When I was young, I was fascinated by myths and legends of ancient Greece, Rome and Egypt and I was given a book, ‘The Story of Greece’, which had belonged to my mum when she was a child herself. With lots of colour plates I was fascinated by the stories of Achilles, Hyacinthus, Apollo, Arachne and many others, including of course Pandora. Many people will have heard the term Pandora’s Box even if they do not know the myth from which it was taken. Although the story has been retold many times in many ways, the base is always the same in that Pandora opened a container as she wondered what was inside, releasing many evils into the world and although she attempted to close it quickly only one thing was left behind, often referred to as hope.
Steve is a multi-instrumentalist, and although Eric Johnson has assisted with a guitar solo on one song, he does everything else himself apart from the female vocals, where Shimmer Johnson provides the lead on “My Name Is Pandora” and C.C. White provides additional vocals throughout. Steve is no stranger to concept albums, with the two excellent ‘Stargazer’ albums behind him, but it is very different indeed to work on an original story as opposed to a well-known myth, how to make it relevant for the modern day? Quite easily in his hands it appears, as he mixes it with the story of Eve and Christianity, bringing it right up to date when someone at a garage sale come across a jewelled box they cannot open and asks for advice, only to regret it when they get inside.
The lyrics are thoughtful and at times quite deep, making us think, but in contrast the music is light and full of hooks, so they combine together in a manner which is both fascinating and intriguing, making us curious to investigate further, much like the protagonists in the story. The idea of bringing in a singer to take on the role of Pandora herself makes total sense as here she has a voice and is able to explain who she is, and in Shimmer Johnson, Steve has found the perfect vocalization of his ideas. I can see them working together more in the future.
As well as the songs, there is a spoken word piece called “Origin Story”, where we hear the story of Pandora according to the original legends, explaining to those who did not grow up reading Greek myths (which is most people in fairness), all accompanied by an underlying keyboard piece. I also ought to make mention of the drums, as although they are programmed it shows that when someone really knows what they are doing then they can become a valid instrument. It really feels like there is a human driving the sound as opposed to a computer.
The end result is an album which is deep, wanting to make us think and also investigate the story further, while also being thoroughly enjoyable on a musical level. Complex, and complicated, it is a delight the first time it is played and that feeling only deepens the more one gets inside.
Like last year, the Festival will be held in the Revislate sports field. We know that many have appreciated the possibility of being able to reserve a seat: this year we ask you for a symbolic amount (2 euros per evening or 3-night pass for 5 euros) to be able to support the cost of renting the chairs.
News also on the Jazz front: on Saturday 10th September the Antonio Faraò Trio and Jazz Sabbath (led by Adam Wakeman, son of the legendary Rick Wakeman) will play for us! In this case, admission is free and no reservation is required.
We are waiting for you, as always, numerous and numerous!
Contrary to popular belief, progressive rock didn’t disappear with the advent of punk, and the lack of media support didn’t prevent new bands from forming and new music being created. It is hard to imagine these days, with everyone being permanently connected, but there was a time not long ago when communication was by word of mouth and letter. With no coverage by much of the media, it was down to fanzines and independent magazines to spread the word of what was happening within the progressive rock scene, what was being released, and who was worth going to see in concert. Most of these magazines survived for just a few issues, while others continued for many years, all having their part to play in spreading the word.
One of the most important during this period was ‘Feedback’. It initially started as the newsletter of Mensa’s Rock Music Special Interest Group in 1988, but when Kev Rowland became secretary in 1990, he determined to turn it into a magazine promoting music which often wasn’t being written about in the mainstream press. ‘Feedback’ soon became one of the key promoters of the underground progressive scene, and Rowland one of the most well-known and popular reviewers. He also became a contributor to ‘Rock ‘n’ Reel’, as well as writing for the Ghostland website in the early days of prog on the web.
