One of the albums that has been in my prog rock listening rotation over the past several days is Biosphere the sophomore release from the Canadian Crossover Prog band AsZension. The band is currently a studio-based band but there are plans to make it a live band. The band was founded by multi-instrumentalist Kevin Thiessen after he completed his studies in Contemporary Music and Technology, audio engineering, production and guitar at Selkirk College in Nelson B.C. After finishing his studies Thiessen set out to find like-minded musicians. First he met and then added guitarist and engineer Calvin Shiu, a martial arts practitioner and at the time, a recording arts student at the University of Lethbridge to the band. Shiu brought with him his ”Shamisen”, a Japanese fretless lutelike instrument. This led to inspire Thiessen to use more world instruments in his miusic. In today’s recording era this is accomplished through “Virtual instrument technology or Vst’s. The final member of the band drummer Kyle Sheppard was an easy choice for the band since he had worked with Thiessen and was a life-long friend of Shiu’s. Their self-titled debut album won rave reviews and was nominated for Best Début Record at the 2012 ”Prog Awards” The Web World Awards dedicated to Progressive Rock.
On their albums Thiessen’s plays 7, 8 and 12 string electric and acoustic guitars, bass guitar, mandolin, synthesizers, programming, voice and percussion. He also serves as composer, arranger, producer, engineer, and is responsible for mixing, mastering and even the artwork for the album releases Whew!
. ‘’Biosphere’’ as a followup to the ensemble’s 2012 selftitled debut release. In an advancing stage of evolution, the album showcases guest performances from a new lineup of musicians as well as a more dramatic approach to the usual methods of composition, which are primarily guitar and synthesizer driven. The songs heavily employ the usage of ethnic instruments found in Asia along with other ambient/world influences. A more integrated rhythm section is also prominent on the new release, which has a stronger focus on groove and feel.
Tonight was the third or fourth time that I listened to the album and I have enjoyed the album more with each listen. Tonight I picked up more of the individual instruments and after a few listen had a better feel for the music! All an all it is a great listen and I can see the album becoming a regular soundtrack album!!
Here is “Hypnosis” from the album Biosphere…..