Tag Archives: Progressive rock

ALBUM REVIEW: THE OBSERVATORY – AUGUST IS THE CRUELLEST

PHILIPP ALDRUP Obs 2016-16_01_OBS_258
Philipp Aldrup

“… 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.

Continue reading ALBUM REVIEW: THE OBSERVATORY – AUGUST IS THE CRUELLEST

ALBUM REVIEW: MOTORPSYCHO – HERE BE MONSTERS

Motorpsycho2

“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.

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ALBUM REVIEW: DEAFHEAVEN – NEW BERMUDA

Deafheaven

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!

ALBUM REVIEW: MOONLAPSE – FADE CONSTRUCT

Moonlapse

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.

IN EACH HAND A CUTLASS’ THE KRAKEN IS A PROGRESSIVE ROCK MONSTER FOR THE AGES

IEHAC
Daniel Sassoon, Nelson Tan, Sujin Thomas, Jordan Cheng, Amanda Ling

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

Web http://www.ineachhandacutlass.com/
Facebook https://www.facebook.com/IEHAC
Twitter http://www.twitter.com/IEHAC
Bandcamp http://ineachhandacutlass.bandcamp.com/

PoPTV: OFM – PROGRESSIVE ROCK [VIDEOS]

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…

 

SAGA – 20/20 [REVIEW]

OLD IS THE NEW YOUNG

If you’ve been listening to music for as long as I have, there will be many names that spark a brief association even if perhaps you don’t really know the music in question intimately. Now, Saga is a band that has been in existence since the late-70s and this Canadian progressive rock outfit is evidently still going strong. Well, if the music on 20/20 is any indication, in any case. Re-uniting with original singer, Michael Sadler, Saga has opted to return to its 80s roots (think: Asia, Alan Parsons Project, Styx, Utopia), with a collection of melody-centric numbers that will appeal to its longtime, diehard fans and perhaps younger neo-prog lovers who are into Spock’s Beard and Dream Theater.

Some of the tracks here are pretty radio-friendly as well (provided they were released in the 80s of course). Good examples would be the commercial rock ballad “Ellery”, the dynamic anthem “Spin It Again” – a rumination on risk taking and the pleasing “Another Day Out of Sight”. In fact, the entire album relies on strong melody to catch the listener’s attention over the usual technical virtuosity. Which is great for fans of song over technique. An wonderful evocation of a special time in rock music.

Official Site

AGE OF SINFONIA

I first came across Age of Sinfonia at the auditions for Baybeats Festival 2010 and was intrigued by their brand of progressive-symphonic rock – a blend of classical and metal styles, which of course has been evident in rock music since the 70s (I am a big fan of Genesis, King Crimson, Kansas, and Rush…). So, when the band applied for the Noise Apprenticeship Programme, I had pretty much decided that I wanted to mentor them. It has been a rewarding experience for me personally as I have become good friends with Savvia, Rasen, Didi, Jack, Jun and Elfie. As a band, they have always been quick to listen to whatever I had to share with them and put into practice as well. They are a diverse group of musicians, coming from different backgrounds but they gel well as friends and as a band. They are ambitious too and hope that their music can travel beyond our shores.

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RUSH: BEYOND THE LIGHTED STAGE

Why is it that Canadian power trio Rush is able to attract such a massive loyal fan base  (which include several rock luminaries) whilst critics continue to ignore its obvious contributions to rock music. How is it that a lightweight like Bon Jovi can be nominated for the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame whilst Rush is snubbed? Well, this new documentary from the makers of Metal: A Headbanger’s Journey seems to lay bare the reasons why.

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RUSH DVD

RUSH Classic Albums: 2112/Moving Pictures (Eagle Vision)

This is not the first time, the Classic Albums DVD series features two classic albums by one band/artist. Previously example would be Frank Zappa’s Apostrophe & Over-nite Sensation albums. Does that indicate that the band/artist in question cannot fill up an entire episode with one classic album and thus two is required? It does seem a little odd. On the other hand, for the consumer, it does mean a two-for-one deal, which is always good. Cup half empty or half full? Well, you decide.

Whatever.

Continue reading RUSH DVD

KARNIVOOL

KARNIVOOL Sound Awake (Sony)

It’s so refreshing to listen to a rock band that refuses to stick to one style or one “genre” to connect with its listeners. Which is the case with Karnivool, a progressive rock band hailing from Perth, Australia. Revolving around the nucleus of Andrew ‘Drew’ Goddard on lead guitar and Ian Kenny on lead vocals, Karnivool combines memorable tunes, intricate instrumental sections and challenging songwriting to deliver music to cut across the great divides of rock that have arisen in the last twenty years or so.

Recently released in the USA, Sound Awake is the band’s sophomore effort and to these ears, it’s a delightfully accessible rock album that will appeal to all kinds of music lovers, casual or obsessive. There’s enough flexibility and slack between songs like the anthemic New Day and the frenetic Set Fire to the Hive to convince rock and metal fans that Karnivool is the real deal.

Add to that the soulful pop sheen of All I Know and dynamic old-school prog/world music hybrid of the closing Change and you have an eclectic brew that begs close examination. If like me, you love bands and music that get you to dig deeper and to mull the twists and turns, the songwriters/musicians have poured into their craft, then I’ll say it – Karnivool’s Sound Awake is absolutely essential.

And… since they’re based a mere four hours away, can someone please bring them to Singapore?

Myspace

Buy at Amazon

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