Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Bent Knee

Hello and here's to enjoying the opening stages of spring fellow progheads!  This week the Concert Closet  logged very few miles, traveling from Portsmouth NH all the way to Boston MA. Dreadnaught was a fun excursion and a great lesson in why prog is not only good--it's good for you. This week the Concert Closet found another gem staring up in wild wonder from some of the richest soil in the prog garden.  Prepare yourself for a week of complex head-scratching and bewildered
jaw-dropping...embrace the feelings you had when prog first found you...welcome to the world of Bent Knee.

Bent Knee refers to themselves as "...a genre-defying art rock collective...fiercely innovative...bridges the gap between the experimental and the familiar..."  This introduction is much too tempting for the Concert Closet to ignore, and since we are already entrenched in New England, what's another seven days when you can enjoy some great prog?  So let us check out the goods at the prog buffet...

First serving is a nice big platter of "Being Human."  The opening is almost a bait-and-switch; you are led by a tranquil voice painting a dark picture that suddenly erupts like that volcano you made in fifth grade science class using baking soda and vinegar.  The emotional roller coaster you find yourself on--coupled with time and tempo changes that seem to defy logic--make for one unforgettable ride.  Bent Knee emits top notes of King Crimson, Porcupine Tree, and Beardfish on this tune...an analytical probe of the inner mind.  The colors on the canvas start out pastel and bleed to crimson red, navy blue, and midnight black; all the while painting a connect-the-dots picture that leads you deeper into a grotto you don't want to leave.

Still dazed by the sounds that just passed through my headphones, I go back for a second serving, and discover another mind-altering cut called "Little Specks of Calcium." There is an intensity as the song opens...you know there is a ten car pile-up just around the bend, yet you are powerless to stop the acceleration toward it and are thrilled by the anticipation...

Bent Knee doesn't just hit you with sound--they fill your entire being with vivid images and intense emotion.  This is a band that forced expansion of the prog garden; there really was no acreage prior for them to call home.  I pick up aromatics of Opeth and a touch of Scarlet INside wafting through this tune...a sort of "innocent terror" if that is possible.  Bent Knee may paint dark--but there are so many hues and shades splattered across the canvas, you forget to be afraid and instead stand mesmerized by the aura.

Liner Notes...originating in Boston MA, Bent Knee is Courtney Swain on vocals and keyboards, Ben Levin on guitars and vocals, Chris Baum on violin and vocals, Jessica Kion on bass and vocals, Gavin Wallace-Ailsworth on drums, and Vince Welch handling production and sound design.  The band came together as an art/rock collective at Berklee.  Six humans may crowd a studio, but it is their unified approach to the progressive genre; heavily weighted with a desire to constantly evolve, grow, and morph into the unexpected that takes center stage.

Bent Knee prances gracefully through the prog garden while blazing a trail others have only fantasized about. Three albums currently fill their resume, but Bent Knee will certainly not stop there; much too much inspiration, grit, and random chaos running through their collective psyches to leave the next canvas blank.  However; I feel obligated to post a disclaimer at this juncture...Bent Knee is not for the "casual" prog fan--nor the hard core "purist."  Rather, Bent Knee is ideal for those who have a hankering for music that is diverse, raw, at times riveting, and always on the wrong (or is right?) side of conventional.  Courtney, Ben, Gavin, et al are the kids who cut physics class in high school for a week, show up on exam day--and ace the test.

My third slice of Bent Knee comes from their latest release "Shiny Eyed Babies," a distinctive cut called "Toothsmile."  Courtney's voice is gently soothing and surgically piercing all at once.  The music haunts--but in such a way as to coax you out of your paranoia; you just want to fall headlong into the void and lay there awhile among the sights and sounds...

My choice for your listening pleasure this week is an ear-opener called "In God We Trust."  I chose a live cut because I wanted you to see and hear the performance; let it wash over you like low tide waves after an unexpected squall.  As the song climaxes you begin to understand that Bent Knee really is like no other band to waltz through the prog garden in recent memory; makes you want to run a DNA test with Pete Sinfield and Adrian Belew...

