There is a reason for the ‘?’ and that is because some people don’t understand Krautrock!
Now, I don’t profess to be an expert in the field, having just got turned on to more than Amon Duul II and Tangerine Dream! Faust, Popul Vuh and Ash Ra Tempel were all a mystery to be explored which I am doing at the moment!
When you start looking a a new (to you) musical genre I assumed (maybe wrongly) that everyone gravitates to Wikipedia (I do). So I did!
I found loads of new Krautrock bands to explore! Can , Neu, Guru Guru, Cluster and Nektar!
Hang on a sec, NEKTAR – Krautrock?
I have loved Nektar since I was about 14, about the same time I fell in love with that brilliant Welsh band Man!
Let’s just examine Nektar: Members: Roye Albrighton Derek Moore Alan (Taff) Freeman Ron Howden
Which one of them sounds German?
To be fair I know where the confusion comes from, it’s all to do with the fact that Nektar were formed in Hamburg in 1969 and stayed there!
On the cover of the vinyl version of Man’s album ‘Back Into The Future’ is the phrase: “Thanks to Nektar for coming to England” and on the cover of Nektar’s ‘Remember the Future’ is the legend “Thanks for Man for coming to Germany”!
If Nektar are Krautrock – then possibly so are Man!
Nektar “…Sounds Like Swiss” Live in Switzerland 1973 CD/DVD Available October 1, 2021
Unearthed audio and video recordings from legendary progressive rock band Nektar captured live in Switzerland, 1973. Includes an hour-long concert videotaped for Swiss TV’s Kaléidospop, unseen since its original broadcast. The two CDs include the audio portion of the TV show as well as a complete show soundboard audio recording from the Pavilion des Sports in Lausanne, Switzerland in May 1973.
Housed in a beautiful 4 panel digipak, this CD/DVD set is an epic, historical document showcasing the bands early innovative and pioneering sound that remains as vital and influential as ever.
Booklet includes liner notes by bassist and founding members Derek “Mo” Moore and Mick Brockett. The band’s line up for these legendary performances in fact features all five original members – the late Roye Allbrighton on guitar and vocals, Derek “Mo” Moore on bass and vocals, Allan “Taff” Freeman on organ and vocals, and Ron Howden on drums and percussion in addition to Mick Brockett handling the visual tapestry that was such a key component of the “Music and Light Theatre” that the band was presenting at the very height of progressive rocks main sequence during the mid-70’s.
“I have known of its existence since we did this concert in 1973 and have never been able to find it. To have this unearthed after all these years is fantastic and takes me immediately back to that time. It was great to be allowed to contribute what was needed to bring this about. Roger Houdaille of ‘Think Like a Key’ did a great job in putting this together” – Derek “Mo” Moore
Devin Townsend will release ‘Order Of Magnitude – Empath Live Volume 1’ on 23 October 2020, a document of his Winter 2019 European tour that saw him taking on possibly his most ambitious live show to date.
Today sees the launch of the second clip from the release, and you can watch Devin and the Empath Volume 1 live band performing the track ‘War’ here:
Devin comments: “Hello folks, here’s another song from the Order Of Magnitude Blu Ray. Amidst the chaos of recent times, I look back at this concert as being another world in a lot of ways, and although the DVD has many different feels throughout the concert, this song, ‘War’ is indicative of the beginning vibes of the show. The whole idea with this concert was to experiment with playing songs from my catalog that didn’t rely on backing tracks or clicks, so assembling 10 people onstage to do this was no small feat. I wanted to create an experience for band and audience alike that was creative and without boundaries (to the best of our abilities), and I am very proud of it. The next song we will release will be a different vibe, but for now, please enjoy this take on a song of mine from the Infinity era. It was originally about fighting back against your own self destructive mechanisms and thoughts, so maybe that’s appropriate for what has been going on recently. Again; Thank you for the support and I hope you are finding the strength to get through this chaotic year.”
Watch the previously released clip for ‘Genesis’ here:
Recorded in December 2019 in London, UK on the penultimate night of the tour in support of his latest album ‘Empath’, this run of shows saw Devin joined by an incredible line-up of musicians. The band was made up of guitarists Mike Kenneally (ex-Frank Zappa) and Markus Reuter (Stick Men, The Crimson Project), drummer Morgan Ågren (Kaipa, Mats & Morgan, Frank Zappa), bassist Nathan Navarro, Haken keyboard player Diego Tejeida, and guitarist/vocalist Ché Aimee Dorval, as well as vocalists Samantha & Anne Preis and Arabella Packford.
Devin’s plan for the Empath touring cycle was to divide it up into three ‘Volumes’, and this was Volume 1. The idea behind the shows was a simple one: none of the backing tapes or click tracks that had long been necessary to bring the kaleidoscopic cacophony in his head and on his records to life in the flesh. This would just be Devin Townsend and a band of genius-level musicians getting up there and trying to keep it from spinning off into outer space. Or maybe just letting it spin-off into outer space for the sheer hell of it.
