Melodic Revolution Records Featured Album For April 2018 Babal | The Circle Of Confusion Of Tongues
Label – Melodic Revolution Records Release Year – 2018 Country – United Kingdom Genre – Art/psych rockers tinged with folk,tribal,goth,jazz to make a challenging brew of musical/theatrical/mime/visual madness that allows for absurd social comment and hellish edgy grooves 🙂
Band Members Karen Langley – Vocals Rob Williams – Guitars/Synthesis/Ebow Jon Sharp – Drums
Guest Musicians Paul Smith – Double Bass – (Stolen Breath,He’s Got The Bends) Zoie Green – Keyboards – (He’s Got The Bends, The Great Overwhelm) Craig High – Clavino – (He’s Got The Bends) Ben Baisom – Bass – (The Great Overwhelm, Amanda, Monkey On My Banck,Partakers)
Track Listing Teeth Of The Universe Amanda He’s Got The Bends The Crooked Path Stolen Breath Monkey On My Back The Foot High Guy Partakers Volunteers The Great Overwhelm Skating On The Pond Blockpave Me Over
“This highway leads to the shadowy tip of reality: you’re on a through route to the land of the different, the bizarre, the unexplainable…Go as far as you like on this road. Its limits are only those of mind itself. Ladies and Gentlemen, you’re entering the wondrous dimension of imagination. . . Next stop The Twilight Zone.” ― Rod Serling
Throughout my various journey’s and pilgrimages into the world of progressive rock I have ran into many characters. Some characters have been very uplifting and positive with both music and lyrical material. Other characters have taken me into some very intelligent and thought provoking areas of the mind. Meanwhile other characters have taken me into areas where I had to stop and ask, “WTF, did I just experinece?” This is as if I had found the Twilight Zone of Progressive Rock.
This is the case with Melodic Revolution Records latest sign Babal. You are truly introduced to some very mind altering characters on their recent effort The Circle Of Confusion Of Tongues. Babal are a heavy progressive rock version of bands such as Siouxsie And The Banshees, meets The Cure, The Church with a twist of Concrete Blonde on the Gothic end of their vast spectrum. On the psychedelic end of the spectrum it is more what would of been found on the corners of Haight and Ashbury in middle to late 1960’s San Francisco with bands like Jefferson Airplane, Janis Joplin & Big Brother And The Holding Company, The Byrds, Fever Tree, Mama’s and The Papa’s, etc … On the progressive rock end bands that come to mind are Yes, King Crimson, The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown, even the more eclectic appearance and sounds of early Peter Gabriel era Genesis. A full cacophony and cornucopia of various sounds that Babal have fashioned into their own unique world of eclectic psychedelic progressive rock.
The band themselves went very under the radar to me until I was able to obtain a copy of The Circle Of Confusion Of Tongues. The album is made up of 12 songs. Each song carries a different side to the personality of the band. It may require a few spins however, if the listener remains objective and open minded they will start to pick up on the many personalities that make up the character of the band as a collective. Let’s explore the 12 various and melodious personalities that make up the very character of Babal’s The Circle Of Confusion Of Tongues.
Teeth Of The Universe opens up with a heavy progressive funk element which is somewhat reminiscent of George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic with a little Gothic sprinkle of Concrete Blonde’s Bloodletting album.There is a huge big top heavy drum layer that sets up the rhythm section to come with ease. There is a equal balance between the funk elements and the progressive rock rhythm sections. The rhythm sections are more rooted within more chord progressions found in psychedelic rock. Rob Williams certainly has a atmospheric approach with the lead guitars. Soon the dark, deep and sensual Gothic voice comes in who is owned by the ever talented Karen Langley. This is a sure fire roller coaster of various psychedelic chord progressions married to traditional progressive time signatures. There is also some great soulful backing vocals that add a accented flavour to the lead vocals.
Amanda opens up with a perfect union of bass guitar and synth’s. The open has a EDM vibe that is transcribed to a more progressive/psychedelic rock pallet. This has a very groove laden rhythm section. The vocals are semi spoken word, semi melodic as Karen Langley gives the listener the illusion of two separate and distinct characters in between her lead and backing vocals. The lyrical content is very thought provoking.
He’s Got The Bends starts out with a heavy psychedelic chord progression that is running in harmony with a more Indian Classical Music/ Oriental music passage. The beautiful vocals and articulate yet bizarre storytelling certainly add to the album. The listener starts to see a very unpredictable yet highly interesting pattern the band continually presents in the album. The Double Bass and the Clavino certainly add a whole otherworldly dimension to the bands sound and presentation. Babal are certainly not shy with experimentation whatsoever.