Run--do not walk--to the Bent Knee website https://bentknee.bandcamp.com/music to make the wisest music purchase of your prog filled week.  Learn more about Bent Knee at
http://www.bentkneemusic.com/.  The band has a Facebook page for those so inclined,
https://www.facebook.com/BentKneeMusic/.  You can also follow their Twitter feed to hear, see, and learn more about what Bent Knee is up to at @bentkneemusic.  Indulge yourself; go ahead...you're auditory senses will thank you.  This is a prog band Brian Eno would have assembled if they didn't beat him to the punch...


Another seven days spent and another true prog gem discovered--all in all quite the triumphant week, fellow progheads!  Bent Knee takes the proverbial fork in the road--and uses it to poke you in the eye.  Their music fits no hardcore definition, nor is it a mishmash of sound assembled for the sake of making noise.  Bent Knee truly is an art collective; music that opens your eyes as well as your ears.
Bent Knee is "King Crimson meets Bang On a Can All Stars;"  a prog music nerve naked and exposed; the protective coating peeled back to enhance your listening pleasure.

One more reason to continue the search for all things prog; no matter who or what you discover, you just know there is more out there in the prog garden waiting for the sun to bring out the vivid color and succinct sound that separates prog from all other genres.  So I gladly continue the journey...until next week...

Tuesday, March 22, 2016


Onward fellow progheads!  Thanks once again, and as always it is humbling and very much appreciated to have  so many loyal followers.  The search for all things prog takes a bit of a tangent road this week; thought it would be fun and a bit off trajectory to look for a band that refuses to be pigeon-holed, taken too seriously, or confined to one section of the prog garden.  This week the Concert Closet followed Google Maps to Portsmouth NH to frolic in the eccentric and unconventional sounds of Dreadnaught.

Dreadnaught refers to themselves as "...Prog Rock/Americana..." just vague enough to whet my multi-faceted prog appetite.  This is the type of prog band that keeps the Concert Closet waking the neighbors at 2am--not only can they blow the doors off the coolest gin joint on the strip, they can also hunker down and prog with the best of 'em.  Dreadnaught defies any singular definition and have been referred to as one of the best kept secrets in the prog world.  I think it only fitting to dig elbow deep in that box of Crackerjack and open the prize inside...

The buffet opens with a slice of what is best described as an improv sound; "Knife Hits."  As the piece opens, I half expect Jamie Muir to jump out from behind the curtain as sounds emanate from all directions...and then ride a wave of soothing percussion melded smoothly with semi-ornate guitar work.  Simmering in aromatics of Adrian Belew era King Crimson and early Genesis, Dreadnaught leaves a lasting impression with this cut...much like running into the geeky kid from gym class while in the library and discovering he's well versed in three foreign languages and has a hot girlfriend...

Having peeled a layer off this onion, I am curious as to what lies buried beneath, and a taste of "Surface Raid" fills the auditory canals with an adult dose.  This song teaches Sybil a thing or two about mood swings...an opening that is akin to a mild ELP interlude, only to pull a bootlegger's turn and run headlong into a Stickmen/League of Crafty Guitarists melange.  The intensity continues to climb; you feel as though you are in a kayak cascading over the falls into the abyss...and is it ever exciting!  Oh man is this gonna be a fun week...

Taking an offbeat spin this time around the carousel whilst circling back to the buffet with an extra hitch in my giddyup, my third slice of Dreadnaught prog is a sweet nugget called "Nervous Little Dogs."  Filling the canvas with obscurity and bright colors right from the onset, this piece pays homage to many in the prog garden with an emphasis on the metal section--but don't apply a standard-type label to this piece.  I pick up top notes of Dream Theater, Yes, Weather Report, and Happy Graveyard Orchestra...these guys run all over the prog garden gathering ideas and imagery like so much stalagmite in a mine shaft...

