Nathan Mahl

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Nathan Mahl
NathanMahlFMPM07 FullStage ClaudeDufresne.jpg
From left to right: Guy LeBlanc, Guy Dagenais, Alain Bergeron, and Tristan Vaillancourt performing at FMPM, 2007.
Background information
Origin Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Genres Progressive rock, jazz fusion
Years active 1981–Present
Labels Unicorn Digital, Mahl Productions, NEARfest Records, Musea Records
Website Nathan Mahl Official Website
Members Guy LeBlanc
David Campbell
Tristan Vaillancourt
Don Prince
Past members Guy Dagenais
Marc Spénard
José Bergeron
Alain Bergeron
Claude Prince
Dan Lacasse
Garth Boyd

Formed in 1981, Nathan Mahl are a Canadian Progressive rock band with Jazz fusion elements. Throughout a constantly evolving lineup of rock and fusion musicians from the Ottawa and Gatineau regions, keyboardist Guy LeBlanc is widely regarded as the essence and constant of the band.

Guy appears to be more widely known as the keyboardist for Progressive Rock Legends Camel[1] since 2000. Recording and touring resulted in a Nod and a Wink[2] and The Paris Collection (Live).[3]

They have released numerous concept-based CDs to critical acclaim, including Shadows Unbound, and the Heretik Trilogy. Furthermore, they have played several prestigious music festivals including NEARfest,[4] and FMPM.[5]

History[edit]

Beginnings (1981 - 1984)[edit]

Nathan Mahl performing at Buckingham Palace Quebec in 1983

Nathan Mahl originally formed in Dec. 1981. The first version was formed when Guy LeBlanc, Don Prince and Mark Spénard, who had played together in the band Delerium, recruited Dan Lacasse. It is said that during one night in early 1982, while the band was on an excursion in the Gatineau National Park, the name took on its final form and the seed was planted.

This first line-up went on to compose and record their first LP Parallel Eccentricities,[6] in December 1982 releasing it in the Spring of 1983. It seems that 1983 was the busiest for Mahl, as they rehearsed full-time and gigged arguably almost as often. During that summer, they entered a band contest and performed in the finals of the Ottawa classic rock radio station Chez-106 (Sharechez '83), apparently blowing the roof off Barrymore's Music Hall. Some time in late 1983, Dan Lacasse left the group and was replaced by Wayne Palmer till Feb. 27, 1984. This was when Guy, for personal reasons, disbanded the group.

Interim (1986 - 1997)[edit]

In 1986, the band was shortly reformed as a trio (LeBlanc, Lacasse, Prince). 4 new songs were written and recorded, but never released. Again in 1989, this time with second keyboardist Garth Boyd and without guitar, a seemingly more fusion Nathan Mahl ended the decade. Once again 5 new songs with this line-up were recorded but not released. The decade ended with Lacasse and Prince both leaving the group.

The 90s began with a new rhythm section: Alain Paluck as drummer, Claude Prince on bass, joining LeBlanc and Boyd (the duelling keys). Many new songs were composed and rehearsed, but only rehearsals were ever recorded with this line-up. It was at this time that Guy decided to create the Mahl Dynasty[7] improv project.

This particular project seemed to have brought about the quiet demise of that line-up of Nathan Mahl. Still trying to revive the band, in 1994, Guy auditioned drummers and bassists. This was when Alain Bergeron and Luc Poulin joined. Shortly after that, guitarist Scott Daughtrey completed the quartet. This line-up recorded quite a bit of material, culminating in the disc Radio Rehab, which was not released because Guy was apparently not entirely pleased with the final product. Some of the songs from that disc have been released by others (PMS and the Progday Support disc 2005[8]). In 1996, Daughtrey and Poulin left and were briefly replaced by what appears to have been a revolving door system of line-ups.

The original Parallel Eccentricities was released on cd in 1997 (and included a comprehensive interactive cdrom supplement) by Mahl Productions, a label founded by Guy and his wife Dawn Mitchell.

