SiX By SiX is the exciting new trio formed by Ian Crichton (Saga), Nigel Glockler (Saxon) & Robert Berry (3; Emerson, Berry, Palmer), and their eponymous debut album is set for release on August 19th, 2022 via InsideOutMusic/Sony Music. This hugely accomplished trio of musicians is also pleased to announce their first single ‘Yearning to Fly’, and you can watch the video now here:
The roots of SiX By SiX can be traced back several decades to when Glockler and Berry were together as part of Yes guitarist Steve Howe’s continuation of the band GTR. Then there’s the Asia connection, where Crichton and Glockler contributed to sessions and recordings, while Berry was the link for his guitarist friend Pat Thrall joining that band.
Time marches on, paths cross and fate brings these three musicians together, born from a conversation with an industry insider in the UK who connected Ian Crichton in the Toronto area with Robert Berry outside San Francisco, who in turn reached Glockler at his home on the south coast of England.
Powered by Glockler’s dynamic drumming, the result is an expansive guitar-driven pallet, paired sonically with the unique flavour of the Crichton/Berry songwriting collaboration, which they are very excited to present on this debut album.
Ian Crichton comments: “Throughout my career, I’ve been very selective about what to get involved in outside Saga and when opportunities have arisen, I have said ‘no’ far more often than I have said ‘yes’. When Robert’s manager contacted me in 2020 and explained what Robert was seeking to do creatively and how my guitar could be central to the musical vision, I was intrigued. Now it’s over 18 months and many Zoom calls later, but crucially Robert, Nigel and I have also spent plenty of time together at Robert’s base in northern California. We’re three experienced players from three different countries, and with our six hands, we’re here to break the rock music mould. SiX By SiX is a band that we’ve built together and nurtured into a unique style that I’m very proud of.”
Nigel Glockler continues: “When Robert and Ian first approached me about becoming part of this band, I felt very honoured to be asked and absolutely thrilled to be working with a couple of guys I’ve admired for a long time. Robert and I first met during GTR days and we’ve kept in touch ever since. My path has crossed with Ian many times on the road over the years, so once the three of us got together in California it was like a meeting of old friends. Musically it immediately clicked and working within the framework of a three piece allows us to branch out in all directions and really push ourselves. I’m best known as the Saxon drummer, but I’ve always been a massive fan of progressive rock – Genesis and PFM are amongst my favourite bands! SiX By SiX is just the beginning of an exciting journey – bring it on!!”
Robert Berry adds: “After working with the genius of Keith Emerson and losing that musical partnership in 2016 following Keith’s death, I faced a daunting question: whether to bring down the curtain creatively or seek something inspiring which would reach new musical heights. My intuition was to lean into a dramatically more guitar oriented direction. But which guitarist is as impressive as Keith was as a keyboardist? At my manager’s suggestion, an incredible meeting of minds, style and future goals was struck with Ian Crichton. Was it luck, timing or destiny? I think it was all three because 3 is my lucky number. Ian and I were determined to keep this a 3 piece band (there’s that number again) and needed a drummer with a similar mindset and who is a solid, heavy hitter. My friend Nigel Glockler was the perfect fit. And with this extraordinary combination of friendship, musicality, and humor, a Brit, a Canadian and an American have come together as the brand new band SiX By SiX.”
Ian Crichton is best known as one of the founding members of Saga, alongside his brother Jim. Saga went on to sell roughly 10 million albums world-wide and continue to perform around the world. As the driving force behind SiX By SiX, Ian takes a cunning turn, in assembling another potent band but one that focuses on his guitar prowess. This time with established players, each with a celebrated past, refined skills, and unlimited potential.
Nigel Glockler began his career in 1980 as the drummer for the British band Krakatoa. In 1981 he found an opportunity with singer Toyah. By the end of the year, he joined metal legends, Saxon. Except for two brief absences, Nigel has been behind his massive drum kit as an integral part of Saxon ever since. His powerhouse drumming is the engine that drives SiX By SiX’s songs forwards relentlessly.
