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CAIRO

Crossover Prog • United Kingdom


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Cairo biography
Founded in Milton Keynes, UK in 2016

Having named and founded UK prog rockers Touchstone in 2002 and after they split in November 2015, UK-based singer-songwriter, composer, producer and keys man Rob COTTINGHAM launched his brand new rock band, CAIRO, on 3rd August 2016. The band comprise Rob on vocals and keys; Lisa DRISCOLL on vocals; James HARDS on guitars; Paul STOCKER on bass and Graham BROWN on drums. The original female vocalist, Rachel Hill - who features on the album - left the band due to ill health in November 2016 and was replaced by Lisa DRISCOLL in January 2017.

The band released their debut album, as well as their title track video single, 'Say' on 3rd October 2016 to rave reviews from across the globe. The video single features the actress Charlotte PETERS whose career includes a film with Jean Claude VAN DAMME.

The album has thirteen tracks; is an hour long and includes a prog epic "Nothing To Prove" and a title track rocker, "Say". The album also includes a special voiceover from Nick YARRIS, an innocent man who spent twenty-two years on death row in Pennsylvania. The album was recorded at Outhouse Studios in the UK, and was co-produced with John MITCHELL (IT BITES, FROST*, LONELY ROBOT, ARENA). Album artwork, including band logo and scarab, is by VitP (BLACK STAR RIDERS, EUROPE, FROST*, GALAHAD, INGLORIOUS, IT BITES, KINO, LONELY ROBOT, TWELFTH NIGHT), and web development by Crystal Spotlight (STEVEN WILSON, JETHRO TULL, FROST*, HAKEN). Band studio photography is by multi-award winning photographer, HOSS.

On launch, Kurzweil endorsee and Nord Artist COTTINGHAM advised that he was after a new sound with the same sensibilities as in my previous writing but with heavier passages, as well as more ambient, electronic soundscapes - plus more time spent on crafting the blend of male and female vocals within the overall production of the music." John MITCHELL commented: "It has been a great pleasure working on this album. It really is a stellar debut and is jam-packed with epic moments, memorable hooks and heart-warming melodies." Before releasing the album, COTTINGHAM wanted an independent professional to feedback about the album. He sent a copy to STEVE HACKETT (GENESIS, THE STEVE HACKETT BAND) who had laid down a solo on COTTINGHAM's 2013 solo album 'Captain Blue'. Hackett commented: "I very much enjoyed listening to songs from the alb...
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CAIRO discography


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CAIRO top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.98 | 75 ratings
Say
2016

CAIRO Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.00 | 1 ratings
Alive in Holland
2020

CAIRO Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

CAIRO Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

CAIRO Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

CAIRO Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Alive in Holland by CAIRO album cover Live, 2020
4.00 | 1 ratings

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Alive in Holland
Cairo Crossover Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Honorary Reviewer

— First review of this album —
4 stars Cairo are back with their second album, a live CD which was recorded at the Parkvilla Theater, Alphen Aan De Rijn in October 2019. It has been quite a wait since the release of their superb debut, 'Say', back in 2016 but things have been happening in the band since then and this album features new singer Sarah Bayley who replaced Rachel Hill. The rest of the line-up is of course Rob Cottingham (vocals, keyboards), James Hards (guitar), Paul Stocker (bass) and Graham Brown (drums, percussion). It is somewhat unusual to release a live album so early in a band's career, but Rob has been around the scene for a while, releasing his debut solo album back in 2002, and then forming Touchstone who I first came across in 2005. This means the band aren't restricted to "just" songs from the debut plus a few new ones, as there is a lengthy back catalogue, so we are treated to some songs which aren't strictly Cairo but are here given the band treatment.

In a live environment the band are far more solidly neo-prog than some may realise from the album, with Cairo really rocking when the time is right. Having two very different singers is a real benefit to their overall sound as there are so few who really manage to capture it at this level, with both Rob and Sarah being very strong singers indeed. They can both take the lead role with ease, but also work well on harmonies such as the new number "Déjà Vu". I am not sure if the band originally planned to release this live recording, or if it was a decision they came to later, but there is little in the way of audience sound which does gives it a rather strange feel, but it is still immensely enjoyable nonetheless. There is no doubt that Sarah has settled in really well, and her voice really shines on numbers such as "Back In The Wilderness", while Rob has always been a strong vocalist and their voices blend well together.

This is more than an hour long and is a great introduction to Cairo for those who have yet to come across them. I only hope they are soon back in the studio to record a new album, and I am so grateful they have made this available so I can hear just what they sound like in concert, as somehow I think it will be unlikely they will ever tour New Zealand. But if you get the opportunity when they are next out on the road then make sure you see them as their dynamic songs-driven neo-prog is simply superb.

