Five Prog things, well why not? We make the rules around here and the only real rule is all rumes must be broekn. We not fans of pigeon holes, but we do have all these bits of things lying around here that need tidying up and we do have that Isildurs Bane news from yesterday…
1:”A new album by Isildurs Bane & Peter Hammill has been recorded, mixed and is currently being mastered. In Disequilibrium will be out after the Summer.” so said Isildurs Bane on their Twitter feed, “Oh yes!” replied Mr Hammill. Their previous album
The new album is reviewed here – ORGAN THING: Peter Hammill’s new album In Translation reviewed – these may not be his songs, but this is classic Hammill…
1: Sonus Umbra do rather sound like a Chicago band who originally came from Mexico City, they sound like they might have had a Jethro Tull album stashed next to the Santana records and the Yes epics. Apparently Sonus Umbra “came to life in 1991, formed by a group of physics and math students in Mexico City who drew from their shared love for all things dark, hard rocking and melodic. 30 years later, now based in Chicago and including some of the most accomplished veteran musicians of the Chicago rock music scene, the band continues casting shadows made of sound”. Chicago is a Prog Rock stronghold of course, surely it was by no accident, cheerful or otherwise that they should fall through endless skies and end up in the Windy City? What you need to know right now is that the band released a new album last month, A Sky Full of Ghosts just landed here, it is of course as cool as flip, as prog as flip, as flip as flip, elaborate, melodic, wholesome, complex without ever falling in to that trap of showing off, there’s nothing more tedious than show-off musicians, Sonus Umbra are no show offs, they have soul, they have colour, they play tricks on the eye, they move like the sky, their new album is alive with melodic goodness, with hints of Genesis goodness, Yes-ness, Tull-ness and waves that will devour the sea. A Sky Full of Ghosts at times here and there might not stand up in terms of lyrical content (or in terms of that artwork) but this is top prog rock hapeening right here, right now..
3: Bisbâyé – pronounced ‘bees-bow-yay’ — translates as “what happens when there is nothing else one can do, when uncertainty and obstacles require excelling oneself” a band founded in 2001 by guitarist and main composer Jean-Pierre Larouche. The new album has just come out on the ever interesting Cuneiform label (an excellent source in terms of challenging experimental forward looking prog rock as well as jazz flavoured goodness), we did flag it up late last year, both here and on the radio…
“Bisbâyé may be most notable for including two guitarists and two drum kits, with the two guitarists answering each other’s riffs and the two percussionists answering each other’s beats in real time, and the bassist being the musical fulcrum. This polyrhythmic superposition creates a compelling stereo effect (best experienced with headphones on).
The band’s leader cites Don Caballero and Meshuggah as influences. King Crimson’s influence is also undeniable, so is the sophistication of the math-rock genre’s best acts, while you can find some of Larouche’s favorite composers (Steve Reich, Gyorgy Ligeti) in there as well.
Larouche explains his artistic process: “By superposing melodic layers and different forms of rhythms (polyrhythms, isorhythms, phase shifting and contrapuntal ones), I create sonic textures of emerging properties. Their sometimes disorienting and complex effects are contrasted with instrumentation and simple composition structures borrowed from popular music. Mostly, I tend to toy with the listener’s perception, inviting them to let go of their preconceptions to dive completely into the sound itself to explore new frontiers of possibilities.”
Undeniably, this is their most accomplished effort so far, summing up everything that makes what Bisbâyé is. This time around, the band put a lot of emphasis on their sound’s polyrhythmic aspect, while tightening up the compositions’ structures. Underneath densely layered, yet dissonant arrangements, there are some subtle, looped up grooves that will grow on you after a few listens. The Sense of an Ending is guaranteed to teleport any open-minded avant-garde music enthusiast into Bisbâyé’s voiceless multiverse. A place where heavy music’s most hypnotic riffs perfectly cohabit with asymmetric, condensed prog, luminous melodies and the most hostile soundscapes.
4: Gilgamesh – Arriving Twice – and for some readon, here in April 2021, a message to say this has just been re-issued by the ever rewarding label that is Cuneiform Records and so why not post it here this fine sunny Spring day Tracks that date from 73, 74 and 75, recordings that flow so so well, so powerfully well. Are these the best ever Gilgamesh recordings?
Formed in late 1972 as a “Canterbury-style” jazz/rock band by keyboardist/ composer Alan Gowen, the group eventually disbanded in 1975 when Alan left for National Health. Comprising demo & rehearsal recordings, this amazing archival release features almost 60 minutes of unreleased recordings by 3 different editions of the band from 1973-75, with 25 minutes of previously unheard compositions by Alan, including a re-working of the tune written for the double quartet of Gilgamesh & Hatfield & The North [!], as well as much more fiery versions of many of the pieces from their 1st album! Includes a 16 page booklet jammed with rare photos and incredible interviews with band members & friends by noted Canterbury expert Aymeric Leroy.
“This collection of unreleased tapes find a band that is much looser, far more vibrant – more out there – than their albums ever were. Many of the pieces here are from their first album (‘Phil’s Little Dance’, the majestic ‘Worlds Of Zin’, ‘Notwithstanding’), but we also find new tunes here. All are brought alive by the fiery, incisive guitar of Phil Lee and an Alan Gowen who is far from the cerebral jazzer I seemed to hear all those years ago. Supplemented by some excellent sleevenotes in the form of reminiscences from those who were there, this is the Gilgamesh album to have.” – Rubberneck
5: Gentle Giant are particualrly active in terms of posting bits of treasure their You Tube channel right now
And shall we just leave these bits here before we oand get on with making radio shows and painting flowers or whatever it is we do in the real world? Working in the fired escape trade or something like that