Robert Berry first gained international attention with San Francisco-based Hush, releasing well-received recordings and then touring the USA. In the mid-1980s Berry’s first solo album garnered positive reviews in the most influential trade publications and attracted the attention of several major labels. At the suggestion of one of those labels, Robert moved to the UK to work with guitarist Steve Howe (of Yes fame) along with drummer Nigel Glockler in an effort to revitalize GTR. When GTR stalled, Robert partnered with British rock legends Keith Emerson and Carl Palmer to form ‘3’. With Emerson and Palmer, Robert achieved a top ten charting single and toured the USA. Robert’s melodic sensibilities complement Ian’s extraordinary guitar and Nigel’s signature drumming perfectly.
Set to make their worldwide live debut at ProgPower USA XXI on June 3rd, Jason Bieler and the Baron Von Bielski Orchestra have released a heavy new single appropriately titled “Sic Riff”. The track is the second single to be released in advance of an upcoming album due out later this year.
Jason Bieler had this to say about the new single: “It is about time for the musical high wire act of the Baron Von Bielski Orchestra to take the stage this week for our worldwide debut at the Progpower Festival in Atlanta! In keeping with a long history of storied prog traditions, we will be wearing sequined capes and playing versions of songs that sound nothing like the ones from the record. In fairness, we couldn’t figure out how to get the backing track machine to work…so we said…let’s just leap the breach and plow through the music like an Amish run farm! We also won’t have in-ear monitors…again not because we don’t have them…but sticking with BVBO tradition, we couldn’t figure out how to get them to work either.
“Ohh, yes…to the point, we are going to be playing two new songs from the unreleased record, “Postcards From The Asylum”…because if I know one showbiz thing, nothing pleases music fans more than new tunes, especially live! So to attempt to remedy this blasphemous display of self indulgence we’ve ( when I say “we” I mean “me” and the “voices”) decided to release one of the songs June 1st…it is called “Sic Riff,” it is technically in 12/4, which is really 4/4…but you have to admit for a sec you were like…”this Baron Von Bielski cat is entirely off the mental reservation!” I don’t like to really discuss my lyrics…but this tune is not about “Monkeypox”…although there is a new song on the upcoming record, called Flying Monkeys…which has Marco Minnemann on it, and to my knowledge, as of this writing at least, he has no primate based illnesses…for that matter he doesn’t even own a monkey.
“I personally would love a monkey…but I digress. New tune out everywhere June 1st! Featuring the brilliance of Andee Blacksugar on guitars and noises and Edu Cominato on drums, he is from Brazil and I’m not really sure he actually knows that he played on the record, as I used google translate to chat with him, but it was accidentally set to English to Uzbekistan…so in hindsight all he knows I said is “does your goat have global entry” or something to that effect. If you see Edu, please tell him thanks and that I was referring to the TSA, not his goat being a hussy.”
ProgPower USA will take place in Atlanta, Georgia, June 1-4, 2022. Please visit www.progpowerusa.com for further details.
ason Bieler & The Baron Von Bielski Orchestra recently shared a lyric video for a new track titled “Human Head.” It features a return guest appearance by Andee Blacksugar (KMFDM, Peter Murphy, and Blondie).
Today sees the release of the animated video for PROPER JACK FROSTER, the latest single from BIG BIG TRAIN, taken from the forthcoming WELCOME TO THE PLANET album. Proper Jack Froster is based on a story from Gregory Spawton’s childhood in the Midlands in the UK in the 1970s.
Work on the video by Swedish animator Love Andreas Gson Fagerstedt began before the untimely, tragic passing of Big Big Train’s singer David Longdon on 20th November 2021. David’s partner and the band have decided that the video should still be released to help to promote the forthcoming album to the fullest extent possible.
