Tuesday, July 1, 2014


Happy Tuesday fellow progheads, and welcome once again to the Concert Closet.  While enjoying the summer is high on my to-do list right now, sitting back idly is not my preferred method of soaking in all those cancer-laden sun rays...time to put on my travelling shoes once again and head for previously untrodden territory.  With nothing more than a Google map and a new location pin to mark my excursion, I head for Finland and the captivating sounds of Moonwagon.

Moonwagon is a "...Finnish progressive rock band with psychedelic/space rock influences..."  Think Spock's Beard meets Atomic Rooster in Syd Barrett's attic and you're almost there.  Even the name evokes 60's imagery, much like the Strawberry Alarm Clock or Electric Prunes.  But the similarities end there, as Moonwagon takes progressive music into a stratosphere not exactly packed with Traffic...but the perfect place to begin this week's journey so let us touch down slowly.  The band has two releases out for your listening pleasure; 2010's "Nightdust" and the album I will be reviewing this week, "Foyers of the Future" released in 2012.

As is my wont, I start this week with the opening cut, "Elsewhere."  The song opens to strong drums; I have an initial feel of a marching band...until the keyboards and guitars chime in and lift the song to the cosmos. Pink Floyd and King Crimson enjoying a "casual jam session" sets the mood; now you just need a black light and a lava lamp.  Moonwagon hits all the right notes on this tune...everything flows together while building on itself.  There is a plethora of sound by the time the eight-minute mark is reached yet it feels as if I am only three minutes into the piece.  An absolutely marvelous beginning to my seven day Finnish sojourn...

My second selection this week is a song called "Shadows Whisper Fire."  Moonwagon lives up to their self-described style here...an absolute gem of a space-prog tune.  I pick up extreme hints of  Yes in their "Gates of Delirium" days, and some early Genesis.  Once again all the pieces fit together like the varietals in a magnificent vintage wine.  The time changes give a subtle aural slap to the inner ear...Moonwagon walks to the center of the prog garden and proceeds to put down roots that shoot off in every direction; pulling the music to the outer edges of the progressive realm.  Listening to this song takes me back to the days when I first started listening to progressive music...every groove on the vinyl disc was an adventure.  Before this tune ends you will feel certain you just had an out-of-body experience...

Liner Notes...Moonwagon is Jani Korpi on drums and percussion,12-string acoustic guitar, and vocals, Joni Tiala on electric and acoustic guitars, mandolin, dulcimer, melodica, and vocals, and Janne Ylikorpi on bass and acoustic piano.  Ami Hassinen is credited with synthesizers, keyboards, effects, and vocals on this week's album feature; however I understand Ami is no longer a member of the band.

Moonwagon started in 2008, cultivating a sound that is incredibly unique.  With one foot planted in psychedelia and the other leaping into the future, Moonwagon has succeeded in carving out a plot in the prog garden that is not only heretofore untilled--it goads the listener to try and define it.  Too easy are the labels retro, throwback, space-like, or acid rock.  Moonwagon prefers you take your best shot at "genre identification" so they can push the boundary in eight directions at once.  The more I listen to Moonwagon the more I feel their sense of  loyalty and respect for the bands that tilled the original prog soil--yet their sound is so much more than a simple tribute.    

My final selection from this amazing prog buffet is a song called "Through the Veil of Rain."  Once again Moonwagon finds a previously unopened door through which to enter your head.  The tune opens mellow and easy, like a Georgia sun shower...and starts to hit a bit harder on the strength of Joni's guitar.  Of course the synthesizers and percussion cloud your memory as to exactly which decade/century you are currently in. Hints of Golden Earring and Alan Parsons Project float through this piece like so many lasers at the Whiskey A Go Go circa 1968...

I also chose "Through the Veil of Rain" as the video clip to post this week.  Although I normally prefer to choose a different cut to post than the tunes reviewed, I just feel that the eleven-plus minutes encapsulated here are the best introduction one can get to the past, present, and future of progressive music.  I recommend playing this cut with headphones and a snifter of really good Terva liqueur...learn more about Moonwagon at https://www.facebook.com/Moonwagonband/timeline.

Thank you fellow progheads for joining me on this week's excursion.  Moonwagon was more than just seven days spent listening to prog music--it was time travel through my stereo.  This is a band capable of bringing you to the outer reaches of the prog galaxy and the beginning of the prog universe in just one song. Moonwagon pays the ultimate homage to its mentors by taking the entire genre to a new level.  The kicker is they do it the "the old-fashion way;" oozing implausible sounds from classic instruments.  Moonwagon's appreciation and respect for their music and craft is as unmistakable as their sound.

Time once again to pack up and continue my global trek in search of all things prog...and in so doing I am taking the concert closet for some much needed rest and relaxation.  I will return in a fortnight--that is two weeks time to those who mark the calendar.  This will allow me the privilege of scouting out bands even farther on the edge of the prog garden in lands I have yet to discover.  I am eager for the opportunity to both soak up some summer and some prog...until July 15th...    

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