EppyFest – the eclectic music festival run by Ian Fairholm of the Epileptic Gibbon Podcast and Progzilla Radio – will join together with the Summer’s End Festival organisation for its 2018 edition.
The Gloucestershire-based festival has run every year since 2012, and past performers have included The William D. Drake band, Judy Dyble, The Korgis vs. Stackridge, Firefly Burning, Henry Fool, The Fierce and the Dead, Sanguine Hum, Schnauser and Trojan Horse.
Stephen Lambe – co-promoter of the Summer’s End and Winter’s End Progressive Rock Festivals with Huw Lloyd-Jones, explains why they felt so compelled to add Eppyfest to their roster of events:
Eppyfest is unique. No other festival in the UK combines rock, folk, jazz and contemporary classical music in such a fantastic way. As fans of the festival -and I’ve been to all but one – our intention is to give Eppyfest the budget and the organisational back up to secure its future and help it reach a wider audience, while freeing up Ian to concentrate on what he loves most – pulling the line up together.
Ian Fairholm comments:
Putting EppyFest together over the past six years has been immense fun but also immensely challenging. I’ve had a strong desire to keep the festival going and allow it to grow, and with the help of Stephen and Huw, who have made the Summer’s End Festival such a success, I now see that as a definite reality. EppyFest will maintain its own distinctive character but this new partnership will help it to flourish in 2018.
Eppyfest 2018 is already in the planning stage, and will take place as usual in late July, expanding to a Friday evening and Saturday afternoon and evening. It will move from its previous home in Stroud to a new venue in the Cheltenham area.
Advance “Superstar” tickets, for anyone wanting to provide extra financial support with this new expanded EppyFest experience, will be available soon, as will full details of the new venue and date.
Möbius Strip are a young Italian band who come from small towns in the Lazio and Abruzzo areas, they are all in their early twenties but on this debut appear to show considerable maturity. The band states that they got their inspiration from the object from which they took their name; a möbius strip geometrically connects the two sides of the same surface by starting a path on one of them. This then became the purpose of the band, to combine different styles and influences to make a whole sound. They have crossed a number of genres but have created a sound which is still firmly rooted in jazz.
The six tracks presented here have all been written by keyboardist Lorenzo Cellupica, with the entire band contributing to the arrangements. What they have produced is a selection of carefully crafted songs with some excellent arrangements, which gives each instrument the room to excel, but all the while interlocking carefully with each other. There is no guitar used here, but that is not immediately obvious, such is the standard of the playing. The piano and keyboards from Lorenzo and the wonderful saxophone of Nico Fabrizi take the lead alternately, supported by some great drum work from Davide Rufo, ranging from subtle to more forceful and matched by Eros Capoccitti’s marvellous bass lines. The rhythm section provides the drive and energy allowing the keys and sax to fold around each other.
Things kick off with Bloo, a gentle start creating a piano-led groove before we get to an easy saxophone, getting a little more frenetic as it gives way to keyboards and then return to sax. All of this is supported by the rhythm section to push it to the end. The bright piano of Déjà Vu alternates the lead with the sax to create some melodic passages. This upbeat, almost feel good vibe continues throughout the remaining tracks; on Andalusia the playful keyboards give an Iberian feel to the start and throughout, the shortest track Call It A Day at just under three minutes has a lovely gentle feel provided by the piano and supported by some great bass work. The title track has a lovely drive provided by the rhythm section, this song having the jazziest feel of the album, Eros providing us with a wonderful bass solo.
This is a beautifully paced album, and at forty-five minutes long does not outstay its welcome, leaving you with a satisfied feeling and wanting to hit repeat. The tracks can be accessed individually without spoiling the enjoyment, but equally work well as one straight listen from the beginning. A very good debut album with an upbeat feel, played with great energy and providing some nice gently melodic grooves.
01. Bloo (9:38)
02. Déjà Vu (8:25)
03. First Impressions (7:49)
04. Call It A Day (2:44)
05. Andalusia (8:21)
06. Möbius Strip (8:48)
Total Time – 45:45
Lorenzo Cellupica – Keyboards
Nico Fabrizi – Saxophones & Flute
Eros Capoccitti – Electric Bass
Davide Rufo – Drums
Record Label: Musea Records
Country of Origin: Italy
Date of Release: 27th March 2017
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This week on Prog-Watch: another great show of mostly new stuff! We’ll hear from The Tangent, How Far To Hitchin’, Big Big Train, Cosmograf, Nad Sylvan, Karmamoi, Aisles, and Karibow! Plus, our friend and resident reviewer, Dr. Rob Fisher, will take us on another trip of Progressive Discovery with the intense new solo album by Bjørn Riis, of the Norwegian band Airbag!
