First review of The Sun King



BAND OF RAIN – The Sun King



The Sun King

Lifting the veil of grey mysteries, British collective shine the light on the dark ages and see the future in their reflection.

“It’s not like me to double and bend my ways to every one I could meet”: this line may seem to not only signal Chris Gill’s nonconformity but also contrast his ensemble’s progressive intent, while the change between 2020’s "Petrichor" and its follow-up couldn’t be more palpable – and still, there’s no contradiction. “The Sun King” focuses on an individual’s inner development – that’s why the songs little by little shed lyrics here, distilling the album to instrumental tableau towards the end, because no words are required for the enlightened minds. And even though the music’s spiritual layer is well-hidden here, what with a few pieces referring to an ancient Welsh manuscript, the record’s scope, depth and gravitas gradually grow until the only remaining route down memory lane will lead to the recent past.

So though the opening a cappella wave of “Distant Land” ebbs away, leaving behind Chris’ twelve-strings ripple and ethereal vocal harmonies before Gill’s riffs and slider roll over John Camp’s bass thunder, echoes of blues harp and strands of sitar fail to break the spell – on the contrary, these sounds lure the listener to a different world, and the intricate weave of “As The Crow Flies” helps to map out the shortest distance to the great unknown, psychedelic threads embroidering the number’s gloomy pop. However, the darkness is where the cryptic “Black Book Of Carmarthen” should unleash its brass-splashed, soul-shattering assault on human emotions, as Robert Webb’s piano passages pierce guitars’ vortex, but there’s tremulous translucence to “Taking The Long Way” whose lysergic imagery and meditative tune could spellbind had they not been playfully insistent – shot through with low notes and letting sparks fly at the top.

Thus the scene is set for the album’s title track that, reciting verses from the aforementioned 13th century document and drenching cosmic ivories in drone, over hypnotic groove, delves into poetic mysteries of nature until the slowly swirling melodies which Gill and Camp bring to the surface tighten to first form a Bach-like fugue, introduce orchestral funk to the heady brew and pull the tide back to a recital. Yet if the epic “Gospel Oak” drinks from the same literary source in order to create a magnificently delicate Renaissance panorama, it draws on folksy lace and Mordecai Smyth-provided jazz jive and dares to spice up the picture with deep dub and a flourish of celestial new age. Out of there, wobbly baroque curlicues, acid sonics and tender, albeit muscular, strum of “68 Carnaby Street” signpost the veterans’ return to their old haunts, whereas “Once A Hippy…” places the platter’s finale in the heavy, raga-tinged bustle of our present to allow a romantically colored glance at what happened at the days of yore.

It’s a riveting record, revealing a fresh nuance upon every listen, as if The Sun King did indeed pour bright rays into its beckoning murk.



Martin Hudson CRS review of Arts & Allurements.Rarely these days does a new album and new band come through the letter box that really impresses to such a degree that I am excited enough to say "Lets get 'em to play"This is one of those albums.Sharon Leslie on lead vocals who brings to life some of the most alluring vocals I have heard in a while.Touches of Sonja Kristina?Yes,I think so.Chris Gill played the keyboards,guitars and vocals.Billy Fleming Drums.So much atmosphere on one album isn't right.File under mysterious prog!Martin Hudson.” - Martin Hudson

