the U.K., Nick Adams (guitars) and Peter Jeal (synths)
released the first album of their band Shining Pyramid. There
seems to be a rising number of talented electronic musicians from
England these past few years and you can add the name Shining Pyramid
to that list. Self-produced and recorded by Nick and Peter, this first
Shining Pyramid will be of interest to electronica and synth meets
space guitar fans. The electric guitars mix well with the synth sounds
throughout the 50+ minute CD. Theres many sonic signposts for
fans looking to check out Shining Pyramid, including mid 80s
era Tangerine Dream, Michael Rother, space-rock in general and in
their more melodic moments, even bands such as Canadian prog-rockers
Maneige. Most of the Shining Pyramid album features tracks that clock
in around five or six minutes, the exception being track sixwith
the title Annie Trevor / Under The Wild Hills / Pyramid Of Firewhich
clocks in at 22 minutes. With their music being inspired by Arthur
Machens 1895 gothic horror story, Shining Pyramid's CD is very
hotly mixed and mastered. The CD has a variety of instrumental rock
flavors added to the hypnotic electronics to make of cross-genre appeal.
Its not often you find an electronica album that is so well
cross-pollinated with guitar sounds but that challenge is superbly
solved on this first Shining Pyramid CD. www.ShiningPyramid.org
mwe3.com presents an interview with
mwe3: How did Shining Pyramid form as a musical group and how
did you arrive with the name of the group? Did you both have a long
time fascination with electronic music and sonic guitar scapes? How
did you both meet up?
Adams: We are work colleagues. It took a while for us to discover
that we were both into recording music and when we realized we shared
an appreciation for 70's prog acts it was logical to try to do something
together. It will sound a little fanciful but I'd been thinking about
a name for us and one night in a flash I saw it all - we would be
Shining Pyramid and the first album would be based on Machen's short
story. I first read it many years ago and it has stayed with me. I
even saw the cover art. Luckily Peter liked the name. Actually, it
was The Shining Pyramid but Peter wanted to drop the "the".
We're both interested in the hypnotic quality of drone and repetition
so wanted to explore that but I like melody as well and what guitar
player doesn't enjoy a bit of a riff? We like to have a bit of variety
to our sound, some light and shade.
Peter Jeal: I got into EM in 1979 when I heard Tangerine Dreams
Force Majeure and was thunder-struck. So I've been working
on solo pieces since school but didn't take it too seriously. Indeed
we thought to start with this would be just a bit of fun. But we both
soon decided that if we were going to spend time on a project, we
should commit and give it our best. It's so much more rewarding. Always
been more into instrumentals, lyrics make it all too explicit and
I like the idea that a listener is free to interpret what they hear,
maybe in ways we could never have foreseen.
mwe3: You mention the Arthur Machen story in the CD back cover.
Tell us about Machen, how he impacted the group sound and what other
influences inspired you to form Shining Pyramid. When I look at the
CD cover art I think of the movie The Shining. I read that
the cover was created by Jon Adams of the Wales Millennium Centre?
Nick Adams: Our album is inspired by Machens gothic horror
story only insofar as its a kind of soundtrack to parts of the
tale. What appealed to me was that Shining Pyramid sounds like the
dreamed up name of a prog group but was actually coined in the 19th
Century. Its a great story by the way but of its time. Stephen
King is certainly aware of Machens story, Ive read that
somewhere, and I wonder if he didnt borrow the Shining bit from
it. The cover art is by my brother, Jonathan, an architect and big
fan of Roger Dean and Hipgnosis. I described to him what I wanted,
a pyramid made of obsidian in a landscape on a moonlit night. I was
hoping for a painting but he came up with that but Im not going
to complain as it has a glossy quality that looks good on computer
screens. As far as other influences go we come from slightly different
angles. I grew up loving YES and Floyd, Jon Andersons Olias
album sounded like music from another universebut I also enjoyed
listening to Wishbone Ash and Heap and other rock bands particularly
the Stones. Mick Taylor is one of my favorite guitar players.
Peter Jeal: I was really attracted by a mystical world-view
coming from a pre-technical age which gives it a perspective I feel
we've lost. I particularly like the fact that at that time there were
much greater areas that were unknown - both of place and in our understanding
But my main influence is Tangerine Dream. They've produced such a
huge and varied body of work with every release saying something new
and unexpected; they've just made so many worlds. But founder Edgar
Froese described himself at a gig once as a guitar player from
Berlin and so although synths are cool theyre just a toolalbeit
Can you tell us what guitars and synths youre playing on the
Shining Pyramid CD? Are you both gear heads of sorts into vintage
sounds and what was the key to getting that sonic synchronicity between
the guitars and synths?
Peter Jeal: It's not really about the kit for me, its
just a blessing to have so much potential for sound available with
modern tech. It astonishes me how much effort and craft must have
been required to get the magic out of the gear in 1970s.
For this CD I mainly used just a MicroKorg with a Roland D20 on ThreEn
but I'm breaking in a Waldorf Blofeld now for new material.
