Getting the new album out there

The new CD and Digital Album release, ‘Whose Dream Are You Living?’

During the last couple of months, Whose Dream Are You Living? has gradually been getting out there, along with the accompanying video for the track Grass Is Greener. As with previous work, the album features a wide range of musical styles, including progressive rock, pop-rock and touches of electronica and ambient music. It was recorded over the last few years with the help of some great musicians and friends at Church Road Recording Studios in Hove, England. Long-term collaborator and co-producer Julian Tardo also contributed additional guitar and other instruments on some tracks.

Another step on a musical and personal journey. It’s been a long old journey (mostly in relative obscurity) since the late seventies and ‘Whose Dream Are You Living?’ is my seventh album. I like to think I’m finally reaching a certain standard after all the struggling – better late than never! Thank you to everyone who has supported my music over the years and if anything from my latest efforts touches or inspires a few people, I will be a satisfied man. It has often been a great struggle to keep going and I have not made it easy on myself by having badly paid day-jobs – mostly care and support work of various kinds. There has also been an ongoing fight with depressive tendencies and a general sense of personal failure in life. The typical, self-obsessed, “first world”, “tortured artist” syndrome!

Brief thoughts on the music business in 2017.
Speaking to a singer less than half my age in a fairly successful band, we both agreed what a farce the whole thing has become for bands or artists trying to get heard these days. Even if you are gigging on a regular basis (which I’m not, although we hope to do a few things in 2018), it now seems to be largely about uploading “content” to the likes of Spotify, YouTube and Instagram in a desperate struggle for attention. And almost no money in return. In all genres, there is clearly far too much music around and it’s largely lost its ability to make a cultural impact. Still, when I can, someone like me will always keep coming back to making music. As an old friend of mine used to say: “What else are you going to do with your life?”. Cheers!

The Aquarian and Uranian nature of progressive rock

Aquarius

Aquarius

As both a fan and musician, I have had more than a passing interest in progressive rock (prog rock or prog) for the last forty years. As an astrologer for the last thirty years, I noticed some time ago that Aquarian and Uranian themes are very common in the charts of many progressive rock musicians and that the whole musical genre is essentially Aquarian-Uranian in nature. From the often original and experimental nature of the music, to the eccentric musicians themselves, to the frequently intellectual lyrics in search of the truth. Not all Aquarian and Uranian musicians are prog rockers and not all progressive rock musicians have Aquarius or Uranus strong in their charts but the link is there.

Progressive rock gradually evolved out of the late 1960s, beginning with the more experimental sides of the likes of The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, The Beach Boys and others. “Progressive” and “experimental” are of course words that are frequently associated with the astrological symbolism of Aquarius and its ruling planet Uranus, both being concerned with challenging existing conventions and exploring new territory. It has been suggested that Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967) by The Beatles was the first progressive rock album and it certainly has many features that have come to be recognised as prog rock trademarks. There is an overall concept, a Progrockcolourful album cover – a piece of art in itself – and an extraordinarily wide range of musical and lyrical influences. Others have suggested that In The Court Of The Crimson King (1969) by King Crimson was the beginning of progressive rock. By the 1970s and the likes of Pink Floyd, Genesis and Yes having established themselves, progressive rock had emerged as a subgenre in its own right. The term “prog”, sometimes used in a jokey or derogatory sense, appeared much later.

 

 

SevenFourUnusual and quirky (Aquarius) time signatures and unconventional song structures are often a feature of progressive rock. Rather than conforming to the more typical 4/4 rock and pop beat, artists such as King Crimson, Pink Floyd and Porcupine Tree often use alternatives such as 7/4 or 13/8. Pink Floyd’s Money on Dark Side Of The Moon and Peter Gabriel’s Solsbury Hill are examples of using a 7/4 time signature. Aquarian progrock often breaks the musical rules in all sorts of ways – the traditional verse and chorus structures are frequently avoided in favour of extended instrumental sections or other alternatives. Unpredictability is the name of the day, although critics have observed that this can seem musically pretentious, sometimes appearing to sound different for the sake of being different. Such criticism is of course unlikely to bother a musician with several planets in Aquarius or a strong Uranus in their birth chart, who will follow their own path, regardless.

