Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Gaillion "Renewal and Release"

Cool, crisp, "blowing-on-my-hands-to-warm-them" greetings fellow progheads!  Autumn (remember her?) seems to be making a hasty getaway as the mercury falls deep into the well of the thermometer.  As we here in the good ol' USA start to plan the holiday festivities that will wrap up 2017, I thought it might be appropriate to stay on domestic soil and keep the search for all things prog focused on the local scene...

I took the Concert Closet on a coast-to-coast journey this week...perhaps the best time to search the prog garden for hearty bounty; something that can stand up to--and raise the heat on--the cold weather creeping in.  A visit with Gaillion was just the remedy and all the warmth I needed for these past 168 hours.  The band's latest album, "Renewal and Release" made its debut in October.  Gaillion recorded one new song while remixing and remastering four previous single releases and putting them together on one EP.  The result is some very polished music and a most outstanding waltz through the prog garden.  But enough talk; headphones on...


Moving away from my usual way of doing things, I open the buffet with the final slice from this gem, "The Focal Point."  This is the new single Gaillion put on the album and it is brilliant.  The song opens as though the sound is coming through a poorly tuned AM radio--deliberately and just for a few seconds.  Gaillion then picks up the tempo and hits you with strong guitar and drum work.  There are top notes of Dreadnaught mixing with The Aaron Clift Experiment wafting through the headphones.  The vocals lay on top, riding on a heavy foundation and cutting through with the finesse of a jackknife slicing through rope...as Goldilocks would say, just right...

Scanning the balance of the buffet laid out before me, I sample a remix of "Letters From the Skipper."  This time around the drums seem cleaner, much more succinct as they draw the piece together.  Todd's vocals are once again the unpolished diamond this music needs to bring out the oomph...wrapping this music in silk would be akin to applying the proverbial lipstick to a pig; a mismatch that improves nothing.  Gaillion heats the branding iron and then applies it in doses just long enough to leave a mark but not a scar...soothing and penetrating.


Liner Notes...Gaillion the band is as much a testament to perseverance and determination as is this newest EP.  The band consists of Todd Howard on vocals, bass, and keyboards, James Vasquenza Jr. on guitar, and Don Gunn on drums and percussion.  Three bandmates, three hometowns; Seattle, NYC, and Ventura CA.  I detailed the specifics in a previous blog (June 2015), but suffice to say this trio has spent a lifetime building this band.

Having gone to school together in CT, they released their first full length album "Admit One" in 1989.  Traveling in separate circles but always keeping in touch, Gaillion reunited in a technological sort of way and has been releasing singles since 2015...hence their latest project.  "Renewal and Release" brings all their work from the past two years together, allowing you to purchase it as one EP.  The name alludes to their thought process, in a prog sort of way...

One last listen and I want to make it count...so of course I laser up "Lorelei."  The opening mood is almost sinister, as though someone is about to come up from behind and cut you off at the knees.  Quickly the tempo picks up as one more time smooth drum work leads the sound parade right down into your auditory canals.  James' guitar work is stellar as this remixed version has smoothed out the rough edges and left the listener with a clean firm sound.

Learn more about the journey Gaillion has taken at their website Gaillion.  The new album can be purchased at Gaillion iTunes and Gaillion Bandcamp.  For those so inclined, Gaillion can be found on social media at Gaillion FacebookGaillion Instagram, and Twitter @gaillionband.  You will find their full music library so take your time and walk slowly through the aisles...you wouldn't want to miss anything...

I chose "Backslide" for the clip-of-the-week to give you musical insight and a glimpse inside the remix/remaster work Gaillion has done.  Three people working in two time zones provides its own challenges, but Gaillion makes it seem elementary.  The bass on this song leads the guitar and drums through a labyrinth that spins you 'round and just before you lose your sense of direction, lands you firmly on your feet...well done...

                  

And as per usual, our time here in the prog garden this week has flown by much too quickly.  Gaillion is a bright spot in a multi-layered arena as they hit hard and fast but never seem to lose sight of their desire to enjoy themselves.  The band moves through the prog garden deftly, focusing on the acreage where the sound is full and the colors thrive.  Gaillion attempts to fill each five minutes of music with ten minutes of sound...every song bursting with energy.

