Tusmørke – “Fjernsyn i farver”

a2469364144_16Tusmørke are a band that, on paper, I should like a LOT. So when I checked out their last album, I had somewhat high expectations. But after trying a few times with “Bydyra,” I found it too folky and child-like for my taste. I know that was by design but it just fell flat for me. So I skipped reviewing it. Now Tusmørke are back rather quickly with a follow up, “Fjernsyn i farver.”

Obviously, my expectations were quite low after the last album so I was quite surprised (pleasantly at that) to find that this was much more my style. Yes it’s still very much on the acoustic folk side of prog, but the Norwegians have more of a classic 70s prog vibe along with that folk sound. It has even traces of psych rock as well. The one downside is that I am not as sold on the vocals as I’d like to be. I’ve noticed that lately with other bands like Jordsjø and Malady. The musicianship exceeds the vocals by a lot.

I guess when it comes to Norwegian prog, I compare everyone to Wobbler when it comes to vocals. Fair or not. To be quite clear, this is a fine album overall and the vocals are good. Things get off to a whimsical somewhat odd start with the title track which uses flute and a throbbing bassline to sound like a strange cartoon has started.  Again, the music is awesome but the vocals sound a little flat, both in tone and pitch. Still, it’s a head-tilter of a track.

“Kniven i kurven” uses both the flute and bass in a more traditionally prog sound, along with violent piano chord. The chorus on this song is the most memorable. I have no idea what is being sung since I don’t know Norwegian but it’s so memorable that I sing along anyway. One reason that I love bands like Tusmørke is the keyboards. Whether it’s piano, mini moog or any vintage sound, they deliver it. “Borgerlig tussmørke” is another example with the piano and keys weaving around with the flute. It really works.

But then, “3001” sounds like an 80s video game when it starts out which doesn’t work. The main part of the song is also a little too awkward for me. They just never quite get it right. Then, “Death Czar” has English lyrics which of course helps someone like me. The song reminds me a little of Atomic Rooster for some reason and it is one of the best tracks on the album because of it: English lyrics or not. The nearly 10 minute “Tøyens hemmelighet” has some KILLER bass on it and shows how Tusmørke can really rock out. It’s hard not to bop your head around to this music.

While I definitely like “Fjernsyn i farver” a lot more than their last album, there are too many things that would keep me from listening to it on a regular basis. One major reason is the vocals. When you think of all the classic prog bands, they had a top of the line vocalist: Jon Anderson, Peter Gabriel, John Wetton, Greg Lake, etc. While some bands like Camel may have been album to flourish with Andy Latimer’s less than perfect vocals (I love Andy so relax!), it’s important for newer prog bands to make sure that the vocals are given the same importance as the music.

Rating: 7.5/10

Tracklist:
1. Fjernsyn i farver (Colour Television)
2. Kniven i kurven (The Knife in the Basket)
3. Borgerlig tussmørke (Civil Twilight)
4. 3001
5. Death Czar
6. Tøyens hemmelighet (The Secret of Tøyen)

Label: Karisma Records
Release Date: May 4, 2018
Bandcamp: tusm-rke.bandcamp.com

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TesseracT – “Sonder”

Sonder“Sonder” marks a first for TesseracT. They have kept a vocalist for two straight releases! Dan Tompkins has indeed stayed with the band and that’s great news for sure. Look, if you are expecting some sort of dramatic chance from TesseracT, that’s not happening. However, “Sonder” does add a few more colors to the band’s atmospheric sound while keeping the code sound fully intact.

By now, everyone has heard the song “Smile” which was released last year as a single. The version here is a little different, but sounds better to me. The first two songs were also released before hand. “Luminary” is an excellent “punch you in the face” opener and “King” is a nice balance of heavy as fuck and beautiful. “Orbital” is a bit short but it’s a nice breather from the power that TesseracT can (and does) unleash.

“Juno” is my favorite track so far. It has that funky vibe that TesseracT always use plus a great hook. “Beneath My Skin/Mirror Image” is the longest track, although I’ve seen it referenced as two separate tracks as well. They sound like they belong together as a two part 11 plus minute epic. “The Arrow” sounds like the outro for “Smile” and works well closing things out.

So yes, “Sonder” is another awesome TesseracT album. So what’s the problem? It’s only 36 minutes. Having grown up in the 70s when most albums were under 40 minutes, it really isn’t a HUGE deal to me but one more song would probably put this album over the top as their best work to date. But as it stands, I’ll take 36 minutes of quality music over 50 plus minutes with filler.

A nice addition to the deluxe edition is a second disc that has the album in binaural format. If there was a band that benefits from a 3D sound, it’s TesseracT. You feel like you are right in the middle of the band, sucked into their sound. An incredible idea that makes me wish they did that for their previous albums. As it stands, it’s just another reason that you need to own “Sonder.”

Rating: 9.5/10

Tracklist:
1. Luminary
2. King
3. Orbital
4. Juno
5. Beneath My Skin/Mirror Image
6. Smile
7. The Arrow

Label: Kscope
Release Date: April 20, 2018
Website: www.tesseractband.co.uk

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FATES WARNING – Announce “Live Over Europe” album release!