Liner Notes...Dreadnaught hails from a New England paradise known as Portsmouth NH and consists of the artistically incredible trio of Bob Lord on bass, Justin Walton on guitars, and Rick Habib on drums.  Formed in 1996, Dreadnaught has eight albums, cassettes, CD's, and EP's already released and available for your listening pleasure, with a new one due this fall (not that I want to rush through the summer!).  This is a band that takes prog to a different plane; they are hard working, serious musicians who never forgot the first rule of choosing a career--enjoy yourself!  Dreadnaught has walked the width and breadth of the prog garden, but rather than gather for themselves--they have shared their experiences with the rest of the prog world.  

Dreadnaught has put together a rather impressive resume over a twenty year span including performances with John Entwistle, Tony Levin, and NRBQ...being the house band for the
Music Hall/New Hampshire Public Radio Live Series...and performances with Steven King, Salman Rushdie, John Updike, and Ken Burns just to name a few.  If you are asking yourself; "How did I miss these guys?" you are not alone, for I, too, am pondering the same question.  Of course, rather than beat myself up, I will simply make up for lost time and over indulge myself now...

Back to the buffet for a hefty serving of  "Barefoot Kicker."  Dreadnaught has mastered the art of avoiding the routine.  This song opens unlike the previous three I have reviewed, and is different still than most of what they have etched into vinyl and burned into disc.  The guitar work is circa 1960's classic while steering clear of anything cliche.  The drumming is the perfect foundation to keep the entire piece afloat; subtle yet solid.  Vocals weave their way through like spun sugar in a cotton candy machine.  The music carries you across decades of the prog garden, culminating in a calliope-like ride that throws wild imagery against the inside of your skull...

Dreadnaught comes across in this tune like a band with nothing to prove and everything to say--they drive a spike through the heart of all that is "conventional."  I have seen King Crimson perform live wearing three piece suits and pressed shirts; Dreadnaught is just as at home on the same stage wearing sweatpants, torn jeans, and T-shirts with sweat stains...it ain't about the look; it's the music--and Dreadnaught nails it.  Learn more about Dreadnaught at http://www.dreadnaughtrock.com/. Please do yourself, your prog collection, and your music senses a favor and purchase their music at
http://dreadnaughtmusic.bandcamp.com/.  Dreadnaught has a Twitter account @dnaughtmusic  for keeping up with everything they think, say, and do...and I am sure you won't want to miss all the fun...

The clip posted below is the first single from their forthcoming album called "Takin' A Ride With The Fat Man (Fatta Fatta Puck Puck)."  I chose this song for several reasons...the music and vocals flow so well together you get a sense of what velvet feels like...an introduction to virgin acreage in the prog garden.  After listening, the urge to purchase the album when it is released will be irresistible...

Dreadnaught emits strong top notes of King Crimson, Genesis, Talking Heads, and Uriah Heep on this tune...no easy feat.  There is a nostalgic feel to this song; a throwback to simplicity coupled with a burning drive forward into the future...yes, Dreadnaught covers a lot of ground in eight minutes plus...

  Well fellow progheads, this has been a week to remember!  Dreadnaught took me back to why I was initially  drawn to progressive rock as a young innocent; the music is real.  This is a band that plays because they love what they do, and they are probably unqualified to do anything else--lucky for us.

Dreadnaught has a passion that cannot be quantified nor minimized.  The prog garden needs more bands that play simply for the love of playing...takes me back to days spent in record stores spinning the latest release of an up and coming...the next "can't miss."  Speaking of which, there must be another "raw gem" in the prog garden just waiting to be noticed.  Which can only mean the search for all things prog continues...until next week...

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Mika Luoto and Musarra

Thanks for coming back fellow progheads!  Hopefully the loss of sixty minutes this weekend did not throw your body clock completely out of whack.  Despite the non-stop trudge toward spring, this week the Concert Closet ventured to a land where heavy winter jackets are still in fashion...can't seem to stay away from the arctic for some reason.  Since the trek north of the Arctic Circle is a long one, I thought the best "bang for the buck" would be a double review of sorts...so bundle up, hunker down, and expand your horizons as we delve into the jazz fusion sounds of solo artist Mika Luoto and the darker, heavier, metal-edged Musarra,  his alter-ego one man band...