And even more as per usual, the search for all things prog continues on.  The end of 2017 is beginning to appear on the horizon and before you know it will be in the rear view mirror.  So The Closet Concert Arena marches onward in the never ending attempt to bring as much new and as-yet-undiscovered prog music to light...until next time...

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Vuur, "In This Moment We Are Free - Cities"

Hello and welcome to the middle of fall fellow progheads!  Now that the US has caught up with the rest of the planet and set her clocks back one hour, the race to bring down the curtain on 2017 has officially begun...which puts the search for all things prog into overdrive...

Vuur is a band that while new to the prog garden, has members with rich prog soil running through their veins.  Anneke van Giersbergen is name not unfamiliar to many a proghead, having been vocalist for The Gathering and performing with Devin Townsend among others.  Vuur recently released their debut album "In This Moment We Are Free - Cities" on the InsideOut label.  Here Anneke sets out to cut her metal chops as it were, so let us queue up this latest and listen in...



The album opens with the cut "My Champion - Berlin."  There is an immediate keyboard/guitar energy burst that rattles around inside your head like pinballs pushing the machine into "tilt."  Anneke's vocals come through almost too smooth to partner with the mayhem that surrounds...much like an aria accompanying Dream Theater.  The canvas is pelted with paint balloons of every hue--mostly the bright ones that eliminate shadows. Vuur emerges from the smoke and fire with a mad rush; should be an interesting show...

My second helping from the buffet is "Sail Away - Santiago." The adrenaline rush is still on as Vuur continues to thrust themselves at you with all the gusto of a typhoon...I pick up top notes of Curved Air and After Forever crashing through my headphones.  The guitars strike fast and hit hard but do leave time for breathing (albeit intermittently) as the song carries on.  Meanwhile the drums keep up a frenetic pace that leaves you gasping but still standing as the music winds down.

Liner Notes...hailing from the Netherlands, Vuur, or "Fire" in Dutch, has the appropriately coiffed, red haired Anneke van Giersbergen on lead vocals.  Rounding out the band is Jord Otto and Ferry Duijsens on guitars, Johan van Stratum on bass, and Ed Warby on drums.  This may be Vuur's debut album, but their roots run deep in the prog garden.  Anneke has not only released solo projects, she has performed with Ayreon, Gentle Storm, and Danny Cavanaugh.  Coupled with my earlier mention of her work with The Gathering and The Devin Townsend Project, you realize Anneke knows her way around a sound studio.  The other members of the band have fairly extensive resumes as well so rookies they ain't...

My third selection is a more somber slice; the final cut "Reunite! - Paris."  A soft opening belies the adrenaline rush brought on by earlier servings.  The mood elevator does climb a bit as the song progresses.  Jord and Ferry manage to work up a lather--just not quite as frenzied as they had been previously, allowing Anneke's vocals to become the focal point.  Fear not my prog metal friends; Vuur seems unable or unwilling to slip a ballad into the mix.  The sound still tests your headphones, Vuur is just trolling another section of the prog garden before the stylus rests in its holster...


You can purchase "In This Moment We Are Free - Cities" at Vuur's website Vuur and
InsideOut Music where you will also find the rest of the InsideOut stable of prog artists.  Vuur boasts a Facebook page Vuur Facebook and Twitter account @vuur_band if you are so inclined.  As is seemingly the thing to do at the moment, Vuur also has a YouTube channel Vuur YouTube so you can keep up with new video releases and look behind-the-scenes at the making of "In This Moment We Are Free - Cities."

I chose "Your Glorious Light Will Shine - Helsinki" for your listening pleasure this week.  A song from the darker side of the garden, the headphones fill your auditory canals with a cacophony of sound from  the onset, and once again Anneke's vocals rest solidly on the shoulders of stellar guitar and drumming.  This song doesn't peel the curtain back; it tears it from the overhead rigging system to reveal a stage beset with a band more than happy to fill the arena with boisterous commotion.  Go ahead and turn the volume up...

                   

And as the sand drips slowly through the hourglass, so too another week in The Closet Concert Arena has slipped past like a ship in the night.  Vuur added a bit of Red Bull to the punch bowl this week...just enough to arouse your senses and awaken the nocturnal throng roaming the prog garden.

