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Sunday, October 11, 2015

Theo Travis' Double Talk - Transgression

British Saxophonist Theo Travis is a busy man when it comes to projects from Gong, Robert Fripp, Soft Machine Legacy, Porcupine Tree, and now on tour with Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour. This year, he has released his ninth solo album with his band Double Talk released on the Esoteric Antenna album entitled, Transgression. This is Jazz Rock at its finest with a Progressive and Bluesy approach that will surprise listeners to capture the essence of the golden-era of the ‘70s.

Travis sax-playing, is off the wall and mind-blowing. He is like a conductor telling the bandmates to follow him where he wants to take them into the next level whether it’s mid-fast or an increasing tempo for vibrations of a heavier approach to follow the sounds of King Crimson, Mahavishnu Orchestra, and Talk Talk. Theo knows his apples and oranges very well when it comes to bands like that. Not to mention the four highlights on here.

Smokin’ at Klooks has a bluesy bossa-nova 4/4 time signature element to the early sounds of Santana’s Abraxas-era that guitarist Mike Outram takes his instrument to the essence of the master with a bluesy cavernous sound while the smoothing beauty that captures the vibes of Coltrane’s music with a joyful rhythm on Song for Samuel, that shows Theo his chops on the sax for an amazing improvisation. Pete Whittaker goes into a groovier Jazz organ sound as he and Mike do some amazing beauty together.

Both lead and rhythm in a mellowing tone. The opener, Fire Mountain brings the essence of both John McLaughlin and Robert Fripp as Outram brings both the combinations of the two as if it’s a one piece as if both guitarists have worked together created the sounds of Red, Dance of the Maya and a little homage to Nucleus’ We’ll Talk About It Later-era with some amazing fusion-like solos to go with it.

The 12-minute title track goes into a psychedelic-Floyd-sque meets Gong flavored with an ascending tone as it starts off with an oily way introduction between Theo’s Flute and Mike’s Guitar doing a Zappa-sque melody. Pete uses his Organ as a driven climbing melody in a symphonic rock style before Mike comes in with a blistering improve followed by Theo’s sax blaring out of the blue as Nic France helps out for a run-through on his drums to give it that driven flare.

This is my second time listening to Transgression. And I have to say, I’m very impressed of what I’ve listened to from beginning to end. Theo knows exactly what he’s accomplished to bring the Jazz and Prog world to a standstill. And with help with Steven Wilson at the mixing table, you know something special is going to happen. Mark and Vicky Powell have never disappointed me when it comes to the Esoteric label.

So if you are ready for a Psychedelic, Jazz, Experimental/Prog adventure, then enjoy the music of Theo Travis’ Double Talk’s Transgression.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Anglagard - Prog Pa Svenska: Live in Japan

This 2-CD set contains an incredible performance that Anglagard did two years ago in Japan at the Club Citta as they were sharing the bill with The Crimson ProjeKCt. When you listen to the CDs, you can imagine yourself being at the club, and just being in awe and jaw-dropped momentum with Anglagard mesmerizing performance that will send shivers and goosebumps throughout your whole body. They aren’t doing this for the money, they are doing this to show love and support for the music and the fans.

I remember hearing their music few milky-way’s ago (not the candy bar) on both United in Prog with Tony Romero and Prog Rock Deep Cuts with Ian Beabout a couple of times. And I knew I had to check them out. They were my cups of coffee with the essence of King Crimson, the Peter Gabriel-era of Genesis, and Bo Hansson. It was sinister, dark, and like something had come out of a horror score that just took me by surprise from the moment I bought all three of their albums and knowing they got a lot of ideas in their head.

But let’s get to the music. The live album entitled, Prog Pa Svenska: Live in Japan, is brilliant and hypnotic at the same time. And the moment you put the CDs on, you can close your eyes and see them perform in all of their glory. I love Ana Holmgren’s wind instruments that she uses on the tracks. I could feel touches of David Jackson (VDGG), Ray Thomas (Moody Blues), and a dosage of John Coltrane at times whilst Johan Brand brings his Bass to his touch of Squire’s beauty on his Rickenbacker.

