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Friday, September 12, 2014

Marbin - The Third Set

Marbin have always been for me, one of my favorite bands in the Jazz Rock sound. Since my introduction came to their work with their mind-blowing, Last Chapter of Dreaming, they always wanted to achieve some to expect the out of the blue moments from them. This time, it’s a live album they have unleashed this year from the Moonjune label with The Third Set. 

This was recorded in various locations from March 3rd to April 14th, 2013 at different gigs from Wisconsin, Iowa, and New England to name a few and you can imagine yourself being in one of the shows and watching the group in an eruptive yet strong performances they gave to an audience that are jaw-dropped to the floor from start to finish. Danny Markovitch is channeling at times Karl Jenkins of the Soft Machine and Nucleus on the fierce touches, The Depot, as it’s homage to them which you could tell it’s a tribute to a heavier version of Song for the Bearded Lady combining with Red House with a Metallic touch stop-and-go from the Sax and Page meets Hendrix meets Zappa-sque styles that Dan Rabin does. 

It is a perfect match of Jazz, Metal, and 12-bar Blues into one which is evidential on the tribute to the 1930s sound of the fast tempos of Swing on Redline that I could Jimi himself could have used during the sessions for Electric Ladyland. Speaking of Hendrix, Rabin carries Jimi’s torch as if the master is watching him being blown away of what he is about to bring next to the table. With pieces like; Rabak, Splaw, and Vanthrax to name a few, 

Dani just goes in the shuffling blues rock touches and not to mention the melodic solo between him and Markovtich that at times is almost an excellent combination of not just the Hendrix touch, but also Stevie Ray Vaughan and I can imagine Dani Marbin himself playing guitar behind his head to pay tribute of both Vaughan and Hendrix. On Crystal Bells, Marbin goes into the Sahara desert and it has this atmospheric beauty thanks to Justyn Lawrence cymbals to create the tension as Jae Gentle’s moving bass line and Markovitch’s sax come in as you can feel the wind blowing and reaching to see if you have found freedom before the band come in with a heavy rhythm and mellowing sliding touch. 

Northern Bells is a very soothing and softer touch as if you are walking around midnight in the streets of Paris and watching the lights go on between the Eiffel tower, the Arc de Triomphe, Notre Dame, and the Seine as Markovtich just takes it to town by his Sax as he goes in the sounds of Dexter Gordon. I have listened to The Third Set about six times now of and Marbin have scored another home run for me here and I always imagine what they will do next in the few years to come of the sounds of virtuosity, progressive, and improvisational jazz rock like no other! 

So get ready to embark on Marbin’s adventure on this amazing roller-coaster ride with their live album because it will be an amazing ride that you will experience from beginning, middle, and end.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Moraine - Groundswell

Moraine has for me, one of my favorite Progressive/Jazz-Rock bands from the Moonjune label since listening of both of their two albums including their live album in which they did a performance back at NEARFest four years ago with Metamorphic Destiny, and their debut album, released in 2009, Manifest Destiny. They always bring this touch of bringing both of these genres and take it into a different area with their music and the power of those five people they can do no wrong for me. That and their new follow up, Groundswell, show that Moraine is back in action and taking it one step further.

Gnashville starts off with a sliding guitar introduction done by Dennis Rea as if he’s paying homage to Ry Cooder with a heavy bluesy twist as James and Alicia DeJoie go into town playing the melody on Bartione Sax and Electric Violin. But it’s Alicia taking center stage on her violin as she is going into an eruptive workout on her instrument by paying tribute to King Crimson’s David Cross and High Tide/Hawkwind’s Simon House by going maximum speed before Rea is revved for a solo to take into driven force thanks to newcomer on the drums Tom Zgonc. Not to mention the band’s six centerpieces that will make you know that Moraine are in action.

