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Protos – History

Home of the Resurgent UK Prog Rock Band Formed in the Late 1970s
This material has been downloaded with permission from
http://www.protosmusic.net to capture musical activity between 2006 –
2007 when Rory Ridley-Duff and Stephen Anscombe discovered that their
music – recorded in the early 1980s – had developed a following in Japan
amongst fans of progressive rock music. This document provides some
public domain history on the band and its founder members.

Beginnings: As a duo.
This site has arisen thanks to the continued interest - swelled considerably now due to the
availability of our studio and live work on CD - in the music of Protos. It might be a cliche,
but we find ourselves with a 25-year-old overnight success on our hands. Having formed,
rehearsed, toured, recorded and disbanded all in the space of 5 years, the band members
then went their separate ways and pursued various careers. The album is 25 years old in
2007! Time for a party, methinks. This section of the site attempts to reconstruct the early
days of Protos and our music. Elsewhere you can view images of the band as they were then
- and marvel at how we look now (if you can handle the now, that is)

Onward...

Protos was conceived, if that's the right word for it, during an English Literature lesson, at
Chichester High School For Boys in 1977. With Henry V proving to be less interesting than
promised, Rory Duff (that's what he was called back then) & Steve Anscombe (that's me by
the way, just in case you were wondering), turned their thoughts to mutual interests.

We soon discovered that we had a common taste in music, and from there it was a short step
to wondering how easy or otherwise it would be to write and perform music for ourselves.
Rory lived in a large house in West Wittering, near Chichester - and had access to a room for
rehearsal purposes - whereas I did not. My guitar and practice amp were portable while
Rory's keyboard was not. So, the logical course of action was for me to catch a bus to
Wittering so we could work on writing and putting pieces together. We initially worked on
ideas that Rory already had winging around in his head. Lugging things around on buses
continued for years until I bought my first car.

Rory was, and remains, the driving force in terms of composition. Initially, he would teach
me specific guitar parts. The harmonies on Protos, Fugitive and Maiden for example were all
pretty prescriptive to start with, though I improvised here and there in live performance,
depending upon how I felt on the day! Later we worked together on some pieces, I wrote a
few of my own, and as a four-piece (with Iain and Nigel), we wrote together. The first true
band composition was the The Rally (available only as a live recording) and then A Bit Blue.
Iain Carnegie - now an accomplished and extremely succesful composer/arranger - managed,
if you like, to teach new tricks to old dogs. He revitalised The Maiden and Thing Of Beauty in
1984 for live performances at the Chichester Arts Festival.

The name? Not too difficult really. We were - and still are - fans of Genesis. Genesis is the
first book in the Bible. Protos is Greek for first. So Protos it was!

Early excursions into the world of live music were varied, and useful realistically in terms of
being a learning experience. Restaurants (including a rather interesting evening playing
background music at an Indian restaurant in Chichester!) birthday parties & other social
events for 6th form friends gained us a following, but quickly highlighted the need for two
become three or four! We needed a rhythm section. None of these early performances
survive to this day; with just the two of us, we had no real need for PA or mixing, therefore
no tapes of the gig were possible.

Early Compositions
For those of you familiar with the album tracks, Protos was the first to be written (the short
pre-cursor New Horizons came much later) along with a now lost piece called The Gathering.
These two formed the bulk of our first foray into a studio. This resulted in a cassette tape
sampler with just these two tracks. Naive to the core we recorded both in one day and left
the mixing and mastering to a largely apathetic engineer. Little did he know what he had on
his hands!

The results were less than perfect, but nevertheless, should you own one of these cassettes
(and they do have the band name on the label) you own the one and only version of The
Gathering on this, or any other planet. It was never performed live either. If you think that
people have paid up to GBP 400.00 for a mint copy of the original album, you might - just
might - be sitting on something that could enhance your pension fund!

(The) Maiden followed. This was originally conceived as being the first part of a musical
version of Tess of the d'Urbervilles, a project that was never fully realised, but came about
while Rory was studying it for A-level English. It was followed by a piece entitled Maiden No
More, but this eventually went to wherever The Gathering wound up - wherever pieces of
music go to die! This too was never performed live. The Fugitive was formed at around the
same time. This was something of a first. While the guitar parts were written to some
extent, I had free-rein in just how they were played. Enter a Vox volume pedal, for starters -
the beginning of a life-long interest in sounds and variations on my part. Some were more
successful than others, I'll admit! Meanwhile, my first foray in to writing produced
Panamor. I hereby publicly acknowledge (given that there's a chance that the great man
himself might actually visit this site one day) that Panamor was inspired, in no small part, by
Gordon Giltrap. This, together with Thing Of Beauty survive today as my solo contributions
to the catalogue. There was a third, a piece called Outcry. This ultimately joined Maiden No
More and The Gathering though not before being aired live on a few occasions.

Early gigs, and finding musos to play them...


