Releases | March 30, 2017

Dark Matter: Wood Lane

Wood LaneA quick (belated) post to say that Dark Matter, a duo comprised of Gandalf’s Fist drummer Stefan Hepe and Dave Gilbert (guitars, bass, vocals) have released their second album, Wood Lane.

Dark Matter’s sound is reminscent of early Sabbath in their more laid-back guise, but still featuring some crunchy riffing and Stefan’s muscular drumming.

And as it happens, I snuck in a piano line on the moody, atmospheric title track.

Ramblings | January 2, 2017

2016 In Retrospect

Watching Press GangWith 2017 just out of the starting blocks, it seems a good time to round up some recent news and reflect on 2016.

One of the biggest ongoing stories of 2016 was the deaths of many iconic musicians, starting with Bowie in January, but the more positive side to it was the amount of good new music coming out in the prog world. It really feels like the scene is thriving creatively (if not necessarily financially just yet). Of course we also lost Prog magazine, which went into administration with the rest of TeamRock. Anecdotally it does seem as though there was enough of a market for Prog to find a way to make it profitable and that it was caught in the fall-out from the failure of the larger Team Rock business. Another pointer, perhaps, that trying to treat a scene like prog as an interchangeable part of a wider commodity portfolio is a mistake, but these are topics for another post.

Apparently, one of the best releases in 2016, according to both ProgRadar and Progzilla’s broadcaster The Ancient One, was Patchwork Cacophony’s Five Of Cups! Well needless to say I’m honoured. The reviews the album’s been getting have been really positive though, as always, I’m finding it very hard to get coverage. Fireworks Magazine, ProgRadar and ProgArchives have all carried some good reviews and I believe there are more in the offing. At one point it sounded like I was going to get reviewed in Prog magazine which would have really capped my year, but of course  Team Rock’s demise will mean that doesn’t now happen. Being listed in some “Best of 2016″ lists was an unexpected bonus though and I’m thrilled to be included, not least of all given some of the stellar company that puts me in there.

Talking of stellar company, another piece of news from 2016 was that I’ve been invited to join Gandalf’s Fist‘s live line-up on keys in preparation for their gig at the HRH Prog Festival in March. We’re playing a 90 minute set and there’s a lot of material for me to learn, and all of it bar the last week will be learned in isolation, culminating in us all turning up to a rehearsal studio for a week in March to shake hands, introduce ourselves, and stick all the parts together.

It would have marked the first time I’d been on stage since Fusion Orchestra 2’s last gig in 2015, but for a last minute invitation to guest on keyboards at Dave Press’s Press Gang gig just before Christmas. Despite being mainly (figuratively and literally) in the background on this one, it was great fun and all being well I hope to play with them again this year.

So, gazing ahead into 2017, what’s in store? Well, the Gandalf’s Fist gig at HRH Prog Festival is clearly the most set-in-stone major event. I have a couple of collaboration recordings kicking around which need finishing off, and indeed collaborations will be a key theme for this year. So, no new Patchwork Cacophony album this year, but work is ramping up on Broken Parachute‘s second album, and so far it sounds a lot more proggy than the debut. I’ve guested (very discreetly) on a track on another album which is due to be released this year — more on that when it’s announced — and there’s a few other people I’m hoping to work with in some shape or form. Maybe this year will be marked by a scattering of single-track and EP style releases? We’ll see.

In any case, it’s looking like being a varied and exciting year musically.

News | Releases | October 23, 2016

Patchwork Cacophony: Five of Cups

Five of CupsAnd so here we finally are: Patchwork Cacophony‘s second album, Five of Cups, will be released on November 7th.

The album is recognisably related to 2014’s self-titled debut, but where as that release had pieces with noticeably different character and was clearly  divided into an instrumental and vocal half, Five of Cups has a much more consistent feel and a musical arc which spans the full length of the album.

There are eight tracks on the album with the first one, Fairytale, divided into four sub-parts. Of these tracks, three are around or above the ten minute mark and the rest come in around the longish normal song mark. Instrumentally, most of the major elements from Patchwork Cacophony make a return — Hammond Organ, piano, analogue synths, the multi-layered vocals and of course various guitars, bass, drums and percussion — but the album also features two guest guitarists. Marcus Taylor, my long-term musical collaborator from Broken Parachute amongst other things, steals the show on Maybe, and Tim Hall puts his stamp on the electric guitar parts on Brand New Day, culminating in the final solo of the album.

