Cocoon – Tiger Moth Tales
I recently stumbled across a multi talented instrumentalist by the name of Peter Jones whilst listening to some other album on Bandcamp to which did not attract my taste buds enough to purchase it. But whilst I was over on Bandcamp I started to glance at the recommended albums on the bottom of the page and stumbled upon this album with Jones doing some old Genesis songs. I played “Seven Stones” from that album and was quite taken by how very well he sang it. Though I have to confess that as much as I can enjoy people doing tributes to Genesis tribute songs are not the sort of thing I would personally buy, though he did do something quite special I thought with that particular song.
The more I actually looked at the guy it also became more apparent to me that this is the same guy who has been touring with the prog rock band Camel and playing keyboards for them. And low and behold it was. Upon on doing some more research into his background and watching various footage I found of him on Youtube. I then found out that he is quite a good guitar player as well, and plays it just like Jeff Healey did on his lap like a keyboard, and when I stumbled upon this next video on Youtube playing and singing Genesis “Musical Box“. That just blew me away enough to delve deeper into this guys life and find out more.
Peter Jones is quite young and his musical journey is quite a revelation in the way his own music career has evolved and developed over the years. His debut album Cocoon he put out under the name of his own project Tiger Moth Tales back in 2014 is certainly quite a change in relation to the music he was originally doing beforehand. But before I run briefly through his history and the rest of this truly really GREAT! album. Let’s take a look at the artwork and packaging.
The Packaging & Artwork…
The CD comes in a quality DigiSleeve with a slip pocket on both sides to hold the CD and the Booklet. The 8 page booklet contains all the linear production notes and includes the lyrics and is quite informative. The albums artwork was done by Neil Martin and overall it’s a very neat and tidy presentation and well made package.
Peter Jones A Brief Bit Of History…
Peter Jones was born in Nottingham England back in 1980 and went blind at an early age but music always played a major role in his life since he first heard it, and he had his first piano at the age of 4. By the time he reached 8 years old in 1988 he won the junior final of the BBC’s Song for Christmas competition. Over the years he took up learning to play many other instruments such as the recorder, clarinet whilst still at school, and a bit later after he had left school the saxophone and guitar. Also after he left school he formed a pop duo with his singer friend Emma Paine to which they spent the next 10 years playing pop covers and some original songs around his local town and they went by the name of 2 TO GO.
2 TO GO done quite well and in 2001 they were finalists on the BBC’s Star for a Night which was a British Talent show program that run between the years 2000 – 2001. I suppose in a way both Peter & Emma were a bit like the pop duo Peters & Lee that we got to see in the 70’s. In 2004 the couple entered the X Factor and once again were finalists and came 7th out of the 8 who made the final that year. This allowed them into the National Arena X Factor Tour that took place in 2005. This short video shows the pair of them performing on the X Factor and Peter has certainly changed over the years.
A lot of things have changed since those days and this next video clip taken from an interview with Peter Jones he gave a few years ago, explains how he made his decision to go into making prog rock music these days instead of wanting to make pop music.
I have to say it’s perhaps quite a phenomenal change to make in the first place, but no doubt this guy cannot only play and sing, but he also has the ability to write great music too. His project Tiger Moth Tales has certainly earned him the respect from many prog rock fans over the years, and enough to make even more well known prog rock artists to take note of him and his talent too. Andy Latimer of Camel certainly took note of his talent and he’s done an incredible job for the band since joining them in 2015 to replace Guy Leblanc who passed away in the same year.
The Album In Review…
Cocoon by Tiger Moth Tales was released on White Knight Records on the 15th December 2014. The album contains 11 tracks to which are a mixture of vocal and instrumental tracks and it comes with an overall playing time of 69 minutes, 20 seconds. The album itself is very much self produced and written and recorded by Peter Jones in his own personal home studio. He also plays all the instruments on the album apart from the flugelhorn to which a friend of his played and the drums to which he programmed. The biggest majority of the album was recorded on a Tascam 488 Portastudio MK2 which is basically an 8 Track Cassette Recorder like the one pictured below.
For the final mix he used some Goldwave software and Audacity and a few other bits of software and that was basically it. I have to say he has done exceptionally well with the production with the use of what little he had in the first place. But the album was originally an experiment and not intended to be released in the first place. At the time Jones had a bit of writers block when it came for him to work on another one of his pop albums, and he could not decide what would be fitting to put out with the way the music industry was going in the pop charts.
