Darrel Treece Birch is on a red hot roll as far as music is concerned. Last year we presented two reviews to you that this keyboard virtuoso, one was his solo album No More Timeand the one he did as a member of Nth Ascension with In Fine Initium. In 2017 we see Darrel Treece Birch return with his other band Ten with Gothicaand now his new solo album Healing Touch. Darrel Treece Birch has absolutely no lack of substance when it comes to creative license is concerned and it is demonstrated by the quick turn around between releases. Darrel Treece Birch is a flowing fountain and well spring of melodious bliss.
Unlike 2016’s offering No More Time, Darrel Treece Birch decided not to have multiple guest musicians and go it all alone. Another difference with Healing Touch is it is not the conceptual piece that No More Time was. Do not be fooled however, Healing Touchis one serious exotic and melodic safari through the soul of one Darrel Treece Birch. There are 10 new songs that are all instrumentals yet they each have their own individual identity while remaining on point to the main spiritual objective that becomes the common theme throughout Healing Touch. Without any lyrics, Darrel Treece Birch manages to convey subjects of life and faith quite eloquently with just instrumentals. To date Healing Touch is perhaps Darrel Treece Birch’s most diverse album.
God’s Prescription immediately sets a cool smooth mood for the listener of the album. It sets a mood like one is transported into a futuristic world of electronic jazz fusion. This sounds like it may in fact be 25 years ahead of its time. It is certainly a soothing track in that Darrel uses more atmospheric theory to transport the listener into the world he intended them to be. Some of the electronica atmospheres subside to a more traditional jazz fusion rhythm section and soon both of the sum of the parts gel into a perfectly balanced melody. The track even provokes visions of the future which is a testament to Darrel Treece Birch’s forward thinking and sometimes groundbreaking work. There are many elements to this track that also remind me of Kraftwerk meets Alan Parson’s Band. Even more so this track represents a celestial element as well.
From The Mouth in many ways keeps with the subject of faith, hope , healing and love. It opens up with some seriously heavy synth work along with a beautifully deep bass and drum rhythm section that is not always synth manufactured. It gives the most seasoned listener the truth appearance that every instrument was recorded prior the synths and keyboards. Although the futuristic mood is still there, this track takes upon itself some very heavy elements of jazz fusion, especially in the context of the rhythm section. The rhythm section takes on a very 1970’s mood with fuzzy elements serving as a main feature. This lending a heavy Pink Floyd influence about it.
Cast It Out starts out with a wall of synths that hearkens back to the later 1970’s Kraftwerk style meets the earlier 1980’s Buggles. Darrel Treece Birch certainly puts on the first of a few keyboardist music and theory clinics with this one. He is always venturing out into territory that easily keeps him from being pigeonholed into one style and Cast It Out is a perfect example to this. Cast It Out is also a serious departure from what we have been use to hearing in Nth Ascension and Ten, Darrel’s other musical outlets. The track eventually levels out to a more conventional progressive hard rock song that eventually ends with some very beautiful progressive rock atmospheres.
Re-Boot sees Darrel Treece Birch channel heavy elements to the late great Keith Emerson with the production mind of a Alan Parsons. It also leaves a very heavily ELP influence as far as atmospheric soundscape structures. The guitar work is very ‘Floydian’ in nature leaving void or filler for the sake of having a complete song. The rhythm section is very well balanced and subtle leaving the guitar and keyboard stringed section much room to breathe and thrive within the songs own identity and purpose.
The Fruits Of The Spirit opens up with beautifully orchestrated sounds of nature in harmony with radiant wind chimes. This track from the first note already transport the listener in a state of tranquility and peace. This is also a very intricate track where it appears that the keyboard is distributing various chord progressions of the other instrumental interests throughout the duration of the track. This track is a soothing balm perfectly arranged to keep the listeners attention in the album.
The Stand opens up like a whirlwind with a very windy atmospheric effect generated by the synth’s. It is soon followed up by a beautiful rhythm section with some more ‘Floydian’ guitar soundscapes. The pure fusion approach to this track is yet another departure from some of the normal work we are used to hearing from Darrel. His experimental side truly knows no boundaries. This track in particular explores a more avant – garde side to Darrel Treece Birch that I honestly never knew was there.
