the 2016 release of the first album by Shining Pyramid, the
duo of Nick Adams (guitars) and Peter Jeal (synths,
keys) return in early 2019 with a second CD called Children
Of The Stones. Written and recorded in the same spirit
as their self-titled debut, Children Of The Stones may be a
kind of play on words yet, in fact this is instrumental, impressionistic
rock played with much precision and expertise. It's not by chance
alone that the age of the DIY artist has yielded a bumper crop of
outstanding new artists, because Shining Pyramid truly shines on Children
Of The Stones. The music is still firmly in the throes of the
finest Euro-prog elements from Berlin style electronics in
the spirit of T. Dream, Michael Rother and current German guitar wunderkind
Alan J. Bound, yet the guitar-centric rock edge, also inspired by
Steve Hackett, also says a lot about Shining Pyramids theatrical
dynamic of instrumental progressive rock. Even without lyrics and
vocals, Children Of The Stones is filled with a multilayered
depth of emotion and sonic intensity. The seven tracks on Children
Of The Stones seems to flow effortlessly into each other, with
the song times ranging from three minutes to almost ten minutes in
length. A good example of the mix of musical skill and devotion to
all things prog can be heard on track 3, "Horses", also
the longest track on Children Of The Stones. That track mixes
a haunting melody with dramatic shifts in musical moods and directions
that should impress even the most hard-core progressive rock fan.
Those lucky enough to have heard the 2016 Shining Pyramid will
be amply rewarded by the sonic might and majesty of Children Of
The Stones, clearly one of the finest instrumental New Age / synth
meets rock albums of 2019. www.facebook.com
mwe3.com presents a new interview with
Im so glad you were able to release a follow up to your 2016
Shining Pyramid self-titled debut album. What lessons did you
learn from your first album and how did you want Children Of The
Stones to sound different from the first Shining Pyramid album?
Nick Adams: First of all, thanks for taking an interest in
our latest release. I dont think we made a conscious decision
to do anything different with this album. In fact parts of "Sungates"
may even date from when we were recording our debut. We keep buying
new kit, so thats where the new sounds come from.
Peter Jeal: Yes, thanks for including us in your mission Robert!
There wasnt a conscious effort to revise the sound but I certainly
learned many lessons during the production of the first album and
almost enjoyed that stage, not being so bogged down with the mechanics
mwe3: Was there a difference in approaching the writing and
recording the first Shining Pyramid album with Children Of The
Stones and do you feel theres been a kind of evolution in
approaching both the songwriting and recording between the two albums?
Nick Adams: I think the only difference is now we know that
we can actually put together an album and that people will listen
to it and respond to it and that has made us try to be the very best
we can be. The recording process is basically the same and the ideas
come from just sitting down and playing. Ive never been one
for playing covers, well not since my teens anyway.
Jeal: I agree, were more familiar with the operational side
and can focus on what matters the music. Also, the positive
response of the first album gives me confidence to trust in what sounds
right; belief in our sound.
I was thinking Stonehenge when I saw the cover art of Children
Of The Stones then I thought you are both fans of the Rolling
Stones and probably their more progressive, experimental mid to late
1960s era. Was there a deliberate attempt to mix vintage psychedelic
rock imagery with futuristic New Age synth-sonics on Children Of
Nick Adams: I think that mixture of rock style guitar and
synth is what makes us sound the way do. The idea of synths being
somehow futuristic still persists but the solid body electric guitar
predates the synth by about 15 years. The name of the album comes
from Peter, although youre not the only person to think theres
a connection to the Stones.
Peter Jeal: Not Spinal Tap I hope! Perhaps there is an element
of us looking at old myths and acknowledging they arise from the same
human condition that endures and will continue for as long as we manage
to keep going. But I dont think we have an intention for the
music to be representative like that, we share a vision, or at least
our visions have some overlap, and just play what sounds good to us.
As for the album title, perhaps we see ourselves as descendants of
old druids performing ritual among the menhirs
mwe3: The Children Of The Stones album leads off with
a track called Hie Thee Sungates, which has a very proggy
sounding title. Did you want to lull the listener in with a steady
stream of sonic invitations? Is this the calm before the storm and
what can you tell us about the song title? Its very English
to my eyes and ears and the track also has a cool, calm and collected
West Coast feel to it. I mean American west coast! Maybe its
the soundtrack style of the track that hit me.
