One of the UK prog scene’s true underground talents, Vincent Carr’s complex acoustic work and love for pastoral soundscapes has helped create some interesting recordings over the years. On 2016’s ‘Rekindled’ he injected a very strong British folk rock vibe into some largely instrumental pieces, and on the follow up, ‘New Paeans’, he truly unleashed his inner Mike Oldfield on lengthy arrangements that blended prog, new age sounds and a hefty dose of acoustic complexity. Obviously he was working on a thousandth of Oldfield’s basic 70s budget, but the outcome certainly wasn’t in any way inferior. After that, Vince released a couple of ambient, improvised works that showed off yet another side to his talent. Those were approached with interest by a few of his biggest online champions, but were never designed for mass acceptance.
Back in November 2019, Vincent Carr’s SUMIC released ‘New Paeans’, a complex album blending folk, prog, a touch of world music and a love of Mike Oldfield’s grandness. It was one of the year’s best DIY releases. It was certainly one that 90% of the internet’s prog community would have missed, being busy as they were, whining about the current line up of Yes.
Like any band with a long history, Strawbs have gone through many changes over the decades. Musicians have come and gone; they’ve seen dozens of members come and go since their inception in 1964 – including legends Rick Wakeman, Sandy Denny and Curved Air’s Sonja Kristina – with each one bringing something different to the band. Through it all, Dave Cousins has been there to steer the ship. In fact, aside from very occasional silences, Strawbs have always existed in one form or other even though a lot of people would believe they threw in the towel some time during the mid 70s.
For British progressive and art rock, the relatively short period between March 1973 and December 1974 was particularly fruitful. Roxy Music released ‘For Your Pleasure‘ and ‘Stranded’, Genesis released two of their most ambitious works in ‘Selling England By The Pound’ and ‘The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway’, while King Crimson gave us ‘Larks’ Tongues In Aspic’ and Emerson, Lake & Palmer tipped the scales of self-indulgence with their ‘Brain Salad Surgery’. Meanwhile, Yes continued their long voyage into the epic with the help of ‘Relayer’, and Pink Floyd and Mike Oldfield released albums that would eventually become worldwide all-time best-sellers. Given the quality and love for each of these records, it’s hardly surprising that, in comparison, ‘Turn of The Cards’ – the fourth studio release from British symphonic rock combo Renaissance – hardly ever gets talked about.
Three years after their ‘Five Hours North’ album, House Above The Sun make a very welcome return with ‘Time I Got Goin”, a five track EP that explores the full range of their beloved Americana sound. If you’re at all familiar with the band, ‘Time I Got Goin” does exactly what you’d expect, but if anything the new songs feel much warmer and more professional than before. One track, in particular, could be their best song to date.