Possibly the most talked about debut CD of 2007 was the critically acclaimed eponymous release by California prog duo Days Between Stations. An enigmatic collaboration between Sepand Samzadeh and Oscar Fuentes, Days Between Stations creates music that is both beautiful, challenging and exotic – all heavily draped under the progressive rock banner. With influences that range from Tangerine Dream and Radiohead to Brian Eno, Genesis and Pink Floyd, Days Between Stations weave an aural fabric that takes the listener on a sonic trip through the soundscapes of Samzadeh and Fuentes minds. Much to the elation of the band's fans and music press worldwide, many of whom dubbed the band as the next Pink Floyd, Days Between Stations has ventured back into the studio once more to create their special blend of music magic.
Founded in 2003 by Persian/Canadian/American guitarist Sepand Samzadeh and Mexican/American keyboardist Oscar Fuentes, the duo named themselves after the novel by Steve Erickson and have devoted themselves to, as they say, 'Art Rock' and 'Post Prog' - music that reflects their varied influences, as well as a shared disregard for stylistic boundaries. Days Between Stations debut CD, released in October 2007 on Bright Orange Records, was engineered by Evren Goknar of the Capitol Mastering team who is best known for his work with Queensryche, Red Hot Chilli Peppers and recently Yes.
The band's debut CD garnered rave reviews from the music press across the planet as well as heavy radio airplay. Dutch prog magazine IO Pages deemed Days Between Stations debut CD "one of the ten best of 2007". Even amongst the duo's musical peers, the adulation has been forthright: Legendary guitarist Peter Banks, formerly of prog-rock giants Yes and Flash, had this to say about the duo's sophmore CD: "Days Between Stations offer an inventive, eclectic mix of electronics: sometimes relaxed sound-washes interspersed with a rhythm-driven force... the subtle textures are played with a refreshing honesty and openness underpinned with an authentic transparency of sound that avoids most of the pitfalls and potholes of scary 'prog' ".
“We did the album just for us,” says Sepand. “There were no fans, no ears, no eyes nor any mouths. It was us against existence. The praise we received, was a gentle nod letting us know that all the time and effort we spent on this record was understood and valued.”
Here's what the press had to say about Days Between Stations debut CD:
“I would recommend this CD and the band to any person who finds enjoyment listening to very intricate instrumentals packed with emotion and looking for an extreme sensory ride through the sounds created by the band. The band is for all those who love early Pink Floyd, Peter Gabriel, King Crimson and Emerson Lake & Palmer.” - Progressive Music Rules – NYC
“Reminiscent of Pink Floyd at their most bleak and impenetrable, the LA band add doses of Gabriel-style ethnicity to fine effect. As keyboardist Oscar Fuentes says, this ain’t an easy listen: 'The theme is about illness, death and loss, and trying to find the meaning in the aftermath of this loss' Crikey.” - Geoff Barton – Classic Rock Magazine, UK
“For a debut, Days Between Stations ranks up there with the best of them. I’d go as far to say it could be deemed a modern classic progressive rock album. It’s just a wonderful listen each time. I know this will be on my “favorite releases of 2007”. Mind you this is not retro or neo, just something in between. I highly recommend this to fans of the classic era prog rock and the aforementioned bands.” - Ron Fuchs, Prognaut
“The group describe his style as art rock and post-prog. Perhaps, but its main force is the melodic ambiance created which is, in my view, more space rock, almost mesmerizing and trance inducing. Their music is never heavy or metal sounding. The intricacy and complexity of the composition with the choice of instruments (real great sax!), makes this debut album an instant classic.” Proggnosis
“Stylistically, you can hear bits of early Porcupine Tree, Pink Floyd, King Crimson, and Tangerine Dream throughout this self-titled CD, all of which come into play on the sprawling opening cut “Requiem For the Living”, a 13-minute tour-de-force of menacing progressive rock, highlighted by Fuentes’ array of spacey keyboard sounds, layered guitar tones from Samzadeh, and scorching slide guitar from guest Jeremy Castillo. Samzadeh’s blistering lead work on “Either/Or” recalls early 70’s David Gilmour, and with haunting Fender Rhodes and bubbling synths from Fuentes, you could swear this cut was a lost track from Animals or Dark Side of the Moon.” - Peter Pardo, Sea of Tranquility
“Since the release of the debut album, many reviews listed the bands they reminded us of,” explains Sepand. “I had never listened to old Genesis, or that much of Pink Floyd, Alan Parsons or Tangerine Dream. I'm actually listening to old artists instead of new ones, and I am blown away by the talent, vision, courage and musical integrity. It challenges us to be better and try new ideas with the technology we possess.” “I grew up on that stuff,” says Oscar. “Genesis, Yes, Marillion, Pink Floyd, Jethro Tull etc. I love it all. Some newer prog acts I've been listening to a lot lately are Transatlantic, The Tangent, Porcupine Tree, Pineapple Thief and Big Big Train. I listen to all sorts of stuff: Beethoven, Stravinsky, Bach, Yes, Fiona Apple, Silver Chair, Phillip Glass, Mahavishnu Orchestra and on and on...”
The question on everyone's mind is why so long between CD releases? “We've been eating caviar and drinking Margaritas on the beach, ha ha ha!,” Oscar jests. “No, really, it's been three years since we released the first album and to me that's an unthinkably long time between releases, but the truth is we haven't really been working on it for three years. We don't have the luxery of, say, booking a studio for 8 hours a day or something like that, both because we're about 60 miles apart and also we have to, so to speak, put food on the table. Also, for about a year we came up with a lot of material but didn't really develop it fully... I think we were afraid of committing – to an arrangement, to a sound – but I think we're past that. Now, we probably have enough raw material for at least a couple of albums.” “I wed, travelled, focused on my company and built a home,” confided Sepand. “A strange twist we did not expect from the praise we received from the debut album was the insecurity it brought us...we kept second guessing ourselves. We just had to learn to not care and just go for it! We are really excited about the ideas we are coming up with and can't wait to get together to compose each time.”
The music written for the new DBS album is as anticipated as it is secretive. “As with the first album, some of the material is composed while some comes from improvisations,” Oscar divulges. “Overall the material sounds pretty dark and melancholy, so far, with lots of structural peaks and valleys. We're adding proper vocals on this one, and in fact one or two of the vocal pieces are actual 'songs' in the conventional sense.” “There are many similarities between this album and the last,” Sepand adds, “tension between special releases; dark and hopeful music. Our instrumental songs will probably be even longer than the pieces we had on the debut album. We are experimenting with vocal ideas as I find lyrics too constricting at times, we still want our music to serve as a backdrop to a listener's own memory or experience. I find that songs stay with us longer this way, they become companions.”
Along with recording the new CD, Days Between Stations are working on a new video as well as filming a documentary. “We are developing a video for 'Requiem For The Living', and possibly another for another song,” says Sepand. “Perhaps a short documentary to discuss the band, in addition, we will be posting videos up on our website to document the progress of our upcoming album. It will have clips of us recording or experimenting with sounds and songs. Fans will be able to get a flavor of the upcoming album.” “I had sort of mental storyboards for both 'How To Seduce A Ghost' and 'Radio Song' for quite a while,” adds Oscar, “but either idea would have needed a decent budget – which we didn't have. We're definitely interested in doing videos in the future.”
For more information on Days Between Stations visit the band's official website at www.daysbetweenstations.com