Dave Gilmour, Sun square Uranus

Dave Gilmour, Sun square Uranus

A quick look at the astrological charts of famous progressive rock musicians confirms the prominence of either Aquarius or many close aspects between Uranus and the personal planets. Guitarist Dave Gilmour of Pink Floyd was born a Pisces Sun with a square to Uranus. In a 2014 interview promoting Floyd’s The Endless River album, producer Youth gave a perfect Sun-Uranus description when  commenting on his experience of working with Gilmour:- “It’s funny with David, you think he’s going to be one way and then he goes completely the other. He’s unpredictable like that, and that’s good” (1). Keyboard player Rick Wakeman of Yes has Moon and Jupiter in Aquarius, flautist and singer Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull (a brilliant eccentric if ever there was one!) has Mars conjunct Uranus in 10th house. The extraordinarily gifted and uniquely intelligent guitarist Robert Fripp (King Crimson) was born with a close Venus conjunct Uranus trine Jupiter and another multi-talented guitarist and musician Steve Hillage (originally with the eccentric and sometimes brilliant Gong) was born with a close Mars conjunct Uranus at the apex of a Cardinal T-square. Kate Bush, who made her spectacular live comeback in 2014, has pretty much transcended all genres but the strong prog leanings are there. She has a natal Sun-Uranus conjunction and almost certainly, depending on the time of birth, Moon in Aquarius.

 

Peter Gabriel's Aquarian birth chart

Peter Gabriel’s Aquarian birth chart

At their 1970s peak, Genesis were one of the most interesting and innovative progressive rock bands. A very English group of musicians making clever and eccentric (Aquarius/Uranus) music, fronted by Peter Gabriel’s clever and eccentric theatrical performances.  Although Genesis became more commercially successful after Phil Collins took over as singer, most prog fans consider that the more interesting and original ideas (Aquarius/Uranus) started to run out after first Gabriel and then Steve Hackett left the band. Both Hackett and Gabriel have natal Sun, Venus and Jupiter in Aquarius, being born one day apart on 12th February 1950 and 13th February 1950 respectively. The Aquarian urge for freedom and independence would have played its part in them branching out to pursue extremely successful solo careers, each achieving substantial international recognition for their artistic brilliance across a number of musical genres.

Peter Gabriel - Sun, Venus and Jupiter in Aquarius

Gabriel – Sun, Venus and Jupiter in Aquarius

With his Aquarian Sun and other 7th house Aquarian planets on display to the public, Peter Gabriel is the living embodiment of the most highly evolved Air sign. A major feature of Gabriel’s birth chart (2) is a powerful close opposition between Pluto in Leo on the Ascendant and Jupiter in Aquarius on the Descendant. Gabriel has achieved huge recognition and success as both a Pluto in Leo rock musician and a Jupiter in Aquarius visionary humanitarian. The tension between these two is mediated by a gifted and magical conjunction between Mars and Neptune in Libra, a perfect combination for a socially conscious artist and musician. He has often been years ahead of his time (Aquarius), from his founding of the Womad festival, to his support for world music through his record label and recording studio, to his involvement with one of the first music download services, OD2. Receiving the Prog God award at the annual Progressive Music Awards in London, September 2014 from comedian and prog fan Bill Bailey (there’s a fair bit of Aquarius in his chart too), Gabriel said:- “Despite prog probably being the most derided musical genre of all time there were – as today – a lot of extraordinary musicians trying to break down the barriers to reject the rules of music… We didn’t always get it right, but when it did work we could move people and get some magic happening.” (3)

 

Steve Hogarth and Fish - Mars in Aquarius

Steve Hogarth and Fish – Mars in Aquarius

Mainstream progressive rock was carried into the 1980s by Marillion, who are still going strong today. Both the original Marillion singer Fish and new boy Steve Hogarth (who has actually been with the band since 1990) have a prominent Mars in Aquarius. It has often been said that guitarist Steve Rothery is Marillion’s greatest musical asset, and Rothery was born with an almost exactly stationary Uranus in Leo. (Astrologer Stephen Arroyo recently observed that due to the use of computers, the importance of natal stationary planets is now often over-looked (4), something that contemporary astrologers might want to bear in mind.) Marillion were years ahead of everyone (Aquarius) when they famously first used crowdfunding to raise money for an American tour in 1997. As with many newer and lesser known 21st century prog acts, the Aquarian internet has continued to be essential to the band, enabling them to build a worldwide fanbase whilst remaining largely independent (Aquarius) of the music industry.

