Yes’s Close To The Edge: The Story Behind the Song

Source: Louder.

Right from the very beginning of their career, Yes were driven by a desire to push their music toward the grand or epic, be it through startlingly reimagined cover versions or through their own compositions. Although the likes of Van Der Graaf Generator, Caravan, Pink Floyd, ELP and Jethro Tull got there before them, an extended side-long piece had been on Yes’s to-do list for quite a while.

How Jo Quail created The Cartographer

Source: Louder.

Jo Quail has been producing extraordinary music that gleefully defies categorisation for a number of years now. Both as a perpetually ingenious solo artist and as a textural counter-point to everyone from neofolk icons Wardruna and Japanese post-rock legends MONO to Swedish death metallers At The Gates, she’s steadily built a reputation as one of modern progressive music’s most singular creatives.

That reputation is set to soar when people get their ears around Quail’s latest creation: The Cartographer. A single, 48-minute piece comprising five distinct movements, it was written in response to a commission from Tilburg’s annual Roadburn Festival and was premièred in its exclusive entirety at this year’s event. Fortunately for those without a Roadburn ticket, a studio version of The Cartographer has just been released, and it’s an album that takes Quail ever further into prog territory.

Chris Forsyth’s Electric Guitar Sorcery

Source: Bandcamp Daily.

Forsyth’s guitar can be an engine of avant-garde expeditions to alien realms; a psychedelic fire hydrant wrenched open and spraying multicolored freakout juice in all directions; a rock ‘n’ roll flamethrower reducing all within earshot to ash; an instrument of grace, strewing lyrical beauty all along its path. Sometimes it’s all the above at once and more.

Whether Forsyth is firing up a post-tonal frenzy somewhere between an electric saw and a leaf blower gone berserk, or simply covering a classic Neil Young tune, he brings an artful ear to the process. That’s what makes him one of the American underground’s most commanding guitar stylists. His latest album Evolution Here We Come displays his gift for instrumental compositions that thread the needle through ‘70s beard rock, cosmic Americana, maverick experimentalism, and more, but it’s a link in a long, endlessly mutating chain.

Han Bennink Profiled

Source: Bandcamp Daily.

Though he celebrated his 80th birthday just three months ago, the creative engine of legendary Dutch percussionist and improviser Han Bennink continues to run at full throttle. He’s both an elder statesman and a propulsive instigator not only in The Netherlands, but throughout the world. As a young, itinerant drummer during the late 1950s and ‘60s, Bennink helped establish jazz in post-war Holland, but it was his forays into improvised music, especially through his involvement with the Instant Composers Pool, that cemented his legacy.

The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to John Coltrane

Source: Far Out.

When deeply ensconced in the discussion of truly influential artists, one name invariably crops up, that of John Coltrane. Although he passed away 55 years ago today, it is a testament to the potency of his work that he has managed to stay at the forefront of everyone’s minds for so long, and not see his relevance wain. For him, it has been quite the opposite, and his pertinence has increased exponentially in the 21st century, with the contemporary generation striving to discover new ways of incorporating jazz into genres such as dance, rock, hip-hop, and pop.

The Story of Captain Beefheart

Source: Far Out.

Van Vliet started out as Captain Beefheart in 1964 but left the music industry in 1982 to focus on a new career as an expressionist painter. At that point, he was rumoured to be living in near poverty and seclusion in a small house in the San Fernando Valley, Los Angeles, and he had only made roughly 25 public appearances between 1964 and 1970. His move into painting was ultimately a more successful and profitable venture than his music had been.

However, this move into visual art ought not to come as too much of a surprise. The truth is that Don Van Vliet was, in fact, a sculpting child prodigy. He began sculpting just aged three with a particular interest in dinosaurs, fish and mammals. It is said that Van Vliet’s parents had to push dinner under his door as he was so obsessed with his creative endeavours.

The Textural Sound Art of John Wiese

Source: Bandcamp Daily.

With a career spanning almost 30 years (if one counts his teenage noise tapes), Wiese has carved a singular place in the experimental music world as an extremely prolific artist, with textural projects that inhabit the expanded sound art universe—noise, sound design, multi-channel installation, video art. While many refer to him as a noise artist, the term is somewhat restrictive given his often highly conceptual approach. He started doing typography in high school, later graduating from the graphic design program at CalArts, which strongly shaped his approach toward sound. “I think the design education is important in clarifying [my] certain way of thinking or at least producing a sort of rigor about it,” he says.

Tim Berne’s Avant-Garde Iconoclasm 

Source: Bandcamp.

Tim Berne’s independent streak runs deep. It’s evident in the fiercely original music the alto saxophonist has made throughout his four-decade career, marked by audacious imaginative leaps, daring combinations of voices and palettes, and epic, risk-taking compositions.

But it’s also evident in the way that he’s released that music. Berne founded his label Screwgun Records in 1996, predating and outliving many independent imprints that have sprung up since. His releases are distinctive not only for the singular music they contain, but also for their striking packaging, which originally featured brown cardboard sleeves and always boast stunningly chaotic Steve Byram artwork and Berne’s sardonically witty titles. When the pandemic struck, he launched the digital-only sublabel 9donkey, issuing a steady stream of new solo and collaborative projects as well as archival live recordings.

Magma and the Story of Félicité Thösz

Source: Louder.

In August 2012, the then most recent incarnation of Magma performed at the Zappanale festival in Germany. They included venerable pieces such as Rïah Sahïltaahk from 1971’s 1001° Centigrades and Attahk from 1978’s album of the same name, while their latest album release, Félicité Thösz, was performed in its entirety. Reflecting on the show, Magma vocalist Stella Vander says, “It was great. The only thing was it started to rain incredibly just as we went on stage.”