A Day in the Life of a Universal Wanderer was Gandalf’s Fist’s fourth album, released in 2013. An enjoyable sci-fi musical romp based on signals from a stricken vessel on the edge of a wormhole and assembled by “the best signal decoders across all known dimensional rifts”. Played on instruments found in said craft, this is a great space/progressive rock concept.
Well, Dean Marsh and his merry band of space cadet minstrels decided to remaster and update this album for the futuristic listeners of 2017 by adding, for example, real cellos and violins and including a hitherto left off track, The Stowaway and The Endless Night. This adds a further narrative and clues from whence the signal came – some great guitar work here with stellar performances by all of the spacemen, with a timeless production that really will sound fresh in light years to come, and this applies to all of the files here.
Opening with a radio drama scene setter, we know it’s 2520 and Mark Benton orates the story so far, with a timbre of accent that hints at Red Dwarf’s Lister, before we launch into The Nine Billion Names of God. Never to drift from the tale’s genre, this title taken from Arthur C. Clarke’s short story where all the stars “went out” after God’s nomenclatures were completed, so the many suns fade as the wormhole is entered. Guest astronaut Andy Bolper Floyds it up with some weightless sax playing and this track is redolent of the many styles within this band, with the folk and rock pushed to the forefront and again on The Battle for Tannhäuser Gate where the violin leads the fleet.
However, the heavier elements are never far from the dock door as Stefan Hepe’s drums show on Orphans of The Sky, contrasting with the beautifully sung ballad Somewhere Beyond the Stars, Melissa Hollick at her furthest apogee here.
A Universal Wanderer and Nexus further progrockets the listener past the inevitable gravitational pull of the black hole, with some travelling synth, guitar, and sax solos leading to the Tolkien-esque North of the Wall.
The last section of spoken word is Ghosts of Spacetime and it’s as good as Blade Runner’s Tears in Rain, and in keeping the movie theme, The Wanderer Goes South ends the recording on an optimistic Dark Star resignation of the situation where high spirits dematerialise with hope.
Sonorous, imposing and widescreen, this is an album to be listened to as if in the cinema. The story is absorbing and attention keeping thanks to the many textures provided by the range of vocalists, especially the ladies who sing from the heart. Their sense of loss is portrayed with despair and alacrity in equal measure.
The frequency technicians have indeed worked tirelessly re-calibrating their devices. It is our mission to “comprehend the secrets of its origin”, be that by searching the universe or simply purchasing the many DigiPak variations available from their intergalactic web site, but be warned, A Visitation of The Mushroom People means that they’re not necessarily fungis to be with…
01. Another Night on the Far Side of the Universe (1:54)
02. The Nine Billion Names of God (7:56)
03. Where’s A Bloody Escape Pod When You Need One? (0:26)
04. Stowaway to the Mushroom Planet (4:38)
05. Message Home (0:54)
06. Somewhere Beyond the Stars (4:26)
07. Orphans of the Sky (7:04)
08. A Visitation of the Mushroom People (0:58)
09. The Stowaway and the Endless Night (11:41)
10. A Universal Wanderer (4:33)
11. Nexus (4:40)
12. North of the Wall (3:07)
13. The Battle For Tannhäuser Gate (5:12)
14. Ghosts of Spacetime (0:56)
15. The Wanderer Goes South (8:48)
Total Time – 66:41
Dean Marsh – Vocals, Guitars, Keyboards
Luke Severn – Vocals
Stefan Hepe – Drums
Christopher Ewen – Bass
Mark Benton – The Voice of The Captain
Melissa Hollick – Lead & Backing Vocals
Alicia Marsh – The Voice of the Ship’s Computer
William Stewart – Violins (on The Battle for Tannhäuser Gate)
Natasha Jaffe – Cello (on North of the Wall)
Andy Bolper – Saxophone
Davor Bušic – Flute (on The 9 Billion Names of God)
Suzanne Weller – Flute (on The Wanderer Goes South)
Beccie Watson, Jennifer Pederson, Dying Seed – Additional Vocals
Thomas Huth – Cover Artwork
Record Label: Independent
Country of Origin: U.K.
