Monday, 31 October 2011

My Brother The Wind - I Wash My Soul In The Stream Of Infinity

You may get the impression from the title and the cover of My Brother The Wind’s keenly anticipated second album that a meditative experience is what is on offer here, and you may be right. However, the opening piece, with the aptly adrenalin fuelled title of Fire! Fire!! will instantly dispel any notions of calm Zen-inspired navel gazing with its wah-noise attack, reminiscent of one of Acid Mothers Temple’s more tuneful sonic assaults. An opening thirteen plus minutes of aural rearrangement that you WILL find a groove in, it won’t let you go until you do. Actually the more you listen to this song the more you can find to latch on to and it gets to the point where I’m not entirely sure I heard that melody, or if it was some random synapse connection in my head that made me imagine it. Once the spaceship has escaped the pull of Earth’s gravity, the bass guitar of Ronny Eriksson propels the song along on a more relaxed but still speedy grove as the sounds become more stretched, spaced out.

Phew! Things chill a bit from here on in, Pagan Moonbeam giving out the Eastern vibe implied by the cover artwork, which would not have looked out of place on a Jade Warrior album. As the band say themselves the music being completely improvised comes “… from the soul, through the fingers, directly to tape” and this work ethic is repeated in the title of The Mediator Between Head And Hands Must Be The Heart, an infectious bubbling piece of sonic mysteriousness where one can almost feel the communication between the players. The drummer, Tomas Eriksson gets credit here for keeping what may have turned into an almost Eno-like ambience on track with some fine playing off the beat.

Torbjörn Abelli, a pioneering Swedish psychedelic bass player who died last year may not be a familiar name to you (or me for that matter), so have a look at Julian Cope's retrospective of his early band Pärson Sound for enlightenment, of course written in the Archdrude's inimitable style! As for the song here it builds to a righteous but respectful celebration, as it should. Things get to (Kraut)rock on Under Crimson Skies which raises the beat to a space boogie shuffle that Amon Düül II would have been proud of. Things eventually get all stretched and spacey and the change is seamless. The chemistry between these guys is something special, and although their first album was a good start, the test tube is now boiling over with ideas. You could describe this as space rock but that is putting far too many limitations on what is almost impossible to describe. On this menu My Brother The Wind have cooked up a dish of Scando-Germanic righteousness that exists on the peripherals of American-British influence, taking the best elements of improvisational Krautrock and running with it until it turns into a creature of some magnificence. An animal that inspires awe and respect.

The closing song and title track I Wash My Soul In The Stream Of Infinity repeats a Zen-like musical mantra over which swathes of gorgeous mellotron leave the listener in a state of near bliss, cleansed in the fading stream. As purely improvisational albums go, can it get any better than this? Buy it as soon as it comes out!

Tracklist:
Fire! Fire!! (13:07)
Pagan Moonbeam (3:47)
The Mediator Between Head And Hands Must Be The Heart (5:40) 
Torbjörn Abelli (10:57)
Under Crimson Skies (10:33)
I Wash My Soul In The Stream Of Infinity (6:19)



Line up:
Nicklas Barker - Guitar and Mellotron
Mathias Danielsson - Guitar and Tenor Recorder
Ronny Eriksson-Bass
Tomas Eriksson-Drums

Links: myspace

Saturday, 29 October 2011

Ske - 1000 Autunni

1000 Autunni is the first solo album by keyboard maestro Paolo Ske Botta, a name familiar to me from French TV's This Is What We Do, and latterly as a member of Italian avant-proggers Yugen.

What we have here is another gem from Italy's Fading Records that delivers a difficult but engaging album drawing on a wide range of influences ranging from chamber music, Gentle Giant, Henry Cow, Hatfield And The North, National Health, and a smattering of classic symphonic prog as well as jazz and modern classical.

Paolo is a collector of vintage keyboards, many of which are used on this album to great effect, all lovingly noted in the tastefully designed booklet. Each track gives a complete listing of all the instruments used as well as the keyboards, showing that this album was most certainly a labour of love.