Not to mention Tord Lindman’s guitar shining through the Hackett frontier. While the tracks are from their three albums, there’s also a new track entitled, Introvertus Fugu, Part 1. This is perhaps one of the scariest introductions to start the album off. Cavernous sounds between piano, wind, and guitar. It has a jazzier introduction before the rocket ignites of ascending chaos between the forces of Manfred Mann’s Chapter Three, King Crimson and The Least We Can Do is Wave to Each Other-era of Van Der Graaf Generator.

I love the guitar and the mellotron parts that just come right at you and Anna’s wild sax solo improvisation just nails you to the stomach as if a punch is ready to hit at any moment. Jordok in which it was the opening track from their debut album Hybris back 23 years ago, is still a knock-out. The unexpected time changes, classical and medieval symphonic prog at its best while Langtans Klocka from their comeback in 2012’s Viljans Oga has a Mike Oldfield flavor to it and a Jazzier essence thrown in that gives Ann a chance to shine on her flute solo.

But what I love about that track, it has that wonderful dystopian gypsy jazz with a mixture of Maurice Ravel’s Bolero thrown into the mix as Anglagard descend into chaotic beauty that will give you nightmares at the very end with a sinister finale. This is my fourth, fifth, or seventh time listening to their live album. I was on the edge of my seat from start to finish. And I hope they will do more in the years to come.

So if you want to show support for bands like Anglagard, buy Prog Pa Svenska: Live in Japan to get you on the bandwagon.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Purson - In The Meantime

One of the band that have completely blown me away three years ago, is a group called Purson. Now Purson has been around since forming in 2011 by Rosalie Cunningham and with the release of their debut album The Circle and the Blue Door on the Rise Above Records label back in 2013.

I remember hearing their music in a Classic Rock Magazine CD sampler which was a compilation of Lee Dorrian’s Rise Above Records label entitled Poisoned Apples: A Rise Above Records sampler and when I heard their music I knew this was a band I needed to check out.

They are one of the best psychedelic-progressive rock bands to come out of London and they really capture the essence of the genre. Last year, they released a new EP entitled, In the Meantime on the Machine Elf Records label. And this another crowning achievement from the band and they are planning to go on tour with Ghost as an opening act in which it’s called the Black to the Future tour.

But let’s get to the EP. Opener, Death’s Kiss resembles the British Psychedelic-Folk Rock sounds of the late ‘60s as if Steeleye Span were a gothic acid folk band with a dosage of a Beatle-sque sound as Rosalie sings “Out of the frying pan and into the fire/swimming against the tide and sinking into the mire.” You have to admit, those are excellent lyrics to start the EP off with a cannonball going off at the right moment.

The thumping percussions, mellotron swarms, vocalizations, stomping beats, it is soon going to become a live favorite of their music. The blistering Organ and Guitars come right behind you with a dosage of Sabbath meets Blues Magoos meets early Floyd on the Danse Macabre.

The Guitars nails the Iommi sounds thrown into the mix with a ‘70s Doom Metal approach which I really adore right here and Rosalie’s voice just sends chills down the spine while the hypnotic bluesy punch gives it a vibration of Purson doing a score for one of the Spaghetti Westerns in the late ‘60s of filmmaker Sergio Leone and the criminal on the run for the Wanted Man.

The last 2-minutes is a climatic guitar structure between the riffs and lead that will have your jaws dropped and back into the heartfelt blues to close it off. The closer, I Will Be Good, is an ominous chiller just in time to get ready for Halloween. It has a psychedelic surfing rhythm that I could imagine the essences of The Ventures, Julian’s Treatment, and the Master of Reality-era of Black Sabbath that seems like an odd and interesting combination, but it works very well.

I really had a blast listening to their new EP and they can do no wrong for me. Psychedelic, Prog, Doom Metal thrives well for what to expect underneath the cavernous caves. Purson show no signs of stopping.

