Saturday, January 21, 2017

European Bands by Pete Clemons

Pete Clemons - Owing to changes at the Coventry Telegraph, it's looking unlikely that the newspaper will be publishing anymore of Pete's articles,which is a shame but Pete has send a few that were earmarked for the paper - and this is the first - on European Bands.

With the UK about to trigger article 50 please find for your enjoyment the 150th music related article I have fired at the Coventry Telegraph.

As Great Britain begins the process of saying goodbye to Europe it is, I think, worth reflecting on some of the wonderful music Europe has given us over recent years.

Of course everyone will have their own memories and examples from a plethora of musical genres that currently exist and that Europe has offered us. As such this list is far from definitive. Instead it is simply a selection of bands that I have been alerted to, or have stumbled across, during the last 25 years or so. And all of it has originated from different corners of Europe.

How Brexit affects visiting bands and artists in general, in terms of touring, remains to be seen. But a good few of those listed below have already graced our shores. Several of them have already appeared locally at the Assembly in Leamington among other venues up and down the country.

Music, by and large, tends to be internet led nowadays. Without the backing of labels, bands and artists now have to work incredibly hard to build an audience and to self-promote. As such many cottage industries have sprung up and continue to develop and flourish. But the internet has also given us the opportunity of making overseas music, thankfully, a lot easier to access. So feel free to stop by at these bands websites where, more often than not, samples are to be found.

What has Europe ever done for us?. Well, it has provided us with some amazing music. And whats more they have taken the trouble to sing in English. So in no particular order…………

Anekdoten are a band from Sweden, comprised of guitarist/vocalist Nicklas Barker, cellist/keyboardist Anna Sofi Dahlberg, bassist/vocalist Jan Erik Liljeström and drummer Peter Nordins. Anekdoten are notable for the use of the Mellotron and their heavy sound dominated by a pounding bass guitar. This band do not release albums prolifically, 6 studio albums in 25 years, but those they do issue are of a particularly high standard.

Nosound – Began as solo project by Giancarlo Erra who was born in Rome during 1978. Giancarlo was, and continues to be responsible for composing, playing, producing and engineering his own music. As the music began to become more popular the demand for live performance grew. And so a band was assembled. A high point for Giancarlo and Nosound was when they were invited to play at the prestigious Starmus Festival on the island of Tenerife in the Canary Islands of Spain. This performance was later released as an album titled ‘Teide 2390’.

Kingston Wall – was a rock group from Helsinki, Finland who formed in 1987 and who were heavily influenced by the best of what the 60s offered. They consisted of Petri Walli, guitars and lead vocals, Jukka Jvlli on bass and backing vocals and Sami Kuoppamaki on drums and percussion. Walli took the most active role in the band. He formed the group, composed most of the songs and wrote all the lyrics. He was also Kingston Wall's producer and manager and ran the band's record label. They released a superb trilogy of albums between 1992 and 1994 that were rock based but also contained eastern rhythms.

Airbag – are a four piece from Oslo, Norway. When hearing Airbag, the thing that hits you most is the tone of guitarist Bjorn Riis. His playing is, at times, simply off the scale. But that doesn’t mean that they are a one trick pony. In order to deliver his dynamics Bjorn needs to be equally supported by top class musicians. The bands lyrics are as diverse as focusing on the less glamorous aspects of humankind through to how we, as people, are programmed to perform. Airbag has recently released their fourth album which has been described as a sonic journey of lush soundscapes and arrangements.

My Brother the Wind – If you have an interest in improvised music then Sweden’s My Brother the Wind might just be for you. My Brother the Wind are effectively a collective, only coming together for meaningful sessions. The band is made up of members from the following Swedish bands: Anekdoten, Makajodama and Magnolia. They have released three albums of instrumental, improvised rock music of which at least two of the records entered the Swedish music charts.

Riverside – are from Warsaw, Poland and were formed in 2001. Riverside’s music is a more refined and atmospheric version of heavy rock. During this period they have released seven studio albums and a clutch of EP’s. And with each release their reputation has spread further around the globe. Disaster struck the band during February 2016 when guitarist Piotr Grudzinski suddenly passed away. Although recently announcing that the band will continue as a trio, such was Piotr’s presence, I can’t help thinking that the long term future of the band is uncertain.

Opeth – A far cry from the extreme metal band they began as. On Opeth’s more recent diverse music, lead singer Mikael Akerfeldt said ‘I don't see the point of playing in a band and going just one way when you can do everything. It would be impossible for us to play just death metal; that is our roots, but we are now a mishmash of everything, and not purists to any form of music’. The band has recently released its twelfth studio album.
Lunatic Soul – is, in essence, a solo project focused on the visions and talents of the bass player and vocalist from Riverside: Mariusz Duda. Rock music combines with soundscapes as Mariuz examines his alter ego. A fifth album from these highly original sessions is currently being worked on.

Gazpacho – are one of Norway’s premier art rock bands. They have released a series of critically acclaimed concept albums. The themes to these being as broad based as a book written by French author Antoine Saint-Exupéry's "Wind, Sand and Stars" to the ‘the mad ramblings left behind by an unknown tenant in an apartment in Prague’. The word ambitious doesn’t even come close when trying to describe Gazpacho.

The Black Noodle Project - were formed during 2001 in Paris by singer Jérémie Grima. Then, along with the help of a childhood friend, Bertrand Pinsac, Grima created the B-Smile Records label that will release the majority of the group's albums. The band became particular popular in Poland. And after a tour of this country several band members left. The bands last release came during 2013 and little has been heard of them since.

Iamthemorning – OK so this duo are not strictly from Europe. Pianist Gleb Kolyadin and Marjana Semkina hail from St Petersburg in Russia. Since bursting onto the music scene with their self-titled debut album in 2012 they have continued to impress. What is striking about their music are the distinctive vocals and the haunting way it is delivered. Iamthemorning have just recently been awarded ‘album of the year’ for their third album ‘Lighthouse’.

Katatonia – Another extreme Swedish metal band whose style, over time, has evolved into a more mellow sound. The band, formed in Stockholm during 1991, by Jonas Renske and Anders Nystrom have released ten studio albums. More recently Jonas collaborated with Bruce Soord to produce the wonderful ‘Wisdom of Crowds’ album.

Nine Stones Close – Not so much a band but rather the talents of guitarist Adrian Jones who surrounds himself with other talented musicians when the songs are there to be delivered. Adrian has relocated to the Netherlands and the project name refers to a ring of stones to be found in Derbyshire - although only four of the stones still exist. Adrian has been responsible for releasing several dramatic and attention grabbing albums.
I have read too many books to ever consider myself as being a writer, although if I try hard, who knows. But I do enjoy putting these articles together. And I hope you enjoy them too.

Pete Clemons says:- My thanks, once more, goes to the Coventry Telegraph for allowing me the privilege of the space they allow me. And thanks to all the bands and artists whose talents have made my journey through life all the more enjoyable. Without you all there would be none of these articles and a lot less joy in the world. Editor's note (Actually this wasn't published by the Coventry Telegraph and only appears here! However, they have published so many of Pete 's articles,I've left his note as a thank you)

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