Breakthrough (1998 - 1999)[edit]

Nathan Mahl promo pic 1996

Eventually, Don Prince rejoined and suggested José Bergeron as guitarist. When Don quit the group again, he was immediately replaced by brother Claude (again). This line-up became arguably the second most prolific Nathan Mahl. It was the suggestion of José Bergeron to record in a studio where he had bartered his talent as session guitarist in exchange for studio time, making it possible for the band to create the Clever use of Shadows[9] in 1998. However, the strain of recording over 8 months in a piecemeal fashion, and the necessity of Guy adding to the barter of session playing for the balance of the studio time, seems to have taken its toll on this line-up.

In January 1999, Mahl Productions released Nathan Mahl's the Clever use of Shadows, and although this disc found a new audience for Mahl, Guy decided to remove the title from the catalogue in 2001, specifically due to what appears to be a long-standing disagreement[10] with his co-producer for this disc.

The month of May 1999 saw the band being invited to play at the first NEARfest, as a last minute replacement for the defunct Finneus Gauge. On June 28, 1999, Nathan Mahl took the stage at NEARfest, and many have suggested they blew the roof off[11] the venue. One week later, they played their final gig at Ottawa U. Later in December 2003, NEARfest Records released the recording of Nathan Mahl's set[12] at NEARfest 1999.

Heretik (2000 - 2002)[edit]

Nathan Mahl promo pic 1994

The 90s ended with the return of Mark Spénard (on guitars) to the fold. After a most interesting turn of events later in 1999 (including a solo disc for Guy and his joining Camel[13] in early 2000), the new Millennium saw the release of the band's next opus -Heretik: Volume I - Body of Accusations[14] with a seemingly heavier sound. It might be suggested that it is musically a return to the proggier side of Mahl (with less fusion). However, the fact that Mahl had become more of a studio band may have to Alain Bergeron's decision to leave the group at the outset of Volume 1.

This was followed in June 2001 with the second instalment of the trilogy. At this point Dan Lacasse accepted the invitation to return to the group. American author Michael McCormack (whom Guy had met while on his first tour with Camel) wanted to make Guy and Mahl the subject of his next novel, so he travelled to Ottawa and wrote of this experience while the band was recording Heretik: volume II - the Trial.[15] This book is called "the People wish to be Deceived…".[16] This time it was Claude Prince who left the group at the outset of Volume 2.

The band continued its re-evolution with Heretik: Volume III - the Sentence,[17] first by welcoming Guy "Geezer" Dagenais (whom Dan had met at a jam session) on bass. Volume 3 contains only one 54-minute song, and was released on May 3, 2002. Shortly after its release, Dagenais amicably left the group, since it was still only a studio project.

Unbound (2003 - 2006)[edit]

Nathan Mahl promo pic 2003

LeBlanc decided to take a few steps backwards and revisit the Shadows experience. This time however, he had the agreement of all the original members (including Don Prince on bass) to participate in this project. After all, this was a totally different line-up than the one recorded in 1999. In addition, half of the album features songs never before released.

On February 20, 2003, Nathan Mahl released Shadows Unbound.[18] The disc also features J.P. Ranger on lead vocals. Ranger is an old friend of Mahl, and had briefly joined the band in 1983, making it possible for them to tackle some of the juicier prog classic covers they did at the time.

The rest of 2003 seemed to be a veritable trial by fire. LeBlanc had to quit Camel on the eve of their Farewell Tour because his partner had a series of heart attacks in April. Whilst caring for her, he produced his second solo disc. A little later in the year, the band was invited to produce the opening 25-minute song for a 9 band collaboration based on Homer's Odyssey. Guy composed the piece, and presented it to the band, and all were on board for the project.

In 2004 production seemed pretty much on schedule; however, Don Prince contacted LeBlanc and quit the band due to other musical commitments, and is replaced by Luc Poulin for about 2 days. Since the original agreement for this project was that each band member create his own parts for the song (to be different this time), and that the deadline for submission to the label was getting very close, Guy LeBlanc borrowed a bass guitar, taught himself to play it, wrote the bass part and recorded it in 2 weeks time (thereby making the deadline). The Odyssey[19] was released in September 2005 by Musea Records.

