Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Will Geraldo "Even A Blind Fool Can See"

Warm weather greetings fellow progheads!  My sweaty fingers are sticking to the laptop keys; summer's just about here!  The heat brings out some interesting growth in the prog garden and thus far the blooms are many and varied.  This week the Closet Concert pays a visit to my friend Will Geraldo.  Those of you with a good memory may remember Will was featured in an interview last July discussing his many styles, bands, and influences in the prog garden.  Will has recently released a new EP, "Even A Blind Fool Can See" on the Progressive Gears label.

I have not taken the search for all things prog to Brazil in a while...and the time seems right to make that journey now.  Will wears many hats and has his hands in multiple prog bands; Violent Attitude If Noticed, The Opposite Of Hate, and Death By Visitation of God.  He also has other solo work, but for the next fortnight I am focusing my listening skills on Will's newest release.  "Even A Blind Fool Can See" is a two-song EP so me thinks I will be hitting replay quite a bit...


The title track is the lead-in and a dark, somewhat sultry mood begins to seep through the headphones.  I have been listening to the many sides of Will Geraldo for some time, and I can feel the emotions dripping like honey on a hot biscuit...rolling down the sides and pooling, allowing you to savor the moment a bit longer.    The opening piano, while menacing, seems to be a warning to us all about the danger of turning a blind eye.  The pulsing bass that hits like a determined heartbeat echoes through your head like a deafening silence.  The guitar hits you so delicately you almost miss it...like the warm breeze and bright sunshine that follow a summer tornado...your focus is elsewhere, but you can't help but notice the surroundings.

If there is a message flowing through this song--and I believe there is--it is one of determined triumph rather than aimless hope.  People can no longer sit back and wish for things to turn out right; there is too much at stake.  Will seems to be hitting us over the head with the obvious; step into the arena and be an active part of the solution.  

Following this piece with a cover of Peter Gabriel's "Red Rain" is about as subtle as a twelve car pile-up on the interstate.  Cover songs have long been a conundrum to me; is the artist paying homage to the original, a la Deep Purple with "Kentucky Woman," or is he/she re-inventing the song and thereby owning it as the Talking Heads did with "Take Me To The River."?  With this production Will walks that fine line as he seems to pay homage to Peter's forceful call to action while at the same time bringing a re-invigorated sense of urgency with his cutting vocals and not-so-subtle percussion work.


Liner Notes...Will Geraldo hails from Brazil and is the arranger, composer, producer, and performer on this EP.  Will told me music is his lifeline and he stays constantly involved, trying  in some way to bring his passion to the listener.  That being the case, "Even A Blind Fool Can See" is Will's current soapbox and he has placed it in the middle of the road and refuses to move aside.

There is so much energy leaping from this EP...so many raw nerves Will has exposed with the intention of forcing you to look and react.  This release is a reflection of the world today; vitriol, anger, fear, and frustration on both sides of what has become an almost unbearable argument--and the time is now to bring it to an end.  No matter your feelings one way or the other, basic human decency has been ripped from the norms of society and replaced with threats and violence.  Will has drawn a line in the sand and said enough!  Talk and compassion must replace intolerance and fisticuffs.

With this release Will Geraldo brings a relevance and accountability to the prog garden the way U2 did with their music in the 80's and 90's.  We can--no; we must choose a side and take a stand. Music has been a catalyst for change since I can remember, and the torch is being handed to the next generation. Much the way Buffalo Springfield took it to the streets in 1966 with "For What It's Worth," so too has Will Geraldo called upon the people to put aside the rhetoric and be the change this world needs.

Alas fellow progheads, no clip this week...a two-song EP with this much fervor needs to be purchased!  You can do exactly that and learn more about Will and all the artists on the Progressive Gears label at Progressive Gears Records and the Bandcamp website Will Geraldo BC.  Will can also be found on Facebook Will Geraldo FB and Twitter @Willgeraldo.

Another fortnight come and gone and the prog garden continues to flourish.  The search for all things prog has taken me many places, introduced me to many bands and artists, and has been an absolute thrill these past few years.  To hear the message Will Geraldo is sending through his music is just one more reason to sit back and soak in all the prog garden has to offer.  As I take the Closet Concert Arena on a new journey in the search for all things prog I ask you to listen to the message, purchase the EP, and get involved...until next time...