The Hatfield's influence is felt with the vocalisings of Roberta Pagani, very much in vein of The Northettes, when she makes her appearances on Carta E Burro (Paper And  Butter), Delta, and La Nefazia Di Multatuli. A very good example of voice used as instrument, an art that is difficult to master.

Denti (Teeth) is suitably feisty but never edgy, and Scrupoli, introduced with a Dave Stewart style organ swell, leaps about like a court jester, and has a strong Egg influence, no bad thing in my book. Delta offers a moment of reflection with some nice synth work lulling the listener before the first of the three part Scogli (Rocks), which is separated by other songs, but if you program your CD player to play them in succession, a strong Gentle Giant influence abounds, as well as drawing on modern classical music. That is not to say that this album is derivative, as it creates its own distinctive sound while wearing its influences with pride. Mummia sounds as cinematic and Gothic as it should, and things are rounded off with Rassegnati in an almost classic Italian prog style leaning towards Picchio dal Pozzo.

1000 Autunni is a complex and esoteric piece of music making that shows Paolo's skill as a composer and arranger as well as highlighting his abilities on numerous keyboards. The juxtaposition of gentle acoustic instrumentation (see below) with the array of Paolo's keyboards and electronica, and Francesco's guitars, is always interesting and engaging. The intricate rhythms are embellished with many percussion instruments that are underpinned by the subtle playing of Pierre (bass) and Mattia (drums), and this produces a whole listening experience in itself. By my fourth or fifth listen I found myself following just the rhythm section on some songs, beguiled by the subtle intricate complexity on show.

Paolo's other fellow musicians are all top notch players too, and the ensemble playing throughout the album is exceptional. An album for those who like their music to be demanding, this a very rewarding and satisfying listening experience, and cannot be used as background music. In an age where the need for ambience sometimes takes precedence and music is often relegated to a secondary rather than primary experience, it is refreshing to put on an album that requires, no, demands that you give it your full attention. A bit like a three course meal at a very good restaurant, by the end you will be sated but not over-fed! Definitely best listened to in the company of a decent bottle of red wine, 1000 Autunni is yet another high quality release in 2011. Oh, and the cover and booklet artwork is lovely by the way.

Highly recommended! 

Tracklist:
Fraguglie (6:05)
Denti (5:10)
Carta E Burro (4:57)
Scrupoli (4:12)
Delta (5:05)
Scogli 1 (2:12)
Sotto Sotto (5:35)
Mummia (5:23)
Scogli 2 (2:33)
La Nefazia Di Multatuli (6:29)
Scogli 3 (1:30)
Rassegnati (7:08)

Line up:
Paolo Ske Botta - Keyboards, synths
Fabio Ciro Ceriani - Sansula, percussion
Valerio Cipollone - Clarinets, saxophones
Enrica Di Bastione - Harp
Maurizio Fasoli - Piano
Elia Leon Mariani - Violin
Nicolas Nickolopoulos - Flute
Giuseppe Jos Olivini - Theremin, percussion, effects
Roberta Pagani - Voice
Valerio Neth Raina - Voice
Mattia Signò - Drums
Markus Strauss - Saxophone
Fabrice Toussaint - Idiophones, trombone, perscussion
Pierre Wawrzyniak - Bass
Francesco Zago - Guitars

Listen to streaming on myspace. The whole album is currently on streaming at http://www.progstreaming.com/ (scroll to bottom of page) but this may not be for long.

Buy here - Fading Records

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Abrete Gandul - Enjambre Sísmico

From Chile, Abrete Gandul offer up a satisfying stew of styles on this, their third album. Enjambre Sísmico (Seismic Swarm). It lives up to its English translation, sounding at times like a jazz infused Anekdoten, or a Latin King Crimson, with helpings of Canterbury influence updated to the 21st Century having spent the interim under Latino influence, and is one hugely enjoyable musical ride.

