Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Burntfield "Hereafter"

Warm (and wet) weather greetings fellow progheads!  I appreciate you taking the time to come back to The Closet Concert Arena and I hope this week's journey made it worthwhile.  Since frequent flyer miles are not an issue, the search for all things prog traveled all the way to Amsterdam to find out  about Burntfield,  a relative new-comer to the prog garden.  With two EP's and a pair of singles already on their resume,  the May 7th release of "Hereafter" is the band's first full length album, released on the Progressive Gears label.


Excitement level is high in the Concert Closet as discovering new bands is one of the main reasons I volunteered for this gig.  Calling themselves "progressive alternative rock...music is discreetly spiced with AOR and hard rock elements..." Burntfield uses soundscapes, a brooding darkness, and haunting vocals to create some ornate imagery across the prog garden...so let's get started, shall we?

As is my wont, I begin at the beginning with the delicate instrumental "Now" allowing it to wash over me and roll into the next cut, "Sub-zero."  There is a gentle rain tapping at the window as the sky begins to bruise; sunset has arrived...the soft piano and violins simply record the occasion.  While you melt into the emotion of the moment, the clouds peel back on a sky now illuminated with an amazing moonlight.  The jazz fusion top notes are mesmerizing as Burntfield flows through the headphones as effortless as honey melting into hot tea.  Tight drum work sits just below vocals as smooth as suede and you are once again washed out to sea...

Next up for this mind massage is a beautiful yet solemn tune called "In The Air." As the curtain draws back darkness fills the mind--except for that lone sliver of light glinting off the piano and striking your eye.  The solitude of the song coats your mind like molasses rolling slowly off grandma's measuring spoon...the richness outdone only by the song's elegance.  There is a Wishbone Ash vibe here; Burntfield manages to penetrate deep and flow through you.  The canvas streaked with pastel hues running through soft grays as the boat rocks gently against its mooring...

Liner Notes...Recording on the Progressive Gears label, Burntfield resides in Amsterdam.  Band members are Juho Myllyla and Valtteri Seppanen on guitars and vocals, Maarten Vos on bass, and Steven Favier on drums.  The band started in 2012 in Helsinki and went through the obligatory 
line-up changes and  growing pains, releasing an EP in 2013.   Recording and touring filled Burntfield's agenda for much of the next three years as they put out two singles on either side of a second EP.  


Making Amsterdam their new home,    Burntfield spent 2017 in the studio.  Their efforts came to fruition earlier this month with the release of "Hereafter," the band's first full-length album. If my auditory canals are correct, it was time well spent.  Burntfield navigates the gentler side of the prog garden with relative ease.  There is a slight tinge of It's A Beautiful Day wafting through the music much the way lavender is folded into pastry; you aren't looking for it per se--but its presence is undeniable.  

Finally, I allow "Q&A" to spin in the carousel and stream through my headphones...another slow melt into bliss.  The acoustic guitar flows like spun sugar as it accompanies a vocal with just a touch of gruff; the tempo picks up a bit but the pallet remains splattered with softer hues as sunlight dances around the perimeter.  Burntfield gently ties a velvet bow around lines of poetry, offering you the opportunity to unwrap another prog garden gem.


Learn more about Burntfield at Burntfield and Progressive Gears/Burntfield.  Of course you will have the opportunity to purchase "Hereafter" and I would ask that you indulge that urge--we all need to support the artists.  You can also follow the band on Facebook Facebook/Burntfield and check them out on Twitter @BurntfieldBand.

The bait I chose to lure you in this week is "The Failure."  This cut opens a bit faster and uptempo; the acoustic guitar dances across your inner ear effortlessly.  You sense the headphones just waiting to burst and rain fireworks all over your mind.  Strong drums begin to work their way in as the explosion hits while managing to not destroy the beauty this album created.  Burntfield prefers the lighter side of the prog garden...enjoy the sights, sounds, and artistry...