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Nad Sylvan "The Bride Said No"

Greetings once again fellow progheads!  I trust your experience last week with Rikard Sjoblom and Gungfly was a pleasant one; at the very least you were pushed to the superb side of the pleasure meter, no?  This week I anticipate another triumph of exuberance as Inside Out Records has again asked me to review a new release from their stable of prog masters.  "The Bride Said No"  is the latest from Nad Sylvan and will be available for your purchase May 26th.



Although Nad has had quite a storied career, he is probably best known as the lead singer for Steve Hackett on his Genesis Revisited II album and subsequent tour.  Nad has a remarkable resume that includes time with Agents of Mercy, Unifaun, and some impressive solo work.  However; being asked by Steve Hackett to perform with Genesis Revisited brought Nad and his talents to the forefront, bringing much deserved credit and attention.  "The Bride Said No" is a concept album that picks up where 2015's "Courting the Widow" left off.  So off to the business of reviewing we go...

The album is very ornate and gothic; the heavy keyboards and penetrating guitar work are reminiscent of (ironically) early Genesis.  Nad painted a rather dark piece in 2015 with "Courting the Widow"...a tale that delves into the ominous world of the vampiric and otherworldly.  With "The Bride Said No" Nad takes the story further, goes deeper, and gets more extravagant.

My first cut for review, "The White Crown," leaps immediately into a more medieval time; almost as if a music box is opened and a sinister ballerina dressed in black pirouettes her way through your head.  The keyboards are entwined with guitars throughout as they flow eerily through your auditory canals, ultimately rolling down your spine.  You can smell the burning wax from the candelabra and sense an aura of uncertainty as the vocals echo on...a very graphic piece indeed...



Next up on this gaudy buffet is "A French Kiss in an Italian Cafe."  The darkness here is rather mysterious...nothing to worry about but the intrigue is palpable.  Nad's vocals are haunting as the canvas is filled slowly and deliberately with a dark portrait of emotions that erupt as quickly as they flame out.  The saxophone cuts right through your senses as the song winds down...you are standing in a jazz filled nightclub wondering what just happened--and how long before it rolls back around...

Liner Notes...Nad has built a storied career and continues to stretch his abilities and grow.  While spending much of his time in the classic, standard-bearing section of the prog garden, Nad has reached across many sections, touching down and laying roots in the eclectic, ornate, classic, and jazz-fused acreage as well.

This new album has quite an ensemble; in addition to Nad on lead vocals, guitars, piano, keyboards, and acoustic guitar, the star-studded line-up includes Steve Hackett, Roine Stolt, and Guthrie Govan on guitar, Tony Levin on Chapman stick, electric and upright bass, Jonas Reingold on bass, Doane Perry on drums, and Nick D'Virgilio on drums and percussion.  The studio gets more crowded with Jade Ell, Tania Doko, and Sheona Urquhart on vocals.  Sheona lays down that incredible sax solo on "French Kiss" for those keeping score.  Alfons Karabuda is on water phone,  Anders Wollbeck plays additional keys and with Nad is credited for programming, orchestration sound design.

Suffice to say a lot of planning, producing, and orchestrating went into this album , and a lot of
A-Listers in the prog world left their mark on it.  This is an album you will want to have in your prog collection...just be careful with that candelabra...

The album is scheduled for release May 26th at the Inside Out Music website Insideout Music.
Pre-orders are also available now at iTunes and Amazon.  Nad can be found on Facebook at
Nad Sylvan FB and you can keep up with him on tour and in the studio on Twitter @SylvanOfficial.

The final course for this extravaganza is the title cut; quite a standout in its own right.  More sanguine than the previous cuts, "The Bride Said No" smacks you like a jilted lover.  Nad's vocal duet with Tania is absolutely perfect; the emotions rise up like an over zealous souffle.  Guitars and keyboards once again keep the tempo leaping across the mood meter like a house cat toying with a cornered mouse...calculating, stalking, and finally leaping through the headphones victorious and satisfied.  As the song reaches its climax, you sense that perhaps the bride has too...

