Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Fire Garden Far and Near

Welcome back to the Closet Concert Arena fellow progheads!  Still making my way down from the high that was our last summit with Jordan Rudess.  More than just a keyboard maestro; he is a true class act.  Of course, that is pretty much the expectation with artists here in the prog garden; something in the water I reckon...

The search for all things prog continues to set the bar high and this week is no exception.  During our interview, you may remember Jordan mentioning Fire Garden; more specifically, he revealed his playing on Fire Garden's newest release, "Far and Near."  Well it just so happens that the Concert Closet has been Chicago way before...Fire Garden has one EP and a full album to their credit prior to this newest release and the Concert Closet has reviewed them both.   Time to catch up with the latest from Zee Baig and Fire Garden, so let us work our way through this prog feast together...

Fire Garden is a music project--I like the images that paints on the underside of my eyelids.  Starting with a spinal cord of progressive rock, Fire Garden brings their sound to life by adding the heart and soul of metal, jazz, rock, and industrial music, creating a beast that may be difficult to label, but oh so easy to listen to...

Being somewhat a "creature of habit," I dig right in with track one; the title cut.  The opening piano with haunting vocals seem foreboding...but this is a staple of the Fire Garden sound; darkness that regulates light, allowing the listener a glimpse here, a jolt there, all the while taking you deeper inside the cavern...

Moving down the prog buffet line, I find an interesting morsel called "White Light."  A soft acoustic mood draws the curtain back as the listener is slowly--almost delicately--doused in tranquility fused with caution...much like a savoy truffle encased in spun sugar...there has to be  away in, but will I want a way out?  The drumming catches you off guard much like the jarring zap of an electric shock...meanwhile the piano continues its tranquil approach to soothing the mind.  An absolutely mesmerizing experience.

This piece moves Fire Garden to an entirely new section of the prog garden, acreage Zee cleared almost single handedly.  Make no mistake; Fire Garden is a prog metal band, an experiment, a group effort--a chameleon of sorts--but at its core, Fire Garden is the brain child of Zee Baig and every new release is a re-birth...making "Far and Near" Fire Garden 3.0 you might say...

Liner Notes...Fire Garden calls Chicago home; a prog metal band with a bent on melding other
sub-genres into a prog melting pot, smack dab in the land of the blues.  I don't believe it to be coincidence or chance; Fire Garden has managed to stand out against the back drop of  the popular Chicago music scene while creating a sound that floats like a drone above the din...much like an eagle scouring the coast for a perch from which to oversee the landscape.

The Far and Near album line-up consists of Zee Baig on vocals, guitars, mellotron, and synthesizers, Frank Lucas on keyboards and piano, Marc Malitz and Barry Kleiber on bass, and Jimmy Keegan, formerly of Spock's Beard, on drums.  Jordan Rudess makes his appearance via the keyboards on the cut "Life of a Drifter."  Having listened to this latest release, I can say Fire Garden is more than just an experiment.  This is a band on the cusp of greatness.  The Fire Garden sound has been echoing through the Concert Closet since "The Prelude" EP first left its mark in 2012.

Following the success of "Sound of Majestic Colors," Fire Garden refused to rest on their laurels. This band prefers--or more accurately burns with the desire--to re-invent themselves with every release. "Far and Near" is but the continued growth of a band that feeds on its own success in a quest to bring to the prog garden a sound that rejects labels and expands the boundaries of the genre itself.

The main course this week is the aforementioned "Life of a Drifter." The song hearkens back to Fire Garden's past while blazing headlong into the future.  The canvas starts out virgin white as Fire Garden proceeds to thrust paint balloon after paint balloon, revealing a striking image that leaps forth and wraps itself around your senses like caramel adhering to a granny smith apple...the union is so much stronger than the individual components.  Jordan's keyboards electrify the mood like an aerial view of Coney Island at night, and Jimmy's drums underscore the entire piece as guitars capture the perimeter and drive the whole song straight through your sense of reality.

Learn more about Fire Garden at the band's website Fire Garden.  Purchase--please!--purchase the music there or at Fire Garden iTunes.  You can follow the band on Facebook at Fire Garden FB and of course on that wonderful cloud known as Twitter @firegardenmusic.

The cut posted below is called "There's Something."  The drums build a solid foundation for the guitar to burst forth from, and Zee's vocals reverberate in your cranium like a subconscious whisper.
Far and Near is an album that should adorn every proghead's collection, nestled comfortably with Gaillion, Seconds Before Landing, Spock's Beard, Marillion...


And so my fellow progheads, 2017 continues to be a year filled with promise, excitement, and a continual cascade of new sounds and emotions.  Fire Garden brings a dimension to the prog garden that exemplifies the beauty of the genre; not only does this band stretch the boundaries of all things prog, they draw from all generations to create a a sound and vision that challenge your imagination.

It has been a pleasure for me to witness first-hand the beginning and growth of Fire Garden.  This is a band that exemplifies what the prog garden is all about; a complete renewal and rejuvenation with each new release.  Progressive rock continues to lead the way for those inclined to rise above.

Of course, the search for all things prog continues onward, and the bar continues to rise.  2017 has set a new standard for the up and coming, lesser-known, and those determined to break through.  Let us continue this journey together and discover the wonders the prog garden has to offer...until next time...


  1. Steve Vai has a song called "Fire Garden". Just wondering if there's a connection.

  2. Kelly, I asked Zee that very question and his response, "No such connection but the band name was inspired by Steve Vai album it was something made sense to me back in 2006-07"

    So not the song, but the album was somewhat of an inspiration...

  3. Closet concert! I have not liked any band name as much as i like this.
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