Mandalaband

Mandalaband released new album: AD - SANGREAL

Following on from the widely acclaimed BC - ANCESTORS CD, we now have AD - SANGREAL to absorb and savour. Whilst BC focussed on the pre-Christian era of ancient Egypt, Israel and Mesopotamia, AD takes the first one thousand years of early Christianity as its theme – specifically the legend of the Holy Grail or Sangreal.

But this is not the famous Arthurian tale with which we are all familiar. This is the story of the cup of the Last Supper, as handed down to us from within the little-known Romano-Spanish traditions – a small red agate vessel which, over the centuries, journeyed from Jerusalem to Glastonbury, then to Rome, and on to the kingdom of Aragon in Spain, before finally finding its rest in the cathedral of Valencia where it remains to this day. All the extraordinary events, heroes and villains involved in that epic journey are revealed in the lyrics of AD - SANGREAL … a story told in majestic ballads, stirring melodies and a complex tapestry of weaving rhythms … a story of emperors, kings, caliphs, warriors, crusaders, knights and saints.

Epic in every sense of that word, AD - SANGREAL consists of 14 tracks, many of which are spectacular anthems. In addition there is a very special bonus track, featuring Woolly Wolstenholme (of BJH and Maestoso) as lead vocalist on Mandalaband’s rendition of the classic Barclay James Harvest song ‘Galadriel’.

Engineered and Produced by David Rohl.

Available now from Legend Records.

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Beautiful Babylon video

A fourth song from the Mandalaband rehearsals session in York which took place in September 2009. This video of 'Beautiful Babylon' was edited from footage shot over two run throughs on different days, using a single standard definition camcorder ... hence the miraculous change of clothing the band performs! We hope you enjoy listening to the music as much as the band enjoyed rehearsing it ... as you can tell from this intimate footage of Mandalaband at play.

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Mandalababy!

All together now: Aaaaaaah!

Congratulations to Jeff Jackson and his wife Fliss on the birth of their daughter Elsethea Raven Bréa. They wanted to let us know that a 'Mighty Baby of Wendor' has been born! And as she was born on the first day of the new year, the local paper visited the hospital and took her photo. The “This is North Devon” journal reported that the parents named their baby after one of their favourite songs, written by 70s group Mandalaband. Thanks for the mention, Jeff – and we wish you all the best.

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A Tribute to Woolly

We received devastating news from the Barclay James Harvest international fan club:

It is with great sadness that John Lees’ Barclay James Harvest announces the passing of Woolly Wolstenholme. In recent weeks Woolly’s mental health had taken a turn for the worse and sadly he took his own life on Monday 13th December 2010. As you can imagine, John, Craig, Jez and Kevin and everyone associated with the band are stunned that a shining light of Barclay James Harvest is no longer with us. In this difficult time our thoughts are with Woolly’s partner, Sue. We would ask all of Woolly’s fans to remember his incredible contribution to popular music and his unique presence on stage.

Yours in profound sorrow,
Keith and Monika

I would like to echo the thoughts of Robin Stapleford, a BJH fan who wrote to us to say: Thank you David for putting Roots as the final track of Ancestors. Its place there now takes on a greater significance. Very, very moving to hear Woolly sing such sentiments:

"The deepest roots that love sinks never die."

Barbara Macanas on behalf of Mandalaband and Legend Records

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Legend Records releases remixed and digitally remastered ‘Mandalaband’ and ‘The Eye of Wendor’ albums

David Rohl had wondered for years whether anything could be done, using modern digital recording systems, to improve the original mixes of the two 1970s Mandalaband albums.

EMI (who had acquired the entire Chrysalis catalogue) agreed to give him access to the original 24-track analogue master tapes and arranged to have them restored and digitised at Abbey Road Studios in London, granting Legend Records the international licence to re-release both albums. Armed with these digital transfers, David then set about reinforcing the sound and instrumentation to give more power and depth to the original recordings, before remixing the entire albums at his Spanish studio overlooking the Mediterranean Sea.

The result is a remarkable testimonial to the wonders of modern audio technology and the talents of the mastermind behind the Mandalaband project.

With six bonus tracks, new artwork – including the cover by world-renowned artist Ed Unitsky – and a 16-page booklet containing important historical information, you cannot afford to miss out on this gem.

For more information about this digipak click here.

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Karum Kanesh filmed at the York Rehearsal

Here is a third track from the Mandalaband York rehearsals. Again shot on a couple of hand-held mini-DV cameras but, this time, with some Sumerian statues from the Baghdad Museum and scenes of David Rohl at the legendary Zoroastrian fire temple known as the 'Throne of Solomon' (Takht e-Suleiman) in the Zagros Mountains of Kurdistan. This track, 'Karum Kanesh', is an instrumental with band choir, featuring Troy Donockley on Uilleann pipes and Celtic whistle, and with Ashley Mulford on lead guitar.

Click here to see more of Mandalaband on YouTube.

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More from the York Rehearsals of AD - Sangreal

A second song videoed during the September 'Mandalaband' rehearsals in York. This one features Troy Donockley on whistle and Uilleann pipes, as well as Marc Atkinson on vocals.