The Crooked Path begins with a psychedelic and unorthodox chant from Karen Langley. You start to see the true depth of both her talent and her uncanny ability to experiment with the music of Babal. Rob Williams – Guitars/Synth’s and Jon Sharp – Drums certainly allow the music space to breathe to open up such experimentation. This track is the perfect example to that. The band are as articulate in the instrumental side of the melody as Karen is with her lyrics and storytelling. The track takes a more fuzzy stoner distorted fade out effect towards its conclusion.
Stolen Breath starts out like it has some very early pre-alternative vibe that came out of the sound of late 1970’s CBGB’s in New York. Rob Williams has a very serious depth with his synth orchestrations. Stolen Breath really opens the listener to this very fact. The vocal harmonies between the lead and backing vocals are tracked very well that it sounds like Karen has a mini choir following her in harmony to her lead vocal. Jon Sharp has a uncanny ability to use the cymbals to create atmospheres in the backdrop on the song and making those atmospheres more melodic at times rather that a rhythmic section sound.
Monkey On My Back opens up with a very heavy and traditional progressive rock chord progression passage. The brilliant brainstorms this band has allow for another beautiful articulate spoken word section in the lead vocals meanwhile playing in perfect harmony to the melodic backing vocals. This track is a straight away jam band style track. It has straight away drum textures along with a sick guitar rhythm section along with a nice thunderous bass line. Rob Williams executes some serious guitar solos towards the end.
The Foot High Guy starts out almost like a soundtrack to a television show of suspense or horror depending how you hear it. It is a very dark and brooding chord progression that is soon met with some seriously dark lyrical content in perfect harmony to the instrumental portion. There is a lot of consistency here allowing the listener to become enveloped in both the dark instrumental and the dark lyrical content. The lead vocals remain very soulful as well.
Partakers starts out much like a cosmic space rock style chord progression. The beginning comes much in the tradition of bands like Oresund Space Collectivemeets Buckethead. The bass/rhythm section certainly anchors this track and allows the guitars and vocals to open the listener up to yet another perspective of the bands very eclectic sound. The lyrical content remains absolute Genius in this song. The synth’s are very wonderfully orchestrated much like a horned section in this one as well.
Volunteers opens up with a very deep bass synth backed atmosphere. Soon the guitar and drums lend to the very eclectic rhythm section. The band seem to have a very great talent to make a song sound very different from the other songs as to not have the entire album sound like the same thing all the way through it. The lyrical content continues its articulate consistency on this track as well. In a way this track reminds me very much of Concrete Blonde’s Ghost Of A Texas Ladies Man.
The Great Overwhelm opens up with screeching high end lead guitars that are anchored by a very straight up bass/drum rhythm section. The very amount of rhythm on this going forward is insane. The synth’s are once again both use as a horned section and a sound effect section. Despite its title The Great Overwhelm allows a lot of space for the listener to digest what they are hearing at that moment. The heavy Gothic influence remains this deep into the album as well.
Skating On The Pond opens up as a very somber synth driven track. The synth takes on the very character of a traditional Hammond Organ that has been well associated with progressive rock since its inception. The beautiful vocal layers and harmony totally take the track to levels that are very Avant Garde meets Psychedelic. The lyrical content continues to be very heavily thought provoking.
Blockpave Me Over opens up with a strange yet interesting spoken word section. Soon the track takes on the very character of a deep bass/drum driven rhythm section. The synth’s come in to create layers upon layers of atmospheres. Those atmospheres are perfectly complimented by equally interesting guitar solos.
This album was certainly a treat to the ears. The way every track has its own character and basically forces the listener to take notice of every nuance about it is short of stunning. Where some albums start to lose the listener half way through them, Babal’s The Circle Of Confusion Of Tongues hooks you and never let’s the listeners attention go. I especially like a band that refuses to be pigeonholed into one sound as well. Babal take many elements out of many genres to make their own distinctive sound that is only Babal. This is certainly a discovery I have been waiting to see on the Melodic Revolution Records label. I give Babal’s The Circle Of Confusion Of Tongues a 5/5for sheer experimental brilliance.
Darrel Treece Birch is on a red hot roll as far as music is concerned. Last year we presented two reviews to you that this keyboard virtuoso, one was his solo album No More Timeand the one he did as a member of Nth Ascension with In Fine Initium. In 2017 we see Darrel Treece Birch return with his other band Ten with Gothicaand now his new solo album Healing Touch. Darrel Treece Birch has absolutely no lack of substance when it comes to creative license is concerned and it is demonstrated by the quick turn around between releases. Darrel Treece Birch is a flowing fountain and well spring of melodious bliss.