Nathan Mahl Performing at Ottawa U in 2006

2005 seemed an exciting time for the band and their fans. LeBlanc showed a strong desire to perform again (and so did Lacasse and Spénard). As a result possibly, Guy Dagenais returned to the fold. Also, LeBlanc sensed that this lineup could perform some of their possibly more difficult songs from their discography. He approached Alain Bergeron with the idea of having a second keyboardist/percussionist etc. on board (Alain appears to be quite the multi-instrumentalist). And so for most of 2005, Mahl was a quintet, and it was this quintet that performed in Lowell MA on September 9, and Prog-in-the-Park in Rochester NY on the 10th.

In 2006, Nathan Mahl had settled on being a quartet (Alain Bergeron left seemingly to pursue a solo cd). The setlist now included more "older and newer" songs. Mahl performed in Ottawa for the first time since 1999, on May 20, and again at Progtoberfest[20] on October 14. An official performance DVD Live & Unbound 2006 of the entire setlist is in the works. Yet as it often seems to happen with musical differences, both Marc Spénard and Dan Lacasse left soon thereafter.

Exodus (2007 - Present)[edit]

Nathan Mahl in the dressing room at FMPM 2007

In early 2007, with the prospect of playing the Montreal progressive rock festival (FMPM[21]), Guy LeBlanc contacted Alain Bergeron to return on Drums. Guy Dagenais contacted Tristan Vaillancourt to join on guitar having see him play with his previous band, Widow's Walk.[22] Tristan seems to have integrated well into the band's style, as well as adding renewed versatility and harder edge[23] to its sound. The new lineup played FMPM on September 16 at FMPM, with a large portion of their set being new material.

Aiming for release in the Summer of 2008, they are currently finishing their new CD, Exodus: Then.[24] Guy LeBlanc has been in negotiations with Quebec label Unicorn Digital[25] for its subsequent release. The concept is loosely based on the Exodus book in the Bible. They each made a conscious decision to record in his own respective home studio. Also in the works, is another possible DVD, with the documentary focus on behind the scenes at FMPM 2007 and at Exodus recording sessions. They plan on eventually making a follow-up Exodus: Now, taking the exodus concept to the present day. Whereas vocals were previously kept to a minimum, vocals are now used extensively to better convey the theme. Dagenais makes his Mahl vocal debut sharing much of the singing duties with LeBlanc.

After a lengthy mixing process, Tristan left the band due to personal reasons. Exodus was finally released in December 2008 through Unicorn Digital. Just prior to this, David Campbell joins the band[26] on guitar. This should prove to be an interesting choice as David is a seasoned Jazz guitarist, as well as the composer and leader in his own Progressive Rock band The Rebel Wheel[27] with whom Alain Bergeron was at one time their drummer.

Also released in 2008 was Mahl’s contribution to the latest mega project by Colossus,[28] based on Dante’s Inferno, and brought to you once again by the Finnish Progressive Rock Society and Musea records. Mahl are slatted to contribute a 7 minute piece, alongside 35 other current progressive rock bands. This is their 2nd time participating in such a project –the first time being The Odyssey in 2005.

2009 saw the return of Nathan Mahl to Progtoberfest, which was held on October 24 at Carleton University and also included Orco Muto featuring Maurizio Guarini keyboardist of the legendary Goblin.[29]

In early 2010, the band line-up changed and production of Justify stalled for over a year as Guy LeBlanc moved from Ottawa to Kemptville. Once established, he resumed work on Justify, contacting and recruiting Tristan Vaillancourt, David Campbell and original member Don Prince to play on it. He even recruited drummer Aaron Clark, but due to scheduling and technical problems, wound up playing the drums on the album himself. [30]

After returning to Europe in late 2013 for a short reunion tour with Camel, LeBlanc wrapped up the mix of Justify and was fortunate to have Andy Latimer contribute a guitar solo to the last song on the disc.

