Skip to Content Skip to Navigation

Band of Rain: Interviews/Reviews

Deep Space Review/Comment
Anita Bhatia - Proggnosis (Feb 23, 2005)

The Nonexistent

The Nonexistent - "Space Roc"
(Ambientlive 2010, ALST001)
From Aural Innovations #42 (May 2011)
The Nonexistent are the trio of Chris Gill (Band of Rain) on guitar and synths, Steve Palmer (Mooch, Blue Lily Commission) on bass and synths, and Andy Hole on drums. Chris had been contributing guitar and vocals to several of Steve's Mooch albums and discussions between the two led to the formation of this all instrumental, all improvisational space rock project. The music on these two CDs was produced from three sessions, with the trio jamming and Chris and Steve later adding synths.
Disc 1 features the more rock oriented sessions and includes 9 tracks. Among the highlights is Space Roc, with its cool slowly jamming 70s styled guitar/bass/drums heavy rock and a psychedelic edge. Chris is a tasteful guitar soloist, cranking out slow and dirty licks that carry the jam nicely for over 10 minutes. You can hear some electronics in the background but this is mostly about heavy trio jamming. The Keys Are In The Car is similar but Chris' guitar takes on a significantly more acidic quality and he really takes off. Very nice stuff. quietLOUDquiet is a smokin' hot rocker accompanied by rapid fire flittering synths. Slingshot Effect is a totally stoned jam. Criggion Times starts off on the more soothing atmospheric side but quickly gets into down 'n dirty jamming space rock and Chris really rips it up on guitar! This might be the hottest track of the set. I like the dreamy synth waves that accompany the jam on Close To The End. And the organ on Trancendental Medication gives the music a soulful proggy edge.
Disc 2 features the more purely spaced out side of the band and includes 8 tracks. The electronics come front and center on In An Immense Universe, supported by guitar and bass. The bass provides the rhythmic pulse for the moody soundscapes and haunting synth lines, and Chris embellishes the proceedings with light jazzy guitar. Metallic is an interesting piece, being a guitar/bass/drums jam which rocks but is very atmospheric and surrounded by a windswept electronic swirl. Penumbra is a short piece with jazzy bass (fretless?), angelic orchestral synths and other meditative electronic elements. Feedfront is all about howling acidic spaced out feedback guitar and efx, creating a harsh soundscape atmosphere. Other highlights include The Tightrope, which starts off as an easy paced melodic space-prog jam. The pace remains the same but the guitar gets increasingly more acidic and rocking as the jam progresses. And Cosmic Particles is an aptly titled dreamy drifty electronic driven excursion.
If you like freeform jamming space rock, both heavy and ethereal then you'll dig The Nonexistent. This stuff would be ideal to enjoy in live performance. And, in fact, they have played some shows. Check out this one on YouTube:
Aural Innovations May 2011 (Jun 7, 2011)


