Tuesday, July 17, 2018

M!ndgames

As the summer heats up so too does the melody; a musical sound cloud hovering over the prog garden this week floated in all the way from Belgium.  Welcome back to The Closet Concert Arena fellow progheads!  This latest leg of the search for all things prog brought forth a new noise with many facets and layers...music that captivates, soothes, relaxes, and excites.  In my quest for something unfamiliar, I discovered a band that has been tilling acreage in the prog garden for about two decades with little fanfare but lots of talent.  Prepare for M!ndgames, an invigorating dose of prog stimulation...


Referring to themselves as "...refreshing, surprising...heavy tunes and classic arrangements," M!ndgames comes at you with a melancholy sadness only to split your cranium with "...sunlit speed and bombastic outbursts..."  Many a band has ventured into the prog garden claiming to hit both the alpha and omega with the swing of the pendulum, so let's see what kind of M!ndgames await...

My compulsion is to start at the beginning, so venturing back to M!ndgames' 2002 debut release "International Daylight" I chose "Beggars Breakfast" as the opening course for what I anticipate being a delectable buffet.  The soft piano and accompanying strings set the tone for an intimate gathering.  The vocals ride across the top on a cloud of cotton; soft as they approach and settle in, much like a a sailboat returning to shore at sunset's low tide.  I pick up top notes of Atlas Volt and Big Big Train bleeding through the music; peaceful and serene...

Moving forward, I find a tune with that head-tilting "what did I just hear?" quality, "Dramatis Persona" from the 2006 release "Actors in a Play."  There is a theatrical vibe running through this piece, much like Joel Grey in "Cabaret" but with a Jon Anderson twist. The guitars speak softly yet are unmistakable in their appearance.  A song that is like a velvet blanket wrapped gently around your ears...

Liner Notes...M!ndgames calls the Flemish region of Belgium their home, and the current line-up is Bart Schram on vocals, flute, and acoustic guitar, Sandro Starita on electric lead and rhythm guitar and guitar synths, Maximilian von Wullerstorff on bass, and Benny Petak on drums and percussion.

Avoiding line-up changes and growing pains while surviving two decades in the prog garden is difficult if not impossible, and M!ndgames is no exception.  Fortunately they were able to get the right mix and put together an impressive--and still growing--catalog.  Stepping into the music to follow their journey, I sense M!indgames is that stable boat on a rocky lake.  As the waves ripple, lolling you side-to-side, there is a stabilizing tranquility floating on top of the mayhem...with vocals that soothe like aloe after lounging seaside all afternoon.

One more morsel for the ears, "Outside the Gloom" from the 2010 album "MMX."  Simplistically weaving an intricate pattern; M!ingames seems to enjoy toying with your senses.  While bright colors dot the canvas, the feeling of being witness to a macabre circus echoes through your mind.  With top notes of Marillion and a shot of Gentle Giant, the song waltzes across the prog garden with the grace of a break dancer...

Learn more about M!ndgames at their website  M!ndgames and
M!indgame soundcloud.  You can purchase music, check out their catalog, follow up on concert dates and all things related to the band.  For those who like to dig deeper there is the ever popular
M!ndgames FB and @Mindgamesmusic.

Your weekly dose of "sounds to lure you in" is a cut called "The Age of Plenty" from the 2015 album "Paradox of Choice."  This song has a bit more of an edge; think latter day Spock's Beard jamming with early Supertramp...quite the stage when you close your eyes.  Strong guitars lay a nice platform for Bart's vocals and the drums just bring it all together.  There are even top notes of Asia billowing through the headphones...lots going on without becoming just a cacophony of noise...and the pendulum swings...

                       

And thus we once again find ourselves at the end of another week.  M!indgames displays an ability to touch all the nerves in your head that are wired for music.  They can lift you up, take you on an emotional ride through the prog garden, and set you back down...smooth as Aladdin's carpet...

Time now to take the search for all things prog back on the road.  With the summer heat and all the outdoor prog festivities in full swing, finding something new and exciting should be easy--and worth the trip.  Enjoy your week fellow progheads...until next time...

