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Bomber Goggles - Gyreland CD (album) cover


Bomber Goggles

Crossover Prog

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kev rowland
Honorary Reviewer
5 stars Peter Matuchniak has been around the progressive scene for nearly forty years now, firstly with Janysium, and then with Mach One when he and Simon Strevens were both asked to join. They became a popular band in the Eighties, with various releases and performances at The Marquee etc. Fast forward quite a few years and I came to know Peter, who was by now living in the States, both for his solo works and with Gekko Projekt. So when I heard that he had a new band I asked how they had come together, and where on earth the name came from: "After completing the second Gekko Projekt album, the keyboard player Vance and I were discussing plans for a new album. At the time I had just played my second live solo show and was discussing an album with my bassist, Steve Bonino. Of all the musicians I have met over my time, these are by far two of the very strongest composers and great to work with for ideas creatively. So I had the idea of doing a new project with just the three of us. Vance came up with the concept of Gyreland which Steve and I added our parts to and we would work in a studio on both story and songs together. We worked extremely fast and had the whole album written within a few months last year. Then we pulled in Jimmy Keegan on drums, and he nailed the whole album in one day -- extraordinary! I had a temporary band name made up of the first two letters of our last name: Bo, Ma, Gl, and pronounced it phonetically as "Bomaggle". It was never intended to be our real band name, until I accidentally referred to us as "Bomber Goggles". We all laughed, but the name stuck and everyone we knew told us to keep the name!"

But what about the album itself, it is a concept, but what is the story? "The album 'Gyreland' tells the story about a new continent that is constructed out of the plastic debris that is floating in our oceans. As the currents swirl, they bring the plastic closer together, something we are witnessing in our oceans today. The oceanic swirl is called the Gyre, and so in our story the new inhabitants name this new floating continent "Gyreland". As more people are drawn to this new place, they experience a strange phenomenon, where they can almost anticipate each other's thoughts and it allows them to build Gyreland at an unprecedented pace. Some people think that the gyre provides strange forces or power, whereas others believe it enhances our empathy or telepathy. Or perhaps it's the earth's way of rewarding those that choose to take care of her? We never truly find out the exact reason, but it attracts the interest of countries around the Pacific Rim who now want a piece of this power. Three powerful countries form an alliance to invade Gyreland. At home their citizens protest, but the "Triangle of Power" proceeds with their invasion plans, as well as plans to break the alliance once they get what they want out of this new source of power. The new people of Gyreland have no armies or weapons, and so they wait uneasily for the invasion to occur. Some hope that the oceans that gave them this second chance will provide them with an answer. An answer in the wistful waves. But on the day of the invasion, something strange happens. As the invading soldiers set foot on Gyreland, they are overwhelmed by a sense of empathy that prevents them from wanting to fight. Perhaps this empathy is the same force that allowed Gyreland to be built in the first place? Whatever the reason, it makes it impossible for any hostile takeover to occur, because the new invaders simply abandon their army and join the people of Gyreland. A new turning point in the history of mankind."

Given that the topic of plastic in the oceans is incredibly topical at present, in many ways it could be argued that this is the most relevant progressive album out there. I have been watching programmes on the Great Pacific garbage patch, which is a gyre of marine debris particles in the central North Pacific Ocean discovered between 1985 and 1988. Estimates of its size vary between being equivalent to Texas or equivalent to Russia, but at the very least it is huge. And now we have a progressive rock band singing a story about a mythical continent that is built out of the plastic debris ? seems more relevant than "Tales of Topographic Oceans" to me.

I can honestly say that I have been playing this album a great deal, as it was sent to me digitally but wanted to wait for the physical CD to arrive so kept playing this on rotation until that happened. But, events conspired against me and Peter and after more than a month it still hasn't got here and I just can't wait to write about it any longer! It took me ages to work out what musically the band were reminding me of, as in many ways it is so far removed from the normal regressive progressive rock I am sent, and then finally it hit me. Utopia! There is something about their melodic crossover poppy progressive rock with harmony vocals that I can imagine Todd and the boys coming up with in their heyday. But, while it is indeed reminiscent of how Utopia would approach something, it is very much music for 2018 and not what was being produced some 40 plus years ago.

This is a debut album, but by a band whose members have been working in the scene for a great many years, and the guy who dropped in to provide drums completed the whole album in one day! (okay, so Jimmy is an incredibly well-known drummer, but that is some feat for anyone). I am not going to pick a particular track and point to the benefits of this or that, but will just say that this is an incredibly accessible and enjoyable album from the very first time it is played, and it only gets better the more it is listened to. Superb

Report this review (#1914077)
Posted Friday, April 13, 2018 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars A very fun tongue-in-cheek look into a possible future scenario in which humans build a community on top of the island of plastic floating in the middle of the Pacific Ocean that their waste has created. Musically this is exceptionally fun as the band has drawn eclectically from many styles and sources to create its little rock opera--and they do a remarkable job of replicating styles while creating truly complicated, clever, and engaging songs, each and every one. The lyrics alone are worth the listen!

