Progressive Music Planet Radio Show: “Home”


Perhaps I should post about my radio show on here. I never do it and it’s a reasonably well liked show. 2 hours of prog and I love doing themes. Tomorrow’s theme is “home.” Tune in at 10am EDT, 3pm UK on

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Rise Twain sign to InsideOutMusic for release of their self-titled debut album


Photo credit: William Schwartz

InsideOutMusic are pleased to announce the signing of Philadelphia-based duo RISE TWAIN to the label, for the release of their self-titled debut album on September 6th, 2019. The union of Brett William Kull (producer, audio engineer, and member of Echolyn, Grey Eye Glances, and Francis Dunnery’s New Progressives) and J.D. Beck (The Scenic Route, Beck-Fields, author & playwright) bring their collective years of direct and varied experience in writing, performing and recording music together for their impressive debut.

The band comments:

“This entire album has been a serendipitous occurrence. From the beginning writing process to the final mixes and masters, we have experienced fortunate moments that have given our endeavor a momentum all its own. Meeting Thomas Waber from InsideOut Music is an example of this. Like the writing of the songs, signing with the label felt easy and natural to do. Thomas and the staff have been wonderfully helpful and active in promoting the energy and momentum of what we started. The songs carry this force in them. You’ll feel it from the first note of the album to the last, whether listening with headphones, lights dim, or in a car with the windows open and alive. Check this music out!

 Rise Twain
Brett William Kull & J.D. Beck
June, 2019”

Talking of how the duo came together: “I produced an album for J.D.’s original band, The Scenic Route”, says Kull, describing his first meeting with Beck in 2007. “They were a rocky, progressive kind of band, like a Jeff Buckley kind of thing. I was immediately drawn to his vocals. He’s such a strong singer.” Kull says he and Beck immediately hit it off, what he describes as an “inevitable connection.”

Adds Beck, “I just knew I had to work with Brett on a higher level. When I came in to cut the vocals on the Scenic Route album, the way we worked together…some people you just gel with, and then some people you have a barrier with. Brett and I gelled.” They spoke of one day collaborating on their own project, which finally surfaces as Rise Twain.

Discussing the album’s musical direction, Beck notes, “There’s not a typical structural theme that we use over and over and over. ‘Organic’ is a word that comes to mind. Seeking openness through simplicity and allowing the complexity of music to exist without the necessity of overly packing it or overly processing it. With that we were able to achieve such a broad spectrum of sound, and a colossal sense of its existence, without having to have a billion guitars and a billion things put over top. There’s some colouring with strings and other embellishments, but it really is something very simple and stripped down, and it’s awesome.”

Kull adds, “There’s a lot of complexity in this, but it’s not overt in the least bit. But yet, when you get into it, there’s all this really rich harmonic and dynamic stuff going on.”

J.D. Beck: Piano, lead and backing vocals
Brett William Kull: Guitars, bass, keys, percussion, lead and backing vocals

 Look out for more information on the debut album from RISE TWAIN, as well as the first taste of music, in the coming weeks.


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Daniel Tompkins – “Castles”


The voice you’ve heard in the bands TesseracT and White Moth Black Butterfly now has an album bearing his own name. Daniel Tompkins’ solo debut is called Castles.

While the term castle may conjure up an image of a fortress, in my mind the castle here is a symbol for individual autonomy in a relationship. Who do we let visit the castle? Who gets to stay around for the long term? Are we still in control of events or do we need to cede some power to the other party?

I’ve always admired songwriters who dare to dive a little deeper in describing humans and their interactions. Mr. Tompkins does that here as he looks beyond the basic love/hate tropes.

People crave interplay, of being a part of something, of being wanted by others. And these relationships aren’t always smooth.

The musical dynamics on this album reflect the human dynamic – sometimes things are delicate and gentle, sometimes things are more forceful and passionate.

My favorite track on the album is the strongest and most forceful, Kiss. It is placed right in the middle of the album, and it is the apex of the whole. It has a massive beat that never obscures Mr. Tompkins’ vocals.

The vocals are treated with respect on all the album’s songs. They are to the front so that the singer’s style and range shine forth. To me, Daniel is an alternative Adam Lambert.

The music here has electronic elements that add depth, and the instrumentation works well with the vocals.

From a music fan’s point of view, Castles is an enjoyable, entertaining listen. The components of sound and lyrics work well together.

I know some folks love to put music into genres, so for those people, I’ll give them a genre for this album – modern human.

The digital edition I was given for review included reworkings of selected tracks.