Opener, Mustardseed is where the album starts off with its stick bass introduction done by Kevin Millard before James, Alicia, and Tom come in with a moody jazz vibe that is reminiscent of Steven Wilson’s Grace for Drowning-era before it goes into an insane avant-rock territory with an electronic haywire effect that Alicia does on her violin to give it that twisted jolt. Elsewhere, Fountain of Euthanasia carries the spirit of the Rock in Opposition movement as the band goes into with a Roger Trigaux twist at the end while Synecdocke shows the golden era of the beginning of 1970 with an ominous rumble jazz nightmarish feel.

It starts with this post-rock late ‘70s feel between Keith Millard’s stick bass lines along with Rea’s chaotic guitar intro before it goes down to business as Dennis, James, Alicia, and Tom come into the circle and it’s a touch of Beefheart-meets-Crimson-meets-Miles Davis combination of the three as they swirl into taking turns on the solos and it’s a conquering stunner touch and not to mention the two time changes they go into.

The inspirations of the music from Asia, is a perfect evidential fit. On, In That Distant Place, is Dennis’ tribute of traditional music in which it was on his solo album, Views from Chicheng Precipice, but on the fifth track, it is very relaxed and comforted to give Moraine a chance to lay back on the heavy material as if Dennis is telling the band, “Let’s put the harder stuff aside now and lets have a chance to go into a pleasing atmosphere.”

Kevin and James do this amazing improve melody between each other on the Stick Bass and Flute along with Zgonc’s drums to create this Van Der Graaf Generator-sque intro on Spiritual Gatecrasher they do to create the tension on here. You can imagine parts of the pieces that could have been used during the sessions for Pawn Hearts as the monster-like roaring chords that Rea does captures the keg ready to explode at any second as if the beast has unleashed its cage and reigning attack, but James captures the Flute with a lot of insane movements as if he is channeling both David Jackson and Mel Collins.

I had a complete blast listening to Moraine’s Groundswell. It really shows that Moraine have brought a lot on what was on the list to bring into the sessions for the album and its eruptive, mind-blowing, challenging, and seeing what is going to happen next in the years to come. A big hats off to Moonjune Records for a job well done.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Knifeworld - The Unravelling

There is no stop sign for Kavus Torabi. From his hosting with Steve “Interesting” Davis on Monday Nights on The Interesting Alternative Radio Show on Phoenix FM, Guapo, and of course The Cardiacs to name a few, Knifeworld is one ideas and whenever something comes popping outside of his head, you know something amazing and weird is about to happen. This time, Knifeworld are back again this year and being signed to the label, Inside Out Music, it is almost winning the World Cup for them and their new album, The Unravelling, shows that they are now coming into full circle.

From the sounds of Psychedelic Pop, Avant-Pop, Alternative, and Prog-Rock rolled up into one, this is all of the ingredients that Kavus has put in the blender and created this wonderful and mysterious adventure. Torabi does this bizarre almost one man-like show as if he is in the style of Lon Chaney as Quasimodo in The Hunchback of Notre Dame in this nightmarish terror in the styles of a darker version of Gentle Giant’s In A Glass House-era that Emmett Elvin does on the Rhodes in the style of Kerry Minnear with a doomy guitar scream on The Skulls We Buried Have Regrown Their Eyes as he sings “When I awoke this morning it was raining/Just like the previous two thousand days/And everything around me had been ruined/And everything around me had decayed.” It has this H.P Lovecraft vibe in the sense as if it was the introduction that starts the dystopian zombie-like city.

The opener, I Can Teach You How To Lose a Fight, featuring Melanie Woods on vocals, in which it has a spooky vibe featuring the drums almost doing an electronic beat along with machine-gun effects on the electric sound along with the Violins setting the tones for the first 55 seconds. The sound almost has a steampunk atmosphere in the small introduction before getting into high gear with some operatic vocalizations done by Esther Dee as she is paying tribute to Pierrot Lunaire’s Jacqueline Darby and avant-psych touches to the core as if we are inside the mind of a crazy person ready to attack.