Unlike 2016’s offering No More Time, Darrel Treece Birch decided not to have multiple guest musicians and go it all alone. Another difference with Healing Touch is it is not the conceptual piece that No More Time was. Do not be fooled however, Healing Touchis one serious exotic and melodic safari through the soul of one Darrel Treece Birch. There are 10 new songs that are all instrumentals yet they each have their own individual identity while remaining on point to the main spiritual objective that becomes the common theme throughout Healing Touch. Without any lyrics, Darrel Treece Birch manages to convey subjects of life and faith quite eloquently with just instrumentals. To date Healing Touch is perhaps Darrel Treece Birch’s most diverse album.
God’s Prescription immediately sets a cool smooth mood for the listener of the album. It sets a mood like one is transported into a futuristic world of electronic jazz fusion. This sounds like it may in fact be 25 years ahead of its time. It is certainly a soothing track in that Darrel uses more atmospheric theory to transport the listener into the world he intended them to be. Some of the electronica atmospheres subside to a more traditional jazz fusion rhythm section and soon both of the sum of the parts gel into a perfectly balanced melody. The track even provokes visions of the future which is a testament to Darrel Treece Birch’s forward thinking and sometimes groundbreaking work. There are many elements to this track that also remind me of Kraftwerk meets Alan Parson’s Band. Even more so this track represents a celestial element as well.
From The Mouth in many ways keeps with the subject of faith, hope , healing and love. It opens up with some seriously heavy synth work along with a beautifully deep bass and drum rhythm section that is not always synth manufactured. It gives the most seasoned listener the truth appearance that every instrument was recorded prior the synths and keyboards. Although the futuristic mood is still there, this track takes upon itself some very heavy elements of jazz fusion, especially in the context of the rhythm section. The rhythm section takes on a very 1970’s mood with fuzzy elements serving as a main feature. This lending a heavy Pink Floyd influence about it.
Cast It Out starts out with a wall of synths that hearkens back to the later 1970’s Kraftwerk style meets the earlier 1980’s Buggles. Darrel Treece Birch certainly puts on the first of a few keyboardist music and theory clinics with this one. He is always venturing out into territory that easily keeps him from being pigeonholed into one style and Cast It Out is a perfect example to this. Cast It Out is also a serious departure from what we have been use to hearing in Nth Ascension and Ten, Darrel’s other musical outlets. The track eventually levels out to a more conventional progressive hard rock song that eventually ends with some very beautiful progressive rock atmospheres.
Re-Boot sees Darrel Treece Birch channel heavy elements to the late great Keith Emerson with the production mind of a Alan Parsons. It also leaves a very heavily ELP influence as far as atmospheric soundscape structures. The guitar work is very ‘Floydian’ in nature leaving void or filler for the sake of having a complete song. The rhythm section is very well balanced and subtle leaving the guitar and keyboard stringed section much room to breathe and thrive within the songs own identity and purpose.
The Fruits Of The Spirit opens up with beautifully orchestrated sounds of nature in harmony with radiant wind chimes. This track from the first note already transport the listener in a state of tranquility and peace. This is also a very intricate track where it appears that the keyboard is distributing various chord progressions of the other instrumental interests throughout the duration of the track. This track is a soothing balm perfectly arranged to keep the listeners attention in the album.
The Stand opens up like a whirlwind with a very windy atmospheric effect generated by the synth’s. It is soon followed up by a beautiful rhythm section with some more ‘Floydian’ guitar soundscapes. The pure fusion approach to this track is yet another departure from some of the normal work we are used to hearing from Darrel. His experimental side truly knows no boundaries. This track in particular explores a more avant – garde side to Darrel Treece Birch that I honestly never knew was there.
The Release reminds me a lot of Arjen Luccasen’s Ayreon work , specifically the Actual Fantasy album. This is very heavily rooted in the electronic orchestral chord progression. When the other instruments such as the lead guitar and drums come in they are immediately highlighted and allowed to breathe throughout the composition. It is almost a melodic play on words in that there is a play on various chord progressions and deeply instrumental rhythm sections that would make Tangerine Dream and Kraftwerk blush. This track truly lives up to its namesake in that Darrel Treece Birch appears to open up yet another level of musicianship.
The Expanse starts off with the illusion of a music box playing tender little wind chimed melodies. This transports the listener into a melodic fantasy realm. The rhythm section shines through deeply. Both the stringed sections and rhythm sections are in a perfect harmonious persuasion. The track builds layer upon layers as it maintains its uplifting objective. This track has a heavy science fiction aesthetic working through is various passages and intricate chord progressions.