Unit Wail - Beyond Space Edges

I’ve been on a cosmic voyage of a band that knows the essence of King Crimson, Magma, and a dosage of the Zeuhl machine. That group is called Unit Wail. Unit Wail is the brain child of Shub-Niggurath guitarist Franck Fromy. Unit Wail launched back six years ago and their music is dark, sinister, heavy, and ominous that will send shivers down your spine. They have released three albums so far, and while this is my introduction to the band’s music, I have to say, they have me getting ready for an adventure of a life time that has a spirit about it.

That and their new album in which is their third album released on the Soleil Zeuhl label entitled, Beyond Space Edges is the journey into madness. It’s a concept sci-fi album that would have given Star Trek a big run for their money and show how a real story in different universes is done right. The story of the album is almost straight out of a story by filmmaker and spiritual guru Alejandro Jodorowsky.

It’s about a group of bizarre creatures leaving to prepare to go the moon and heading towards the womb of the Ziggurat (which resembles the Mayan Temples) and then sucked into the psychedelic tunnel and spat into an active atmosphere. In the dome, they are inside the utopian megalopolis as the wise man gives them a tour, his appearance of the master scares them, but he will take them on a course to an unknown planet.

This is where it gets bizarre. They land on planet X as it absorbs them into an interdimensional probe as their bodies are analyzed by a machine and mutated takes place as it lights up. At the end, the probe drops them on the moon as the earthrise enchants them. Even though the story is weird, twisted, and out of this world, the music is terrifying, but it’s staggering and getting you ready to set a course for an adventure into space that isn’t just a galaxy far, far away.

Not to mention the five highlights on the album. Imminent Take-Off begins with an ominous ambient/atmospheric introduction into madness that keyboardist Emmanuel Pothier does as he gives the listener a chance to imagine the weird creatures getting ready to embark on an adventure they will never forget before Franck and Phillippe Haxaire create the engines rolling on guitar and drums.

I really enjoyed Adrian Luna’s bass lines. Its jazz and rock in opposition mixed together in a blender. He has the combination between both Jannick Top and Stanley Clarke. And he shows his improvisations to the tunnels on Through the Wormhole. His fingers on the frets, takes him to higher places as it punches through the mirror like sharp objects in a faster tempo.

The Magma inspirations are in there which is evidential on Deep Inside Megalopolis. I can hear the sounds of the Udu Wudu and Attahk-era thrown in, followed by the Red-era of King Crimson thrown in there with Mellotron’s galore! The 6-minute D.N.A.A.T.M. (Deoxyribose Nucleic Acid Sychromous Transfer Mode) is where everything comes into the analyzation of mutation. 

Swirling and sending signals to the Moog, Mellotron, Robert Fripp meets Roger Trigaux’s guitar techniques where it’s clean and crunchier of difficult time changes thanks to Phillippe’s drumming that he sends into pure momentum as he builds it up like a powder keg ready to erupt.

The guitar sounds almost like a roaring machine ready for the transformation as Adrian’s Bass increases the transformation for the creatures. The last track, I See Earth which features guest musician Ana Carla Maza on the violin, creates these rumbling metallic roars on her instruments, gives you a chilling vibration as Emmanuel does an electronic finale on what will happen next as the earth rise hypnotizes them to find out what the travelers will do next.

I have to say, I was completely blown away from the moment I’ve put on Unit Wail’s third album. This was out of the blue and the perfect momentum on how they aren’t just doing it for show, they are doing this because they have potential and grab the right exact moment on where they would take their music into other universes. 

So if you love the Zeuhl genre, then dive deep into the ocean of Unit Wail’s Beyond Space Edges.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Homunculus Res - Limiti All'Eguaglianza Della Parte Con Il Tutto

Homunculus Res are an Italian Progressive Rock band from Palmero that carry the sounds of both Avant-Rock and the Canterbury scene like a flaming fire that refuses to burn out. The sound in their music reminded me of Picchio Dal Pozzo, Henry Cow, Soft Machine, Moving Gelatine Plates, Hatfield and the North, and Gong. The band is centered from composer, guitarist, and keyboardist Dario D’Alessandro.