Not to mention Kavus, Melanie, and Chloe taking turns in the vocals as Torabi sings “Why’d you grow those teeth in your heart?” And then Melanie and Chloe singing “Has it unraveled for you?/Every fight you lose.” Perfect harmonization they do to capture the beauty and ominous terror for a story that is about to begin. The Orphanage has this post-punk driven guitar chords with a jumpy attitude from the sax section done in the style of the Cardiacs while the psychedelia comes in with a Syd Barrett twist thanks to Melanie’s Bassoon on sailing into another voyage by the Captain himself but being trapped in a cell with no turning back on Send Him Seaworthy.

Then we come to Don’t Land on Me. It has a swirling keyboard introduction and Chantal Brown’s soulful “Yeah!” comes in, fits right in perfectly. Packing a punch from heavy soul and jazzy blues guitar lines, coming in with Crimson-like sax riffs filling the void to capture and erupt like there’s no tomorrow. Then, it’s a knock-out space adventure with difficult changes from the instruments and yet boosting up into bliss with the last minute to see where the next planet would take them into.

Destroy The World We Love starts off with this heavy garage roar between Kavus’ chords with a fuzztone sound along with Charlie Cawood’s thumping bass not to mention the alto and tenor saxes creating this intense sound and both Torabi and Woods coming in on searching on how holding the secret in your hands. And then it goes into a moody realization with a psych lullaby twist while the screeching terror comes in with an avant-garde feel reminiscent of straight out of the Floyd’s Ummagumma-era and bits of Zappa’s compositions come in handy that have an insanity touch on The Empty Room Once Was Alive.

And then in comes the closer, I’m Hiding Behind my Eyes. It has a gentle and peaceful acoustic finale and it gives Knifeworld a chance to show their comfort zone on this track as the band head into the universe to find what the person and give him a chance to start a new beginning, but have no luck as he wants to erase the world behind his eyes and never come home ever again. Torabi as I’ve mentioned, has shown no sign of stopping.

And with The Unravelling, it is not just an album, but an adventure into different darker areas that the listener will embark on. This is for me, one of the most superlative albums I’ve listened to and this is my 10th time listening to it from start to finish and you won’t be disappointed. Knifeworld’s music is not easy to get into and it takes a couple of listens to get into. So if you are ready to go into the dark side, in the words of Bette Davis, “Fasten your seatbelts, it’s going to be a bumpy night.”

Monday, September 1, 2014

Nicolas Waldo - Master of the Universe

Somewhere inside the halls of the Cathedrals, a Guitarist comes inside the room and brings magic and power with his various fret's going up and down by bringing virtuosity, symphonic, classical, and metal rolling up into a whole new different area like no other and giving the masters a surprising jaw-dropping unexpected ideas on what is going on. Colombian’s Guitarist Nicolas Waldo is one of the most surprising guitarists to come out and he’s released six full-length albums, including one demo album back in 2001, two EPs, and with different projects; Andros Duke, Vorpal Nomad, EVAinc, and a demo work with Zion.

And now with his new album released this year, Masters of the Universe on the Neoclassical, Hard Rock, and Prog Metal label, Lion Music, shows that he can take the genres of Power and Symphonic Metal can make it into a fantasy adventure of swords and sorcery, and science-fiction rolled up into one as if he was writing a score for the comics, Red Sonja. And his guitar is off the wall going into the different areas of those two genres including classical and flamenco turned metallic roar on the last track, Multiverse, and given a relaxation to calm down on the eight track homage to Johann Sebastian Bach's Bouree on with a medieval touch, Prince of Peace.

Throughout all of the eight mind-blowing compositions, he has this excellent combinations of; Yngwie Malmsteen, Steve Vai, Angel Witch’s Kevin Heybourn, and Iron Maiden’s Dave Murray rolled up into one and it works because what Nicolas is doing is taking them into one jolt of electricity and runs with it to see where the jolt is going to take him. The music is very fast and very out of this world and it’s almost like something straight out of an action-adventure film with explosives and amazing effects from outer space.