Early excursions into the world of live music were varied but useful in terms of a learning
experience. Restaurants, including a rather interesting evening playing background music at
an Indian restaurant in Chichester, birthday parties and other social events for friends, gained
us a following but quickly highlighted the need for two become three or four! We needed a
rhythm section. None of these early performances survive to this day. With just two of
us we had no real need for PA or mixing, therefore no tapes of the gig were possible.

Finding our first drummer was relatively easy. Neil Goldsmith lived just a short walk from
Rory and was learning to play while we were busy writing pieces. Neil's interpretation of the
material, as heard on the album, was his own. Neither he nor I could read music. We could
count (luckily!) and follow Rory's lead. It might sound a bit Heath Robinson but we three
were trying to remember and arrange pieces of around 9 - 12 minutes. Neil has a very
distinctive style (which you will appreciate if you have heard the album) and this gave us a
distinctly rocky edge, particularly playing live. He remained with us until just after recording
One Day a New Horizon and performed live with us several times. The best recording and
performance is "Rock At The Regis", in early 1982 - you can see and hear Neil at work and
play in the gallery and music library.

Bass players, for some reason, were harder to find! In the gallery, there is one image of our
first bassist - Nigel Moore. Totally competent, with a slightly jazzy edge to his playing, we
worked well as a four piece in rehearsal for a while. Nigel, however, was unable to commit
enough time to the band so we and he parted company. Enter Mr Nigel Rippon. Bass player,
wit and yeti.

Getting It Onto Vinyl


One Day A New Horizon does not feature a bass guitar. Seaside Rock does, but One Day
does not.

A little more detail if you please?

OK.

Seaside Rock offered a showcase for unsigned bands in the area. These projects, together
with the "Rock At The Regis" events were sponsored, organised and promoted by some truly
wonderful people at Airship Records, based in Argyle Road, Bognor Regis. The studio, alas, is
no more but the house that spawned the albums is still there. It's called Lyric. Go find it for
yourselves. Richard, Jim and Sam at Airship were the champions of local talent. At a time
when Punk was still caressing the airwaves, and the New Romantics were strutting the
stage, Protos - a band playing self-penned pieces that were not considered remotely
commercial, were invited to contribute six minutes worth of material to Seaside Rock.

I'll be honest and admit that I cannot remember whether the two pieces we chose (Hunting
Extremely Large Animals, which takes almost as long to say as it does to listen to) and the
rather catchy second piece (The Flea, unavailable anywhere else until now, by the way) were
already written, or were written to suit. Either way, we entered the studio to record. We had
a day to do so, had to pay for the studio time, but had a promise that we could mix the
material later to our satisfaction. We had to use a guide track. The keyboard parts went
down first and Steve (Yep! Still me writing!) found a bass guitar lying around. Being of a
mildly inquisitive nature, I decided to try it. It worked. So "Hunting" on Seaside Rock has a
real bass for the bass line. It has me on drums too as we were still pre-Neil at this time.
Someone turned up a small kit so I tried that too. I may well be the only drummer in history
to ask that the playback level in his headphones be turned down so that I could hear what I
was doing with the sticks. A combination of the quality of kit and player does not explain, to
my satisfaction anyway, just why the drums are so low in the mix . Whatever! These two
pieces, or these versions of them, have a different line up but not one that could be used
live.....

When we came to recording One Day a New Horizon, we decided against using a bass guitar.
I had not learned all of the bass lines anyway and there was concern over fret-buzz and
squeaks as my delicate fingers battered the fretboard. So, the bass lines were recorded by
Rory on a synth, something that a later review found quite objectionable!

Fortunately, we also had a proper drummer by this time. The album is far better for it!
Being serious, I do remember the recording to be fun. It was hard work, lots of takes and
one or two arguments. While some reviews make much of the raw unpolished edge the album
retained, we also spent a lot of time working on the mixing. Hours and hours, in fact: many
of them those small ones between one day and the next. There's a lot of music contained on
what was essentially an 8-track analogue recording. Yes - that's right! No big studio. No
gadgets, compressors. Sam Small the engineer was enthusiastic, knowledgeable and
infinitely patient. He used a bit of reverb and chorus here and there to good effect. The
result? 250 copies of our album. Ours to pass on to the general public. Almost 25 years on,
it is mildly amusing that New Horizons Music took orders for more albums in two weeks than
we sold in 2 years back in 1982! I guess Protos music has been like a fine wine - it takes 25
years to mature properly. Shame about the musicians!
By this time, with Rory entrenched in the Music and Drama departure at Chichester College of
Technology, the action switched to a new venue. A good time to pass the baton....

The Regular Guys


"Hi Guys, I'm from out of town"......no, no, no that comes much, much later!

Hi Guys and Gals! Steve's right. From 1982 onwards, the main action regarding the band
took place in Chichesters' technical college. I enrolled on a jazz/popular music course. This
made it much easier to rehearse. We could bash drums and kick guitar amps without the
neighbours complaining. It also gave me some headaches. Suddenly I was surrounded by
young wannabes desperate to get in on the act. With an album coming out we must have
looked like the next big thing.