At an hour long the album has eight songs only two of which are under the seven minute mark. Such is the intricacy of the instrumentation that one’s attention is required all the time, but having said that it all flows together nicely, so the listening experience is never hard work, as can be the case with some more wilfully obtuse offerings.

Judging by the album titles and what I can understand with my limited Spanish from the story in the cover booklet, the album appears to be a journey through a natural disaster, with which being Chilean, the band are no doubt all too familiar. 

The seven and a half minute Marejada (Surge) is a particular highlight, covering a gamut of stylistic influences, the math guitar reminiscent of Fripp, the warm ambient layers giving way to a laid back cool but never bland jazzy vibe. Each member is given the chance to shine, but no-one gets to show off unnecessarily, Consecuencia Natural  (you don’t need me to translate that, surely?!) being a case in point where Antonio showcases a delicacy of touch while dancing round the beat, before the song morphs into a Levin/Gunn-like sequence followed by some great sax blowing, all the while the bass of Pedro subsonically shaking the floorboards. Rodrigo’s guitar shines on Colapso, his warm and fluid soloing leading into a heavier section backed by swathes of synths before Rodrigo re-enters on flute, the theme slowly returning and building to a redemptive crescendo and then ending suddenly. An enticing piece of music that puts me in mind of Mel Collins era Crimson, but with Wetton on bass.

Jamie’s keyboards take more of a textural role than a lead one, in much the same way that, say, Richard Barbieri does with Porcupine Tree. As with Richard, Jamie’s contribution is an essential part of the whole, and both Convergencia Caótica and Intangible have some nice understated piano to demonstrate that he is a quality player. The latter builds on a cyclical piano riff, reflected by the bass and guitar at various tangents to create a slight dissonance that remains within the melody so never becomes jarring, while throughout Antonio holds down a no doubt difficult time signature, showcasing a group of players at the height of mutual understanding. Wonderful stuff!      

Their Chilean/Spanish roots are to the fore on the closing track which starts like an off kilter flamenco, before a sax conjures up a smoky neo-Cuban jazz club feel, a lovely way to close the record.

Another contender for album of the year, in a year which has given us so much great music, this is a must for all fusion fans, lovers of heavier Canterbury sounds, Crimson, you get the picture.

8 out of 10

Tracklist:
Hacia la nada (4:27)
Necro Sistema (3:02)
Marejada (7:29)
Consecuencia Natural (10:26)
Colapso (11:20)
Convergencia Caótica (8:01)
Intangible (7:55)
…Y Ahora Qué? (7:20)

Line up:
Jamie Acuna – Keyboards
Pedro Santander – Bass, Effects
Antonio Arceu – Drums, Percussion
Rodrigo Maccioni – Guitars, Effects, Flute
Leo Aries - Saxophone

Hear some streaming on myspace

Buy here from Fading Records

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Burning Shed 10th Anniversary Concert - The Assembly, Leamington Spa, 14th October 2011

Burning Shed, distributors of and home to some wonderfully eclectic independent music celebrated its 10th anniversary at the charming venue that is The Assembly in Royal Leamington Spa (to give it its full name) on Friday last.

With a varied and esoteric bill, the gig commenced early in order to fit everything in. First up, in the upstairs gallery was the two man Resonance Association playing in front of a small exhibition of Carl Glover's images, many of which have appeared on Burning Shed related album covers. This was what the more artistically inclined would refer to as an installation, as Daniel and Dominic weaved dark ambience through heavily treated guitar and sundry electronica. The short set put me in mind of Manuel Göttsching's solo work, and intrigued me to the extent that I bought one of the 20 limited edition digi-packs on sale.

Venturing downstairs to the main hall where we were pleasantly surprised to see seating laid out, belying the dreaded word "Standing" on the ticket - we are not as young as we used to be! The short interval before the next instalment was spent perusing Burning Shed's many tempting wares on sale at the merch stall, and spending some cash on the audio delights on offer. As their motto is "Run by artists for artists", I am always more than willing to part with a few shekels!  Judging by the piles of cash being counted later in the proceedings, the hosts did more than alright out of the evening, as they deserved to.