Mika Luoto is a self-professed solo act; he plays all instruments himself while using software for drums. I can already hear the "prog purists" snorting and swallowing their collective tongues...but before I turn my nose up at something, I have to honestly and objectively give it a fair shake.  Mika's alter-ego is the prog metal Musarra, a band he fronts, middles, and ends.  The search for all things prog has allowed me to venture down many side roads and alleys, and wander into some extremely dark concert halls...but I am not sure if the Concert Closet has encountered this type of growth in the prog garden previously...let us venture deeper...

This being a two-sided buffet, I will begin with some lighter fare...I need to save room for what may lie ahead.  Perusing Mika's solo work, a serving of "Hobo Life" is an excellent aperitif.  The guitar work is tremendous and quite visual; I get a real sense of riding a boxcar across the plains...the steady thump of the rails the perfect complement to a head full of steel and dobro.  The software drums are soothing, much like a fleece blanket wrapped around all that guitar work.

Jumping to the metal side of the buffet I start with a Musarra tune called "Never Forgiven." Dark and brooding, this song stews in angry, ominous thoughts.  "Never Forgiven" is as wicked as "Hobo Life" is free spirited...Mika shows definite signs of a Jekyll and Hyde personality conflict on these two pieces.  With aromatics ranging from Mark Knopfler and Bill Nelson to Mikael Akerfeldt, Mika must take long walks through the prog garden at night, gathering top notes and influences from many different sources.

Liner Notes...the cat was let out of the bag earlier that Musarra and Mika Luoto are one and the same, so let us traverse the terrain he calls home.  Mika hails from Oulainen, Finland, and first picked up the guitar in 1987.  Mika played in numerous bands building his resume, and currently his two solo acts occupy most of his musical time.  Musarra credits Mika as guitarist, bass player, keyboardist, lead vocalist...everything. He even wears the  general manager's hat.  Either this guy has no friends, is hard to be in a band with, or just prefers to go it alone...ever the optimist, I am going with option #3.

My second choice for a solo cut from Mika is a soothing piece of music called "Forest Is Amazing Place."  The opening guitar work here is as smooth as melted caramel and spills from the headphones like honey from the hive.  There are strong top notes of The League of Crafty Guitarists floating across the top. The colors on the pallet are more pastel than bright; you can almost see the wood nymphs and centaurs roaming freely amongst the trees.  The song winds down in a surreal,
slow-motion like spin out, culminating in what sounds like a guitar being slowly dismantled...

Hopping back to the carb heavy, hot sauce drenched Musarra side of the buffet, I find a terrestrial like tune called "The Dance of Inanna."  Musarra layers guitar with keyboards nicely here; the canvas is dark--but not nearly the doom and destruction depicted earlier.  The mood and tempo pick up as the song morphs into a Hindu ritual of sorts; I find myself searching the darkness for gold columns and bright lights as I am awash in a frenzy of excitement...but the fall into the abyss does not stop there. Musarra continues down a rabbit hole of sorts, much like Alice as she passed through the looking glass.  Mika channels Steve Vai and Joe Bonamassa, hitting the notes harder each time around.

You can discover more about Mika Luoto and his alter ego on the web.  There are dueling Facebook pages; his solo artist Dr. Jekyll is at  https://www.facebook.com/musicianmikaluoto/timeline while the tenacious Mr. Hyde can be found at https://www.facebook.com/musarraband/timeline.  There are also "twin" Twitter accounts, @mikaluoto1  and @Musarraband respectively.   Mika has also set up ReverbNation, SoundCloud, and Amazon links for those wanting to purchase his music--please do.  There is even a YouTube channel, and if that doesn't slake your thirst, Mika can be found on Spotify.