The first dilemma took place when we felt Neil's enthusiasm was waning. He was working
full-time (as was Steve) and this made it harder for him to commit to long rehearsals. In the
music department, we had the seasoned QE2 jazz drummer Andy McBride and the whirlwind
Iain Carnegie. Andy was one of the most accomplished drummers I had (and have) ever
met. Iain, on the other hand, loved both the Protos music as well as the rock bands that
Steve and I liked. It was tough and competitive. Iain was raw and inexperienced, but we felt
he had potential in ways that Andy did not (not least because he could write prog rock as well
as play it). Andy was steeped in the regular rhythms of jazz. Iain was more familiar with the
odd-ball rhythms of prog rock. The choice became clear when I had a chance to play with
them both.

One night, Iain's band Nightflight had a problem. Their keyboard player could not make a
gig. Rather than cancel, I frantically learned enough of the set to play with them. This was
my first chance to see Iain playing drums close up. Impressive. I then watched him at "Rock
at the Regis" (Nightflight played the same gig at Protos once). Also impressive. And raw.

Andy was in my jazz/popular music class so we played together frequently, including a gig
where we played Protos music arranged for clarinet and flute. We also performed together in
a pit band for the drama productions. Sometimes, when I practiced Protos material, Andy
would wander in an just join in. Justin-Warburton Brown, later a guitarist for Protos was also
in that group. I can remember the moment I thought Andy was the wrong drummer and Iain
the right one. We were playing a composition that Justin had written for his course. It
switched between 5/8 and 7/8 frequently. Andy, who could play traditional jazz drummers
off the park, occasionally dropped a beat and the 7/8 would become 4/4. In the end it was
simple. In the prog rock band, we needed a prog rock drummer - someone who could live,
breathe and sleep non-traditional rhythms. That someone was Iain.

When Steve and I told Iain he was in the band, he almost wet his pants with excitement.. It
was one of the best decisions we ever made.

Local Fame, then Back to Earth


The second "Rock at the Regis" was a night to remember. We were playing third, before the
'top act' Jump in Your Datsun. With an army of fans from the college all screaming their head
off, we heard that a rep from a music company had come to see Jump. When we found out
we were even more determined to play our socks off. The recording forms the heart of a live
album we will release soon. Not only did we turn in a good performance, but Benny Lillywhite
did a fabulous job of mixing and recording during the live gig.

Iain remembers coming off-stage convinced we would be signed the next day. We were all
on a high. The big sign up did not take place. Prog rock was out of fashion. We played other
local venues. At Bishop Otter College (now Chichester University), we supported The
Passions. They'd had a single in the top 10, so this felt good. We used their PA and I
remember in rehearsal (during the sound check) that we'd never sounded better. Perhaps for
that reason, the Passions roadies made the rest of the night a living hell. In the live gig, they
mixed our music to sound crap. Stage hands were sent into the audience to throw eggs and
full beer can at us. One bounced off Iain's drum kit, and Steve could feel the breath of wind
and one screamed past his left ear. When we passed their 'dressing room' they cracked jokes
"don't give up the day job" and while played a troup stood in the wings lobbing things at us
and laughing. It was a crash course in dealing with hecklers. When they gave us the tape
recording after the gig, it was a pile of s**t in terms of quality. We always used our own
crew after that.

It was - as they say - a learning experience, something we laugh about now but that was
scary at the time. Others did show faith in us. We got our first manager, Brian Gartside. He
organised gigs in Littlehampton and Brighton. We did publicity but even with our album
featured on BBC Radio Brighton the week before the gig there, we played to an empty hall of
only four people. Outside Chichester we were not known. Back to earth with a bump.

Learning that getting into the music industry was a little trickier than we thought, Iain and I
continued to have fun playing but made plans to go to London to study. Iain was the talent
and I was the brain box. He went to the Royal Academy of Music, while I focussed on getting
into the university of my choice. Listening back over those tapes now, I realised that we had
transformed ourself from a group who played music well, to performers who interacted and
had fun with our audiences. Into the act came Nigel playing the Mr Men as a bass solo. Iain
jazzed up tracks from time to time and Hunting Extremely Large Animals became a reggae.
We loved to intersperse humour where our audiences least expected it. In Protos after Iain's
drum solo we added the Disney 'Looney Tunes' theme just before one of the 'most dramatic'
parts of Protos. From the ridiculous to the sublime.

We never wanted people to take us, or our music, too seriously. We loved writing and
playing music. That was all there was too it. If a record deal had been offered, we probably
would have taken it. At the same time, learning our trade and improving ourselves as
composers and performers mattered more. In 1983, we gave some splendid performances
during our farewell gig at the Chichester High School for Girls - these appear on the albums
and in the music libraries we're releasing now. We also did a thoroughly enjoyable reunion
gig during the 1984 Chichester Arts Festival outside the Cathedral Green where we performed
'definitive' versions of The Maiden and Tempest that ended up on my solo album Passing
Decades. For practical purposes, however, we had gone our separate ways.