Photo by Agnieszka Lenczewska - Thanks!
Next up was Giancarlo Erra playing a selection of songs from one of my contenders for album of the year, Memories Of Machines' Warm Winter. With just an acoustic guitar and gentle ambience for backing, the songs, already ethereal, were given an extra fragility which was simply beautiful. An evening highpoint indeed, and leaving us wanting more than the fifteen minutes given.

A break of no more than five minutes preceded the entrance of Theo Travis, introduced as "King of the Flute". Playing a concert flute and I believe a clarinet, Theo played some soundscapes by layering the sounds and giving them treatments through various pedals, unseen by us as we were too far back. All that was missing was Robert Fripp! I noticed an uncanny resemblance between Theo and Robin Gibb, although that may have been a combination of my failing eyesight and the twenty or so yards we were from the stage!
With a fair few fans in the audience, Bruce Soord and Jon Sykes of The Pineapple Thief were guaranteed a good reception. This is fourth time I've seen these two in just under 8 months, and it was refreshing to see Bruce and Jon play stripped down versions of songs I have become maybe too familiar with this year. Using only Bruce's acoustic and Jon's electric double bass for backing it showed that the emotive songs of The Pineapple Thief are more than capable of standing on their own merits when laid bear. Perhaps Bruce should consider releasing an album of these bare bones versions along the lines of No Sound's lovely The Northern Religion Of Things? I know I'd buy it.

The much anticipated headliners were of course No Man and they did not disappoint. Much more immediate live than on record, a five piece band backed Tim Bowness' otherworldly voice. You may laugh, but purely from a sonic perspective his voice puts me in mind of David Cassidy! A strong set covering all the 24 years of the band, including a song written in 1987 never performed before, reminds us that this band have been going for as long as Porcupine Tree, and it could be argued that as PT started as a one man bedroom project, that No Man was Steven Wilson's first band proper, a fact that often is overlooked. Initial focus was inevitably on Steven who was obviously enjoying his status as band member rather than leader, and soon the focus of attention was the band as a unit, not just Steven, who together with Michael Bearpark created ambience rather than dominating proceedings on their guitars. Also adding to the sonic texturising was keyboard player Stephen Bennett, but if any one instrument stood out it was the dazzling electric violin of Steve Bingham.

A thoroughly enjoyable night's entertainment, and I can only hope we do not have to wait another 10 years for a similar event.

No Man setlist: my revenge on seattle / time travel in texas / all the blue changes / pretty genius / lighthouse / beaten by love / wherever there is light / mixtaped / things change 

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Seven That Spells - The Death And Resurrection Of Krautrock: AUM

This is the first album in a projected trilogy whose lofty ambition is to attempt exactly what it says on the tin, so these guys do not lack confidence, and after eight albums in as many years why should they?

Back in 1972 German synth pioneer Deuter also released an album called Aum (or Om to us Anglos) whose proto-new age spacey vibe is well worth checking out, but there the similarity ends.

Opening song In is a reverberating wall of noise, repeatedly marching up the scales and resembles a triumphant army storming into battle. Brings to mind Guru Guru as the powerful drummer Stanislav Muškinja beats the daylights out of his kit in a fashion Mani Neumeier would have been proud of. As well as the obvious Krautrock vibe, the all pervading influence of the inevitable Acid Mothers Temple (with whom they have toured and collaborated in the past) is felt, particularly on title track Aum where Niko Potočnjak enacts an imaginary battle between Kawabata Makoto and Ax Genrich before Jeremy White's Om chant pulls the listener into a swirling void of ambient headfuck. It feels like the chant might suck your brains out, but then that maybe because the only way to listen to this righteous racket is at ear punishing volume. It will scare your children. David Byron of Uriah Heep introduced a song on their seminal 1973 live album with the words "Right, let's have everything louder than everything else", and this is what this "song", if that's the right word, achieves.

