Don’t ever cry, just remember…


Today it’s been 10 years since the massive voice of Mike A. Baker, vocalist of Shadow Gallery was silent forever. A heart attack at 45 – as Bruce Dickinson sang “Only the good die young, while the evil seem to live forever”.

I remember buying the first two Shadow Gallery albums right away when they were released in the early 1990s. The production of especially the first one wasn’t flawless, but the music, the vocal harmonies and the great voice of Mike Baker really made me a fan from the start. Shortly afer, from mid 90s till 2005, I had a period of about 10 years during which I lost interest in the music that I grew up with – rock and metal. However, there were a few bands who’s albums I kept buying during that period, although a lot I only listened to first after 2005: Ayreon, Rush, Dream Theater, and Shadow Gallery. Every single album of the band has something magical and unique – although Digital Ghosts lacks Mike’s voice.

With the first self titled album, I fell in love with the flute in Dark Town and the mystery carried by Mike’s vocals in the Queen of the City of Ice. On the second one, Carved In Stone, the brilliant Crystalline Dream, and the epic Cliffhanger and Ghostship were added.

And so, the story continued, and Mike was always there. In recent years, long after his untimely death, there is however one album that has a special place in my musical heart – Room V. After another untimely death, that of my Arianna’s mother, the track Comfort Me became one of our cherished tracks – both to comfort Arianna and to remember her mother. If he was still here, I’d send a thank you message to Mike, likely on the Facebook page he never had – now I just post it here.

Thank you, Mike Baker, voice of memories and comfort. Rest in Peace in the musical havens.

Your touch to comfort me
Just comfort me
Your sheltering soul not a moment too soon
You’re a sweet tourniquet
For my soul lies rife with open wounds
And yes I thought as I closed my eyes
I saw phantom apparitions dance
And are we really safe on our own
Or are they out there watching
Right now I don’t want to care at all


Hey, what’s going on…?

Hey, what’s going on…?  A line that may remind some of a 90s pop song by a band called 4 Non Blondes, others will recall the song by Marvin Gaye, and yet others of a song from the s60s song For What It’s Worth by Buffalo Springfield, in which it is actually ‘everybody look what’s going down…


Either way, the line is the title of this post, because it’s a question I’ve been asking myself for the past months, especially when it comes to music. For some reason, I’ve not been so keen on listening to new music – be it prog, metal, or anything else since the end of summer. Likewise, I haven’t had special fun running my weekly show on ISKC rock radio, except for a few good days.. It’s not that I don’t like doing it, but when the music is not making you feel good, running a show becomes a chore. I don’t know what’s blocking me, but it’s been a nuisance. Luckily, it’s slowly changing.

Yes, it’s slowly turning, since I picked up a guitar and bass again a few weeks ago. I was preparing for the tribute show for Colin Tench, listening to some music, together with Arianna. She’d been asking me to play a bit for her for a while, and I picked up the acoustic Gretsch and we ended up doing some acoustic songs together – To Be With You by Mr. Big being the most memorable one. That revamped my musical feel again, and I’ve been playing more music since. Still not on the level I used to be at, but on last week’s show I had some of my old favourites going – the new ones will come soon.

Meanwhile, it’s also been quiet on my blog, except for the said memorial post on Colin’s passing. The reasons are the same, but I’ve also been busy doing other things. One thing that made me happy were the Christmas holidays. I spent two weeks with Arianna, in Italy and The Netherlands, with our children taking turns in being there – one time we’ll all be at the same place at the same time. Our first Christmas (of many to come) really together, and New Years eve and her birthday as well. A picture to prove … It was magical <3

Now what’s next? More radio shows, some musical cooperations in the making (I want to get back on my bass, for real) and a bright future. Join me again here, more to come…



And so, Today… in memory of Colin Tench

On December 30th 2017, just after midnight, Arianna and myself had just finished packing for our first flight together from Italy to The Netherlands and were ready to go to bed, when my phone buzzed. An incoming message from Gordo Bennett. Normally, I would have left the message till the morning, but the small bit that showed on the notification made me want to read it right away. “Angel my brother… My dear friend… It deeply saddens me”, it said. I opened the message and all I could say was ‘Nooo!’ – or something a bit more profane, I can’t remember. Colin Tench, musician, composer, producer, but most of all friend, had past away in the past few days. We didn’t sleep for a while that night, there were just tears, and short call to Gordo to bond in our grieve. I had talked to him only a few days before, just before Christmas, when he sent me his new album, and I promised to listen and call him after my holidays, in the first weekend of January. Tonight, actually, as I write this.