Justify will be officially released on June 1, 2014.

Discography[edit]

Parallel Eccentricities (1983)[edit]

In 1983, Nathan Mahl released their first LP - Parallel Eccentricities.[31] The disc seems to have become a highly collectible classic in the Prog-Rock community of fans. The 1997 CD version of this disc was released with an interactive CD-ROM supplement history of Nathan Mahl and contains photos, audio and video archive footage from the original lineup.

Songs:

  1. Moral Values Part 1
  2. SlowBurn
  3. Orgasmik Outburst Part 3
  4. Schizophrenia
  5. No Vacancy

Mahl Dynasty - Borderline (1991)[edit]

Nathan Mahl promo pic 1994

In 1991, while no new Nathan Mahl discs were coming to fruition, Guy LeBlanc decided to record and release a series of improvisations performed by a duet of 2 drummers and himself. Since this was not a band effort, he also decided to call this the Mahl Dynasty[32] (instead of Nathan Mahl). 15 improvisations lasting a total 71 minutes.

Songs:

  1. Spasmodik
  2. the Promise
  3. Traffic Jam
  4. Window Shopping
  5. Famous Quirks
  6. Leave it to the Scots
  7. Endangered Species
  8. Downhill no Breaks
  9. Quasimodo's day off
  10. Just Stalling
  11. Nessie's Driving Lesson
  12. the Beach at Midnite
  13. Orif the Glum
  14. How can you explain this to people?
  15. Bomb Shelter Blues

The Clever Use of Shadows (1998)[edit]

Nathan Mahl promo pic 1996

Nathan Mahl return after a long absence.[33] This CD has been discontinued; nevertheless, most of the songs have been re-recorded on Shadows Unbound in 2003.

Songs:

  1. Without Words
  2. Clever Use of Shadows
  3. Orgasmik Outburst II
  4. Machiavelique
  5. Beyond the Rims of Despair
  6. Something Like That
  7. The Rubber Cage
  8. Call To Arms

Heretik Volume I: Body of Accusations (2000)[edit]

Nathan Mahl returns a heavier sound.[34] A man has been arrested and is being detained, awaiting a trial for crimes against society. Musically, this is a return to the proggier side of Mahl (less fusion).

Songs:

  1. When all was Well
  2. Heretik part 1
  3. Heretik part 2
  4. Crimen Excepta
  5. Heretik part 3
  6. Carpe Diem

Heretik Volume II: The Trial (2001)[edit]

The saga continues... the trial of the heathen heretic unfolds. The outcome of this miscarriage of justice is already known to the judges, but the accused is only now becoming aware of the fact that his fate was sealed even before his arrest. Musically, the plot unravels with dark and ominous themes. Emphasis is on the crushing pace and impending doom.

Songs:

  1. Entrance of the Judges
  2. Malleus Maleficarum
  3. De Praestigiis Daemonum
  4. Heretik part IV
  5. Ad Judicium
  6. Moral Values part II

Heretik Volume III: The Sentence (2002)[edit]

Nathan Mahl promo pic 2005

The story comes to an end, apparently in a mean and nasty way. A single, mostly instrumental, 54 minute piece of music seals the protagonist's fate, and the judges have a field day. Possibly, an overwhelming intrusion on the senses...

Song:

  1. De Mortuis Nil Nisi Bonum (of the Dead, speak nothing but good)

Shadows Unbound (2003)[edit]

Nathan Mahl presents a set of compositions that continues their tradition of aggressive symphonic-rock music laced with complex jazz-rock stylings. And for the first time since 1983, the original lineup of Guy LeBlanc, Mark Spénard, Dan Lacasse and Don Prince are joined by JP Ranger on Vocals.