At the time he tried to record something he was listening to the children’s program Trumpton and picked up on the music that Freddie Phillips used to write for those sort of programs including Camberwick Green and Chigley. So he decided to play his guitar around those type of tunes and started singing to it and made up some words to fit in with the music. The piece eventually developed into a 9 minute prog rock epic that was to become known later as “A Visit To Chigwick“. Having decided he quite liked his new creation, he more or less continued in the same style to complete the album.
Musicians & Credits…
Written Recorded & Produced by Peter Jones. Recorded at Peter Jones home studio between 2013 – 2014 in Nottingham. Artwork & Design by Neil Martin.
Peter Jones: Vocals/Keyboards/Electric & Acoustic Guitars/Sarod/Saxophone/Melodica/Whistle/Zither/Bells/Percussion/Drum Programming.
Mark Wardle: Flugelhorn.
The Album Tracks In Review…
The name Tiger Moth Tales that Peter Jones came up with for his project is very much inspired by his love of the music done by Steve Hackett and Genesis. Tigermoth is also a story based song from Hackett’s 3rd album Spectral Mornings and there is no doubt that some of the music of Peter Jones is very heavily influenced by Steve Hackett.
I suppose in a way even the record label he is on White Knight Records also has a connection with the name, because the label itself is run by Rob Reed of Magenta who’s own label is Tigermoth Records and White Knight Records is a collaborative record label run by Rob Reed and Will Mackie.
Cocoon is very much a concept album and the word itself can also be seen as a form of self-protection and a sense of security from our early childhood days being protected by our parents and family, and later breaking out of our shells so to speak and coming to terms with growing up and all the things it presents to us. Including the imaginary and mysteries as well as the loss. The concept album is also presented to you in a theatrical, dramatic and even comical way in some cases.
It’s not an album that has a continuous story running throughout it, and is more like a series of events that come out to play during the stages of growing up and coming to terms with things, and perhaps takes in the changes just like the 4 seasons of the year. However my own observation of the 4 seasons is really down to the fact that for some reason there are 4 little ditties on this album named after the 4 seasons of the year, and I am not sure why they have been included. But basically Peter Jones could be seen as a person who is setting children’s stories and tales to prog rock music, and that perhaps reflects even more so on his next album that was to follow it.
To be honest I know very little about Peter Jones. But the one thing I can instantly gather by his music, is that this guy has a remarkable amount of talent and skill, and is quite a remarkable musician who has a truly great gift. Not all musicians have this guys talent I can assure you, and Peter Jones was perhaps blessed with his talent. So let’s take a deeper look into this truly GREAT album as I go through the individual tracks.
Track 1. Overture.
The album kicks off with a 4 and half minute instrumental piece with it’s “Overture” which is basically the beginning or a starting point. To be honest I not sure why he wanted to even have an overture as like I said this is not really a continuous story like War Of The Worlds sort of thing. If anything this piece is more like the sort of thing Clive Nolan & Oliver Wakeman would of done on albums like Jabberwocky and The Hound Of The Baskervilles which are continuous stories and not an album made up of different stories and situations sort of thing. So this particular track might sound out of place on and album like this for example.
However this quite dramatic, wondrous and adventurous piece does also take in some of the melodies from other pieces that appear throughout the album, the last track in particular. I can even hear some melodies from a track or two on his next album that followed it too though I could be mistaken. So effectively it is not really out of place and is placed as a starting point to portray the events that are about to unfold later on and throughout the album. I like it’s fast pace and it’s perhaps in Galloping mode and could even paint a picture in one’s mind that they are charging or riding into one big adventurous story.
Musically it’s very well structured and because it’s perhaps a bit more keyboard orientated and orchestrated sort of thing, it is something more like what Clive Nolan & Oliver Wakeman would of done rather than Steve Hackett or Genesis. You could also easily associate it with film and TV music as well, but this is also a track I would even be comfortable with listening to it as a track on its own as well. So you do not have to have the bigger picture for it to work. Jones also gets the chance to play sax on the piece as well and that is another instrument he can play very well too.
I also like the sound effects he used at the beginning which sounds like he’s inserting a VHS Video Tape into the machine to give you the impression that he’s putting a film on, and the album also ends off with him stopping the tape and taking it out. Over all it’s a GREAT! track and is a very promising start to what potentially could be a very exciting album.
Track 2. Spring.
The first of the seasonal little interludes that are placed throughout the album which all run for about half minute. They are all field recordings that capture the nature of each season and this season we get the sounds of the wind, river, birds and sheep and this one even gets accompanied by a bit of organ. It’s well apt and represents spring very well, although I am not really sure it fits being placed here as the 2nd track on the album, especially after an instrumental track.