Adams: We thought "Sungates" was a strong opening track,
and were still interested in ambient sounds and wanted to bring
the listener on board gently. The fact you mention a West Coast feel
is interesting... we thought it had a 'summery' sunny kind of vibe
Peter Jeal: Nick suggested it for the opening track and it
immediately seemed right. It has quite a gradual build and yes, I
like the word invitation. The track title means hurry
toward the Sun and I think of it as a gathering and preparation,
perhaps with an offering to a watchful spirit, on to the days
mwe3: The first track makes a perfect segue into the title
track Children Of The Stones. Is there a double metaphor
meaning to the song title? Its a very calm and sedate sounding
track, almost despite the heavy dramatic mellotron sounds. I was thinking
Brian Jones might like this as he was so into the tron and I also
thought of Mike Pinder, who brought the tron into the rock arena in
mid 1966. What about the Tron sounds and would you describe the title
track as being New Age Rock or does that not offer a comprehensive
enough description? Its very glacial like in its musical movements.
Nick Adams: It is quite a slow track isnt it? But that
may be because apart from the very beginning the Mellotron sound is
in fact an effects pedal - the Mel 9. So its actually a guitar.
In my excitement with having a new toy I kind of threw the kitchen
sink at it and layered three or four tracks and then Peters
soloing on top. That pedals great, Ive always liked Mellotron,
the wonky tape not sounding quite right but having its own quality.
I would have first become aware of the Mellotron through listening
to the big prog acts of the 70s but We Love You
by the Rolling Stones is a wonderful track. Was that Bill or Brian?
I like the idea of Brian Jones approving.
Jeal: Theyre on their way now, a little apprehensive but
the lead mystics maintain an unwavering pace. My love for the Mellotron
comes from early Tangerine Dream. The string sounds were so distinctive
I never associated them with strings at the time and lacking curiosity,
I just accepted what I heard, while the flutes with perfect reverb
seemed so natural. Only later, on hearing the intro to Strawberry
Fields Forever, did it dawn on me that these werent just
flutes... there was something else going on here.
Horses is my favorite track. I was just blown away by
the magnificence of the melodies. Does that track introduce the instrumental
rock side of Shining Pyramid into the mix... and why horses? Are they
the most majestic of beasts and is there a connection to eastern astrology
regarding the title? What really impressed me about Horses
was the dramatic shift in tempo and attack as the rock elements are
introduced around the halfway point. Did you want to show the two
distinct sides of Shining Pyramid on Horses?
Nick Adams: We thought the track sounded like galloping horses
and that the people who created our stone circle would have had horses
and of course we have the ancient white horses carved into the hills
in this part of the world. We have our own not quite fully realized
Shining Pyramid mythology, a world in which the subjects that interest
us are manifest. Wed like to do some heavier sounding material
in the future but the pastoral kind of sound alludes to the pre-industrial
age that interests us.
Peter Jeal: I think theres a danger one can get seduced
by the convenience that powerful software offers. One can quickly
copy and paste a few bars into the framework for a track and before
you know it, youre done. Throwing in a tempo change is just
one way to make it a bit harder and IMHO a bit more interesting. The
track title just seemed to fit the rhythm - there they are grazing
contentedly, then, well rested, away on a gallop. They stop for a
breather and theyre off again.
Machinery Of Myth has a great sound and is an interesting
title too. Is that the most sedate or introspective sounding track
on Children Of The Stones or is it a kind of mid-point breather
in the festivities?
Adams: Thats another of the older tracks. I like it because
it has a very different sound. All the tracks are a bit different
which is something Im very pleased about and we thought a lot
about the running order. Peters synth work is pretty remarkable
and a huge part of the Shining Pyramid sound. Im afraid I lifted
the title from a book by Emyr Humphries - it appealed to me.