We cried, we talked about Colin and played only one song, before giving in to sleep. A song that he wrote at the end of 2016, the year that so many musicians left this earth – And So, Today….

A song, that now fits so much his own case. A talented man, in the middle of work and way too young to die. Actually, our friend Lucas Biela found the best words to express it a few days later: ‘Colin was too young to die, and nowhere near to old to rock n roll’

I’ve known Colin since early 2013, and we became closer friends after september 2014, when Corvus Stone released their second album. Arianna has known him since even a few years before then, around the time the BunChakeze album was released. When I had a burnout in 2015, Colin was one of the people that got me to use music as a way back to sanity – he got me in touch with other musicians, other music, reviewers and radio stations – and through that also to Arianna. He was a funny, talented and above all intelligent man. He was all over the web and the new music distribution channels, but hardly anything personal can be found about him online – although the past year he was a bit more open about the renovation of his house (and saving Shaun the Sheep from his roof – poor animal). Even the date of his birthday was a mystery, and most of us only found out the real date in the saddest possible way. Still, by talking to him, and being open about my own situation, he became more open about himself – and we learned a bit more about each others life. Things he told me, that he told us, and that we will cherish always, but that won’t be out in the open out of respect for our lost friend. A friend who we were planning to visit within the next two years, and who promised that once we settled on a wedding date, he would drive his Bentley south for us, and to learn how to play at least one song by heart for the occasion.

So much we talked about in so few years, and it feels like a void now.  Rest in peace – or rather, sit with the folks you wrote ‘And So Today…’ for, and rock the afterlife till the roof flies off. We miss you Colin, and we will always love you. You live on in your music, and the memories you left with us and so many others all over the world these 63 years.

And so, today 
Heard the news 
Did you hear what they say? 
The knight on the hill is sleeping 
Sleep well dear friend 
Your music is here to stay 
The magic still fills my ears 

Colin Tench – May 30, 1954 – December 27, 2017

Silhouette CD launch – The World Is Flat…

After three years of hard work, especially the past 6 months, it’s finally there. Silhouette’s new album The World Is Flat (And Other Alternative Facts) will be presented to a live audience on September 22nd at Parktheater Alphen. That evening, you will hear the new music, by a band that wants to go for it!

The band will share the stage with British prog act The Gift, who released a wonderful album Why The Sea is Salt in 2016. If you missed them at ‘t Blok in February, here’s your chance to catch up.

Aisles – Hawaii

First time I heard Aisles was on their dark concept album 4:45AM. With Hawaii, they deliver another 80 minute concept album, about a group of human colonies surviving after the earth is destroyed. Musically it’s a very interesting mix of melodic symphonic rock, transferring the sound of the 70s and 80s to a 21st century sound. There is no lack of musicianship in this band, and Angel is one of the best vocalists I know. Highlights for me: jazz rock infused The Poet, and the wonderful, very melodic, symphonic rock pieces CH-7 and Pale Blue Dot. Progressive Rock lives in Chile.


Highly recommended.

Aisles, Profuna Ocean and Little Eye at Extase, Tilburg 27-10-2016




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Last Thursday I finally got a chance to see my friends from Chilean band Aisles perform live. It was their first European tour, and the crowd was small, but they didn’t worry about that – the band played as if they had never done anything else in their lives. The energy, skill and enthousiasm were a wonderful experience.

Their support acts Little Eye (more rock than prog, but a very good live act with a great and expressive vocalist) and Profuna Ocean (prog/prog metal, with wonderful bass work) added to the atmosphere and warmed up the small audience quite well. Although I must add it’s always a pity if people coming to a gig as friends of a support act don’t have the decency to also stay around for the main act. Slightly disrespectful, but let’s not blame bands for the behaviour of their fans.

Below, a set of nice pictures I took at the gig.

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Nth Ascension – In Fine Initium

About a year ago I was introduced to the magical world of Clanaan, where the chords needed to create music are lost. And they’ve been lost for a while – I think at least two years by now….  Luckily, I know where they are. The missing rider is a man called Darrel Treece-Birch, and he’s using the chords to create beautiful music on any keyboard he can find, together with his friends Alan ‘Spud’ Taylor (vocals), Craig Walker (drums), Gavin Walker (bass) and Martin Walker (guitar). Come to think of it, looking at the names, maybe the next album should be titled The Rider, the Bard and the three Walkers…ifi-new-album-poster

Where The Ascension of Kings was certainly to my liking, I recall challenging the band into taking it another step up on the next one. Time to find out if they did.[acfw id=2]

The opening track Kingdom Keys already shows that if they haven’t picked up that challenge, at least they tried – and succeeded. The track starts rather loud, with big drums, but builds up into a more theatrical piece, with emotional vocals over layers of keyboards – to end in a wonderful, almost bluesy, classic rock guitar lead. And yes, Spud’s voice may be an acquired taste, but I like it more every time. It stands out among other vocalists, as in not being cliché, and he manages to put a lot of emotion into his singing.