This is my 9th time listening to Masters of the Universe and Waldo himself doesn’t need all the ingredients, but he, drummer Miguel Rodriguez and guests musicians Mistheria (who worked with Bruce Dickinson of Iron Maiden and the voice of Melodic Metal, Rob Rock) on keyboards and guitarist Francesco Fareri (Virtual Mind), shown that they can take music to a fast-driven and exhilarating roller-coaster ride like you’ve never expect to go an amazing adventure that you’ve never dreamed of. Enjoy the sounds and buckle your seatbelts for a rocket ship adventure of the energetic roaring guitar virtuoso sounds of Nicolas Waldo.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Homínido - Estirpe Litica

This 6-piece band from Chile, formed back two years ago out of the ashes of La Desoorden by Bassist Francisco Martin and Drummer/Percussionist Rodrigo Gonzalez Mera. The sound has this combination of Fusion, Ambient, Metal, and World Music, its an album telling through the relationship between humans with stones on the causes on what will come to them in situations of worship elements, temples, houses, and aqueducts to name a few in their debut album, Estirpe Litica.

Alongside Francisco, and Rodrigo, they also consider; Pablo Carcamo on Guitar, Cristopher Hernandez on Trumpet, Benjamin Ruz on Violin, and Lead Vocalist Eliana Valenzuela. It’s not just the music that just moves the listener from one direction to another, but taking it into a different area with the wonderous adventures from what you are about to explore on here. You can tell the band are just having a blast throughout the 12 composition’s as they go through the different melodies of mellow, harder edge rock, ambient/atmosphere, soaring and uplifting touches, and signatures going into different areas.

Aside from their amazing concept of bringing the different genres to the mix and the concept storyline behind the debut album as well, the band’s five highlights from the album, might want the listener to take down notes and understand the vibe and the vision of the group, Homínido. Eterno Retorno (Eternal Return), is Homínido’s homage to Led Zeppelin’s Achilles’ Last Stand as Pablo’s guitar along with Hernandez’s Trumpet, the sound of the whole thing reminded me of something straight out of Ennio Morricone’s Spaghetti Western trilogy with a dosage of a compelling film score as if the hero has come back to seek vengeance as two of the instruments and the storming percussion come into play and make it a dueling finish line to see who will the race.

Ciudades de Piedra (Stone Cities) starts off with a moody clean jazzy guitar chord progression introduction and Eliana’s lukewarm voice comes in to give the warmth vibes of the town and the dynamics between her, Pablo, the fusion-bass work from Francisco and the percussions from Gonzalez Mera himself, by giving the dance feels in to make you enjoy the sounds of the different areas of ancient history. The opener, Simun (Sirocco) begins with the droning didgeridoo for an introduction as you can imagine being in the hottest part in Egypt as the bass lines thanks to Francisco. As he gives it a slapping/popping sound to see where he is going with.

This gives him a chance to shine on the introduction track as he goes through a metallic line as the band head into that area as it becomes a sense of walking into the pyramids and seeing how to treasure the memories from Hard Rock, soothing violin sounds from Ruz, and Eliana just sings well magically as the changes go from relaxing into heavy chord riffs to unbelievable territory. But on Shalagram Shila, it sees the band going into the sounds of the warmth and ominous sounds of Indian music.

At times, it almost reminded me of Peter Gabriel’s score for Martin Scorsese’s 1989 controversial classic, The Last Temptation of Christ as Ruz himself creates this lukewarm yet haunting atmosphere on his violin creating this gentle and calming adventures into the islands of the city along with Eliana’s vocalization to give it that vibration and the Sitar’s droning captures that essence. Not to mention the Orchestra coming blistering in and Carcamo’s guitar makes it a thunderous finale to set the storm coming in to give you that unexpected moment.

Adoquines Queretanos (Queretanos Pavers) begins with an Ottmar Liebert introduction and then it goes into the Tango lightning mode. Which is really completely unexpected for Carcamo to do and you can imagine Eliana dancing to the rhythm of his playing as he goes through classical and tango related heavy rhythms and adding Gonzalez Mera's percussion and the violin to the mix, you’ve got yourself a wonderful mix of beauty and surrounding touches filled with action and suspense that the final few minutes gives it that closure.

