Prog Round-up: March 2013

Geoff Barton on new releases from Rob Cottingham, The InterSphere, Fruits de Mer, KingBathmat and Cry For Eden

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Rob Cottingham: Captain Blue

If you’re a fan of Gerry Anderson’s Supermarionation TV shows of the 60s, you’ll be pleased to hear that none other than Shane Rimmer makes a guest spoken-word appearance on the opening track of this solo release by Rob Cottingham, the founding keyboardist of Touchstone. Rimmer, of course, was the voice of Virgil Tracy in Thunderbirds. And Captain Blue? Wasn’t he in Captain Scarlet? Sure enough, the title track has gunshot sounds sampled from that show’s opening credits. Despite an assertion that this album contains material deemed “not right” for Touchstone, the male-female vocal interplay (with Heather Findlay instead of the ’Stone’s Kim Seviour) cannot help but recall Cottingham’s full-time band. Having said that, the tall guy does get to show his softer, more whimsical side, notably on First Kiss and Only Time Will Tell. At the other end of the spectrum (pun intended), the cathedralesque Soaring To The Sun contains an epic Steve Hackett solo and confirms Cottingham’s status as Peterborough’s answer to Vangelis. (710)

The InterSphere: Interspheres>Atmospheres

The second studio album from these German alt.proggers has all the ingredients to propel them on to the major stage. Coupling concise commerciality with subtle psychedelia, tracks such as Soapbubbles In The Rain sound exactly like you’d expect them to. If Muse had come from Deutschland rather than Devon, they’d likely sound a lot like this. (710)

Various: The White EP

An eight-track, 33rpm, double seven-inch EP on white vinyl, this features new interpretations of songs from The Beatles’ 1968 double album. In other words, “it’s a bit of a tribute to the original, only smaller”. Standout is The Pretty Things’ riotous Helter Skelter, followed by Cranium Pie’s twisted take on The Continuing Story Of Bungalow Bill and Jack Ellister’s surprisingly faithful Dear Prudence. (710)

KingBathmat: Truth Button

KingBathmat are a very challenging listen. The Hastings band’s songs switch from sweet and mellifluous to brutal and metallic at the touch of a, er, button. Think Mastodon with Mellotrons and you wouldn’t be far off the mark. With a strong theme of social disconnection (ie. gizmos that encourage us to interact with them for increasingly irrelevant reasons), this is a potent, thought-provoking proposition. (710)

Cry For Eden: The 11th Hour

Female-fronted proggers from Portland, Oregon, Cry For Eden compare themselves to Within Temptation and Nightwish. In fact, they’re much more grounded and less heavily orchestrated, while singer Lisa Mann possesses some genuine rock’n’roll sensibilities. Makes a change from the pound-shop Katherine Jenkins that proliferate in this genre. (610)

Geoff Barton

Geoff Barton is a British journalist who founded the heavy metal magazine Kerrang! and was an editor of Sounds music magazine. He specialised in covering rock music and helped popularise the new wave of British heavy metal (NWOBHM) after using the term for the first time (after editor Alan Lewis coined it) in the May 1979 issue of Sounds.