Watch the video here:
Big Big Train’s March 2022 UK tour will now not take place; ticket holders should contact their point of purchase for information on refunds. Prior to David’s death the band had been on the verge of announcing a North American tour consisting of over 20 shows in May and June 2022. This projected North American tour will also not be taking place.
The band will be making an announcement next year about its future, including regarding the September 2022 shows that are scheduled to take place in the UK. Ticket holders for these September shows are encouraged to retain their tickets for the time being pending that further announcement. No further comment will be made about the band’s future before next year.
As with COMMON GROUND, WELCOME TO THE PLANET sees Big Big Train retain their progressive roots but also take influence from all spheres of music. The four recent singles “Proper Jack Froster’, ‘Made Of Sunshine ‘The Connection Plan’ and ‘Lanterna’ are also included along with keyboard player Carly Bryant’s first Big Big Train writing credit and lead vocal on the captivating title track. The album is completed by the delicate acoustic ‘Capitoline Venus’, the beautiful ‘Oak And Stone’ and a pair of dazzling instrumentals, ‘A Room With No Ceiling’ and ‘Bats In The Belfry’, written by guitarist/keyboardist Rikard Sjöblom and drummer Nick D’Virgilio respectively.
As Devin announced earlier this year, he has been using the Covid downtime to work on new material for upcoming albums, and for a current lack of touring possibilities and encounters with fans on the road he decided to do a series of live albums, quarantine albums, and generally interesting projects that keep people entertained while he’s busy on his next larger releases. The series is called the “Devolution Series”.
Devin comments in this video
“So we bring to you the ‘Devolution Series’: a grouping of oddities and interesting material that I would like people to hear, but don’t necessarily want to present as a ‘major release’. The series will include all the quarantine songs and concerts, as well as various live shows from the past few years. I’m am currently deep in the writing of my new projects and am very excited to be doing so. Thanks for facilitating my ability to do that, and I hope you enjoy the ‘Devolution Series’.”
The second release under the “Devolution Series” moniker will be the “Devolution Series #2 – Galactic Quarantine” album, scheduled for June 25th 2021. It was recorded in 2020 in various places around the world as a replacement show for the COVID affected “Empath Vol 2 European Tour” and cancelled Summer festivals. It originally aired on September 5th 2020 on StageIt.com.
For a first impression of what to expect, here’s the video for “Aftermath.” Enjoy!
DEVIN TOWNSEND “Devolution Series #2 –Galactic Quarantine” track listing: 1. Velvet Kevorkian (Virtually Live 2020) – 2:28 2. All Hail The New Flesh (Virtually Live 2020) – 5:32 3. By Your Command (Virtually Live 2020) – 8:18 4. Almost Again (Virtually Live 2020) – 3:42 5. Juular (Virtually Live 2020) – 3:50 6. March Of The Poozers (Virtually Live 2020) – 5:25 7. Supercrush! (Virtually Live 2020) – 5:15 8. Hyperdrive (Virtually Live 2020) – 3:42 9. Stormbending (Virtually Live 2020) – 5:21 10. Deadhead (Virtually Live 2020) – 7:55 11. Aftermath (Virtually Live 2020) – 6:51 12. Love? (Virtually Live 2020) – 5:21 13. Spirits Will Collide (Virtually Live 2020) – 4:35 14. Kingdom (Virtually Live 2020) – 5:05 15. Detox (Virtually Live 2020) – 6:20
Lyrically, and musically, the award-winning Dutch artist lays her soul bare with the most evocative record of her career – captivating song-stories told with acoustic guitars, strings, horns, percussion, and Anneke’s hypnotic vocal harmonies
The new album’s title, ‘The Darkest Skies Are The Brightest’, refers to the idea that, when facing personal challenges, we are forced to find answers to life’s biggest questions. But, at this point in her near-three-decade-long music career, this solo album – and, crucially, the heartbreak that inspired it – was not something Anneke van Giersbergen ever anticipated writing.
