Album 5) Flying Colors – Flying Colors
Yet another new rock supergroup comprising of modern prog gods Mike Portnoy and Neal Morse along with the Dixie Dregg power of Steve Morse and Dave LaRue. Plus Alpha Revs, Casey McPherson On vocals. Many expected an over the top prog extravaganza but this harked back to classic rock with strong comparisons to Kansas. The driving force are the solo’s of Steve Morse backed up by some excellent songwriting.
Key: Blue Ocean – An informal slightly bodged up discussion leads into a doors like rhythmic start. 1970’s Kansas like verses build to chorus crescendos. A clever acapella bridge precedes Morse taking the track home with a fab solo, just leaving one last triumphant chorus. 7 minutes of meaningful sunshine American Rock
The pop up is influenced by the tracks chorus…. “Take me… Out where the river meets the sea, To the city made of glass, Where our emptiness is gone at last, Take me… To a world beyond our space and time, Under the crystal water sky, Where we never have to say goodbye”. I created a “glass city” by doing a doodle on silver card, a simple mountain mechanism makes it pop. at the bottom two layers of blue waves and above another planetary scape.
Other recommended :- Shouda Coulda Woulda, The Storm, Infinite Fire
Album 6) Astra – The Black Chord
There are many new young bands who have tried and failed to capture the mood, noise and intensity of 1970’s prog. The San Diego based Astra is not one of them. They are like listening to a mash up of their influences Yes, Crimson, Genesis, Van Der Graaf Generator, Gentle Giant and a good dose of spaced out Hawkwind. The album comprises of 6 tracks which are dowsed in Mellotron, spiralling guitar and sprinkled with time changes. Thus producing psychedelic jazz like improvisations which give a deep meaningful and surprisingly not a too overproduced sound. Astra are exactly where they want to be – 1973
Key Track – The Black Chord – The title track is a 14:58 manifesto to Astra’s music and shows every influence that has brought about this album. Mellotron/keyboard build up with Crimson like guitar riff jumps into acoustic piano / guitar and choral like singing. Different themes appear throughout some fitting perfectly together and some jarringly not, (reminiscent of many of the bands mentioned above). It could be described as a clever tribute but I think this song strikes its own ground whilst paying homage to the time of the cape.
Taking the concept of the Black Chord I created within the pop-up a visualisation of the geometric meaning. A gold circle, lifted from the card with a simple support mechanism (that was too big and made the circle not fit into the folded card). On the Circle, I scored a couple of radii to create a segment and then scored the line which which make the Chord. This was filled in Black. Finishing touches was an equation to work out a chords length (looked impressive) and the lyrics “Drawn upon the mad score, Wayworn, Reborn, Awakening the Black Chord”
Other recommended :- Quake Meat, Bull Torpis, Barefoot in the Head
Albums 7 & 8 to follow soon.