It is weird though re synchronicity - before working with Nick the
thought of composing in partnership seemed unthinkable but when I
hear his sketches and parts I can usually picture straight away how
I can compliment with or contrast against them so I guess we have
bits of similar gray matter.
Nick Adams: I'm glad you think there's synchronicity! It was
never deliberate but sometimes the guitar sounds a bit synth like
and Peter's sounding like a guitar. Im a big fan of vintage
gear. I used a '73 Gibson SG for all of what we think of as side
2, the album is designed for a vinyl release if that should
ever come about. I also used an '88 Les Paul Standard and a 70's Japanese
Les Paul copy that's basically had everything changed on it and is
in new standard tuning. That's the guitar on Far in the Spiritual
City. I've got an 82 Les Paul Custom for those duties now. I've
got various pedals and other guitars, a really nice '72 Telecaster
and a Strat I've put together from parts with Bare Knuckle pickups
in it. My Les Paul Custom has got Sonic Monkey pickups which are great.
I've just picked up a lovely '78 Guild 12 string that I'd like to
use on the next record although Peter seems nervous that I'm going
to go all Folk. I use a Fender Blues Junior or Marshall DSL 40 but
often go straight into the recorder via pedals.
mwe3: Are the Shining Pyramid tracks improvised or do you have
a set composing style? How did you create the tracks on the CD? The
tracks have a live feel. Did you overdub a lot or was it mostly cut
live in the studio?
Adams: The tracks are built up from an initial part which acts
as a framework. I suppose you could call it "live" as I
prefer not to do too many takes as I think you lose a bit of spontaneity.
So there are some mistakes! I dont like to get bogged down,
Id much rather move on to the next thing. The Worm
track has four guitar parts - thats my Les Paul Standard. I
worry that Im leaving no room for Peter but he says Ill
just turn you down! Sometimes Ill be recording and a sound
will take me off in a different direction and that may become the
basis of a new track, so there is some improvisation. There are a
lot of bits and pieces in the can. Peter will add synth parts to my
guitar tracks or vice versa and then well overdub on top of
that. There is a bit of editing but thats Peters domain.
Peter Jeal: Yes, it's very much an iterative process. I will
listen to works many, many times as they progress before even turning
on the gear, and imagine how they can develop. So when the red light
is on I like to just run at it and see how it works out. Sometimes
it does straight off, sometimes it's, well, not what I expected! But
as Nick says, we don't want to spend too much time polishing and tweaking.
A small change can make a huge impact of course. But I think that
there is such a wide spectrum of how listeners hear the music anyway,
each from their own perspective, the broad strokes are what matter.
So lets crack on to the next one.
mwe3: Tell us how you see Shining Pyramid on the 21st century
progressive rock scene? Do you follow the prog sound? Great to see
prog making such a vital comeback these past five years, even as the
legends slowly and sadly pass on into the tomb of time. I know you
were recently in prog mag. Whats been the reaction to the Shining
Pyramid in the prog community world wide?
Nick Adams: Wed be recording our music regardless of
a scene as it makes us happy. Its a bonus that theres
an interest in Progressive sounds and that prog is no longer a dirty
word. We're still big fans and it's fantastic that you can go out
to see King Crimson or PFM or Hawkwind. I've not forgotten the impact
that those records had on me with their level of musicianship and
vision. Reaction to the record has been positive but these days with
so much music being made it's easy to be lost in the sonic maelstrom,
but we have to bear in mind that were contributing to it.
Peter Jeal: Its great to see prog growing as long as
bands are always moving it forward. Its senseless to define
prog of course but it cant be a style its got to be in
a state of flux and constant development - thats its appeal
for me anyhow; that you can listen to some new prog and
Re SP I don't think many bands want to own fitting into a genre and
we're no differenthang on, is that a genre itself? We just enjoy
what we're doing, working on the next release, planning the next album.
Great feedback is very gratifying as theres so much quality
music produced every day. So if it takes off, well, great but that's
not the goal. Its all about the music.
What other plans do you have for Shining Pyramid, both for the CD
and for the band in 2016 and beyond? Do you have videos planned or
a possible live show in the future and what kind of Shining Pyramid
album would you like to make next time around?
Peter Jeal: We have chatted about doing a gig but it feels
quite onerous. Sure, we can just present released and forthcoming
material with us playing a track live each and the rest off a PC but
that doesnt feel enough. We might end up performing material
very different from the studio releases, which isn't risk-free but
we don't want to do forgettable gigs.
As for the next album, I think we want to continue trying to offer
soundscapes that evoke the essence of life and how it manifests in
many guises - some weve forgotten how to recognize, some weve
not yet learned to.
Nick Adams: Playing live is an interesting and slightly alarming
prospect. I'm not sure how we could do it without using backing tracks
which doesn't appeal to me. We'd either have to augment our line up
or maybe just go out and make it up as we go along. I havent
thought about a video to be honest. We're currently working on a new
record which further explores our interest in nature mysticism. We're
looking back to a time, not so long ago, when people were connected
to the land and not their mobile phones.