Tuesday, December 4, 2018

The Tangent "Proxy"

A very chilly hello fellow progheads!  We have reached the final few weeks of 2018; the harvest for the 2018 prog garden season is just about in the barn.  Of course that means lots to look forward to in 2019, but let's not get ahead of ourselves.  Rather, let us savor what 2018 still has to offer...

...which can only mean the search for all things prog takes a quick "final for the year" trip to England as we visit with The Tangent.  The band has released studio album number ten recently, called "Proxy."  The Closet Concert Arena has been a faithful fan of The Tangent for quite some time, and while they do have quite a loyal following it is safe to say Andy Tillison and company have flown low under the radar for more than a decade.  Time to shine some bright light on this corner of the prog garden...


Opening with the title cut (of course).  The music is centered around Andy's keyboard playing with a strong jazz/funk rhythm going on throughout--much to the surprise of no one who follows the band.  There are subtle top notes are of Yes in their Fragile days and Weather Report when Jaco Pastorius roamed the stage; the ornate overflow of sound and emotion splatters across the inner lining of your ear walls.  As the song progresses into an anti-war rebellion all the while keeping the listener mesmerized, you realize The Tangent hasn't missed a beat...

Next song to pulsate through the headphones, "Supper's Off."  If I close my eyes I almost sense Rush pouring into my auditory canals; a very high energy uptempo piece.  The narrative lyrics get your adrenaline pumping while guitar and drums lay the foundation for silky keyboards to glide across like Michelle Kwan on ice.  There is an ELO/UK vibe running through this song, as if Eddie Jobson and Jeff Lynne were involved in a musical one upmanship benefiting all with the good fortune to purchase the album...stay for the credits...

Liner Notes...The Tangent hails from Northern England and is led by the epitome of individualism, Andy Tillison.  Andy is the lead vocalist, keyboardist, lyricist, and composer; in short Andy is The Tangent.  Not that the surrounding cast is a random collection of newbies--far from it.  Brilliance surrounds itself with brilliance...Luke Machin on guitar, Jonas Reingold on bass, Theo Travis on sax and flute, and Steve Roberts on drums.  Special guest Goran Edman also lays down some  vocal tracks.

"Proxy" was released November 16th on InsideOut Music, increasing the band's catalog count to ten.  While The Tangent has staked out their place in the prog garden, "Proxy" is about cementing their legacy.  This album wanders in many directions but never gets lost.  Instead it expands boundaries--as if Andy hasn't pushed and pulled in every direction already.

Learn more about The Tangent and purchase "Proxy" as well as the rest of the band's catalog at
The Tangent.  You can also visit Insideout Music for other bands recording on the label.  Follow The Tangent on Twitter @thetangentmusic and Facebook.



My final selection for review is "The Melting Andalusian Skies."  Andy seems to be channeling his inner Chick Corea on this instrumental extravaganza while Luke captures the essence of Al DiMeola...a winding piece that travels so many tributaries it's best to just lie back and let the music wash over your entire being...never has intensity felt so soothing...

Your teaser for the week is "The Adulthood Lie."  One of the traits of The Tangent is the band's ability to redefine themselves from song to song--or perhaps they defy definition.  No matter the method used; the prog garden is tilled, the acreage turned, and the bounty is beyond expectation.  The canvas is not simply splayed with color--it comes alive and leaps right at you.  As I savor this morsel, I am intrigued by what The Tangent could possibly do next... 

                


So as we witness 2018 begin her final descent, I can think of no better band that captures the meaning of prog today than The Tangent.  While they invite comparison, they defy categorization.  Capturing the essence of progressive rock, they steer clear of repetition.  Not exactly the new kids in town and while they fly low under the radar, they have justifiably earned the respect of peers and fans across the planet.  Playing like Weather Report one minute while emitting top notes of ELP and Genesis the next, The Tangent walk a fine line in extremely large shoes.

Of course the journey continues on as the search for all things prog moves closer to folding the calendar shut on what has proved to be a most incredulous year.  The Closet Concert Arena looks forward excitedly and with much anticipation...until next time...  

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Gregorian Rock Christmas "Centuries in the Making"

Hearty and jovial cold weather greetings fellow progheads!  It's crazy to be staring down the barrel of "holiday season 2018" already--there is still Halloween candy hidden in the closet and the bird isn't even stuffed yet.  But the ground has a fresh new white blanket as we round the final turn in what has been an exciting and tumultuous year in the prog garden.