Songs:

  1. Without Words
  2. Between Here and There
  3. Shadows Unbound
  4. Funkface
  5. Beyond the Rims of Despair
  6. Scumsucking Parasites
  7. Misleading Agenda
  8. A Call to Arms

Live at NEARfest 1999 (2003)[edit]

Nathan Mahl performing at NEARfest 1999

Mahl's breakthrough set at NEARfest's inaugural 1st year.[35]

Songs:

  1. Intro
  2. Without Words
  3. Clever Use of Shadows
  4. Something Like That
  5. Machiavelique
  6. Orgazmic Outburst II
  7. Orgazmic Outburst III
  8. Carpe Diem
  9. Call to Arms

Exodus (2008)[edit]

Nathan Mahl's concept album Exodus, loosely based on the book in the Bible.[36]

Songs:

  1. Burning Bush
  2. Let My People Go
  3. The Plagues
  4. The Parting
  5. Down from the Mountain
  6. 40 Years
  7. The Last Climb
  8. Canaan
  9. Zipporah's Farewell
  10. The Price of Freedom

Justify (2014)[edit]

For Nathan Mahl's Justify, bandleader Guy LeBlanc has recruited his most trusted and reliable collaborators to record 7 new songs that explore Good and Evil, and the best way to tell the difference.[37]

Songs:

  1. Tantrik Kobbler
  2. Deception
  3. It Tolls for Thee
  4. Spirit
  5. Ballad of an Angry Man
  6. Justify
  7. Infinite Light


Additional Tracks[edit]

ProgDay Kinections - The ProgDay Support CD (2005)[edit]

Previously unreleased track to this benefit CD.[38]

  • The Place We Call Home

The Odyssey (2005)[edit]

24 minute epic as part of a 9 band progressive rock ode to Homer's Odyssey, "The Greatest Tale".[39]

  • Of Longings, Suitors, Deities and Quests...

Inferno (2008)[edit]

Gentle ballad as part of a 36 band progressive rock ode to Dante's Inferno.[40]

  • the Comfort of Tears

Book[edit]

Published in 2001, the book The People wish to be Deceived...,[41] is a 144-page book by American writer Michael McCormack subtitled Guy LeBlanc and The Making of Heretik Volume II The Trial. Much more than a behind-the-scenes look at the making of one album, the book is more generally about creating and recording progressive rock in the present climate and the philosophies underlying the Heretik trilogy (from the entry about this book).

References[edit]