Ending on a final elongated "Om" we are thrown headlong into the cosmic white noise of Zero. Similar to Fire! Fire!! on the marvellous new My Brother The Wind album, you think you hear melodies in this that may not be there at all, as the drone of the low end feedback and reverb cleans the cobwebs from the corners of your psyche like a vacuum cleaner from the Orion Nebula.



Somewhere from the depths of Valhalla, Rock Ist Krieg charges over the horizon and comes at ya at full tilt. A redemptive piece as Croatians Niko and Stanislav know only too well the Hell that is war, and one senses a catharsis at work here. Jeremy shows he can play on the one with the best of them, creating a funky open groove with Niko and Stanislav, before Niko tears it up Makoto/Genrich stylee. If you're up for a bit of headbanging be sure to have the neck brace ready! A sonic riotous wake after the burning corpse of Krautrock has floated away across a mist covered forsaken lake, this is the most structured piece on the album, almost veering into metal riffage territory, and it kicks you out of the Om-reverie in fine fashion.

Out ends the first part of journey and we leave on a repeated motif chanting to the skies...we're not beaten yet and we will see you when the sun rises again.

With a mix that uses little or no compression, being faithful to the original Krautrock era, this record sounds IMMENSE and as such should only be played VERY LOUD. One of Niko's many pronouncements explaining the band's mission is...
 'a commune of psychedelic likeminds exploring the multifaceted cosmos of freak out music and naked women in high hopes of achieving Buddha's blessing  ...and who am I to argue. Oh, and the poster I was sent with this is well groovy!
4 out of 5

Tracklist:

In (6:42)
Aum (19:10)
Zero (18:56)
Rock Ist Krieg (8:40)
Out (6:35)

Line up:

Stanislav Muškinja – drums
Jeremy White – bass, voc
Niko Potočnjak – guitar, synth

Listen and buy here, and check out their myspace page.

Caravan - The Stables, Wavendon, Milton Keynes, 13th October 2011

The band's successful resurrection last year for a TV special (available on dvd and well worth it) has provided fresh impetus to what has become a bit of a venerable English music institution, the reigning kings and elder statesmen of Canterbury, Caravan. The line up that played that show, Richard Coughlan excepted, sauntered out onto the stage at the comfortable and well appointed surroundings of The Stables and launched into a joyous rendition of the Memory Lain Hugh/Headloss medley from what for me is their best album, For Girls Who Grow Plump In The Night, so a great start!

Band leader and founder Pye Hastings, the only original member on stage tonight, was in fine form after initially struggling to reach the high notes. Singers often find their range decreases with age, and it's a wonder Pye can hit those high notes at all given that a lot of his songs seemed to have been sung at the top end his range, even three or four decades ago.


Spoons!
Star of the show was undoubtedly Geoffrey Richardson who was an entertaining MC as well as alternating between his trusty viola (son amour), flute, guitar and piccolo. He even played an amusing rhythmic interlude during Golf Girl on spoons! On keyboards we had Jan Schelhaas, who first played with the band as far back as 1976's Blind Dog At St Dunstan's, and on bass was Jim Leverton, another veteran of the 70s underground rock scene who first played on 1995's Battle of Hastings reunion album. Jan and Jim filled their roles with gusto, and both, indeed all the band seemed to be really enjoying the experience. Particularly so latest recruit the comparatively youthful Mark Walker on drums, although according to his website he left school in 1980 so he's not exactly a spring chicken himself!