The search for all things prog takes on a festive vibe this week as The Closet Concert Arena reviews a Christmas album that will be released very soon from Gregorian Rock.  This will be album number four from Roland Dale Benedict & Company for those keeping score at home...so let's get right to it...

The album opens with "Coventry Carol."  The mood is set immediately; you are immersed in the chant and chamber music resonance that builds a solid wall of sound...if early Pink Floyd had ventured into the Christmas album arena, I suspect Syd, Roger and the rest of the band would have put together something along these lines.  The stinging guitar that rides a current across the latter part of the song drives a stake right through your auditory sensors.  Starting to feel festive already...

The next song to flow through my headphones is a more traditional piece, "O Come O Come Emmanuel."  With a technological update to back up the vocals, this is an interesting cut.  Dale rides that thin line separating a "reflection" cover and a complete reinterpretation of the song very well...the feeling and mood are ever present, but the drums and keyboards expand the foundation on which the entire piece rests.  The top notes permeating the entire album are a toned down Trans Siberian Orchestra. 

Liner Notes...Dale Benedict is the heart, soul, brains, and life blood behind Gregorian Rock.  Hailing from San Antonio, Texas, Dale has released three albums prior to his venture into the Christmas spirit.  Phil Keaggy, who played guitar on the "Fire" album, also plays on two cuts here.  Classically trained and passionately dedicated to making great prog music, Dale continues to nurture his own unique acreage in the prog garden.  Now back to Christmas and music and celebrating and...

There are classic holiday tunes on the album as well; "The First Noel" and "It Came Upon a Midnight Clear" are two that leaped through the headphones like Rudolph blazing across a moonlit sky.  The chanting vocals allow Dale to take the music down an entirely different road and "reinvent" each piece.  With so many songs--especially Christmas classics--being covered by a plethora of artists, the Gregorian spin changes the mood and the ambiance so you don't feel like you have "just another version" of the same-old same-old.  This album is extremely inspired...

One unusual cut from the album, "Personet Hodie," is a more uptempo holiday song that shines like the bright star that lit up the night sky so long ago.  Gregorian Rock has something on this album for every different taste this time of year; the canvas is filled with the bright colors the joy of Christmas brings as well as the more somber introspective hues that delve into the religious importance of what Christmas represents to so many.  Regardless of your vantage point, there is something here destined to seep into your pores and have you emit that "joyous holiday spirit."

Learn more about Gregorian Rock and get in on the Christmas hoopla at Gregorian Rock and follow up the latest on the band's Facebook and Twitter @cantusnovus.  In addition to "Gregorian Rock Christmas" you will find the entire Gregorian Rock catalog.  There is also an opportunity to get some special gifts and extras when ordering the Christmas album.  So please take the time and support the artist...

Normally this is the time and location for a clip from the latest release...however this week I am asking you to purchase the album for yourself and build your holiday music collection.  Rest assured you will be glad you did...and if you play it correctly, so will your neighbors...😄



As the sand empties into the bottom bulb of the hourglass, another week fades from the rear view mirror.  A reminder that 2018 is starting to wane like the Ghost of Christmas Past...but there is always time in the Concert Closet for one more song...

...so let me serve a last slice, "The Angel Gabriel."  A piercing drum leads the chant on this cut; as minimal as the first night in Bethlehem.  Slowly the music begins to erupt in a reserved celebration...and fade to black.  Gregorian Rock scores with this album because Dale understands the many facets that make up the holiday; celebration certainly, but there is also a feeling of awe and  magnificence wrapped around the importance of the season...Dale's music captures that quite beautifully.


One of the pleasures of blogging about up-and-coming, low under the radar prog bands is seeing first hand the progression and maturity of the entire project; writing, musicianship, mixing, producing...when everything comes together it really can be a work of art.  Listening to Gregorian Rock over these past few years has been an exercise in appreciation for me.  Dale is one of those artists who plays what he feels, and the results show it.  A Christmas album is just one more piece of the puzzle that is Gregorian Rock...

Now as I am so fond of saying, the search for all things prog continues. The journey will soon venture beyond 2018, but for the time being let us savor the harvest still waiting in the prog garden...until next time...