Mooch - "The Pagan Year"
(Ambientlive 2010, ALR3091)
From Aural Innovations #42 (May 2011)
The Pagan Year is a 2 CD set that features Steve Palmer and Erich Z. Schlagzeug as the core Mooch band, plus various guests across 8 tracks, all of which are in the 15-18 minute range. Imbolc opens the set and features the duo of Steve and Jez Creek on keyboards and synths for 17 minutes of instrumental Space-Prog with a groove. Vernal Equinox includes Chris Gill and Linda Harlow on vocals. It starts off with a nice organ sound, bubbling psychedelic keys, melodic trippy guitar and a steady rhythmic pace. After a 5 minute introductory bit the song portion begins, with the vocals accompanied by mellotron waves and liquid psych guitar. I love the way the music trips along but it all occurs in a linear song oriented way. And it all gets nicely spaced out as the music progresses, with lusciously hypnotic keyboards that will lead you pied piper style into the cosmos.
Co-written by Steve and Bridget Wishart, Beltane features the trio of Steve and Erich plus Bridget on saxophone and vocals. Bridget has her hands in many pots these days and has a Midas touch track record of adding gold to just about everything she contributes to. For the first 3 minutes we're treated to a gem of a melodic Prog instrumental. When the song begins there's a brief vocal section before another thematic shift, and on we go through a number of thoroughly enchanting instrumental segments. The last minutes are my favorite, with Bridget jamming on saxophone to a cavernous spaced out symphonic sound.
Summer Solstice starts off Bluesy-Bluegrassy, with acoustic guitars and percussion. Steve and Erich maintain this theme but a horn is soon introduced which adds a trippy edge to the music, and as more instrumentation is added it all starts to gel like a bunch of space rockers down in the Mississippi delta. But the Bluesy style soon melts away and the music settles into a grooving brand of spaced out Prog rock. Steve cranks out some tasty rocking guitar licks with a nice psychedelic sound, soon joined by Ozrics-like synths, jazzy drumming, and now we're really jammin' in space!! Wow, lots happening on this 15+ minute instrumental.
And speaking of the Ozrics, Alex Pym, who plays in Dream Machine and has collaborated with several of the Ozric members plays guitar on the next track - Lughnasadh. The first half consists of ripping, down 'n dirty Space Rock, with non-stop soloing from Alex. Steve and Erich lay down a noisy drone-like power jam over which Alex explores. Then things quiet down for a brief bird chirping breather, and then the band take off again, with Alex soloing along with keyboards, soaring alien electronics and staggered dance beats in place of the power jam. Sweeeeeeeeeet!!
On Autumnal Equinox Steve and Erich lay down a head boppin' energetic Space Rock groove with a solid rhythm section and lots of cosmic keys and synths. There's Prog influences and dance beats and eventually this sucker rocks as hard as Lughnasadh. Then near the end, just as I was spent from the assault of this and Lughnasadh back-to-back, the storm recedes and Chris Gill and Linda Harlow return to wind things down with a peaceful song finale. (By the way, Chris and Linda are a very nice vocal pairing.)
Samhain starts off as a peaceful song that could easily be a continuation of Autumnal Equinox. Like Bridget Wishart, Cyndee Lee Rule has contributed to numerous artists' albums and her Viper violin is always a welcome addition to anyone's music. Near the 5 minute mark the vocal portion ends and Cindy's Viper takes the lead on a rhythmic instrumental workout. Her playing is beautiful and augmented by playful dancey rhythmic pulses and keyboards that are both choir-like and spaced out. Later on Chris and Linda return for a reprise of the song that opened the track.
Wrapping up this epic set is Yule, which sees Ambientlive label honcho John Sherwood join the fun on synthesizer. Yule is an appropriate title as the synth melody and lyrics feel like Christmas, and it's all surrounded by deep space keys and steady drumming. As has been the pattern on this album, once the vocal portion has ended we embark on an extended instrumental section. The sound of distant thunder, howls and wails, some to the point of screaming, and angelic waves wander about, and it eventually gets very quiet, communicating intense solitude. But then around the 11 minute mark we take off into what starts as electronic Tangerine Dreamy space and then takes on a slightly more rocking edge, and then returns to a repeat of the song portion.
Mooch have a sizable catalog of albums and in my book The Pagan Year is a highlight and easily made my best of 2010 list. HIGHEST recommendation.
Aural Innovations May 2011 (Jun 7, 2011)
"Steve Palmer’s Mooch has released some excellent albums during the recent years like Dr Silburys Liquid Brainstem Band, 1967 ½ and 1968a. Now a sort of return from stuff imitating 60’s psych and prog to Mooch’s roots has occurred, and the music is pretty much synthesizer driven and instrumental, cosmic ambient music, not forgetting space rock and prog, though. Steve again has several guests, for example ex-Hawkwind singer Bridget Wishart, excellent guitarist Alex Pym (Dream Machine), singer Chris Gill (Band of Rain) and a virtuoso violinist Cyndee Lee Rule. The theme on this eight-track double CD is the pagan year, and the listener is led though all the most important yearly pagan festivities from Imbolc to Yule.

The 17-minute instrumental “Imbolc” is very nice, synthesizer driven going that describes very well the festival’s aspects connected to the creative force. The ending is psychedelic soundspaces. One of the album’s best pieces is ”Vernal Equinox” that solemnizes this 20th of March feast as the beginning of spring in a soft and magnificent way. Chris Gill and Linda Harlow shine on vocals. The atmosphere on this psychedelic track is pretty close to Pink Floyd. “Beltane” takes us to May and the nature is starting to bloom and birds are singing. This beautiful, bright and rather progressive piece was written together with Bridget Wishart who also sings and plays saxophone. ”Summer Solstice” is one of the most important festivals of the year and this interpretation includes acoustic guitar and percussion as well as nice celebration in the folk spirit. After three minutes the track gets more electric though, and the synthesizer solos split the ether like bright sun beams. There is some pretty mind-expanding jamming towards the end…

The second disc takes us to the beginning of the harvest time, and ”Lughnasadh” includes loads of really tight solo guitar by Alex Pym. ”Autumnal Equinox” has some more great vocals by Gill and Linda in its peaceful end part and rocks rather progressively before that with some amazing synth leads. We enter the autumnal moods in a great way with “Samhain” that starts and ends with a peaceful, pretty vocal part. The middle is electronic ambient music that gains some more excellent moods by Cyndee Lee Rule’s violin. The almost 18-minute-long, slow and dark “Yule” finishes off the circle in a magnificent and icy way. Amazing! So this time Mooch offers us long, atmospheric tracks resulting one of this year’s best spacey psychedelic albums so far."
- Psychotropiczone (Jun 7, 2011)


Interview with Chris Gill(Band Of Rain)!!!

