Prog Round-up: Summer 2015

Geoff Barton on new releases from Cary Grace, The Anagram Principle, Eternal Journey, Iglomat and Big Big Train

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Cary Grace: Tygerland

Cary Grace is one of a kind. An American expat residing in England since 2005, she is, we hear, “as much at home with a soldering iron as a guitar”. That’s because she runs a firm called Wessex Analogue, which builds boutique modular synthesisers./o:p

On Tygerland Grace is joined by veteran Here & Now/Planet Gong six-stringer Steffe Sharpstrings (aka prog’s answer to Hendrix), and the results are both eerie and electrifying. Even though much of the album was recorded live it still sounds structured and tightly woven. Highlights are the fierce, guitar-driven Cyanide, Grace channelling her near-namesake, Grace Slick, on the couplet ‘She peels poison apples/That’s it, open wide’; the minimalist Minimoog freakout that is Orange Sky; War Child, with its minacious, Doors-like groove; and epic improv Windsong, a tour-de-force of slow-burning intensity. Just don’t listen to it if you happen to be on board an airplane. You have been warned. (810)/o:p

The Anagram Principle: Inventor

The second album from Pittsburgh duo The Anagram Principle deals with the theme of inventors and invention. Centrepiece Master Of Distance tries (and fails) to sum up the life of Leonardo da Vinci – from Vitruvian Man to Mona Lisa – in a little over 12 minutes. Frankly it’s a synth-saturated, squeaky-voiced shambles. (310)

Eternal Journey: Nebular

This is the brainchild of Alex Papatheodorou, a German guitarist who claims to have created “something unknown, that’s never been heard before, where the unexpected takes place and the expected never occurs”. Alright, already! We get it. Except that Nebular sounds exactly like a blustering power-metal version of Devin Townsend. Surely some mistake? (510)

Iglomat: III

Iglomat aren’t so much a band as a cross-continental recording project. With members based in Edinburgh, Austin (Texas) and LA, their songs are assembled across landlines, highways and hard drives. III is full of sawtoothed but melodious post-rock electronica, top track Elgato Elgato (with a seven-year-old boy on vocals) being part B-52’s, part Mogwai. (710)

Big Big Train: Wassail

Ahead of the hotly anticipated release of next album Folklore in 2016, the progenitors of English pastoral prog mark time with this new EP. The title song, about an ancient ritual designed to wake cider apple trees from their winter slumber, showcases an impassioned, harder-edged BBT, although normal service is resumed for the scholarly Lost Rivers Of London. (810)/o:p

Classic Rock 213: New Albums

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.