Tuesday, December 10, 2013


Happy "Tuesday Evening" fellow progheads...and welcome back to the closet.  As the end of the calendar gets ever so much closer, my search for new and exciting music--and of course all things prog--has taken me down another new road.  I know I have said this many times before in this blog, but this week I truly have found something that is off the beaten path.  I may be pushing prog to the edge here, but isn't that where prog is supposed to be?

This week I discovered a sound that is completely new and extremely different...reminding me of Robert Fripp back in his ambient hey-day and Brian Eno performing with Moebius and Roedelius.  Welcome to the sounds of Subzar; not so much a band per se, but rather a gathering of musicians who were looking for an alternative to the mainstream...and on that premise Subzar delivers.  Billing themselves as an "acoustic quartet of guitar, violin, and cello," that is exactly who Subzar is--drums are verboten and I do not hear even the slightest tickling of ivories.  Borderline classical perhaps but I prefer to think of Subzar as a glass of Merlot in the middle of a Jack Daniels rush hour; the sane alternative...

The first selection from this "avant garde" buffet is a tune called, "As Memories Fade."  This is an extremely well played acoustic piece that takes the blood pressure down a notch or two while reminding you that feel good music does not have to include syrupy lyrics about first love and puppies.  Subzar has taken a classical approach to their playing--not the "Looney Tunes" classical I grew up with (although that would be cool too)--but rather a more subdued, ambient style that reflects a respect for the music.

Moving slowly through the buffet line so as to savor the time, aroma, and taste, I sample a tune called, "Last Night I Thought A Thousand Plans, But Today I Go My Old Way."  The song starts out with a strong dose of acoustic guitar and then the violin comes right in as the perfect chaser.  The two blend as one beautifully...each seemingly dependent on while leading the other at the same time.  Subzar respects the genre and isn't afraid to take a few liberties with it--very captivating to the novice listener.

Liner Notes...Subzar is Gav Sirisena on acoustic guitar, Chris Redfearn on classical guitar, Nicky Haire on violin, and Derek Yau on cello.  Originally a side project between Chris and Gav, Subzar (an almost acronym for Somewhere Between Zenith And Ruin) was an attempt to escape their mainstream endeavors. While on their journey Nicky and Derek were added and a four-piece ensemble was born whose mission is to bring a post-rock fusion of jazz and folk to an audience looking for something new, creative, soothing, and reflective.  To that end Subzar has found success.  As the group uses their music to "express and reflect the whole diversity of human emotion and existence," I am gaining an appreciation for the stretched envelope I previously had progressive music stuffed into.

Make no mistake--Subzar does not call themselves a progressive band.  I discovered their music through the brave new world of Twitter, and instantly felt a connection to some of the best ambient music I have heard in a while.  As I stated earlier, this pushes the definition of the progressive genre but I believe that is what makes progressive so hard to nail down and so incredibly fun to listen to...

OK..I have stepped off the soapbox to make selection number three, a piece called "Pico."  This is actually more of a taste than a full serving as the album is not being released until next week.  A very mellow intro that leads to the concept of the album; is home a migratory journey to places unknown or the comfort of the same nest day after day?  I for one am eager to hear Subzar's take on this philosophical question.

The piece I chose to post this week is "As Memories Fade."  I chose this piece to introduce Subzar to you my fellow progheads because it showcases all four members of Subzar, how well they play together, and the fact that a big stage and bright lights are not mandatory for a great performance.  Please to enjoy...you can learn more about Subzar by visiting their website www.subzar.com.

With the holiday season in full swing, the roads getting slick, and the wind reminding me to put my winter coat on (and zip it up), I am struck with how fast and diverse this journey has been for me--and I hope for you as well.  Finding Subzar has me convinced there is so much more great music out there I have yet to discover...so I will trudge on with stubborn determination and a good set of speakers...until next week....   

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