I thought it best to provide the listener with an offering from both sides of the prog garden; a chance, if you will, to hear for yourself the prog duels that go on inside the head of the beast.  I chose to open with the more restrained sounds of Mika's solo credited work, a song called "Springroad Guitar." Mika seems to focus more on his prog guitar work when recording as a solo performer.  This song paints a picture reminiscent of Clint Eastwood's "spaghetti western" days; macho without the unnecessary bravado and smart enough to lock in your auditory sensors.  It is clever without being cliche...

For round two, you will want a shot of bourbon to wash down "Death of Enkidu."  Not so much because it blasts you start to finish, but rather because it is so dark while staying so cerebral.  Musarra is more than just screaming, shredding guitar, and dark ominous vocals...there is a soul buried under all that weight longing to break out.  I sense a "jazzy" feel to the tempo here...a Joe Satriani meets Al Di Meola vibe coming through the headphones.  Funky and quirky, yet still with the dark fringe...

Take the time to explore both sides of Mika Luoto and his world of prog; you just might find something worth grabbing hold of...


That finalizes another seven days in the prog garden, fellow progheads.  Musarra is absolutely the Yin to Mika's Yang; the dark tunnel leading you toward the bright light.  Mika tills acreage in two distinct and separate sections of the prog garden...and yet there are moments when he seems to meld them together seamlessly.

The prog world (fortunately) breeds musicians like Mika Luoto; those who need multiple outlets for all the ideas, images, and noises rambling around inside their collective craniums.  Another reason to appreciate and savor the bounty the  prog garden yields.  Time now to air out the Concert Closet as the search for all things prog moves beyond Finland.  Knowing there is so much diverse prog awaiting discovery keeps me motivated...until next week...

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

The Opposite Of Hate

Another week, another review, and another sincere thanks for stopping by fellow progheads!  As the calendar inches toward spring I decided to take the Concert Closet on a little sight seeing tour of Brazil ahead the madness and mayhem the Summer Olympics will no doubt unleash.  Of course there is an ulterior motive to my logging all these frequent flyer miles...I was recently introduced by some prog friends (via Facebook) to a list put out by "A Metal State of Mind" ranking the Top 50 Progressive Rock Albums.

Followers of my blog know that I have an aversion to lists that rank music, songs, musicians, bands, etc. My issue is they always lead to arguments about why "so-and-so" was left off the list or "how-the-hell-did-that-band" make the list...in short they are very subjective and based on opinion.  But curiosity got the better of me this time.  As I perused the list I discovered two things.  First; Brazil--a great place to spend seven days (provided I can avoid the mosquitoes), and second; an exceptional prog rock band to enjoy while sipping on a caipirinha. So please join me poolside and relax with the invigorating sounds of The Opposite Of Hate.

The Opposite Of Hate is a post prog/prog metal band that came to be as "...a project of lonely friends living far apart from each other and locked up in their own recording studios..."  Once I read that intro I was drawn like the proverbial moth to a flame.  Time to check the prog buffet and hear what a little loneliness can do to a band...

First course is an extremely moody piece called "God's Middleman."  The song opens in a dark place; almost unseemly.  The music begins to bore a hole through the base of your skull in an attempt to release pent up anger and energy.  I feel top notes of Beardfish and Fire Garden playing with my auditory senses; a pull that while dark and foreboding is awfully damned enticing.  Meanwhile the vocals come through like a bad FM signal in a snowstorm...a perfect match for guitar work that bleeds across the entire mood like 1940's film noire.  Man, it's a great week to be a prog blogger!

Going back for another slap across the ears, I find a song hard to label but fascinating to listen to; "Layers of Noise."  As the piece opens you sense an eruption of emotion topped off with a muffled primal scream...then the mood changes to something almost sterile in comparison...until you feel the music settling in on something unnerving.  TOOH bangs around inside your head like a mood pinball, bouncing off the bumpers of your skull, setting off sweeping guitar riffs and strong drumming while strobe lights flash off the inside of your eyelids.  The overtones are metallic jazz in nature; I sense Herbie Hancock meets Weather Report meets Porcupine Tree aromatics wafting in the air.