And alongside Dario, the band considers; Davide Di Giovanni on Keyboards and Vocals, Daniele Di Giovanni on Drums, Percussion and Vocals, and Domenico Salamone on Bass. The collaborators feature Dario Lo Cicero on Wind and Flute, Federico Cardaci on Keyboards, Mauro Turdo on Guitar. Not to mention the special guests including Paolo “Ske” Botta (Yugen, Not a Good Sign) on Keyboards, Giovanni Di Martino on Microkorg, and Toto Puleo on Trumpet.

This is the band’s debut album released back in 2013 on the AltrOck label entitled, Limiti All’Eguaglianza Della Parte Con il Tutto. This feels almost like a trip down to memory lane of the Canterbury scene as if this was recorded back in 1974 and you could imagine Homunculus Res recording this back in time and showing how much appreciation of their love of the bands and carrying it with the mighty sword and not letting it go.

There’s also a quirky sense of humor in them also. Take for example, the swirling electronic synth improvisation of Sintagma. It’s very futuristic and off-the-wall that gives you a touch of between Marc Hollander’s Aksak Maboul and The Faust Tapes-era while the opener Culturismo Ballo Organizzare gives the band a chance to shine for a lot of fun with the vocals singing the title track, and the improvisations between keyboards, guitar, glockenspiel, and drums, give it a Gong meets Matching Mole vibration.

The Rhodes for a laid-back Coltrane-sque in a darker alleyway gives it a haunting feel with the fuzztone and moog of Jessicalaura but then the tempo changes up a bit in a Rock-In-Opposition ascending tone that you can imagine the Henry Cow momentum thrown in of Leg End before going back into the waltz in a haywire mode of the synths closing it out.

The vocals on (che ne sai tu di un) Cerchio nel Grano, resembles the wonders of The Northettes, and not to mention the Flute, and Piano. But then I love where it changes into a guitar improvisation of Phil Miller as if he did the improvisational solos with Egg! Very spectacular ideas! Rifondazione Unghie is an increasing driven beat between guitars, flute, and drums that almost reminded me of Kraftwerk’s Ruckzuck before the unexpected stop-and-go moment as wah-wah moog’s kick into the mix.

Puk 10 is where the keyboards of the Memotron, Moog, and Piano combined as one for a haunting momentum. I love how the ominous and moody-jazz flavor gives it a kick for that spooky vibration to see where they want to take the synth ideas for a sonic-surrounding and nailing it at the right moment.

I have a love of the Italian Progressive Rock and a little dosage of the Canterbury scene. Homunculus Res’ debut album is for me one of their best and their whimsical to show the fun and weirdness they bring to the table on how much homework they have done. I can’t wait to hear more of their music. So if you love the Canterbury Scene, then check out Homunculus Res’ Limiti All’Eguaglianza Della Parte Con il Tutto.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Not a Good Sign - From a Distance

Now you probably known that I’m a fan of the Italian Progressive Rock scene. Bands like; Le Orme, Premiata Forneria Marconi, Banco, Osanna, and Metamorfosi to name a few. And champions like Mikael Akerfeldt of Opeth who admires the band il Paese dei Balocchi, shows that the genre is still growing the fires very bright. And one of the bands that show a lot of potential and hope in their music since forming in 2012, is Not a Good Sign.

Their sole self-titled debut album released on the Fading Records label received word-of-mouth and whether you love or hate them, they know what they are doing in their music to not just become a retro band, but carrying the flaming torch of the Progressive Rock sound and not let it die down. This year, they’ve released their second album entitled From a Distance.

And let me just say that this is a real treat and Not a Good Sign are amazing musicians and taking the accompanying sounds of the 1970s and make it powerful, emotional, strong, and the result on the follow up is an alluring adventure from start to finish. Songs like Going Down which gives Paolo “Ske” Botta’s keyboards a jazzier introduction as Alessio’s voice just sends chills down the spine in the haunting atmosphere that resembles Genesis’ The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway-era while Not Now sees Not a Good Sign going into the styles of Haken’s music but with an excellent vibration.