This song 'England's Heart and Soul' is also a track from the upcoming 'AD Sangreal' album scheduled for release in May 2011.

Click here to see more of Mandalaband on YouTube.

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Keith Domone reviews 'BC - Ancestors'

"A new concept album based around the history, myths and legends of the ancient world... the album has a cinematic feel to it... [From] the opening instrumental overture the scale is epic... Overall, a very classy album, which improves with repeated exposure." Read more reviews...

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A preview of what is to come on AD - Sangreal

In September 2009 the members of Mandalaband III got together for the first time at Oakwood Studios near York to rehearse for live gigs. The idea was to have an initial get-together to see how things worked out and how everybody got on. Unfortunately not all of Mandalaband III were there, with three members absent because of other live commitments that week.

However, as you can hear, the live sound (with the help of some Protools orchestral support) is pretty amazing. The song 'A Bloodline Born' is the opening title of Mandalaband's fourth album 'AD - Sangreal' scheduled for release in May 2011.

Click here to see more of Mandalaband on YouTube.

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Mandalaband release new album: BC - Ancestors

This is the third incarnation of the extraordinary progressive rock band Mandalaband. It has been thirty years since their last album. The new album 'BC – Ancestors' is a masterpiece of symphonic rock, with majestic themes and mysterious soundscapes in the old Mandalaband style. Enhanced by 21st-century sampling technology Mandalaband III sees the creation of huge, complex, multi-layered sounds to envelop the senses.

Eleven of Europe's finest musicians have come together to produce this adventurous symphonic rock concept album that took two years to make. BC – Ancestors is a must-have for all rock music aficionados and available now through Legend Records.

For more information about the album click here.

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Rehearsals in York this September

A blog entry from the band’s Doctor Who fanatic (we all have one!)

Hi everyone,

My name is Marc Atkinson and I’m a singer/songwriter from York, England, who also happens to be providing some of the vocals for the new Mandalaband project.

Project maestro supreme, David Rohl (for it is he that has put this whole wonderful venture together) has asked me to come up with some sort of blog to coincide with the release of footage of the band at our first rehearsal, which took place at the end of September in Strensall, York. With me being a huge Doctor Who fan, and knowing that ‘David Rohl’ sounds remarkably similar to ‘Davros’, I soon realised that I must obey!

But let me first explain a little of how I became involved with this amazing project. Back in the summer of 2008, David contacted me via MySpace after listening to some demos from my current recording ‘project’, RIVERSEA. He was particularly impressed with a song called ‘Out of an Ancient World’ (as you might imagine, it was the title that lured him in!) and told me he liked my voice very much. My fellow Riversean, Mr Brendan ‘keys’ Eyre, was really impressed that David had got in touch because he was a big fan of Mandalaband and BARCLAY JAMES HARVEST and David Rohl was one of his heroes. To be honest, I’d never heard of David before he got in touch, but I was impressed that Brendan was impressed. After Googling David, I soon became very overawed with him myself (all that Egyptology stuff!) – especially after he then emailed me directly and asked if I’d be interested in singing on the new Mandalaband album!

There were plans for me to go over to David’s studio in Spain to lay the vocals down for the selected tracks but, for one reason or another too long and complicated to go into here, I never managed to get out there. So David actually came to my small studio, The Barn in York, to record my vocal parts for ‘Beautiful Babylon’ and ‘Solomon the Wise’. This he did in January 2009 and it was a pleasure meeting and working with him. He was everything I thought he would be (i.e. very warm, friendly and a pleasure to spend time with) and he seemed to enjoy my company too, which is always nice. He took all of ‘Riversea’ (well, there’s only three of us but you get the picture) out for a curry at The Viceroy in York (Brendan brought a sack-full of albums for him to sign!), before heading back to Spain armed with my vocal takes and a belly full of chicken korma.

Afterwards everything went silent(ish) for a while whilst David mixed the first of the two new albums – ‘BC – Ancestors’. And then, around two or three months ago, he got back in touch to let me know that there was a possibility of some live gigs for Mandalaband in 2010 (festivals in Japan and America were mentioned) and asked if I would be interested in helping make it happen? Even before the phrase ‘Does a bear … etc’ entered my head, I heard myself speaking in the affirmative (just like K9!).

And so it came to pass that a major part of Mandalaband III was gathered together for the first time at Oakwood Studios (some times known as ‘Awkward Studios’) in Strensall just outside of York, for a week of rehearsals (September 24th to 28th). I arrived on the Monday afternoon to set up my PA and was met by David and his lovely wife Ditas. They had to literally rush out straight away and collect Ashley from York station, so I set up my PA whilst they were gone, feeling a little bit apprehensive on my own.

When Ashley walked into the rehearsal room I liked him instantly. He’s got an infectious smile and lovely, friendly eyes. The sort of eyes that seem familiar (if you know what I mean), like an ‘old soul’ that you’ve met somewhere before. It was only on the second day when I realised that maybe the reason he looked so familiar was because he has the sparkling eyes of Jon Pertwee (the third Doctor Who)! Can you imagine how impressed and ‘at home’ I felt because of that? I’ve got the Doctor in the band with me … how can anything ever go wrong?! And, above everything else, Ashley is a superb musician. I loved hearing him play all week. He’s one of those ‘proper’ musicians who listens to what others are playing and then responds with superb licks. He can also keep his playing ‘fresh’ with every take, which is a quality to really admire when you’re playing the same songs over and over again.