Large chunks of In The Land Of Grey And Pink were played, an album that is 40 years old this year no less, including a sparkling rendition of Nine Feet Underground. We learned that the song was so called because Dave Sinclair wrote it in a state of some impoverishment in a cellar in Canterbury that was...nine feet underground. Sorry if that shatters any artistic delusions you may have had! Geoffrey also related the tale of the title of the great 2003 reunion reunion album (this band have stopped and started more times than a Trabant with a blocked carb), The Unauthorised Breakfast Item. Staying in a posh hotel in Trenton, New Jersey for the 2002 Nearfest, Mr R having already gorged on a sumptuous American breakfast wandered over to the Continental Breakfast buffet and helped himself to a croissant, cunningly concealed in his napkin, fuel for what he described as a forthcoming long day playing "Prawg" (heheh), when a maitre d' stopped him with the immortal line (adopts American drawl) "Excuse me sir, but you seem to have an unauthorised breakfast item". Well, it made us laugh, maybe you had to be there!

Songs spanning seven albums and some 33 years were played, along with two new songs which both sounded good to me and bode well for the planned new album. A fine evening's English whimsical entertainment was enjoyed by an audience who were largely but not exclusively, of shall we say, a certain age, but remember, everthing will be alright if you don't leave your Dad in the rain...:)

Finally, it was sad to hear that drummer Richard Coughlan is too ill to accompany his mates on tour this time round, and we wish him all the best.

Thanks to John Price for the photos.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Magazine - No Thyself

We live in a time where it seems that even bands with no living members have reformed in pursuit of one last undead payday. Probably the most exploitative recent reunion was that of the Sex Pistols, and ironically so given their original manifesto and the fact that Howard Devoto was instrumental in getting the Pistols to play the now legendary gig at Manchester Free Trade Hall. Lydon has certainly lived up to his epithet from the first time round: "...ever get the feeling you've been cheated?" he berated the crowd at the Winterland as his era defining band collapsed in a sea of drugs and paranoia in 1978. The lumpen reunion of the iconic punk band epitomises an undignified chase for filthy lucre alongside a complete lack of artistic integrity that so many reunions suffer from to some degree.

Cards on the table - I was a big fan of Magazine the first time round, and you might think from that introduction that my opinion of the reunion and No Thyself is not exactly of the highest order, but you would be wrong, although I must admit the album slid into the CD player with trepidation. My first worry was who would replace the angular and barbed guitar lines of the sadly missed John McGeoch of the original line up, and the answer is seasoned punky-new wave veteran Noko who amongst numerous other bands played with Devoto's short lived post-original Magazine band Luxuria. Noko manages to step into John's shoes with aplomb while being a distinctive entity in his own right. Barry Adamson's replacement is bass guitarist Jon "Stan" White, who occasionally and spookily manages to replicate Barry's sinuous and funky flanged bass groove to the nth degree. If you didn't no (sic) you would swear it was Barry on the four strings on some of these songs. The distinctive keyboards of Dave Formula and the solid pulsebeat of John Doyle are both present and correct.

Howard Devoto, looking like he has aged well from the booklet photo, wrote lyrics of a Hammill-like wit and intelligence, and here they are, still as oblique and easy as ever. Lines like "I was out probing the weaknesses of society, when I got my fat little fingers burned" and "But I've made my decision to die like a king, like Elvis on some godforsaken toilet" show Mr D has lost none of his dry wit and louche style.

The first song Do The Meaning has a certain "Shelley" as a lyric co-writing credit, so it's good to see the old twosome collaborating again. Other Thematic Material is a primal cry of lust, juxtaposing animal sex instinct with strange suburban banalities, Alison Steadman may have played the lead role, and it makes many musical references to past glories with the same knowing slyness as Mr D's lyrics.

Gothic atmospherics abound throughout as you might expect, Dave Formula's synth breaks weaving in and out like the return of a long-lost friend. Some real spiky guitaring introduces Hello Mr Curtis (with apologies) a musing on the courage or otherwise of suicide, and not unexpectedly given the thirty years since the last Magazine album, mortality is a running theme. The Burden Of Song is Howard's Tower Of Song, getting all philosophical, enslaved to the creative impulse, and is fittingly and muscularly insistent.

