Lamp is a collaboration of Michael Shipway (also known as one half of VoLt) with guitarist/friend Garth Jones. Michael and Garth are actually former work colleagues and after a number of studio and live sessions together, they agreed that the combination of Garth's melodic guitar with Michael’s synthesiser soundscapes would be appreciated within and beyond the EM community.
- The Tower of Breganze - [20:19]
- The Tower of Aurumshade - [17:51]
- The Tower of Diameter - [19:28]
“The Three Towers” comprises three long tracks of 20,17 and 19 minutes, mixing elements of classic electronics with contemporary Em styles. They all rise from the foundation of Michael’s majestic sequences and evocative synth pads. These are then capped by lead lines that switch between synthesiser and guitar, in line of a conversation. The general recording technique was for Michael to create the key sequences for each track, applying mostly the Sequentix Cirklon sequencer with Virus, Oasys and Voyager synthesisers. Garth would then add guitar refrains and riffs from his beloved Fender Stratocaster guitar in the studio or from the comfort of his own desk, approximately 75 miles away. In the next stage, Michael incorporated these contributions with his own synthesiser leads and performed further editing to create the final mix of each track. In the end, professional mastering was carried out by Ron Boots to put the icing on the cake and lift the outcome to an even higher plain. Michael recalls the structure of the album suggested the title “The Three Towers” which in turn led to the cd artwork. The music itself then inspired Garth to write a short story to be offered as one possible interpretation.
Despite distinct VoLt-influences occasionally simmering through the various layers and main structure of “The Three Towers”, its music carries a lighter and more open feel, with Garth’s tasty guitar licks adding melodic, poignant and lush phrases throughout. I for one though feel the third and final part (“The Tower of Diameter”) is also the weakest: it’s a bit too easy-going while not aptly tying the strengths of both musicians together.
And although the album title, cover art and inside map might suggest otherwise, the album’s concept is not based on anything related to Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings” or Middle Earth: it relates to the multi-being and scientist Bernodine and is on a universal scale, yet provides an echo from an ancient legend. The full story that triggered the album’s concept can be read on the Mr Shipway’s MSL-Music website listed below.
The duo will demonstrate their Lamp-style live-on-stage at their Awakenings concert in July 2012.
2012. Press Information
Based on the tales weaved by Bernodine, a scientist as unknown as his fame, “The Three Towers” by Lamp is the answer to the striking “Phoenix Arising” from Steve Smith and the Tylas Cyndrome which surprised the world of progressive EM and England School in 2011. Lamp, which comes also out of Volt thigh, is consist of Michael Shipway (the other half of Volt) on synths and sequences and Garth Jones, an old friend, on guitars. And The Three Towers is a very beautiful album which takes on a particular cachet with its artwork that looks like the legend of Tolkien; The Lord of the Rings. Except that far from being in the lands of an EM to the fragrances of the Middle earth, “The Three Towers” unlocks on 3 long musical chapters where misty mellotron and synths with solos from the past caress some sweet solos and harmonies of a very romantic guitar on evolutionary rhythms, arched on good sequences and programmed percussions. It’s a superb album which transcends the music of the Middle, let us stay in the thematic, in order to offer a musical journey as epic as the tales of Bernodine (The Universe as seen by Bernodine), which we can read extracts on Michael Shipway's site.
"The Tower of Breganze" introduces us into this dazzling world of a hybrid EM with iridescent strata coming from a metallic guitar which float in the soft comfort of a smooth one mellotron mist. This heady mist, which transports us far beyond our dreams and waltzes between our two hemispheres, is also of use as rampart to Michael Shipway's synth who shapes some sweet twisted solos. These solos of an EM with the fragrances of the vintage years coo in our ears, such as mermaids in distress on dried up ice floes, when the more harmonious chords of Garth Jones hum a fine threatening pulsation. Quietly the rhythm settles down with a line of sequences among which the keys which pound randomly are preliminary drafting a nervous rhythmic approach and espouse the spiral movement of a ghostly bass line. This swirling rhythm is harpooned by programmed percussions, propelling "The Tower of Breganze" in the crossbred universe of a progressive electronic rock which swirls in a heavy minimalist twirl. Displaying a disarming contrast, between its rotary heaviness and its surprising rhythmic velocity, this loud tempo rolls like a powerful circular race with a guitar which is more than poetics with its solos and tunes filled of a Latin flavor which dance on bludgeoning percussions and sing beneath these clouds of mellotron which lulled the genesis of "The Tower of Breganze". This mist of mellotron throws a veil of mysticism on the introduction of "The Tower of Aurumshade" with hummed layers which float in a cosmos enchanted by Garth Jones' romantic guitar. Fine synth solos cross this Eden of wadding, rooting this intro in its envelope of mist up until the first pulsations which put up a rhythmic pattern similar to the tower of Breganze. Slowly, and by means of sequences which flutter such as will-o'-the-wisp, the rhythm wakes up stealthily with beautiful tears of violin which cry on chords of a dreamlike guitar until the insistency of the pulsations stumbles on an amalgam of sequences with a divided debit. And, like a long hearing orgasm which remains stuck on its climax of enjoyment to extirpate all its pleasure, the rhythm takes off a bit after the 13th minute, espousing the torrent of Breganze’s percussions while the guitar, more incisive, bites the pace with furious solos.