                  

And thus my fellow progheads, another seven days winds down.  While this may be the first  Burntfield entry to The Closet Concert Arena, for sure it won't be the last.  Despite only having one full-length album in their catalog, the earlier EP's and singles allowed Burntfield to hone their craft and smooth out the rough edges "on the job" if you will.  So while the search for all things prog continues, I expect to find myself in Amsterdam again...until next time...

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Plini "Handmade Cities"

Greetings from The Concert Closet fellow progheads!  Now that warmth has moved from memory to  reality, I thought it a perfect opportunity to see how the other hemisphere lives.  So taking the search for all things prog to Australia, let's immerse ourselves in the guitar sounds of Plini, a 25
year-old who likes to play prog guitar, travel, and eat...what else is there, right?

Plini plays guitar the way I play the stereo; very well.  His style has been referred to as new prog, modern prog, even classic-retro prog; whatever the hell that is...Plini himself describes his sound thusly;  "music for world peace."  Perhaps on a subconscious level I have always thought of progressive music that way--for the most part at least.  Regardless; let us venture into the prog garden and get comfortable with Plini's latest release and first full length LP, "Handmade Cities..."

Moving to the head of the line, I start with "Electric Sunrise."  The acoustic opening is a pleasant, albeit short-lived entrance into an atmosphere that is explosive and chaotic.  There is a Flim & The BB's vibe as the song begins to unfold and Plini starts to hurl his all at your auditory sensors with a deliberateness reminiscent of Jaco Pastorius.  As the drums pick up the pace, Plini's guitar continues morphing...setting a frenetic pace.  Solitude encased in a camouflage of mayhem...I can see Steve Vai in a back corner of the studio, torch in hand...

Second serving from this carb heavy buffet is the title cut, "Handmade Cities."  Plini wastes no time peeling back the top layer of your skull as he swings that guitar like Paul Bunyan wielded his axe...time and tempo changes are dizzying, much like a dessert buffet where you can't decide between Baked Alaska and Flaming Cherries Jubilee--so you just mash 'em both together.  Plini manages to channel Joe Bonamassa and Al DiMeola one minute, only to hurl a John Petrucci grenade the next.  His ability to flow from one mood to the next so fluidly is marvelous; that he does it so often is mind-numbing...and he's only 25!  Ahhh, the young...

Liner Notes...Plini hails from Sydney, Australia and is basically a one-man guitar show, although on the album he is accompanied by Simon Grove on bass and Troy Wright on drums.  His touring entourage is larger still, and he has played with Marco Minnemann, Jakub Zytecki, Stephen Taranto, and Chris Letchford among others...impressive resume for an up-and-comer...

Final selection to wrap my ears around this week is "Pastures." Once again Plini chooses to crawl inside your skull and hammer the lining around your cranium.  He wastes no time clearing any cobwebs that may have survived to this point; now Troy joins the fracas with crazy good drumming skills.  Working together they simply lift you up and carry you across the prog garden.

Learn more about Plini and make a purchase at Plini.  Check for tour dates and other information at Plini/Facebook.  Of course there is always Twitter @plinirh for all things Plini too.

Your ear candy for the week is a heavy dose of "Cascade."  Fall into chaotic serenity as Plini squeezes every luscious drop from his guitar; Simon and Troy complete the ensemble and beauty flows from the headphones.  The aromatics I pick up have a Transatlantic scent and perhaps a hint of Joe Satriani moving over the top.  Plini hits the canvas with bright hues and does so at a record pace, the colors raining down in a vivid expression of absolute bliss.

                      

And another week falls off the calendar fellow progheads.  Despite the crazy weather--or perhaps because of it--the search for all things prog has served up a crop that is crazy in its own right.  A vast and varied collection from all corners of the garden fills out the 2018 playlist thus far.  And the journey continues...until next time...

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Glaston "Inhale/Exhale"

Hello fellow progheads and welcome once again to The Closet Concert Arena!  Spring has apparently fallen off the calendar--giving way to instant summer.  No worries here; the search for all things prog has a road trip planned anyway!  This week the Concert Closet set the GPS for Switzerland so as to check in with Glaston and their latest release, "Inhale/Exhale."