Iain and I started writing our own material but remained close friends. Steve gave a reading
of Bertrand Russell at my wedding. Iain was my best man, and cracked side splitting jokes
about my dress sense. Later, the tables were turned when I told stories about Cookie-the-
Cat (the chandelier swinging moggy) at Iain's wedding to Marianne. Steve moved on
musically to Stepping Sideways, a more guitar centred outfit. As for Nigel, he graduated
from bass guitar to composer and lead guitarist in his own right. He fronted up a new band
with best mate Stuart Collier. The result was Stone Cold a band that survives to this day.

The story, we thought, was over. How wrong could we have been?

From the Early 1990s to Today...


The first sense that "something was going on" occured in the early 1990s. I was at home
helping Caroline bring up our first child when I got a call from a record collector.

"I can give you GBP 10.00!" he proudly pronounced. For that money, I would rather keep my
only copy of One Day a New Horizon and said I'd have a look to see if I could find any other
records. Actually, I didn't bother to look. He was persistant, however. Next call, the asking
price went up to GBP 50.00. Now that was worth a trip to my mothers to see if we had any
copies kicking around. We did, so I took four back with me and told the record collector that
I'd found one. He came around and told me that a Japanese collector was interested.

I was cagey. So was he. I learnt that he'd gone to the trouble of tracing me through the
musicians union, called my mother who gave him my new phone number and address. He
wrote a cheque and then tried to leave without signing it - I had to chase after him.
Something in his eye made me realise that this was not an accident. He didn't like paying so
much for a record. When I mentioned this to the other band members, Nigel suggested
looking in a record collectors book. That Christmas, I paid a visit to W.H. Smiths and found it
listed at the top of the 'most wanted' independent label records. The price? GBP 250.00.
What was going on?

For years we harboured the idea that people were just paying a lot because the album was
rare. This was the free market gone crazy, just as described in the film Wall Street. It was
not until I listed an album on eBay that the truth started to emerge. The album fetched GBP
320.00 but that was not the main surprise. When I started corresponding with the people
who put in bids I found they were all around the world (US, Japan, UK and Italy). Many gave
me their story of how they learned about the album and the effect it had on them and their
friends.

Between 1991-93, Protos articles started to circulate in the Japanese prog rock press. We
are still unravelling exactly what occured but it seems clear that we were being compared to
top acts in the UK and US favourably (e.g. Genesis, Yes, ELP and England). People started
seeking out the album and were prepared to pay top dollar for it. How the album made it to
Japan (and then the US, Italy etc.) is something I would like to find out. Behind every story
was someone who loved the music. It is only by talking to them that we finally realised it
was the music (and not just the prospect of a sound financial investment) that was driving up
the prices people would pay for the album. Even amongst collectors who admitted it was not
their favourite, they confirmed that One Day a New Horizon became "the album you have to
have". When Marquee Inc. in Japan contacted us recently (they are now our distributor in
Japan by the way), my contact asked if I could send a CD to them. Why? They had only
heard One Day a New Horizon on a tape of a tape of a tape. Bootleg copies, it seems, have
been winging their way around the globe for decades.

To give you an idea of the enthusiasm generated by the music, I recently sold my last LP to a
buyer in Japan. He did not pay immediately, so I enquired about the delay. It turns out he
was also bidding for Passing Decades, the Collectors Edition of One Day a New Horizon on CD
and my album of classical compositions A Question of Expression. It is still baffling to us why
people who have heard the music have fallen so much in love with it. This particular buyer
said that a friend of his had let him listen to it once. Since then, he'd been searching for a
copy of the album. Bless him - it must have felt like Christmas when he saw all those albums
appear on eBay.

For Steve and I in particular, this is a dream come true. Our music has not just been
remembered, but admired and sought after continuously for two decades now. It is
heartwarming in a world where marketing seems to dominate everything that a band who
played no more than 20 gigs in a small town 60 miles from London (England), and whose LP
was launched with no hype, hardly any local coverage in the papers, no video, or radio air
play, can find - 25 years later - that it has established a worldwide following.

What's the reason? One memory may provide a clue. After I went to university, I met up
with members of another rock band. They were very hip and cocky so we chatted away
about our experiences.

"Why did you play in a band, then?" one of them asked.


I looked at him as if he was slightly mad.

"I like writing and playing music," I replied.

He then looked at me as if I was slightly mad.

"Really," he said sarcastically. "I do it to get sex."

We both laughed. Underneath this moment, however, maybe there is something significant.
It never occured to me that I might write rock music 'to get sex'. Now, of course, I feel a bit
stupid. I could have had a fabulous time! Fancy writing music for the love of writing music -
what a dumb idea . Then again, perhaps when people listened to One Day a New Horizon,
our love of writing music came across. Perhaps at our gigs, our love of performing came
across. I hope so.

In the last month we've received orders for hundreds of copies of One Day a New Horizon
before we have even put it on general release. We've also received pre-orders for nearly 150
copies of Passing Decades based purely on the reputation established by One Day a New
Horizon. From the bottom of our hearts, we want to thank you all for making us happy.
We hope to repay you (with interest!) by writing more music that you'll want to listen to for
the next 25 years.