No Fear Here basically continues in the tradition of The Expanse and The Release. It is both heavy on the keyboard atmospheres and the unorthodox rhythm sections tat keep hooking the listener. There are some elements of classic rock keyboards much like Keith Emerson meets Rick Wakeman at the crossroads of modern fusion.
God’s Medicine opens up with a immediate guitar solo. This is yet another unconventional and surprising element of Darrel Treece Birch’s approach on this album. This is also some very beautiful classically rooted atmospheric fusion. In its isolation it brings absolution and proper closure to Healing Touch.
Although this one took me a little longer than expected it was well worth the time invested in it. This is well worth the investment to any progressive rock or instrumentalist fans collection. Healing Touch has many personalities and dimensions to it. Darrel Treece Birch really took many risks and chances with this one. Darrel Treece Birch’s Healing Touch gets 5/5.
Haken Release New Video ‘Lapse’ In Advance Of North American Tour
Haken are set to hit the road in North America later this month for their Haken 10th Anniversary Tour. In advance of that, the band have released a brand new animated video for the track ‘Lapse’, taken from last year’s critically acclaimed album ‘Affinity’ and created by Miles Skarin at Crystal Spotlight.
Continued Below Video
The band comments:
“Lapse was one of the first tracks we wrote for Affinity. Now more than a year since the album’s release, it’s great to finally give this song a chance to stand out on its own, as it’s one of our favorites!”
The band continues
“Visually, we wanted to maintain a consistency with our videos for ‘Initiate’, ‘Earthrise’ and ‘The Endless Knot’, so we returned to Miles Skarin at Crystal Spotlight to complete the series. The video incorporates a 3D motion capture technique (previously used on Frost*’s ‘Numbers’ video) to tie in with Affinity’s themes of artificial intelligence/consciousness.”
‘Haken X’ Tour North American dates
with special guests Sithu Aye (except Atlanta and Mexico)
AUG 23- DETROIT, MI @ THE SHELTER AUG 24- TORONTO, ON @ LEE’S PALACE AUG 25- MONTREAL, QC @ CLUB SODA AUG 26- QUEBEC CITY, QC @ SALLE MULTI AUG 27- BOSTON, MA @ BRIGHTON MUSIC HALL AUG 29- COLUMBUS, OH @ SKULLY’S MUSIC DINER AUG 30- CLEVELAND HEIGHTS, OH @ THE GROG SHOP AUG 31- PITTSBURGH, PA @ REX THEATER SEP 01- PHILADELPHIA, PA @ FOUNDRY @ THE FILLMORE SEP 02- NEW YORK, NY @ HIGHLINE BALLROOM SEP 03- WASHINGTON, DC @ ROCK & ROLL HOTEL SEP 05- DURHAM, NC @ MOTORCO MUSIC HALL SEP 06- ATLANTA, GA @ PROGPOWER USA XVIII SEP 10- MEXCO CITY, MX @ EL PLAZA CONDESA SEP 12- ANAHEIM, CA @ THE HOUSE OF BLUES SEP 13- SAN FRANCISCO, CA @ SLIM’S SEP 14- W.HOLLYWOOD, CA @ THE ROXY THEATRE SEP 15- LAS VEGAS, NV @ BACKSTAGE BAR & BILLIARDS SEP 16- SALT LAKE CITY, UT @ URBAN LOUNGE SEP 17- DENVER, CO @ MARQUIS THEATER SEP 19- ST.PAUL, MN @ AMSTERDAM BAR & HALL SEP 20- MILWAUKEE, WI @ SHANK HALL SEP 21- INDIANAPOLIS, IN @ THE EMERSON THEATER SEP 22- ST.LOUIS, MO @ DELMAR HALL SEP 23- CHICAGO, IL @ BOTTOM LOUNGE
Gregory Stuart ‘Greg’ Lake – (November, 10th, 1947 – December , 7th, 2016)
Label: Island Records Release Year: 1972 Country: United Kingdom Genre: Progressive Rock
Keith Emerson – Hammond organ C3/Steinway Piano/Moog Synthesiser III-C/Mini-Moog Model D/Zurna (listed as a “Zoukra”) Greg Lake – Vocals/Bass/Electric and Acoustic Guitars Carl Palmer – Drums/Percussion
The Endless Enigma (Part One) – Keith Emerson, Greg Lake 6:41 Fugue -Keith Emerson 1:56 The Endless Enigma (Part Two) – Keith Emerson,Greg Lake 2:03 From the Beginning – Greg Lake 4:16 The Sheriff -Keith Emerson,Greg Lake 3:22 Hoedown – Aaron Copland (Arrangement). Keith Emerson, Greg Lake, Carl Palmer 3:47
Trilogy – Keith Emerson, Greg Lake 8:54 Living Sin -Keith Emerson,Greg Lake, Carl Palmer 3:13 Abaddon’s Bolero – Keith Emerson 8:08