Here’s the press release regarding the new live album by FATES WARNING!!


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Progressive Metal pioneers FATES WARNING are proud to announce the upcoming release of their new live album “Live Over Europe” on June 29th, 2018 via InsideOutMusic.

Gathered during the group’s most recent European headlining run for FATES WARNING’s much acclaimed latest studio album “Theories Of Flight” in January 2018, “Live Over Europe” includes recordings from 8 different cities (Aschaffenburg / Germany, Belgrade / Serbia, Thessaloniki and Athens / Greece, Rome and Milan / Italy, Budapest / Hungary as well as Ljubljana / Slovenia) and a total of 23 songs in over 138 minutes of playing time, spanning 30 years of the group’s seminal career.

“Live Over Europe” was mixed by Jens Bogren (Opeth, Kreator, Symphony X) and mastered by Tony Lindgren at Fascination Street Studios in Sweden and will be available as limited 2CD Mediabook, Gatefold 3LP + Bonus-2CD or as Digital Album.

Here is the complete track-listing for the release:
FATES WARNING – “Live Over Europe“

CD 1:
1. From the Rooftops
2. Life in Still Water
3. One
4. Pale Fire
5. Seven Stars
6. SOS
7. Pieces of Me
8. Firefly
9. The Light and Shade of Things
10. Wish
11. Another Perfect Day
12. Silent Cries
13. And Yet it Moves

CD 2:
1. Still Remains
2. Nothing Left to Say
3. Acquiescence
4. The Eleventh Hour
5. Point of View
6. Falling
7. A Pleasant Shade of Gray, Pt. IX
8. Through Different Eyes
9. Monument
10. Eye to Eye

FATES WARNING vocalist Ray Alder checked in with the following comment about “Live In Europe”:
“We would like to thank each and every one of our fans that helped us make “Live Over Europe”. We had a great time making this album and we hope that you enjoyed the shows as much as we did playing them!”

Fates Warning:

Bobby Jarzombek – Drums
Joey Vera Bass and Vocals
Ray Alder Vocals
Jim Matheos – Guitars
Mike Abdow Guitars and Vocals

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Ivar Bjørnson and Einar Selvik – “Hugsjá”

41YbJZwcYgL._SS500“Hugsjá” is the second album from the duo of Ivar Bjørnson (Enslaved) and Einar Selvik (Wardruna). Like the first album “Skuggsjá,” “Hugsjá” is steeped in the same Norwegian folk with arrangements and instrumentation that are unique to their homeland. The one major difference for me is that “Hugsjá” feels more upbeat and has a better set of songs overall.

This is not to say that the first album wasn’t quality. “Skuggsjá” was more folk and more traditional sounding overall whereas “Hugsjá” puts the rock back into folk rock and prog rock. The album starts out with a sound that I have never heard before. It’s this bizarre humming sound. I don’t know the instrument but I assume it’s spun around in the air? It gets your attention as the title track starts the album off in elegant fashion. It’s a regal sounding track which sets the tone for what follows.

While “Hugsjá” has much in common with “Skuggsjá,” the first glimpse of a more “rock” approach comes with the second track “WulthuR” which merges the traditional Norwegian vibe with a modern acoustic prog sound. Plus it has a nice groove to it. And the flow continues with “Ni Døtre av Hav.” Such a meditative vibe to this song. This brings up another strength, the sequencing. The album has a perfect flow to it, from one song to the next. You listen to it and get so lost in it, you don’t even realize where you are.

When I mentioned that there is more rock in this album, this is NOT an album you’d ever hear on rock radio. Whether it’s the percussive “Fornjot” or the synth infused (yet still acoustic) “Nattseglar” or glorious beauty of “Nytt Land,” the arrangements are far too different for the average rock listener. However, the average PROG rock listener will find “Hugsjá” to be a very welcoming place.

Maybe it’s just me but I feel like I understand “Hugsjá” more than its predecessor. There’s a beauty that is unique to each album. They are each clearly children of the same parents yet each have their own identity. Einar Selvik has a great voice and a great presence and Ivar Bjørnson is one of the most underrated talents in music today. “Hugsjá” is another piece of beautiful art from Norway that deserves to be absorbed to the fullest.

Rating: 9.5/10

Tracklist:
1. Hugsjá
2. WulthuR
3. Ni Døtre av Hav
4. Ni Mødre av Sol
5. Fornjot
6. Nattseglar
7. Nytt Land
8. Nordvegen
9. Utsyn
10. Oska
11. Um Heilage Fjell

Label: Norse Music
Release Date: April 20, 2018
Bandcamp: ivarbjrnsoneinarselvik.bandcamp.com/album/hugsj

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Plenty – “It Could Be Home”

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Plenty is the band Tim Bowness left for no-man. This is a record of what could have been.

The band released a couple of cassettes in the late 80s.