Posted below is an early release of the first single from the album, "The Quartermaster."  Almost a dreamscape as the music draws back the curtain...and the madness begins.  Nad isn't a breath of fresh air--he is a gust of wind.  His approach is counter to most; what would come off as trite or "plastic" by some leaps from the canvas as bold and refreshing as a frozen margarita in July in Nad's world. The prog garden bursts with energy as piano and drums walk in lock step across the inner lining of your skull, goaded on by guitars that penetrate deep...of course the song ends as abruptly as a dirty joke in Sunday School, but that's part of the wizardry as the master spins his web of illusion...



So fellow progheads, I urge you to purchase this latest release from Inside Out Music.  Nad Sylvan has leapt forth from the dark shadows of the prog garden with an ominous concept album that simmers with a deliberate tension just below the surface...and bursts through the headphones like a levee letting loose the flood.

Nad Sylvan bring a force to the prog garden with a voice that rises to the challenge presented by a strong supporting cast of guitars, keyboards, and drums.  The ensemble behind the curtain is impressive in and of itself; the raw energy everyone brought to the studio when laying these tracks down is evident throughout.  This is an album you won't play just once; it will stay in the CD carousel as you assemble other discs worthy to accompany it and set the tone for your listening pleasure--and your imagination.

Of course, now is the time the search for all things prog pulls up stakes and continues on.  Inside Out Music has an impressive line-up of artists and bands and the prog garden is the perfect place for them to mature.  The Concert Closet continues the journey so you can sit back and enjoy...until next time...

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Rikard Sjoblom's Gungfly "On Her Journey To The Sun"

Fellow progheads, thank you for continuing to come back to the Closet Concert Arena!  This week yet another gem is preparing to emerge from the prog garden; I am privileged to have been asked by Inside Out Records to review the latest release from Rikard Sjoblom's Gungfly.  The band's latest release, "On Her Journey To The Sun" is a limited edition double CD and scheduled for release May 19th.



Learning of the demise of Beardfish was a bitter pill, but from those ashes Rikard has brought forth another stellar prog band taking up residence in the eclectic, free-spirited section of the prog garden. Let us then take the search for all things prog to Sweden and immerse ourselves in the diverse sounds of Rikard Sjoblom's Gungfly.      

My first selection walks a tightrope as it balances a jazzy nightclub sound with earthy overtones, "Old Demons Die Hard."  There are creamy smooth top notes of The Style Council blending with the avant-garde mindset of Frank Zappa on this cut.  Rikard walks you down what is at first perceived as a familiar path only to swerve left, veering into a section of the garden where the temperament tends to fluctuate from upbeat to offbeat.  Gungfly paints using a varied pallet and soft brushes, floating across the canvas like pulled sugar strung in a candy shop.

Digging into a second helping, I am taken by the depth of "The River of Sadness."  The music flows from a calliope-like giddiness to the throes of a melancholy journey across a life beset with unanticipated strife...but all the while there is an air of ease and confidence that belies the title.  An upbeat mood weaves its way through the entire piece, creating a protective aura much like a mother lion guarding her cubs.  Rikard  toys with your emotions as he sails deeper down the river...

Liner Notes...Rikard is originally from Gavle, Sweden and started on his musical journey at the age of five. Fast forward--if that's possible--through a career that spans several bands, band mates, line-up changes past and present, and thus we reach the culmination that is  Gungfly.  In addition to Rikard Sjoblom playing guitars, keyboards, and singing lead vocals,  Gungfly consists of David Zackrisson on guitar, Rasmus Diamant on bass, Sverker Magnusson and Martin Borgh on keyboards, and Petter Diamant on drums.



Rikard performed and wrote with Beardfish and Gungfly simultaneously, at first using Gungfly as an outlet for music which didn't quite within the vast parameters of the Beardfish section of the prog garden...although Beardfish tilled acreage across such a vast expanse of the garden it is difficult to imagine much they would not dabble in...