Original Release: 2013
Date of Reissue: 18th September 2017
Edition 112 of Sounds That Can Be Made is now available as a podcast!
Kingbathmat – Feathers (from Dark Days)
Mostly Autumn – Changing Lives (from Sight of Day)
This Winter Machine – After Tomorrow Comes (from The Man Who Never Was)
The D/A Method – The Desert Journey (from The Desert Road)
Karibow – Inside You (from From Here To The Impossible)
Black Bonzo – Brave Young Soldier (from Lady of the Light)
Bram Stoker – Fingals Cave (from Heavy Rock Spectacular)
Curved Air – Back Street Luv (from Second Album)
Monsters of Progzilla:
Sparks – Fun Bunch of Guys From Outer Space (live)
The Sensational Alex Harvey Band – Tomahawk Kid (live)
Thin Lizzy – Emerald (live)
Pavlov’s Dog – Julia (live)
Kansas – Magnum Opus (live)
Camel – Lady Fantasy (live)
Comedy Of Errors – Tachyon (from House of the Mind)
I’m delighted to announce that the podcast for edition 214 of Live From Progzilla Towers is now available.
In this edition we heard the following music:
- Toto – Jake To The Bone
- Gracious – The Dream
- Lahost – Dreams In The Witch House
- XTC – Green Man
- Osamu Kitajima – Benzaiten
- The Ghost Of A Saber Tooth Tiger – Moth To A Flame
- Rtfact – Life Is Good
- No Good Advice – Astronaut Superstar
- Boucle Infinie – 直線移動
- Ryuichi Sakamoto – Bamboo Houses
- Karma – Tigers In The Rain
- The Residents – Act Of Being Polite
- Mystery – Through Different Eyes
- Monarch Trail – Back To The Start
- Orvalians – Wrong Way
- Genesis – Do The Neurotic
- Second Hand – Revelations Ch. 16 Vs. 9-21
- No Brain Cell – Man Of Silence
- Nevesis – Arsefikker
- Paul Mccartney – No More Lonely Nights
iTunes/iPod users*: Just search for ‘Progzilla’ or subscribe to: http://podcasts.progzilla.com/cliff/podcast.xml
Edition 101 of Steve Blease’s Heavy Elements is now available as a podcast.
Live at 11: Circus Maximus
The Weight (live)
Architect of Fortune (live)
Album of the Week: Fates Warning – Parallels
The Eleventh Hour
Eye to Eye
Leave the Past Behind
Zaedyus – Over the Cliff
The Bierkeller, Bristol
Sunday, 17th September 2017
If I may, I’d like to propose a toast to the Gods of Serendipity.
Now I don’t often pay homage to deities of indeterminate origin – or any others for that matter – but in this case I’ll make an exception as the recent goings on within The Pineapple Thief camp must be the result of intervention by some higher being.
And it would be easy to suggest that this ‘higher being’ is called Gavin Harrison, but that would be unfair to the legacy from which Bruce Soord and his band are now reaping richly deserved rewards.
But I’m getting ahead of myself, first up Godsticks. For the second time in a row I missed the start of their support set, the last time being a couple of years ago at this very venue with The Aristocrats. This tardiness – brought on by the vagaries of travel rather than any disrespect to support bands – is a great shame as I have followed Godsticks closely since the release of their first EP waaaaay back in 2008 (where does the time go?!).
During this near decade long journey the band have developed and changed their sound considerably, from a quirky jazziness to the harder edge of 2015’s Emergence and onward into the hugely mature Faced With Rage, due out next month on Kscope. During this time Darran Charles and his men have not only experimented with the music but also how to deliver it in a live setting, from the early shows where the band – and Darran in particular – came across as very nervous, through trying to integrate live keyboards and on to the current hard-edged two guitar line-up. Today the band have bags of confidence and a menacing intensity to their sound, well-drilled by this tour, the result being a storming performance of dexterity and power, all hung on Darran’s canny ear for a melodic hook. The band are on top form, the rhythm section of Tom Price and Dan Nelson have developed into a very impressive unit with Dan cultivating his stage persona, a million miles away from the 17 year old youth who originally joined the band. Gavin Bushell is the perfect companion for Darran and their techniques mesh well whilst adding variety to the performance. To cap it all Darran’s singing was majestic tonight, and overall the package appears complete. The sound levels were set a little on the loud side but the detail was still present so not a major quibble, and with the set split equally between Emergence and the unreleased songs from the new album to underline the band as they are now, it was a great performance and well received by a receptive audience.