Rating 9/10

1. Saved
2. Black The Sun
3. Castles
4. Kiss
5. Limitless
6. Cinders
7. Telegraph
8. Black The Sun (Head Rework)
9. Limitless (ft Dmitry Stepanov)
10. Kiss (ft Randy Slaugh)
11. Saved (ft Acle Kahney)
12. Saved (ft Paul Ortiz)
13. Saved (ft Randy Slaugh)

Label: Kscope
Release Date: 31 May 2019

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Gong – “The Universe Also Collapses”

gong-universe-cover-art-500Gong has had a long stored history with many different variations of the band. Of course there’s the Daevid Allen classic Gong but there’s been Mother Gong, Planet Gong (now known as Here & Now) and Pierre Moerlen’s Gong. Now with the passing of Allen, “The Universe Also Collapses” is the second Gong album without him…or any member from the classic lineup(s). Does it really matter though?

“Rejoice! I’m Dead!” was a stunning album which I was ill prepared for. To say I was blown away would be an understatement. Honestly, the name of the band didn’t matter. It was great music! And the same can definitely be said for “The Universe Also Collapses.” It is just as incredible as the previous album and might very well be even better!

“The Universe Also Collapses” has 4 songs. The 20 minute psychedelic freak out “Forever Reocurring” start things off in jaw dropping fashion. There is a bit of a krautrock opening to it before things go full on prog in your face. “If Never I’m and Ever You” is the other end of the spectrum at two and half minutes. Yet Gong gets more done in that period of time than most prog bands do in 10 minutes.

“My Sawtooth Wake” is another big track. Amazing playing and Ian East is an absolute star on sax. The album closes with yet another great song, “The Elemental.” The playing on this is just flawless. That’s why THIS Gong is one of the best prog bands around today. Are they Gong? I don’t care what they call themselves because they are awesome. Should they be honored to be considered Gong? Gong fans are lucky to have these guys calling themselves Gong.

“The Universe Also Collapses” is a masterpiece. There are plenty of times I audibly said “wow!” What’s in a name? Well I guess that’s up to you. This is Gong. And no other Gong lineup could have achieved this album. I am not saying they are the best version of Gong. They are the version of Gong we need. We are lucky to have them and “The Universe Also Collapses.”

Rating: 10/10


1. Forever Reoccuring
2. If Never I’m Ever You
3. My Sawtooth Wake
4. The Elemental

Label: Kscope
Release Date: May 10, 2019

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The Aristocrats to release “You Know What…?” on June 28th

I am looking forward to this album. Here’s the press release and all the important information.

What do you call an act who blends elements of dirty rock, folk, jazz, and explosions of esoterica into one mind-melding album?

The Aristocrats, of course.


The Aristocrats (guitarist Guthrie Govan, bassist Bryan Beller and drummer Marco Minnemann) are perhaps the best known instrumental rock-fusion band on the circuit and have just recorded their most ambitious and exploratory album in their eight year history. You Know What…? is the fourth studio album from the trio and includes nine new tracks recorded at Brotheryn Studios, Ojai, CA.

In true Aristocratic tradition, each band member wrote and produced three songs which were brought to life in the studio thanks to the band’s instinctive chemistry and shared musical vocabulary. Having taken a little time away to work on other projects, the band were excited to be back together doing what they do best and producing a sound that’s at once fresh and new but unmistakably the work of The Aristocrats with their trademark blend of discipline and musical freedom. True to form, the album doesn’t hitch its wagon to any one genre. The only rules the trio live by are that the music must be pleasurable for the listener and it most definitely has to be fun to play.

A glance at the track listing for You Know What…? may cause some raised eyebrows from those unfamiliar with the band. For fans however, it’s a tantalizing glimpse of the stories behind the songs that the band will soon be sharing with audiences all over the world on their upcoming world tour, which begins in North America this summer. From the filthy, greasy rock of “D Grade F*ck Movie Jam” and “Terrible Lizard”, to the quirky anything-goes madness of “Spiritus Cactus” and “Spanish Eddie”, to the lavishly arranged “Burial At Sea” and “When We All Come Together”, and to the timeless melodies of “All Said And Done” and Last Orders”, You Know What…? is an album full of addictive grooves, high energy jamming and seemingly impossible musical twists and turns.The Aristocrats are undoubtedly back and ready to blow some minds.

The band are pretty pleased with how it turned out, commenting that: “On You Know What…?, we feel like we inspired each other as songwriters and musicians to do things we’ve never done before as a band. We know each other pretty well now, and we used that familiarity to really get after it in the studio and push the boundaries of what we can accomplish on a record. And still, it’s totally, completely an Aristocrats album. We think it’s the coolest thing we’ve done yet by far.”

