The Airbus Perlan II glider in flight.

On 2nd September 2018 the Airbus Perlan II glider claimed a record for “the highest sustained flight by a winged, manned, subsonic aircraft”, recording an altitude of 76,000 ft (approximately 23 km) soaring over Argentina on the high stratospheric winds pushed upwards by the Andes mountain range.

Another kind of Altitude record was made by the prog rock group, Lifesigns, in 2021. This one took the form of an album of music, available only through the band’s website. In fact, Lifesigns have a very modern approach to making and promoting music. Their albums are self-released and not generally accessible on streaming sites. There are, however, a few samples of their work on Spotify (see below) and 30- to 90-second clips can be heard on the Lifesigns website.

Lifesigns is the brainchild of John Young, veteran keyboard player with the Strawbs, Bonnie Tyler’s band, and several others. Young teamed up with sound engineer Steve Rispin in 2008, recruited Nick Beggs (bass, Chapman Stick) and Martin “Frosty” Beedle (drums) in 2010, and together they recorded the eponymous Lifesigns album in 2013. Guests on that debut album included Steve Hackett, Jakko Jakszyck and Thijs Van Leer. And, if that’s not recommendation enough, Lifesigns have been well received at Cruise to the Edge three times (2014, 2015, 2018) and at various festivals across Europe and the UK.

Lifesigns‘ music is vocal-led, classic prog rock. What it lacks in originality, it makes up for in exceptionally professional performance. It would make an excellent introduction to prog for curious ears wanting to rise above the level of mediocre pop songs.

How high can Lifesigns go? Judging by the audio player clips on the website, they have already risen into the upper flight levels of the neo-prog bands, but the Crotchety assessment is that they need an extra spark to lift them into the stratosphere where they can make more newsworthy records.

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