Youthful one-man-band shows the future of prog is in safe hands.
WHEN PROG NATTERS to Dominic Sanderson down the phone, he’s not long discovered Gentle Giant. “I’m mad on them at the moment,” he says with a smile.
It seems the 21-year-old English musician is still feeling his way around the nooks and crannies of the prog scene – but you couldn’t tell from his own music, which sounds accomplished, well-studied and belies his age.
Sanderson is in effect a one-man prog band from Wakefield in West Yorkshire, having recorded all of the instrumentation on his debut EP, Discarded Memories, as well the vocals. The five-track was assembled piece by piece at home, and any DIY imperfections tend to be masked by the absorbing songwriting.
“The only thing I guess I cheated with would be the drums, because I don’t play drums, so I just programmed them in,” he says. “But everything else was done by me.”
The EP channels genre giants Steven Wilson and Marillion, and gains sizeable prog points as it opens with the almost 13-minute Empty Circles And Grains Of Sand (Part 1). Initially Sanderson had planned a lowkey release, but extra time afforded by the pandemic encouraged him to let his writing flow. In May, it was followed up by the more collaborative single This Night And The Wounds It Will Bring.
“My second year at uni had been cut short, so I decided instead of just sitting around doing nothing, I would try and write as much as I could,” the music and English literature student explains.
Other acts floating in Sanderson’s bank of musical influences are Pink Floyd and King Crimson, while Dream Theater were a gateway act, with six-stringer John Petrucci providing the inspiration to go beyond the power chords.
“I think it’s pushing boundaries and trying to make the best music you possibly can,” he replies when asked what draws him to prog.“I am probably pulled in by the complexity of prog. When I was learning to play the guitar I just wanted to be as good as I could.
It’s more than just the complexity, I just like the sound of it – I love the Mellotron, and the Hammond organ. I love those 70s sounds. But then I also really like all the ambient stuff that’s come out of more modern prog.”
Sanderson, who plays in Flight Of Fancy and The Aerials too, also channels his love of prog through tapping away on the other kind of keyboard. He contributes to the Prog Rock Review website, which has a focus on highlighting contemporary prog acts. “I help to promote the underdogs like myself in the prog world who need some promotion,” he says.
Music, meanwhile, has not been a recent, off-thecuff foray for Sanderson. He first started playing guitar when he had barely started primary school, aged seven, and has not looked back since. “It was at that age where I was so hyper I was struggling to stick with it really,” he says. “But my parents were very pushy, and luckily I stuck with it.”
Prog couldn’t agree more with that sentiment!
“I LOVE THE 70S SOUNDS. BUT I ALSO REALLY LIKE ALL THE AMBIENT STUFF THAT’S COME OUT OF MORE MODERN PROG.”