'Utopia' is the debut recording of Tom Kerstens with his newly formed G Plus Ensemble. The group was created specifically for the recording of newly commissioned writing.
It is no accident that the two composers featured on this recording, Joby Talbot and John Metcalfe, both come from a background that combines art rock and classical training.
John Metcalfe, from New Zealand, was, in an earlier incarnation, the viola player for Manchester-based sonic adventurers Durutti Column and came later in his career to composition. John plays viola with the Duke Quartet, and is the arranger for Peter Gabriel's new 'Scratch My Back' album. He was introduced to Peter at Real World whilst producing his compositions on 'Utopia'.
In the G Plus ensemble, the guitar's plucked sound decays quickly; this contrasts with the sustained string sound. Combined with the vibraphone and in the absence of an inevitably dominant piano, the G Plus ensemble sounds quite magical. John Metcalfe says there is no other ensemble like this and that it reverses the role of the guitar. A rock guitar offers a vertical way of playing; there are chords and the guitar usually determines the key and how a piece modulates. John has deployed the quartet in that vertical role for some of his G Plus pieces; he has used the guitar as a linear, horizontal instrument that does not just play chords but, instead, plays melodic lines. For John, this can make the guitar line much more fluid and interesting; the guitar can act as a more harmonic instrument - the role usually taken by the piano.
With only two days to go until the first of the North American New Blood dates, you'll be pleased to hear that Peter, the crew and the equipment are now on the right (or is it the left) side of the Atlantic, getting back up to speed with rehearsals in New York City.
Volcanic ash added a few hurdles into the travel plans with Dickie having to pack much more of the shows electronic systems into his baggage that would normally be the case and Peter enjoying a last minute bus ride across Europe to meet his transatlantic flight, but we are now all systems go for Montreal on Wednesday.
David Rhodes, Ged Lynch and Richard Evans were in The Wood Room at Real World last week rehearsing for a couple of the dates on David's upcoming (largely solo) tour.
David starts in Munster on May 1st and plays dates in Germany, Switzerland, France and Italy through to May 23rd.
A taste of spring in Box today, salad in the sun and people basking on benches wherever you look.
Green is arriving at very high speed, blink and you've missed it.
We're in Berlin, and thankfully the piano has arrived in one piece. The special access ticket-holders are gathering for the soundcheck at 3.
Ben Foster puts the 'New Blood' orchestra through their paces in Berlin and Tom Cawley warms up at the piano.
The soundcheck has just ended, but activity is frantic as the production gears-up for tonight's show.
Hopefully our Soundcheck ticket buyers enjoyed the spectacle.
It's already warm in Bercy as we prepare for tonights concert. Peter is about to soundcheck, and Tom Cawley is preparing at the piano.
You can catch up on the news direct from the heart of Peter Gabriel's 'New Blood' production with Dickie Chappell's latest posting from Paris.
We've survived the first outing for 'New Blood' with an amazing evening at Radio France Studio 104.
Fears of being hit full on by a speeding train were dispelled as it became clear the show could work. Ane Brun broke the ice with a couple of beautiful songs, then we were ito a two part Peter Gabriel concert. The first half, 'Scratch My Back', the second, new arrangements of Peter's songs.
Thanks to the Radio France orchestra and everyone who came along last night for helping us get 'New Blood' off to a flying start. A little rest this morning, then the action starts again with some of the crew beginning the set-up for the full production at Bercy on Monday Night.
A few images of the evening are now in the slideshow on the homepage.