Liner Notes...While calling Brazil their home port, The Opposite Of Hate is a party of two; Will Geraldo and Silverio Simioni.  These two friends were separated by geography and began a long distance collaboration beginning in 2011.  Working with several other friends and guests, they spent the next few years putting together an album, "Beginnings," that was released January 2015.

Contributors to this work include Anna Stefano, Erich Bruschini, Erik Muller, Fabio Souza, Guilherme Saba, Kassio Todescatt, Marcelo Vanini, Marcinho Pereira, and Meire Santos.  Quite an array of talent; the stage is no doubt crowded when TOOH sets up to perform.  A lot of equipment on stage translates to a lot of sound emanating from that stage--and TOOH does not disappointment.

Reaching across many different acreage plots in the prog garden, TOOH taps into sentiments and mood swings ranging from Gentle Giant to Chick Corea...with an occasional hit of The World Against Us thrown in the blender to keep you off balance.

My final choice to sate my appetite for metal infused jazz is a slightly hard-hitting piece called "Twitch #3."  The ominous whisper that opens the curtain tells you this is a dark ride.  TOOH is very good at playing cheerful while offering you black roses.  The vocals pierce a veil you didn't see while the drums meld with guitar to grab your attention.

For your listening pleasure I wanted to post something that pulled a bit from every corner of the prog garden The Opposite Of Hate has journeyed through, and "I Saw Him Coming From Behind the Sun" seems to do just that.  Painting once again with those inviting dark colors, TOOH captivates the listener with stinging lyrics wrapped in armor.  The drums build a mood that is slammed home--hard and direct--by deliberate keyboard and guitar work.  TOOH takes you on a prog whirlwind while moving through your head like the last, harmless breeze of a tornado...

Learn more about The Opposite Of Hate at https://theoppositeofhate.wordpress.com/ and feel free to contact them at wearetheoppositeofhate@gmail.com  Follow the band on Twitter @oppositeof_hate 
and Facebook https://www.facebook.com/OppositeOfHate/. You can also stop in for a more detailed listen and pick up a download of "Beginnings" at https://theoppositeofhate.bandcamp.com/releases

Just be sure you have your "big boy" headphones...


OK fellow progheads, we are inching closer to Spring as loudly as possible.  The Opposite Of Hate is a prog band with gusto; they are not afraid to venture down any alley they come to and make a little noise.  In assembling a band filled with special guests and friends, Will and Silverio drove a spike into the middle of the prog garden from which they can venture in any direction...and they do it with a positive energy that lights up the room.  So thank you Adam and Philippe; AKA Atlas Volt, for your Facebook post...I need to burrow deeper still and discover more buried wealth in the prog garden. The search for all things prog continues...until next week...

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Sitting Down with Falling Edge

Good evening and Happy March fellow progheads!  Whether she came in like a lion or a lamb, March is here which means we are that much closer to Spring!  Time for a renewal of sorts;  a fresh beginning, a clean slate...Spring is Nature's season of "do-over" after Ol' Man Winter left his frosty fingerprints on everything.  So of course the search for all things prog took a bit of a u-turn and headed back to visit some friends we posted about recently.

Hopefully you recall--and read--my post in January reviewing Falling Edge and their latest release, "Convergence at Fossil Falls."  I always seem to navigate the Concert Closet to the coldest geographical spots on the globe in the winter...need to get that GPS fixed.  But enough about my aversion to cold weather; let us get right to it with Chris Rupert and peel away a few layers of Falling Edge...

Closet Concert Arena: First, congratulations on the release of "Convergence at Fossil Falls."  How have sales been?

Chris Rupert: Thanks Vinny.  Sales have been...not bad.  Judging by the number of torrent sites I've seen the album at I'm sure we're taking a hit as a result of  illegal distribution--which is too bad--because it makes it really hard to finance the next album when you haven't made much (or worse; haven't broken even) on the previous one.  Everyone loves free stuff;  I get that, but people don't realize that they're killing the industry by not paying for their music.  This is particularly true in niche markets like prog that don't typically move huge amounts of product.