Prog has many facets, moods, and styles.  I believe it was best stated as "...a lifestyle--not a genre."  Progressive rock really is so much more because it has so much more; sights as well as sounds and  darkness as well as light.  For those who prefer not to stray far from the edge, contemplative as well as penetrating music.  Prog comes in many shapes and sizes and one need not prefer them all...like a connoisseur of the finer things in life, prog too can be subjective.  Vuur calls the progressive section of the garden home and yet they reach across the acreage to draw from many subsections as well.  Enjoy the amalgam; it's what makes prog so desirable...

Off now to continue the journey...tapping another vein as the search for all things prog winds through the remains of 2017...until next time...

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Hats Off Gentlemen It's Adequate; "Broken But Still Standing"

Prog rock greetings from "across the pond" fellow progheads!  Two weeks in Italy was fascinating and mesmerizing, but as always the search for all things prog continues on.  This week I take the Closet Concert Arena over to the UK for a visit with Malcolm Galloway and his band, Hats Off Gentlemen It's Adequate.  It seems Malcolm & Company have put together a new album titled "Broken But Still Standing," a concept LP dealing with evolution.



Knowing Malcolm like I think I do, this album is sure to be an adventure. Since discovering Hats Off Gentlemen almost two years ago, I have found each new release to be distinctive and exceptional in its own right.  His music runs the gamut of the prog garden and dabbles in the ambient as well...truly an artist with a vision...and to the headphones I go...

With Hats Off Gentlemen It's Adequate, the best option is to enter the music realm with absolutely no pre-conceived notions about what to expect...so with a clean slate behind my forehead, I hit the "play" button.  As "Vent" fills the headphones I am immediately transported to another place in time...the mood is somber as a flute smooth as a sunset reflecting lake cuts through you gently. Vocals pick up the ambiance; darkness seems to set in quickly as the rest of the band circles around you.

Top notes of Gentle Giant and Traffic fill the room while the music takes you down a rabbit hole straight into "Almost Familiar."  Malcolm tends to fill the canvas with grays and assorted dark hues and that is true here.  There is something about his vocals though; their edginess slices through the gentle layer of guitar like an X-Acto knife cutting through cardboard...smooth, but just a tad rough around the edges.  This is not a knock--it's the rough edges that give the song credibility.


The ambient section of the prog garden is well represented, so moving down the playlist a bit I find a tune with a little more oomph if you will; "Let Me Out."  Continuing to use the darker crayons in the box, Hats Off Gentlemen creates an image filled with tension and a burning desire to rush forth...I kept waiting for something to grab my ears through the headphones.  The flute on this piece is nothing short of splendid; you can almost feel the flames roaring at your back.  Suddenly a bootlegger's turn into "Under the Skin" leaves you floating above the chaos and mayhem much like  Syd Barrett might be while staring down at Pink Floyd on stage today; a bit ethereal I imagine...

Liner Notes...Hats Off Gentlemen It's Adequate is the brainchild of multi-instrumentalist, vocalist, and song writer Malcom Galloway, who may or may not be joined on stage by flautist Kathryn Thomas, guitarist Ibon Bilbao, bass player Mark Gatland, and Rudy Roo sitting behind the drum kit.  I say may be joined because Hats Off Gentlemen It's Adequate is an overly informal project...and that is part of the draw for me.

Malcolm puts words together to create marvelous lyrics and the accompanying music is refreshing and unleashed...there are no hard boundaries; the parameters seem almost fluid.  Combine that with Malcolm's generosity of spirit--the band plays more charity gigs than some bands play gigs period--and you get the sense that Hats Off Gentlemen is more like a band's band...playing for the adrenaline rush that performing generates.

If you are still on the fence about Hats Off Gentlemen It's Adequate, do yourself a favor and explore deeper at the band's website Hats Off Gentlemen.  You can access and purchase "Broken But Still Standing" as well as the band's other releases.  You will also discover their music at
Hats Off Gentlemen cdbaby and find out more about the band at Hats Off Gentlemen Facebook and Twitter @itsadequate.