Keith Emerson, Greg Lake, Carl Palmer were all well known musicians in their own right long before they created what would be progressive rock’s first ‘Supergroup’ ELP or Emerson Lake and Palmer. ELP or Emerson Lake & Palmer would also become one of progressive rock’s Big 5 joining the ranks of Yes, Genesis, King Crimson and Jethro Tull.Keith Emerson would come to the band from The Nice,Greg Lake from King Crimson and Carl Palmer from Atomic Rooster by way of The Crazy World of Arthur Brown. Emerson Lake & Palmer would form in London, UK in 1970. Emerson Lake & Palmer would go on to become RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) with nearly 48 million + albums sold. After forming in early 1970, the band came to prominence following their performance at the Isle of Wight Festival in August 1970. In their first year, the group signed with Atlantic Records and released Emerson, Lake & Palmer – 1970 and Tarkus -1971, both of which reached the United Kingdom top five. The band’s success continued with Pictures at an Exhibition – 1971. However it was the bands third studio release and fourth album overall Trilogy – 1972 that many believe the band really came into their own as a powerhouse in progressive rock and rock in general. Where most of their contemporaries were totally leveled with the strictest of scrutiny by the progressive rock purists elitist notions, Emerson, Lake & Palmer managed to avoid anything super critical.
Emerson Lake and Palmer’s Trilogy was the band’s fourth album. More surprising it was the third album in 18 months at the time of its release. Trilogy would definitely secure the band on the mountain top of progressive rock and rock in general. Some believe without Trilogy placing the band on the mountain top, that the monumental monterous success of Brain Salad Surgery – 1973 would of not been possible. The Trilogy album and later Brain Salad Surgery would fit the band so firmly on the apex of the mountain where the band were able to place a flag for themselves on the mountain top. So what was it that about Trilogy that allowed the band to be such standard bearer’s within the progressive rock genre? Over the course of this retrospective we will attempt to bring light to this subject.
The musical landscape in progressive rock in 1972 was totally loaded with talent coming out of the United Kingdom. Some even believe 1972 was a ‘Ground Zero Year’ for progressive rock. Among the milestone albums that came out of 1972 from the United Kingdom and elsewhere in Europe were Yes – Close To The Edge, Jethro Tull – Thick As A Brick, Genesis – Foxtrot, Caravan- Waterloo Lily, Gentle Giant – Octopus, Pink Floyd – Obscured by Clouds, Uriah Heep – Demons And Wizards and Emerson, Lake & Palmer – Trilogy. While Brain Salad Surgery – 1973 was their best selling album and saw the band at its peak zenith, it was Trilogy – 1972 that boosted the band to the initial summit where they went from just a ‘Progressive Supergroup’ to a band that transcended the typically cliched ‘Progressive Rock’ banner.
Trilogy is the third studio album by the English progressive rock band Emerson, Lake & Palmer, released in July 1972 on Island Records. The cover, designed by Hipgnosis, depicts the band attached at the shoulders, while the interior of the original gate-fold sleeve features a photo montage of the three in Epping Forest. Trilogy increased ELP’s worldwide popularity, and included “Hoedown”, an arrangement of the Aaron Copland composition, which was one of their most popular songs when performing live. We are about to revisit Trilogy on a song by song basis. Without over analyzing the album too much or beating the horse to death we will explore how every composition and song made Trilogy the masterpiece it is.
The Endless Enigma (Part’s I & 2)
A two-part showcase for the com positional and improvisational abilities of Emerson Lake and Palmer, “Endless Enigma” holds so many musical wonders that it’s easy to become consumed with the work of Keith Emerson and Greg Lake. Keith Emerson, after all, starts out spooky and dark, then rushes forward into a thunderous outburst while Greg Lake — his vocal instrument at the peak of its powers — moves from sweet reverie to foundation-shaking retorts. And that’s just their co-written Part 1. Keith Emerson then contributes a roughly two-minute fugue that joins the two segments, as “Endless Enigma” comes crashing to a resounding conclusion.
Go back, though, and pay closer attention to Carl Palmer. He’s just as adept at the stick-splintering crashes needed to propel the song to that big finish as he is the song’s angular jazz segments as he is the bass-drum heartbeat that opens “Endless Enigma” — years before the effect became central to albums like Dark Side of the Moon from Pink Floyd and A Passion Play by Jethro Tull. 2112 & Moving Pictures by Rush and areas of both Images & Words and Awake by Dream Theater.