So far, this is my 9th time listening to their debut and I have to say that this is really an amazing debut to come out of Valdivia, Chile and they are something to come out of the Fusion Rock sound. As I’ve mentioned before about up-and-coming bands in which they have a long road ahead of them, Homínido are just getting started and Estripe Liticia is the album to check out this year in 2014.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Tom Slatter - Black Water

Almost like a storyteller in the gothic and horror vibe, Tom Slatter is one of the people to go into the darker realms of the characters who have committed horrible crimes and have an evil background and the skeletons in the closet that they don’t want the listener to know what is inside of them. His third EP, Black Water, tells the tale of Seven Bells John who is one of the characters that was mentioned in his first album, Spinning the Compass and the 10-minute piece, The Steam Engine Murders and the trial of Seven Bells John as well for the murders he had done.

He appeared in about four compositions and with the EP, this is more of a background on John’s history and Slatter himself delivers the evil territories like no other. The opening title track begins with a gothic acid-folk atmosphere along with the pow-pow like percussion with two different time signatures that resembles White Willow and Trees with the eerie folk-like acoustic guitar picking and spooky electric lines as well as if we are going inside the mind of the killer that would send shivers down the listener spines.

Combining the haywire effects which starts and ends as if the instruments were going crazy, the guitars come in with a haunting and sinister vibe as Slatter sings “Don’t you know/I’m hungry still/will I ever have to beg?/To be locked up again/Don’t want to wake up asking where am I again.” The instruments and the flute-like mellotron comes in with a soaring sound, the intensity is right at you with the doomy-psychedelic nightmarish feel as if someone in the woods is ready to attack on Nightfall.

The mellotron comes in handy on the moody, Moon in the Water. It has this warmth yet touching late ‘60s psychedelic beauty as Tom sings very relaxing and yet mourning on where the character will do next as he looks at his reflection to feel free. At times, the song has this gentle touching homage to Barclay James Harvest’s Once Again-era and Slatter takes it into almost as if he was a folk hero of the 19th century and singing this at a sermon to a wonderful reception.

Closer, Ghosts in my Dreams, has this dark score as if Tom Slatter was writing, composing an episode and a story for Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone. You could tell that Tom takes it to a darker area and its very much psychological and the moment Seven Bells John is about to do the unthinkable that would make him the word around town. The keyboard, guitar, and drums passage is very creative and inventive from Slatter’s mind and he creates this dystopian-sque composition for both the intro and outro to pay homage to Serling.

Tom Slatter’s music can be hard to get into, but he knows his influences of stories and influential backgrounds very well. As I’ve mentioned on the final composition, I can imagine Rod Serling has given the torch to Tom Slatter and for him by writing his own stories to capture and staying true to the late 1950s TV series of The Twilight Zone. What I hope that Slatter does, maybe in the future, is to make a Graphic Novel of the complete story and along with the music telling everything from start to finish.

Monday, August 11, 2014

BeHer3 - Fight With Your Best Weapons

From his work with Dusan Jevtovic on Am I Walking Wrong?, Xavi Reija’s Resolution, and also done a score for a video game for the PSP called Invizimals 2: Shadow Zone with GarcyNoise, Bassist Bernat Hernandez displays a lot of his talent by helping some of his friends out to lend a hand on their projects. Taking the sounds of; John Coltrane, Mahavishnu Orchestra, Thelonious Monk, Miles Davis, and the German Experimental scene of the early ‘70s to name a few, BeHer3’s Fight With Your Best Weapons sounds at times like it was recorded during the 1970s and he carries the essence of the three influences in his bag and bring it to life as his playing in the styles of Jaco Pastorius, Jimmy Garrison, and Paul Chambers.