My third serving from what truly is a remarkable spread this week is "Polymixia," an eleven-minute escape from all that is wrong with the world.  The song opens as if I have stumbled into a third dimension jam session; Rikard makes use of the keyboards and then some on this piece as he waltzes through your mind pinball-like...lights flashing, score climbing, and your mind just this side of "tilt." The other side of my eyelids are exploding with an array of color Crayola was not able to fit into their box of 64...you are left not so much breathless as awed.

The album is scheduled for release on Inside Out Music May 19th and pre-orders are available at
Rikard Sjoblom Gungfly and InsideOut Music.  You can follow Rikard on Facebook as well at
Rikard Sjoblom FB.  For serious fans you can keep up with Rikard, Gungfly, and all the bands and their newest/latest releases on the  Inside Out Music label on Twitter @InsideOutUSA.

To motivate you just a bit and get you in that "gotta buy the music" mood, I offer you the title cut below.  This is Rikard being Rikard; relaxed and pouring out his personal and emotional best while you get to sit back, relax, and enjoy.  When the last of the 2017 sand falls through the hourglass and the inevitable "best of" lists are written, compiled, argued over, and dissected, this is one album that should make most lists and cause the least fights...


One more week spent in the prog garden is one more week of pure bliss, and spending it listening to Gungfly made it all the better.  Rikard Sjoblom does not miss a step; his mental agility and acute insight into the inner workings of the mind make "On Her Journey To The Sun" all the more hypnotic.  This is an album that needs to breathe...and once unleashed will fill your headphones--and the room--with a plethora of sights and sounds.

Inside Out Music has more new prog releases on the horizon, so the journey continues...the  search for all things prog just got more adventurous...until next time...

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Aisles

Thank you my loyal followers for coming back this week, and to those joining me here in the Closet Concert Arena for the first time; welcome!  Those extra seven days enabled me to take the search for all things prog to the outer limits of the prog garden and (perhaps) move the ground spikes a bit farther in all directions. Despite having found much new growth, revisited old friends, met some standard bearers, and moved out of my comfort zone, I find there is still much exploring to do.

So this week the Concert Closet ventured into the fusion/eclectic section of the garden and unearthed a band whose sound, while originating in Chile, has been making waves all across the globe. Seeming at first to be a big fish in a small pond--and knowing I can never simply stroll past that which has peaked my curiosity--I stop for a serious listen-in with Aisles.



Aisles is a band that lists among its goals to be a "...constantly evolving vehicle of expression..." That statement alone was enough to lure me in, but they continue; "Allowing creativity to prevail above all else fuels the band's desire to create."  So Aisles creates in order to be creative, and creating is what pushes them to be creative...hmmm...time to sit under the headphones awhile and ponder that...

Looking for something from the band's earlier days, I start the buffet at the beginning; "The Wharf That Holds His Vessel" from Aisles' 2005 debut "The Yearning."  A very strong instrumental lead-in to a tune with top notes of Weather Report and aromatics of  Mahavishnu Orchestra.  Aisles fills the canvas with bright colors while allowing gray hues to give a striking contrast.  This piece bursts open methodically and deliberately as each musician places his mark on what is an expression of emotion. The vocals lead you into a labyrinth of sound that goes deeper into itself...keyboards winding down a spiral to crash subtly into percussion that envelopes the guitars. Just let it overtake your auditory senses for awhile...relax...

Moving farther along the timeline and searching for more of that depth, I discover "Revolution of Light" from their 2009 release, "In Sudden Walks."  The guitar work is extremely crisp; there are aromatics of Steely Dan and Marillion wafting through the air.  Strong vocals walk across the drums, which are just enough to keep everyone in line.  This song flows through the headphones like siphoned crude...moving fast and going everywhere.  The sounds are dazzling as the canvas is hit with bright colors and sweeping hues, all intended to empty the mind of peripheral junk that alters thought patterns...focus on the light...

Liner Notes...although Aisles claims the world as their home, Santiago, Chile is their point of origin. The members of the band are brothers Sebastian Vergara on lead vocals and German Vergara on vocals, guitars, and keyboards.  They are joined by Rodrigo Sepulveda on guitar and vocals, Daniel Baird-Kerr on bass, Juan Pablo Gaete on keyboards, and Felipe Candia on drums and percussion.