Adieu
Rory and Steve

© 2007 Stephen Anscombe and Rory Ridley-Duff. All Rights Reserved.

Protos – The Founders


Home of the Resurgent UK Prog Rock Band Formed in the Late 1970s

Finally, a little information about the band. A little profile on the founders of Protos - who,
where, what - but not necessarily why! In Alphabetical order:

Steve Anscombe

My musical CV is somewhat different to the rest of the band. I learned to play


acoustic guitar at primary school - folk, pop of the day, that sort of thing; and
was taught by a teacher there; Dave French.

Just to make things more interesting, I am naturally left handed, but when I
first picked up a guitar it seemed natural to play right handed. This only really
became an issue when playing lead, as I don't use a plectrum and will never be a speed
merchant - no bad thing in my book; knowing where to put the silences is as important as
burning up the fretboard

A reliance on feel led to an interest in the variety of sounds that I could achieve with a
battery of effects pedals and a natural vibrato which, I think, has resulted in a rather
distinctive sound. Think Mark Knopfler vs Steve Hackett, and you are along the right lines.
Working with Rory certainly gave me the freedom to experiment.

Just before One Day was recorded, I spent some time at Airship with a friend (writer and
composer Tony Rooke) playing guitar, bass and drums too. The result was an album of
demos; the music is pretty impressive, the lyrics more so, but the album itself was not
destined for release. We later recorded again at the BBC studio in Maida Vale. The result was
two further songs - this time on cassette tape.

After Protos, I spent some time with a local band called Stepping Sideways. We financed and
released one single during my time there, while pounding the live circuit in and around West
Sussex and Hampshire.

Later, much, much later, I formed a duo with another pal called Doug Shephard. We called
ourselves The Recliners - and specialised in blues, rock & roll and ballads through the 50's to
70's. Just two guitars and one and a half voices! I do sing, you see, but only ever for
money . The two of us spent some time on the pub circuit with absolutely no pretensions
or illusions and do occasionally hook up (by special request these days!) for parties and such.
There is one demo CD of our time together, with 6 tracks on - three acoustic and three not.
I'm rather proud of it, though again it has never reached an audience beyond family and
friends.

In terms of composition, I am more an arranger than composer - actual compositions for the
bands I have played in number three; whereas I can cause any amount of trouble through
improvisation and alternative arrangements - often unplanned and on the night!

While I have no real pretensions about being a rock star, I would happily give up the day job
to travel and promote One Day! Even for a year or two. I remain extremely proud of the
music, and would relish the chance to play it live again; with Rory, Iain and Nigel - as we
were, as loud as you like!

Rory Ridley-Duff

I had a chequered history with music teachers. At four, I was coached by a


local piano teacher but gave up after one term (I think). That was the extent
of my musical training in early childhood, although I was fascinated by a grand
piano in our house. At age 7, I remember starting to work out tunes and
chords for myself. Quite often, my mother would sit me down to play for
guests who dutifully clapped at the clever child who had worked out how to
compose music without any teacher.

My mother had a rush of blood to the head when I was about 9 years old and started me on
another course of piano lessons. I hated them. After a further term (and only after my
mother had paid for a second series) I refused to go. Terrifying as it was for a nine year old
to refuse his parent, this is what I did and my tinkering on the piano continued until I met
Stephen Anscombe at school.

My love affair with music composition took off when I persuaded my mother to sell the grand
piano (inherited from grandparents) to get an organ with a built in synthesizer. My family
thought this was sacrilege (and that I would regret losing the piano) but the arrival of the
organ started a love affair with music composition that would last for the next 10 years. The
organ, a heavy beast, gave way to Korg, Casio, Logan and Ensoniq keyboards in the years
that followed. At age 19, I suddenly wanted to learn the piano again and after enrolling on a
Jazz/Popular music course, I finally did what my mother tried so hard to get me to do. I
diligently studied the piano for about 18 months before I again grew tired of playing other
people's music instead of composing my own. My interest lay firmly in composition and it
was in this direction that I devoted my time when I finally studied for a degree in music at
London University (Royal Holloway College).

By the time I completed university, I had written most of Protos's repertoire (released as One
Day a New Horizon), an album of other progressive rock (later released as Passing Decades),
an album of classical music (later released as A Question of Expression), a child's ballet (A
Light in the Dark), a musical (Belloc), film music for a student at the London film school
(Chinatown), incidental music for a theatre production and several tracks released on a demo
tape for the jazz/rock band Danzante. Yes, for a while I was prolific.

When I discovered music technology - in the form of sequencers and Roland sound modules -
my interest in music grew again for a few years (until young children took over my life!). I
was able to record (or re-record) most of my music in a way that finally satisfied me. New
material (such as 'Variations of a Theme by Iain Carnegie', and many of the arrangement
ideas for 'Tempest') also derive from this creative period. Meeting up with Steve again just
after the Millenium was more for friendship than music, but as chance would have it music
was again to become important in our lives. In 2006, just as we started wondering if we
might get One Day a New Horizon onto CD, we discovered the untapped potential of the
album when orders started arriving from Japan. These orders were a revelation - the result
of an idle comment to a buyer of Passing Decades from my newly launched web-site. The
rest of the story you can read in the blog archives......