Closing out the review with the final cut from the album, "Close My Eyes."  While staying true to the darker side of the garden, this song does breach daylight a tad.  Drums and keyboards burn through the clouds as the song opens and the vocals share a somewhat poignant moment...a bit unusual for Malcolm perhaps, proving once again the prog garden is filled with surprises.



This week I offer you a glimpse into the making of the album as well as the mind of the artist.  The  clip below involves music from five of the first six cuts on the album; there are seventeen in total.  As with  a band such as Hats Off Gentlemen It's Adequate, the visuals in the video are as meaningful as the audio they interpret.  Let this entire clip wash over you like a warm shower after running a marathon...so welcome, relaxing, and invigorating...

The album opens on the ambient side of the garden, leaning toward aromatics of Eno and Pink Floyd.  As you listen you notice your pulse slowing down and everything around you becoming less significant, as if you are but a spectator viewing the world from stage left--much like Ebeneezer Scrooge as he floated through his own life with the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future.  Simply sit in your treasured comfy chair with a favorite beverage and relax...


So as we move further through the calendar watching October fade in the rear view mirror, it is but a matter of time when a blanket of snow covers the prog garden.  However, until that moment
arrives--and even after--the search for all things prog has miles to go before 2017 plays her swan song.

Hats Off Gentlemen It's Adequate is an ideal example of what prog is; music that does not follow a traditional pattern or path but rather evolves.  Hats Off Gentlemen manages to evolve both with every new album and every time you listen to the same album...there is so much there you can't take it all in on the first go-round.  So as the search for all things prog continues on, The Closet Concert Arena picks up the torch...until next time...

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Premiata Forneria Marconi "Emotional Tattoos"

Ciao, fellow progheads!  A wild October it has been, and the fun is never ending here in the Closet Concert Arena.  This week I chose to continue the search for all things prog while extending my stay in Italy enjoying the sounds of ornate, orchestral prog.

While relaxing in the land of my ancestors, I happened upon a band that has been in the prog garden for quite some time, though I must somewhat ashamedly admit I had not heard their music until recently.  Premiata Forneria Marconi (PFM) opened for Yes in Milan 1971 and has enjoyed worldwide acclaim since.  Thankfully InsideOut Music offered me the opportunity to review the newest release from the band, "Emotional Tattoos," an offer I jumped at because...well, because this is why I occupy the Concert Closet in the first place.




"Emotional Tattoos" has an expected release date of October 27th--this Friday for those sans calendar-- and there are multiple packages available, including the 2CD set with the second disc being the Italian version.  Personally I prefer the Italian translation so as to be able to delve deeper into the emotions and feelings of the artist.  Of course you can whet your appetite right here in the Concert Closet as I prepare the buffet table and apply the headphones in anticipation of a most intense review...please to enjoy...

I open this celebration with a cut called "We're Not an Island."  A fitting title; the song opens as though you are lounging at the seashore during low tide...cerebral, relaxing, and washing over my auditory canals like velvet earmuffs.  The keyboards open gentle enough as vocals with just enough grit to catch your attention filter through.  Top notes of Marillion and a touch of Wishbone Ash seem to carry across the room as the momentum picks up.  The guitars mesh with violin strings beautifully as the drums hold steadfast throughout.  As the song starts to fade I am reminded of an inner peace that comes when the raucousness dies down...and the candle still burns...

Moving further along the disc I discover another song that sails delicately across the inner lining of the mind, "There's a Fire In Me."  PFM fills the canvas with lighter colors--not necessarily pastels, but nothing ominous and threatening; although there is nothing to fear, you're not being coaxed to sleep either.  I sense a Transatlantic vibe in the headphones...like a hot air balloon testing the grounding tether, it pulls enough to grab your attention yet you know you're safely on terra firma...



Liner Notes...although the core of the band started playing together in the late 1960's, Premiata Forneria Marconi originated in Milan in 1970 so they're not exactly new comers to the prog garden.  Covering music from King Crimson, Jethro Tull, and even early Chicago, the band continued to grow and expand their sound.  Winning several awards on the Italian prog scene, PFM took to the worldwide stage, making their first mark on the Billboard chart in 1973.  Move through several line-up changes, being "discovered" by Greg Lake of ELP fame while touring Japan, collaborating with Peter Sinfield, and the myriad of baggage that comes with being a band, and here we are in 2017 anticipating the release of "Emotional Tattoos."