Aisles has released four albums over a twelve year span, their most recent endeavor being the double album concept project called "Hawaii."  The band wanders through many sections of the prog garden but has strong roots in the neo-prog section and draws on the ornate, orchestral sounds deep within the classic acreage.  Aisles has developed a unique melange of jazz fusion, prog, a touch of metal, and some orchestral overtones; this "prog brew" has allowed them to pour forth a sound that is as distinctive as it is fresh and powerful.  Aisles brings an energy to the prog garden that is stimulating in its own right.

 
                                      

Serving number three to satisfy the prog appetite is "Hero," taken from their 2013 release "4:45 AM."  A different  mood on this cut; a dark and somber intro leads you through a turnstile as you board a train travelling the cosmos...sound pierces you with a gentle bluntness as it continues to spiral downward.  You aren't sure where this piece bottoms out, but curiosity and a sense of intrigue outweigh any trepidation you might feel.  Aisles burrows deep into your epidermis, hitting nerve and bone.  The sting you feel is short-lived as a soothing balm flows through your veins and you are drawn moth-like toward a dark light...

Learn more abut Aisles at their website Aisles Project.  Their music can be purchased here, on Amazon, and on iTunes; there is a link on the homepage to direct you to your preferred option. Aisles also has a Facebook page Aisles FB, Bandcamp site Aisles BC, and a Twitter @Aislesproject. Indulge your desire for something fresh and new and allow the music to wrap itself around you...

The cut below is taken from the earlier mentioned "Hawaii."  The double album was released in 2016; a concept album dealing with the colonization of a post-apocalyptic earth.  The drum work is entwined so seamlessly with the guitar you almost visualize Felipe and Rodrigo sharing one mind and heart as they build a foundation from which vocals leap and you are taken on an ominous drone ride, viewing mankind's destruction and its aftermath...

                                         

Once again fellow progheads, The Closet Concert Arena has brought forth a gem from the prog garden that expands what you perceive the garden to be about.  Aisles has made great strides across the width and breadth of all the acreage here within and even taken a few steps over the garden boundary markers.  With all that has happened in the prog garden recently, it is uplifting to know that the "circle of prog life" continues to develop.  The search for all things prog will continue on as long as there is new music to be discovered, more bands producing great sounds, and an evolving image of what prog is.  On we go...until next week...

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Dante

Hello and welcome fellow progheads!  The return trip from Oslo was quite an excursion, allowing for a surplus of listening time and the opportunity to fine tune the GPS...which means this week's search for all things prog finds me in yet another time zone I have not frequented nearly enough; Germany. The prog garden is scattered with some outstanding bands hailing from Deutschland; I need to check the latitude and longitude and make this journey a more regular occurrence.  In the meantime let's simply enjoy the prog sounds of Dante...

 


Dante profess to be a progressive metal band in the style of Dream Theater and Porcupine Tree...company that is worthy of note and particularly impressive if not somewhat juxtaposed...
So to satisfy my curiosity and quench a thirst for something atypical, I amble to the prog buffet to search out something to make this trip worthwhile...

First sound to fill the headphones is a tune called "The Taking" from their 2008 debut "The Inner Circle."  They say you never forget your first, and understandably so.  Dante lays down a tune here that rubs smooth across the ears, flowing with soft piano and violin...but under the surface you feel the sting of a wool sweater in June.  Once the melodic vocals start, you just know the headphones are about to detonate...wait for it...ahhh yes.  There is a majestic ornateness to the song, as though the grandest estate in the Hamptons suddenly burst into flames and everyone gathered to make s'mores. For first growth in the prog garden, this piece is well produced and reflects a bit of Pendragon perhaps...

Continuing to peruse the Dante section of the prog garden, I found a dark crystal among the underbrush, "All My Life."  This song is from their 2010 release "Saturnine."  The atmosphere is dark; the tension mounts as soon as laser touches disc.  You feel an energy that will either strangle you or guide you through the hazards, so best to not let your guard down.  This piece evokes an essence of Seconds Before Landing  and top notes of the many moods of Peter Hamer.  Dante crashes all around as if lifted from a Quentin Tarantino film and catapulted into traffic...

