ASIA, rock’s first important super-group of the 80s - featuring members from Yes, Emerson Lake & Palmer, King Crimson and The Buggles – will release Omega, its highly anticipated new album of original material. The record is due in the spring of 2010 on Frontiers Records.
Geoffrey Downes, Steve Howe, Carl Palmer and John Wetton, the four original Asia members, reunited in 2006, twenty-three years after all four had last played together. The much publicised reunion resulted in highly successful world tours, a double live LP and DVD (entitled Fantasia: Live In Tokyo) and an acclaimed studio album Phoenix in 2008 which debuted at number 73 in the Billboard charts in the USA and entered the top 100 in several European countries.
Formed at the dawn of the MTV era, Asia’s first release was the best selling album in the world in 1982 and sat at the number 1 spot in the USA for 9 weeks, powered by the classic rock anthem, “Heat Of The Moment,” and four other radio hits. Asia’s 1983 sophomore album, Alpha, also went multi-platinum and enjoyed several hit singles, including the #1 smash, “Don’t Cry”. During the recording of its third disc, the band splintered, and by the 1990s, only Geoff Downes remained from the original line-up.
The reunion came to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the band, but morphed itself into an ongoing endeavour. In 2008, they returned with the first new studio album, Phoenix, which had been strongly influenced by the fusion of talents and heritages that the band excited the music world with back in 1982.
Omega shows a new renaissance for this amazing group of musicians, which seem to live up to a joie-de-vivre that stands the test of time.
Begun during the summer 2009, the writing and recording sessions of Omega, immediately showed inspiration and good feelings. “We were looking to create something different with Omega,” says keyboardist Geoff Downes. “Of course, the sound of the 4 band members of Asia will always have a certain hallmark when we play together. That's a given. But we approached the song writing with a mind to getting a degree of variety into these compositions. Hence, you will hear areas of textures where arguably we have never gone before.”
Adds lead vocalist/bassist/guitarist John Wetton: “Asia is an English prog-rock band with a pop edge, always has been, and hopefully always will be. Accessible, melodic, anthemic songs with great playing, luxuriating in a bed of lush orchestration, with lyrics that strike a sympathetic chord in even the most cynical heart. There you have it, Omega is a themed album in Asia's fine tradition, without the millstone of a concept.”
Steve Howe adds that “the whole recording process has been inspiring and rewarding, and I’m very excited about the result”. “I would say these are all strong individual songs” says drummer Carl Palmer. “It was a very smooth experience, and arguably one of our best records.”
For the first time since the debut album, ASIA worked with an outside producer, Mike Paxman (Uriah Heep, Status Quo) who managed to create a truly special sounding album with the highs, lows and lots of dynamics. He helped the band to put together a tapestry of sound, which demonstrates the rich strata of Asia's music.
Paxman was able to achieve this through the songs which spun real stories of actual events and experiences in locations around the globe. “The songs always have a message, hopefully positive,” says Wetton. “My songs are almost always autobiographical, so there is hope and experience in there, too. The lyric will never leave you on a negative thought."
As with the most popular of ASIA releases, the cover art specifically designed for the project by acclaimed artist Roger Dean. The concept of the title (Omega), and the 'Year of the Tiger' referencing of the cover art underline the fact that this is real Asia. John Wetton explains: “The title 'Omega', as any fan of the band will tell you, is 'very Asia' (as is the album, by the way). It no more means 'final' than 'Alpha' means 'the first' (which it wasn't). It's a great sounding/looking word, and a bookend to 'Alpha'. In many ways, musically and conceptually, the two albums share commonality.”
“We are embarking on our European tour around the middle of April, then straight in to Japan for the middle of May” says Downes. “It's going to be fun working out the new setlist because obviously we have another album under our belt now with Omega.”
After touring Europe and Japan, ASIA will embark on a US tour late in the summer of 2010.