Rob Reed is one of the most versatile and prolific progressive sound tinkerers of our time. He recently released the album "The Ringmaster: Part One", which follows his Mike Oldfield bows, which he has been releasing since 2014 under the project title "Sanctuary". However, he is best known to the prog community as the founder of the neo-prog band Magenta, whose debut "Revolutions" was released in 2001. Other projects include Cyan, Chimpan A and Kompendium. How does this man do it?
This year, multi-instrumentalist Rob Reed commemorated his musical beginnings with the band project Cyan with a new recording of the debut album "For King And Country" from 1993. With Chimpan A (two albums since 2006) and his homage to the electronic pioneers of the 70s "Cursus 123 430" (2020), he also mixed in the electronic cosmos. The project Kompendium (2012/13), in turn, involved stars of the prog rock scene such as Steve Hackett, Jakko Jakszyk and Mel Collins.
From "Sanctuary" to "The Ringmaster."
Reed's new album "The Ringmaster: Part One" follows on from the folkprog patchwork already familiar from his three "Sanctuary" albums (2014-18) and is again heavily influenced by Mike Oldfield, this time of the phase from "Ommadawn" (1975) to "QE2" (1980). So why not another release under the established title? As Reed explains, the name "Sanctuary" was based on the claim that it captured the escapist, almost "sacred" quality of Mike Oldfield's music of the 1970s. Now, he says, it was time to make a change: "I simply didn't want to call it 'Sanctuary IV' and on and on. That gets arbitrary at some point. I wanted the music this time to be connected to more concrete images and titles that you can follow. I think the music benefits from not always having such a boring build up of big long tracks labeled 'Part 1' and 'Part 2'. Besides that, there are now also shorter pieces that let you breathe in between. That's how my own music is evolving, too." In addition to Oldfield as a pivotal point, there are influences from classical and film composers such as David Bedford, Ennio Morricone and John Barry: "I don't want to copy Mike Oldfield, but above all to trigger the same effect as he did
"The Ringmaster": when the Oldfield muse kisses you
So how did the idea come about to compose "The Ringmaster", a two-part concept work about the capriciousness of the artistic muse? "I was sitting with flute specialist Les Penning, who had been involved in early Oldfield albums and with whom I had collaborated on all the Sanctuary projects. We came up with this imaginary figure that sits on your shoulder when you're doing creative work. She either gives you everything and it just flows out of you, or she loves to tease you with nothing. With that character, we then traveled to her own country to find out what makes her tick." The second part of "The Ringmaster" is already finished: "Especially considering today's listening habits, 100 minutes of music in one go is just too much. After half of it at the latest, the concentration is gone. That's why I split it. Now you can follow the story in peace, but you still don't have to wait years, but only three months for the sequel." ...