This one is a Classical Music Tour De Force. This comes on beautifully and seamlessly from The Endless Enigma Part 1 and serves as a beautiful classical composition to bridge into The Endless Enigma Part 2. While some people will see this as a filler on the album, some will not. There is a very intended purpose for The Fuge. Keith Emerson does a great job on piano to set The Fuge up to smoothly and seamlessly transition into The Endless Enigma Part 2. You can hear some of The Fuge’s last legacy in Dream Theater’sJordan Rudess, especially on the Dream Theater side project Liquid Tension Experiment 1 & 2 and Feeding The Wheel and The Road Home.
The Endless Enigma Part 2
The band brilliantly composed this in such a way where it was both a continuation form The Endless Enigma Part 1 and seamlessly transitioned off The Fuge. This was handled by Keith Emerson tapping more into the bass chord progressions on keyboards. Then Greg Lake came on board with the bass guitar and Carl Palmer with his multi-dimensional approach to the drums met both Keith Emerson and Greg Lake in a more harmonious balance.
From The Beginning
ELP’s formula for successful albums seemed to be a concept covering several songs – a beautiful acoustic number by Greg Lake, and one comedy song per album. For Trilogy,“From the Beginning” was Greg Lake’s beautiful acoustic number that showed his acoustic guitar skills were right up there with his bass talents.
A heartfelt song of devotion, Lake claims that the inspiration for the song has left his memory.
Says Greg Lake:
“Very often lyrics simply come about simply because of the way one feels at a moment in time. There is no earth moving moment of divine inspiration or grand plan and I’m sure that was the case with this song. Although very young at the time I sometimes had moments of reflection and maybe also perhaps a feeling that I could be a better person, I think this was just one of those.”
From The Beginning continues to be a fixture on ‘Classic Rock’ radio to this day. What Lucky Man off the ELP debut in 1970 by putting the band on radio, From The Beginning off Trilogy kept the band in great standing on radio.
In the opening drum solo on the track “The Sheriff”,Carl Palmer accidentally hit the rim of his tom-tom with a drumstick. He responded with the word “shit” which can be heard when listening carefully. “The Sheriff” ends with a honky tonk-type piano solo with Carl Palmer playing woodblocks. Lyrically this was a tribute to the American Old West. The track opens up as if a Mob were after a character. The drums of Carl Palmer simulate the knock of a door very eloquently. Keith Emerson remains very heavy on the Hammond Organ here.
“Hoedown” is a cover of “Hoe-Down” from the Rodeo ballet by Aaron Copland (1942). It became the opening song for both the Trilogy and Brain Salad Surgery tours. “Hoedown” is big, brash and showoffy — perfect for Emerson, Lake & Palmer, who adapted the piece for their 1972 album Trilogy. It’s the only song on the group’s third album not written by a member of the trio, but they have such fun with it (especially in concert) that it sounds like a natural fit on the LP. In a March, 11th, 2016 article Rolling Stone had this to say about ‘Hoedown’.
March/11/2016 Rolling Stone:
A showstopper that was actually a show starter for two tours, “Hoedown” was the first ELP adaptation of composer Aaron Copland, as brassy a show-off (in his way) as the trio itself. Keith Emerson began work on the piece after returning from a classical festival in Romania, so East European elements find their way into his rollicking organ and Moog arrangement alongside American folk tunes like “Shortnin’ Bread” and “Turkey in the Straw.” Emerson stumbled onto the track’s signature synth sound by chance: “We’d started working on that arrangement and then I hit, I don’t know what, I switched a blue button and I put a patch cord in there, but anyway, ‘whoooeee.'”
In a March, 11th, 2016 article on Ultimate Classic Rock, this is what they had to say –
The nine-minute centerpiece, and title track, to the trio’s highest-charting studio album takes almost three minutes to kick in. The lengthy intro features guitarist / singer Greg Lake getting his classical-music voice on while Emerson pounds away on piano keys. But then a swarm of synths ushers in a typically complicated time signature that eventually gives way to a percussion tour de force by drummer Carl Palmer.
Living Sin is the second song on Trilogy that was written by all three members of the band. Living Sin had a unusual avant garde vibe about it. This track definitely tapped into Greg Lake’s former band and sound in King Crimson, especially with the song 21st Century Schizoid Man. It had a very early proto thrash sensibility about it. Unlike most of the songs on Trilogy that started out and had a steady climatic build in them, Living Sin was a rare song that was to the point make their statement and move forward.
