Roundabout: Alt-J – Relaxer (Beyond the Wall Edition)

All the way back in 2012, Alt-J, aka ∆, created an awesome wave with their debut album and put Leeds on the map of relevant patrician music – and no, Kaiser Chiefs are not patrician nor relevant. Alt-J’s successful blend of electronica, indie, folk and art pop led to An Awesome Wave winning the 2012 Mercury Prize and their sophomore album, This Is All Yours, hitting #1 on the UK Albums Chart. Calling them ‘prog’ might be a stretch, but the band’s artistic flair and proficiency in the unlikely genre of ‘folktronica’ are certainly interesting enough to make Alt-J stand out in the world of popular music.


But what of their latest record? Leth and Cerpin take Relaxer for a special ‘Beyond the Wall’ trip on our Roundabout – but do they reach the same conclusions about the album?

As ever, we’d like to remind you that our Roundabouts are compilations of each Prog Talk admin’s individual and subjective opinions. While we may or may not have expressed our thoughts on the album in private beforehand, we do not collude whilst writing our reviews. So without further ado let’s talk… indie pop?

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Beyond the Wall: North Atlantic Oscillation – Fog Electric

noaAlthough they’ve settled into the Kscope label for a while now, many prog fans haven’t heard of NAO – mainly because it’s not exactly prog, and maybe because they’re currently on hiatus. Scottish group North Atlantic Oscillation skirt the borders of the progressive, or ‘nu-prog’, with whimsical song structures whilst holding a firm stead in electronica influenced rock, hilariously to some prog purists’ dismay.

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Beyond the Wall: The Hsu-Nami

a0427677185_10These guys have a unique sound, because, besides some proggy guitar work and drumming, they include an Erhu – a traditional Chinese instrument. How does it sound? Imagine the Kung Fu Panda soundtrack, but with a prog take. And equally epic.

It baffles me how unknow they are, given they’ve played in festivals, and even one of their songs was featured in the Beijing Olympics! But they seem to be working on their next album now, which I hope it’s out before year’s end. In the meantime, check the following tune – one of their finest compositions.

Post originally published on the Prog Talk FB page on 02/09/2015 by ~Sacul.

Beyond the Wall: iamthemorning

a1518259367_10As weird a mix it might sound, this duo turn their talent for making passionate, heartfelt chamber music, with their love for prog – they’ve even covered Opeth songs.

Subtle strings, pianos, and ocassional guitars flow with Marjana’s angelical voice. Currently my favorite band from Russia – even great artists like Danny Cavanagh and Gavin Harrison have praised them.

The following song is the opener to their sophomore, one of my favorite albums of last year. The prog, and even some rock, is strong on this one.


Post originally published on the Prog Talk FB page on 16/09/2015 by ~Sacul.

Beyond the Wall: deafheaven

dfhvn-newbermuda-cover-f-rgbSo recently, black-metal band deafheaven announced the release of their third studio album ‘New Bermuda’. Their 2013 release ‘Sunbather’ created a lot of waves in the Metal community for popularizing what some people describe as ‘colourful’ Black Metal.

It brought divided opinions, especially from Black Metal fans who saw ‘Sunbather’s optimistic approach to the genre as bastardizing. Continue reading

Beyond the Wall: Stratovarius – Elysium

stratovarius-elysiumI was considering shoe-horning this into Frog’s ‘Length Matters’ segment, although this song’s length is laughable compared to the material in that section – however, I’d like to discuss power metal band Stratovarius’ attempt at a progressive epic: ‘Elysium’.

At 18 minutes, the song displays clear progressions in motifs and a shifting in tempo and mood to effectively convey the song’s ‘Valhalla’-esque concept. Continue reading