TRANSATLANTIC – the Prog Supergroup of Neal Morse, Mike Portnoy, Roine Stolt & Pete Trewavas – recently announced the release of a new concert set entitled ‘The Final Flight: Live At L’Olympia’ for the 17th February 2023. It was recorded and filmed in France on the last stop of a tour to promote the band’s fifth and most audacious album to date, ‘The Absolute Universe’. This was the multinational group’s first outing in eight years.
Released in February 2021 to unanimous praise, ‘The Absolute Universe’ came in two alternate formats; an abridged 64-minute record known as ‘The Breath Of Life’, and a companion piece entitled ‘Forevermore’ that added a further four songs, clocking in at an hour and a half. Though the foundations of both were shared, each format featured lyrics and music independent of the other.
However, when Transatlantic finally hit the road they opted to perform a third format of the album, a full-bells-and-whistles, 96-minute Blu-ray culmination of both takes known as ‘The Ultimate Edition’ that had been released in 5.1 surround sound. Following that segment of the show Transatlantic took a short intermission and returned to the stage for a rollercoaster trawl through the remainder of their lavish catalogue. From the first note of ‘Overture (The Absolute Universe)’ through to the medley based around the first two Transatlantic albums that closes the evening, the performance comprised 3 hours of music in total.
“Ever since the start of this band we have played for three hours, so that’s something we’re all used to,” states drummer Mike Portnoy, who grins whilst describing his own experience as “butt-numbing”. However, Roine Stolt is ready to admit that this time felt very slightly different.
“It was a great tour,” acknowledges the guitarist and multi-musician, “but when you include our spot at Morsefest [where besides performing ‘The Absolute Universe’ the band also revisited their 2009 album ‘The Whirlwind’ and revised a cover of Procol Harum’s ‘In Held (’Twas) In I’ that had featured on their debut from 2000, ‘SMPTe’] I felt the challenge of learning, or re-learning, three-and-a-half hours of music before leaving Sweden. Now that I am getting slightly older, I was a little worried about playing for that long – it requires a lot of concentration: ‘Is this one in 7/8 or 9/8? Maybe we’ll play it in 13/8 and in a different key?’ But of course, once we got out there onto the stage, those thoughts went straight out of the window.”
With a chuckle, vocalist and keyboard wizard Neal Morse reveals that as the tour found its feet Transatlantic threw an additional curveball. “We started playing songs slightly differently to the way you’ve heard them on ‘The Ultimate Edition”, he grins. “So what you get with this live album is similar, but essentially it’s a fourth version [of the record]. When you play live, from night to night it helps to keep things fresh by jamming a bit and changing things up as you go. There are a few examples of that, for instance, the beginning of the last section that starts with ‘Belong’ is quite different than the record – partly because we couldn’t remember it! So we made up a new structure.”
“We’re always as well prepared as we can be but in a way Transatlantic is kind of a show band” points out bassist Pete Trewavas. “Playing alongside Mike who is a powerhouse on the drums, there is this raw power. If he wants to raise the energy that’s what we do. We’re all taking solos here and there, though we get the songs across we’re all showing off as much as we can”.
Filmed by Paul Green (who also shot their ‘Whirld Tour 2010: Live in London release), and mixed by longtime collaborator Rich Mouser, this set will be available as a Special Edition 3CD+Blu-ray Digipak (incl. 5.1 surround sound) & as a Gatefold 180g 4LP release. Both feature artwork by Thomas Ewerhard & photos by Nidhal Marzouk.