The Release reminds me a lot of Arjen Luccasen’s Ayreon work , specifically the Actual Fantasy album. This is very heavily rooted in the electronic orchestral chord progression. When the other instruments such as the lead guitar and drums come in they are immediately highlighted and allowed to breathe throughout the composition. It is almost a melodic play on words in that there is a play on various chord progressions and deeply instrumental rhythm sections that would make Tangerine Dream and Kraftwerk blush. This track truly lives up to its namesake in that Darrel Treece Birch appears to open up yet another level of musicianship.
The Expanse starts off with the illusion of a music box playing tender little wind chimed melodies. This transports the listener into a melodic fantasy realm. The rhythm section shines through deeply. Both the stringed sections and rhythm sections are in a perfect harmonious persuasion. The track builds layer upon layers as it maintains its uplifting objective. This track has a heavy science fiction aesthetic working through is various passages and intricate chord progressions.
No Fear Here basically continues in the tradition of The Expanse and The Release. It is both heavy on the keyboard atmospheres and the unorthodox rhythm sections tat keep hooking the listener. There are some elements of classic rock keyboards much like Keith Emerson meets Rick Wakeman at the crossroads of modern fusion.
God’s Medicine opens up with a immediate guitar solo. This is yet another unconventional and surprising element of Darrel Treece Birch’s approach on this album. This is also some very beautiful classically rooted atmospheric fusion. In its isolation it brings absolution and proper closure to Healing Touch.
Although this one took me a little longer than expected it was well worth the time invested in it. This is well worth the investment to any progressive rock or instrumentalist fans collection. Healing Touch has many personalities and dimensions to it. Darrel Treece Birch really took many risks and chances with this one. Darrel Treece Birch’s Healing Touch gets 5/5.
(November 13, 2017) – Following triumphant performances in Oberhausen, Amsterdam and Zurich in 2016, as well as a sold-out UK arena tour including London’s Wembley Stadium in June 2017, Jeff Lynne’s ELO have announced today that they will be returning to the UK and Europe for an extended run of shows in 2018. The newly announced shows will see the legendary band play 19 dates across the continent through September and October.
Jeff Lynne’s ELO plays the following UK, IRELAND & EUROPEAN Arena dates in Autumn 2018:
Wed 12 Stockholm, Ericsson Globe Arena
Fri 14 Oslo, Spektrum Arena
Sun 16 Copenhagen, Royal Arena
Tue 18 Hamburg, Barclaycard Arena
Wed 19 Berlin, Mercedes Benz Arena
Fri 21 Munich, Olympiahalle
Sun 23 Vienna, Stadhalle
Tue 25 Mannheim, SAP Arena
Thu 27 Amsterdam, Ziggo Dome
Sun 30 Nottingham, Motorpoint Arena
Wed 03 Glasgow, SSE Hydro Arena
Fri 05 Manchester, Manchester Arena
Tue 09 Newcastle, Metro Radio Arena
Wed 10 Birmingham, Arena Birmingham
Mon 15 Leeds, First Direct Arena
Wed 17 London, O2 Arena
Tue 23 Liverpool, Echo Arena
Wed 25 Dublin, 3Arena
Fri 26 Belfast, The SSE Arena
Tickets go on General Sale Friday, November 17 at 9:00 am local time.
Looking ahead to the new shows, Jeff said; “Our audiences are amazing. It’s like they’re in the group. We can’t wait to play for them again.”
More popular than ever, Jeff Lynne’s ELO have always been known for their epic live shows and with a distinct style that seamlessly and innovatively blends rock, pop and classical, ELO has had twenty-six UK Top 40 singles, making Lynne’s sweeping productions some of the most recognisable music of the last forty years and helping sell over 50 million records worldwide.