The current line-up for PFM is Franz Di Cioccio on lead vocals and drums, Alessandro Scaglione on keyboards, Hammond, and Moog, Marco Sfogli on guitars, Patrick Djivas on bass, Alberto Bravin on keyboards and backing vocals, Lucio Fabbri on violin, and Roberto Gualdi on drums.  Two drummers one of whom also sings...hmmm...where I have I seen something similar?

PFM has walked the width and breadth of the prog garden, releasing albums in the experimental and classical sections as well as keeping that one proverbial foot in the Italian prog scene.  This album takes PFM back to its roots as they travel the melodic, ornate, guitar driven, jazzy road that winds through the entire prog garden.  PFM may be a lot of things, but predictable and complacent are not two of them.

Take a journey through time and discover for yourself all that Premiata Forneria Marconi has to offer.  You can pre-order "Emotional Tattoos" as well as look deeper into the PFM catalog at
PFM World.  Follwo the band on Facebook PFM Facebook and Twitter @pfmufficiale where you will find tour and music info as well as specifcs about the band.


Tapping into one more song here, I find myself getting lost in "It's My Road."  An example of what I spoke of earlier, this one cuts deeper when played in Italian.  An upbeat tune, the keyboards take center stage along with those semi-gritty vocals.  PFM truly does travel back in time with this album as the canvas seems covered with Peter Marx art and a mellow mood that washes over like the smell of fresh linen drying on the line in a cool spring breeze.  Scents of lilac and open fields are as real as the jazz piano bouncing around inside my head... 

For your listening pleasure this week I chose the cut "Central District."  This gives you a fairly good perspective of the style PFM has burned into this disc.  The vocals come through a bit stronger as the keyboards and drums unite to surround the entire piece in rugged lace.  Violins get their say as well, complementing the guitars throughout but taking center stage just enough to command attention.  PFM has intensified their own top notes here; the new is reminiscent of the old...you can go home again...
                                      

So fellow progheads, the search for all things prog this week has unearthed a gem lurking in the prog garden for quite some time.  Premiata Forneria Marconi has been making progressive rock music for over 40 years, and despite garnering world wide attention and accolades, somehow managed to fly low under the radar.  "Emotional Tattoos" should change that trajectory and move the band to a more prominent place in the prog garden...

...and once again the time has wound down.  The search for all things prog continues on, and thanks to PFM that search has now been widened to include those bands that have been here a while yet somehow eluded the masses.  I for one appreciate the gates opening wider, allowing me to find such a graceful album.  Until next time...

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Revisiting Sir Chronicles

Good evening fellow progheads and thanks for coming back to the Closet Concert Arena!  This week the unofficial "random whirlwind" search for all things prog continues its ramble through the prog garden as I journey back to Italy for a slice of deja vu.  Last summer  I discovered an
up-and-coming prog band that I believed showed signs of an ascending trajectory...turns out I was right...

I am happy to report that Sir Chronicles continues to mature and asked me to reprieve my earlier review of their music now that they have gone back to the studio and  re-worked their songs into a complete album.  More than happy to go back for a second helping when the first offering was so delectable...


Let's get the party started with "Tears of Love."  A quick stormy opening lead is the backdrop for a rather dark instrumental piece...the mood is fitting as the music rains down the inside of your skull like an all day spring shower, complete with gloomy skies and and a punishing wind.  The guitar picks up the tempo but the canvas remains dark; the penetrating drums serving mainly to exacerbate the downtrodden ambiance.  Sir Chronicles waves a dark brush across the underside of the listener's eyelids and a powerful mood is born...

Moving farther along the serving line, I am struck abruptly by "Genova City."  The opening bass line clashes with a lead guitar/drum cacophony that leads to an instrumental rumba sauntering through your mind.  Strong top notes of Seven Impale and Under the Psycamore permeate the room with perhaps a hint of Beardfish floating on top like so much foam on a mug of ale...