The Burden Of A Song by Magazine

Final Analysis Waltz by Magazine

"Holy Dotage" from the new album "No Thyself" WIRED 18 by Magazine

Musically there is enough here to show that the creative juices are still flowing, and perhaps this is helped in no small measure by the addition of the two "new" members who get equal billing for all the tunes. I love the sweeping soundtrack qualities of Of Course Howard (1979); there's a song in slow waltz time, again reprising the band's fondness for dance time signatures, hell, there's even a ballad that were you to strip away the modernisms could have been Procol Harum...maybe not lyrically though!

Magazine were the art-punk band that prog fans could like, although I doubt the band would thank me for saying that. No doubt because of their musicality their work has lasted the test of time better than a lot of their contemporaries, allowing them to faultlessly take up the baton dropped all those years ago. No Thyself is a document of self awareness and wisdom acquired over the passage of time tempered by just enough but never too much cynicism, a chain of events of which all of us who were there back in '78 share common knowledge. And you can dance to it!

Roll on the gigs, a full listing of which appears on their myspace page.

The album is not on general release until 24th October, but you can get the limited edition digi-pack direct from the label's website now.

Tracklist:
01. Do The Meaning
02. Other Thematic Material
03. The Worst Of Progress….
04. Hello Mister Curtis (with apologies)
05. Physics
06. Happening In English
07. Holy Dotage
08. Of Course Howard (1979)
09. Final Analysis Waltz
10. The Burden Of A Song
Bonus Track (limited edition only)
11. Blisterpack Blues

Line up:
Howard Devoto – Vocals
Jon "Stan" White – Bass guitar
Dave Formula – Keyboards
John Doyle – Drums
Noko – Guitar

4 out of 5

Saturday, 8 October 2011

It's Only Money - Parts I to MMXII

Pink Floyd are a band with a still huge and devoted fanbase despite the fact that they haven't released a new record in nearly twenty years. I was going to go further and suggest that we are never likely to see a proper reunion given the unfortunate and sad demise of Richard Wright, but after the recent reissue campaign, albeit largely record company led, you never know do you?

Although the remaining members do not seem to be overly motivated by filthy lucre, possibly Roger Waters apart with his endless live re-creations of The Wall, I would bet that their label, the increasingly cash-strapped EMI, are continually badgering one or other of the band to reform, go on tour and cut a live album.

Which brings me to the current gargantuan reissue program. Centred around the fabled "Immersion" editions of Dark Side Of The Moon and Wish You Were Here, at a mere £84.99 each. Looking at Amazon you will no doubt be aware of the online retailer's linked suggestions whenever one buys an album - they may suggest for instance that if you're in the process of buying, say, Close To The Edge by Yes that you buy Fragile and The Yes Album while you're at it, all for £13.95. Well, in Floyd's case if your bank account is up for it and you go for The Discovery Box Set (the complete discog reissued plus sundry gubbins) at a trifling £140.47 it suggests you also buy the Immersion editions of DSotM and WYWH for a total of - get this - £310.45!! Don't these people realise that the whole Western world is bankrupt?

So, if you go for the Immersion edition of Dark Side Of The Moon, what do you get for you hard earned? It sure looks impressive, including:

DISC 1 – CD 1:
The Dark Side Of The Moon digitally remastered by James Guthrie 2011

DISC 2 – CD 2:
The Dark Side Of The Moon performed live at Wembley in 1974 (2011 Mix and previously unreleased)

DISC 3 – DVD 1, ALL AUDIO:
- The Dark Side Of The Moon, James Guthrie 2003 5.1 Surround Mix (previously released only on SACD) in standard resolution audio at 448 kbps
- The Dark Side Of The Moon, James Guthrie 2003 5.1 Surround Mix (previously released only on SACD) in high resolution audio at 640 kbps
- The Dark Side Of The Moon, LPCM Stereo mix (as disc 1)
- The Dark Side Of The Moon, Alan Parsons Quad Mix (previously released only on vinyl LP/8 track tape in 1973) in standard resolution audio at 448 kbps
- The Dark Side Of The Moon, Alan Parsons Quad Mix (previously released only on vinyl LP/8 track tape in 1973) in high resolution audio at 640 kbps