June’s stunning Wembley Stadium gig is being immortalized in the live DVD ‘Wembley Or Bust’ out November 17th. In ‘Wembley or Bust,’ we see Jeff and his remarkable musical ensemble filling Wembley Stadium with one of the greatest rock & roll spectacles of all time, complete with bells, whistles, and spaceships in front of a 60,000 capacity crowd.
EXCALIBUR IV is the widely anticipated fourth NEW STUDIO ALBUM in the Celtic Rock Opera series, following on from the GOLD and PLATINUM selling original trilogy. EXCALIBUR IV was played live in its entirety to 12 ARENAS in Germany in December 2016 and will be touring again in 2018.
Released by Babaika Productions, via Cherry Red Records, the album features appearances by:
Michael Sadler (Saga)
Jesse Sibenberg & John Helliwell (Supertramp)
Martin Barre (Jethro Tull)
Moya Brennan (Clannad)
Roberto Tiranti (Labyrinth)
Bernie Shaw (Uriah Heep)
Sonja Kristina (Curved Air)
John Kelly (The Kelly Family)
Maite Itoiz (Elfhental)
Excalibur – the legendary rock opera is back!
After a thousand years of imprisonment, Merlin – the wizard – finally escapes from Morgana’s spell. Initially intrigued by the beauty of the new world that he returned to, he soon discovers the decay of knightly and sublime virtues, which once had been so bravely defended by King Arthur’s roundtable. An enraged Merlin casts his biggest spell over this world and brings the mighty dragon to life. An epic return of the legendary Celtic rock opera on to German stages, a new chapter in the saga around the sword Excalibur – this is “EXCALIBUR – The Dark Age Of The Dragon”.
1. THE WINGS OF THE DRAGON
4. I’M NOT THE ONLY ONE
5. CALLING FOR YOU
6. DON’T BE AFRAID
7. SILVER MOON
9. THE LAST LAMENT OF A FAIRY
10. THE NEW TIMES
11. FORGET YOUR SORROW
12. THE FIFTH SEASON
13. THE PASSION
14. I WILL BE FOR EVER
15. BEHIND THE MIST
16. YOU DON’T KNOW
17. YOU ARE THE SUNSHINE
18. THERE IS SOMEONE
19. DUN AENGUS II
Chicago – The musical mind of native Chicagoan Scott Fischer has been described as a colorfully symphonic amusement park. Whether it’s a song-length concept piece, a full album, a rock opera or something else entirely, big bright melodies and ambitious composition always take center stage. As a contributor to Zappacast (the official Frank Zappa podcast), a performer in The Rod Stewart Experience with the legendary Carmine Appice and now on his seventh album, it’s no wonder this latest release is titled “Open 28 Hours”: Whatever you’re expecting from Fischer’s Flicker, you’re going to end up with more.
“Open 28 Hours” revisits the humor and camp of Fischer’s previous musical bodies of work, and also maintains a musically mature songwriting style and Fischer’s signature elastic vocals. Part prog, part power pop, part funk, part piano magic, part 80’s extravagance and all at once endlessly intriguing, “Open 28 Hours” plays like a diverse mixtape from another planet. Diversity is not only this band’s strong suit but its card to play in an industry where singular genres seemingly come hardwired in these days. Instead, Fischer’s Flicker has something for everyone without kowtowing to trends or passing whims. Good songs are universal, and this is a record that’s full of them.
Anchored by odd time signatures filled with sweeping arpeggios played in unison, “Spiders” still could find a home on rock radio thanks to its harmonious structure, while the obscure Kinks cover “No More Looking Back” honors its muse in keen Fischer-esque fashion. Album starter “The In-Betweener” rides high on a soul-rock groove, and although closing number “Zen” is far and away the album’s most serene track, it does so in a way that still packs a punch.
Lyrically, relationships play a huge part in Fischer’s storytelling, whether it’s the acceptation of a fraught back-and-forth, a realization of being a victim to circumstance or an urge to run and hide, Fischer puts all on display in a way that’s both vulnerable and brave. Mid-album cut “Smoke Signals,” Fischer’s most autobiographical tune in the bunch, comes from an awakening that “no matter how many times in your life that you feel things have finally settled down or that have achieved some type of state of consistency, and then see just how many people have passed in and out of your life,” he states. “You wonder which of your friends will betray you further down the road. You wonder if someone is there to help you or hinder you or take advantage. And then the realization is that it’s OK to have change. That starting over allows you the chance to learn from mistakes and create new memories.”
