The award-winning progressive rock band Big Big Train will release their 15thstudio album ‘The Likes Of Us’ on March 1st, 2024. The album is the internationally-based group’s first full collection of songs since the unexpected passing of long-serving lead vocalist David Longdon in late 2021. Besides marking the debut of new frontman Alberto Bravin, a former member of the Italian band Premiata Forneria Marconi, ‘The Likes Of Us’ also heralds the beginning of a new relationship with InsideOutMusic, the group having self-released their music for almost two decades.
The band comments: “We are delighted to announce the release of ‘The Likes Of Us’. After the events of the last few years, this is a particularly important album for us, both as a band and individually. We’re very proud of the new songs, which we recorded principally in a studio in Italy. Working together in one room brought additional inspiration, real energy and a clear sense of purpose. We’re thrilled with the results.”
To coincide with this announcement, the band have launched the first single from the album, a track titled ‘Oblivion’ which the band were seen performing on their UK and European tour in August and September 2023. The video was filmed by Tim Sidwell of Toward Infinity at Urban Recording Studio in Trieste, and you can watch the clip here:
‘The Likes Of Us’ will be released on several different formats, including for the first time as Dolby Atmos mixed by The Pineapple Thief’s Bruce Soord, while the stereo mixes were undertaken by the band’s regular engineer Rob Aubrey together with Alberto Bravin. The Dolby Atmos mix will come as part of the Limited CD & Blu-ray Mediabook edition that also contains the album as 5.1 Surround Sound & 24-bit high-resolution stereo. The album will also be available as a Gatefold 180g 2LP (available in black, sky blue, olive green and orange formats), Standard CD Jewelcase and Digital Album. The stunning artwork was created by the band’s longstanding collaborator Sarah Louise Ewing, with layouts by Steve Vantsis.
In May 2023, six members of Big Big Train left their homes in England (bassist Gregory Spawton, guitarist Dave Foster and violinist Clare Lindley), the United States (drummer Nick D’Virgilio), Sweden (guitarist/keyboardist Rikard Sjöblom) and Norway (keyboardist Oskar Holldorff) to gather for a week in lead vocalist Alberto Bravin’s home town of Trieste in north eastern Italy. They convened at Urban Recording, a studio recommended by Alberto, to lay down the basic tracks for the band’s new studio album ‘The Likes Of Us’. Being face to face in a room, as opposed to emailing sound files, the intimacy of the process generated moments of inspiration that would otherwise have gone unheard.
The process would prove emotional. “There were some tears; I cried a few of my own,” recalls D’Virgilio. “There are many reasons to explain why we hadn’t worked that way in quite a while, but the process brought out the best in everybody.”
“These were stories from our lives and we have a deep, personal connection with them,” Spawton remembers. “If there was blood on the tracks, we did everything possible to let that sink into the music.”
On the group’s most recent tour, two selections from ‘The Likes Of Us’ – first single ‘Oblivion’ and ‘Love Is The Light’ – were introduced to an ecstatic audience response. During a tidal wave of rebirth and celebration for Big Big Train, Alberto Bravin was accepted as one of the family. Indeed, the chemistry of the band’s latest line-up has delivered mouth-watering results. “We’ve got a great mix of people that want to be here and go the extra mile to do something very special,” D’Virgilio concludes. “There’s a big world of talented musicians out there, and luckily some of them want to hang out with us.”
ALBERTO BRAVIN – Lead vocals, guitar, keyboards NICK D’VIRGILIO – Drums, percussion, vocals, 12-string acoustic guitar, vocals DAVE FOSTER – Guitars OSKAR HOLLDORFF – Keyboards, vocals CLARE LINDLEY – Violin, vocals RIKARD SJÖBLOM – Guitars, keyboards, vocals GREGORY SPAWTON – Bass guitar, bass pedals, 12-string acoustic guitar, Mellotron
Swedish progressive rockers, Moon Safari recently announced their long-awaited new album Himlabacken Vol. 2.Ten years in the making, their 5th studio album will be released on December 6th through Marquee Inc. in Japan and worldwide on December 8th through the band’s own Blomljud Records Inc.