I next met Kim – a great drummer and, again, very much a ‘feel’ musician. Lovely guy too. And we shared one or two moments of ‘male bonding’ during the week. It was a real shame that Kim was ‘tamed’ slightly by the need to under-play his kit because of the small size of the rehearsal room we were in and because he was also working to a Protools playback of some of the album instruments. I can’t wait to hear him ‘let loose’ when we get on a proper stage. I know he’s going to fly.

The reason Protools was needed for the rehearsals was because both Woolly (main keys) and Craig (bass) couldn’t make any of the dates during that week due to urgent commitments with Barclay James Harvest (who were playing to 50,000 people in front of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin the following week). This could have potentially thrown a major spanner in the works and brought the whole thing to a grinding stop. However, like true heroes of the not so ancient world, we all pulled together and made it happen. And happen it did … and it was good. Amen.

It was Dave Smith (owner of Oakwood studios/singer/guitarist/mechanic) who suggested the name Simon Waggot to David as a possible keyboard player to ‘step in’ during the week. I’ve known Simon, on and off, for about twenty-five years now and always respected and looked up to him as a musician, so I was chuffed to bits that he was going to be involved. He came along and just settled into the band straight away. Simon was hearing all the songs for the first time but was picking everything up so quickly it was great to see and hear. On one or two occasions this allowed us to turn the ‘click-track’ off and just play as a band ‘live’ without the ‘aid’ of the Protools. These jam sessions were amazing, as you could just feel that everyone was on the same page, musically speaking. Smiles all round.

It was on the Tuesday (the first ‘proper’ rehearsal day) when I met Barbara and Briony, both of whom I liked very much. I didn’t realise until the last day that they were mother and daughter. That came as quite a revelation to me. Once we started working on the tunes, all our vocals slowly started to compliment each other as we were all ‘finding our feet’ with the songs. There were some great moments when everything in the harmonies worked a treat as the instruments, vocals and Protools came together in an awesome wall of sound – especially on ‘A Bloodline Born’ where the vocal chants, solo guitar and driving percussion were just so trance-like and atmospheric. Quite extraordinary.

Also present was Jose, our Spanish orchestrator, who was mainly there to take video footage but then also found himself stepping in on bass guitar and keyboards at times. Jose is a lovely guy who’s English, unlike his music, is a little limited from time to time … but at least it is 500% better than my Spanish! He played some wonderful string-sample chords for Troy to improvise to on pipes and whistle when the rest of us were setting up gear or taking a coffee break. I could have listened to them all day.

Troy had come along on Thursday morning to check out how it was all sounding. Troy is a big part of David’s plans for Mandalaband live, so it’s fair to say that if Troy hadn’t been impressed the whole thing might have ended right there. So the pressure was on – especially for us ‘new recruits’. However, the good news is that Troy was indeed impressed, just sat down on his chair and slotted right into the music with all his strange and exotic instruments. Phew!

I’ve known of Troy Donockley for quite a few years, and yet I’ve only met him a couple of times. He’s a very good friend of one of my best mates, Bryan Josh from MOSTLY AUTUMN, and that’s how we’ve occasionally bumped into each other. However, Troy had never heard me sing before or seen me in any sort of musical capacity. He was very complimentary to me during the first song run-through, which really boosted my confidence and helped me relax. He’s a great guy is Troy – always really funny and very friendly (and an ace magician to boot!). Again, he’s a ‘proper’ musician, so playing with guys of that quality makes you ‘raise your game’ and try and perform to their level. I loved being in the room with the ‘Pan’ of Celtic rock music, especially as the sound we were all making together was truly epic. I can’t wait to play the songs live and for people to hear how Mandalaband sounds.

So, during the four days, we rehearsed: ‘A Bloodline Born’, ‘England’s Heart and Soul’ (my personal favourites), along with ‘Beautiful Babylon’, ‘Karum Kanesh’ (which Ashley dubbed ‘Karen’s Car Crash’) and ‘Solomon the Wise’ (to which I also did a rendering in the character of Daffy Duck, much to David’s angst who then threatened to sue me – look out for it on YouTube!).

David guided us, poked and prodded us (in the most encouraging of ways) whilst recording the whole thing onto Protools. Hopefully, if all has gone well, some of that recording/video should end up on YouTube in the not too distant future, once David has stuck it all together. I’m looking forward to hearing/seeing it. I just hope it’s as good as I remember!

When I was driving home after the last rehearsal on Friday, I was sad that it had all come to an end (for now). I’d met some truly fine musicians and, I hope, some great new buddies. And I heard the potential of what Mandalaband III can be … and that really gave me one heck of a buzz. I wait to hear what’s next in the process of getting the live show together, but I already feel that those four brief days in York are going to be the start of what will evolve into a wonderful new musical journey in the years to come.

Peace, love and rock ’n’ roll,

Marc Atkinson

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