Liner Notes...Dante hails from Augsburg/Munchen Germany and is comprised presently of Alexander Gohs on vocals, Julian Kellner on guitars, Markus Maichel on piano and keyboards, and Christian Eichlinger on vocals and drums.

While Dante is firmly planted in the metal section of the prog garden, they bring a full basket to harvest.  Markus' piano can envelope you like a warm blanket fresh from the dryer while Julian rides up and down the mood elevator with his guitar work, hammering you from the inside out on one track and gently caressing you on the next.  Alexander's vocals can be cheerful or haunting, dancing across the top of the song or breaking through the window to bounce around your skull a bit...


Dante has been active and busy, coming into being in 2006 and releasing the first of their four albums in 2008.  In addition to those I mentioned previously, Dante's resume also includes "November Red" released in 2013 and "When We Were Beautiful" from 2016.  The band is also releasing a live DVD/double CD "Where Life Was Beautiful/Live in Katowice" later this month.  Dante recorded this during a May 2016 show in Katowice, Poland.  You can follow the band on their website http://www.danteband.de/, Facebook page Dante FB, and Twitter @danteprog.  You can purchase any or all of their albums and pre-order the DVD/double CD at the website and Facebook page...and without going into my usual rant I simply ask that you please do.

My final selection for review this week is a cut from the WWWB album, "Beautiful Again." Christian grabs your attention immediately with a strong drum intro and is quickly joined by the rest of the band as this song pours forth like hot lava burning through a forest.  Dante brings the prog metal front and center on this cut with the drums sitting like a rock solid foundation holding the guitars and keyboards afloat as they pound their way down your auditory canals, grab your spine, and flow through your entire body.  The maturity of the band is evident as the sound is much crisper; the guitars sting a bit more and the keyboards poke you right in the ribs.  Dante paints dark, strikes fast, and hits hard...but they are willing to offer you a hand back up once they've bowled you over...

The cut posted below is the title cut from "November Red."  The opening bass line is almost reminiscent of Roxy Music but quickly makes an about face and runs headlong into Dream Theater territory.  Dante is incredibly adept at walking a fine line between the prog "ballad" and a full on metal diatribe.  Vocals bring you back up for air after you've been water boarded by enormous hits of alternating guitar and drum...the canvas isn't black so much as bruised, and over time the purple breaks up into bizarre shades of green and yellow...never offering the same look twice...  

                        

And once again fellow progheads, seven days worth of sand has trickled through the hourglass as we bring another week to a close.  Dante has a sound that unifies the heavier metal section of the garden with the smoother, toned down sections that are home to Psicolorama and Atlas Volt.  One more piece of evidence that highlights the beauty and diversity of all that encompasses the prog garden...guitars and drums can reign down like mortar fire until a gentle piano interlude breaks the surface and settles in like rose petals floating on a pond.  The canvas is filled with as many hues as you can imagine, one bleeding into the next while a plethora of sound as grandiose as Keith Emerson's stage set up and intricate as a Phil Manzanera guitar riff waft over you.

So too, the search for all things prog goes off on many a tangent.  Following a path whose only boundaries are the outer limits of the prog garden, the journey continues...until next week...

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Fatal Fusion

Welcome once again to the confines of the Closet Concert Arena fellow progheads!  Last week's sojourn to the UK was a great intro to spring; as we move deeper into the equinox, I believe it is time for a road trip...a long road trip.  So let's load up the Concert Closet, set the GPS, and settle in as the search for all things prog heads to Norway and some quality time with Fatal Fusion...



The name seems quite apropos; Fatal Fusion is an amalgamation of sorts...musicians from short-lived bands coming together and redefining themselves with each new step through the prog garden. Crediting influences that range from King Crimson to Deep Purple and Marillion to Camel, Fatal Fusion has spent time wandering many a section of the prog garden, gathering the makings of what should be quite the mulligan stew...