But nevertheless these little ditties are quite pleasant and soothing and they are not long enough to really be annoying. I cannot imagine anyone who has the album on vinyl record, getting up out of their seat to skip the track either :)))))).
Track 3. The Isle Of Witches.
The first of the vocal tracks on the album is a story about 3 witches who dominate an island, and few wizards who decided to go into battle to take back the island and rid the witches of their evil powers sort of thing. The song or rather story itself opens with Jones narrating the words and telling you the story, and I have to say he’s not only got a great singing voice but the expression he uses in his voice for putting over a story like this, is really excellent. It even sounds like he brought in some famous actor to narrate the story for him.
The piece itself is 11 minutes long, and the first couple of those minutes of the track is utilised well enough for Jones to put across the very dark story and it’s like him reading the story to a classroom of kids sort of thing. Even the waves of the sea in the background is very appropriate for the setting. I like the way he opens up the story with the words “are you sitting comfortably” and that instantly reminds me of The Moody Blues song of the same title from their 1969 album On The Threshold Of A Dream which also has a wizard in it with Merlin casting his spell :))))). Although this is a completely different thing, but I wonder if Jones had any inspiration from that song.
The music that follows is very dramatic and there are quite a few transitions along its path, and it really is very well built up with the use of Gothic pipe organ, keyboards, saxophone and it’s almost metal like with the guitars in places and it’s quite a powerful piece of work. Jones also utilises his voice throughout the piece very well too, and you get some screams and all sorts going on vocally. He must be using some effects on his voice and I am pretty sure he is also using a vocoder in some sections to project his voice on parts too.
Overall “The Isle Of Witches” may not be a stand out track on the album, and it can take a bit to get going sort of thing. It’s certainly a track that will require further listens to get to really appreciate it as well, and will perhaps sound a bit like not enough has been put into it over the first couple of spins. But once you have gave it several more listens you will soon find that there is perhaps more in this track than meet meets the eye.
Track 4. Summer.
The second of the Seasonal little interludes presents us with the sounds of summer, such as an ice cream van, the sounds of birds and human voices, the sea and having a bit of fun at the seaside :))))).
Track 5. Tigers In The Butter.
This next song is very much one of the strong contenders for the top spot on the album and is quite an epic near enough 15 minute piece and the longest track on the album. No doubt the Steve Hackett influence is very heavy on this track and it is more guitar based. It sounds very much like something Hackett would of done back in 1983/84 with albums such as Highly Strung and Till We Have Faces. We get a touch of the east as well and Jones plays a Sarod on this track which is an eastern instrument a bit like the Sitar as pictured below.
To be honest I have no idea if Jones is playing a real Sarod or using the sound of one on his guitar. You can never tell these days, but a Sarod is listed in the instruments he played on the album. So I presume he does have one and it does get very well utilised on this track too. I am pretty sure he also uses a Zither on this track too, which is an instrument that is just like an Autoharp. The use of percussion also gets very well utilised in this piece and we have the sound of the jungle thrown into it all for good measure as well. Effectively Peter Jones plays on his own what it would take Steve Hackett and his whole band to do, and Jones throws the works into this cracking song.
Lyrically the words are pertaining to growing up within a family and feeling that sense of security being at home and with your family to keep you free from any harm. It also takes into account some of our wildest dreams and fantasies we might have and takes you through that journey. It’s a very well constructed piece that features great vocals and lashings of great instrumentation throughout. No doubt for many this may very well be their favourite track on the album, and Jones as certainly done the business on it.
Track 6. The First Lament.
Another instrumental track on the album and one that utilises the electric guitar and features a blinding (no pun intended) guitar solo. Speaking of guitar solos it takes something special to come up with a piece like this over this distance of 7 minutes and 40 seconds, and you will certainly be looking at guitar GREATS! such as Gary Moore and Jeff Beck to pull something like this off as well, in the way it’s been done. Like I mentioned earlier that Peter Jones is more of a keyboard player but his skills on the guitar and other instruments are far from anything mediocre, and he has learned how to play all the instruments he plays to a very high standard.
Now as a rule I do not like to post videos of artists unless it’s come from the artists official Youtube channel and they have put it on their themselves or by their record company. But this live performance of the instrumental piece I actually found on Chris Fry’s Youtube channel the guitarist from Magenta. So hopefully I should have no come backs for sharing it here. This is very much an amateur video and to be honest the studio version we have on this album does sound the best by far and totally blows my mind when I close my eyes and just listen to it.