Pleasure in Drowning is a powder keg track with unexpected changes thanks to the guitar playing of a hard rock Crimson-sque adventure containing metallic and clean sounds with an annihilated punch. Open Window sees Paolo’s organ going into a deeper, darker, and cavernous sounds on his keyboards between both the Organ and Mellotron.

Before the bursting of the doors of Francesco Zaga blows it down so hardcore with the time signatures that you can imagine the intensity hitting at you with a kick in the stomach. It’s also Paolo chance to shine into those darker areas for a few minutes and then it’s back into the rhythm and organ melodic improvisation followed by Cassani’s bass lines. It’s very Jazz-like, but the groove fits into the brainstorming ideas they would come up with.

This is my sixteenth time listening to From a Distance. Knowing where the directions they will lead to next, and the entire album for me is an eccentric gem, Not a Good Sign put their footsteps in the lake very carefully and they have done it right! A band that shows no sign of stopping to see where they will go into next. It’s classical, jazz, contemporary, hard rock, and prog at its best. 

Anderson Ponty Band - Better Late Than Never

It seems like an interesting yet unexpected idea for a collaboration. The heart and soul vocalist of Yes meets the fusional violinist from his work with Frank Zappa and the Mahavishnu Orchestra. Jon Anderson and Jean-Luc Ponty is perhaps one of the most creative ideas to come around when they collaborate and the magic is spot-on. That and the CD/DVD release of their live album entitle, Better Late Than Never shows the Anderson Ponty Band at their finest.

They recorded the show in Aspen, Colorado at the Wheeler Opera House on September 20th of last year in which they gave their first public performance. When you listen and watch both the CD and the DVD, you can imagine yourself being at the Opera House being very interested of listening to both the re-imaginations of the Yes songs that they do along with the band. The band considers; Baron Browne on Bass, Jamie Glaser on Guitar, Wally Minko on Keyboards, and Rayford Griffin on Drums and Percussion.

There are 14 tracks on the CD and 10 on the DVD in which you can see or listen to the entire show in your own living room. Ponty brings color and joy on his violin. And when you listen to his improvisation on Owner of a Lonely Heart, he’s nailing down through the groove as Jon is shining through his vocals. And while it may not be as it was in the golden-era, he still has it.

The reggae homage to Bob Marley, seems very much it could work on paper, and it interestingly does with the groove-vibrations on Time and a Word. Browne’s Bass and Minko’s Keyboards in the style of both Organ and Fender Rhodes, has a reggae-funk type of rhythm and you can imagine the audience nodding their heads and tapping their feet and dancing with the sound. Not to mention that little touch of the Beatles She Loves You thrown in for a couple of seconds.

The ambient/atmospheric ascends into a soaring sky as the band go into adventurous worlds with the dramatic turned almost bossa-nova/calypso feel on Infinite Mirage and the relaxation of A for Aria, it helps the Anderson Ponty Band a chance to relax and help the crowd get into the calming mood. Which is moving into a Jazzier tradition in the styles of Wonderous Stories.

Minko is capturing the sounds of both Thelonious Monk and Keith Tippett as he along with Baron, and Rayford lay down the groove for a Classical-Jazz walk into the sunset followed by the scatting vocals that Anderson does and Jean helping out with him to follow his improvisations on his violin. But Ponty nails it down. He lays down his chops to give the band a chance to go into the road with a blistering sun-rising adventure with an orchestral touch on Renaissance of the Sun.

But I love their take of Yes’ Roundabout. It’s in a different tuning, but done in the style as if both the group and the Mahavishnu Orchestra had recorded this composition for the Trident Studio Sessions and having a blast together and Zappa conducting them to see where they will go into next.

I really had a blast listening to Better Late Than Never. Even though I admire both the essence of Yes, Zappa, and Mahavishnu, I could tell they hit a home run with the audience and just in awe of the two combinations which is unexpected, but fitting well. They are planning to go on tour in the States starting on Tuesday October 27th in Glenside, Pennsylvania which is a suburb part of Philadelphia at the Keswick Theater.

So if you love the sounds I’ve mentioned, then be prepare to enjoy and experience the music of the Anderson Ponty Band.