Tag Archives: progressive rock

Like THE BARDIC DEPTHS on Facebook

Dear friends, 

I get really, really tired of being asked to “like” Facebook pages. 

Being on the other end of it, though, makes me far more tolerant of such things. 

So, if you’re so inclined, please like our page “The Bardic Depths”–dedicated to our album coming out from Gravity Dream on March 20, 2020. 

Your “like” helps us know what the atmosphere in FB-land is like, and it’s also, admittedly, good for the ego! (You thought I was devoid of such base things, didn’t you!)

I’m only the lyrics guy, but I’ve had the chance to listen to the completed album (music written by a sheer genius, Dave Bandanna, with engineering and production by another genius, Robin Armstrong) three times now, and I’m rather blown away by the quality and purposefulness of the album. Dave is an extraordinary composer, and Robin, at least as I see it, is one of the two best audiophiles (the other being Rob Aubrey, with Steven Wilson being a close third) in the music business.

It’s a little weird–and also indescribably cool–to hear my words being put to music. But it’s also a dream come true. The story revolves around the friendship of J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis, and their attempt to create coherent and meaningful mythologies for the 20th century.

Additionally, Dave has attracted some of the single best musicians out there. Several of the guitar and sax solos just make me weep.

Here’s the lineup:
Kevin McCormick – Guitars
Paolo Limoli – Keyboards, Piano
Tim Gehrt – Drums
Gareth Cole – Guitars
Peter Jones – Saxophone, vocals, spoken word
John William Francis – Marimba, spoken word
Glenn Codere – Backing Vocals
Mike Warren- Cello
Dave Bandana – Vocals, Keyboards, Guitars, Bass, Flute, Harmonica,
Robin Armstrong – Keyboards, Guitars, Bass, Drum programming, backing vocals

Extremely impressive. Again, I’m just the “words” guy! But, I love it all.

One side note about the musical lineup–I met Kevin McCormick back in September and October 1986. We traveled throughout Europe (and England) together, we listened to Talk Talk’s SPIRIT OF EDEN (and were gobsmacked by it) together in the fall of 1988, and we now proudly serve as the godfather to each other’s children. We’ve been prog buddies for over three decades. Crazily, we even knocked on Sting’s door in London in the spring of 1988. Thank God no one answered! When we got back to America after that, we roomed together. Ah, college.

Anyway, if you’re so willing, please like our page. Lots and lots of us will greatly appreciate it if you do.

Yours, Brad

https://www.facebook.com/Thebardicdepths/?hc_location=ufi

Pink Floyd's endless river

While we eagerly wait for the next installment of Tad Wert’s wonderful series, Those Awkward Teenage Years, and collectively shake our heads in disgust at the events (or pseudoevents) transpiring in Washington, DC, I’ve been thinking a lot about Pink Floyd.  As most of you probably know, the band released its immense (and immensely expensive) boxset, The Later Years.  Its coming and its arrival have, for a variety of reasons, sparked my imagination and stirred my soul.  I’ve loved Pink Floyd since roughly 1979, and the band has inspired me personally in a variety of ways, most of them indescribably affecting me in ways I could never measure.  From the unrelenting anger of “Another Brick” to the genteel heights of “High Hopes,” Pink Floyd has been a constant in my life, intellectually and emotionally.

The last actual Pink Floyd album, The Endless River, came out five years ago. There were, of course, the usual complaints and criticisms.  So be it.  Whatever the complaints and criticisms, I must disagree.  The Endless River is not just a great Pink Floyd album, it’s one of the best rock albums of the last decade. In very large part, this excellence comes from intent—it is rather intentionally an homage to one of rock’s greatest and most innovative keyboardists, Rick Wright.

Musically, it is innovative, and the music breathes, lingering where it needs to linger and moving when it needs to move.  If you’ve not listened to it in a while, give it another spin.  It’s well worth many, many spins.

Believe me, it will be far healthier than dwelling on politics.  And, it will probably be more productive, too.

Another Miracle: The Flower Kings at 25

Interior art, Flower Kings, WAITING FOR MIRACLES (Sony/Inside Out, 2019).

Looking death straight in the eye

You will never feel that much alive

—Roine Stolt

For anyone in the prog world, Roine Stolt is a grand and solid name, a trusted master of the craft and a man as honest about his opinions as anyone ever has been in the rock world. From The Flower Kings to Transatlantic to Anderson-Stolt to Steve Hackett’s band, Stolt is anywhere and everywhere excellence is. 

Simply put, when I think of Stolt, I imagine that other master of amazing things, Tom Bombadil. And, yes, that means Goldberry is nearby. “He is.”