Moon Safari are now pleased to share the video for album’s second single “Emma, Come On.” You can see video here:
The band had this to say about the track: ”Do people still have posters of their favourite artists or movie stars on the walls in their room? This song is about celebrity worshipping, the slightly unhealthy kind. All dressed up in swirling moogs and guitars, as if Genesis in the mid ‘80’s kept one foot in their past and didn’t care for airplay. Which celebrity poster did you hang on your bedroom wall?”
About the making of the album: “It took us ten years, for a million different reasons. But we’re not dead yet. We return with what we know is a worthy comeback album, filled with our own special brand of symphonic rock cultivated over 20 years as an antidote to the long, dark winters of northern Sweden, with those trademark vocal group-inspired harmonies, uplifting melodies and soulful romantic lyrics that our fans have come to expect. With the addition of ex. Black Bonzo drummer Mikael Israelsson to the band we’ve totally revamped and boosted the low end of our sound, tightened it up, and that attitude shift is felt through our entire arrangements.Tying it all together is the mix by the great Rich Mouser. He’s been the go-to guy for the big boys in the genre for many years, and now we understand why. The mix is clear and punchy, booming and never flat. It just sounds expensive, and we couldn’t be happier. You’ll get almost 70 minutes of this heady brew, spread over nine tracks, with zero fillers. And of course there’s the obligatory epic. The whole thing is a banger, and we’re immensely proud of it.”
Track Listing: 1. 198X (Heaven Hill) (3:55) 2. Between the Devil and Me (10:38) 3. Emma, Come On (3:19) 4. A Lifetime to Learn How to Love (8:28) 5. Beyond the Blue (2:12) 6. Blood Moon (5:44) 7. Teen Angel Meets the Apocalypse (21:03) 8. Forever, For You (10:08) 9. Epilog (3:22)
Moon Safari is: Petter Sandström – Lead and Backing vocals, Acoustic Guitar Simon Åkesson – Lead and Backing Vocals, Piano, Organ, moog. Pontus Åkesson – Lead and Backing Vocals, Electric and Acoustic Guitar Sebastian Åkesson – Backing Vocals, assorted keys, percussion. Mikael Israelsson – Backing Vocals, Drums, percussion, keyboards, piano Johan Westerlund – Lead and Backing Vocals, Bass Guitar
Special guest performance by Jamison Smeltz – saxophone on “Forever, For You”
Nick D’Virgilio (Big Big Train), Neal Morse (Transatlantic, NMB) & Ross Jennings (Haken, Novena) return with their ‘Sophomore’ album out today, continuing their exploration of more acoustic-led music and three-part vocal harmonies. To celebrate, the band have launched a live session video for the track ‘The Weary One’, recorded at Neal’s studio earlier this year.
The band comment of the album release: Ross Jennings: “I’m so glad the three of us got to do this again and I couldn’t be happier with how our ‘Sophomore’ record successfully continues to expand upon what we set out to achieve with ‘Troika’.”
Neal Morse: “It’s release day for DMJ album number 2! If you enjoyed the first one, there’s lots more for you to dive into in album number two. We’ve combined the vocals – which is what this band is all about – with many diverse musical styles. And all the guys brought their songwriting A game to this one. I can’t wait for you all to hear it!”
Nick D’Virgilio: “I love record release day! It’s always very exciting knowing that the thing you worked so hard to create can now be shared with the whole world. Although “worked so hard” are not really the right words to use. It was a total “labor of love” creating Sophomore with Ross and Neal. Those are the right words. I hope you enjoy the music as much as we did making it!”
Track-list 1.Hard To Be Easy 2.Linger At The Edge Of My Memory 3.Tiny Little Fires 4.Right Where You Should Be 5.The Weary One 6.Mama 7.I’m Not Afraid 8.Weighs Me Down 9.Walking On Water 10.Anywhere The Wind Blows 11.Right Where You Should be (Alternative Version)* 12.The Weary One (Alternative Version)* *CD bonus tracks
The three musicians began trading song ideas in late 2022, before choosing 10 of those to record in January 2023. “I think there was always a plan in the back of everybody’s minds about doing a second one. We just got the conversation started and then started checking out some tunes. There were a lot of songs that were a little less fleshed out than with the first album, but once we got the ball rolling, it kind of went really fast”, says Nick D’Virgilio.