CCA: What was the driving force behind the songs on this album?

CR: At the risk of sounding unromantic, there really wasn't any single concept that inspired the songs on the album as a whole.  I'm constantly writing things, so when it's time to work on new material I check my stockpile of compositions and pick the ones I like best and will work well together on an album.

CCA: What challenges did you face putting your second album together vs. your first?

CR: One of the biggest hurdles was the lack of a band by the time we got to "Dark Matter."  We were getting ready to record "Minstrel in the Corner" and I could sense that something was up with Jim (Walsh, our bass player at the time).  We played a gig at the end of November, had a couple more rehearsals, then Jim announced he was leaving the band just after Christmas.  We then called Matt (Broadbent, who played with us before Jim joined) and were lucky to get him on board.  However; not long after that Steve (Kubica, our keyboard player) announced he was also leaving the band.  We finished recording "Minstrel in the Corner" with Kevin on drums, Matt on bass, and myself on guitar and remaining keyboards.  In the meantime, we were working on "The Lost Journal, Sex For Sale," and a little bit of "Dark Matter" when Kevin announced his departure.  Matt hung around for a short while after, but he jumped ship a few weeks later as well.  That left me to write and record all the parts for the rest of the album.  The parts for "Sex For Sale" and "The Lost Journal" were already written but not recorded, so I had to record those as well.

Ironically, although it was a lot extra work, the album was completed a lot faster going solo than if we had written, rehearsed, and recorded everything with the band.  I had a pretty good idea of what I wanted and was able to work more consistently by myself.

CCA: Where did the name "Falling Edge" come from?

CR: If you look at a waveform on an oscilloscope, the part of the wave that first crosses the X axis is called the rising edge.  The part of the wave after this that crosses the X axis is the falling edge.  If you're designing anything that requires a clock signal from a waveform you have to decide which edge of the waveform will trigger the intended response from the system.  Kevin and I are both into electronics so we were familiar with the term--and it sounded cool--so we went with it.  This was, of course, after trying to decide on about a billion other possible names.  People get other connotations from the name as well--one guy thought it referred to a guillotine blade, but it's a lot less colorful than that.

CCA: How were you first introduced to progressive rock?

CR: It was kind of a gradual thing for me.  I always thought bands like Yes, Uriah Heep, and King Crimson were cool, but I remember getting more into Yes when I was about 17.  Initially it was from hearing them on the radio, which is amazing considering the current radio climate.  Basically the more I heard the more I liked, so I started listening to other prog bands as well.   

CCA: Who/what do you consider the biggest influences on your writing and playing styles?

CR: I always find this question very difficult to answer.  People hear all kinds of things in our music; one reviewer remarked that we reminded him of a band I never heard of before.  As for the writing component it's hard to deny the influence Rush and Yes have had, but there are other more subtle things that influence the composition you can't really hear; for example Bach (I've studied and performed a lot of his music on classical guitar) and Zappa.  I really think that virtually anything and everything I've ever heard works its way into the songs in varying degrees.

The guitar playing part is similar--I wouldn't say I really sound like any of them--but I was tremendously inspired by Eddie Van Halen, Allan Holdsworth, Steve Howe, Rik Emmett, Randy Rhoads, Al DiMeola...the list goes on.

CCA: If you could play a live gig with anyone alive or dead, who would you like to be on stage with?

CR: Yes--with Chris Squire (no offense to Billy Sherwood).

CCA: How have all the personnel changes within the band affected the band as a whole?

CR: I suppose there are good things and bad things that resulted from the revolving door of musicians we've had in our line-up.  The obvious drawback is that it takes forever to get anything done; every time someone leaves it takes a while to get the new guy up to speed, plus you lose that familiarity you had with the person who left.  That time thing has certainly been a problem, particularly with our first album.  That album took so long to complete I forget how many years it was.  Compare that to the new record: By the time everyone left in April or so of 2014 we had already been working on it for about a year and the only song we had recorded was "Minstrel in the Corner."  We were actually working on that song while recording the first album.  It was a lot of extra work for me to complete the rest myself, but the entire rest of the album was complete in a little over a year.  I would really rather have a band, but things got done quicker without.  

