And Last But Not Least... prog reviews column

Grant Moon rounds up some of the many other records passing under the Prog portcullis, from Kurt Rosenwinkel, LA Takedown, Revbjelde, Saltland, The Security Project and Big Walnuts Yonder

Kurt Rosenwinkel - Caipi album artwork

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Renowned Berklee fusion guitarist Kurt Rosenwinkel has a rich, deep catalogue that’s earned him a major reputation in jazzier climes. Caipi (Razdaz Recordz/Heartcore Records) is something of a left turn for him – a joyful, breezy set that blends rock, pop, jazz and tropicalia on which he plays almost all the instruments and sings, sweetly. Full of interesting, proggy melodies and animated by a sun-kissed Brazilian spirit, Caipi’s an album to move the heart and warm the blood.

As anyone who’s seen/heard Netflix’s excellent serial Stranger Things will know, analogue synths are hip again, but for those partial to John Carpenter, Giorgio Moroder, the Tangs et al, they never really went away. L.A. Takedown’s Aaron M is in that camp, he loves classical music too, and these worlds collide beautifully on their new release II (Ribbon). Guitars sing, and sine waves break over Blue Skies (On Mars), City Of Glass and the other oscillating earworms here.

For more obscure radiophonics, beardy-weirdy folk and splashes of the cosmic, check out Alan Gubby’s label, Buried Treasure. Head straight for the self-titled debut by Berkshire band Revbjelde, whose utterly absorbing mish-mash of parpy brass, folky strings, ethereal harmonies and jangling dulcimers is by turns eerie, jazzy, dark and funny, and all very English.

Meanwhile, in Montréal, Saltland is the latest project from cellist Rebecca Foon, of Juno Award winning ensemble Esmerine and experimental unit Set Fire To Flames. Saltland’s majestic second record, A Common Truth (Constellation) was inspired by climate change (she’s an active conservationist). If ever a subject deserved a dourly contemplative, minor-key treatment, it’s that one, and here Foon’s soothing, ineffable vocals add layers to the austere beauty of her cello lines and shimmering pianos. Music to watch glaciers collapse into the sea and weep by.

On safer, proggier ground, The Security Project includes ex-Crimson Stickman Trey Gunn and former Peter Gabriel drummer Jerry Marotta. Recorded live, Five (7d Media) sees the band ably tackle Games Without Frontiers, No Self Control, Rhythm Of The Heat, I Have The Touch and also Kate Bush’s Mother Stands For Comfort. Heresy? No! These aren’t wan facsimiles – the Project flesh this music out and do it full credit.

And finally a supergroup, of sorts. You’ll probably never see the name Big Walnuts Yonder up in lights at the Hammersmith Apollo, but Mike Watt (Minutemen, The Stooges), Nels Cline (Wilco), Nick Reinhart (Tera Melos) and Deerhoof drummer Greg Saunier dial up some wonderful weirdness on their anarchic self-titled debut (Sargent House). Twisted funk, warbly 50s sci-fi, squalling noise and pounding, discordant rock’n’roll prove that punks don’t die, they just realise they were actually prog all along.

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.