Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Nad Sylvan "The Bride Said No"

Greetings once again fellow progheads!  I trust your experience last week with Rikard Sjoblom and Gungfly was a pleasant one; at the very least you were pushed to the superb side of the pleasure meter, no?  This week I anticipate another triumph of exuberance as Inside Out Records has again asked me to review a new release from their stable of prog masters.  "The Bride Said No"  is the latest from Nad Sylvan and will be available for your purchase May 26th.



Although Nad has had quite a storied career, he is probably best known as the lead singer for Steve Hackett on his Genesis Revisited II album and subsequent tour.  Nad has a remarkable resume that includes time with Agents of Mercy, Unifaun, and some impressive solo work.  However; being asked by Steve Hackett to perform with Genesis Revisited brought Nad and his talents to the forefront, bringing much deserved credit and attention.  "The Bride Said No" is a concept album that picks up where 2015's "Courting the Widow" left off.  So off to the business of reviewing we go...

The album is very ornate and gothic; the heavy keyboards and penetrating guitar work are reminiscent of (ironically) early Genesis.  Nad painted a rather dark piece in 2015 with "Courting the Widow"...a tale that delves into the ominous world of the vampiric and otherworldly.  With "The Bride Said No" Nad takes the story further, goes deeper, and gets more extravagant.

My first cut for review, "The White Crown," leaps immediately into a more medieval time; almost as if a music box is opened and a sinister ballerina dressed in black pirouettes her way through your head.  The keyboards are entwined with guitars throughout as they flow eerily through your auditory canals, ultimately rolling down your spine.  You can smell the burning wax from the candelabra and sense an aura of uncertainty as the vocals echo on...a very graphic piece indeed...



Next up on this gaudy buffet is "A French Kiss in an Italian Cafe."  The darkness here is rather mysterious...nothing to worry about but the intrigue is palpable.  Nad's vocals are haunting as the canvas is filled slowly and deliberately with a dark portrait of emotions that erupt as quickly as they flame out.  The saxophone cuts right through your senses as the song winds down...you are standing in a jazz filled nightclub wondering what just happened--and how long before it rolls back around...

Liner Notes...Nad has built a storied career and continues to stretch his abilities and grow.  While spending much of his time in the classic, standard-bearing section of the prog garden, Nad has reached across many sections, touching down and laying roots in the eclectic, ornate, classic, and jazz-fused acreage as well.

This new album has quite an ensemble; in addition to Nad on lead vocals, guitars, piano, keyboards, and acoustic guitar, the star-studded line-up includes Steve Hackett, Roine Stolt, and Guthrie Govan on guitar, Tony Levin on Chapman stick, electric and upright bass, Jonas Reingold on bass, Doane Perry on drums, and Nick D'Virgilio on drums and percussion.  The studio gets more crowded with Jade Ell, Tania Doko, and Sheona Urquhart on vocals.  Sheona lays down that incredible sax solo on "French Kiss" for those keeping score.  Alfons Karabuda is on water phone,  Anders Wollbeck plays additional keys and with Nad is credited for programming, orchestration sound design.

Suffice to say a lot of planning, producing, and orchestrating went into this album , and a lot of
A-Listers in the prog world left their mark on it.  This is an album you will want to have in your prog collection...just be careful with that candelabra...

The album is scheduled for release May 26th at the Inside Out Music website Insideout Music.
Pre-orders are also available now at iTunes and Amazon.  Nad can be found on Facebook at
Nad Sylvan FB and you can keep up with him on tour and in the studio on Twitter @SylvanOfficial.

The final course for this extravaganza is the title cut; quite a standout in its own right.  More sanguine than the previous cuts, "The Bride Said No" smacks you like a jilted lover.  Nad's vocal duet with Tania is absolutely perfect; the emotions rise up like an over zealous souffle.  Guitars and keyboards once again keep the tempo leaping across the mood meter like a house cat toying with a cornered mouse...calculating, stalking, and finally leaping through the headphones victorious and satisfied.  As the song reaches its climax, you sense that perhaps the bride has too...

Posted below is an early release of the first single from the album, "The Quartermaster."  Almost a dreamscape as the music draws back the curtain...and the madness begins.  Nad isn't a breath of fresh air--he is a gust of wind.  His approach is counter to most; what would come off as trite or "plastic" by some leaps from the canvas as bold and refreshing as a frozen margarita in July in Nad's world. The prog garden bursts with energy as piano and drums walk in lock step across the inner lining of your skull, goaded on by guitars that penetrate deep...of course the song ends as abruptly as a dirty joke in Sunday School, but that's part of the wizardry as the master spins his web of illusion...



So fellow progheads, I urge you to purchase this latest release from Inside Out Music.  Nad Sylvan has leapt forth from the dark shadows of the prog garden with an ominous concept album that simmers with a deliberate tension just below the surface...and bursts through the headphones like a levee letting loose the flood.