For the three members, this group serves as something different for all of them. Morse explains, “I’ve never been part of a group that was like this one. Most people know I’m a big CSN fan and I love Yes’s three-part harmonies and The Beatles as well. My dad was a choir director, so harmonies are in my blood! DMJ is a special group that is its own unique cup of tea and has such a nice flavor. Great blend. The main thing for me is to be working on good songs; it doesn’t matter to me who writes them or necessarily that much about styles. If the songs are good, then I’m all about it.”
Jennings agrees, “I’m a huge fan of country and folk music, I love the three-part harmony style. As a vocalist known for progressive metal releases, prior to forming the band I could never have predicted that I’d be considered to be part of a group making music like this. It’s still mind-blowing to me since I’d never officially recorded and released any music of this genre to prove that I can do it. Making these records with Nick and Neal has been such a pleasant and rewarding experience. It’s funny how things work out sometimes!”
Founded by vocalist/songwriter Mark “Truey” Trueack (United Progressive Fraternity) and multi-instrumentalist Sean Timms (Southern Empire, Damanek, UPF) in 1996, Australian progressive fusion Unitopia has always been among the most renowned and distinctive bands of their ilk and era. Now the band is pleased to announce the new studio album Seven Chambers, due out on August 25th, 2023.
Unitopia has undoubtedly reached new creative, emotional, and intellectual heights with their latest opus, Seven Chambers (their first original collection on independent label Progrock.com’s Essentials). Comprised of seven tracks and lasting just over eighty minutes, it’s an incredible journey that finds Unitopiareturning at the peak of their artistic and technical prowess
Tracklist: 1. “Broken Heart” (8:30) 2. “Something Invisible” (6:39) 3. “Bittersweet” (7:20) 4. “Mania” (12:29) 5. “The Stroke of Midnight” (9:38) 6. “Helen” (19:14) 7. “The Uncertain” (18:33)
Unitopia: Mark “Truey” Trueack – vocals, songwriting Sean Timms – songwriting, keyboards, backing vocals, various stringed instruments Steve Unruh – songwriting, backing vocals, violin, flute, rhythm guitars, mandolin John Greenwood – songwriting, backing vocals, lead electric guitar, nylon-strung guitar, 6 and 12-string acoustic guitars, mandolin, programmed orchestration Chester Thompson – drums Alphonso Johnson – bass
Plus, multiple color variations are available for the physical versions, as well as a special vinyl edition that features a die-cut cover revealing a portion of the sleeve behind it!
As the follow-up to 2010’s Artificial and 2012’s Covered Mirror Vol. 1 – Smooth as Silk (a superb assortment of classic/prog rock reinterpretations), Seven Chambers is Unitopia’s first new outing in over a decade. During the interim, each member kept busy with various other projects, and according to Progrock.com’s Essentials’ Mark Monforti, the method of getting the group going again was endearingly fortuitous:
“A few years ago, Steve Hackett was exploring studios and players for a show in Australia, and he contacted Timms about using the studio that he and Truey still owned. That got Sean and Truey talking about possibly working on new music together. Then, I reached out to them about doing some shows. They went exceedingly well, which sort of solidified the fact that Unitopia needed to come back.”
With Timms and Trueack reunited, the duo decided to expand Unitopia by bringing in fellow UPF maestro SteveUnruh, guitarist Dr. John Greenwood, drummer Chester Thompson (Frank Zappa, Weather Report, Genesis) and bassist Alphonso Johnson (Weather Report, Santana, David Gilmour).
Seven Chambers is a globe-spanning effort that began in 2021, with virtually every member working in their own studio in either America or Australia. Although things got off to a strong start, a few unexpected hiccups somewhat impeded the band’s headway.
“Progress was severely interrupted by Sean’s other commitments, such as moving into a renovated house and being in-demand with other projects and festivals. Then, Truey and Chester faced personal hardships. At more than one stage, it looked like the record might never happen. Luckily, the delays led to a few solo projects blossoming, and suddenly, our schedules began clearing in early 2023 and we began moving at a real pace again,” SteveUnruhexplains.
Thus, Seven Chambers is truly a testament to Unitopia’s chemistry and commitment, not only because it sees them triumphing over those setbacks but because it ended up being roughly twice as long as the original 40-minute plan (without a moment of filler!)