Francis Dunnery, Sun trine Uranus

Francis Dunnery – an astrologer with Sun trine Uranus

 

No piece on astrology and prog would be complete without a mention of Francis Dunnery, who is himself an accomplished astrologer. The inspired ex-It Bites and ex-Robert Plant guitarist and songwriter has a close Sun-Uranus aspect and Saturn in Aquarius. Appropriately, he runs his own label called Aquarian Nation.

Although progressive rock has always survived and thrived underground, it was uncool for many years. Since Radiohead’s OK Computer in the late 1990s, prog rock’s influence has become increasingly acceptable in the mainstream again – prog is no longer quite such a dirty word!

Notes

  1. “The Making of The Endless River”, Prog magazine, October 2014, p.44.
  2. Peter Gabriel, born 4.30 pm, 13th February 1950, Woking, England. Time of birth is from memory, according to astro.com databank.
  3. “Peter Gabriel honoured at Prog music awards”, BBC News website, 12th September 2014.
  4. “Experiments and Experience with Astrology: Reflections on Methods and Meaning”, Stephen Arroyo, CRCS Publications, November 2013.

This article was originally written for a book on the astrology of music, due to be published by Flare Publications, UK.

Review of “Whose Dream Are You Living?”

Thanks to Joe Bridge of the Real Music Club for this nice album review:-

“Tim Burness is back at the RMC on February 27th and with his seventh album, Whose Dream Are You Living? a work he has been patiently and lovingly crafting for the best part of five years. His previous album Vision On (2007) received strong notices, recognition and international reviews, so Tim had a lot to live up to with its follow up, released in November last year and available via https://timburness.bandcamp.com/

LiveBurnessOpening track Onwards and Upwards starts off with Gregg McKella’s swirling synths and electro beats before the real drums (Fudge Smith: ex Pendragon and Steve Hackett) kick in and drive the song forward, carrying the positive message of the song’s lyrics along with it.

Slowing down with Grass is Greener, this song seems to catch a man at some sort of crossroads contemplating a change in life, with Tim’s wit particularly enjoyable on lines such as “I know that some British folk like to hang out in Turkey, if I get myself out there I might feel slightly more perky. I heard things are quieter in Belgium, unfortunately there is not much that rhymes with Belgium” and “the grass is greener over there, at least I’ve still got most of my hair”!

The album continues to alternate between tempos as Monty Oxymoron (Damned, Sumerian Kyngs) starts up Set Your Spirit Free, another positive-thinking song “release the energy and set your spirit free” before the ambient sounds of Round and Round bring things down into a mellow hypnotic trance with its repetitive acoustic riff and minimal vocal lines punctuating the soundscape.

Moving on with something a bit different, Smith’s thumping percussive beats and Tim’s fiery bursts of guitar create an aggressive atmosphere to colour the assertive lyric of The Messenger, an atmosphere that builds before being punctured by a cough and a completely unexpected (should I have put a spoiler alert in?!) middle section, all Oompah band and megaphone! Another track that takes the album into different territory is the aptly titled Unlike Any Other, which is largely instrumental bar some sparse spoken lines, and carries with it a kind of modern noirish nightmare feel with its theramin-like sounds eerily playing over the stop-start rhythm.

After that midway detour, A Space for Our Love to Grow brings us back to the vibe set by the opening four tracks – a typically spacious, synthesised sound with a yearning chorus. There are again some little musical twists to keep things interesting, such as the nice acoustic / keys outro that just acts as a nice release to the emotion of the main body of the song.

Politics infiltrates the album on Stop Them. Tim’s anti-corporate, anti-capitalist protest is powerful in its passion but done with a light enough touch to not beat you over the head with its message. The music is subtle with vocals to the fore, bringing full attention to the lyrics.

After the relatively heavy Stop Them comes a song with a sprinkling of humour, playing on its name check of Doctor Who in its first line, with repeated use of Dalek-sounding voices. Otherwise What’s Going On In Your Head is one of those Ronseal songs, doing exactly what it says on the tin!