Like Steve, I would like to thank everyone who has kept the music alive. It would be great to
play live again although I'm unsure whether I could promote it full time (but 'never say
never'). As for studio albums - yes, definitely - year after year if the energy levels are there.
It is fantastic that a whole new generation of people will discover and enjoy the music we
created. The story is not over yet - we've uncovered another album's worth of material
written before/after One Day a New Horizon. We'll record and release this next year, so
watch this space...

© 2007 Stephen Anscombe and Rory Ridley-Duff. All Rights Reserved.

Protos – Album Reviews

Around the world in 80 days...

Here are magazine and web-site reviews, plus a couple of e-mails from fans.

One of the most beautiful albums released at the close of last year... [The Noble
Pauper’s Grave]

"The history of progressive band Protos provides evidence of how unimaginable and
unpredictable the fortunes of a rock group can be. The biography of this band was elaborated
when reviewing their debut album “One Day a New Horizon”. Let me remind you that it was
released in 1982 and Protos recorded it as a duet: Rory Ridley-Duff (k), Steve Anscombe (g).
It turned out to be the priceless treasure of British prog-rock undiscovered until the arrival of
the CD age. Twenty-five years after the premiere of the vinyl, when considerable interest
(mostly from the Japanese) had been aroused, Rory and Steve resolved to reissue this album
and it turned out to be a great success.

The band appeared doomed to utter oblivion yet rose like a phoenix from the ashes. The band
made another well-grounded decision by bringing out a record with completely new material.
That is precisely how the new album “The Noble Pauper‟s Grave” found its way to our hands.
It tells a vivid history about a man of noble birth, who abandons his background, to
experience a feeling of joy and love among both poor and common people. The band Protos
(which continues to be a duet solely accompanied by a cellist – Nigel Rippon) spins a story
using the instrumental compositions interspersed with narration.

Steve, with the help of Ally Rough, interprets the story and engagingly wrote the lyrics. The
album consists of 13 parts. Its seven odd numbers are the lyrical pieces, whereas the
album‟s six even numbers come as the narration. We have encountered this more than once
in the history of light music (in “Return To The Centre Of The Earth” by Rick Wakeman).
However, all things considered, the album “The Noble Pauper” is most impressive when in the
form of a 51-minute narrative-musical. The music interlaced with narration takes on the
unique expression and a genuine brilliance. In the process, it makes the individual
compositions of Protos something more than simple illustrative music. Together with the
words, sounds acquire significance and activate the imagination of the listener.

I want to emphasise that this music is – to my ears - of stunning beauty. The enchanting
melodies, the maturity of the sound, as well as the excellent instrumentation and perfect
interpretations ring out with clarity on this record. To crown it all, the epic narrative pervades
the longest tracks on CD: “The Rally” and “Outcry”. “Travels” also shows itself as an
extremely impressive track with a lovely tune played on the bassoon. “Departures” is a
splendid and solemn lyric finale. It illustrates the funeral of the main character.

The subtle arrangements (the recording is varied with an unprecedented multitude of sounds
played on 12-strings guitars, saxophones, flutes, pianos and stringed instruments) which,
together with the charming melodies make “The Noble Pauper‟s Grave” one of the most
beautiful albums released at the close of last year. It stands out against a background of
exceptionally good releases in recent weeks."

http://www.mlwz.pl, MLWZ Review (Krakow Radio, Poland) – English Translation by


Artur Chachlowski, 15/02/08.

I see no reason why this album should not be held in high esteem... [The Noble
Pauper’s Grave]

"The album is broken into instrumental pieces interspersed with Moody Blues-like narrative
about a rich nobleman who finds love among the poor and organises them into a movement.
The style is dominated by luscious keyboard and guitar arrangements in a romantic vein. The
third composition, "The Rally", epitomises the style. This ten minute piece has a courtly
baroque essence and good development with slow passages and rhythmic up tempo marches
giving the back line something to do. It is followed by the eloquent and at times rather chirpy
"Final Dawn", with sax and flute joining in. A childlike female vocalist relates the next part of
the tale before one of the finest parts of the album "Outcry", a sophisticated melancholic
piece featuring rolling thunder and distant church bells. It builds steadily to the point where it
breaks out like sunshine through the clouds in an emotional uplifting celebration. The
arrangement then cuts back to delicate strings and light piano before building a second
climax through organ and brass effects. A sad renaissance-era refrain closes this stunning
piece with a subtle harpsichord score.

The only other album by Protos (although Rory has released other material under his own
name and with others) was 25 years ago and is viewed by many as a minor classic. I see no
reason why this album should not be held in similarly high esteem. If you are turned off by
narrative tales then you can buy the album‟s 7 instrumentals from CD Baby download [or
iTunes]."

