And last but not least... prog album reviews column

Grant Moon has a rummage down the back of the Prog sofa for the ones that nearly got away… including Yuksel Guney Hanedan, Strangers Are People Too, Universal Totem Orchestra and Seas Of Mirth

Lossy with Strangers Are People Too - Microverse album artwork

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Having worked predominantly in the New Age field, Turkish synth composer Yüksel Güney Hanedan proves his avant-garde credentials with his latest, self-released work. The Voyage, he says, ‘depicts impressionist sounds of an imaginary post-modern vehicle journey’. It does, too – with new age adornments, Hanedan’s locomotive ambient/noise tapestry makes for a hypnotic and compelling journey in sound.

Similarly layered and experimental is the latest entry from London electronic composer/ producer Lossy with Strangers Are People Too, alias visual artist/VJ Sarah Culross. Four-part piece Microverse (Boot Cycle Audio) features sparse Eno-esque synths, pissed-up pianos, Aphex Twinned beats and simple horn lines intertwining, making for an intriguing, immersive and deliciously Warped listen. If its progressive electronica and modern avant-jazz slant weren’t enough, the accompanying visuals take it to an altogether more psychedelic plane.

If Zeuhl is more your thing then you’re probably all over Universal Totem Orchestra by now. The Italians’ third album Mathematical Mother (Black Widow) came out in December but, as is sometimes the way of things, the CD’s only just reached us, and thank Vander it did. Even if your Italian’s rustier than your Kobaïan, Ana Torres Fraile’s extraordinary soprano vocals will keep you enthralled. The music’s grand, gothic, bombastic, with a wide symphonic sweep and some knotty, old-school avant-prog noodlings from guitarist Daniel Valle and keysman Fabrizio Mattuzzi.

Meanwhile, Nottingham’s Seas Of Mirth purvey a punky, shanty-inspired rock shot through with musicianship that hints at a serious world/roots sensibility, and a lot of fun it is too. Hark! The Headland Approacheth (I’m Not From London) is a rollicking, rum-soaked trip awash with fiddles, pipes, Primus-y basslines and spirited all-together vocals. Tunes like The Curse Of The Conniving Lighthouse Sniper and The Curse of The Dreaded Devil’s Triangle roll, pitch and yaw thrillingly beneath your feet. Nautical, but nice.

We’ll be speaking to Australian guitarist James Norbert Ivanyi in a forthcoming issue of Prog. The three tracks on his fourth EP Denalavis not only confirm what a monster metal guitar player he is, but also show his evolving, prog-influenced compositional approach and talent for evoking moods (dark ones), complete with splashes of Mellotron and even a cheeky Erik Satie lift in Malignant Inhabitants.

And on another classical note let me leave you this time with a sublime modern orchestral work from Tom Hobden and Eliot James. Violinist Hobden was in indie band Noah & The Whale and James produced them, along with Mumford And Sons and Laura Marling. Roam (Village Green) sees them explore their mutual love for the likes of Vaughan Williams, Britten and Max Richter, and it’s a lovingly produced, beautifully performed debut.

Grant Moon

A music journalist for over 20 years, Grant writes regularly for titles including Prog, Classic Rock and Total Guitar, and his CV also includes stints as a radio producer/presenter and podcast host. His first book, 'Big Big Train - Between The Lines', is out now through Kingmaker Publishing.