This month I celebrate the wonderful music of one of my favourite bands – Genesis.
“Progressive rock”. A music genre born, nurtured & killed over 40 years ago. Which oddly enough appears to apply to whatever you want to call the music made by sub:shaman on its new album, apnea.
Hailing from Iceland, Lucy in Blue channels the 70s progressive rock vibe of Pink Floyd, Van Der Graaf Generator and Camel so effortlessly authentic that it’s almost hard to believe that this eponymous album was released last December!
Rock ‘n’ roll might not have the same commercial or cultural impact it used to have but we promise to keep fighting the good fight.
Here are videos of new music that express the spirit of rock ‘n’ roll. Discover! Enjoy!
Exciting news for fans of live Singapore music as the Esplanade opens up a new venue, The Annexe with the launch of the Annexe Sessions.
This takes place in early September with two top notch instrumental outfits viz. the Chok Kerong Trio (8pm, 1st)) and In Each Hand a Cutlass (11pm, 2nd).
Both gigs are priced at $15 (inclusive of 1 drink). Cash only, tickets at the door.
More info at www.esplanade.com.
Red Bazar formed in 2007 with Andy Wilson on guitar, Paul Comerie on Drums and Mick Wilson on bass and keyboards. The trio released their debut album in 2008, Connections which was an instrumental album. It was very well received by the prog world and excellent reviews from around the world. The use of more keyboards in subsequent recordings made it difficult for the band to play live as Mick was juggling between keyboards and bass, so the band took the decision to find a keyboard player. After a long search and many auditions, along came Gary Marsh. Since then, the band have continued to write material, but wanted to try something different. This resulted in a collaboration with vocalist Peter Jones, for the new album Tales from the Bookcase.
Nicolas Godin is a French electronic musician best known for being half of the music duo Air. Contrepoint is Godin’s debut solo album and is said to be heavily influenced by the works of JS Bach. Intriguingly, Godin’s solo album comes close on the heels of the new release from Starwalker (which features Godin’s erstwhile Air partner, Jean-Benoit Dunckel)
“… we wanted the music to embody the extremities of our current realities. Conflict, pain, anguish, heartbreak, discrimination together with moments of loneliness, gentleness, helplessness and melancholy. A perspective that is not just solely Singaporean, but human.” Leslie Low, The Observatory.
“Nothing new under the sun” could be the concluding mantra for every single new album review in 2016. BUT that should not be the guiding principle. It’s not a question of “new” anymore but simply a case of how the artist assembles the work from disparate influential elements to create a “new” original piece of art.
An interim release between Wilson’s previous album Hand. Cannot. Erase. and the next studio album. Which makes 4½ sound like some throwaway, some stopgap. Trust me, it is definitely not.
The legendary David Bowie thrilled all his fans with his fabulous comeback album The Next Day back in 2013 and diehards have been hoping and praying that the LP was not a one-off. Thankfully, Bowie is back with a new album for 2016 – Blackstar!
It seems like a disservice to Deafheaven to simply describe the band (George Clarke, Kerry McCoy Daniel Tracy, Stephen Clark & Shiv Mehra) as a Black Metal outfit.
Sure, the music carries all the hallmarks of the extreme metal genre viz. fast tempos, shrieking vocal style, heavily distorted guitars played with tremolo picking but Deafheaven is much more. Halfway through the opening track (“Brought to the Water”) of their new album, New Bermuda, the song takes on an incongruous atmospheric dream pop tone that changes the emotional tone significantly before it ends with a solo piano playing the chord progression! Unexpected.
After the critical acclaim showered on sophomore effort, Sunbather, it’s comforting to note that Deafheaven have not compromised their high standards on New Bermuda. It would not be out of place to suggest that this is what progressive rock sounds like in 2015 – the exploration of new frontiers and exciting cross-pollinating hybrids indicate that talented and courageous music creators are out there on the fringes of modern rock making fresh & wildly innovative popular music.