On the positive side, the constant infusion of new blood means the sound is constantly changing and evolving.  While some may see that as a drawback--in some ways it is--the band (and the music) is constantly forced to re-invent itself, which I believe is a good thing.  Like the saying goes; "It's hard to get out of bed when you sleep in silk pajamas."  Comfort can be one of the most toxic components of the human experience.  With our seemingly never ending line-up changes, Falling Edge has always been challenged.

CCA:  OK, time for a quick Falling Edge fix.  This is a song from the band's first album called "Crippled By Fear."  I chose thins cut for several reasons--not the least of which is the irony in the song title. Falling Edge, whether it be Chris with or without band mates, is anything but what the title implies. As you listen to the smooth sounds flowing through the headphones, you get a sense of serenity and peace--not chaos and panic.    


CCA: There is a dark feel to the new album; lots of personal stuff in the lyrics?  

CR: That's because there is actual Dark Matter on the album (laughs).  Seriously though, some of the stuff is more personal than others--I'll leave it to the listener to figure that out.  I will say I'm not any of the characters in "The Sniper, the Piper, and Me."  Some of the songs, while personal to some degree at least, also address some of the more universal experiences of the human condition.  I think most people have felt like the minstrel or the hero in "The Lost Journal" at some point in their lives 
and--sadly--far too many have learned the message of "Sex For Sale" after it's too late and very difficult to rectify the situation.

CCA: Anything you want the world to know about Falling Edge?

CR: By now I'm sure most people have figured out Falling Edge as a band no longer exists.  After surviving years of personnel changes I'm the only one left.  I plan to continue writing and recording new music which will be much in the same vein as what I've done with the band in the past.  I've been approached by a couple of people who have expressed interest in filling the places of my departed band mates...in any case, I've gotten used to this level of instability, but we'll see what happens...

 CCA: When is the world tour scheduled to start? 

CR: Any day now...

 CCA: Check out the continuing saga of Falling Edge and make a purchase of either or both releases at http://www.fallingedgemusic.com/.  There is a Facebook page where you can keep current with Chris and learn more about where Falling Edge is headed at
https://www.facebook.com/Fallingedge/?fref=nf.  For those of you so inclined, you can also follow Falling Edge on Twitter @FallingEdgeband.

Well fellow progheads, that's a wrap!  Falling Edge is definitely a band with a back story.  I mentioned in an earlier post that the band took a page from Yes' playbook on how to recruit and hold on to band members--but I was wrong.  Falling Edge is light years past Yes as far as putting a revolving door on the rehearsal studio.  I also mentioned Falling Edge was a conundrum--and on that point I believe I was dead on.  This is a band that had members fleeing faster than flies at a swatting contest. The crazy part is that although Chris said Falling Edge no longer exists, I believe he is wrong.  Chris Rupert is Falling Edge just as sure as I am the Closet Concert Arena.

Progressive rock is so much more than a genre, and that is what separates it from the rest of the pack. In all the interviews and music reviews I have done I notice one common denominator--an absolute love for the music and the inability of the artists/musicians to do anything else.  Go back and read about how Chris finished the album alone.  There may have been tension among the players, maybe feelings got hurt, perhaps even a major difference of opinion about how the songs should be recorded or mixed; I don't know.  What I do know is Falling Edge managed to produce two very good prog rock albums against all odds, simply because one person had the passion, the heart, and the drive to see the project through to completion.

The prog garden is blessed with rich soil because so many artists leave no emotion untapped and nothing is off limits.  I sincerely hope Chris is able to reassemble Falling Edge, but if that doesn't happen I really want to hear the solo album that comes out as a result--there is some real prog there just waiting to be recorded.

Next week the search for all things prog will take the Concert Closet to another port in another country where the story will be painted with different colors on a canvas dripping with different emotions--and I can hardly wait.  This is why I prog...until next week...