- Richard Barnes, http://www.seaoftranquility.org/reviews.php?op=showcontent&id=6017,


December 2007
A colourful prog instrumental album that fans of genre will love... [The Noble
Pauper’s Grave]

"We're always pleased to reveal hidden treasures. Protos will be a pleasant surprise if you
haven't already enjoyed some of the fruits of Rory Ridley-Duff and Steve Anscombe. Their
history goes way back to 1982 with their One Day a New Horizon album. Twenty-five years
on the good beginning have not been forgotten. A colourful prog instrumental album with
narrative that fans of the genre will love. Keyboard based and a pleasure to follow!"

-- Martin Hudson, Classic Rock Society Magazine, Issue 162, Dec 07 -


www.classicrocksociety.net

A perfect mix between music and narration... [The Noble Pauper’s Grave]

"The Noble Pauper's Grave is presented as a progressive concept album which tells the story
of a noble who abandons his origins to help the poor....and depicts his big-hearted fight to
help others by supporting the weaker party in a struggle against oppression. The thirteen
tracks are split into two types: the odd number tracks are the musical parts; the even
number tracks are a narration of the story written by Steve Anscombe. This inventive
approach allows the listener to fully enjoy the drama of the instrumental music and manages
to avoid being boring.

Musically we are presented with an evolution of the classic Protos sound that was apparent on
the debut album. This album combines an eighties sound and mixes it with a progressive rock
style to create moments of great atmosphere. Rory and Steve have taken good care to
preserve their melodic style and the song writing manages to create a perfect mix between
music and narration. It is incredible how the various songs reflect the mood of the narration
moment by moment - they successfully seduce the listener so that they become immersed in
the story.

The work lasts 51 minutes and almost half of the CD is concentrated in two main tracks - The
Rally and Outcry – which represent the soul of the album. There is also a fine closing track
Departures that depicts an emotional farewell at the noble‟s funeral. A lovely touch is the way
the thunderstorm marks both the birth and the death of the noble, closing of the circle of life.

Production quality and mixing are of a good standard. The cover appears a bit bare, but is in
line with the album's title. This is a good album that will fascinate lovers of progressive
electronic sounds and ambient dreamy music. I recommend this CD – it is not easy to find
albums as well made as this."

(Translation from the Italian by Valentina Contini)

--Fabio Rancatti, http://www.hardsounds.it/PUBLIC/recensione.php?id=3679, Italy,


November 2007.

Through sheer musical guile, Protos produce a masterpiece... [The Noble Pauper’s
Grave]

"Through sheer musical guile Protos produce a masterpiece...depicting the virtues of honour
through struggle. Through seven musical tracks interspersed with a further six tracks of
narrative this album tells the story of a man living a life of courageous acceptance and
sacrifice. 'The Noble Paupers Grave' produces a musical story that needs no narrative with its
stirring marches and noble uprisings. As with many pieces of art the perspective is in the eye
of the beholder, but if you like your art rock to last a lifetime then this could meet your
expectations."
-- Rock 3, http://www.rock3music.com/reviews/2904-protos-noble-paupers-
grave.html?ltr=P, 15th November, 2007

The compositions are dazzling... [The Noble Pauper’s Grave]

"The compositions are dazzling, emphatic and full of dynamic verve. A distinct aura of
optimism is predominant. Each song celebrates accomplishment and infuses the listener with
that same sense of success. Few modern progrock releases embody an abundance of
grandeur as this one does."

-- Matt Howarth, Sonic Curiosity, http://www.soniccuriosity.com/sc326.htm, 19th November


2007

This is a great masterpiece, a step up in scale and quality from their previous
work... [The Noble Pauper’s Grave]

"Protos re-issued a CD album titled 'One Day A New Horizon' (1982) last year which we
evaluated. They expanded the boundaries of UK symphonic instrumental music, drawing on
the palette established by Genesis, Steve Hackett and The Enid. They have reunited and
released a marvelous new album [The Noble Pauper's Grave] - a dramatic story that Rory
Ridley-Duff (keyboards) and Stephen Anscombe (guitars) have created. This is a great
masterpiece, a step up in scale and quality from their previous work with magnificent classical
keyboard playing and sweet, flowing, elegant guitars!"

