicate as the sounds wafting through the headphones.  Put this on and enjoy the day, putting aside the clamor of the outside world...


                  

So there you are my fellow progheads, a beautiful respite from all the madness and mayhem that surrounds you every day.  Abstract Aprils is that breath of fresh air you were looking for when you wandered into the ambient section in the first place.

One of the reasons I can enjoy so many sections of the prog garden is the "mind cleansing" I get when I spend time tuned in to ambient music.  To truly appreciate all sections of the prog garden one must occasionally "make a pit stop."  Abstract Aprils and others of the like allow the listener to do just that, all the while taking an enjoyable ride on the smoothest of mood elevators.

Of course when the elevator reaches the ground floor one must venture out so as to enjoy the next stop on the journey.  So as the search for all things prog continues, I remind you to savor the moment...until next time...

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Deep Energy Orchestra "Playing With Fire"

Hello fellow progheads; welcome once again to The Closet Concert Arena!  Spring is in full bloom and the prog garden is bursting with some incredible music.  This week the search for all things prog goes off on a bit of a tangent to check in with a musician I have respected and admired for many years.  His career has crossed paths with several great bands and many talented artists...for the next 168 hours I celebrate the music of Trey Gunn and Deep Energy Orchestra.


Trey is probably best known for his time in King Crimson, and followers of this blog will (hopefully) remember a 2013 review I wrote of his amazing work in KTU.  But for now we celebrate Trey's latest project, Deep Energy Orchestra, and their debut release "Playing With Fire."

Opening track "The Return" is a soothing balm for all that ails you.  The strings are mesmerizing as they float between an inner stillness and an uptempo train ride through Bangladesh.  I feel a Ravi Shankar vibe flowing through this piece, albeit with a bit more flair.  The percussion gels with the bass line in such a seamless synergy you might think it all flows from one body...this band is as tight as Ebeneezer Scrooge...

Next piece of music to fill the headphones is "Mysterious World." This one leaps out of the gate and completely surrounds the perimeter of your skull with an aura that is as relaxing as it is stimulating.  Deep Energy Orchestra channels King Crimson on this cut; Trey celebrates his roots rather than leave them behind.

Liner Notes...in addition to Trey Gunn on Warr guitar, Deep Energy Orchestra is Jason Everett/AKA Mr. E on 7-string fretless and 6-string acoustic bass, Radhika Iyer on 7-string electric violin, Anil Prasad on tabla, Rachel Nesvig on violin, Aleida Gehrels on viola, Phil Hirschi on cello, and V. Selvaganesh on konjira and custom drum kit.  You get the idea that the group is heavy on strings, but that can almost be misleading.  The soundscapes and images created flow so effortlessly and work so well together you forget how many people are required to put it all together; the band becomes an aside to the music...

The album was recorded live in Seattle, WA over a two-day period as part of an Artist Residency Award.  Classical meets funk meets jazz meets Indian-style is a section of the prog garden I would consider at best scarcely populated...so the awe factor is in play.

Final selection is "Awakening" and the title is quite apropos.  As the guitar nudges you and drums gently poke your ribs, the canvas begins to fill with the brightness of the day. I cannot emphasize enough how tight this group is; they seem to draw strength from and feed confidence to each other.  Trey has always been one to venture far from the conventional and with Deep Energy Orchestra he is absolutely blazing a new trail.

There is a tranquil intensity to the entire album and you can make your purchase at DeepEnergyOrchestra  and bandcamp.  There is also the proverbial Facebook link and you will find Trey on Twitter @treygunn.

To fill your mind and soul this week I bring you "The Return."  I chose this cut because it offers insight into the Deep Energy Orchestra world; a glimpse not just behind the curtain but inside the creative minds of what this band is all about.  You are privy firsthand to the pleasure and joy this group exudes; Trey is a beacon of positive energy and Mr. E has found his happy place.  Let this one play on a loop a few times and all the negative aura in your world will fall away.  Somewhere George Harrison and Ravi Shankar are smiling...


                   

Thus ends another week of music and mind exploration in the prog garden.  Deep Energy Orchestra is a great example of why the prog genre casts such a wide net; the soundscapes developed here fused with that funk and jazz heartbeat make this an album unlike any I have played in quite a long time--if at all.  Trey took the road less traveled and working with giants in their own right put together a wonderful album that you will want to play over and over.

Of course the search for all things prog doesn't stop so the journey continues...until next time...