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Hats Off Gentlemen It's Adequate "Out Of Mind"

Welcome once more to the Closet Concert Arena fellow progheads!  As autumn makes her descent into November I am reminded as to why I prefer the land closer to the equator...but no worries; the temperature in the prog garden tends to stay warm and soothing...

...and this week I am happy to revisit an old friend I discovered here in the prog garden almost three years ago.  Hats Off Gentlemen It's Adequate released album number four, "Out Of Mind," in early October.  Since I have enjoyed all the previous musings of HOGIA, there is little risk in extending my UK visit another seven days for some music therapy...




My first foray into the garden this week is listening to "When I Was a Ship," a very insightful piece that rolls off the piano keys as eloquently as silk gloves peeled from elegant hands.  The song crawls inside the "mind" of a warship as it details all the memories--good and bad--held within.  The momentum builds with the aid of some dead-on drum work that rings of a military theme, but that piano never walks far from center stage.  Hats Off Gentlemen It's Adequate lives in a realm of the prog garden few enter; Malcolm is truly an independent writer and thinker.  I do, however, pick up aromatics of early Pink Floyd as the song floats through time and mood changes.  With HOGIA there tends to be consistent clouds, but the silver lining is always nestled safely inside...

Next serving to flow through the headphones is  "Stand Up."  Quirky by HOGIA standards, this song comes at you from around that blind corner--and the flute is an absolutely perfect fit!  A tune that gets in your face about the dark closet that is history, complete with all her skeletons.  One of the things I really enjoy about HOGIA's music is the life lesson tucked into each composition, just like the fortune cookie you order Chinese food to get.  To that end I am reminded of Seconds Before Landing, another band that crawls inside your mind and opens doors that encourage real thought process...
Liner Notes...Hats Off Gentlemen It's Adequate originates in London, Great Britain.  The line-up is founder Malcolm Galloway who also produces, and Mark Gatland.  This duo is often joined live by Kathryn Thomas (she of the amazing flute) and other guest musicians.

There is a lot behind the scenes with HOGIA; I have written previously of the charity work and fund raising Malcolm does and his relentless touring schedule.  With endorsements from many in the prog garden, including Steve Hackett, I am quite certain HOGIA's catalog will grow beyond four albums and theirs will be a more well known name--despite it length...

Last song on the buffet this week is "If You Think This World Is Bad..." an instrumental piece that has a jazzy groove emitting aromatics of The Alan Parsons Project.  In a "not quite tension filled but suspenseful nonetheless" way you get the feeling there is something or someone following you down an endless corridor as you find every door of escape locked.  There is a brilliance to this piece you need to hear to fully comprehend; once again Malcolm strays into territory that comes off skew to HOGIA's repertoire, but after letting it pour over your mind like an artisan beer sampling, you realize it's just the prog garden being stretched an acre or two...


Learn more about Hats Off Gentlemen It's Adequate and purchase "Out Of Mind" at their website Hats Off Gentlemen.  Purchase this and  their other music  as well at HOGIA bandcamp.  The band also has a Facebook  page and Twitter  @itsadequate  so you can keep up with the band and all things HOGIA.
To get you in the buying mood I went with the teaser this week.  It really is the best way to get a true taste of what Hats Off Gentlemen It's Adequate is...and once the sounds flows freely through your auditory canals you will need to quench that thirst.  The many moods of HOGIA are served up on individual canvas works, each with its own vibrant energy.  The pendulum swings to extremes as the music waltzes through your inner cranium...just let it take you where you know you want to go...

                      

Another week has indeed fallen off the calendar, sinking into the abyss off the final turn on the track
that is 2018.  Hats Off Gentlemen It's Adequate is for me an elixir that quenches a complex thirst. The canvas is hit with many a splash of vibrant color one minute and several hues of blue to grey to black the next...and each rides an emotional wave that carries across the prog garden like a newly discovered patch of crop circles; the wonder and awe is matched only by the calming beauty you have just discovered.  "Out Of Mind" has brought the music of HOGIA to a new level as Malcolm, Mark, and Kathryn each strut their progressive stuff...and the prog garden flourishes in the glow.

Of course, no time to rest on our laurels...so much harvesting left in the prog garden as the 2018 season races to its inevitable climax.  So the search for all things prog continues...until next time...

