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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Quiet Observer - The Smell of Time

It has this interesting and sublime combination of different genres of music. From Metal, Electronic, Prog, Ambient World Music, to Jazz. And its almost as if they have been put into a blender and creating a futuristic sonic surrounding sound like almost as if it is something straight into the 22nd century as if its ready to bring the genres into the machine and bringing a sound and taste for the people in the new planet to enjoy the music to by getting into the vibes and the visions of the sound. And one of the most experiencing touches that do the sounds of these connections is Ukraine’s own Quiet Observer.

Quiet Observer have released five albums back from 2012 with five albums in their hands from the mind of Zolar Czack who has been playing and composing music since 2009 and there is not a stop sign for him. The new album released this year, The Smell of Time is nine compositions by Zolar as he plays all the instruments throughout the entire album and he is virtuosity when it comes to creating music for the future on this one.

Using keyboards, xylophones, drums, flute, guitar, and bass, the instrumental pieces establish the sounds of space with different time signatures and moods that make the journey worth an exciting ride.  You can always imagine this being used as a score one of National Geographic specials or one of the IMAX films for the Science Museums and then, going on a ride into the horizons of the Grand Canyon, walking into dark cavernous caves and feel the cool water dripping on the rocks, or swimming to meet the dolphins at times and he is going into areas that are calming, energetic, taking flight, and at times relaxing to set you in the mood for the pieces on here.

Giving the concept of going through different spaces of time, Zolar shows a lot of his energy given on here and is making it into directions of places that you haven’t seen in your whole life when you listen to the entire pieces from beginning to end. Yet, The Smell of Time is one of the most thrilling yet experience albums I’ve listened to about seven times now. And Zolar Czack has really shown a lot of potential here for what you are about to experience as you take on the ride and music of Quiet Observer.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Voice of the Enslaved - Voice of the Enslaved

Blake Carpenter is a very busy man when it comes to projects including; Corvus Stone and of course his band, The Minstrel’s Ghost. Blake also now has a side project that is called, Voice of the Enslaved. The story of the album is about how this amazing paradise that was, is now corrupted filled with everything that they promised the citizens that can live their dreams, is just one big hoop of lies that the government and the corporation is a controlling brainwash and how they must survive to get out of the mess that they are in. You can imagine Blake almost as if he’s paying tribute to George Orwell and Ayn Rand of doing research behind the side project.

Alongside Blake who does the lead vocals, guitar, and keyboards, he brought help from Robert McClung (Telergy) on Guitar, Violin, and Sitar, Petri “Lemmy” Lindstrom (Corvus Stone) on Bass, and Zoltan Csorsz Jr (The Flower Kings, The Tangent, and Karmakanic) on Drums. Alongside who do the breaking news for the opening of the first piece are special guests including; Blake’s wife Terri, Troy James Martin, Elizabeth Martin, and Marty Dorfman (The Prog Doctor who does his own radio show on House of Prog called, The Waiting Room on Friday nights).

Like a film inside your head, Blake really brings a lot of ideas to the table and it is almost like lending a helping hand for a friend to see where they want to take the side project into. And not to mention on how the people they must struggle to survive of the government corruption. There are touches of a heavy symphonic middle-eastern ominous atmosphere (Apocalypse Now), energetic guitar riffs and solos (Watching You, Police State, and Idiot Box), and swirling advanced keyboard works along with a dosage of ascending melodies to fight for freedom (Revolution and Rich Man’s Dream).

Blake has really done his homework very well to show that what is in the storyline, that is really strong and powerful on what has been done wrong and the struggle to fight can be complex and difficult to survive by escaping from the brainwashing policies. There are reminiscent of bands like; Touchstone and the early Styx thrown in. And on Voice of the Enslaved, this isn’t just Blake, but his friends and his wife, bring a lot of his support by being a team and lending a helping hand on the project.