— Classic Rock Society review Arts & Allurements

Thank you to Tom De Val of DPRP for this reviewWhen I reviewed the first two albums by Band Of Rain – essentially then a space-rock project from multi-instrumentalist Chris Gill – one of my suggestions for progress was that they hire a dedicated vocalist. Well, that’s what Gill has done here, in the shape of one Sharon Leslie. However, I must admit that I was caught unawares by the style of vocals employed by Leslie, and the distinctly new musical territory that Gill and Band Of Rain are now exploring. Leslie has a low-pitched, throaty and powerful vocal style that, whilst perhaps lacking in range, does have some authority. And there’s little doubt that it suits the band’s new style, as Gill’s songs have taken a distinct turn into Goth rock territory here. By this I don’t mean the new generation of female fronted ‘gothic metal’ bands led by Nightwish and Within Temptation; no, this is (at times) a much closer cousin to eighties bands such as Sisters Of Mercy, The Mission and Siouxsie And The Banshees. The first few tracks are mid-tempo stompers which chug away amiably enough, with Gill’s distinctive, sinewy lead guitar work and some spacey synth washes being the main link with the past. Yet the feeling I get with these tracks is that they do perhaps outstay their welcome, and the monotony of vocal delivery and song structure meant that I was looking at my watch on more than one occasion. Things do perk up as the album progresses however. Drusilla is a gentler, acoustic-led tune where Sharon Leslie puts in a fragile but more expressive performance, the song benefiting from her not belting out the lines as before. The song has a haunting feel, and Gill puts in some nice understated lead work. The title track kicks off on the familiar plodding groove prevalent in the opening numbers, but here it’s the little things going on in the background that catch the attention, not to mention an unusual but effective spoken word segment. Gill has fun with his effects box towards the end of the track. The Innocence is a short but sweet rocker, with a little more oomph in the riffs; it also sees Leslie taking a more varied approach to her vocals, light in the verses, heavier and more commanding in the chorus. By contrast, Pan opens with some mellow, ambient chill-out style soundscapes before an interesting drum pattern slowly drags the listener into the main body of the song (as a side note, the addition of a proper drummer is definitely a welcome development). Here, Leslie’s almost ethereal vocals float over a subdued but melodic backing, with Gill letting fly some tasty Gilmour-esque guitar licks. Once again, the song is perhaps overlong, but it gets by on atmosphere. Its possibly a stronger piece than the album’s epic, the nine-minute plus Monument, but this too has its highlights – in particular the interesting juxtaposition of whispered vocals and psychedelic atmospherics with marching rhythms and grungy guitar riffs, whilst the chorus and Gill’s extended solo are also strong. The album closes out with the ambient instrumental The Deep, which is probably the track that most strongly brings to mind Band Of Rain’s earlier work. Well, it was touch and go for a while, but repeated listens have just about won me over to Arts & Allurements. Sharon Leslie is certainly a powerful new presence in the band, and there is more of a sense of direction than before – although they now seem a little undecided if they’re a prog, space-rock or goth band, it’s the songs that blend elements of all three that work best for me. The band’s website does indicate that Band Of Rain are going to aim for an even more gothic direction on the next album, which may take them away from the interests of this site, but for now Arts & Allurements is worth seeking out if you’re after a slice of slightly dark, goth-influenced rock with touches of psych and prog, and it will be interesting to see how the material comes over in the promised live shows. Conclusion: 7 out of 10 TOM DE VAL” - Tom De Val

— Arts & Allurements Dutch Progressive Rock Page

From The Dutch Progressive Rock Pagewritten by Tom De ValDeep SpaceGarlandsDespite the name, Band Of Rain is really more of a solo project (at least on these two studio offerings) for one Chris Gill. Gill has by all accounts lived a pretty interesting and adventurous life, and was apparently inspired towards his latest venture after meeting two well known giants of the progressive rock world, Nick Mason and Adrian Belew. The first of those names, and indeed the title of Band Of Rain’s debut, Deep Space, should give you some indication of where Gill is coming from musically, and a couple of minutes listening to the opening track, Cloudburst, confirms it. Yes, we’re deep into the territory commonly known as ‘space rock’ here, with a steady rhythm and spacey synths providing the backdrop for lots of Gill’s fine guitar playing; he tends to alternate between carving out some solid, fuzzed-up riffs, playing some more restrained melody lines and (most prevalent of all) some lively lead guitar playing, some of which seems improvised. Common reference points throughout the album are scene leaders such as Hawkwind and Ozric Tentacles, early Pink Floyd and even Porcupine Tree in their earlier incarnation (Sic Itur Ad Astra could almost be an outtake from PT’s epic Voyage 34 opus). Gill does at times incorporate a bluesy feel to his playing, which definitely adds something to the mix. A few of the tracks contain vocals – the strongest probably being the rather dark and ominous A Room Where Time Stands Still, and Castle Walls, which incorporates hysterical laughter, tribal chanting and a chilled-out ambient section to create an unsettling atmosphere. To be honest though the best tracks are probably the instrumental ones, where Gill is free from the rigid verse-chorus-verse structure and lets his guitar do the talking – Last Wave Goodbye is a good example of this (even though three minutes of someone reading out the meteorological forecast tests the patience somewhat!). Garlands is Band Of Rain’s second and latest effort, and appears to feature a few more outside musicians. The cover art (and indeed album name), to me, seems to suggest that a more folky album is in store (in the vein of, say, Mostly Autumn) but to be honest this isn’t really the case, although its fair to say that Gill has spread his net a little wider on this one. On the one hand, tracks like the opening Ghost Town, Voyager (something of a giveaway title) and the wittily-named Flying Sorcerers continue to plough the space-rock furrow, but elsewhere there’s some new ingredients added to the mix – All Moonlit Through The Trees has some female vocals (quite good, although I’m not sure they fit the song); Beneath The Tree is a mellow, psychedelic number with some extremely laid-back vocals (sounding like the singer’s had one too many!); Moon On The Mountain is a laid back pop-rock track with a bluesy flavour (including a touch of harmonica) that actually had me thinking of Chris Rea’s material as a point of comparison, whilst the title track is quite spare and stripped back with simple acoustic work and piano giving the piece a New Age-y feel. Overall then, two pleasant and fairly enjoyable albums. I wouldn’t say that I’ll be playing them a great deal in the future, but for fans of the space rock genre they’re definitely worth checking out. Of the two, I personally found Deep Space a little stronger and more consistent, but Garlands does at least show that Gill is exploring some new musical horizons, and I have no doubt this will continue with the forthcoming album due later this year, set to feature a heavier female vocal presence. Conclusions: Deep Space - 6.5 out of 10 Garlands - 6 out of 10 TOM DE Val© 1995 - 2006 : Dutch Progressive Rock Page” - Tom De Val