This is a instrumental ‘Tour De Force’.“Abaddon’s Bolero” sounds like a bolero turned into a march (in 4/4 rhythm rather than the usual 3/4). The song was originally titled Bellona’s Bolero after the goddess of war. A single melody containing multiple modulations within itself is repeated over and over in ever more thickly layered arrangements, starting from a quiet Hammond organ making a flute-like sound over a snare drum, and building up to a wall of sound – Maurice Ravel’s famous Boléro uses a similar effect. “Abaddon’s Bolero” is replete with overdubs. Almost every time an instrument comes in, another overdub follows.”. The over abundance of overdubs made the song very hard to perform live and the band only attempted it a few times. Despite the challenges due to multiple overdubs, the instrumental still served a purpose on Trilogy. This was like a soundtrack that would be played at the end of a movie when they roll the credits. This is the more appropriately arranged track to end Trilogy.
I would like to thank Ultimate Classic Rock and Rolling Stone for some of the information used in this article.
Not too many bands can say they got it right with one album let alone two albums. Trilogy and Brain Salad Surgery certainly reinforced the notion among fans and critics that Emerson, Lake & Palmer got it right on consecutive releases in the 1970’s. In 2018 I will be back here with a entire 45th Anniversary Retrospective of Brain Salad Surgery. Sadly as the date I prepare this, we have lost two thirds of Emerson, Lake and Palmer. Their legacy does live on through Carl Palmer. He has started Carl Palmer’s ELP Legacy. I am sure at some level we will be talking about Trilogy going forward 45 years from now and its pivotal influence and place in Rock History.
For the last 20+ years TEN have been one of the most ‘criminally under rated’ sometimes brutally overlooked bands within progressive melodic metal communities and even the AOR community. This band first entered my radar with 2000’sSpellbound and 2001’s Far Beyond The World. All I could fixate my interest on was the beautifully eloquent yet very versatile lead vocals of Gary Hughes. Both Spellbound & Far Beyond The World made me a instant fan of any work related to Gary Hughes. A little later on I would come across a very well written and produced Rock/Metal Opera created by Gary Hughes titled One And Future King Parts 1 & 2.From that point on I was totally sold as a fan of Gary Hughes.
It seems TEN has been a very white hot band within the last five years. First they would release both the critical and fan approved Albion in 2014, Isla De Muerta 2015 and The Dragon And St. George EP in 2015. Now in 2017 the band makes yet another triumphant return with their heaviest and darkest album since The Twilight Chronicles and The Robe that album being Gothica. This also marks TEN’s triumphant return to Frontiers Records srl.
In TEN Gary Hughes has managed to successfully surround himself with a lot of the top melodic metal/rock, AOR talent in the world. Joining Gary Hughes is Dann Rosingana – Lead Guitars , Steve Grocott – Lead Guitars , John Halliwell – Rhythm Guitars , Darrel Treece-Birch – Keyboards , Steve McKenna – Bass , Max Yates – Drums. This lineup here manages to keep TEN well balanced between its main elements of progressive metal, melodic metal, hard rock, AOR. These lineup also has been proven one of the most consistent lineups serving the needs of the band while satisfying a global fan base that seems to grow more and more with every album and tour.
TEN’s Gothica is a darker more seductive album lyrically. This is matched in harmony to many of the darker heavier instrumental portions that accompany the lyrical content from track to track. TEN also put the ‘Adult’ inside of AOR or Adult Oriented Rockwith their lyrical content that is so racy and laden with sensual innuendo’s. I am shocked they have not had a Parental Advisory label placed on the front of their albums. TEN also have had the uncanny ability to match their album cover art with the melodic content that lies within each album. Now I am will point out some highlights from every track.
The Grail starts out with the lead vocal serving in the capacity of a chant. Soon the twin lead guitar riffs along with the keyboards open the track up with a wonderful wall of sound. The guitars take this track in many different chord progressions and time signatures. The riffs carry the track with the big bass/drum rhythm section. Gary Hughes gives the listener the appearance he is singing with a isolated vocal in harmony with the instrumental portion of the track. One of the unsung heroes to this particular track is Steve McKenna – Bass & Max Yates – Drums giving the track a lot of teeth and bite where the rhythm guitar and the twin lead guitar’s can take root on this melodious canvas. About the 4:40 mark the drums really anchor another isolated lead vocal section to allow the lyrical content of the story to come through smoothly. Their is a spiritual element in the lyrical content. Darrel Teece Birch – Keyboards actually incorporates a beautiful grand piano sound to the track. The Grail is the epic of the album clocking in at 8:03
Jekyll And Hyde is obviously a story of two personalities within one person. This starts out with the sound of someone walking the brick streets before being engulfed in a strong unified rhythm section between all instruments involved. The lead guitar bleeds through from time to time to add accent to the heavily induced rhythm section. The lyrical content is seriously dark much like the title of track itself. The lead vocals are more soulful on the track. The piano adds a classical element in certain places on the song. The rest of the song is a straight away hard rock song.
