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Fantastic review from Buzz Elliott of Progwatch here
REVIEW TIME – Our good friend Buzz Elliott from Hammerhead has been hitting the keyboard (in a non-violent way) to share his rather extensive thoughts with us on the new Long Earth album – “Once Around The Sun”. Let’s check out what he has to say…….
“In recent years I have seen the band Long Earth live a few times up in Glasgow & I always enjoy their performances, so I was really looking forward to hearing the full album; ‘Once around the Sun’ having already heard some of the songs at their gigs.
This is their second album & the band is comprised of a selection of seasoned musicians who have past connections with some of the finest prog’ bands currently on the Scottish music scene; Abel Ganz, Grand Tour Music & Comedy Of Errors. For those of you who are not familiar with these band names, do yourself a favour and check them out as the prog scene over the Scottish border over recent years has been bubbling with excitement and creativity, and continues to do so. I’m aware from going to all the ‘Prog before Christmas’ gigs over the last few years that respect is also due to Hew Montgomery who, although is not an active member of Long Earth, he is a great source of inspiration to them, and the whole prog’ scene up in Scotland from what I have seen.
Long Earth’s new(ish) singer Martin Haggarty has quite a unique & distinctive voice which helps to give the band a sound that is very identifiable, he has a wide vocal capacity (including falsetto on one of the songs), but for quite a few of the songs on this album Martin chooses to stick in the mid range, which actually suits the story telling aspect of the songs, I believe that he is mainly responsible for most of the lyrics which are interesting & often thought provoking throughout the album. Great lyrics aren’t always essential, but they definitely help and give the music more credibility.
Musically, I found this album to be very melodic & accessible, the musicianship is just as exiting on record as it was live. Sometimes I see a band live and love what they do enough to buy their CD, only to find that the album sounds sterile & weak compared to the live performance, but that is definitely not the case here, the musicians shine throughout & the production work also sounds excellent, it is well mixed and mastered so that you can hear everything crystal clear and nicely balanced.
The album ‘Once around the Sun’ kicks off in musically uplifting mood, which is initially at odds with the dystopian lyrics that follow on ‘We own tomorrow’, the song immediately demonstrates the strength of the musicians involved, brilliant keyboard & synth’ riffs from Mike Baxter, & the rhythm section of the band (Gordon Mackie on bass & Ken Weir on drums) are locked together & driving things along solidly, whilst guitarist Renaldo McKim provides some exemplary guitar work. I remember watching Renaldo live (up close & personal), & he didn’t put a foot wrong throughout the whole performance, liberally playing just what each song requires, & then excelling when it comes to any solo parts, his use of phyrigian scales towards the end of this song over a pulsating staccato bass riff helps to give it the required atmosphere, also great vocals & interesting lyrics from Martin Haggarty help to complete the ingredients for this excellent opening song. (Editor: Buzz, us “non-musicians” couldn’t understand a word of that last sentence !! LOL)
Track two ‘My suit of armour’ resonates with me immediately as lyrically it tells of the things we go through in life, some good, some not so good, & some tragic, & how we subsequently have to find a way to cope & carry on with the harshness that life can sometimes throw at us. It is a powerful heartfelt ballad, full of emotion & executed perfectly, just as it was live when I saw the band twice last year, anyone who knows me well enough, will know that through personal tragedy I have had the year from Hell !!! Music can be a very powerful thing & this song really got to me today, I think maybe I need wear two suits of armour next time I listen to this one!
Next up is ‘A guy from down the road’, which I recall was one of the most memorable songs performed live at the ‘Hug & Pint’ & also the ‘Drygate Brewery’ (PBX4) late last year in Glasgow, it’s a very strong song & really stood out in their live set due to singer Martin getting into character by donning a dark hoodie pulled down to disguise his face whilst singing the menacing song, it tells of the thoughts & actions of a serial killer, & it is driven along by a relentless catchy riff on the Hammond which comes & goes throughout the song, the protagonist of the story goes on to describe his actions in explicit detail, isn’t it surprising how inspiration for songs and lyrics can come from the strangest of sources, anything is possible. Musically, the song makes good use of minor & major keys to set the mood of the various sections of the 12 minutes duration, I am left wondering about the sordid secrets of the ‘normal’ people just down the road from where I live, and in turn, they are probably wondering about the weird hippie in a cannabis bandana who lives at the top of the hill!
….just then, my wife Fiona came in and thought that I was listening to Depeche Mode, considering the style of the music on this one, & the dark subject matter coupled with Martin’s deadpan baritone vocal style for this particular song, I can understand what she means.