— Deep Space/ Garlands Dutch Progressive Rock Page

Our thanks to proGGnosis for this review Band of Rain is the baby of Chris Gill,a multi instrumentalist from Wales. The band started out in 2003 and Arts and allurements is the band's third release. Here Gill is joined by newcomer Sharon Leslie on vocals and Billy Fleming on drums along with band members Andy Whitfield, bass & vocals; Graham Elks on guitar. On their first album Deep Space (2004) and on their second; Garlands (2005), Band of Rain sounded like a spacerock band with ethereal/Gothic leanings. This was especially true of Garlands which really put the band onto the map as a promising band to watch out for. This new effort from Band of Rain shows steps in a new direction; a more complete and heavier rock sound. While Chris Gill was very much Band of Rain of their early days, this is very much a mutual band effort. References to the sound may be Patti Smith, Siuxie and the Banshees, U2, Danielle Dax and Ann Wilson of Heart to mention but a few. Sharon Leslie has a strong, nice dark voice and there are certainly good instrumental passages and good songs on this album. Chris Gill's characteristic guitar and keyboards playing fits really well in with the vocals from Sharon Leslie. Track 1: Their mistake 5:30 - a good track that may recall U2 meets Sad Lovers & Giants. Good guitar playing by Chris Gill is backing Sharon's voice. Track 2: The devil's debts 5:09 - Very similar to first track. One may recall Siuxie Sue here. Track 3: Stars beneath the sea 5:23 - Kind of a Gothic feeling with heavy riffs in the back. Track 4: Vampires 6:14 - It's obvious that Sharon Leslie introduction to the band added a new dimension and contributed to a richer and more rockier sound. Kind of a new direction. Track 5: Drusilla 6:02 - A nice,quite calm song with a catchy lush sounding guitar. Good vocals.One of the best tracks. Track 6: Arts and allurements 5:33 - the title track has a Gothic,rocky feel. Another strong song. Track 7: The innocence 3:49 - Siuxie & the Banshees-like vocals again. Good electric guitar playing. Track 8: Pan 7:31 - One may recall Cocteau Twins here. A Gothic eternal sound again. Track 9: Monument 9:23 - The longest track on the album has Patti Smith feeling. Heavy guitar riffs give a fresh sound. Track 10: The deep 3:02 - an instrumental guitar tuning track ends it all. A good release in direction rock,eternal Gothic. Not very progressive and not as spacey as previous albums from the group , but it will surely meet many expectations.” - Prog cat

