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Artist News: While We Were Away.... John Wetton, Threshold, Riverside, more

Posted on Saturday, April 01 @ 22:45:46 PDT by admin

While we were on another unintended sabbatical, we learned the sad news of John Wetton's passing this past January. In a year (or so) that saw the losses of Keith Emerson and Greg Lake, to lose another figure in the pantheon of prog is hard to take. I had seen Wetton perform live once, when UK played NEARFest Apocalypse in June 2012. While I might be forgetting something earlier, I'd venture to say that I first knew of John Wetton through Asia, and their monumental debut album, as "Heat Of The Moment" was inescapable in the early 80s (and I didn't want to). Of course, after starting this site some 20 years ago this month, there came to my attention (reviewed or not), solo material, dipping back to King Crimson, more Asia, etc. Anyway, I was sad to learn of his passing.

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In less sad news, or not sad at all news, depending on how you feel. We were surprised to learn recently - like last week? - that Damian Wilson has once again departed from Threshold. The short(ish) version of the vocalist merry-go-round: Wilson had been the band's first vocalist (at least on record, album 1), but then left, sorta, to be replaced by Glynn Morgan (album 2). Morgan left, to be replaced again by Wilson (album 3), who then left again, to replaced by Andrew "Mac" McDermott (albums 4 - 8). Mac left (and later passed away in August 2011) and Wilson returned, on at first temporary basis then back as full time member (albums 9 - 10) ... until this year. It appears the band wanted to go in a different direction, at least vocally. But not so different as the band's new vocalist is also one on his second go 'round - Glynn Morgan.

In March, guitarist Pete Morten also left, having been with the band since 2007. As the band notes on their website, there are no immediate plans to replace him. The band are currently working on studio album number 11, Legends Of The Shires, to be released this autumn. And they'll be performing live this November in Europe. [Source: Threshold]

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Another group with some personnel changes is Believe. Mirek Gil (guitar) posted late last week: "After three difficult years - problems with line-up and my adventure with Collage, not entirely full of sense - we see a light in the tunnel, finally! This light is our drummer Qba (Robert Kubajek). He brings incredible energy and motivates us to new creative projects. Us, meaning the rest of the band - Satomi on violin, Przemas on bass and me (Mirek Gil) on guitar. From Dec to March we created new material for a new album, inspired by wild and unconventional drumming. We got the band on tracks again, with a lot of creative joy, positive energy and playing together. Satomi, creative as ever, played the keyboards and did it with such feelings that we can say now 'we got a female Eddie Jobson in the band.' And by the way, an answer to fans questions: yes, Satomi arranges her violin by herself.

"That is not the end of our joy! A new singer is joining us. We searched long for someone of such talent. He got us enchanted after three first notes he delivered. Łukasz Ociepa is his name. There is great chemistry, so necessary in a band. Now, we are recording new material. New album and new gigs in autumn of 2017.

"PS An old friend of the band says: 'Always and everywhere with Believe'. Keep in touch!" [Source: Believe]

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And... guess who's coming to dinner? Ok, not dinner, recording sessions? Spock's Beard shared: "the amazing Nick D'Virgilio has agreed to play on our next album!

Nick of course is well known to SB fans as our former drummer/lead singer/all around awesome dude as well as for working with artists such as Genesis, Mike Keneally, Peter Gabriel and Big Big Train among others," they go on to say [not to mention a long sting with Cirque De Soleil, if I recall correctly, and some time with Tears for Fears -ed.]. "Nick was with us when we first started and we are over the moon to have him back with us for this album! We know you'll be as excited as we are to hear what we will be able to create with him back pounding the skins. We've been writing new material and plan to start recording in earnest in late May, so stay tuned!" We shall, we. shall. [Source: Spock's Beard]

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Riverside also have some line up news - but only in the live realm. As fans - and readers here - know, guitarist Piotr Grudzinski passed away in February 2016 and the band was uncertain about their future then. At the end of last year, the band were determined to continue, but as a trio (Mariusz Duda - vocals, bass; Piotr Kozieradzki - drums, percussion; and Michał Łapaj - keyboards, vocals). Last week, the band shared no only that they would be on tour starting April 20th (dates on our Event Calendar) - dubbed "Towards The Blue Horizon Tour" - they had added guitarist Maciej Meller to the live lineup. "[T]hanks to [Meller ...] our music will sound the way it should, not only because he's a very good musician, but most of all, because he's got a modesty and humility about him, and these have always been important to us on stage." You can read Duda's comments about and history with Meller at the band's website.

For the Polish dates of the tour, support comes from Lion Shepherd, Sounds Like The End Of The World. More tour dates are planned for the fall. [Source: Riverside]

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In related news, Mariusz Duda's other gig, Lunatic Soul, will be releasing a new album through KScope (rest of the world; Mystic Production in Poland) in September called Fractured. Duda describes it thusly: "Lunatic Soul has changed and if I were to describe this music, I'd call it dark melancholic trance with more electronics and more powerful sounds. But there will also be some lyrical fragments, and a couple of tracks will feature a symphonic orchestra I have worked with for the first time in my career. The new Lunatic Soul album will be brave, rich and musically very intense, a beginning of a new style rather than a continuation of the previous releases. I am under the impression that all my music experiences have led me to this place and that it will be one of the best albums I have ever made."

View the trailer here (and at the Riverside website). [Source: Riverside]

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In some other notes we have cleaned, trawling the web - Anathema will release The Optimist June 9 via KScope. You can view the video for their first released track "Springfield" below. This gets the thumbs up around here - and not having heard them before... quite stunning. And just for a bonus, a link to an earlier track (audio only) is further below, which had me "loving" it via our FB feed.

About "Springfield," Daniel Cavanagh (guitar, vocals) explains the song choice “Here we present the song 'Springfield,' it’s actually the song that closed our unforgettable Wembley gig with Opeth and it seemed to be a track that just fell into place without much effort. It seemed to do itself. The song forms part of a narrative that runs through The Optimist album, it’s a narrative that begins where A Fine Day To Exit left off. The album is a journey. The songs are ambiguous. There is no right or wrong way to take them. Make of them what you will.”

Anathema will be on tour later this year, optimistically traveling throughout Europe and the UK from September 23 to November 18, with special guests Alcest on most dates.

And they are on the bill for the Be Prog! My Friend Festival June 30 - July 1, 2017 (along with Jethro Tull, Marillion, Leprous, Devin Townsend Project and more.

You can pre-order The Optimist here where you will find it in various configurations: A deluxe 4-disc, 40-page hardback book edition that includes a CD of bonus tracks, 5.1 surround sound (24/96 DTS) -- mixed by Bruce Soord -- and hi-res stereo (24/96 LPCM) mixes on both DVD and DTS lossless Blu-Ray (£34.99); a single CD edition with a 16-page booklet (£9.99); a lossless Blu-Ray edition (5.1 SS and hi-res stereo) (£13.99); CD/DVD-V mediabook (also in 5.1 and hi-res) (£12.99); and for those who prefer vinyl, there a 2LP 180g black vinyl edition in a gatefold cover (£17.99) [who said vinyl was dead? -ed.]. Not in the UK? Click the US or JP flag to get your region's pricing.

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That's it for this news update. We won't continue to do this in this format -- smaller news bits, yeh; not omnibus news dumps... ed.

Posted in Band News (tours, comings/goings, etc)

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