This week's artist is none other than Space Rock combo Band Of Rain. From his abode in Wale, mastermind Chris Gill gave us an insight into what Band Of Rain is all about and a lot more besides.

What lies beneath such a particular name like Band Of Rain?

Well Nik, the name conjured up visions of big wide open spaces in my mind. I wanted to project this dramatic vision of dark stormy skies. Add to this that rain is transparent and I consider myself to be a transparent person so the name also reflects the kind of person I am.

You will be releasing your 4th album Transcendental Medication, what must we expect from this album?

It's going to be more psychedelic yet more metal at the same time, there will be even more guitars present this time. There will be some special guests on the album, among these is a Canadian musician who will playing all those old ancient instruments. What I am trying to do is going from Prog to Metal through Goth. I have always wanted to get away from the usual song structure which means verse, chorus, verse, chorus, bridge. I always want to keep people guessing and if I create something new which cannot be labelled musically into the bargain, even better.

Band Of Rain's music has always had an undertone of melancholy, have the English/Welsh surroundings influenced the band's sound?

Definitely. I live in the mountains, outside my front door you can see literally nothing but trees, it's very atmospheric. I live an old cottage made of thick stone, so my surroundings definitely have that aura of melancholy. When I go into my studios in the morning, there is always that feeling of eeriness and it has definitely had an impact on my music.

Would you consider yourself to be a fan of esoteric novels or movies bearing in mind your music has a very ethereal and dreamy quality to it?

I love films like "Contact" and "Close Encounter" and I used to watch horror movies,but Nik, you can obviously understand that if I watched horror movies where I am it would probably freak me out (laughs)! The place is eerie enough without having to watch horror movies. I would say I am however dark by nature and my music has always been melancholy.

I know that you are main/sole songwriter for Band Of Rain, which would you say is your main source of inspiration for songwriting?

It usually comes from things that have happened to me in the past or in general. For example for "Deep Space", I had that one in my head, I was looking up at the stars and it came to me. I pick up my guitar and the tunes are there. Sometimes it's almost like someone has written that music and left it there for me. I have never set out to give a particular message when it comes to lyrics, people make of it what they want. However when it comes to Band Of Rain's previous album, Sharon Leslie(previous vocalist) who wrote the lyrics, so I can't take credit for any messages on there.

The Welsh language has a very ethereal quality to it, have you ever thought of writing a song in Welsh or having any of the band's songs translated into Welsh?

I agree with you on the quality this language has, after all Tolkien did use it to create his languages. On the new album there will be a Welsh choir singing in Welsh. I don't speak Welsh myself, since I'm not from these parts. We've got a gothic/folk song on the new album featuring this choir and high pitched voice singing in Welsh.

What does Wales have to offer in the way of music or a music scene?

It has a lot to offer musically it is surrounded by artists and musicians. A lot of the places round here, you can get up on stage and jam. People of all ages are into music. A lot of hippies moved here, so there were always a lot of guitars lying around(laughs). You also get a lot of particular instruments, typical Welsh flutes and harps for example.Wales has a sadness that oozes out of its very rocks. There are great people here, but it is a sad place having been the wtiness of many battles, it almost seems to cry out, don't ever forget what happened here.

You used to live in the US, would you ever go back there to enhance your musical career?

No I wouldn't. I have to say America has better venues than us and we were supposed to play a couple of festivals over there, but because of the band splitting up, we had to give those up. Also Nik you have to be better known to play in the States, if I showed up to play a gig in Chicago, there would probably be about 30 people at the most. The US is a great place to go to for a holiday, I love it!

Which would you say is or has been your favourite BOR album to date?

I'd have to say the first one. It's the one I worked on the hardest, like having a first child. I did everything myself and it was very special to me. It was also the one I took longer to do, since I was still in the learning process when it came to recording. When I finally had the finished copy in my hands, the emotions I felt were indescribable. It must also be said that it is the album which appeals to all ages, from young to old.

What else must we expect from BOR in the new year?

If I have my way, I know there a lot of people who want to jump on board Band Of Rain and I want a band made up of lots of musicians. When it comes to live situations I would like to create something theatrical, have musicians in costumes, sorting of finding a marriage between theatre and a music concert. It's like when you go to a Rammstein concert, apart from just the music there is a very powerful visual element and that's what I would like to give people who come to my shows.
Nik - DSWebzine (Jan 28, 2008)
There is a recording of the live interview between Paul Baker of ARFM radio and Band of Rain guitarist songwriter Chris Gill on the listen page.Just go to that page, scroll down, and you will find it there in several parts.
Paul Baker - ARFM Radio (Jul 15, 2006)
<< Previous Page