Fatal Fusion has three albums on their resume and to get the buffet started, I dig right into a healthy serving of "The Ancient Tale," the title cut from their 2013 release.  The song opens gently; there are aromatics of The Strawbs emitting from the headphones.  An elaborate semi-symphonic interlude breaks out as the tempo picks up, but this is an emotion filled roller coaster ride.  Fatal Fusion pours sound over you like Hollandaise ladled over a perfectly poached egg...you taste it with all your senses and you want more.  The keyboards lead the narration as the music ebbs and flows through the telling of a Norse myth; you feel yourself being swept away by the surprising pull of the tide...

Wandering across the buffet to Fatal Fusion's debut album, I dig right into another title cut. ; "Land of the Sun."  This song has more of a jazz fusion feel...a bit "Weather Report meets Spyro Gyra" as the tempo climbs the ladder.  The guitars hit like a series of velvet hammers...reverberations echoing inside your cranium...the gentleness giving way to percussion that starts to elevate, then almost as suddenly relaxes into a nightclub smooth sound that coats rather than whacks...



                                             
                                                                                           
Liner Notes...Hailing from Oslo, Norway, Fatal Fusion is Knut Erik Grontvedt on vocals, Erlend Engebretsen on keyboards, Stig Selnes on guitars, Lasse Lie on bass, and Audun Engebretsen on drums.  Fatal Fusion has walked much acreage in the prog garden, laying roots in scattered sections as they trod.  The players crossed paths playing in several bands along the journey starting in 1986. Fast forward to 2008 and from the ashes of persistence has risen Fatal Fusion.  The band released its debut "Land of the Sun" in 2010, following up with their sophomore release "The Ancient Tale" in 2013.  "Total Absence," the third charm on Fatal Fusion's album bracelet, made its debut in 2016.

Fatal Fusion paints with dark colors--but they seem to enjoy folding in red, yellow, and green highlights to brighten the scenery.  The music almost comes alive as you lie still under headphones waiting for the fateful crash and/or animated explosion...it really doesn't matter which; you are emotionally packed for the journey whichever road it takes...

Being logical-minded and a fan of consistency, my final serving from this smorgasbord is Fatal Fusion's latest title cut, "Total Absence."  If albums number one and two were but the labor and effort expelled to stake claim to membership in the prog garden; the blood, sweat, and tears were not in vain. There is a "Camel/Radiohead" melange to the aromatics wafting through the air. Fatal Fusion washes over like foamy waves after an ocean storm...the beach is littered with driftwood and shells as you step gingerly...

Learn more about Fatal Fusion and buy the music at Fatal Fusion.  Of course there is a Facebook page Fatal Fusion FB and even a MySpace page Fatal Fusion MS.  The band can also be found on Twitter @FFprog.  Fatal Fusion may be a latter day addition to the prog garden but their DNA runs rich with the classic sounds of the standard bearers.

The clip below is another from "Total Absence" called "The Emperor's Letter."  An ornate, intricate opening leads the listener through a whirlwind ride fueled by high octane keyboards.  Fatal Fusion has painted a piece rich with elegance and proudly hung it on the wall for all to see and interpret.  Let your imagination walk the trail alone, gathering thoughts and ideas as your mind is filled with wonder...


So fellow progheads, we come to the end of another week.  One more collection of seven days compartmentalized and taken from the calendar.  As spring continues her attempt at rising from a long slumber, the Closet Concert Arena continues sprucing up the prog garden.  New growth and additions to existing acreage are but some of what to expect.  Fatal Fusion has a strong sound that continues to progress and mature across their body of growing work; artists who are strong students of the genre.  When album number four makes it debut, The Concert Closet will be there.  In the mean time, the search for all things prog continues...until next time...

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

The Inner Road "Sanctuary"

Welcome back as always fellow progheads!  Last week was a great start to spring and the mood here in the Concert Closet continues to escalate along with the mercury.  This week the search for all things prog goes back across the pond--I remember when this was a regular rite of passage--for a visit with an old friend and to become deeply immersed in the sounds of The Inner Road and their latest release, "Sanctuary."



The Inner Road is but one of the many projects Steve Gresswell is involved with.  I know many of you will recall Steve from the prog band Coalition; apparently Mr. Gresswell needs to wear multiple hats and constantly multi-task to keep the creative prog juices flowing...