The new Flower Kings, WAITING FOR MIRACLES, is a thing of beauty, delicate yet everlasting.  Sounding a bit like FLOWER POWER and SPACE REVOLVER, the new album has everything a fan loves: mystery, lingering, soaring, contemplating, undulation.

This is glorious and mighty prog.

The album opens with the fragile and compelling “House of Cards,” moving immediately into the Tennyson-esque rage against fate, “Black Flag.” Followed by ten-minute “Miracles for America,” a plea for the future of the free world, and then another ten-minute track, “Vertigo,” disk one is nothing if not dizzying.  If there’s a rock anthem on the album, it’s track no. five, “The Bridge,” which might very well have topped the rock charts in 1983, with its reminder of the theme of the album, “waiting for miracles.” “Ascending to the Stars,” track six of disk one, gives us a mysterious and dark Flower King, an instrumental and orchestra joy somewhat reminiscent of Kansas in its heyday. Despite its name, “Wicked Old Symphony” is the poppiest of the tracks on disk one, a track that hints at the Beatles as well as early 1970’s America. “The Rebel Circus,” track eight, is another wildly wacky and infectious instrumental, followed by the intense and aptly-named, “Sleeping with the Enemy.” The final track of disk one, “The Crowning of Greed,” is a poem, at once reflective in theme, and progressive in tone.

Disk two is much shorter than disk one, and I have no idea if it’s meant to be a “bonus disk” or a continuation of the album. That track one of disk two is a reprise of track one of disk one does nothing to answer my confusion about all of this. Track two, “Spirals,” is a feast of electronica and reminds us once again of the theme of the album: “Call on miracles—For America.” “Steampunk,” the third track of disk two, seems to take us back into the world of adventures. If “Black Flag” followed the voyages of Ulysses, “Steampunk” has us follow Aeneas. The final full track of the album, “We Were Always Here,” is a rather beautiful rock song, reminding us of life and its unending beauties. “It’s so simple in its purities/All that genius—life energies/like forgotten springs of melody.” Disk two ends with the 52-second long bluesy circus piece, “Busking at Brobank.”

Overall, WAITING FOR MIRACLES, is a joy.  It’s not just a joy as a Flower Kings album, it’s a joy as a rock album. Anyone serious about his or her rock music should add this to the collection. One final note—while I’m not wild about the cover art (too political for my tastes), I absolutely love the interior art, making a physical purchase of WAITING a must.

P.S. I proudly bought my copy from my favorite store, Burning Shed.

Best of Yes, Post 1983

For most music fans, and especially prog rockers, Yes existed between 1969 and 1983.

Some would even end Yes around 1979.

Amazingly enough, though, Yes still exists. And, while the band has never produced a perfect album since 1983’s 90125, it has produced a number of tracks equal to the best of the “classic Yes” period.

The two best albums of this later period were Magnification (2001) and Fly from Here-Return Trip (2018).

For those interested (and with ears to hear), here are my favorites from 1987-present.

  • Birthright (Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe, 1989)
  • Dreamtime (Magnification, 2001)
  • Endless Dream (Talk, 1994)
  • Evensong (Union, 1991)
  • Fly From Here (Fly From Here-Return Trip, 2018)
  • Homeworld (The Ladder, 1999)
  • I’m Running (Big Generator, 1987)
  • In the Presence Of (Magnification, 2001)
  • Into the Storm (Fly From Here-Return Trip, 2018)
  • Life on a Film Set (Fly From Here-Return Trip, 2018)
  • Magnification (Magnification, 2001)
  • Minddrive (Keys to Ascension 2, 1997)
  • New Language (The Ladder, 1999)
  • Order of the Universe (Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe, 1989)
  • Shoot High Aim Low (Big Generator, 1987)
  • Silent Talking (Union, 1991)
  • Spirit of Survival (Magnification, 2001)
  • Subway Walls (Heaven and Earth, 2014)
  • Themes (Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe, 1989)

Seeking the Humane: Big Big Train’s “Grand Tour” ~ (Birzer’s Second Review)

If all of this sounds too intelligent and too good to be a part of popular culture, it’s because it is! No, no, no. This is not pop. This is art. True, good, real, and beautiful. Imagine, for a moment, how many other manifestations of secular culture take seriously a Christian saint, let alone analyze the very stones used in the art of Byzantium? Truly, what this band offers us is a precious gem. And, while the members of the band (at least as far as I know) are not religious, they certainly take the religion of the past quite seriously. Not just Theodora, but the band has also written gorgeously on its previous releases about St. Edith, the granddaughter of King Alfred, the first great English king, the first to codify Anglo-Saxon common law, and the blessed recipient of Marian visions.
— Read on theimaginativeconservative.org/2019/05/big-big-train-grand-tour-bradley-birzer.html