Rowland collated all his progressive rock reviews and interviews written between 1991 and 2006 into three volumes which have been described by Record Collector and others as “The Bible” while one reviewer called it the “Encyclopaedia Progressivica”. It was originally intended to be just one book, but with the word count at more than half a million it was too big, so instead, it was decided to break it into easily digestible chunks and also include all the album artwork. The books have been widely acclaimed, and questions were asked of Rowland as to when the next one in the series would be available? Originally there was never any intention to produce any others as these had captured the time when he was running ‘Feedback’. However, even though he moved to the other side of the world and dropped out of the music scene, Rowland did begin writing again in 2008, and was soon as involved as he had previously been in the UK. Also, all his reviews were now saved digitally and did not have to be brought back to life from poorly photocopied fanzines, and he became convinced that it would be worthwhile to continue the series as the music had never stopped.
This brings us to Volume 4, which contains his writings from 2008 to 2013, with all album covers in full colour and cover art again by Martin Springett. Unlike the others in the series, this one-volume contains the complete alphabet, along with some book and DVD reviews, various artists, and a few interviews. The foreword is by the highly respected reviewer Olav M. Björnsen, while the comments on the rear cover are from Thierry Sportouche of the French progzine Acid Dragon (one of the longest-running progressive rock fanzines in the world) and Jerry van Kooten, founder of the highly influential Dutch Progressive Rock Pages (DPRP.Net). Together, these four stalwarts of the prog scene have more than 100 hundred years’ experience of writing about the music they love.
Along with the other three volumes in the series, this book shines a spotlight onto a scene time which is still critically ignored by many and provides information about the music in a constructive manner. It is again possible to discover some great music from wonderful bands, and this should be used as a guide to expand collections and understand that prog-rock really didn’t die, it just went underground.
About the author
Kev Rowland is a self-confessed music addict, who has never really been the same since he heard ‘Sabbath Bloody Sabbath’ in 1975. In the Eighties he spent quite a ridiculous amount of money on all things related to Jethro Tull and was asked by David Rees to write a piece on Carmen (the band including John Glascock, not the opera) for the Tull fanzine ‘A New Day’. This simple request was life-changing, although neither realised it at the time.
Kev discovered he enjoyed writing about music and submitted reviews for the inaugural Mensa RockSIG newsletter, before becoming secretary himself in 1990. Over the next 16 years, the newsletter gained a name, and he put out more than 80 issues, many of them doubles, more than 11,000 pages. When he moved to New Zealand in 2006, he retired from the music scene, but was pulled back in – initially kicking and screaming until he accepted his fate. These days he can be found contributing to many magazines and websites and is thoroughly enjoying the amazing music which can be found at the end of the world, saying the gigs remind him so much of what he used to attend 30 years ago.
When he isn’t listening to music, writing about music, or thinking about music, then he can be found on his lifestyle block with his wonderful wife Sara, and their 8 cats, 6 dogs, chickens, sheep, lambs, calves and cattle. Oh, apparently, he has a day job as well.
Containing all of Kev Rowland’s progressive rock reviews and interviews written between 1991 and 2006, the first four volumes of The Progressive Underground are essential for all lovers of the genre, but don’t just take our word for it.
A book that will be quickly referred to as “a bible”.
Daryl Easlea, Record Collector
Rowland is collecting his reviews in three volumes (in alphabetical order): their preservation for posterity is welcome. His writing is informative, intelligent, and generous. It certainly makes interesting reading… As Brian Appleton would put it, thank you Kev for your contribution.
Rychard Carrington, Rock n Reel
The third compilation of reviews from his Feedback fanzine is warm, honest and engaging. It is also, like the best underground writing, unvarnished and unencumbered by any expectations of PR; the reviews in The Progressive Underground Vol 3 are clearly done for no other reason than the love of the genre.
DE, Prog Magazine
This is best treated as a kind of guide to the neo-progressive genre. Thanks to this release, you can rediscover the wonderful albums of great bands and see that progressive rock has never really died, it just went from the mainstream to the underground.
Artur Chachlowski, MLWZ
All I can say is if you are a true proghead this book should be in your library of progressive rock literature. Because it’s a great work. A book to be considered of superior or lasting artistic merit.
Henri Strik, Background Magazine
Chronic well-crafted, short and mostly written in order to develop the subject with ease…Simply relevant information, the essential and useful. Personally, I believe that many current columnists should emulate the writing of Mr. Rowland.