This week however, the spotlight is on The Inner Road and "Sanctuary" because this latest release is filled with some absolutely beautiful work.  Spending the last 168 hours--that's seven days to most normal people--listening to this album has been nothing short of a prog joyride...so let's head to the buffet and get this feast started...

The album opens with the title cut...church bells are but a quick lead to a strong orchestral cornucopia that spills over with extraordinary sounds that fill every nook and crevice in your cranium.  The tempo builds to what seems an inevitable crescendo--but instead of the explosive crash it simply continues to build.  The musicians seem to stand up and thump their collective chests as colors run down a canvas already be-speckled with slashes of neon light.  This is an opening as daring as taking driving lessons at the Indianapolis 500...be ready, alert, and prepared...because there's hardly time to take a breath...

Taking a stroll farther down the track list, I am once again battered about the auditory canals by a tune called "Temple of Forgiveness."  Inner Road has staked out a plot in the prog garden that needs full sun while radiating a heat that doesn't scorch so much as it melts away the periphery and burns right through to your soul.  The guitar on this piece is the salve that brings it all together while keyboards are the yeast that make this dough rise...

Liner Notes...The Inner Road is the brainchild of the aforementioned Steve Gresswell, who keeps residence in the UK.  The Inner Road is Steve's outlet for his instrumental prog musings, and Sanctuary is the third album released by this side of his alter-ego.  Despite playing keyboards, drums, bass guitar, orchestration, choir, and laying down some vocal tracks, Steve was not alone in putting this gem together.  Additional musicians are Ben Cameron on guitars and Bruno Pitch on chapman stick.

The Inner Road is ornate and boisterous--but in a good way.  The music is as full bodied as a bordeaux wine and satisfying as aloe after a day at the beach.  It ain't bragging if you back it
up; Steve does that and more.  The Inner Road pays homage to keyboards without doubt...think Jordan Rudess and Geoff Downes having an impromptu jam session while Rick Wakeman scores each round...

Yet The Inner Road spreads the exhilaration all around and fires on all cylinders.  Guitar work is strong, the orchestration is tight as Kardashian spandex, and the drums are a rock solid foundation to support the entire package. "Sanctuary" comes at you full force as soon as laser hits disc but does not leave you dazed. There are moments of introspection, pause, and even some emotional cleansing. The Inner Road goes deep and shines a light all the way down.  Learn more about The Inner Road and purchase the music at The Inner Road Bandcamp.  The band also has a Facebook page
The Inner Road FB and of course you can follow them on Twitter @innerroad.

The final serving from what is truly a bountiful harvest is a cut called "The Redeemer."  Another heavy-hitting piece that bursts with positive energy while crawling inside your thought process.  I don't think Steve is capable of drowning the listener in sorrow, but he also steers clear of sugar-coated gooeyness.  The up-and-down tempo pushes all the buttons on your mood elevator and as the car comes to an abrupt halt, you almost feel out of breath.

Alas; no sounds to lure you with this week...but if you make the purchase you can hear the entire album at your leisure.  Perhaps a photo of Steve laying down the magic will help entice you...



Well fellow progheads, another seven days in the prog garden has wound down, and the fruit of our labor was well worth the effort.  The Inner Road uses wide brush strokes to fill the canvas with elaborate, thought-provoking images using every color in the paint box...blending the brightest hues with darker, more subdued shades to create a piece stunning both from a visual and an auditory perspective.  "Sanctuary" brought forth a sense of being in a cathedral for a celebratory gathering;
grandiose in stature and splendid for its abundance.  The Inner Road leads the listener on a grand tour of the prog garden...

One more dance across the calendar and the search for all things prog continues on.  The journey thus far has been fun and exciting--and also quite the eye (and ear)-opener.  I hoped when I began the journey I would discover a few bands that were "flying low under the radar" or perhaps just cutting their prog teeth so to speak.  I had no idea the search for all things prog would be this enjoyable or that so many bands would be putting out so much fantastic music!  Please support the artists; there is no better way to keep the prog garden flourishing...until next time...