— Arts & Allurements proGGnosis

Our thanks to Duncan Glenday for this review.Funny - the title track is one of the shortest pieces on the record, at just three-and-a-bit minutes. It starts as a hard instrumental rocker, then develops into a vocal-driven piece that would have been at home on the stage of Woodstock '69. More important - that song is representative of the rest of the music on the CD, and it heralds the direction that Chris Gill has chosen to take his music.Band Of Rain used to be a spacey, ethereal outfit, somewhat typical of one-man projects. Pleasing music but somewhat unsubstantial. The new record is different: Gutsy, fronted by a powerful female vocalist, and bordering on a goth-rock sound. Think Pink Floyd meets Heart.New singer Sharon Leslie has stamped her authority on Arts And Allurements. Remember the new vocalist for Flamborough Head, Margriet Boonsma? The singing is similar to her timbre - not much range, it even gets a bit gruff in places, but it's a wonderfully strong low-register contralto, melodic, and played through just enough reverb to make it rich and appealing. Think modern-era Porcupine Tree fronted by Lana Lane singing in her lower ranges.But is isn't all about the vocals. Chris Gill has injected a heavy dose of testosterone into this album. Listen to "Monument", the 9-1/2 minute mini-epic. It has a constantly shifting structure, heavy in parts, restless, and led by those appealing vocals and strong but lazy guitar work played over an insistent, dynamic rhythm. Even the fast sections of the long guitar solo toward the end somehow seem languid.There's a sort of Floydian vibe to this music. It doesn't sound like Pink Floyd, but it fits into that general mold: Clean instrumentation that runs from hard-rocking to lazy and ambient, nicely played, some electronica - but not too much, not enormously complex but with song structures that constantly shift and develop over the length of each track. Progressive tendencies, bordering on approachable.Band Of Rain has progressed beyond a man with a studio and an idea to a band with a mission and the balls to achieve it. The new direction is pleasing, and it will be rewarding to watch where they go from here - 'cuz you can be sure the next record won't be anything like this one. This is nod-your-head, tune-in, zone-out stuff that insists on multiple replays. Track Listing:1. Their Mistake2. The Devil's Debts3. Stars Beneath The Sea4. Vampire5. Drusilla6. Arts & Allurements7. The Innocence8. Pan9. Monument10.The DeepAdded: May 31st 2007Reviewer: Duncan GlendayScore: 4.5 starsLanguage: english” - Duncan Glenday

Arts & Allurements Sea of Tranquility

By Duncan Glenday - Sea of TranquilityOzric Tentacles is the elder statesman of space music, and were instrumental in developing the style of lost notes floating around in space looking for a home but never finding it. Unlike traditional forms of music, the point of spacey music is to create a vibe, a sonic backdrop for the spaced out. It's a relatively unstructured format characterized by meandering sounds, melodic but without melody, and you can imagine yourself zoning out to the ambient tones and the moods and the atmospheres.Think of it as the soundtrack to your dreams.Garlands fits that mold, but thankfully it has more substance to it and many of the songs actually seem to have a purpose to them - vague though it may be in places. There's a lot of reverb with much of this music, and the mastering blends most elements into the broad soundscape of a spacey ambience, with just the guitar powering its way through occasionally providing an interesting feet-on-the-ground contrast.The first impression you get when listening to Garlands is the synthetic beat at the beginning - a synth-pop beat that starts 5 seconds in, and it's there - on and off - all the way through the CD. Then the synth keys provide a spacey backdrop to the simple yet elegant sound of well played guitars, and the stage is well set for the rest of the record. The rare vocals on "Ghost Town" will recall Chris Rhea, or J.J.Cale.In "Voyager", that repetitive synthetic percussion does little to ground the synth and guitar-generated textures and the formless ambience that has little melody or purpose - it's a low-energy flow that rarely seems to build up. Yet the next song" introduces strong guitar sounds, and rich mid-ranged female vocals, yielding a pleasing piece that bears several revisits. And on "The Flying Sorcerer" there's an aggression, and the oft-repeated motif from the song's intro is in a style that could have come from a Charles Brown record. Still - even this track is about mood rather than melody, sonics rather than structure.With its gutsy guitars and the wonderful - if rare - female vocals, Garlands stands apart from most space music and will have appeal to a wider audience. Give it a try.Track Listing:1. Ghost Town2. Test Pilot3. Voyager4. All Moonlit Through The Trees5. Magnetic South6. The Flying Sorcerer7. Lady Evening Star8. Beneath My Tree9. Sun On The Mountain10. Garlands11. CloudsAdded: July 14th 2006Reviewer: Duncan GlendayScore: * * * *” - Duncan Glenday