Strangely and contrary to the press guide, "The Tower of Diameter" is my preferred title on “The Three Towers” and here is why! First of all the intro whips our senses with its strong cosmic breezes which molds iridescent winds on a ghostly plain grazed by a wandering guitar. We are in full heart of an obscure imagination where the winds whistle with a noisy intensity on a rhythm which blooms after the 3rd minute with glaucous resounding pulsations. A beautiful line of limpid and fluid sequences swirls with a celestial grace around this single-phased rhythm which skips weakly, like being put to sleep by harmonious chords of a keyboard courting the bites of an oniric guitar. Sequences and pulsations are merging in a single rhythmic zone when some lines filled by Hindu psychedelic tones throw a clanic progressive aura on a passage which quietly rushes towards the forgetting before being reborn with curt riffs. And the superb and stunning rhythmic structure of "The Tower of Diameter" displays all of its splendour with riffs which sound strangely as The Police (Every breath you take) wrapped of a serene cosmic mist. The next 10 minutes which flows into our ears are simply charming. Solos of guitars and synths are exchanging their musical poetries on an oblong hypnotic rhythm that big celestial clouds caress of a dreamlike veil, coating the rhythms and ambiences of a thematic pattern that forge the most beautiful ear worms.
You will have guessed it; “The Three Towers” is a wonderful album where the retro Berlin School bathes in progressive ambiences with just it takes to make us topple over the other side of the mirror of the comfort of minimalist rhythms. We may anticipate the rhythmic rides that we hear coming from miles around that we always stay open-mouthed in front of their attacks as much vicious as predictable, sign of an opus splendidly well done which is completely to the diapason of these tales of which we don’t know the origin. And what is to say about these mellotrons? Hum... completely delightful. My very favorite so far in 2012!
2012. Sylvain Lupari / gutsofdarkness.com & synth&sequences.com
Cant believe the above review are trying to describe the same CD I have.
..... “The Three Towers” is a wonderful album where the retro Berlin School bathes in progressive ambiences with just it takes to make us topple over the other side of the mirror of the comfort of minimalist rhythms...... ???? Sorry, WTF does that mean ? can someone interpret please ?
For me Michael Shipway is probably the best Composer around at the moment. I thought "Voyage to Venus" was brilliant but this probably transcends that albeit in a slightly different vein. On his solo stuff such as "Venus" he regales us with some of the most wonderful tunes and melodies I have ever heard, and at age 62 I've heard a few !. His Volt persona leans more towards the "Berlin School" and has always struggled to impress me (Sorry Michael), but "Three Towers" arguably lies somewhere in between. A more commercial offering, full of really catchy melodies, sequences and rhythms together with a wonderful production make this CD perhaps his best outing to date. All three tracks are from the top drawer but undoubtedly my favourite is the last one - "Tower of Diameter". Dont see how the music inspired the titles - for me this track should have been called "Troll Jamboree" or some such ! It has an absolutely exquisite bass line which has such a 'Neanderthal' feel to it that it in stantly conjures up images of something from the film "Troll Hunter" - sorry I know the beat is too fast but it does. I have had this CD for 2 months now and this is one track that just wont leave my poor brain cells alone. I HAVE to play it at least once a day - EVERY day and it still shows no sign of wanting to leave me alone. To say I love it is very much an understatement. Because of this I have only just got around to listening to the other two tracks. Track 1 "Tower of Breganze" is turning out to be another goodie. Again full of wonderful melodies and sequences and Garth Jones' almost simplistic but wonderful guitar sequences. This would be a stand out track on any other CD but for me only comes second here. "The Tower of Aurumshade" is the shortest track and starts out slowly, and some really nice rhythms and guitar licks develop later. Still haven't fully listened to this track yet so cannot comment further with any authority. All in all an absolutely brilliant CD possibly beating "Voyage to Venus" as CD of the year which 2 months ago I didn't think was possible.
2012. Clive / England