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Big Big Train

Another week means only one thing; back to the search for all things prog!  Welcome once again fellow progheads as this time the journey finds The Closet Concert Arena stretching the parameters a bit.  While I have been reviewing specific albums for quite a while, something I truly enjoy, this week I chose to spend time with a band that has been around a while boasting members with impressive resumes of their own.

The Concert Closet has been graced in the past--just recently as a matter of fact--with bands that fall into this same category...but this week it just feels different.  With the music catalog Big Big Train has, I felt it would be unfair to limit my review to a single album...thus I am reviewing a bit of a cross-section of their career over time.  So while I stay on the other side of the pond one more week, I am hopeful you will come away feeling so much better for the experience...and enough talk...

 

Forgive a fan's indulgence as I begin near the starting line with a tune from 1994's "Goodbye to the Age of Steam" called "Blue Silver Red."  As a matter of full disclosure my headphones are streaming the 2011 re-release, but no matter...the song opens clean and crisp, the curtain pulls back, and Big Big Train washes over your auditory sensors like sea foam as the tide ebbs.Top notes of early Yes fold seamlessly into aromatics of Van der Graaf Generator for a sound that is uniquely theirs.      
  
                                                                                                                                                       

Crossing the prog garden at several junctures only adds to the allure this band has.  The music is a soothing balm at the end of a chaotic day, the emotional and mental cleansing your mind needs to prepare for round two...which happens to be "Powder Monkey" from the 2004 release "Gathering Speed."  Big Big Train paints a myriad of emotions over the canvas; the gentle hues of a summer evening rain shower sweeping across the plains, yielding to the brisk bite of an autumn breeze as the sun sets earlier and the leaves do their  chameleon impression while slowly falling to earth.  All at once you feel at ease and excited as piano and guitar work together, weaving a musical tapestry to wrap around your mind and imagination...see the raindrops pelt the windows as the train rushes gently through the prog garden...

Liner Notes...Big Big Train has a big big history which began in the 1980's when Greg Spawton and Andy Poole met, discovering a mutual admiration for prog music.  From this "bonding  moment" the seed was planted and Big Big Train started its long illustrious journey...

Greg and Andy put a band together and Big Big Train toured and recorded; their first release being the aforementioned "Goodbye to the Age of Steam."  An adventurous pilgrimage through the prog garden enabled them to build quite an impressive catalog; eleven studio albums, several EP's, and two live albums...with a new release scheduled for early 2019.  

In addition to founding members Greg Spawton writing the songs and playing bass and Andy Poole  the uber-talented multi-instrumentalist, the current line-up of Big Big Train includes Danny Manners on keyboards, David Longdon on vocals, Rikard Sjoblom on guitar and keyboards, Dave Gregory on guitars, Rachel Hall on violin, and Nick D'Virgilio on drums.  Robin Armstrong also joined the band for their 2018 live tour and looks to become a more permanent passenger.  Despite leaving the band earlier this year, Andy is still listed as a member, because once you're in the family...
Big Big Train is a band greater than the sum of its parts--and the parts have individual resumes to impress even the casual prog fan.  The prog garden flourishes in part because artists of this caliber are able to come together and produce music that is, in a word, magnificent.  The emotional outpouring from each song is as real and tangible as the scent of an oncoming summer thunderstorm or the aromas that pour forth from a French patisserie...all you want is more...

One more cut, this one taken from their 2018 live album "Merchants of Light" called "A Mead Hall in Winter."  Once again Big Big Train spills a beautiful sound all over the stage.  With top notes of The Style Council and perhaps a hint of The Strawbs channeling through the headphones, the resulting sound is ornate without being overbearing.  Keyboards lay under just low enough to allow Rachel's violin to caress your senses.  Guitars weave effortlessly throughout, wrapping around the silky smooth horns that burst delicately, allowing you to become fully immersed and get absolutely lost...

Learn more about Big Big Train at their website Big Big Train.  You will have access to the band's music catalog--do yourself a favor and make a purchase! You will also find their music at iTunes and 
Google play  Big Big Train has a YouTube channel and  Facebook.  If these options still leave you wanting, try the links on their website for Spotify and LastFM--but be sure and make a purchase...  
                                                                                                                                                          

I decided to offer you "Swan Hunter" as your ear candy for the week.  This was a tough decision--mainly because the options were so abundant.  However, this cut is a glimpse behind the present day curtain with vocals that are meringue smooth and a band working in the background that works so well together they must be conjoined at the soul.  Delicate horns that lay a carpet for guitar and keyboard work that simply transcends...watching candles burn down as the curtain closes, you need to remind yourself this is a live recording; no studio dubbing, mixing, or other alterations.  Big Big Train takes you back to that time when you listened to music simply because you liked the way it made you feel...    

