Rick Wakeman has released a new digital single from his latest solo album, The Red Planet, an eight-track instrumental prog-rock project that the longtime Yes keyboardist recorded with a group of musicians dubbed The English Rock Ensemble.

The song, titled “Ascraeus Mons,” is the album’s lead track and is named after a large volcano that’s located on Mars. A video for the track, which features an animated depiction of trip along the surface of the planet, has been posted at Wakeman’s official YouTube channel.

“The main themes and ideas were all written on the piano, with photographs of Ascraeus Mons scattered around,” Wakeman explains. “I wanted the start of the album to be a statement and I always felt the church organ as an initial solo instrument said it all. This is certainly a track that screams out to be played live…so I’d better get practising!”

The Red Planet was inspired by next year being the 50th anniversary of the launch of the first satellite to orbit Mars, and the many missions to planet since then.

“You just have to look at the photos [of Mars] online or in books to be inspired,” Rick notes. “[T]he landscapes are fascinating and the volcanoes are huge…bigger than anything on earth. It was the perfect subject for me to be inspired musically.”

The Red Planet initially was released in June, but Wakeman has signed a new distribution deal that will see the album get a worldwide release on August 28 as a CD Digipack, a black-vinyl two-LP set and digitally.

The English Rock Ensemble features guitarist Dave Colquhoun, drummer Ash Soan and bassist Lee Pomeroy. Pomeroy previously toured with Wakeman in the Yes spinoff group Yes Featuring Anderson, Rabin and Wakeman.

By Matt Friedlander
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.