1. "Land Of Plastic" (5:18) opens like a 1970s rock anthem from TED NUGENT or DAMN YANKEES. The story begins with the accounting of Earth's polluted lands and the discovery of this mountain of plastic in the ocean. (8.5/10)

2. "The Gyre" (5:41) though the instrumental opening is rather blues-rocky, once the song settles into its story-delivery mode it continues in a style similar to that of Peter Gabriel's deliver of the stripped down 'doldrums' part of "Supper's Ready"--just before the "A flower? A flower!" part. Nice guitar lead blaring throughout in the background. (9/10)

3. "Building" (5:23) an instrumental that opens with a "Shaft" cymbol play on the hi-hat before hyper-speed piano similar to that on "The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway." The band is so tight-and so creative. The song morphs into a lighter psych-funk number that could come off a Brian ELLIS album. Nice! At the halfway point Keith Emerson shows up to bridge us over to a cinematic section that combines the opening bridge into a softer, melodic section of wordless silliness. We then finish with a return to the high speed section for the finish. Nice! (9/10)

4. "Telepathy" (4:31) opens with bass, brushed cymbols, and guitar harmonics over which piano and multiple voices add an odd kind of STEELY DAN singing (a slowed down "Reelin' in the Years"). Again, the talent and versatility of these guys as both composers and performers is rather astonishing. I'd compare them to East Coast futurists, 3RDegree, but these guys are so much more broad-spectrumed. (8.5/10)

5. "Oh Gyreland" (3:33) plays like a BILLY JOEL/Broadway tune--especially the chorus. (Think Godspell--and equally catchy and witty.) At the two minute mark we get a radical shift in tempo and mood as we seem to be marching along with confidence and vigor. This is such a likable tune, I can't help but rate it high. (9/10)

6. "The World We Really Want" (4:02) another awesome tune that conjures all sorts of nostalgic music from the R&B of the late 60s (think: Persuaders' "It's a Thin Line [Between Love and Hate]") and--bonus--it has a great lyric! (9/10)

7. "Renewed World" (3:17) an instrumental of mixed (and--you betcha--familiar) themes strung together into a happy disco song. (8/10)

8. "We Are Not Alone" (3:52) A blues guitar opening turns down and into a more somber and pensive harp-based song about drone-based spying. At 1:40 it ramps up again into the blues rock power structure, but then quells back into a classical guitar and cello and "flute" (synth) chamber piece. The second singing verse uses the same scaled back soundscape as previously. The blues-rock guitar soloing section is kind of like the chorus, I guess. Interesting, creative song. (8.5/10)

9. "Triangle Of Power" (5:01) another very stage-friendly theatric song about the three superpowers (USA, CHINA and Russia). Male vocal ensemble work is almost barbershop-like but, again, more flexible like a Broadway musical. Clever with nice guitar work but straying farther from prog-appropriate and getting more into the cabaresque. (8/10)

10. "Uneasy Truce" (4:31) a slow, almost Jan Hammer jazz fusion song with some lyrics about the fear of fighting over their new found home and its resources. A little slow and plodding until the third minute's ramp up for solo exposition. But then it goes back to the Hammer-esque synth dominated jazz-blues stuff. (7.5/10)

11. "Invasion" (3:52) comes across as a Three Dog Night or Tom Jones power song. Nice performances by the instrumentalists. Unfortunately, the vocal is a little over-the-top and becomes annoying. I'm ready for some straightforward prog! (7.5/10)

12. "Wistful Waves" (5:37) a very pretty, almost classically "orchestra" supported piece that has a GALAHAD or JOHN HOLDEN Neo Prog feel to it. Now THIS is what I've been waiting for! I even love the multi-voiced (like The Association's "Cherish") monotone vocal. Great organ-backed Gilmour-ish guitar solo in the fifth minute. The best song on the album--and a true prog rocker. (10/10)

13. "March Of Tides" (5:50) has a very Thomas Thielen/David Bowie feel to it--especially the lead vocal in the first section. Dick Dale bass line with Arp synth soloing over the top. Then a piano-based stripped down section over which the vocal picks back up. Not the greatest end to the album or story--either lyrically or musically. (8/10)

The stylistic cornucopia gets a little irritating over the course of 40, 50, and 60 minutes. I love the creativity and the story but, Hey, guys! This should be made into a Broadway musical!