Laying his fan card on the table, Rowland has brought all of these reviews together to create a veritable Encyclopaedia Progressivica in three volumes… the ultimate pan-progressive fanzine.
Envy Of None, the new band and debut self-titled album from Alex Lifeson (Rush), Andy Curran (Coney Hatch), Alfio Annibalini, and singer Maiah Wynne.
A Blacktide Phonic/Visual Production Directed and Produced by Jeremy George Featuring Sapphire Sumpter Assistant: Synaet Nin
About Envy Of None Alex Lifeson is no stranger to the concept of evolution. As a founding member of Rush, he’s been able to explore more musical ground than just about any other guitar player out there – taking rock to new progressive heights throughout the decades and always in the most wildly inventive of ways. His influence can be heard on countless bands around the world, from indie shoegaze and math rock to heavy metal and beyond. Over the last few years, Lifeson has been focusing on a new project that, no matter how well-acquainted you are with his discography, will undoubtedly shatter all seeds of expectation and blow the mind. That project is Envy Of None.
The new band, also featuring Coney Hatch founder/bassist Andy Curran, an accomplished producer and engineer Alfio Annibalini and singer-songwriter Maiah Wynne, will be releasing their self-titled debut album on April 8 via Kscope. Its 11 tracks – which ricochet between various shades of alternative, experimental, and synth-rock – throw surprises at every turn, twisting dark melodies against contemporary pop hooks. Lifeson himself is proudly aware of how little of it crosses over with the band that made him famous.
However, it was only when singer Maiah Wynne became involved that this truly started to feel like a band destined to go somewhere. Her haunting melodies and soul-baring intensity is – by the admission of her own bandmates – what truly brought this music to life. All things considered; she is a star in the making… “I sent over an early version of the song Shadow,” explains Andy Curran. “When I played what she’d done back to the others they were like, ‘Who is this crazy talented person?!’”
The industrial beats, driving fuzz bass and atmospheric guitars concoct a seductive swirl indeed – thrilling in ways closer to the darker art rock of Depeche Mode, Nine Inch Nails, and A Perfect Circle than anything these musicians have been known for prior.
“Maiah became my muse,” continues Alex Lifeson. “She was able to bring this whole new ethereal thing through her sense of melody on tracks like Liar and Look Inside. After hearing her vocals on Never Said I Love You, I felt so excited. I’ve never had that kind of inspiration working with another musician. When we say she’s special, it’s because she’s really fucking special!”
“One of my favorite things about these songs is the intimacy of them,” reveals Maiah Wynne. “It makes them feel different and more honest. There are some heavier songs too, like Enemy, and then tracks like Kabul Blues, that sound completely different to anything else.”
The album closer, Western Sunset, was penned by Alex Lifeson in tribute to his dear friend Neil Peart. It’s a highly emotive piece of music to honor a man deeply missed by the rock community at large, and even more so by those who were lucky enough to know him. “I visited Neil when he was ill,” says Alex Lifeson. “I was on his balcony watching the sunset and found inspiration. There’s a finality about a sunset that kinda stayed with me throughout the whole process. It had meaning. It was the perfect mood to decompress after all these different textures… a nice way to close the book.”
Ltd Edition deluxe version – Gatefold sleeve with a blue LP, 2 CDs including a 5 track bonus disc, 28-page Booklet with exclusive content CD – includes a 16-page poster booklet LP – on black vinyl / baby blue colored vinyl (North America exclusive) / white colored vinyl
Is ProgStock happening this year? What did you think was going to happen? Tom and Ann were going to give up? If the pandemic didn’t stop us… And our venue getting flooded didn’t stop us… I mean, really people!
And what are the dates? Seriously? When is ProgStock? Say it with me now… COLUMBUS DAY Weekend! or Indigenous Peoples’ Day Weekend or the weekend before the second Monday in October. Confused yet? How about this? It’s October 7 – 9, 2022!
We’ll be announcing all kinds of exciting stuff over the next week, so pay attention folks!
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