  1. ^ Camel Productions. Camel Official Site "Timeline 2000". Retrieved 2007-12-29. 
  2. ^ Joe McGlinchey. Ground and Sky "Review: Camel - A Nod and a Wink". Retrieved 2007-01-05. 
  3. ^ Eric Porter. "Review: Camel - The Paris Collection (Live)". Archived from Progressive World the original on 2007-11-22. Retrieved 2008-01-10. 
  4. ^ NEARfest Productions. NEARfest Official Site "1999 Scrapbook for Nathan Mahl". Retrieved 2007-12-29. 
  5. ^ Prog Québec. FMPM Official Site "2007 Picture Book for Nathan Mahl". Retrieved 2007-12-29. 
  6. ^ Cesar Inca. Prog Archives "Review: Parallel Eccentricities". Retrieved 2008-01-04. 
  7. ^ Prognosis. Prognosis "Entry: Mahl Dynasty - Borderline". Retrieved 2008-01-04. [dead link]
  8. ^ John Shannon. The Dutch Progressive Rock Page "Review: ProgDay Kinections Support CD". Retrieved 2008-01-04. 
  9. ^ Jon Byrne. Ground and Sky "Review: The Clever Use of Shadows". Retrieved 2008-01-04. 
  10. ^ Wayside Music. "Entry: Shadows Unbound". Archived from Wayside Music the original on 2007-10-30. Retrieved 2008-01-10. 
  11. ^ Brandon Wu. Ground and Sky "Review: Live at NEARfest 1999". Retrieved 2007-01-05. 
  12. ^ NEARfest Records. NEARfest Records "Release: Nathan Mahl - Live at NEARfest 1999". Retrieved 2008-01-04. 
  13. ^ GEPR. The Gilbraltar Encyclopedia of Progressive Rock "Entry: Camel". Retrieved 2008-01-04. 
  14. ^ MJ Brady. Prognosis "Review: Heretik Vol 1". Retrieved 2008-01-04. [dead link]
  15. ^ MJ Brady. Prognosis "Review: Heretik Vol 2". Retrieved 2008-01-04. [dead link]
  16. ^ Kristian Selm. Progressive Newsletter "2002 Interview: Guy LeBlanc". Retrieved 2008-01-04. 
  17. ^ MJ Brady. Prognosis "Review: Heretik Vol 3". Retrieved 2008-01-04. [dead link]
  18. ^ MJ Brady. Prognosis "Review: Shadows Unbound". Retrieved 2008-01-04. [dead link]
  19. ^ The Finnish Progressive Music Association. Colossus Official Site "Odyssey Project". Retrieved 2007-01-05. [dead link]
  20. ^ Robert Dansereau. "Progtoberfest II à Ottawa". Archived from Prog Montréal the original on 2007-11-08. Retrieved 2008-01-04. 
  21. ^ Sean McFee. McFee's Blog "Jelly Fiche completes FMPM 2007 line-up". Retrieved 2008-01-04. 
  22. ^ Rick Barkhouse. "Farewell Tristan". Archived from Widow's Walk Official Site the original on 2007-10-27. Retrieved 2008-01-04. 
  23. ^ Laser's Edge. Laser's Edge "Product Info: Nathan Mahl - Exodus". Retrieved 2009-03-11. [dead link]
  24. ^ GEPR. The Gilbraltar Encyclopedia of Progressive Rock "Entry: NathanMahl". Retrieved 2008-01-04. 
  25. ^ Bill K. Bill's Prog Blog "Nathan Mahl Signed to Unicorn Digital". Retrieved 2009-03-11. 
  26. ^ Mahl Productions. Nathan Mahl Official Site "Nathan Mahl Biography". Retrieved 2008-10-10. [dead link]
  27. ^ David Campbell. The Rebel Wheel Official Site "The Rebel Wheel Biography". Retrieved 2008-10-10. 
  28. ^ The Finnish Progressive Music Association. "Inferno Project". Archived from Colossus Official Site the original on 2008-01-16. Retrieved 2008-01-22. 
  29. ^ Mark Keill. Progtoberfest Official MySpace "June 23, 2009 Blog Entry". Retrieved 2009-06-26. 
  30. ^ http://www.guyleblanc.com
  31. ^ Ed Sander. "Review: Parallel Eccentricities". Archived from Progressive World the original on 2007-10-26. Retrieved 2008-01-04. 
  32. ^ Bob Eichler. Ground and Sky "Review: Mahl Dynasty - Borderline". Retrieved 2008-01-04. 
  33. ^ Ed Sander. The Dutch Progressive Rock Page "Review: The Clever Use of Shadows". Retrieved 2008-01-04. 
  34. ^ François Couture. Allmusic "Review: Heretik Vol 1". Retrieved 2008-01-04. 
  35. ^ Dave Sissons. The Dutch Progressive Rock Page "Review: Live at NEARfest 1999". Retrieved 2007-01-05. 
  36. ^ Jerry Lucky. The Progressive Rock Files "Review: Nathan Mahl - Exodus". Retrieved 2009-03-11. 
  37. ^ http://www.unicorndigital.net/#!news/c21ct
  38. ^ ProgDay Organization. "ProgDay Support Page". Archived from Kinections The ProgDay Benefit CD the original on 2006-12-30. Retrieved 2007-01-05. 
  39. ^ Conrad Leviston. Ground and Sky "Review: Various Artists - The Odyssey". Retrieved 2007-01-05. 
  40. ^ ProgArchives Organization. Prog News, Press Releases "Inferno - new Colossus/Musea project". Retrieved 2008-04-01. 
  41. ^ Indiepool. Indiepool "Entry: Michael McCormack - The People wish to be Deceived...". Retrieved 2008-01-04. 

External links[edit]