“The whole objective was that I wanted to make that statement: This is by the seat our pants,” he says. “Because it’s important to me to represent this hyper anal-retentive music that I’ve made over the years, but in a human way. Rather than it just being, ‘Well, here it is, perfectly done.’”
“I was overwhelmed by the fact that all these brilliant people that I have so much respect for were willing to come together and play this weird shit with me,” says Devin. “I had these unique players and this interesting instrumentation that allowed us to interpret the music in different ways. It was clear to me that I could just have fun and be me and know that they would be effortlessly be able to follow that.”
That sense of fun and freedom was evident to anyone who was there on the night. Visually, it was an assault on the senses in the best possible way. A digital screen projected vivid images throughout the show. A giant gleaming mirrorball hung from the ceiling. There were multiple costume changes and a tiki bar onstage (a tiki bar!).
‘Order Of Magnitude – Empath Live Volume 1’ will be released as a Limited Deluxe 2CD+Blu-Ray+DVD Artbook (including expanded artwork & photos), Limited 2CD+DVD Digipak, Standalone Blu-Ray, Gatefold 3LP+2CD vinyl box-set & as a Digital Album. The Blu-Ray disc includes a bonus behind the scenes documentary, and both DVD & Blu-Ray feature a 5.1 surround sound mix. Pre-orders are now available here: https://Devin-Townsend.lnk.to/EmpathLiveVol1/
The track-listing is as follows:
Borderlands Evermore War Sprite Gigpig Jam Coast Gato Heavens End Ain’t Never Gonna Win Deadhead Why? Lucky Animals Castaway/Genesis Spirits Will Collide Disco Inferno Kingdom
Neal Morse has announced the release of Sola Gratia, his new solo progressive rock concept album, on the 11 September 2020. Originating from a seed planted in his mind about writing a record based on the apostle Paul, Sola Gratia quickly came together at the beginning of 2020. The album sees Neal working with long-time collaborators Mike Portnoy, Randy George, Eric Gillette, Bill Hubauer and Gideon Klein.
The title Sola Gratia of course has echoes of Morse’s 2007 epic Sola Scriptura, about the life of Martin Luther, but was in fact originally the result of a simple marital misunderstanding: “I was talking to my wife Cherie about debuting this new piece at Morsefest 2020 (Morse’s annual fan convention in Nashville) and she said she thought it would be good for me to do a solo album. However, I thought she said ‘Sola album’ and – because some of the new ideas involved Paul’s aggressive pursuit of the early Christians, I could see a link to some of the themes of persecution in Sola Scriptura.”
The music was recorded ‘virtually’ in April 2020 at the height of the Coronavirus lockdown with long term collaborators Mike Portnoy (drums) and Randy George (bass): “It’s the first album we have ever made remotely: I sent them the basic tracks and asked if they wanted to rearrange things, but they just said ‘No, it’s great!’, so they just played to it and sent their parts back over. It wasn’t an easy way to make an album, but creating always has its challenges, no matter how you do it.”
As Morse explains, it was this process that decided that Sola Gratia was to be a Neal Morse album, rather than being credited to The Neal Morse Band: “With the Neal Morse Band, the whole band works together on the writing, and while Eric Gillette plays some guitar and Bill Hubauer has added some keyboards on this one, neither of them wrote – or is singing – on this album.”
Sola Gratia will be released as a limited CD/DVD Digipak (featuring a ‘Making-Of’ documentary), Gatefold 2LP + CD, Standard CD Jewel Case and as a Digital Album. The cover art was created by another longtime collaborator, Thomas Ewerhard.
The full track-listing is as follows:
1. Preface 2. Overture 3. In The Name Of The Lord 4. Ballyhoo (The Chosen Ones) 5. March Of The Pharisees 6. Building A Wall 7. Sola Intermezzo 8. Overflow 9. Warmer Than The Sunshine 10. Never Change 11. Seemingly Sincere 12. The Light On The Road To Damascus 13. The Glory Of The Lord 14. Now I Can See/The Great Commission
Neal Morse will debut Sola Gratia live at his annual Morsefest convention on 18 and 19 September 2020. A very limited number of people will be able to attend in person, with the event also being streamed online. More details and tickets are available here: https://nealmorse.com/tc-events/morsefest-2020/
Look out for the first track release and pre-order opportunities starting on the 17 July.
The Tangent, the progressive rock group led by Andy Tillison, recently announced the release of their 11th studio album Auto Reconnaissance on 21 August 2020. The follow-up to 2018’s Proxy, sees them continuing the band philosophy of celebrating the golden age of prog, whilst bringing it to the present and exploring new paths for the music to take in the future. On Auto Reconnaissance, they bend that philosophy to their will, taking in prog rock foot stomping, sublime Jazz, humour, narrative, a modern R&B love song, funk/soul and a 28 minute long emotional epic about the band’s home country of England.