 Say by CAIRO album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.98 | 75 ratings

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Say
Cairo Crossover Prog

Review by tszirmay
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

5 stars At the risk of repeating myself, one of the main attractions of prog is the proverbial hunt for the next elusive prey, diligently reconnoitering the vast global expanse for something that will shake the foundations and the pleasure nodes. With a little help from my friends (just like the Beatles /Joe Cocker classic), I get introduced to some new nugget, hidden and obscured by clouds of distance. Hints of potential comes with a recognizable name, here and there, to excite the senses and securing the decision to order. I was familiar with Rob Cottingham when he was steering Touchstone, a harder-edged prog band that got my attention, interestingly enough in the same manner, when I saw the name Henry Rogers on drums. This brilliant kitman has graced a slew of albums that blew me sideways (namely the recent Heather Findlay solo outing 'I Am Snow'). Touchstone released 4 studio albums, as well as a live one and disbanded a few years ago. I am happy to announce that his new project Cairo is a leap up and forward , particularly due to his proggier keyboard presence, though many of the other classic elements are present. A line-up that features a fabulous guitarist in James Hards, a stellar bassist in Paul Stocker, while the drums are powerfully manned by Graham Brown. Lead vocals are handled by Rachel Hill, another addition to a growing list of stunning female prog vocalists, who frankly really outdo the men in quality and talent.

But it is Cottingham who really owns the crown, composing tender and memorable melodies such as on the tremendous 'Say', the dizzying Random Acts of Kindness' and the breathtaking 'Searching'. His sweeping keyboard add orchestrated drama to all the compositions as well as letting his fingers linger on the piano, a most welcome initiative that some prog keyboardists tend to forget at times. He also sings at the appropriate times, an expressive tone that feeds the musical thrill, best illustrated on the penultimate track 'Dancing the Gossamer Thread'. The core of this exhilarating debut, introduced with such flair by seasoned colleague Kev Rowland, is found in the middle tracks with the 2 part 'Nothing to Prove', encompassing 12 and a half minutes of blistering prog rock of the finest vintage. Accessible perhaps but very creative with constant shifts in mood and atmosphere, from preciously chiseled to powerfully bombastic.

'Katrina' comes in two versions, a short and more direct one, as well as final curtain that is extended with assorted effects , including a moment of silence, into a 9 minute whirlwind of aching gorgeousness and unbelievable angst in describing the New Orleans disaster . 'Back from the Widerness' is another jewel of illuminated scintillation, simple and beautiful, a lullaby of unique majesty. Guitarist Hards sends a glittering electric missile into the night sky, igniting a furious second half that spotlights Graham Brown's frenetic Rogers-like drumming (Graham, I just gave you the loftiest compliment!), a sensational slab among other sensational tracks.

From the beginning to the end, this polished production (no other than the genius John Mitchell) makes this into the very rare 'PERFECT DEBUT' category, a fascinating musical journey with no weak moments and easily earns'

5 Pyramids of utterance

Bravo ROB !!!! Masterpiece.

 Say by CAIRO album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.98 | 75 ratings

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Say
Cairo Crossover Prog

Review by Windhawk
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars UK band CAIRO (not to be confused with the US band of the same name) was launched in 2016, and is the creative vehicle of composer and musician Rob Cottingham, formerly of Touchstone. Their debut album "Say" was released in the fall of 2016 through Cottingham's own label Heavy Right Foot Records.

Those who tend to enjoy bands described as neo-progressive rock just as much as artists placed in the same general context as Porcupine Tree should have a field day with Rob Cottingham's latest venture Cairo. Compelling and accessible progressive rock with a contemporary sheen, a strong focus on melodies and harmonies, with a superb mix and production ans the proverbial icing on the cake. A highly recommended album for those with a taste for the accessible side of modern progressive rock, in particular for those who find great pleasure in listening to a very well mixed and produced album in that context.

 Say by CAIRO album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.98 | 75 ratings

BUY
Say
Cairo Crossover Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Honorary Reviewer

5 stars One of my roles on ProgArchives is being a member of the Crossover sub-genre team. We are asked to listen to bands and gauge whether we believe that they should firstly be listen on PA, and secondly if they should be classified as 'Crossover Prog' or sent to another team for them to see what they think. It certainly leads to interesting discussions, and I get to hear a lot of music I wouldn't otherwise. But, I rarely read any information we are also provided with (which can be as much as full history or as a little as a name), as I just want to listen to the music. One of the bands we recently assessed was Cairo, who we quickly and duly passed, and I then contacted the band to see if they could provide me with a biography. So, I was quite surprised to get a response from Rob Cottingham, who I have known since Touchstone first started, as I thought he was still with that band and hadn't realised that he had formed a new one.

Listening to an album to determine style is quite different to listening to it for review purposes, and I was glad to have the opportunity and go back and play it a few more times with a different set of ears. What immediately strikes the listener right from the introductory beginnings, is that this is an incredibly mature piece of work, and the production from John Mitchell (It Bites, Frost*, Arena and others) is simply spot on. With Rob being joined on lead vocals by Rachel Hill, the use of both harmony and different lead vocals adds to what is a sumptuous and incredibly deep music soundscape. Some albums feel light, as if something is missing, while others are overtly complex and want to tie the listeners in knots while they try to follow one overly-intricate musical thread after another. Not so with Cairo, this is a band confident in their abilities, whether it is the few fretless bass notes to draw the music in with a warmth, or the delicate piano, or those simple guitar lines, percussion, or unaccompanied vocals.

Each time I play the album I get something more from it, and I fell in love with it the very first time, and the more I play it the more I realise just how special it is. This isn't something that is going to hit the listener in the face, but rather is an arm around the shoulders gently guiding the listener to the best seat in the house, by the fire, and enwrapping them with a blanket that is majestic yet never over the top. This is something very special indeed, and must be treated as such: if you enjoy melodic prog then you will love this.

Thanks to kev rowland for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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