Here Jones is backed up by the band Red Bazar which is a band he also collaborated with and they done an album together entitled Tales From the Bookshelf. “The First Lament” is another strong contender for the top spot on the album and is a blistering track on this really GREAT! album.
Track 7. Autumn.
Time for another Seasonal little interlude and here we are once again by the sea, and celebrating bonfire night by the sounds of things. You also get the sound of a brass band to which I think might be Mark Wardle’s one of the two contributions he lends to the album with the Flugelhorn.
Track 8. The Merry Vicar.
When it comes to theatrics and humour Peter Jones totally nails songs like this one, and you get more of this kind of humour on his 2nd album too. I suppose there are two ways I could describe a song like this and the first would be its the sort of thing that Danny Elfman would of done for the Tim Burton film The Nightmare Before Christmas. To be honest I have always admired Elfman’s work and he’s quite a genius. The second way I could describe it is that it’s a bit like a cross between “Carry On Up The Vicarage” and “Darktown” by Steve Hackett and no doubt there is a quite a strong element of prog rock in a skilled piece like this as well.
This is very much what I call the “Wicked” track on the album and both this track and the one that follows it are both equally as clever and it’s very hard for me to choose which one of two tracks on the album is my personal favourite. In reality because “The Merry Vicar” is very well recorded and is the better recorded track of them both, it should merit the top spot on the album solely. But the way the both compositions are so well structured. I have very much decided to merit this album with 2 winners of the top spot on the album award.
“The Merry Vicar” is without doubt an awesome composition that contains some awesome piano and keyboard work and some very heavy metal like guitars and purely ROCKS and PROG ROCKS it’s way along with skilful progression and diversity and some pretty nifty transitional changes. Jones is a very skilful pianist and keyboard player who has the ability to quickly cross styles. No doubt this will be a favourite with most others too and as a funny as a song like this can be, it’s also very much a highly skilled bit of prog rock heaven and it’s certainly a big THREE CHEERS FOR THE MERRY VICAR.
Track 9. A Visit To Chigwick.
No doubt if ever there was a place I would love to visit it would be this delightful place. A place just like places like Camberwick Green, Trumpton, Chigley and Tales From The River Bank were originally invented for the children’s TV back in the late 60’s and early 70’s and featured in a series called Watch With Mother. Freddie Phillips was the guy behind the music for most of these early children’s programs, and I myself even after all these years still remember them well, and the songs and music that accompanied them.
My actual favourite music from these children’s programs was the theme music for Tales From The River Bank which was not by Phillips and was written by Mauro Giuliani and was titled “Raccolta, op. 43, no. 6: Andante in C“. It’s a popular acoustic tune for most guitarists to latch onto and try an play and even Steve Hackett covered it himself. But even the piece that Phillips wrote still had acoustic articulations about them and notable unusual use of devices and utensils for percussion.
Peter Jones has very much taken note of all those acoustic articulations and reinvented a piece of childhood magic just like those good old days, and has created his own imaginary town and a well suitable story and words to boot. No doubt this another one of his Golden classics that just like the previous track merits the top spot award of the album and they both jointly share that award.
“A Visit To Chigwick” contains some gorgeous acoustic guitar with fine melody lines and no doubt in parts it even touches on a few melodies from the Wind And Wuthering album by Genesis. The whole 8 minute and 50 second journey is a pure delight to take on and goes through some very subtle and nicely built up transitions along the progression we get here. It also gives Jones the chance to use his Melodica and his voice shines on the piece along with all the other great instrumentation he has thrown in along its path.
This is another video I found on Chris Fry’s Youtube channel which shows Jones mainly singing and playing the Melodica parts and few other bits in the studio. Once again the quality is not as good as the CD but it’s not too bad here on the Tube.
I also came across this amateur video of Jones performing the song live on his own in a more stripped down way with his acoustic guitar and piano, and just had to share this excellent performance of the song as well.
The song is that good it was well worth visiting the place twice, and no doubt Peter Jones truly has a gift, and I myself will certainly be keeping my eyes peeled to catch him live hopefully not too far in the future.
Track 10. Winter.
The last of the Seasonal little interludes that features Mark Wardle playing a bit of “Silent Night” on his Flugelhorn to the sound of sleigh bells, trampling feet, horses hoofs in the snow and church bells. It’s winter and that seasonal time of good will to all.