There are touches of Progressive Metal, Arena Rock, Electronic vibes, and of course, Middle-eastern music for the adventures on what is to come and what is about to happen next on each of the compositions that is on here. This is a wonderful concept storyline that Voice of the Enslaved is brought on here and Blake’s project is a knock-out. 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Grus Paridae - Passes By

Grus Paridae is a duo from Finland and their debut single, Passes By, is one of the most promising sounds from the progressive rock sound and the two members consider; Petteri Kurki and Rami Turtiainen who play the instruments by creating scientific, experimental, and art rock sounds that resemble the golden age of the 1970s in their music.

There are only two tracks on the album and they have made a huge intuition on me on hearing their debut single from start to finish.  The opening title track begins with rainfall, acoustic guitar and soothing vocals between both Kurki and Turtiainen as they really set the tone throughout the song with the ballad to make you imagine the scenery walking in the coldest part of the evening and listening to this on your headphones as it snows.

The chorus, have a lot of pleasant-sounding vibe between the guitars and string section to close off the piece as they take turns on the solos that have a touch of Pink Floyd thrown in there. The closing track, Inheritance of Devotion, has a catchy vibe that has double-tracking robotic vocals that is completely unexpected. And to have guest violinist Jarno Koivunen taking the piece to a whole different area, makes the composition swirl beautifully.

It reminded me at times of ‘70s French-Prog Rock group Atoll from Jarno’s violin work as he pays tribute to Richard Aubert. The duo have a good ear on what needs to show which piece comes next and where they land on first on their feet.  But it has an amazing psych-prog with an electronic vibe to it that makes it swell and they can take the melodic arrangements flown along with the ascending climb from the instruments, guitar solo, and vocals, it makes it very much like a story that is about to begin.

This is a promising up-and-coming band that have a lot of spirit in their music and I hope I can expect what they will come up with next with their first debut album as they are about to walk into one of these days, the Yellow Brick Road on what will lead them to next.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Times Up - Sea of Schemes

It’s hard to do a follow-up album and making a departure of a band that have been known to stay true to their music and deciding to go in a different direction. And it’s very much what is going to happen next and how must they have no choice but to go to that area and dividing a line in the sand for the fans to accept the new sound or not. And it will have a huge impact on a band's career. Its needs a lot of ideas, creation, and innovation as well. And for Times Up, it gives them a chance to go back on the Yellow Brick Road again with their follow up to 2012’s Snow Queen on their third album, Sea of Schemes.

There are some symphonic, electronic, harder moments, and atmospheric pieces that Times Up brought on their continuation. The ambient-moody opener, Chasing Ghosts, begins with almost an instrument going through an ARP 2600 before the guitar goes into a cleaner mode as Linda Barnes come in as if she's doing a sermon to say farewell to a friend, but not sense the idea of “rest in peace” in their mind. And then after her vocals, the synths and guitar gel together as the keyboard creates these swooshing sounds and ‘80s vibe for their adventure to begin as the guitar from Mike Hagland creates a visual yet mysterious vibration.

Meat on Bone is a walking guitar and banjo line along with the snapping fingers sound that almost is a reminiscent of Peter Gabriel’s first solo album for the first two minutes before the landing into another dimension comes kicking in as the synth and sliding guitar is in full swing with the orchestral string section vibes for a brief second. It’s almost like an epic film score as the instruments are combined into one as if it has a dramatic vibe and not to mention the harder edges flown in from the guitar riffs with different signatures that go harder, classical, and harder.

It is a wonderful combination on the four movements that go through walking line, extreme turned classical, soothing, and then back into the preparation for everything to change at the exact moment for a wonderful finale between guitar and synth creating emotional melodies along with the stomping drums and piano chords before fading off into the sunset. When Kings Fall sees Times Up going into a brave and daring adventure into an exuberant composition with a haunting introduction as it shifts from the heartbeat and melodic boundary before heading into space between drums, guitar and keyboards as the vocals comes right in and everything fits throughout with a Yes vibe thrown in.