Liner Notes...Sir Chronicles is currently a two-man operation made up of Alessandro Bordino on guitars and bass, and Efrem Nota on drums.  This "dynamic duo" have done quite a bit since first appearing in the prog garden.  Their initial recordings earned them early praise, several awards, and the start of a loyal following; the decision to re-work and fine tune their music into an EP puts the emphasis on a commitment to their craft.  Many bands go through the growing pains of personnel changes, identity issues, and just plain attracting an audience...but talent, skill, and aptitude tend to outweigh chance...

Sir Chronicles is that lesson in determination, grit, and talent.  Today it seems almost anyone can release music to the masses and set up a YouTube or Spotify account. What separates the contenders from the pretenders is a desire to do what it takes and the refusal to give up and go home--along with the ability to back it up.  Sir Chronicles invites you the listener into their world...where they tend acreage in the dark, brooding, introspective section of the prog garden.

One more cut to review tonight; "Metronomy."  Opening with a bit of a funky bass line, this piece is much more uptempo than what I have been exposed to thus far...and it is a nice rabbit hole to wander down.  With top notes of a Jaco Pastorius/Narada Michael Walden jam session, the jazz fusion club is in full swing.  Sir Chronicles puts on a display here that peels back the curtain a bit, exposing their ability to change direction and cruise across the prog garden in funky style.

Hopefully your curiosity has been aroused...your intrigue spiked.  The urge to get the debut release from Sir Chronicles can be scratched at iTunes, Sir Chronicles iTunes and Soundcloud,
Sir Chronicles SC.  You can also follow the band on Facebook Sir Chronicles FB and Twitter
@AlessandroRiche.  Sir Chronicles even has a YouTube channel Sir Chronicles YT so you can not only catch their music, but dial into what inspires them as well.

This week I decided on the song "Sbrigidi" for your listening pleasure/temptation.  The sound is definitely crisper and cleaner this go 'round, and Alessandro's and Efrem's affinity for the jazz side of the prog garden is once again on display.  Of course on this cut the duo "takes it up a notch" as it were, bringing the ornate Italian flare so many bands from that area are known for.  Sir Chronicles hits you right from the get-go and gets your adrenaline racing...there is an Al DiMeola vibe crawling through the headphones as Sir Chronicles peels back yet another layer of the onion...

 

So fellow progheads, as we creep ever closer to the finish line of 2017 I am deeply pleased by all the new music I have heard this year and sincerely appreciative of the opportunity to bring it all to you.  Sir Chronicles has been an especially fun week in The Closet Concert Arena as I have been afforded the chance to listen to the band's refined sound.  Having heard them come full circle, I can say with absolute certainty that Sir Chronicles should be a name to remember...and a band not to forget.

And as we say every seven days in the prog garden, the search for all things prog continues on...until next week...

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Naryan

Hello once again fellow progheads and welcome back to the Closet Concert Arena.  Autumn continues her trek across the calendar this week as the search for all things prog travels to Finland to see how others handle the changing seasons.  With relatively similar temperatures in both locales, now seems as good a time as any to find out what the far reaches of the prog garden are producing.


 Naryan, a band originating in Tampere, Finland, has released two albums on the Progressive Gears label.  Their eponymous first album came out in 2013, and their follow-up "Black Letters" hit the streets in January 2016.  The band describes their sound as "melancholic" and "atmospheric" which leaves a lot to the imagination.  Images of an ornate stage draped in black crepe and lace complete with glowing candelabras fills the mind...so straight to the buffet for what promises to be a sumptuous extravaganza as I get this review started...

With two albums being served up this week, I will play along logically and start with the first release;  cuing up "Ungettable."  As the song peels back the curtain you feel as though you are ocean-side watching a piano recital, the tide lapping at the pedals while the mood begins to slowly build...and then the crescendo erupts as the remaining players emerge on the surf.  Naryan comes straight at you with raw emotion dripping from every note...

Naryan emits top notes of Anathema and Porcupine Tree on this tune...a mesmerizing piece that bounces around the inner workings of your head like a frenzy of pellets in a Pachinko machine...