This creativity continues for the rest of New Bermuda in songs that never go under eight minutes (the epic “Luna” and the invigorating “Baby Blue” cross the 10 minute mark!) but never overstay their welcome in any way. Not falling into the inherent obsolescence of staying within genre boundaries, Deafheaven fly free of all constraints and totally against type have created transcendent rock music that even the most optimistic of us believers thought was now impossible!
Is it still metal without guitars and drums? Well, the purists out there will quite obviously growl – NO!
This is Moonlapse – basically, 21 year old electronic artist Ben Strick – who has recorded a five-track LP of progressive instrumental metal music on his computer!
Once you have gotten over the novelty of what sounds like progressive metal actually being electronic music, it wears off.
No matter how you try, technology has not been able to recreate the timbre of strings accurately yet.
Yes, you could probably get away with the drums and percussion but guitars? No way.
That all said, that should not be criterion to judge Moonlapse by. As progressive electro-rock, I can see Moonlapse generating a buzz but to be honest, after awhile you are going to be missing those guitars.
Full marks for effort though!
No information about when or where will Fade Construct be released. Updates at https://www.facebook.com/moonlapseofficial.
In the meantime, check out Moonlapse’s previous release.
One of the perks of being a rock journalist is getting advances of new releases and it’s even more satisfying when you get a chance to listen to cutting edge rock music that is made by good friends as well. As regular visitors to Power of Pop will be all too aware, I have been a rabid fan of In Each Hand a Cutlass since the early days and whilst guitarist extraordinaire Daniel Sassoon (Livonia, Electrico) has always been the band lynchpin, the musicians Sassoon has surrounded himself with over several lineup changes have always been some of the best in the business.
IEHAC’s debut A Universe Made of Strings was a powerhouse in its own right but seems almost like a kindergarten school outing when compared to the new album, The Kraken. As dynamic as those individual tracks were, they cannot hold a candle to the cohesive ambition displayed on this astounding work. Helmed by the legendary L.A. producer Brad Wood, there is a consistency running throughout the LP that compels the listener to sit entranced for the entire duration, breathless at the wonder and awe that the music evokes, somewhat effortlessly.
As its centrepiece is the mammoth title track, broken down into four parts, for easier consumption. “The Kraken” is almost a treatise on rock music itself, finding ways to incorporate diverse strands of the best rock styles that have inspired millions over decades. Once again, this is progressive rock in the best sense of that term – not merely a genre identifier but a statement of artistic intent. Equal parts post-rock, prog-metal and psych-rock, this epic number brings the unwary listener across dimensions, a witness to interplanetary warfare and the birth and death of galaxies! One never questions the lack of lyrics for even a micro-second as the music speaks volumes.
If the album only contained “The Kraken”, it would already be worth the price of admission but add to that the power and majesty of tracks like “Ouroboros” and “Heracleion” and the picture is perfect. Essential but you already knew that.
IEHAC launches The Kraken on 24th April 2015 at the Esplanade Recital Studio. Tickets available from SISTIC.
In the meantime, listen to the first single “Satori 101”
Connect with IEHAC online
Continuing our educational video series on the ground-breaking rock music of the Seventies, we focus on Progressive Rock, a time where serious minded musicians created serious music from a variety of styles, sounds and instruments – classical, folk, jazz, rock, avant garde, traditional. This platform had its heyday in the earlier part of the decade reaching its peak in the mid to late Seventies before punk arrived to decry the style as ‘irrelevant’ and ‘pompous’. Progressive rock lives on to this day, either as ‘neo-prog’, revised versions of the classic prog rock or ‘post-rock’, where prog rock approaches are applied to indie rock sensibilities.
KING CRIMSON – IN THE COURT OF THE CRIMSON KING
GENESIS – THE MUSICAL BOX
YES – ROUNDABOUT
EMERSON LAKE & PALMER – TARKUS
PINK FLOYD – DOGS
EGG – CONTRASONG
JETHRO TULL – SONGS FROM THE WOOD
RUSH – XANADU
…still there’s more…