W139 PSD


  1. D Grade F*ck Movie Jam 
  2. Spanish Eddie 
  3. When We All Come Together 
  4. All Said And Done 
  5. Terrible Lizard 
  6. Spiritus Cactus 
  7. The Ballad Of Bonnie And Clyde 
  8. Burial At Sea 
  9. Last Orders 

You Know What…? will be available in both standard and deluxe CD packages, in addition to digital download and streaming versions. The deluxe edition includes a bonus DVD, filmed and edited by Jon Luini, featuring exclusive studio footage and interviews with the band – as well as a 12-page booklet comprising artwork to accompany each song, in which Graphic Artist Hajo Müller continues and expands the Aristocratic tradition of illustrated artwork with a decidedly childlike vision of each of the album’s nine tunes. You Know What…? will be released on June 28th 2019. Pre-sales will be available from early June.


The Aristocrats will begin a new world tour this year in support of You Know What…?, starting with their very own music camp “The Aristocamp” in upstate New York from June 18th to 21st before heading off for their most extensive tour yet of North America. Tour dates for other continents will be announced in the coming months.


Tour dates and ticket links can be found on The Aristocrats website at:


All studio and live releases by The Aristocrats can be purchased at:


For more information on The Aristocrats, please visit: 


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Brighteye Brison – “V”

BEM069 album cover

Even with the internet, it still feels rather exotic that much of the music I’ve discovered in the last few years has come from parts of the world other than where I live. Many of these artists have been around for a while before I discovered them.

Brighteye Brison is no exception to this. I saw their name on social media, and then magically the boss offered me their upcoming album – their fifth! – to review.

If you are looking for a big, expansive, progressive rock album, this release will fit the bill.

Opening track The Crest of Quarrel sneaks up on you, all quiet at first, then the mysterious
sounds appear and the song opens up into a progression of music that hints at what might be hallmarks of an epic, keyboard-driven prog sound.

Second track V features vocal interplay within its alternative rhythms.

The closing song, The Magician Chronicles, clocks in at almost 37 minutes and is a continuation of a narrative from their previous work. This is another huge, monster of a track with amazing layers of sound. The vocals are especially incredible!

“I am who I am. I will never let go of my power.”

Warning: It’s quite the earworm! This album is wonderful for headphone listening.

Now, I need to check out their other albums so I can catch up on the mythology.

Rating: 9/10

Available May 24, 2019


1. The Crest of Quarrel
2. V
3. The Magician Chronicles – Part II

Band Members:

Linus Kåse – keyboards/saxophone/vocals
Per Hallman – keyboards/vocals
Johan Öijen – guitars
Kristofer Eng – bass/vocals
Erik Hammarström – drums

Label: Bad Elephant Music:
Band Website:

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Big Big Train – “Grand Tour”

BBTI’ve been into Big Big Train since they were giving away mp3s on their website many years ago. I have a two track sampler (home made) from the “Bard” album. Yet despite all of that, I wouldn’t say that I LOVE them. I like them okay but a love for them has seemed to elude me for whatever reason. Yet album after album, I venture back to them to try some more.

There is no denying their talent and that is certainly the draw for me. The lineup is stellar and has grown and grown over the years. Adding ex-Spock’s Beard drummer Nick D’Virgilio and Gungfly/Beardfish mainman Rikard Sjöblom have been more reasons to keep me interested. I will say that each album has been better than the last, for me anyway. So here we are once again. Is “Grand Tour” the album that I have been waiting for? Yes!

So why did “Grand Tour” hit me so hard? The first single “Alive” is one of the tracks I really like. Most times in the past when BBT does a more “radio friendly” track, the song would seem very light weight and cheesy. “Make Some Noise” is an example. “Alive” is very catchy and uplifting, yet somehow avoids the watered down cheesiness of past efforts.

Another factor is the epics on “Grand Tour” are all exceptional songs. “Roman Stone,” “Ariel” and especially “Voyager” are well structured and build really well. They all sound natural and organic and not overly pastoral like past epics. Another winner is the NDV written instrumental “Pantheon” which just kicks ass. Something BBT needed! “Homesong” makes for a nice closer with it starting folky before taking flight.

“Grand Tour” is an album that is great all the way through. The song writing of singer David Longdon and bassist/founder Greg Spawton are in top form and the addition of drummer Nick D’Virgilio​ to the songwriting has just made BBT that much stronger. It’s a shame that Rikard Sjöblom​ didn’t add any songs to the mix but perhaps the next outing. For now, “Grand Tour” has me more excited in Big Big Train than I have ever been and I’ll probably go back through the catalog for another look.

Rating: 9.5/10

1. Novum Organum
2. Alive
3. The Florentine
4. Roman Stone
5. Pantheon
6. Theodora in Green and Gold
7. Ariel
8. Voyager
9. Homesong

Label: English Electric
Release Date: 17 May 2019


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