1. The Absolute Universe Intro 2. Overture 3. Reaching For The Sky 4. Higher Than The Morning 5. The Darkness In The Light 6. Take Now My Soul 7. Bully 8. Rainbow Sky 9. Looking For The Light 10. The World We Used To Know 11. MP Intro 12. The Sun Comes Up Today 13. Love Made A Way (Prelude) 14. Owl Howl 15. Solitude 16. Belong 17. Lonesome Rebel 18. Can You Feel It 19. Looking For The Light (Reprise) 20. The Greatest Story Never Ends 21. Love Made A Way 22. The Whirlwind Suite 23. NM & RS Intro 24. We All Need Some Light 25. The Final Medley
I first came across Tim in the band No Man is an Island (Except the Isle of Man), where he was vocalist and co-writer with Steven Wilson. They soon shorted their name to no-man, and I reviewed various of their albums back in the Nineties, and Tim worked with various different musicians until he finally released his own debut back in 2004, ‘Hotel’, which I also reviewed. A short ten years later, and 2014 saw Tim release his second solo album, ‘Abandoned Dancehall Dreams’. There are a host of other musicians, including of course Wilson, and colleagues from no-man, with plenty of other incredible talents such as drummers Pat Mastelotto and Andrew Booker. But this album is not really about the music, as that is always very much the accompaniment for Tim’s wonderful vocals.
Anyone who has come across no-man will have an expectation for what is being delivered here, and they will not be disappointed. There is a whimsical melancholy about Tim’s material, and an honesty and genuineness that other bands aspire to but rarely achieve. Tim’s relationship with guitarist Michael Bearpark goes back many years, not only with no-man but other outfits, and his use of different guitar techniques to emphasise the emotions in the voice is sublime, with Stuart Laws providing bass that has the right amount of delicacy and warmth. There are times when the music feels quite twee, such as on “Smiler at 52”, yet the emotions and reality of the vocals take the song in quite a different direction from the electronic backing which is behind it. This is an album which bears repeated listening as there is a great deal to be taken from it, by singer who has been at the front of the game for many years. Kev Rowland 8/10
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 the 6th September 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.”
RISE TWAIN are: 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.
Since 1999, Devin Townsend and InsideOutMusic have enjoyed a highly successful and fruitful relationship together, releasing studio albums under his solo guise, Devin Townsend Project & Casualties of Cool, as well as live releases recorded at landmark shows in Devin’s career at the Royal Albert Hall and the Ancient Roman Theatre in Plovdiv, Bulgaria to name but two. Now they are pleased to cement that collaboration by signing a brand new contract on the eve of their 20 year anniversary of working together, for the release of new albums including the forthcoming ‘Empath’ in 2019.
Devin comments: “In an Industry that is tenuous at best, we need to make alliances. In opposition to the old ideas of ‘us against them’ when the discussions turn to art vs commerce, we need allies. I have been an independent artist for many years, and 20 of those years have been with INSIDE OUT MUSIC. When others were afraid to really put effort into packaging, product, and the actual recordings, due in large part to a dwindling industry, INSIDE OUT has championed my work since the turn of the century.
Because throughout it all, more than anything, I want the art and the music to be done correctly. I want to learn from my missteps and I want a group of business partners I can rely on to go to bat for unconventional music in ways I simply could not do on my own. I’m proud to say I’ve been with INSIDE OUT for many of those years that have defined me as an artist. It’s a pleasure to re-sign with them for my newest works. Thank you.”
InsideOut label-head Thomas Waber comments: “I consider it to be a privilege and an honour to have been able to play a small part in enabling this truly unique artist to fulfil his artistic visions over the years. For me Devin is one of the most important and outstanding leftfield artists out there today. In a musical climate where formats triumph over artistic freedom, Devin’s visions are refreshing and a much needed breath of fresh air. An alien in search for the ultimate coffee bean? Bring it on!
Working with Devin and his team feels like working with family, which is something that i can’t stress and value enough. I remember when he sent me Physicist and the album sounding very alien to me, but his sensibilities for melodies and arrangements came through loud and clear and of course with Kingdom the album had one of the best tracks of all time! I am truly excited about the new album Empath and wherever else Devin will take us over the coming years!”
Devin’s manager, Northern Music’s Andy Farrow adds: “Having managed Devin for nearly 10 years and seen him grow from the Islington Academy to selling out the Royal albert Hall in 4 days, it has been one rollercoaster of a journey. Devin is an artist that never sets sail on one course musically as I learnt over the course of 8 albums and various DVD’s, and sometimes this can be challenging both for the manager and the record label. However we have found that in Inside Out via Devins ‘Hevy Devy’ imprint we have a partner who are flexible enough to enable a truly creative musician / artist, complete artistic control and musical vision.”