Calling themselves "...experimental/post rock..." starts to paint a picture, but I need deeper colors, more expression, and some emotion to fill the pallet and the headphones so let's get right to it.  The buffet opens with "Game of Tones" and the piano is absolutely splendid here as the music creates an image that burns brightly on the underside of my eyelids.  The guitars bleed into a somber expression of sadness as they work with the drums to fill the canvas with ominous dark clouds attempting--albeit unsuccessfully--to blot out the light the piano shines on the entire piece.  So much emotion, yet not a word was spoken.

I pick up top notes of Far Behind The Sun and perhaps a touch of Byrne and Eno  from their "My Life in the Bush of Ghosts" days.  Glaston made it rain on this first cut; you can smell it in the air...

Moving on to another slice of the album; "Mariana Trench Skyscrapers."  Reminiscent once again of of Eno--but this time from his Moebius days with the mind massage you get from A Perfect Circle and Bent Knee.  This is the type of music you want to wrap yourself in like a favorite blanket and let the world cruise on through.  Once again the piano takes the lead while drums keep you focused on the subject matter.  As the sky takes on the burnt orange of sunset the mood starts to intensify; just a friendly reminder the guitars are present and accounted for...

Liner Notes...Glaston is a four piece ensemble from Zurich, Switzerland.  Formed in 2014 the band consists of Selina Maisch on piano, Jake Gutzwiller on guitar, Timo Beeler on bass, and David Preissel on drums.  The band uses no vocals which in and of itself is no big deal; many an experimental rock band lets the music paint the picture.  But Glaston takes the challenge of defying your senses a step further; Selina makes that piano sing, and every instrument joining in forms a beautiful choir.

"Inhale/Exhale is Glaston's first full length album, released October 2017.  The band had released a few singles prior, two of which are on the album.  You can purchase "Inhale/Exhale" and learn more about Glaston and all their music at
Glaston Bandcamp.  Check out their website Glaston and their Facebook page Glaston Facebook to go even deeper; discovering everything Glaston.

The final cut for review this week is "Ritou."  I am immediately taken to a smoke filled lounge on a rainy night in Chicago, the only light a blue spot on Selina's piano.  The guitar and drums fold in gently at first as the band explores the inner workings of the mind, body, and soul.  There are top notes of Jordan Rudess in a classical/jazz mood wafting through the headphones; I'm simply striving to not miss a note...

Have a listen to "Noir," the cut posted below.  Once again Selina and her piano lead the rest of the band on a soothing stroll across the prog garden.  The dark clouds hovering overhead start to rain down ever so gently as the canvas is filled with grey to black hues...then the drums add a bit of zeal to the journey.  Glaston toys with you like the cute girl in math class who knows you like her...so go ahead and carry her books already...
   
                     

And once again we are one week deeper into 2018 fellow progheads!  Glaston was quite a heartfelt journey across the section of the prog garden where ambient meets jazz meets experimental; so much to decipher while relaxing and letting it wash over us.  The sheer expanse of the prog garden is part of the lure and this section has its own siren song.  Lyrics are not always necessary when expressing thought and emotion; bands like Glaston explain why in musical detail sans words...

Now of course the search for all things prog continues as the Concert Closet maps out the next leg of the journey...until next time...

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Bomber Goggles "Gyreland"

I know you know, but I always appreciate you coming back fellow progheads!  This has been a marvelous journey and 2018 is proving to be the most amazing leg thus far.  So many new bands, new artists, familiar artists starting more new bands, familiar bands releasing more new albums...phew!  The search for all things prog has kept The Closet Concert Arena logging many a frequent flyer mile and there seems to be no rest for the weary...

This week was particularly special for me as I had the pleasure of listening to one of those new bands I just mentioned started by a musician I have become familiar with here in the prog garden.  Peter Matuchniak had his hands in several projects prior to forming Bomber Goggles with some friends (more about them later).  He was kind enough to send me a copy of "Gyreland," the band's debut concept album.  I've had it on repeat for a while now so I feel it is only fitting to share my experience with you my loyal followers...