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Special Providence

Welcome to The Closet Concert Arena fellow progheads; as usual the door is always open!  After staying home to celebrate birthday #242 for the homeland last week, I thought it a good time to log some frequent flyer miles.  This week the search for all things prog brought me to Hungary, a country I need to visit more often based on the music I have been listening to these past seven days.  The Concert Closet was filled to capacity with the sounds of Special Providence, a four man instrumental band covering a lot of acreage in the prog garden..so off we go...


Special Providence refers to themselves as "Progjazzrockmetalturbochill" and one of the EU's best known instrumental quartets.  With five albums spanning more than a decade, Special Providence is one of those bands that has manged to fly low "under the radar" here in the US.  However;  this is the search for all things prog, I live for the hunt, and my radar screen has been blipping for a while...let's get right to it...

First serving on the platter is "Irrelevant Connotations" from their October 2017 release "Will."  The whole progjazzrockmetalturbochill mystery is solved with this song...top notes are a hodgepodge of Pat Metheny, Herbie Hancock, Dream Theater, Al DiMeola, and Camel--just to name a few.  If it is possible to be absolutely unique in a real stand-alone way, Special Providence found it by taking all their favorite bands and placing them in a Waring blender.  The pallet is completely splotched with colors running down, over, through, and across each other.  Meanwhile somebody pushed all the buttons on the mood elevator and hopped out to watch...

Next up is "Kiss From a Glacier," found on the band's 2015 release "Essence of Change."  As the curtain is drawn back you feel as though Robert Fripp has commandeered the controls...some quick Frippertronics followed up with a jolt of Frank Zappa during his "Hot Rats" days.  Special Providence has taken extreme liberties in the prog garden by mixing, blending, and creating almost at will.  The canvas has been pelted bullet-like with paint balls that leave a rainbow colored bruise...

Liner Notes...calling Budapest, Hungary home, Special Providence is comprised of Zsolt Kaltenecker on keyboards, Marton Kertesz on guitar, Attila Fehervari on bass, and Adam Marko on drums.  Noticeably absent is a lead (or backing) vocalist; Special Providence makes prog magic sans voice.  The band released their first of five albums in 2007 and have since opened for Haken, Spock's Beard, Dream Theater, Steve Hackett, and Beardfish.  While that's one way to get your name out there--it don't mean nothing without talent to back it up, and these guys back it up with talent to spare...

Special Providence has played jazz fests and prog fests all around the globe, and you can find out more about what makes them unique and purchase any or all of their albums at Special Providence and SP bandcamp.  You can also follow the band on Facebook
SP Facebook and Twitter @SpecialProvid.

Final spin this week is a song called "End of Childhood" from the band's 2007 debut "Space Cafe."  Tension wrapped in jazz piano greets the listeners as laser first hits disc, and the mood gently settles into Eddie Jobson territory.  Special Providence are wonderful storytellers--which truly is an art when done without words. They squeeze real emotions from every note their instruments emit...think Flim & The BB's with a bit of an edge--and a dark side...

I chose "Distant Knowledge" from the "Will" album as your carbo load this week...lots of energy on this cut, and a canvas splayed with a sampling of what the band dabbles in.  A melange of a blend of a multi-genre walk through the prog garden you might say...

Zsolt went a little off the rails with his keyboards and the rest of the band followed him down the rabbit hole.  Special Providence is the date that shows up in a suit and tie only to take you to a mosh pit--so you are wise to be prepared for anything and everything.  Adam does raise the ante a bit with his drum work, and by the time you reach the end your mind is still wrapping itself around all that just happened.  Enjoy the ride and just wait for it...over and over...   
               
                   

Once again fellow progheads we have timed out...run the course...finished the week.  The 2018 prog garden is producing a bumper crop at a record pace; Special Providence is the result of the nurturing the garden provides.  The search for all things prog continues to dig deep for treasures like this...one of the joys of the journey.

Special Providence waltzes the prog garden the way honey badgers roam open terrain, going anywhere and everywhere.  Of course, Special Providence won't disembowel you--but they will send your mind into progjazzrockmetalturbochill euphoria...

So the journey continues...until next time...