Garlands Sea of Tranquility

By Duncan Glenday Sea of TranquilityThis record's title describes the music far better than its somewhat pedestrian, terrestrial cover art does. It is indeed deeply spacey.By definition, space music is a series of textures and wide sonic landscapes, ethereal and without substance, often without rhythm or melody or conventionally sung vocal components, leading to a floating ambient sense of consciousness. It's easy to imagine space music in movie soundtracks - and you've probably heard a lot of space music in that context. On its own, it sometimes challenges the patience, which probably explains why the genre has a somewhat specialized audience. Think Ozrics and Hawkwind.That space music definition describes many of the elements on Band Of Rain's debut CD, but fortunately for most of us, many sections on most tracks rescue Deep Space from being too spaced out. With occasional singing, nice guitar work and good bass lines, it's a tad more approachable than most space music. There's plenty of electronica here, but the band injects enough analog components to give it character. Despite an insistent percussion, "Casanova Of The Cliff Dwellers" is 4 minutes of repeated soft electronic lines, an interesting but repetitive guitar riff, then on to more electronica with a repeated piano motif and a series of odd effects, all far back in the mix. Yet the very next song has a pleasing dual guitar line that rescues the record it from the formless waffle that is the trap of so much space music. The first 3 minutes of "Last Wave Goodbye" features a British maritime weather and conditions report laid over formless ambient music, and the rest of the track follows that stream-of-consciousness kind of sound that goes through various changes but never really develops into anything stronger. There are places in the record where it seems you can actually hear the start and end of the loop, and the programmed percussion might frighten some listeners off.Cloudburst" is the standout track here, going through several clearly defined sections with well managed tempo changes, a good 'groove' and an underlying theme that guides the piece through its full 4 minutes. "War and Peace" is quite fun as well, with control of the song alternating between war effects played over crunchy power chords and blazing lead guitar, and an elegantly peaceful motif. Rather progressive, somewhat spacey. There is singing on four of the tracks, with the voices being soft and relaxed and somewhat folksy.Songwriter and founding member Chris Gill claims influences from '60s psychedelia and '70s prog, and given the style of this music it's no surprise that he confesses that his favorite bands are Gong and Ozric Tentacles. Band Of Rain has completed their second CD, and we already have a copy for review. Early indications are very favorable, so watch this space...” - Duncan Glenday

Deep Space Sea of Tranquility

Feedback Fanzine no 88 Magazine reviews by Kev Rowland July 2006Band of Rain Deep SpaceBand of Rain Garlands.One could argue, and quite convincingly, that the debut album from Band of Rain is space rock but that would in no way manage to convey just how good this (mostly) instrumental album is. One problem with space rock is that most people initially think of Hawkwind and then attempt to capture that sound, or something very close to it, but that is not the case here. Apart from vocals from Andy Fisher on two songs, the whole thing has been performed by Chris Gill who often appears to be approaching the music from a bassist’s point of view, which gives the music a quite different angle. There are also fewer keyboards than one might normally associate with the genre, and also when Chris decides to hit the power chords this album really works. Yes there is a feeling of improvisation and there are times when the music does wander but it is soon pulled back in again and the feeling of a very tight album with strong production (something else not always associated with the genre). The second Band of Rain album came out in 2005, and again (although this time I could very well be wrong) this is the work just of Chris Gill. Unfortunately the CD does not detail the players, although there does now appear to be a band but I am not sure if that is for the third (currently unreleased) album. Anyway, solo or band, this is a strong continuation of the first album. Again what impressed me immediately is the strength of the production – the sound is very good indeed and that definitely adds to the album. Those who feel that space rock should be virtually unlistenable should be sent this as an example. There are feelings of Gong and possibly small amounts of Ozrics but yet again Chris has gone his own path and is producing music that is of a consistently high standard without really sounding like anyone else. Both of these albums prove that this genre can be a much wider style than one may normally expect and if you are into prog, psyche, space rock or just music to expand your own consciousness then these are a good place to start and Chris is British so support him and Band Of Rain!. where you can hear complete songs, not just samples” - Kev Rowland

