by Kev Rowland | Jul 25, 2018 | Uncategorized
In 2009, drummer Craig Walker was asked to stand in for a local band, where he met keyboard player Darrel Treece-Birch, who was also helping them out. This led to them deciding to start a new project together, and they brought along Darrel’s longtime collaborators Martin Walker (who just happens to be Craig’s dad) and singer/bassist Alan ‘Spud’ Taylor. After the release of a demo, Gavin Walker (Craig’s brother, Martin’s son – are you following this?) was brought in as bassist to allow Alan to concentrate on singing. At the time of the release (2014) Darrel was in two other bands, one of which was Ten (with whom he is still with today), and singer Gary Hughes helped out by engineering and producing Alan, as well as providing some backing vocals. But these guys are a totally different style of music to what Darrel plays in Ten.
Some people will argue that these guys are neo prog, while others may look to crossover, but it is honestly just easier to state that they are a very English sounding prog band. Classic Pendragon has obviously been an influence, but so have some of the more keyboard-oriented pastoral bands of the past, and every time I play the classic “Weight of The World” the vocals remind me of some of the songs from Roger Glover’s ‘The Butterfly Ball’! I think what I like about the album is that there is so little stress within it, it is quite laid back at times, but they know when the guitars need to make an impact without always crunching out riffs. They are all fine musicians but are quite happy to sit back and often let Darrel lead the musical flow while Alan sits over the top of it all with wonderfully melodious vocals. They close with the eighteen-minute-long “Vision” which allows them to musically stretch their wings, yet still, keep it all contained and incredibly melodic. Driving, pastoral yet rocky when they need to be, melodic, musical, this is a really nice album indeed.
by Kev Rowland
by Nick | Nov 7, 2016 | Featured Artist
Created in 2009 and born in January 2010 under the original name of Nth Degree. At this early stage the band consisted of Darrel Treece-Birch, Craig Walker, martin Walker and Alan ‘Spud’ Taylor. In 2011 the band changed the name to Nth Ascension and recorded a ‘live’ demo album entiled ‘Frequencies of Day & Night’. This was self-released as CD-Rs, also available as a free download via Aurovine. The band was signed by Aurovine/Sonic Vista directly after a live performance and the band set to work on an official debut recording. Recorded by Phil Brown (long-time friend and ‘live’ band mate) the album ‘ Ascension of Kings’ was released on 13 December 2014 to wide acclaim. TEN vocalist Gary Hughes engineered all the vocals for the album; and was a special guest on the album providing backing vocals. Phil Brown provided the majority of engineering for the Ascension of Kings album , whilst Treece-Birch edited the drum tracks and M. Walker and the entire band mixed the album.
About Alan “Spud” Taylor
Alan started singing at about eight years old. Like many young musicians he would sing the chart hits of the time whilst at school and his friends would listen; captivating his friends with renditions of Elvis songs popular in the day.Alan was born into a musical family with both his Mother and Grandmother having sung in the clubs of the time and his Grandfather would play drums. Singing and performance were born to him and in his blood so to speak. He started playing guitar around the time he left school and was initially self-taught sharing his brother’s classical guitar. Many of the first tunes he learned were from his brother who was taking classical guitar lessons.
Shortly thereafter Alan purchased his first guitar, a 12-string Ibanez. He started to write songs and play in folk clubs. Teaming up for a while with the ‘Big Man’ Pete Rodger who was previously one of the ‘The Taverner’s‘ a very popular folk group during the 1970s and who played a Royal performance for Prince Charles.
1981 was a great year, Alan and Martin Walker would meet and start to write and record together using a 4-track recorder. Alan had taken up the bass in addition to singing in these early days. This friendship would evolve into a band named ‘AD’ adding Robert Stirzaker (Counterparts) on drums, Martin Walker (Nth Ascension) on guitars, Andrew Keeling (composer) on keyboards and Alan on vocals. An EP was released in 1984 which was recorded at Park Lane Studios Preesall.
In 1986 Alan met Darrel Treece-Birch (TEN and Nth Ascension) which would begin a thirty year friendship and music collaboration and the first fruits of their progressive style started to take root in the band ‘Purple on the Storm’. During this time Alan took formal voice training with the professional Tenor Lanceford Roberts.
The 1990s saw various collaborations mainly with Treece-Brich; ‘Helmwind’, ‘Order of Chaos’ and the ‘Noise Foundation’. In 2002 ‘The Field’ was formed with Martin Walker, Darrel Treece-Birch, Gavin Walker (Nth Ascension), Rob Stirzaker and Alan Allcock; after releasing their first album the band members went off to work on different projects and The Field did not record any further material.
In 2010 Alan was approached by his long-time collaborative partner Darrel Treece-Birch and asked to work on a project that Treece-Birch was involved in with Martin Walker and Craig Walker. This was the beginnings of Nth Ascension which reinvigorated and revitalized Alan’s need for live performance. Initially holding down bass duties and vocals with the band, but welcomed the addition of Gavin Walker on bass in time to record their first album Ascension of Kings in order to focus on his vocal performance.