Hard to face
Exit stage right
We are leaving
Lack of Scrutiny
Darran Charles – Guitars, Vocals
Dan Nelson – Bass
Gavin Bushell – Guitar
Tom Price – Drums
A quick turnaround and The Pineapple Thief emerge, expectations high based on the praise forthcoming for the previous tour with Gavin Harrison and Darran Charles, including the London show in February which is set for release as the Where We Stood Blu-ray package at the end of the month.
The Pineapple Thief have never fully clicked with me; I’ve heard a number of the albums and saw them once, in a sports hall in Chippenham back in 2004, but I was never really engaged.
This has now changed.
Last year’s Your Wilderness was a great release and Where We Stood underlines what this band have now become, but catching the majesty of a full live performance is where it all falls into place. Quite rightly, the whole of Your Wilderness is played, Gavin and Darran fully integrated into these songs, and they are fabulous. Bruce has always written songs of real quality, but now he has the vehicle to properly deliver them, and you get the feeling that the rest of the band have stepped up in the process, growing in confidence with every turn.
Darran Charles puts in a fine second shift of the evening with some exquisite soloing, his virtuosity augmenting Bruce’s playing to expand the sound and give it additional depth. Darran has proved his versatility over the years and is a player of real note. Here he is a vital component, both in the performance and as a comedy foil for Bruce, his pithy comments adding to the good humour of the evening (I particularly liked the wicked goading of Bruce to actually remember the name of the forthcoming Godsticks album after Soord told the audience how good it was!).
The laugh out loud banter adds to the show, but it’s the man at the back who sprinkles the magic dust over the music. Gavin Harrison is rightly lauded as one of the finest drummers of his generation and you can’t help but marvel at his skills. As the perfect choice to lead the three drummer front line of the current incarnation of King Crimson, his profile has been raised to a higher level and to a far wider audience, but here he is playing to a pleasingly rather full Bierkeller. I had to pinch myself that the last time I saw him was in the regal surroundings of Birmingham’s Symphony Hall with King Crimson, pounding seven bells out of his kit in one of the most dexterous displays of precision I’ve ever witnessed.
And his playing tonight is nothing short of exquisite. For example, No Man’s Land is just fantastic; little fills, tinkling percussion at all the right moments, slide rule kick drums and power as and when required. Absolutely astonishing, and if the rest of the band just stopped playing it would still be a wonderfully melodic experience. He’s the master of the perfectly weighted augmentation, in no way showy whilst defining everything by his playing. Some of the fills were just so outrageous that I laughed out loud, and with the wonderful sound quality every tiny movement and addition could be heard. However, the finest quality in Gavin’s playing is the sensitivity and understanding of the source material; he did not take over but added exactly what was required to raise Bruce’s songs to the place they deserve to be.
The Pineapple Thief have never sounded as good and Bruce is clearly rightly proud of what they have achieved, a vindication of what he has been doing all these years as they play to more people with a fantastic line-up and the technical support to deliver a beautifully judged show. The quality of the songs speak for themselves, the setlist consistent with the previous tour with Shoot First, 3,000 Days and Where We Stood added, Reaching Out and Simple As That dropped with Fend for Yourself pushed forward in the running order.
The encores were a celebration with an audience completely on side, the result being a fantastic evening, completely enthralling from start to finish. Should this line-up get to tour again – and hopefully they will – then attendance is a complete no-brainer. Just get a ticket and marvel at it all.
Tear You Up
The One You Left to Die
No Man’s Land
Alone at Sea
Fend for Yourself
Take Your Shot
Show a Little Love
Where We Stood
The Final Thing on My Mind
Nothing at Best
Bruce Soord – Vocals, Acoustic & Electric Guitars
Steve Kitch – Keyboards, Backing Vocals
Jon Sykes – Bass, Backing Vocals
Gavin Harrison – Drums, Percussion
Darran Charles – Guitars, Backing Vocals
All photos by Mike Evans and used with his kind permission.