Between A Rock And A Prog Place: MAGENTA/CYAN's ROB REED – "There Seems To Be A Lot Of Bands Saying They Are Now Prog"
October 27, 2023, a month ago
What truly is progressive music? Each month BraveWords will aim to dissect that answer with a thorough overview of the current musical climate that is the prog world. Old and new, borrowed and blue. A musical community without borders. So watch for a steady and spaced-out array of features, current news and a buyer's guide checklist to enhance the forward-thinking musical mind. So, welcome to BraveWords' monthly column appropriately titled, Between A Rock In A Prog Place.
In this month's column, we speak to Magenta and Cyan keyboardist Rob Reed about his latter band's new album, Pictures From The Other Side, the band's line-up and touring plans, plus an update on Magenta.
How does Pictures From The Other Side compare to For King And County?
"Pictures was written on my own, as the rest of the band had all moved away, after leaving school. I was listening to a lot of It Bites, Simple Minds and Marillion. I've always been a fan of a good melody, and wanted this album to be more song-based, with melodic instrumental passages. The new album version is so much different to the original. It's a completely new re-write and re-recording, with an amazing line-up. I've been able to bring all the technical know-how to the music, and fix arrangement problems from the original."
Let's discuss the album's 17-minute track “Nosferatu.”
"The album had to be an epic, and me and my brother, who writes the lyrics, are both massive horror film fans. It started out with the opening rock guitar riff. I think I was playing a lot of Led Zeppelin. Then it's just short songs, woven together. The end had to be epic, and uses a section 'Carl Orff' -Carmina Burana, which was similar to the music from The Omen. I had to recreate a full choir, so I had to sing each section of the choir, multiple times. Now with the new reworking, I can finally realize what I heard in my head. It's much longer, and re-wrote lots of sections. Of course with Pete singing it and Luke on guitar, it's gone to another level."
Will Cyan tour in support of the new album?
"We are planning shows for 2024. We have done three festivals so far this year. It's such a great band live."
What were some memories of when Cyan performed at the Night Of The Prog Festival this year?
"We played the festival back 10 years ago with Magenta, but this was on a different level. We had an amazing slot just before Nick Mason. The sun had gone down and lights were on. We performed really well, and we had rehearsed the show to climax towards the end. We had a technical problem with the guitar, so Pete sang Genesis' 'Ripples.' Nearly 2,000 people singing along. It was magical, with Genesis’s manager in the wings, who came up to Pete to say how good it was. This took the show to another level. It was amazing."
How does the line-up of Cyan compare to when the band originally formed, back in 1983?
"The original lineup was just a lot of school friends who wanted to be Genesis. We had terrible equipment, cheap Casio keyboards, and used to rehearse in the school hall. It was so exciting, we pulled together £30 and made our first demo in a 4-track recording studio. We listened back to the playback and it was incredible. I was hooked on a future in music."
For those who are not familiar with the talents of Peter Jones, please explain what he means to the band, and also, his condition.
"Peter Jones is an amazing talent. He is blind from birth, but has an incredible musical ear. He can play all instruments to such a high level, but his voice is what attracts me to him. I've always been lucky to work with some of the best vocalists. Christina from Magenta. Steve Balsamo from Eric Woolfson/Jon Lord. So I was looking for somebody to be the voice of the new Cyan band. Pete is signed to our label, and hearing him sing with Camel, he was the obvious choice."
What is the meaning of the band’s name?
"It's just one of the secondary colors, along with Magenta. It's always tough to come up with a name."
Who are some of your favorite prog artists and albums of all time?
"I love Genesis and Yes, of course. My musical hero is Mike Oldfield, that's why I learned to play all of the instruments and make my solo album, where I play everything. I don't listen to any modern prog rock, as when I come home from the studio, I want to listen to something else – ABBA, ELO, or Supertramp."
Is prog alive and well in 2023?
"It is, though I'm not sure what everybody considers as prog now. There seems to be a lot of bands saying they are now prog. Back when I started Magenta, nobody wanted to be called a prog band. It could have something to do with the fanbase, being the last genre of music fans who are prepared to pay for the music."
What is Magenta currently up to?
"I've just written a new album and I'm pleased with the style of music. It's different to Cyan. Which I like, as I like to go to different places and projects to refresh myself."
Between A Rock And A Prog Place News Blast
Styx will be returning to the Venetian Resort in Las Vegas for a run of dates in 2024 (from January 26-February 3). Tickets are already on sale and can be ordered via the Venetian site or through Ticketmaster. Iceland prog rockers the Vintage Caravan are currently touring Europe in support of their recently-issued live album, The Monuments Tour (Live), for which a 'static video' for the tune “On The Run” can be heard here.
German prog quartet Unprocessed will be issuing a new album on December 1, entitled …And Everything In Between, and they recently unveiled a video for the tune "Blackbone," which can be enjoyed below. Symphonic metallists Serenity are issuing their latest LP, Nemesis AD, this month – which you can order by clicking this.
Prog veterans the Mommyheads recently issued their 15th studio offering overall, Coney Island Kid, for which a video for its title track can be enjoyed below. Another veteran prog act, the Flower Kings, issued their 16the studio album, Look At You Now, and have unveiled a new video clip for the tune "Day For Peace."
Modern symphonic metallists Temperance recently issued their latest album (which features a quite 'proggy' title), Hermitage - Daruma's Eyes Pt. 2, which you can obtain here. Milwaukee's Deorbit is described as "an interesting instrumental amalgamation of influences from prog, sludge, doom, stoner, psych, and post rock. Curious to hear for yourself? Then you are hereby commanded to check out the tune “Stratolith” on YouTube.
November 2023 New Albums
Angra- Cycles Of Pain
Apoee- Through The Gate
Gong- Unending Descending
Serenity- Nemesis AD
D'Virgilio, Morse & Jennings- Sophomore
Meshuggah- Chaosphere (25th Anniversary Edition)
Kamelot- Ghost Opera (re-release)
Kamelot- One Cold Winter's Night (re-release)
Kamelot- Poetry For The Poisoned (re-release)
Devin Townsend - Infinity (25th Anniversary Edition)
As you probably noticed by the release section above, prog-lifers Gong are issuing a brand new album (their 15th overall) this month, Unending Descending. What better time than now to travel back to 1973 to enjoy this bloody bonkers performance of their tune “I Never Glid Before”!