About Craig Walker
Craig was barely old enough to walk; but his rhythmical ability was already apparent as he would play along to Queen’s ‘We will Rock You’ in perfect time. Throughout his school years he played drums in school productions and for his local church in Fleetwood.
Craig chose to study music technology in college and played in numerous bands by the time he was 18, most prominent of these was ‘Popstar Heroes’ who were known for playing anything from Metallica to Blink 182. Craig’s style was heavily influenced by the metal genre in his early years. By age 20 he found he needed more of a challenge for his creativity and found his way to progressive rock/metal. Darrel Treece-Birch his father’s long-time friend and collaborative partner introduced him to Dream Theater and a creative spark was re-ignited by the combination of technical prowess and stunning melodies that could be achieved in this genre whilst staying true to his roots in metal.
There are no coincidences in life for in 2009 Craig was asked to help out a local band whose drummer wasn’t available for a concert; this same band also was being helped by Treece-Birch. This led to the two playing together and discovering their undeniable musical chemistry. After the concert performance, Craig and Darrel decided it was time to start an original project together asking Darrel’s long time collaborators Martin Walker (Craig’s Dad) and Alan ‘Spud’ Taylor to come along to ‘see what happens’. Originally called ‘Nth Degree’, Nth Ascension was born and they went on to produce a demo recording called ‘Frequencies of Day and Night’. Shortly after, Gavin Walker (Craig’s brother) was brought into the band to take over bass duties so Alan could concentrate on his vocal performance.
About Darrel Trece-Birch
Keyboard wizard Darrel Treece-Birch started playing piano when he was seven years old. Music has always been his greatest love and passion gravitating to rock and especially progressive rock music. He has been inspired by bands such as Marillion, Yes and Genesis and joined his first band a few years later, Fleetwood based ‘Purple On the Storm’.
Over the last 25 years the band names have changed but the personnel have remained fairly constant especially with his main writing partner Alan (Spud) Taylor, guitarist Martin Walker and Counterparts drummer Rob Stirzaker. Darrel’s other projects include playing keyboards and touring with the British Melodic Rock band TEN, as well as recording and releasing solo material.
About Gavin Jon Walker
Gavin is from a musical family, together with brother Craig, grew up surrounded by the music of Martin (Dad) Walker, Darrel Treece-Birch and Alan “Spud” Taylor – some might say they were ‘pickled’ with their music from a very early age. Gavin started out with guitar but he eventually settled into the bass guitar and spent many formative years learning to play the blues and jamming often with Craig in their living room to the likes of Queen, Metallica and Nirvana. Having been raised in a musical environment long jam sessions with his brother and father was the natural progression of his exploration as a musician from learning others works to experimenting and creating his own sound and style.
In his college days Gavin was involved in the band ‘Angel Hill’ which gained some popularity locally, winning the local ‘Battle of the bands’ contest in 2000. In 2002 Gavin joined the group ‘The Field’ as a second keyboard player/percussionist. 11 years later in 2013, Gavin the latecomer to the land of “Nth” joined the band just in time to play his part on the album ‘Ascension of Kings’ and is now currently collaborating on the next Nth Ascension album with the band.
About Martin Walker
Martin discovered his love for the guitar in his early teens after hearing the Dave Edmunds’ track ‘Sabre Dance’. It was Jimi Hendrix playing ‘Voodoo Chile’ that sent Martin on a lifelong quest to discover “awesome noises created by the electric guitar”.
According to Martin; following the usual school and college band-failed attempts of world domination he eventually settled into more realistic projects, namely a band called ‘Inheritance’ which eventually morphed into ‘Thruaglas Darkly’. Thruaglas Darkly went on to release the single ‘Modern Man’ but disbanded before further planned projects could be completed.
During this time Martin would fortuitously meet Alan ‘Spud’ Taylor and together with a few former Thruaglas Darkly members played together as ‘AD’ for a season, it was at this time he was introduced to keyboard player Darrel Treece-Birch.
Once AD satisfactorily concluded Martin withdrew to a few small projects one of which was joining again with Alan and Darrel together with Rob Stirzaker, Alan Allcock and his eldest son Gavin Walker to play as ‘The Field’ who went on to do a few gigs as well as release their self-titled album The Field. It was basically a live recording which captured the energy of the band for whoever desired to listen. This project concluded and Martin continued working on a few solo ideas until asked to join his son Craig, together once again, with friends Darrel and Alan. Initially it was a get together just to play for the fun of it; the music genre we all loved. This quite quickly became more than the ‘knock about’ it was intended to be and with the addition of his other son, Gavin Walker the group evolved into Nth Ascension.
2016 Nth Ascension have returned with their Criticly Acclaimed album, In Fine Initium; heavier guitars, a tighter rhythm section with quick time-signature acrobatics and long sweeping keyboard passages and vocals that reach into your soul with their power and compassion; culminating in an album that is truly worthy of praise.
Alan ‘Spud’ Taylor – Vocals
Darrel Treece-Birch – Keyboards
Craig Walker – Drums & Percussion
Gavin Walker – Bass
Martin Walker – Guitars
In Fine Initium (2016)
Ascension Of Kings (2014)
Frequencies Of Day & Night (2011)