Next up from the same album is a more complex cut, "Never Give Up."  Naryan once again goes straight for the heart strings as passion pores out like nectar from a honeycomb, sticking to everything in its path.  Vocals start to pour forth as the tendrils of a flute flirt with gentle guitar work laying a path that gets a bit rocky while the tempo begins to pick up the pace.  Once you're inside the labyrinth the walls begin to close in; you feel pressure from all sides...and "Never Give Up" becomes a mantra that leads you through the eye of the storm.

Moving across the aisle to Naryan's second release, I immediately immerse myself in the title cut, "Black Letters."  Tommi Niemi's vocals are deep and dark as they waltz across some intricate violin work.  Once again Naryan takes you down a gentle path only to toss you into an abyss and watch you fall--but the landing is "almost-soft;" as though  you were thrust onto a pile of floor exercise mats.

Liner Notes...as I mentioned above, Naryan hails from Tempere, Finland and is  a member of the Progressive Gears family of prog artists. The band consists of the aforementioned Tommi Niemi on vocals, Lauri Kovero and Raino Ketola on guitars, Eveliina Sydanlahde on bass, flute, keyboards,and backing vocals, Nona Onnela on violin, and Tommi Tanhuanpaa on drums.



Started in 2009 by Lauri as an instrumental project, Naryan has gone through several line up changes and additions. Couple that with a maturation  in regard to arranging, writing, and performing, and the result is an amazing version of Naryan confidently leaping through my headphones today.  Working with the Progressive Gears team sets the expectations bar high as the bands builds its album library...

Staying with the "Black Letters" album, I serve up a platter of "764."  Clever guitar work introduces the cut as top notes of Anathema once again waft through the air.  Dark colors start to run down the canvas, streaking randomly while an ominous cloud settles over the mood.  Eveliina's piano saunters off toward the Radiohead section of the garden--and suddenly the bottom falls out as you tumble toward chaos a la Katatonia...only to land safely once again in the warm embrace of Eveliina and her keyboards.

You can purchase both of these albums at Naryan bandcamp and Progressive Gears.  Social media provides several options for connecting with and learning about the band; their website, Naryan,
Facebook, Naryan FB, and Twitter @Naryanband.  Naryan also has a YouTube channel
Naryan YT so you can experience the music for yourself before making that ever important purchase...

To entice you into increasing your music collection, I chose "Sad to Listen."  This is a bonus clip of sorts as it is not found on either of their albums...you're welcome...🎶  Naryan enjoys toying with the listener; the gentle opening lures you in like a siren call until the clouds roll back, dark skies open, and Naryan rains down with emotions that bleed like an open wound.  The violin tears right through you like a fine-edged scalpel, the drums hit you with a steady thump, and the bass keeps everyone's pulse on an even keel.  The aromatics you detect have a Metallica hue, with perhaps a twinge of
Porcupine Tree making the air heavier still...


Naryan hits hard, heavy, and fast.  There is a Jekyll and Hyde feel to the music as they start out of the gate with a genteel air--only to drop the facade and deliver a wallop to your emotions that pushes the envelope.  Naryan doesn't blast you like Opeth; they prefer the slow, deliberate crawl inside your mind so as to seep into your subconscious...bursting out like a great white attack...and then slinking back to reload...

Naryan straddles different sections of the prog garden; drawing from the melodic and blending it with metal that isn't too sharp or piercing and tying it together with the gentle strings of a violin.  Naryan brings you a full basket of fervor to accompany you on your journey...

And as quickly as it began, the week draws to a close.  Naryan is a dark jewel sparkling in the shadows of the prog garden. Not to worry--the Concert Closet is on a mission to search those shadows and unearth more prog that hits with absolute sincerity.  The journey continues...until next time...

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Tuesday The Sky, "Drift"

Another grateful thank you to everyone returning to The Closet Concert Arena fellow progheads!  Mother Nature seems to have finally gotten it right, much to my chagrin, as there is now more chill in the night air than my evening drink.  So to warm the Concert Closet up a bit I took the search for all things prog over to the InsideOut Music section of the prog garden to check out a fascinating release from a band/side project created by prog guitarist Jim Matheos; Tuesday the Sky.