--World Disque, Japan, http://www.marquee.co.jp/world_disque/d.w.frameset.html,


November 1st 2007, translation by Yasushi Tsuruta

This is a long lost classic... [One Day a New Horizon]


"Protos…started out in the late 70‟s [and] managed to put out an album in 1982 titled One
Day A New Horizon. Now that it has finally been released on CD, more can hear its beauty,
especially in the opening track The Fugitive. This is a long lost classic… it combines everything
I love about the genre including the cinematic keyboard sounds, the fluid guitars and the
rhythm section that gels so well. The music is so enjoyable to hear over and over [and] since
Protos is all instrumental, they don‟t fall into the clichés of the neo prog genre. I‟m still at
awe with all the great music that comes out of the woodwork in this digital age. Kudos to
Rory Ridley-Duff for bringing this and other of his releases to the progressive rock table. Look
no further and add Protos‟ „One Day A New Horizon‟ to your collection today! Your ears will
thank you a thousand fold!"
--Ron Fuchs, http://www.geocities.com/prognaut/reviews/protos.html, April 29th 2007
[Into the Mouth of the Tiger]

"Into The Mouth of the Tiger contains live recordings from 1982 - 1984. With appreciative
audiences, the band wheels through tight multi-part originals recalling contemporary greats
such as IQ, Pallas, England, and Marillion, though with no vocals. The music is consistently
positive, very tight, but not too challenging. Anscombe's guitar tone emulates Steve Hackett
and Brian May. There is very little showy soloing, except for a great drum solo during the
track "New Horizons". The sound quality is good for a live show from the 80's, with ambient
audience noises and a good deal of band banter. An excellent release of historical material,
making me interested at the least for more from Rory Ridley-Duff."

Brian G, full review at Progressive Ears (www.progressiveears.com), 25th February, 2007


[One Day a New Horizon]

"I think [One Day a New Horizon] is one of the most important albums of this particular sub-
genre and in my opinion is one of the best as well (it is at least equal to the first efforts of
Marillion, IQ and Pallas and probably better than the first Pendragon album). There's also a
big difference in comparison with other neo bands in that Protos plays music that is entirely
instrumental, while most other neo bands seem to focus a lot of their attention on lyrics and
vocals. I think this is Protos' strength since most neo vocalists are simply dreadful (save Fish
and some others). It's hard to choose the best track from this album because it's so
consistent. Every song has a unique charm about it and you can find something you like in
any number. The musicians are all extremely competent...a thoroughly satisfying album.

Maribor, Progressive Ears (full review at:


http://www.progressiveears.com/ASP/reviews.asp?albumID=3811&bhcp=1), 2nd February,
2007

[One Day a New Horizon]

"Congratulations on one of the best Prog Rock albums made! Is there any chance of the
band reforming? I run a Prog Rock Festival and would be very interested if it ever
happened..."

Dave Martin, Whitchurch Prog Rock Festival Organiser, UK

[One Day a New Horizon]

"Protos's music reminds me of Genesis (at Wind and Wuthering), and the keyboard playing
reminds me of Tony Banks. I have always liked Protos music since I first heard One Day a
New Horizon in 1993. I thought it was totally original. As for me, I like Yes, Fantasy,
Solstice, England and Protos best amongst the British progressive rock bands."

Dr Yasushi Tsuruta, Reviewer, Orange Power Prog Rock Magazine, Japan

"It was a pleasure listening to the whole album (+ the bonus tracks...). It IS a goodie, with
warmth and depth in the melodic themes. Also there is enough variation keeping the music
interesting all the time. Yes, I can really recommend it to anyone who enjoys classic British
symphonic prog..."

Stig Lundstrom, Finland, first published on www.cdbaby.com, USA.

"I like it! It has a sound that I miss nowadays, an innocence and naivety that somehow left
over the years. Nice also to see a band understand how important melody is and how useless
technical flash and complexity are in the final product. Although there is no mellotron, it
really is not missed at all. Coming from me, a mellotron freak, that is a huge compliment. I
enjoy the sounds and the way the music is arranged and presented. I am amazed it never
garnered more success. Protos is one band that begs to be listened to again - it holds up well
to my expectations and it is one of those without any waste on it whatsoever - filler free."

Gregg Kovach, Gnosis Reviewer and Radio DJ ("ProgKing"), USA

"The album is quite obviously the result of many hours of careful compositional honing and
the quality is evident from the opening of the first (and possibly best) track, "The Fugitive".
This piece is a wonderful musical journey, by turns dramatic, sensitive and triumphant. This
album is a must-have for anyone interested in progressive rock as well as being a staple of
rock history".
Lord Chumley, UK, first published on www.cdbaby.com

"The pieces move between the territory set by Mike Oldfield, Vangelis and electronic prog
(from 1970 to 1980). This collection really is a surprise to me as it opens the doors into a
world where symphonically tinged prog rock lives in eternal splendour; it's beauty and
magnificence never fading away. Can't get tired of these tracks and you would play them
forever just to keep travelling between the clouds, turning here and there without pause. I
recommend without reserve. Get it. You won't regret it. A timeless disk - if you love prog it
can't be missing from your collection."

abio Rancati, Prog Rock Reviewer, first published on www.hardsounds.it, Italy

"One Day a New Horizon by Protos (Airship AP391 in 1982) is one of the jewels that these
rare talented musicians created. It is also a dignified inheritance for this three-man band.
The key role in the keyboard playing, smooth melody lines from beginning to end.
Remember as the top progressive rock group since England (Garden Shed, 1977)...."

Marquee Magazine, Japan, first published on www.cdbaby.com.

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© 2007 Stephen Anscombe and Rory Ridley-Duff. All Rights Reserved.