The next two songs; ‘What about love’ & ‘The man in the mirror’ are possibly the least ‘proggy’ tracks on the album, although both are still worthy of their inclusion, and feature some nice melodies and nimble keyboard work from Mike Baxter whose playing and choice of sounds throughout the whole album is one of the reasons why the band sound so good, Renaldo’s guitar work on ‘The man in the mirror’ sounds magical & the overall arrangement of the song gives it a mystical & mysterious vibe.
And so onwards to the final & title track ‘Once around the Sun’, which ironically for a Scottish band, has the acronym O.A.T.S ! Hehhehee, thankfully it isn’t about porridge !!!
It is a concept suite consisting of four segments, each one representing one of the four seasons here on Earth, back to back the suite totals 33 minutes, & each individual segment is musically in harmony with the season that it represents, but lyrically Martin has created a secondary underlying concept that speaks of the emotions felt during the various stages of a human relationship that blossoms, but eventually breaks down over the course of a year – what can I say?? It is a real triumph & the boys should be really proud of this one, this extended musical journey goes through so many musical styles and passages that it never once gets boring, & it is the perfect way to end an excellent album, once again; this all demonstrates that with passion and conviction it is still possible to create some outstanding & majestic progressive rock music in modern times. We all often go back to listen to many classic albums of prog’s glorious past by bands such as; Pink Floyd, Yes, King Crimson, Genesis, etc. and in a similar way I am left wanting to hear this album again, and again, which is more than I can say for some albums in the modern prog World, sometimes bands can be technically brilliant, but simply don’t contain the melodies & hooks, or that certain something you can’t quite put your finger on, that leave you wanting to hear it again.
‘Once around the Sun’ is rich in melody and full of great songs, therefore it is definitely an album that I will return to regularly, in fact it’s going straight into my car stereo for the next few weeks. I loved it, well done guys, and I really look forward to seeing you live & meeting you again after the apocalypse!
I rate the album 8.5/10 “
17/7/20 Utterly delighted by this superb review from Rob Fisher of The Progressive Aspect. Full review here
When trying to talk about a piece of music it can be frustrating knowing how, or even where, to start. Occasionally, having spent time with a particular release, you realise it’s perhaps not as good as the initial cursory listen led you to believe. Unpacking the ‘why’ of that sense of disappointment can be difficult. Other time, however, a recording can be so beautifully put together, the beguiling experience it weaves for you then takes time and patience to slowly pick apart, understand and appreciate all the different elements involved.
Many a time I have sat down to start writing about Once Around the Sun, the second studio album from Scottish band Long Earth, only to find myself still twiddling my thumbs hours later and reaching for the play button for ‘just one more listen’ as I try to figure out where to start. It turns out the start – and also the end – is actually the easy bit: it’s bloody brilliant. After that, frankly, there’s not much more that needs to be said – apart from the inadequacy for all those asking: Why? How? You can’t leave it at that. For god’s sake, tell us more!
Mmmm. So where should I begin? Perhaps, maybe, just one more listen!
In the end, the only thing I can do is tell you the journey of my gradual captivation with this seductively magnificent album. You see, the place to start is with the simplest and most natural of reactions: it feels right – it feels good, with an immediacy and presence that only music can. Everything about it resonates, tingles with an embracing, enfolding and organic elegance that effortlessly sweeps you along on a musical journey where you happily lose yourself among the bubbling melodic currents and harmonic eddies.
Unpacking this further, I would draw your attention, first, to the remarkably uncanny and deeply perceptive way it captures and then gently amplifies the shifting moods of the world in which we presently live. Perhaps this is why it feels so right: it is, without question, an album of and for its time. The poignant and at times almost painful lyrical resonance speaks with an all too world-weary wisdom, spiked with penetrating observations born of hard-won and long-suffering personal experience.
Listen, for example, to the touchingly deft nuances and the carefully well-chosen phrases scattered throughout what is my favourite track of the album, My Suit of Armour. The simplicity of the message is underscored by the use of incredibly shrewd turns of phrase. Life is a journey, but some journeys are longer, or more difficult, or more painful than others. We say “goodbye to those who love without condition”; we “bury fallen comrades and wipe our tears away”; “they say that what doesn’t kill you serves to make you stronger, I should be invincible by now”. So “I shed my skin, put on my suit of armour and battle on somehow”.
The arresting poetic force and lyrical finesse across the whole album is enthralling as well as deeply moving. But lyrics cannot exist in a vacuum, so I would draw attention, second, to the diversity and the depth of musical expression which permeates this recording. A sprightly and delightful creativity is at work in forming a musical cradle which never fails to bewitch and beguile.