— Feedback Fanzine

Er zijn albums die onze burelen bereiken en weinig of niets met progressieve rock te maken hebben. Het voorliggende album “Arts & Allurements” van Band Of Rain uit Wales is daar een voorbeeld van. De voor mij volkomen onbekende band(naam) en het artwork van het cd-hoesje maakten niet een bepaald euforische stemming bij mij los. Nee, dan wacht je met recenseren liever tot de zon doorbreekt.We hebben hier eigenlijk te maken met het éénmansproject van gitarist Chris Gill. Van de biografie op de website word je niet veel wijzer. Een keur aan muzikanten, daar niet van. Slechts twee daarvan werken mee aan dit album. Genoemde Gill en zangeres Sharon Leslie. Chris Gill heeft zijn sporen in de rockmuziek aardig verdiend, althans dat blijkt uit zijn samenwerking en contacten met muzikanten als Kevin Ayers, Robert Wyatt, Nick Mason (Pink Floyd) en Adrian Belew (King Crimson). Zangeres Sharon Leslie heeft een ver verleden in de punk-rock. Voor dit album heeft Gill verder gebruik gemaakt van de drumdiensten van Billy Fleming. Het trio lijkt op dit moment de vaste bezetting te zijn. Als bassist werd Jason Illidge ingehuurd, terwijl Mile Leivers ook nog een klein deuntje gitaar mee mag spelen.De muziek van Band Of Rain is erg donker. Er hangt eenzelfde sfeer als op “Judgement” van Anathema. Het neigt op enige momenten zelfs naar gothic-rock. De gothic-typerende zang blijft gelukkig achterwege. Verder kenmerkt de muziek zich door het toepassen van veel galm en het aanhouden van tonen en akkoorden (sustain). Muzikaal komt het regelmatig dicht in de buurt van The Mission. De zang van Sharon Leslie roept bij eerste beluistering een zestigerjaren gevoel op. Een associatie met Grace Slick, voormalig en thans gepensioneerd zangeres van Jefferson Airplane en dito Starship, gaat hier zeker op. Ondanks dat Leslie een krachtige en prima stem bezit, gaat de vele zang op dit album snel vervelen. Op die momenten betrekt de lucht en gaat de zon schuil achter een dikke regenwolk.Zware gitaarriffs klinken in het openingsnummer Their Mistake, The Devil’s Debts en The Innocence. Met name in deze nummers doet de vergelijking met The Mission opgaan. In de rustige nummers Stars Beneath The Sea en Drusilla komt de stem van Leslie het beste tot haar recht.Ronduit vervelend is het nummer Vampire. Ondanks dat dit nummer wel iets meer variatie kent – zo horen we een Porcupine Tree-achtige klanktapijt - wekt de zang wederom irritatie op. Toppunt van verveling is het refrein. Herhaaldelijk word je met verveelde stem herinnerd aan de titel van het nummer. Monument kent een psychedelische intro die doet denken aan het oude Pink Floyd. De instrumentale afsluiter The Deep is volstrekt overbodig en valt volledig uit de toon. Het is alsof naast regen ook nog eens een koude wind opsteekt. We horen in dit nummer niet meer dan wat soundcapes met daaroverheen wat gefröbel op gitaar. Het album heeft in Pan toch een lichtpuntje, noem het maar een zonnestraaltje. Ook hier muzikaal weliswaar duister en donkerheid troef, maar dit nummer kent tenminste nog een fraaie opbouw. De mooie klanktapijten en ritmische ondersteuning geven je hier de aandrang om zingend door de regen te gaan.Productioneel zit het ook magertjes in elkaar. Het drumwerk klinkt hol en is vrij simpel. Teveel nummers ontberen een goede opbouw en gaan nergens heen. Dat is erg jammer want de zang van Sharon Leslie verdient een betere ondersteuning. Of deze band écht kwaliteiten heeft zal een eventuele opvolger uit moeten wijzen. Vooralsnog is het zeer twijfelachtig of de gemiddelde bezoeker van Progwereld op een dergelijk album zit te wachten. Ben je desondanks toch nieuwsgierig, beluister dan eerst wat samples op hun website. Wacht daarbij dan wel op een regenachtige zondagmiddag.Hans Ravensbergen” - Hans Ravensbergen

— progwereld/Holland