For those familiar with Jim's day job--guitarist for Fates Warning--a spoiler alert of sorts...Tuesday the Sky is by no means an extension of that band.  Rather it seems an outlet for Jim's inner Brian Eno; the master of ambient music.  Tuesday the Sky is apparently the place Jim goes to allow his alter-ego an opportunity to come out and play...a section of the prog garden separated from the rigors and demands of progressive metal.  Tuesday the Sky flows through the prog garden like fudge rolling across a marble slab; just watching makes you want more...

Starting out with the first cut "Today the Sky" is akin to having an Eno/Fripp flashback; the sounds wash over you like slow motion 8mm home movies...lots of emotion mixed with a twinge of longing and inner peace.  The opening is much like an old Victrola that wasn't cranked fast enough; the sound is equal parts eerie and fascinating.  Tuesday the Sky takes you on a journey that gets more exciting note-by-note.  The dripping irony is the lack of a thunderous metal backdrop...




Following along the grooves in the vinyl I am captivated by the song "Vortex Street."  There is no missing the ambient mood...that dream-like "falling through the air" feeling as if the entire world were in slow motion...truly captivating.  I sense Abstract Aprils as much as Fripp from his Soundscape days; the atmosphere is soothing; the mood serene.  Tuesday the Sky actually takes the listener on an adventure with this piece...close your eyes and feel the tension flow from your body much the way coffee spills from a cup in zero gravity...

Liner Notes...Tuesday the Sky is of course the brain child of Jim Matheos, who plays guitars and bass on the album.  Joining Jim is Lloyd Hanney on drums; additional guests on the record are Kevin Moore playing  keyboards on "It Comes in Waves" and "Drift," and Anna Lynne Williams on vocals for "Vortex Street" and "Westerlies."  Tuesday the Sky may simply be an ethereal side venture for Jim, but don't let that cause you a moment's hesitation as to whether it is worth listening to--it is.

One needs to approach instrumental music from a different vantage point, whether you are the listener, the performer, or the writer.  Here in The Closet Concert Arena, it is more than just going "voiceless."  The mood is usually more somber or reserved...the mood elevator is often stuck between floors.  The canvas illustrations tend to be larger as the colors run from soft, obscured hues to bright patches that fade away behind darker, more ominous tones that tend to overwhelm if left to their own devices.  However; Tuesday the Sky fills the album with distinct a passion that carries you across the threshold of emotions like so much salt spray crashing over driftwood on the shore...



Learn more about Tuesday the Sky at Tuesday the Sky and InsideOut Music.  This album, along with others in the Inside Out catalog are available and well worth adding to your vast and varied prog collection.  You will also find the band on Facebook at Tuesday the Sky FB.  For those inclined to dig deeper ((the Concert Closet is cavernous) you can also find Jim Matheos at Jim Matheos and
Jim Matheos FB .

For the listen-in this week I chose the second cut, "Kite."  Opening like raindrops running across a windshield, the song captures what I consider the essence of what Tuesday the Sky attempts to convey throughout; music, especially of the prog variety, flows naturally and needs no preconceived
pattern to follow.  Ambient music--while not an entirely different animal--does offer an alternate perspective from which to view the prog garden.   



How far this project goes has yet to be determined, so enjoy the present and wrap yourself in the cocoon that is "Drift" and let your mind sail away...Tuesday the Sky is a splendid way to spend time while wandering through the prog garden...so be sure to avoid a strut that would prevent you from enjoying the music and the surrounding scenery...

And thus another week falls from the calendar. Tuesday the Sky is a rare (and hopefully not one-off) gem Jim Matheos has put together outside the Fates Warning realm.  The ambient section of the prog garden tends to be under appreciated and perhaps even a bit overlooked.  While  Brian Eno, Tangerine Dream, Harold Budd, Robert Fripp, Cluster, Moebius, and a select group of others walk this section of the prog garden extensively, the following and appreciation has always been underwhelming.  Ultimately this is what makes bands like Tuesday the Sky the remarkable, precious nuggets they are...the lack of concern for the mainstream and pure desire to make music that appeals to themselves as artists.

Which means of course that while this stop is complete, the journey continues...The Closet Concert Arena moves forward in the search for all things prog...until next time...