The first four tracks (Gotta Shot of Whiskey, Holland 54, Wallander, and Under the Blanket), feels as if you are in the streets of Paris as they are almost like a score for a movie that is almost at Midnight walking through La Seine and the Eiffel Tower and there are some wonderful touches of Bebop Jazz in the late ‘50s. And it reminded me of some sessions that it could have been used between Wes Montgomery and John Coltrane as if they had done an album together that would have been a perfect match to get you in the relaxing mood for a dance.

Almost as if it was the Act one of the story as Act two is where they go into the late ‘60s and into the golden-era of the ‘70s. Bernat and the band go through ‘50s Jazz and straight into the sounds of Jazz Fusion and this is where they go into a fast mode like no other. Through the essence of the Funk-Soul groove on Descend & Mono Moon in which the drums are in the style of Billy Cobham and Bill Bruford at times and the Miles-like Trumpet comes in as the Bass helps in to play the melody before Bernat does his Jaco tribute on the Bass.

Meanwhile, We Try It in the Soundcheck has this wonderful homage that the trumpet goes into the style of the late Nucleus’ Ian Carr and bits of Elton Dean of the Soft Machine as well in there as the Rhodes goes into a soothing ambient atmosphere before Bernat’s workout comes on into the town. But Absolute Zero is Bernat’s ominous bass composition that has this post-apocalyptic nightmarish touch as it segues into the sinister guitar-driven styles of John McLaughlin and Robert Fripp into the void on Hexagonal Panel.

The electronic structures comes in handy as the drums, guitar, and bass go into the space and heading into the milky way of our solar systems for a rocket ship adventure into the stars with Shout With All Ur Might as the band go into this alternative relaxing mode in an acoustic style for Bernat and his friends get a chance to relieve their electric instruments into a lighter yet calming touch on the acoustic version of Staring at the Chrysler. Then, everything goes into Funk town late ‘70s/early ‘80s style with a dosage of the Fusion/Soul groove of Herbie Hancock’s keytar if you will as Bernat and his friends are having a blast away In a Really Good Company.

As the first (Bebop), second (Fusion), come into place, the third and final act on tracks 13 through 16, sees Bernat go into more of a 21st century futuristic adventure if you will. There are elements of an electronic version with shifting time signatures a-la Mahavishnu style with a Hammond organ on the psychedelic-jazz touch with The Dover Man and the droning turned soothing but yet peaceful with a dynamic vibe with Hypothetically Crystal.

Then Bernat takes a breather to relax for one of the guitarists to lay down some avant-garde ideas with a touch of Amon Duul II’s Phallus Dei-era in there with sinister vibes along with the sounds of Phillipe Besombes in the mix on Living in Some Other Frequencies and Don’t Rip the Letter. The effects of backwards tape and laid-back drums make it perfect for this piece as it has some elements for touches of the obscure and musique-concrete at times to fill in the void that makes it in your face and the terror comes right there that is mind-boggling at the same time.

But one of the most creepy and haunting compositions that is on the album is the electronic surroundings homage to Gong, Radiohead, Tangerine Dream and Klaus Schulze with the 9-minute epic, Traffic Jam. The keyboards go into some haywire and moody terrorizing elements that bring back the sounds of the Krautrock movement in there for the first two minutes as the trip-hop boogie goes into place for Bernat to go into Stanley Clarke territory as the effects of the noise that sound like zappers attacking to lay down some funky vibes and the last few minutes sees the guitar going into haywire mode before getting back into the funk.

A Long Way Back to Home reminded me at times sessions that were left off of Pink Floyd’s Ummagumma and a score to Alejandro Jordorowsky’s abandoned Dune project. The sounds of the effects of sonic-ambient-cosmos, the instruments is letting us the listener know that it is ready to set for light speed to control heading back to Earth for a wonderful and amazing adventure with BeHer3. Bernat really shows the balance of going through those acts of the different genres of Jazz, Fusion, and Electronic Music and parts you can relax, buckle your seatbelt and go beyond the different voyages of different worlds and understanding where he will go next.