Discography: More Than a Dream (2005, Unicorn Digital) The Garden (2008, Inside Out Music) Artificial (2010, Inside Out Music) One Night in Europe (2011, live, Musea Records) Covered Mirror Vol. 1 – Smooth as Silk (2012, Musea Records) More Than a Dream – The Dream Complete (2017, Giant Electric Pea) The Garden (2020, compilation/boxset, Progrock.com’s Essentials) Seven Chambers (2023, Progrock.com’s Essentials)
The band already have a few dates lined up which you can see here:
2023 Tour Dates: 3 Sept. – 2Days Prog + 1, Veruno Novara, Italy 5 Sept. – Konzertfabrik Z7, Pratteln, Switzerland 9 Sept. – Neuberinhaus, Reichenbach im Vogtland, Germany 13 Sept. – Colos-Saal, Aschaffenburg, Germany 14 Sept. – Poppodium Boerderij, Zoetermeer, Netherlands 15 Sept. – Chez Paulette Pub Rock, Pagney derrière Barine, France 8 Oct. – ProgStock, Rutherford, New Jersey, USA
InsideOutMusic is delighted to announce that it has signed Big Big Train to a multi-album deal for new studio releases. The band are currently working on a new studio album, expected to be released in spring 2024, and have recently been recording in Trieste, Italy, where lead vocalist Alberto Bravin is based.
Big Big Train bassist/founder Gregory Spawton comments: “We have ambitious plans for Big Big Train and are very pleased to have signed this deal with InsideOut. Having run our own record label, English Electric Recordings, for a lengthy period, it’s clear that the music industry has changed enormously in recent years and we believe that we are best positioned to grow BBT further by becoming an InsideOut band. Over the last decade we had received offers from various labels. When we considered the different options, signing up with the premier label for progressive music was the logical choice. We’re very excited about this new era for the band and working with InsideOut/Sony.”
Drummer Nick D’Virgilio adds: “It’s an absolute thrill for me that Big Big Train has become an InsideOut band. Over the years, previously as member of Spock’s Beard and more recently alongside Neal Morse and Ross Jennings, I’ve worked extensively with Thomas Waber and his team at InsideOut/Sony. From experience I know that there is no better label for Big Big Train to be working with. It’s wonderful to join a roster that includes the biggest names in the prog genre such as Dream Theater, Steve Hackett, Jethro Tull, Kansas, Devin Townsend and Yes. We’ve got a lot of new Big Big Train music in the works and with InsideOut’s unrivalled reach across the progressive rock world we hope to reach plenty of folks who may not be familiar with us yet.”
Label head Thomas Waber comments: “We have been in talks with the band for a while and are happy that we can finally announce our partnership. Big Big Train have been proudly carrying the flag for progressive music, and we look forward to helping them on their very bright journey ahead. We are all excited to be stepping on board this particular train!”
Check out a teaser of brand new music here:
In parallel with this deal with InsideOut, Big Big Train will continue to run their English Electric Recordings label and expect to commence a re-issue campaign for previous studio BBT albums in late 2024.
Big Big Train’s latest album, Ingenious Devices, was released on 30th June 2023 (CD, 2LP black and 2 LP sky blue vinyl; Bandcamp) and is available to stream.
The band will embark on their most extensive ever tour in August and September this year, with 17 shows taking place across 9 countries. Big Big Train will also be on board Cruise To The Edge in March 2024. Find the full list of dates in 2023 below:
24th August – The Court Theatre, Tring, UK (warm-up show) 26th August – Cultuurpodium Boerderij, Zoetermeer, The Netherlands 27th August – Markthalle, Hamburg, Germany 28th August – Stora Teatern, Gothenburg, Sweden 29th August – Cosmopolite, Oslo, Norway 30th August – Fryshuset Klubben, Stockholm, Sweden 31st August – Viften, Copenhagen, Denmark 2nd September – 2 Days Prog + 1 Festival, Revislate, Italy 3rd September – Z7, Pratteln, Switzerland 5th September – Neuberinhaus, Reichenbach, Germany 6th September – Victoria Carlswerk, Cologne, Germany 7th September – Colos-Saal, Aschaffenburg, Germany 8th September – Mozart-Saal, Stuttgart, Germany 10th September – Queens Hall, Edinburgh, UK 11th September – Town Hall, Birmingham, UK 12th September – Cadogan Hall, London, UK 13th September – Cadogan Hall, London, UK
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