Track 11. Don’t Let Go, Feels Alright.
The final track of the albums actually gives you two songs for the price of one sort of thing. Once again there is a Genesis feel to this song and perhaps a touch of The Moody Blues and Supertramp too. The both songs give Jones the chance to use more of his GREAT! singing voice and once again we get some quality work on the piano. guitar and saxophone here too. Both songs perhaps have more of a serious feel and really are excellent quality compositions that fit and blend in with each other perfectly.
Once again I have chosen another video of him I found on Chris Fry’s Youtube channel of him performing the song in a more stripped down way as he’s on his own on this performance. The amateur video is quite shaky but just how many people do you know that can play the piano and the guitar at the same time. Well this video certainly shows that it can be done, and it also shows the real quality of his voice too.
“Don’t Let Go, Feels Alright” could also be seen as the title track of the album, especially the first of the two songs in that the word “Cocoon” is mentioned in it, and it puts the album to bed perfectly. No doubt its very much another one of the contenders for the top spot on the album too.
Overall Cocoon by Tiger Moth Tales is a very promising and exciting album and Peter Jones is really an incredible multi talented musician who can play every instrument at a very high standard and at a very well accomplished level, there is nothing mediocre about any of the instruments he plays either. He also comes with quite a voice and vocal range that even allows him to not only to sing, but also use his voice in a characteristic way that not only works very well as a story teller, but his voice could quite easily fit into animated films voicing the characters.
His ability to compose music is also something quite remarkable, and he cannot only write great pop songs as a singer-songwriter, but it can even go beyond the boundaries of prog rock and into film music just like the level Danny Elfman is at when it comes to composing music and lyrics. The world of prog rock really is suited to his music and the fact that he can even throw in some humour and recreate not only his own childhood but even our own with his GREAT! music, is quite an achievement. There is nothing not to like about his project of Tiger Moth Tales and it’s all quite Magical if anything, and a particular style I hope he sticks too.
There can be no doubt that Peter Jones is very blessed with talent and their are not a lot of musicians in this world who have this much talent either. It appears to me that the blind can see more than we can to be able to achieve the skills he possesses and Cocoon is quite a remarkable piece of work and an highly addictive album that will keep you coming back for more. My personal highlights from the album are “A Visit To Chigwick“. “The Merry Vicar“. “Tigers In The Butter“. “The First Lament” and “Don’t Let Go, Feels Alright“.
To conclude my review here of Cocoon by Tiger Moth Tales its perhaps not the first time children’s stories have featured on prog rock albums and even Peter & The Wolf had been done back in the 70’s. But what we have here is very much influenced and highly original material that has been very skilfully thought out and played to a very high level. Musicians like Peter Jones are not ten a penny and they do not grow on trees either. If you are into Steve Hackett & Genesis and the likes of the Moody Blues. Gary Moore. Jeff Beck and many other GREATS! including even Danny Elfman. I am pretty sure you will love this album as much as I do.
Cocoon is quite a solid body of work and truly GREAT! album. You can listen to some of the tracks for yourself free on Bandcamp along many of his other albums, and also buy it from there if you wish. From the link here: https://tigermothtales.bandcamp.com/album/cocoon
After listening to the 3 studio albums on there myself I was totally hooked and had to have the physical CD’s of them. I soon found out that I could buy all 3 of those studio albums from White Knight Records a bit cheaper and with free postage & packing here in the UK. And you can even save £5 if you order all 3 of them at the same time and get them for £25 just like I did. They all come in quality DigiSleeves too as pictured below. The link for White Knight Records is here: http://www.whiteknightshop.co.uk/page26.htm and scroll down to the bottom of the page to see the offer for all 3 CD’s.
I can tell you they was well worth getting as well and have been very well produced. If Peter was to make 5.1 versions of them. I would certainly buy them all again as well, and such superb music would suit 5.1 surround as well with the many instruments he plays. Coming up next for review will be the 2nd album Story Tellers by Tiger Moth Tales.
Was There Such A Place? Is There A Way We Can Go Back In Time…
The CD track listing is as follows:
01. Overture. 4:31.
02. Spring. 0:34.
03. The Isle Of Witches. 11:02.
04. Summer. 0:29.
05. Tigers In The Butter. 14:54.
06. The First Lament. 7:40.
07. Autumn. 0:30.
08. The Merry Vicar. 6:40.
09. A Visit To Chigwick. 8:50.
10. Winter. 0:37.
11. Don’t Let Go, Feels Alright. 13:32.