Four stars; a solid, highly enjoyable contribution to prog world and a welcome addition to any prog lover's music collection.

Report this review (#1915708)
Posted Thursday, April 19, 2018 | Review Permalink
4 stars I have known about Peter Matuchniak's music for a couple of years now ever since he appeared on Marco Ragni's 2016 album "Land of Blue Echoes" and I then got a hold of his two Gekko Projekt albums and his two solo albums. By coincidence, I was listening to them again after a long while when he announced the release of "Gyreland" on Melodic Revolution Records, by his new band project Bomber Goggles. Certainly, I was interested!

As the Bomber Goggles band profile explains, the concept of Gyreland is based on an imagined near-future society that builds itself a home upon the floating plastic debris in the ocean. As you may have seen on YouTube or other sources, the amount of plastic floating in the ocean has become immense, and ocean currents are carrying it into places where the plastic collects and covers broad swaths and bands of the ocean surface. The story of Gyreland recounts how exiles, outcasts and refugees discover a vast amount of plastic waste captured by an ocean current known as the Gyre. They somehow feel it possible to build a new home there upon the debris and they name their new home Gyreland. But as they begin to build, they discover that they have a telepathic ability that allows them to communicate their knowledge to one another without speaking (obviously) and they are able to anticipate each other's actions and thus build much more quickly. Troubles comes soon, however, as Russia, China, and the U.S. take interest in this new colony. At last, an invading army is sent in, but as the soldiers set foot upon plastic ground, they too become imbued with the sense of communal feeling and knowledge and brotherhood.

The album features Peter Matuchniak (g/vo), Vance Gloster (keys/vo), Steve Bonino (b/vo), and Jimmy Keegan (d). Vance plays with Peter in Gekko Projekt, and Steve has appeared on at least one of Peter's solo albums. The music to my ears is very similar to Gekko Projekt, and as the album is a narrative concept, it bears similarity to Gekko Projekt's "Reya of Titan", also a narrative concept. This means that it should be very good music and indeed, if this had been a Gekko Projekt album, I would have said it's their best to date. However, as it is a Bomber Goggles album, I must say that they have started off firmly on two very fine feet on solid plastic!

Though there are no epic tracks on here and the song structures are not overly complex, the musicianship and songwriting is not only excellent, but the band members prove their skill at bending time signatures and exercise their diversity in styles, all the while coming across as very focused and concentrated, as opposed to overreaching and scattered all over the place. In particular, the music of "Building", "Renewed World", and "March of Tides" is really top notch while still keeping a conciseness about each of the tracks. I like one part in "Building" with a tricky time signature where Peter plays first two notes, then those two again plus a third, then those three again plus a fourth, and then all four again plus a fifth. This he repeats over several measures. Indeed, the note progression is building. I like it when the music takes on the theme of the title.

The songs are interesting to follow for the lyrics that tell the story but of course the music is still as important and as well-performed as in the instrumental parts. One of my favourite lyrics appear in "Uneasy Truce" with the chorus: "Lens flare / Cross-hairs / Will they dare? / Warfare / Hardware / And Peace prayers / There's trouble in the air". There's also a cool referencing of lyrics where in the first track they sing "I'll be damned if I'm damned," and later in "Wistful Waves", Peter mildly proclaims, "Well, I'll be damned!" Another bit that caught my attention is the reference to The Ides of March in the final track, which plays homophonetically on the song title "The March of Tides".

There is an indy feeling to this album as there is to Gekko Projekt but at the same time it sounds like prog alumni have come together to make this album. I find the overall quality of the sound and the vast collection of (plastic- wrapped) ear candy makes this album easy to listen to on repeat. Even if one track doesn't have my ears on their toes, by the time the next track comes on I'm, uh, all ears again.

Imaginative. Talented. Unpretentious. Easily addictive. Just damn fine music! Well, I'll be...

Report this review (#1915723)
Posted Thursday, April 19, 2018 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars US band BOMBER GOGGLES is a fairly new venture, and the result of veteran composers and musicians Steve Bonino, Vance Gloster and Peter Matuchniak joining forces. With noted session drummer Jimmy Keegan contributing with his particular talents, they recorded their debut album "Gyreland", which was subsequently released through US label Melodic Revolution Records in the spring of 2018.

Bomber Goggles comes across as a fairly unconventional band in many ways on their debut album "Gyreland", shying away from many common tropes and doing their very own thing in a quirky yet surprisingly accessible manner. Those fond of the more accessible side of progressive rock should lend an ear to this album at some point, as I rather expect that a rather broad audience base will find this production to be a compelling and captivating one. Especially those fond of concept albums.

Report this review (#2048896)
Posted Sunday, October 28, 2018 | Review Permalink

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