Nad Sylvan bring a force to the prog garden with a voice that rises to the challenge presented by a strong supporting cast of guitars, keyboards, and drums.  The ensemble behind the curtain is impressive in and of itself; the raw energy everyone brought to the studio when laying these tracks down is evident throughout.  This is an album you won't play just once; it will stay in the CD carousel as you assemble other discs worthy to accompany it and set the tone for your listening pleasure--and your imagination.

Of course, now is the time the search for all things prog pulls up stakes and continues on.  Inside Out Music has an impressive line-up of artists and bands and the prog garden is the perfect place for them to mature.  The Concert Closet continues the journey so you can sit back and enjoy...until next time...

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Rikard Sjoblom's Gungfly "On Her Journey To The Sun"

Fellow progheads, thank you for continuing to come back to the Closet Concert Arena!  This week yet another gem is preparing to emerge from the prog garden; I am privileged to have been asked by Inside Out Records to review the latest release from Rikard Sjoblom's Gungfly.  The band's latest release, "On Her Journey To The Sun" is a limited edition double CD and scheduled for release May 19th.



Learning of the demise of Beardfish was a bitter pill, but from those ashes Rikard has brought forth another stellar prog band taking up residence in the eclectic, free-spirited section of the prog garden. Let us then take the search for all things prog to Sweden and immerse ourselves in the diverse sounds of Rikard Sjoblom's Gungfly.      

My first selection walks a tightrope as it balances a jazzy nightclub sound with earthy overtones, "Old Demons Die Hard."  There are creamy smooth top notes of The Style Council blending with the avant-garde mindset of Frank Zappa on this cut.  Rikard walks you down what is at first perceived as a familiar path only to swerve left, veering into a section of the garden where the temperament tends to fluctuate from upbeat to offbeat.  Gungfly paints using a varied pallet and soft brushes, floating across the canvas like pulled sugar strung in a candy shop.

Digging into a second helping, I am taken by the depth of "The River of Sadness."  The music flows from a calliope-like giddiness to the throes of a melancholy journey across a life beset with unanticipated strife...but all the while there is an air of ease and confidence that belies the title.  An upbeat mood weaves its way through the entire piece, creating a protective aura much like a mother lion guarding her cubs.  Rikard  toys with your emotions as he sails deeper down the river...

Liner Notes...Rikard is originally from Gavle, Sweden and started on his musical journey at the age of five. Fast forward--if that's possible--through a career that spans several bands, band mates, line-up changes past and present, and thus we reach the culmination that is  Gungfly.  In addition to Rikard Sjoblom playing guitars, keyboards, and singing lead vocals,  Gungfly consists of David Zackrisson on guitar, Rasmus Diamant on bass, Sverker Magnusson and Martin Borgh on keyboards, and Petter Diamant on drums.



Rikard performed and wrote with Beardfish and Gungfly simultaneously, at first using Gungfly as an outlet for music which didn't quite within the vast parameters of the Beardfish section of the prog garden...although Beardfish tilled acreage across such a vast expanse of the garden it is difficult to imagine much they would not dabble in...

My third serving from what truly is a remarkable spread this week is "Polymixia," an eleven-minute escape from all that is wrong with the world.  The song opens as if I have stumbled into a third dimension jam session; Rikard makes use of the keyboards and then some on this piece as he waltzes through your mind pinball-like...lights flashing, score climbing, and your mind just this side of "tilt." The other side of my eyelids are exploding with an array of color Crayola was not able to fit into their box of 64...you are left not so much breathless as awed.

The album is scheduled for release on Inside Out Music May 19th and pre-orders are available at
Rikard Sjoblom Gungfly and InsideOut Music.  You can follow Rikard on Facebook as well at
Rikard Sjoblom FB.  For serious fans you can keep up with Rikard, Gungfly, and all the bands and their newest/latest releases on the  Inside Out Music label on Twitter @InsideOutUSA.

To motivate you just a bit and get you in that "gotta buy the music" mood, I offer you the title cut below.  This is Rikard being Rikard; relaxed and pouring out his personal and emotional best while you get to sit back, relax, and enjoy.  When the last of the 2017 sand falls through the hourglass and the inevitable "best of" lists are written, compiled, argued over, and dissected, this is one album that should make most lists and cause the least fights...


One more week spent in the prog garden is one more week of pure bliss, and spending it listening to Gungfly made it all the better.  Rikard Sjoblom does not miss a step; his mental agility and acute insight into the inner workings of the mind make "On Her Journey To The Sun" all the more hypnotic.  This is an album that needs to breathe...and once unleashed will fill your headphones--and the room--with a plethora of sights and sounds.

Inside Out Music has more new prog releases on the horizon, so the journey continues...the  search for all things prog just got more adventurous...until next time...