                      


Yet another week winds down and the taste in the air is bittersweet...Big Big Train has had a huge impact on the prog garden, which is all the more stunning when you realize they are not a "mainstream" band garnering big time radio airplay.  Fortunately for those of us who focus on quality and substance more than swag and bravado, Big Big Train delivers on so many levels.

The prog garden has provided so much pleasure to the fans of the genre and bands like Big Big Train allow loyal listeners to relish each note, knowing the soil is still extremely fertile.  The search for all things prog has taken me to many places exotic, tranquil, scenic, wild, and modest.  Big Big Train stops at so many stations offering the listener a prog garden experience that is, above everything else, immensely satisfying.  And isn't that what we wandered into the prog garden looking for in the first place?  As always, the search continues--because there is so much more to discover...until next time...

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Lifesigns "Cardington"

 The Closet Concert Arena welcomes you once again fellow progheads!  As the fall foliage begins its rapid descent into the prog garden, I am reminded of how colorful is the music of the prog garden.  To highlight the natural beauty this time of year brings out, the search for all things prog takes an unexpected trajectory this week.  The mission was simple; seek out a band that captures the essence of the season.  Despite New England's reputation as "the place where foliage was invented," I took The Closet Concert Arena to a different backyard; the United Kingdom and some splendid listening with Lifesigns and their latest release, "Cardington.".



Lifesigns captures the spirit of the Concert Closet's mission; seek out new, lesser-known, and/or under the radar prog bands that push the boundaries of the genre.  Lifesigns is a band with a stellar pedigree...current and former members along with guests and friends who are headliners and A-listers in their own right coming together to create one more prog garden beauty.  Immersing myself now...

...and starting out with "N."  The song opens as if you are taking a joy ride on horseback across a wide open meadow and your stallion is gaining steam...the energy level pushes the needle to the red--without splitting your ear drums.  As the tempo settles into its own, you can still feel the energy flowing through your veins.  Top notes of The Strawbs and perhaps a shot of Camel explain the majestic keyboards layered throughout this piece.  Soothing and exhilarating all at once; this is turning out to be an "E" ticket ride...

Next up on the carousel is "Touch."  Another upbeat cut that dances a high-step across the prog garden.  Lifesigns moves into a different realm here; I detect top notes of an early Yes incarnation blended with the skillful playing of Marillion.  The canvas is filled with bursts of color in rapid-fire  succession as the sounds enter your auditory sensors and flow through your entire being...music that caresses the soul...

Liner Notes...started originally circa 2008, Lifesigns was the light bulb in the minds of  John YoungFrosty BeedleSteve Rispin, and Nick Beggs.  Despite hands and heads in many other projects, they were able to complete the first album for a February 2013 release.  As if the original four weren't genius enough, they enlisted the talents of friends Steve HackettRobin BoultJakko Jakszyk, and Thijs van Leer.  Niko Tsonev signed on for the ensuing tour, and Nick Beggs--the man of 1000 bands--was ultimately replaced by Jon Poole.  Add to an already crowded stage Dave Bainbridge and Menno Gootjes and my earlier reference to a stellar pedigree and all that nonsense about headliners and A-listers is starting to seem blatantly obvious I bet...

Lifesigns released a live DVD and double audio CD during the hoopla and touring, and also managed to release their second studio album "Cardington," in 2017.  With performances at Cruise to the Edge and a UK tour, Lifesigns has been busy indeed with no plans to slow down...a new CD and extended tour are in the works now... 


The final serving on this prog feast is the title cut, "Cardington."  These guys are as comfortable as your favorite sweater; they feed off each other so effortlessly.  A jazz cafe sound as smooth as a silkworm's finest effort...I detect top notes of Transatlantic and Asia with perhaps a touch of District 97.

However; there is enough of a prog and rock pedigree running through this band  that comparing them to another is almost unfair.  Suffice to say Lifesigns brings more to the prog garden than it takes, leaving cuttings in several sections to nurture those coming after.  Learn more about Lifesigns and purchase their music at their website Lifesigns and bandcamp.  Peel back the curtain at Facebook and follow the band on Twitter @Lifesigns_uk.