This is all without mentioning the nearly 10-minute epic “Mother of a Ship,” where an existential crisis leads to a chance meeting with an alien who offers the protagonist all he can dream of in exchange for fellow humans who are taking up space. It’s a premise that leads to discussion and questions on the listener’s end, sprawled over a blissful, enormously enjoyable funk/prog backdrop.
Granted, Fischer’s ideas are big and the delivery is equally so, but the ideas presented are mainly about the little things we can all do to stay happy (or at least, retreat from the darkness). More so than the length of time given, the first word in the album’s title is key: These songs are open, in every sense. Taking it all in, like any great piece of art is a process and if given the time, this seventh album pays off for the listener in spades. To purchase Fischer’s Flicker “Open 28 Hours”:https://goo.gl/eLg2eu
Now available for pre-order – to be released November 17, 2017
King Crimson’s “Earthbound – 40th Anniversary Edition” expanded CD & DVD is now available for pre-order and will be released on November 17, 2017! “Earthbound,” originally released in 1972, was one of the earliest (if not the first) “official bootleg” released by a major rock band, consisting of a series of deliberately lo-fi live recordings of King Crimson’s “Islands” era line-up on tour in the USA. When issued, because of its mid-price it was excluded from the main album charts in the UK but topped the mid-price charts rubbing shoulders with Jim Reeves & Mantovani. Atlantic in the USA didn’t even bother to release it. By then, the band had broken up and the label had already been alerted to the likelihood of a new King Crimson line-up promised for later in the year. Like the later live album, “USA,” “Earthbound” remained unavailable in the early CD era, with both finally being released in 2002 on CD. Ironically this non-availability served to enhance interest in the album while DGM’s live releases made fans aware that there was a larger story to be told of this line-up’s history.
When Robert Fripp was asked to guest on the second Grinderman project, Nick Cave noted: “I wanted to work with Robert Fripp because he has done some of the most uniquely unsettling guitar work I have ever heard along with some of the most delicate and finessed. I grew up listening to a lot of the King Crimson stuff. The vinyl copy of the phenomenal live album ‘Earthbound,’ is one of my most treasured possessions.”
Boz Burrell: Vocals, Bass
Robert Fripp: Guitar, Mellotron
Mel Collins: Saxes, Flute
Ian Wallace: Drums
The new version of “Earthbound” features an expanded version of the original album on CD & DVD. As a series of stereo only/low-fi recordings, a 5.1 edition was neither possible nor appropriate. However, also included on the DVD of this release is the full performance from Summit Studios, captured on the same US tour in 1972, appearing in both new stereo & quadraphonic mixes, providing the only live surround recordings of this line-up. This release also features 15 minutes of material not included on the original mail order only CD of Summit studios as issued by DGM in 2000. The DVD also features the “Schizoid Men” sequence from the “Ladies of the Road” live album & a transfer of a 1972 vinyl edition of the “Earthbound” LP.
• “Earthbound” – is the twelfth release in the acclaimed King Crimson 40th anniversary series.
• The album has been expanded ON CD & DVD
• CD features an expanded 12 track version of the original 5 track album.
• DVD features the 12 track expanded album with 24/96 hi-res stereo audio.
• DVD also features the Summit Studios performance in a new stereo mix & in quadraphonic.
This is the only surviving multi-track performance from the 1972 tour.
• DVD features the album length “Schizoid Men” sequence of edits of 21st Century Schizoid Men taken from the “Ladies of The Road” live album
• A transfer of the original vinyl album completes the audio selections.
• Presented as a 2 x digipack format in a slipcase with new sleeve notes by King Crimson biographer Sid Smith along with rare photos & archive material.
• Continues the highly collectible King Crimson series.