Closing out the album is Cynical World, a track that gives the album a sense of closure and of wrapping things up with the repeated vocal refrain “Our love goes on” sung over Monty Oxymoron’s distinctive backing vocals and some clean, emotive lead guitar work. Tim Burness has produced a mature and engaging work, full of hope, positivity and deep soul searching, always giving something for the mind to think over whether they be the personal, spiritual or political lyrics within, the trippy soundscapes, or the intricate musical twists and turns along the way. Five years of hard graft and personal investment well spent!”

Great gig

A few pics of our recent gig with The Lanes and Spacedogs, promoted by The Real Music Club at The Prince Albert, Brighton. Promoter Roy Weard:- “Wonderfully good gig tonight. All three bands absolutely excelled themselves and the audience wear pumping it up by the end of The Lanes gig. Great stuff.” Photos courtesy of Andy Voakes Music Photography. A great night, the first TB full band gig for a few years, here’s to a few more…

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Whose Dream Are You Living? Tim Burness – 26th November 2015

Whose Dream Are You Living? Released 26th November 2015

Whose Dream Are You Living? Online album release date 26th November 2015

Fish and Steve Hogarth of Marillion – astrological birth charts

Fish, the charismatic front man of eighties progressive rock band Marillion (the big hit was “Kayleigh”) has a fascinating birth chart. Famously, Fish left Marillion in 1988 to pursue a solo career. Astrologically, this was just past his “Saturn return”, an important time of re-assessment for everyone at around age 29 or so.

fish1Fish (born Derek Dick, 25th April 1958, 5.07 pm in Dalkeith, Scotland) has all the planets scattered fairly evenly around the birth chart, pulling him in many more directions than most of us. Even though he is a Taurus Sun sign, Earth is in fact the weakest element, bringing more problems with keeping one’s feet on the ground than a “typical” Taurus. Like many driven and famous individuals, Fish’s chart shows the likelihood of more than his fair share of problems to overcome.

There is a close T-square in fixed signs of the zodiac, involving his Taurus Sun with Uranus and Neptune, both planets of “higher consciousness”. Here is a challenge to combine the visionary spiritual gifts of Neptune with the electric revolutionary energy of Uranus, a combination that could equally lead to enlightenment or madness. From his lyrics, Fish seems to have embraced a good deal of both!

FishAstroThe independent and intelligent Mars in Aquarius is in close aspect to several planets. A close explosive opposition to Pluto indicates powerful, even ruthless, self-assertiveness. Fish is capable of eliminating anything that stands in his way. Mercury in Aries shows direct and forceful communication. On the other hand, Venus in Pisces and his Moon show the selfless romantic – kind, compassionate and vulnerable. Fish’s prominent 10th house Moon in Cancer is in an excellent position for popularity with the general public. It indicates strong mothering and nurturing instincts as well as a strong emotional attachment to one’s roots and the past.

A Libra Ascendant (rising sign) is concerned with balance, harmony and justice. As the ruling planet of the chart, the position of Venus plays a key role in expressing basic life energy. It is placed in Pisces, the Fish-es.

The birth chart for Fish is shown here, taken from astro.com, an excellent website for anyone interested in deeper astrology.

stevehogarth

There are an extraordinary number of similarities between the charts of Fish and Steve Hogarth, the singer who replaced Fish in Marillion and made the role his own. They share the same Sun and Moon signs, Mars in Aquarius, Saturn in Sagittarius and close aspects to Uranus, Neptune and Pluto – the powerful planets of transformation and higher consciousness. Steve was born with a similar potential for creative brilliance and accompanying emotional crises and struggles. Since originally writing this piece, I’ve noticed that the birth details Steve gave me some years ago include a different year of birth to 1959, which is on Marillion’s website. The details ‘h’ gave me himself make much more astrological sense.

Thanks to Steve, Fish and the magical Marillion for their often excellent music over the years – all power to all of them.

First track now up, album on the way

 

GreenGrass

There’s a brand new Tim Burness track now available for free listening or download, one of the more obviously progressive rock songs from my forthcoming seventh album, “Whose Dream Are You Living?”.

http://timburness.bandcamp.com/track/grass-is-greener

The album features a range of musical styles and will be released in the summer. A great pleasure to be finally getting some more of my music out there, it’s been a while.