Your earworm for the week is a bit of a teaser; a taste of each cut to lure you in...rest assured you will not be disappointed.  Lifesigns hits the canvas with an array of colors that blend splendidly together...much like folding caramel and black cherries into dark chocolate; there is never too much and you're always in the mood.  Once your ears are wet, buy the entire catalog...         

                

Once again the clock on the wall says time is up for this week fellow progheads.  Minutes seems to be in warp speed as we trudge through the final quarter of 2018, fixated on the ribbon stretched across the finish line.  But there is still plenty of harvest left in the prog garden and there is no need to rush through it hastily.



Lifesigns steers your mind back to the beauty that is the prog garden; serenity wrapped in excited joy.  This is a band quite comfortable in its own skin, playing not for something to prove but rather something to enjoy.  The search for all things prog has brought us a treasure that is best shared.  Of course the journey must continue...until next time... 

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Ancient Veil "Rings of earthly...Live"

A brisk autumn hello and welcome to The Closet Concert Arena fellow progheads!  Traveling back from Athens and the metal sounds of OH. got me thinking...since I'm in already in the Mediterranean, why not maximize the travel miles?  So this week the Concert Closet is taking the search for all things prog over to Italy to visit with Ancient Veil and check out their latest release, "Rings of earthly...Live."


As much a prog band as a fusion group bringing modern and ancient sounds together, Ancient Veil brings a unique resonance to the prog garden that bleeds with emotion and tranquility.  So with a nod to composed excitement, let the journey begin...

I chose to open with "Rings of Earthly Light."  An opening as soft as a rain forest greets you; feel the moisture wash over your entire being like a light summer drizzle drenched in sunshine...nice.  As your stress melts away, your appreciation for woodwinds and piano increases tenfold.  Ancient Veil caresses your mind with this piece.  Top notes of Big Big Train and early Genesis manage to seep through with each note.  The guitar/flute duel is soothing in its own right, and carries the song along beautifully.


Moving farther along the disc, I become enveloped in "Creature of the Lake."  Once again Ancient Veil flows through the headphones as calming as a shallow waterfall.  Flute takes center stage for a while as it carries you like Aladdin's magic carpet across the prog garden like autumn leaves floating to their final resting place...even the vocals are soothing.  Ancient Veil waltzes gently through the prog garden; think Atlas Volt with a Victorian slant.

Liner Notes...hailing from Genoa, Italy, Ancient Veil is Alessandro Serri on vocals and guitars; Edmondo Romano the woodwind master on sax, clarinet, and flute; and Fabio Serri on keyboards and piano.  The band is essentially a trio although credits also include bass player Massimo Palermo and Marco Fuliano behind the drum kit.

Ancient Veil spent many years in the minds and hearts of its creators before coming to life.  Circa 1992 Alessandro and Edmondo left their original band to create Ancient Veil, releasing their first album in 1995.  The catalog looks to have eight releases credited to the band and several solo works along with music from their previous groups.

You can find out more about Ancient Veil at their website Ancient Veil.  From there you are able to connect with the band on Facebook and Twitter @ancient_veil Ancient Veil records on the Lizard Records label and you will find their catalog, not surprisingly, at Lizard Records as well as iTunesAmazon, and Google play.  Lots of options, so please support this wonderful band...


My final spin in the CD carousel pushes "Night Thoughts" through my headphones.  This song bring the ancient into the mix with an opening reminiscent of the Paul Winter Consort...very moving...
Ancient Veil paints with subdued colors on a large canvas, filling the room with a sound that is refreshing without being overpowering.

Italian prog is often ornate and "over-the-top;" music that fills the room and leaves very little space for anything else.  However, Ancient Veil manages to come across as minimal while still giving you that "full-to-overflowing" feel.  Here is a band that swims against the tide, giving you not only room to breathe, but also space to move around and savor the sound.

My ear candy for you this week is a delightful piece called "Dance Around My Slow Time."  Gentle vocals riding an acoustic guitar roll back the curtain on a song that embraces you like an innocent child hugging their favorite teddy bear.  Ancient Veil is the friend you rely on without realizing it; always there with a firm yet familial hug...you know you're among friends as you fall gently into the prog garden's embrace...