Sticking with my OCD ways, I start the buffet at the beginning of the table and a serving of "Land of Plastic."  The immediate face slap is a bit tempered; not meant to hurt, just jolt you from your slumbers.  The guitars dart around inside your head like Alfred Hitchcock  leading you through a county fair funhouse only to settle down for a gentler ride back to reality.  The top notes are reminiscent of  Spirit with slight aromatics of Crack the Sky.  I like an album that gets your feet tapping and your mind pondering...gonna be an intriguing 168 hours...

The next sound pumping through the headphones, "Oh Gyreland," is as much a mantra as a title cut.  The piano that draws the curtain back reveals a band that takes the music as serious as the lyrics.  With aromatics of 10cc wafting in the air, Bomber Goggles cuts to the heart of the concept behind the album; a new continent constructed of plastic debris floating in the ocean...unfortunately a concept not quite as bizarre or born of fantasy as it may seem at first.  However; the pallet is splashed with hues that reflect just a glint of light; rays of sunlight perhaps?  This song is understated just enough to draw you in, the proverbial flame that lures the moth...but hope burns brightly in the center of that torch.  Bomber Goggles preaches without coming off as hokey or pretentious...a blazing beacon in a sea of plastic sludge...

Liner Notes...forming in early 2017, Bomber Goggles features the aforementioned  Peter Matuchniak on guitars and vocals.  Remember the friends I mentioned earlier?  Just a duo of Steve Bonino on bass and vocals and Vance Gloster on keyboards and vocals.  Jimmy Keegan makes an appearance as a guest musician sitting behind the drum kit.  In other words, a collection of veteran, time-tested, multi-talented, and professional prog musicians collectively involved in at least a half dozen other bands, several solo projects, a few tribute bands, and probably a cure for aging...and to think I felt accomplished learning to play the stereo...

"Gyreland" the concept was born in the mind of Vance Gloster; "Gyreland" the concept album was brought to life by everyone involved with Bomber Goggles.  Working together the band wrote and arranged thirteen songs, recorded, mixed and mastered the album with Barry Wood, asked Martin Kornick to design the sleeve art, and released the entire project in a year.  Quick work for such a hard driving, thought provoking, "deep end of the pool" album.  The journey from inception to reality makes "Gyreland" all the more remarkable as it washes over you like fresh clean ocean spray...pun intended...

Last serving on the review platter is "Invasion."  Jimmy's drumming is escorted by Vance's great keyboard work and the entire piece is shrouded in vocals that hearken back to the energy level on the "title cut" from Jesus Christ Superstar.  The story as presented could have easily been drawn from the darker, ominous side of the mind--but that isn't the neighborhood these guys live in.  Instead Bomber Goggles took what is at first glance a story of dread and tragedy, injected it with hope enveloped in an uplifting spirit, then presented you the listener with an album as poignant as it is telling.

Learn more about Bomber Goggles at Bomber Goggles Facebook.  You can purchase the album at MRR Music .  I would encourage you to dig deeper into each musician individually and their other works and projects to get a more in-depth feel for the soul of Bomber Goggles.  You can also follow the band on Twitter @bombergoggles.

The clip posted below, "Triangle of Power," reflects a turning point of sorts as the album moves toward its climax.  A mild frenzy erupts in the spirit of Camel with perhaps a whiff of Steely Dan permeating the room.  Bomber Goggles made the conscious decision to create an album that is as much fun as it is foreboding, with optimism and promise the subliminal message echoing through the headphones.  Go ahead; pour two fingers and relax...

                      

Tradition here in the Concert Closet means that seven more days have drifted through the hourglass, increasing the sand hill growing in the bottom globe.  It was a fun week on this side of the keyboard and I hope you enjoyed your time as well.  Bomber Goggles tills acreage in the brighter section of the prog garden as they deal with serious subject matter.  Once again the labyrinth that is prog rock leads the listener through a maze of equal parts introspection, thought provoking, fantasy, joy, dread, fun, and inspiration.  A band that gets you thinking without hurting your head...I can dig that...

Tradition 2.0 means of course that the search for all things prog continues on...until next time...