In 2018, Anneke began working on new material for her metal band, VUUR. Although their debut album, ‘In This Moment We Are Free – Cities’, was met with a mixed reception, fans were warming up to their heavy, progressive sound. Therefore, a rapid follow-up album would surely establish Anneke’s return to fronting a metal band. However, behind the scenes, these were troubled times.
Anneke shares, ”My belief in VUUR saw me spend all my savings on recording VUUR’s debut album and taking the band on the road. After completing our first touring cycle, I realized that more VUUR would mean yet more, huge financial risks.”
To make matters worse, in 2018, her long-lasting marriage, which had always been wonderful, unexpectedly saw a storm approaching. Anneke adds, “I instantly knew I needed to write music about fixing my life. This creative endeavour would be far too personal for a VUUR album. And it would also require solitude.”
With just her acoustic guitar and basic recording gear, Anneke retreated to a small house near the woods, just outside her hometown of Eindhoven. She let go of the pressures of what VUUR’s future might be, and fell into the meditative process of writing a solo album. In 2019, work continued on the new songs. In 2020, Anneke asked her friend and producer, Gijs Coolen, to help finish the album.
Throughout the completion of the album, Anneke’s fragile, acoustic song-stories were fused together with an alchemy of panoramic strings, horns, and percussion. The resulting 11-track record has all the intimacy of Anneke serenading an audience of one, combined with surprising departures into swampier, foot-stomping grooves.
The Japanese art of kintsugi has inspired Anneke to use a repaired heart as the album’s symbol. Kintsugi teaches that bringing together the pieces of a broken object – with the use of a precious metal – adds value and uniqueness to it. And, instead of giving up on their marriage, Anneke and her husband decided to take the time to mend their bond. They now cherish the repaired heartbreak as something profoundly valuable.
Their journey through this personal storm, and the album that Anneke created in the eye of it, proves that the darkest skies truly are the brightest.
The album will be available as CD Digipak, Gatefold LP + CD & as digital album. 01. Agape 02. Hurricane 03. My Promise 04. I Saw A Car 05. The Soul Knows 06. The End 07. Keep It Simple 08. Lo And Behold 09. Losing You 10. Survive 11. Love You Like I Love You
‘The Darkest Skies Are The Brightest’ is Anneke’s 23rd career album. It proves, once again, that the award-winning Dutch artist defies being pigeonholed by any genre.
After thirteen years as the front woman for melancholic metallers, The Gathering, she struck out on her own in 2007. Since then, her creativity has known no bounds. Anneke quickly solidified a successful solo career (initially under the moniker Agua de Annique), and has recorded and performed with Canadian metal genius Devin Townsend multiple times. She has also lent her serene yet powerful voice to the likes of: Anathema, Icelandic folk group Árstíðir, Within Temptation, Ayreon mastermind Arjen Lucassen, Amorphis, and prog legend John Wetton.
2012’s ‘Everything is Changing’ was something of a milestone in Anneke’s solo career. The album, which was the first to be released under her own name, received two Edison Award nominations – Holland’s most prestigious music prize – in the categories ‘Best Female Artist’ and ‘Best Album’.
In 2015, Anneke van Giersbergen and Arjen Lucassen (Ayreon) released their collaborative album ‘The Diary’ under the name The Gentle Storm. In October 2017, Anneke’s progressive metal outfit VUUR released their much-anticipated debut album. ‘In This Moment We Are Free – Cities’ entered the Dutch Album Top 100 at number 2, Anneke’s highest-ever chart position.
Forever the unpredictable artist, in late 2018, Anneke released ‘Symphonized’, an 11-track live orchestral album. It was recorded at two career-spanning concerts alongside Residentie Orkest The Hague, and features rearrangements of songs from her entire back catalogue.
2019 saw Dutch music copyright organization Buma Cultuur honor Anneke with the Buma ROCKS! Export Award. This is their award for the Most Successful Dutch Artist Abroad in Heavy Music. In 2021, the release of her new solo album ‘The Darkest Skies Is The Brightest’ will see Anneke surprise her fans all over again.
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