Travelers starts out with a sound effect of a clock tower both ringing and tick toking giving the track a subtle sense of urgency with the listener. The lyrical content talks about time and how humans have used it in both our lives and our travels. About the 1:05 mark the track explodes into a heavy wall of sound with a big guitar and bass/drum section. The lead vocals keep getting stronger with every song and Travelers serves as a great example of them. Much in the tradition of hard rock there are towering guitar solo’s serving as transitions within the song.
Man For All Seasons begins in a very traditional folky renaissance chord progression much like what would of been heard in the 16th century Europe. It gives the appearance that a king has returned home to his castle and kingdom. This track takes away a lot from Gary Hughes early work with 2003’s Once And Future King Parts 1&2. The folky passage in soon joined by a straight away hard rock chord progression passage. The lyrical content even speaks of a a era ruled by King Henry. The twin lead guitar and the stringed section gives the song some extra fire. The track maintains a very steady and progressive melodic metal chord progression. This track builds layer upon layers subtlety and gradually. Both twin lead guitar’s very fluently back off one another in their solo’s as if they are communicating back and forth.
In My Dreams starts out with a thunderous rhythm section that meets the senses of the listener immediately. There is also a noticeable method to the madness with the open intro. This track has a lot of the AOR elements you would find in a film to a 1980’s soundtrack. Lyrically it is a risque style love story perhaps by a adolescent with a hard crush on a girl or full grown adult woman for that matter. The twin lead guitar solo’s really play off one another giving the stringed portion of the track a deeper level of fullness.
The Wild King Of Winter opens up very atmospheric with steady keyboards and lush guitars to form a semi electric/semi acoustic landscape allowing for the listener to be enveloped within the song. It soon takes off with a blistering straight ahead dark heavy guitar. This is one of those tracks that make Gothica darker than the last few previous TEN albums. The heavy instrumental portion gives the listener the appearance that there is this great conflict about to happen or is in progress. The riffs are also straight away galloping riffs that remind much of early NWOBHM sound. The thunderous rhythm section remains pretty consistent throughout the song providing both heaviness and depth.
Paragon lyrically talks about virtue or the lack thereof. This track is another one of those with lyrical content that put ‘Adult’ into Adult Oriented Rock or AOR. The opening starts with a beautiful piano in harmony with a isolated vocal that opens the story up for the listener. This song can be looked upon as a power ballad with some heavy elements within the guitars and full rhythm section, all that can be heard very well. With all the erotica and love elements there is still a darker under layer in the song.
Welcome To The Freakshow starts out like you might expect it, a total circus. The opening is as if the listener becomes a audience member in the town circus. This would be a adult circus. Once again there are some heavy erotica elements. This track here is also a great testament of how Gary Hughes & TEN can tell several stories within the album construct. Although there may be a common theme present every song has its own uniquely written, recorded and melodiously articulated story. Welcome To The Freakshow is a perfect example to this. The song even gets a little bluesy and gritty the further along it goes.
La – Luna Dra -cu – la opens up with a heavy chord progressive passage with big rhythm guitars in harmony with the bass/drum rhythm section. The twin lead guitars continue to add depths and layers. It also opens with very dark elements which are appropriate due to the very nature of the title. Some of the lyrical content is reminiscent of a Bram Stoker novel meets a Boris Karloff film. The guitar solo’s are a bit nasty yet groove laden. This track is also more into the melodic heavy metal genre. The band pulls no punches and spares no expense being intentionally heavy on this one. There is still a erotic tone through the song as well.
Into Darkness opens up with a sound effect much like a film projector inside a cinema. The track opens up musically with a beautiful piano of Darrel Treece Birch. This song is a all out heavy power rock ballad. It soon picks up and takes various twists and turns into heavier dimensions and breaks and comes back to the power ballad element. The vocals are isolated perfectly as to allow the story to harmoniously be articulated towards its target audience. The beautiful twin lead guitar solo’s really stand out in the production as well.
Paragon (Bonus Mix) – Japanese Version Only this track is a more user audience friendly version that is only on the Japanese version. It is also edited down considerably from the album version to be radio friendly also. There is more heavy keyboard atmospheres present here as well.
TEN’s Gothica is the perfect album for their return to Frontiers Records srl. There is a little bit of every element the band has utilized over its 20+ years in the business. Once again Gary Hughes surrounds himself with some of the top musicians in the world to carry out such fantastic vision. Gothica also proves that melodic heavy metal and AOR can also have a darker heavier appeal to attract a much larger audience. TEN’s Gothica gets a 5/5for staying true to their vision and values their fans and audience members have come to expect.
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