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News | October 17, 2016

Joining Gandalf’s Fist for HRH Prog Festival

The Clockwork FableWell this blog has been silent for quite a while, but there’s been a lot going on behind the scenes.

The first piece of news is that I will be joining the might Gandalf’s Fist for their set at the HRH Prog Festival on 19th March 2017.

Following on from their monumental release earlier this year, The Clockwork Fable, they were invited to headline the second stage on the Saturday night. They’ve asked me to help out on keyboards and seeing as I was planning to go anyway it seems like a good way to guarantee a decent view of the band. Secretly, I was also truly honoured to be asked to be part of this event.

To complete the live line-up they’ve also enlisted the help of Keri Farish to handle the female vocal parts.

 

 

Ramblings | November 24, 2015

PatCo2 update:

With Patchwork Cacophony 2 very firmly under way, I thought I’d write a short blog about where I currently am and what needs to happen before the album is finished.

As of a few months back, the track list is complete. Of course, until I actually release it it’s still notionally subject to change as things progress but I have what I believe is a strong set of tracks and I know what order they will be in. I have a couple of places where I want to  write some more lyrics or otherwise develop a section a bit more but for the most part I would say I have a pretty complete demo of the album now. What’s more, I think it’s a stronger, more consistent album than the first Patchwork Cacophony.

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Ramblings | October 29, 2015

Thoughts on Imogen Heap’s Mycelia

I’ve been hearing a lot of talk about Imogen Heap’s “Mycelia” vision. For a while, mainly due coverage which majored on the “Yay, because Bitcoin!” while being scant on technical details, I couldn’t understand how it could possibly address the problems in the digital music industry.

The penny has finally dropped though: this is not about stopping people sharing music or downloading without paying, this is about stopping the music industry itself from losing artists’ royalties in the maze of legal and accountancy hoops and jargon that make it hard if not impossible for anyone to be sure of what they’re actually owed or indeed how much revenue their music has generated. It’s about reusing the technology which makes it possible for Bitcoin to operate securely and transparently without a central authority to make music distribution operate without a central authority.

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Releases | Uncategorized | October 22, 2015

Marcus Taylor’s “Kashgar” now available

Marcus Taylor’s Kashgar album has now been released. I’ve contributed keyboard parts and was even inspired to join in on some of the konokol (Indian scat vocals).

kashgar-preview-smBorn from the restless vision of guitarist-composer Marcus Taylor, Kashgar is a unique musical statement. Eleven closely crafted tracks weave together jazz sensibilities, a classic rock edge and an exciting range of world influences to create an encompassing and innovative album. From dramatic Indian rhythmic passages that invoke the Mahavishnu Orchestra to fiery guitar-Hammond exchanges that would fit comfortably in the mainstream of progressive rock, Kashgar presents a refreshingly innovative take on the future of jazz-fusion.

The album is available digitally on iTunes, Spotify, Amazon and the usual online retailers and physical copies will soon be available from Patchwork Studios.

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Ramblings | July 19, 2015

The Legality of Ripping CDs

The High Court has overturned a change in the law which allowed listeners to make copies of music they had purchased for their own private use. The Musicians’ Union was instrumental in this judgement having argued for “fair” protection for their members.

As a consumer I feel this is far from fair, but as a musician I am absolutely livid.

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News | July 19, 2015

Marcus Taylor’s Kashgar

kashgar-preview-smThere hasn’t been much activity on this blog for a while which for the most part has been a reflection of a lack of musical activity of note in my world. However, I have been contributing some parts to Marcus Taylor’s new album, “Kashgar”.

It’s primarily an instrumental album of guitar and percussion work with strong influences from Indian and other “world” music. I’m probably not the best placed person to categorise or pigeon-hole it. All I can say is that it’s been great fun to work on and a breath of fresh air musically.

No word on the release date yet but it’s currently going through the final stages of mixing.

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Uncategorized | June 11, 2015

FO2 at the Dagenham Roundhouse Festival

img_9904Last weekend Fusion Orchestra 2 played a set at the Dagenham Roundhouse Festival. Envisaged as a celebration of the musical heritage of the old Dagenham Roundhouse, the festival played host to a set of tribute bands to various acts who had played the venue during its heyday.

Of course, Fusion Orchestra (with Colin at the helm), were one of the bands who had actually played at the Roundhouse and so the organisers were keen to have us involved.

The set was short, consisting of Sonata In Z, Secret Shadow and Skeleton In Armour, but the band went down very well and the festival was very well run and it made playing there a pleasure.