In what has been a rare quiet year for Devin when it comes to touring, there has still been plenty of activity. On 22nd September 22nd, 2017, Devin Townsend Project played a special show at the Ancient Roman Theatre in Plovdiv, Bulgaria, celebrating the 20th anniversary of the landmark Ocean Machine album in full, as well as a set of fan-requested tracks alongside the Orchestra of Plovdiv State Opera. This concert was filmed, and recently saw its release as ‘Ocean Machine – Live at the Ancient Roman Theatre Plovdiv’.
Watch two clips from the release below:
‘Ocean Machine – Live at the Ancient Roman Theatre Plovdiv’ is available as a limited deluxe 3CD/2DVD/Blu-Ray artbook (with liner notes from Devin and a special documentary on the second DVD & Blu-Ray), Special Edition 3CD/DVD Digipak, standalone Blu-Ray and as digital audio download. Order now here: https://devintownsendproject.lnk.to/OceanMachineLive
“epic, swelling bombast worthy of the old stone” – Metal Hammer “a bold document from an incredibly ambitious artist.” – Prog Magazine “an incredible evening of music performed with precision and passion and captured for all of us in a nearly perfect fashion.” – Metal Wani
Devin’s varied back catalogue is also being celebrated with lavish vinyl box-sets under the name of ERAS. Having already released parts 1 and 2 earlier this year, December 7th will see the release of part 3, which features some of his most recent work with Devin Townsend Project, including the albums ‘Accelerated Evolution’, ‘Epicloud’, ‘Sky Blue’, ‘Transcendence’ & the first ever vinyl release of the second part of the DTP’s now legendary Royal Albert Hall show. Pre-order your copy of this deluxe 10 LP box-set here: https://devintownsendproject.lnk.to/ErasIII
Boston’s Bent Knee play a homecoming show this evening, Thursday, July 19, at The Sinclair. It wraps up a successful tour that found the band traversing the US with tour partners Gatherers throughout June and July.
Bent Knee also just released the full length ‘Live at the Record Co.’ video, featuring a live performance of 2017’s InsideOut-released ‘Land Animal’ album in full and in sequence. Watch it here:
Look for the band to join label mates Haken and Leprous on an extensive US tour in the fall. Dates directly below:
October 30th – The Crofoot Ballroom, Pontiac, MI
October 31st – Opera House, Toronto, ON
November 1st – Astral, Montreal, QC
November 2nd – Underground Arts, Philadelphia, PA
November 3rd – Highline Ballroom, New York, NY
November 4th – The Sinclair, Boston, MA
November 6th – Soundstage, Baltimore, MD
November 7th – Cat’s Cradle, Carrboro, NC
November 8th – The Orpheum, Tampa, FL
November9th – Revolution, Fort Lauderdale, FL
November 10th – The Plaza Live, Orlando, FL
November 11th – Variety Playhouse, Atlanta, GA
November 13th – Gas Monkey, Dallas, TX
November 14th – Barracuda, Austin, TX
November 16th – Crescent Ballroom, Phoenix, AZ
November 17th – Glasshouse, Pomona, CA
November 18th – August Hall, San Francisco, CA
November 19th – Hawthorne Theatre, Portland, OR
November 20th – The Crocodile, Seattle, WA
November 21st – Rickshaw Theater, Vancouver, BC
November 23rd – Metro Music Hall, Salt Lake City, UT
November 24th – Bluebird Theater, Denver, CO
November 25th – Granada Theater, Lawrence, KS
November 26th – Delmar Hall, St Louis, MO
November 27th – Exit/In, Nashville, TN
November 29th – Rex Theater, Pittsburgh, PA
November 30th – Beachland Ballroom, Cleveland, OH
December 1st – Bottom Lounge, Chicago, IL
Bent Knee recently released a concert film of the band’s first full-scale contemporary-classical composition, titled ‘Paper Earth’, here: https://youtu.be/LGNZePMJ8XM
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