He can also do other things – even if he doesn’t have the range of Bruce Dickinson, it’s mainly due to the vocals, and Darrel’s keys that I get reflections of late 80’s Iron Maiden (Alexander the Great, anyone?) on End of Days. It’s not metal, and far more keyboard oriented than, but I do get that image for some reason. The mix of piano and guitar halfway, and the bass in a quiet part add to the score.

Like Vision on the previous album, The Cage seems to tell a story – about war, but also in a way about how our leaders treat their people I think. With a driving drum and bass pattern underneath one of Darrel’s keyboard walls the track has a certain momentum, only interrupted by a slow bass, keyboard and spoken vocals half way, and a dramatic ending. And ending that lyrically makes me think of how we are currently selecting our ‘leaders’, and the way that gets criticised and opposed more and more. Hopeful, yet dramatic:

The World has changed forever, nothing will ever be the same
As the trumpets sound across the earth to warn and to proclaim
Confetti propaganda, falls like autumn dying leaves
And the rhetoric you all believed in the dirt now disappears

And did I skip over So, That was the Apocalypse here? Yes, but only because I was focusing on the tracks that match each other so well on this album. This track stands out among them, because it is completely different. On a radio show chat, it was discussed whether it could be an ode to John Lord. Lots of keys and organ, a biting guitar and a bass that propels everything forward – if not an ode to John, then to his band Deep Purple.

At the end of the album we find the next three pieces of Clanaan, a story that started on the previous album, and that continues here. On In Search for the Rider, the keys (a lot of it piano) lead the way for Spud’s vocal, over a slow, tight rhythm section. Some short melodic patterns, often hardly a second long recur in a recognisable way in between the intricate layers of the keys and guitar, providing a nice coherence to the track. That idea continues in a lesser extend in the instrumental Forever, before the the slow, sad When the Rain Falls leaves the listener longing for the continuation of the story on the next album.

So, is it perfect? No, because nothing is, but Nth Ascension got yet again a bit closer. This music is complex, melodic, emotional and definitely a nice mix of classic rock and symphonic. The Dutch talk about symphonic rock when keyboards rule, avoiding (useless, to my mind) discussions about whether or not it’s prog, and Nth Ascension fits that term very well. Highly recommended.


Fractal Mirror – Slow Burn 1

I am not sure whether it was the dark mood of this album, or the amount of work on my plate (“There’s too much on your plate”, Leo Koperdraat sings on the track Miracle as I write this), but it took me almost 6 months and countless listens to get around to reviewing this album. Does that mean it’s a bad album? On the contrary, this is a set of 11 thought out tracks, in the style that we know from Fractal Mirror’s previous album Garden of Ghostsscreen-shot-2016-10-07-at-23-10-07

However, compared to the previous album, there are quite a few differences.  Partly because of the lyrics, which deal with the way technology is disrupting our lives – from the internet and smartphones all the way to our large telescopes that makes us learn about the universe. The deep, slow voice of Leo Koperdraat, which has not lost any of it’s Steve Kilby likeness, tells what this all does to our minds and our lives, accompanied by his guitar and the ever so well executed drumming of Frank Urbaniak and Ed van Haagen’s deep bass and floating keyboard work – and a nice list of guest musicians, including bass players Leopold Blu-Sky and Kenny Bisset Sr, and guitarits/producer Brett Kull (Echolyn).[acfw id=2]

Playing this album during my evening walks in the dark makes me change moods frequently, in line with the music. From melancholy (Miracle, Embers) to wonder (V838), via sadness (Fading, Embers – where Leo sings “We slowly burn…”) back to melancholy on Universal. What makes me happy underneath is the skill with which the compositions are formed. The mix of rock, indie and progressive rock the band claims to create does work well with the lyrics, and the eminent darkness of the lyrics is complemented by wonderful, fitting melodies.

The band has been worrying, also in public, about the low sales, and I can see why – this is not the most complex album to get into musically, but the moodiness may keep people away from it. A shame really, because after these 6 months this is an album I’d like to recommend, for an evening of contemplation every once in a while.