The masterpiece of the album is the four tracks which together form what might be called the ‘Four Seasons Suite’, standing at around 33 minutes in duration. The genius at work here lies in the comparison it draws in the transition between seasons and the emergence, growth, decline and fall of a relationship. It all happens in the time it takes for the world to go once around the sun.
Superb musicianship translates each of the four stages into a thoroughly engrossing series of musical vignettes that are stunning in the exercise of instrumental virtuosity as well as the richly textured and riveting emotional experience they present. Summer, in particular, is almost perfect in its blend of lyrical poignancy, intense musical expressiveness and insightful performances.
I’ll finish where I started. Once Around the Sun is bloody brilliant. The lyrical and musical charms it offers are irresistible, enticing and certainly provocative. A fabulous second album which deserves hearty and lavish appreciation.
4 June 2020
Well, due to Scottish Coronavirus lockdown, there is not much we can do, not allowed to meet up, rehearsal rooms shut, recording studios shut. All bars and venues closed….not a great time for a band but Mike and Renaldo have been working on new ideas for when we can get together again.
8 MAY 2020
Have a listen. If you don’t like the first song you click on, try another. You will definitely find something you like on this album. 🙂
New album “Once Around The Sun” is picking up great reviews. We would also like to say thanks to all the DJ’s around the world who are playing the album.
Here are a few of the reviews…..
“Once Around the Sun’ comprises nine tracks of lushly composed and executed progressive rock where every note has a place. The whole album is joyously created and contains a part of every member. It speaks of the wonder of fresh spring days, a hazy and never ending summer, the first leaves that fall on a beautiful autumn day and the joy and warmth to be had sat in front of a log fire with those you love.”
“All in all, this is a stunning follow-up to the debut, showing how the band has evolved into an excellent unit. Don’t delay, just go and get a copy of Once Around The Sun and sample what is a masterpiece of modern prog with huge leanings to the “old style,” played by musicians who have dreamed the dream and have now delivered the dream. The dream has a name, and the name is Once Around The Sun.”
“With the provenance flowing through the band, Long Earth were never going to produce anything but a great follow up to ‘The Source’ but in ‘Once Around The World’ everything seems to have clicked and we see a band nearing their creative zenith. Take my advice, go and listen to what may well be one of 2020’s subliminal releases.”
“A musically engaging and utterly enthralling album with gentle but insightful lyrics which make you sit up and take notice.”
Thanks to everyone who has reviewed the album.
The full reviews can be found on the Long Earth Facebook page.
Check out the new album for free. If you like what you hear you can buy or download from Bandcamp, itunes, http://grandtourmusic.org/?page_id=1014 Amazon or the Long Earth website.
Unfortunately, due to the current Covid-19 situation, we are unable to get out to promote the album through live gigs.
It would be a great help to the band if you could share this post with anyone you think would like our music.
18 March 2020
CDs finally arrived on 18 March and have been sent out! Downloads available on bandcamp and iTunes. CD can be purchased from our shop.
A really nice review of Once Around The Sun by Progradar can be found here
An interview with Philippe Andre of Profilprog in France can be found here
A taster video with snippets from Once Around The Sun can be found here.
Not the final master mix as the tracks are still being mastered.
The final artwork for Once Around The Sun is being created but it will be based on this draft
Final mixing of Once Around The Sun is complete and the album is off for mastering at last. Release date is set for 16 March and preorders are avalable at www.grandtourmusic.org
OLD NEWS ARCHIVE
A nice Prog Radar review of The Source from 2017 can be found here
Our hunt for a new Lead Vocalist is over – after many auditions, we are pleased to announce that Martin Haggarty has taken on the role. Martin formed Glasgow “post punk” outfit Lost Weekends in 1983 during a Lou Reed/Iggy Pop phase before joining Abel Ganz for a brief spell and 5 or 6 gigs (1985?). He joined short-lived proggers Masque in 86 before forming Field of Vision 1987. After 4 years, FoV took a hiatus that lasted until 2013, when the 3 core members reformed to write new music, some of which featured on 2015’s Viccissitudes of Life EP, and 2016 single The Dagger. FoV continue to write and record as a studio-only project, but with a desire to return to live music and a surplus of musical ideas, the opportunity to join a couple of former bandmates in Long Earth was too good to resist.
25/1/2018 Long Earth has decided to part company with Neil Mackie. We all wish him well with his future projects and, for 2018, Long Earth will be pushing ahead with producing our second album.