The songs included in this album have been re-recorded and tweaked. This music could fit right in with the more structured art rock of the time – and in my mind, today’s more sophisticated indie.

I love Tim’s voice in no-man and here with Plenty it is still a voice to guide you across the dreamscape.

The album was mixed and produced by Jacob Holm-Lupo, and the mix is clear and balanced. I feel surrounded by the music, even tho I’m listening to it on a standard stereo setup.

According to a post on Plenty’s website, written by Tim, the singer was invited to spend some time working on music with Steven Wilson. But Tim couldn’t work on music with both Steven and his other band, and as many out there know, he ultimately chose to work with the former in no-man.

After listening to It Could Be Home, I wonder what might have been. The songs on this album certainly held my attention and sound better than much of today’s pop (alternative, art, indie or otherwise). Perhaps the passing of time has added a touch of wisdom to these recordings? Maybe I’m just an old fart who prefers the “olden days”?

Two songs I love from this album are Hide and Broken Nights. I wonder if there is any other music that could be willingly brought forth from the Plenty vault? I would certainly give it a listen.

If you are a fan of art rock or alternative pop, you should give this album a try.

Rating: 9/10

Tracklist:
01. As Tears Go By
02. Hide
03. Never Needing
04. Broken Nights
05. Foolish Waking
06. Strange Gods
07. Every Stranger’s Voice
08. Climb
09. The Good Man
10. It Could Be Home

Release date: April 27, 2018

Performers include:
Tim Bowness – vocals
Michael Bearpark – guitar
Peter Chilvers – keyboards

Website: www.weareplenty.com
Label: Karisma Records

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The Pineapple Thief’s Bruce Soord checks in from the studio and reveals details of their new studio album “Dissolution”

Here’s some news from Bruce Soord and The Pineapple Thief regarding their new album!


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Bruce Soord, The Pineapple Thief’s composer, lyricist and driving force, has checked in from the studio with an update on the progress of the band’s new album, the follow up to 2016’s acclaimed Your Wilderness.

 After 5 intensive months of song writing and recording, the new The Pineapple Thief album is almost done!  We’ve once again been joined by Gavin Harrison, but this time from day one.  It’s been a real collaborative journey between the 4 of us writing and recording this record, with the songs taking on a life of their own.  When everyone pulls in the same direction, amazing things can happen.

Bruce also reveals more about Dissolution, the title of the forthcoming release ““The new album, will be out later this summer. Broadly speaking the title reflects the disintegration of relationships and the undoing of our social fabric.  We’re living in a time when supposedly we are more connected than ever before, but, I personally am at my happiest when I unplug that connection. 

Reflecting more on the creative process between the band members – Gavin Harrison, Jon Sykes & Steve Kitch, Soord explains “ I would come up with ideas, jamming them on a guitar with a rough vocal, but instead of locking myself away and finishing the demos like I usually do, I would send them to Gavin for him to play around with in his studio.  Gavin has one of the best sounding drum rooms I have heard, and he can produce incredible sounding drum mixes. He would then lay down some drum ideas, chop things around, add some drum sections here and there before sending it back to me to take forward. It’s as close to having a jam in studio as you can get whilst being 200 miles apart!  Jon would then lay down his bass from his studio and Steve would do his thing from his mastering studio in Devon. We are just settling down now to the do the final mixes. Gavin is mixing the drums, Steve and I are mixing the rest. I am definitely looking forward to having that celebratory beer when we send the masters away!”

Gavin Harrison adds “It’s been fantastic to collaborate with these guys again – especially as this time I’ve been involved from the ground up. It’s been a most inspiring effort and I think it will prove to be the best yet. The emotional investment that you place in an album is immense and we’re all excited about getting out there and playing these songs live. “

The Pineapple Thief have announced they will be taking  Dissolution on the road starting in September 2018 which will include their biggest show to date at London’s prestigious Shepherds Bush Empire – tickets are on sale now and selling fast: http://www.pineapplethief.com/tour/

Sep 15 – FR – Paris – La Maroquinerie

Sep 16 – BE, Brussels-  La Madeleine

Sep 17 – DE, Bremen – Schlachthof

Sep 18 – DE, Hanover – Musikzentrum

Sep 19 – DE, Berlin – Lido

Sep 21 – PL, Warsaw – Stodola

Sep 22 – CZ, Olomucany – S-Club

Sep 23 – CZ, Prgaue – Rock Cafè

Sep 25 – AU, Wien – Szene

Sep 26 – DE, Munich – Backstage Werk

Sep 27 – DE, Aschaffenburg-  Colos-Saal

Sep 28– DE, Cologne – Live Music Hall

Sep 29 – NL, Amsterdam – Melkweg

Oct 4 – UK, Edinburgh – Liquid Rooms

Oct 5 – UK, Sheffield – Leadmill

Oct 6 – UK, London – O2 Shepherds Bush Empire

The Pineapple Thief online:

Website: www.thepineapplethief.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/thepineapplethief

Twitter: www.twitter.com/pineapplethief

Instagram: www.instagram.com/thepineapplethief

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