On 26 June they launched the first track, titled Life On Hold, and you can listen now here:
Andy comments: “Life On Hold is the cheerful up-tempo Prog Rock foot-stomper we chose to kick off our album. It sits alongside pieces we’ve done in the past like GPS Culture and Spark In The Aether, Crisis In Midlife etc and it’s a flavour we do like to return to now and then. This one is influenced by things like that first Asia album, stuff like Kansas and Boston, and the kind of thing that Transatlantic might bang out at you. It’s part of our genetic makeup, but of course only one part. Although there’s a fair amount of accessible tunes on the new album, there’s some seriously deep water around too. And no, Life On Hold has nothing to do with Lockdowns. It mentions Jean Paul Sartre, which is not normal in foot-stompers. Get it ON!! Bang, and the dirt is gone!”
Andy comments: “I utterly refuse to accept that Progressive Rock Music is some kind of museum piece. It is actually a living and breathing movement that has a past, a present and above all, a future. It once had an album-chart-topping golden age, but the genre was never about that. It has subtly and virally kept itself alive for decades where many new musical genres have risen to glory and faded away.”
For this release, Andy is once again joined by long-time collaborators Jonas Reingold, Luke Machin (who co-produced the album with Andy), Theo Travis, and Steve Roberts. Together they bring to life an album that has been influenced by the likes of ELP, The Isley Brothers, Steely Dan, Aphex Twin, National Health, Rose Royce, Squarepusher and Return To Forever amongst others.
Andy comments of the current line-up: “In the past 6 years the line-up of The Tangent has become more stable than at the beginning. I think that the identity of the Tangent as a “Group” rather than a “Project” started to come together on the album A Spark In The Aether in 2014. Essentially Luke, Jonas, Theo and myself have appeared on the last four albums, and we added Steve Roberts for the tour that supported Slow Rust in 2017 and we’ve settled on this line-up. I hope for a while because I find this unit to be productive, in tune with the band’s purpose and manifesto and a lot of fun to boot. The new album Auto Reconnaissance is the first time that the core band has been identical in structure to its predecessor. For the first time I feel that everyone is totally onboard with the fusion of Jazz, Prog, Punkishness and electronica that The Tangent likes to cook up. We are a good group of friends and although we don’t meet up often, it’s a real blast when we do. I’ve always considered Ed Unitsky the cover artist to have been a recurring member of the cast – his artwork has been a huge part of our story and although we move away, we always return.”
Auto Reconnaissance will be available as Limited CD Digipak (incl. bonus track), Gatefold 2LP + CD + LP booklet & as Digital Album, all featuring the artwork of Ed Untisky, whose visuals have not been seen on a Tangent album since 2014’s A Spark In The Aether.
Swedish multi-instrumentalist Rikard Sjöblom is pleased to announce his new album under the Gungfly moniker, Alone Together. Set for release on 4 September 2020, it follows an extremely productive past few years, whether it be working with English progressive rockers Big Big Train, or taking the lead with Gungfly.
Rikard comments: “I started writing these songs about a year ago but then it took some time to get started with the production because I had two tours lined up, one with Big Big Train in November and then opening solo for The Flower Kings on their European tour in December. After that my focus shifted back to Gungfly and it felt really nice so it all came together pretty fast!”
Alone Together saw Gungfly recording as a trio, with brothers and previous collaborators Petter and Rasmus Diamant on drums and bass respectively. “It was a lot of fun playing both keyboards and guitar because I had come up with a lot of nice parts but I knew early on that I wanted to make the album with the brothers on drums and bass – luckily they were very up for it!” This ‘power-trio’ have focussed on the rock this time, and you can hear that loud and clear: “I didn’t want to smother the production with layers upon layers of keyboards and bells and whistles but instead tried to keep it prog rock with the focus on ROCK. I wanted every instrument to mean something in the mix.” This is evident on tracks like Happy Somewhere In Between and the 13-minute epic Traveler, where Gungfly have never hit harder.
Alone Together will be available as a Limited CD Digipak (with 2 bonus tracks), Gatefold 2LP + CD & as Digital Album. The album cover features a painting by American artist Kevin Sloan (The Flower Kings). Rikard comments of the piece: “I had just written lyrics for the song ‘From Afar’ and was looking at Kevin’s paintings when I came across this one and I couldn’t believe the connection, particularly the lyric “A million eyes watching glimpses of each other’s lives”.
1. Traveler 2. Happy Somewhere In Between 3. Clean as a Whistle 4. Alone Together 5. From Afar 6. On The Shoulders Of Giants 7. Grove Thoughts (Bonus Track) 8. Shoulder Variations (Bonus Track)
Rikard Sjöblom is perhaps best known as the multi-instrumentalist frontman of Beardfish, who established themselves as one of the most consistently brilliant modern-day progressive rock bands over the course of eight studio albums. In recent years, he has also become known for his work with English progressive collective Big Big Train, playing live with them as well as performing on their recent studio albums.
Spanish instrumental rock band Toundra, are in the preparation for the February 28th release of their new album ‘Das Cabinet Der Dr. Caligari’, an original soundtrack based on the German silent horror film of the same name that turns exactly 100 years old in 2020.
The band have just premiered a new single and video, available in all platforms that can be watched here: