Beyond the Wall: Björk – Utopia

You can’t go very long in a conversation about art pop before the name ‘Björk‘ springs up. Whilst progressive rock fans look more towards Kate Bush as the heralding maiden of the genre, it would be greatly amiss not to appreciate Björk‘s contributions to experimentation, artistic expression and technological innovation in pop music over the past few decades.

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From the youthful energy in Debut‘s electropop to Vespertine’s sensual microbeats and from Medúlla‘s primal a capella to Vulnicura‘s emotionally-devastating string section, there is very little in Björk‘s solo discography that hasn’t experimented with a wide variety of styles, instrumentation and themes. Cue Utopia  Björk‘s latest album that explores the use of woodwind instrumentation and, quite unsurprisingly, circles the theme of paradise.

Those of you who know me personally know how much I anticipate each Björk release, so what did I think about it now that it’s released? More importantly, what did you think about it? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below the review, but without further ado – let’s talk Björk:

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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.

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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_10The Hsu-nami 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, the duo iamthemorning 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 album, one of my favorite records of last year. The prog, and even some rock, is strong on this one.

Enjoy.

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