Jeal: Sos your guitar work Nick! But this track started
off life with some synth sounds from Nick. I like how the 5/8 tempo
begins gently, quite indistinct, masking where the down beat is, so
the track drifts along. But trouble brews and by the end its
banging the table as if to wake you from slumber. And maybe thats
the machinery of myth, the process. We go about our everyday tasks
until something unexpected happens and we need it explained.
mwe3: Speaking of Brian Jones, I think Sun Loose In The
Sky is the most rocking track on Children Of The Stones.
Did you want to cut loose with something completely different
in sound and scope and what do you want listeners and fans to know
about Sun Loose In The Sky, in that it represents a completely
different edge to Shining Pyramids sonic arsenal. What can you
tell us about the guitars that are on that track and something about
how the song was recorded, for example was it cut live or with overdubs,
Adams: That track started as a bass riff. I thought it had some
merit, recorded it and added two more guitar parts all basically playing
the same riff. I didnt think Peter would be interested in developing
it but he liked it too. However, all that remains of my original recording
is one guitar part! I used my 1973 SG on that one. Thats fairly
illustrative of the way our pieces are put together. It might start
in one place but end up somewhere else.
Peter Jeal: This is a fun track and even druids like to party.
Were really keen to have a mix of styles and energy in an album.
Its more interesting for us and the listener. I hope he or she
doesnt know what to expect at the start of each track but knows
it was us by the end. Some tracks go through a number of iterations
but I think this only took a couple as its telling a simple
Raise The Stars is another long form track that travels
a wide sonic terrain that mixes synth elements with a fierce and dark
prog-rock edge. Is Raise The Stars the most enigmatic
track on Children Of The Stones and on Raise The Stars
did you want to conjure up a more mysterious track than some of the
Adams: I like that you say conjure up! "Raise The Stars"
is one of my favorite tracks and is unlike anything weve done
before. It began as an improvised piece using the Big Sky reverb pedal.
It sounded like an incantation to us. We imagined a gathering at the
stone circle with the sun coming up but wed already used sun
twice in titles so opted for stars instead. Rather prosaic, but there
you go! It is a different sound but thats something were
very keen on, each track offering a different sonic experience.
Jeal: Yes, youve captured that well. I enjoyed the atmospherics
Nick summoned here, which along with the percussion and discord suggests
an increasingly frantic and frenetic ceremony leading to solace on
an island of repose. The druid knows the celestial movements well
and presents himself as channeling the energy of his followers to
bring about the inevitable. Does he believe it? Is he a fraud? Or
is he part of that mechanism?
Does Meadows Starred With Flowers serve as a kind of coda
to the close of the album? Its a very unusual sounding track
with a very percussive edge to it. Tell us about the percussion and
overall edginess of Meadows Starred With Flowers. Theres
a solid kind of rock beat in place with a sort of Tangerine Dream
meets Explosions In The Sky kind of vibe. Is that track the perfect
showcase for the synth sounds Shining Pyramid is known for and did
you want to close the Children Of The Stones album with that
track because of its power and glory?
Adams: "Meadows" started life with a drone from Peter
that was like an air-raid siren and was quite aggressive so I added
some jangly percussive guitar to it and it turned into a dance track.
We like to finish our albums with upbeat tracks that are a bit sinister.
Jeal: Its interesting that the drone on its own is quite
harsh with the kind of harmonics that distort what you hear long after
its finished. But the guitar tames it and the track becomes
almost jolly. Still, the drone is there, nagging. On paper I wouldnt
expect it to work but I think it does... maybe because there are almost
two experiences at once so the listener chooses which frame to listen
to at any time and then its a different listen every time.
mwe3: So now with the brilliance of Children Of The Stones
are you proceeding into new sonic terrain and the next adventures?
How will you ready the world for the majesty of Shining Pyramid?
Nick Adams: Were already working on a new album, its
going to be called Trees. As I said before, we might do some
heavier sounding material. Were developing all the time but
its a natural development... were not going to force a
change of direction. Itll be a sonic adventure for us too.
Peter Jeal: Indeed, well find out the direction after
were there. I expect itll be still grounded in these isles
and in the times where science hadnt hunted magic down to extinction.
I do like the idea of doing something more clinical and percussive,
with a more classical development of melody but that may end up a
different project of its own. Well see!