DISC 4 - DVD 2, ALL AUDIO VISUAL:
- Live In Brighton 1972: Careful With That Axe, Eugene (previously unreleased on DVD) Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun (previously unreleased on DVD)
- The Dark Side Of The Moon, 2003 documentary (25 min EPK)
- Concert Screen Films (60 min total): British Tour 1974 French Tour 1974 North American Tour 1975

Screen films play in stereo and 5.1 Surround Sound

DISC 5 – BLURAY, AUDIO+AUDIO VISUAL -AUDIO:
The Dark Side Of The Moon, James Guthrie 2003 5.1 Surround Mix (previously released only on SACD) in high resolution audio at 96 kHz/24-bit
AUDIO:
- The Dark Side Of The Moon, Original stereo mix (1973) mastered in high resolution audio at 96 kHz/24-bit
AUDIO VISUAL:
- Live In Brighton 1972: Careful With That Axe, Eugene (previously unreleased on DVD/BluRay) Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun (previously unreleased on DVD/BluRay)
- The Dark Side Of The Moon, 2003 documentary (EPK)
- Concert Screen Films (5.1 Surround Mix): British Tour 1974 French Tour 1974 North American Tour 1975
- Concert Screen Films (High Resolution Stereo Mix): British Tour 1974 French Tour 1974 North American Tour 1975

DISC 6 - CD3:
-The Dark Side Of The Moon 1972 Early Album Mix engineered by Alan Parsons (previously unreleased)
- "The Hard Way" (from ‘Household Objects’ project)
- "Us And Them", Richard Wright Demo (previously unreleased)
- "The Travel Sequence", live from Brighton June 1972 (previously unreleased)
- "The Mortality Sequence", live from Brighton June 1972 (previously unreleased)
- "Any Colour You Like", live from Brighton June 1972 (previously unreleased)
- "The Travel Sequence", studio recording 1972 (previously unreleased) - Money, Roger Waters’ demo (previously unreleased)

Sounds like good value for your pound/buck, but if you look a little closer, most fans have already got most of this, and what is the point of putting the quad mix on there unless it somehow utilises your 5:1 system as a quad simulation? No, what interests even the casual fan is the live at Wembley disc and the Early Mix album. Certainly the former and probably the latter too have been available as bootlegs for years, but it's a given that the quality on this reissue far surpasses the illegal versions - one hopes at least!

As far as booklets etc go the other extras include ...a scarf!....3 black marbles (huh?)...9 coasters. The Storm Thorgerson 40 page LP sized book apart, and to use the Cockney vernacular it's "largely bollocks, innit?"

You have got to credit EMI for their base cunning though, for the Wembley gig is split between this set and the yet to be released Wish You Were Here Immersion Edition. So, if you want to hear the concert in its entirety you'll have shell out 2 x £84.99. Why oh why couldn't they have put all the extras from DSotM and WYWH and The Wall in one box, which I and doubtless thousands of others would probably have bought?

Mind you, EMI have a track record were cynical exploitative reissues are concerned, particularly after the underwhelming Beatles back catalogue boxes. My guess is were it not for the Fab Four and Floyd this record label would have gone under longer ago.

Nick Mason, who has always come across as a thoroughly nice bloke, untroubled by the ego excesses of Waters in particular, and Gilmour to a lesser extent, has said in various interviews that "it's there if you want it" in answer to questions similar to mine. He obviously has no concept of what it is to live in these economically stringent times, and I suppose he can't be blamed for that, but neither does he seem to have any concept of what being a fan of a band entails.

Floyd will no doubt make big bucks from this reissue program, and it's not as though they need it although EMI undoubtedly do. It would be nice to think that the band themselves could use this new income stream to finance a box set of the extras for us less wealthy contingent of fans, but don't hold your breath.

2017 - A Year In Review

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