                        

So fellow progheads, our time this week winds down as smooth and serene as a still lake reflecting  moonlight.  Ancient Veil unites the sections of the prog garden nurtured by the standard bearers with those of the modern day.  While walking to the precipice of ambient sound, Ancient Veil is careful to stay on this side of the ground stake, allowing you to walk freely among the different sights and sounds.

The prog garden has an abundance of artists that blur the lines of the genre, but not many that unite them.  Take the time to savor all there is to appreciate here.  Meanwhile the search for all things prog continues its perpetual journey.  More pleasantries on the horizon...until next time...

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

OH. "Metallia"

October is here fellow progheads, so pile into The Closet Concert Arena as we take the search for all things prog up a notch (or two) and head into the home stretch of 2018!  This week the journey circles back around to Greece to check in with a prog metal artist that has been attracting serious attention in the prog garden.  Said garden is under-represented by women so when I hear of one tilling acreage in the metal section...well, that is a siren I cannot ignore...and welcome to the world of OH.



Finding it easier to simply use her initials, OH. is in actuality Olivia Hadjiioannou, a one-woman prog metal force.  Her latest album, "Metallia," was released in July so I guess it's been marinating long enough; let's have a listen...

The opener to this metal feast is a powerful piece called "Red Lion."  The song opens with a quick acoustic burst that leads the listener into a fierce encounter with Olivia and her shredding abilities...I do believe John Petrucci would admire her stylings.  With top notes of Dream Theater and the intensity of Liquid Tension Experiment, Olivia takes the listener on a dark yet vivid journey that intersects the mind of Edgar Allen Poe and the imagination of Stephen Gammell.  This is going to be a wild, blustery week indeed...

Moving across the disc I find another fiery blast, "Androgyny."  An angelic, church choir-like opening belies a metal storm waiting behind the curtain.  OH comes at you full force, filling your head with guitar riffs that tie themselves around a searing vocal, penetrating deep into your cranium.  The solid drum work solidifies what is already a cement foundation, allowing the guitar to echo back and run circles in your mind...until she cuts out.  The song ends abruptly and you get a minute to catch your breath...

Liner Notes...calling Athens, Greece home, "Metallia" is the seventh release by Olivia Hadjiioannou.  Her debut EP "Sleeping World" hit the streets in 2013 and a full-length LP "Synemotion" came out in 2015.  Add four ballad singles and she has put together an impressive resume thus far.  OH. stays busy in the recording studio playing guitar, violin, bass, and drums...and she lays down the vocal tracks.

OH is a hybrid of sorts; I detect aromatics of Steve Vai, John Petrucci, and Joe Satriani in her guitar playing, blended with Kate Bush and Anneke Van Giesbergen in style and range.  OH. doesn't just dabble in the metal section of the prog garden--she takes up full residence.

Learn more about OH. and purchase her music by visiting  her website  Olitunes and also at  olitunes.bandcamp.  Of course she has Facebook and Twitter @olitunes  for you to keep up with all things OH, and a YouTube channel  olitunes YouTube  allows an aural glimpse behind the curtain.

Last song to tear through my headphones this week is "Resurrection."  This cut opens with strong drum work that is quickly overrun with Olivia's explosive guitar.  She may wear many hats as an artist, but guitar seems to be her first love--and she remains loyal to her first love.  OH. is a refreshing kick in the cerebellum, her thumping guitar taking aim via your auditory sensors.  The music unfolds as a cacophony of searing sound, finally coming to rest with the drums and guitar battling for supremacy and crashing to a halt.

The sound explosion I chose to placate your metal fix this week is "Triumph." OH. runs right at you here, wielding her guitar like Thor's hammer.  The vocals hearken to being caught in a sound warp where everything comes at you in short fiery bursts.  Olivia hits the canvas with some of the brightest dark color scapes the metal section of the prog garden has to offer; think Peter Marx with a gothic bent...play it loud, but keep away from open flames...


                     

Another week winds down to a screeching implosion fellow progheads.  The prog garden has been set ablaze these past seven days by OH.  We stand in a vast musical playground with enough acreage to satisfy  the many different tastes of the prog genre.  I admit to not spending much time hunkered down in the "barbed wire" area of the garden, but when I do I am reminded as to why prog music is so all encompassing.

As is the norm, the journey continues on as the search for all things prog makes its way through the final turn toward the horizon in the road race that is 2018...until next time...