Colin Tench Project – Hair in a G-string

Classically trained (but not in guitar) guitarist Colin Tench is about 132 years old now. He was there when George Martin was conceived, errm, conceived The Beatles… Having learned to play the instrument at 22, after a 110 years he can barely be distinguished from the ones who started at age 5.


This is the point where I could say ‘All jokes aside’ and continue, but with this album I’m afraid that’s very hard, as there is a lot to laugh about, in between 80 minutes of seriously good and well performed music. Good music, in the form of an epic title piece, that is divided into separate 4 parts, and runs about 30 minutes in total. The piece has a recurring musical theme, that is played in so many different ways it takes a proper listen to spot it, and which invisible makes it into a coherent piece. Makes coherent indeed, because this is not music for casual listeners. They will hear loose bits and pieces, that only connect when you sit down for it. It starts in Part 1 with an acoustic guitar and some synths, changes to electric guitar and piano, but just as easily goes Santana style lating in the second half of Part 2. In Part 3, avant garde and Zappa-esque things happen (also lyrically), while in Part 4 we are treated to a great progressive rock piece, with a comedy parade performed by vocalists Peter Jones and Phil Naro. [acfw id=2]

Having the theme, and Colin’s way of composing make that this works. He doesn’t just lay down a chord pattern. He thinks (and talks) in melodies and every note has to be at the right spot and of the right length – like the way classical composers did. I know first hand – having contributed a whopping 2.30 minutes of fretless bass to this piece. I have some bass notes left over that were rejected for being in the wrong place. I think the same applies to Petri Lindström (Corvus Stone) who contributed most of the other bass parts on the album, and Stephen Speelman (Unified Past) who makes a short but stunning appearance right in the middle of Part 2.

In between the four parts, 8 other tracks are placed, all of which are delicately crafted compositions, and as varied as the main suite.

Can’t see It Any Other Way, is almost a prog rocker, with sufficient ‘funny noises’ and percussion to make it into something that attracts attention. The big star here is singer Phil Naro (Unified Past). La Palo Desperado and The Mad Yeti show Colin Tench’s skills on acoustic guitar, and so does Dnieper Summer Day.

On The Sad Brazilian, a horror movie like keyboard riff opens, after which the track develops into a nice mix of melodic electric guitar rock and orchestra.

That orchestra, which lives in Gordo Bennett’s (GorMusik)basement also happens on Lisa Waltzes back in with no G-string, which is a ‘redesign’ of the last bit of Corvus Stone’s Moaning Lisa. In that piece, originally German Vergara sings ‘mi chitarra canta’, on this version Colin let’s his guitar sing for real. He does it again, acoustically on Lisa’s Entrance Unplugged, a redo of the same tracks intro minutes, with additional beautiful flute work by Ian Beabout. Oh, and there’s the bonus track of course, a full orchestra rendition by Gordo Bennett of the yet another part of Moaning Lisa.

Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed Something Screwed was always one of my favourite demos of CTP, and now it’s been remixed and slightly changed. Colin’s ode to the old prog bands, by musically making it exactly what the title suggests.

The love it or hate it track on the album is likely A Beautiful Feeling. A bit of an odd beast, being a proper rock ballad, but with a feeling to it that made me nick name it ‘The love boat’. It does have that feeling, just listen and you’ll understand. At the same time, it has something very appealing, maybe once again because of Phil Naro’s great vocals.

And of course, like all Colin Tench’s works, the artwork on this album (digital release available September 30th, CD in november 2016) is done by the brilliant ‘pintora’ Sonia Mota (Chipmunk). To honour her (we think, but he won’t admit it) Peter Jones contributed the 23 second Part 4b Redux to the album, which has the Chipmunks singing.

That same Peter Jones provided the vocals for my forever favourite track on this album And So, Today. Not favourite because it’s the most complex or most progressive, but because it is a very fitting and well executed tribute to all the musicians who left earthly life in the year before this album was released. Every time I hear the line “Our wild eyed boy is stardust…” I get goosebumps and the hair on my arms stands upright.

Overall, this is an album I find hard to describe. The music on this one was all mainly composed by Colin Tench himself, although the contributing musicians got a lot of freedom to fill their parts. This makes it different from Colin’s main project, Corvus Stone, which has tracks composed based on ideas by different band members. Some may find it more coherent because of this. Either way, like Zappa liked doing new things, as did Yes and Genesis in the early 70s, and The Beatles in the 60s, Colin aimed at doing something not done by other bands. And I think he succeeded. Music that sounds loose and playful, yet every note was perfectly planned. As Peter Jones sings in part 3, it’s Gooditygooditygood. Highly recommended!