You begin to wonder if Times Up are really up to something by making magic throughout the suites and the brainstorming ideas have come inside their heads, but the last three compositions, are just worth the adventure to come to an end. Snakes and Ladders begins with a Morse Code introduction before Lawton’s minor piano works and Hagland’s spacey and intense guitar and haunting banjo work comes flying in for light speed as Andy Gibbon helps out on the rhythm of the beat while Steve Leman gets into the improve as Richard Lawton creates this jazz vibe on his sax that reminisces David Jackson (VDGG), and bits of Dick Parry thrown in there.

The 8-minute title track at first begins with an Electric Light Orchestra vibe with the Jeff Lynne-sque sound for the first 50-seconds before setting the controls between organ, drums, and guitar that provides a lead-in as it heads into the mellowing acoustic rock crisp from Linda as the last 2-minutes becomes a dystopian percussion-ambient featuring whispering spoken fading vocals by Bob Teague saying “Welcome to Corruption,” about five times. The closer, Let the North Wind Blow, is the journey’s end, dulcet turned thunderous string sections, enthralling guitars, keyboards, and bass, makes it go back into the epic score again to ride off into the sunset.

This is my 4th time listening to Times Up new album and I have to say that I’m really impressed from what I’m hearing of their establishment and perception that contains a lot of something emotional and it shows the power and beauty that you can bring in with your strength and Times Up have for me, succeeded and delivered very well with the Sea of Schemes. 

Friday, October 10, 2014

Corvus Stone - Corvus Stone II

Corvus Stone are always trying to bring new ideas to the table. They have these brainstorming concepts for each of the members to come to the table with since their debut album back in 2012. And now with the follow up album released on the Melodic Revolution Records label this year, it proves that they can take the concepts and the ideas, into unbelievable results by creating and helping out on 15 compositions that clock for 80 minutes to embark on another journey into the world and journey to experience.

Alongside Colin Tench’s guitar playing, keyboardist Pasi Koivu, Petri Lemmy Lindstrom on Bass, Robert Woff on Drums and Blake Carpenter (The Minstrel’s Ghost) on vocals,  they brought along guest vocalists including Phil Naro (Druckfarben), Stef Flaming (Murky Red), Andres Guazzelli, Timo Rautiainen, German Vergara (Aisles) and Sean Filkins (Big Big Train). It’s almost very much like team work on which songs they have to sing and taking turns on which part of the harmonies they have to be at right moment at the right time and they have done a superb job taking different types of the variations of music whenever they would bring it to.

Pieces like the ¾ waltz time signature featuring a church organ, Tench’s swirling guitar solo, and Robert’s drumming setting the uplifting moments on Early Morning Call, gives it a haunting and moving dance that has a moment for the sun to come up at the right moment for dawn to break as Purple Stone in which it is a tribute to the music of Deep Purple, sees Blake Carpenter going into the styles of Rob Halford and Kevin Heybourne.

Opener, The Simple Life, in which its sung by Phil Naro, features harpischord and guitar playing into this moody piece before going into a lukewarm wake-up to say good morning to everyone that starts the album off for the sun to rise on a beautiful day to start a new chapter. Then Corvus Stone goes into some different variation. You have the sound of the futuristic voyages and the sound of Gilmour and at times, the Canterbury group, Khan. You can tell that Colin and Pasi are creating these soothing symphonic structures of the Floyd on Boots for Hire while they get into the sense of humor in the styles of Salsa and in the mood for a dance to get the congas ready with Scandinavians in Mexico.

But they get into the groove of Jazz, Fusion, and Blues combined into one as Colin, Robert, Petri, and Pasi’s wah-wah keyboard, gives each of the four to take turns in improvising and creating their own beat and tempo on Uncle Schunkle. The mourning, Camelus Bactrianus (Tuolla Tuonnempana) , features a funeral drum march, dooming organ, bells, and Timo Rautianen just nailing each note on the vocals before getting into the emotional pieces that fit perfectly on this track. But it’s the 14-minute epic, Moaning Lisa, that at times feel like a story.

The first five minutes and twenty-seven seconds of the piece, reminded me of Jim Croce’s Time in a Bottle and elements of Nick Drake’s Five Leaves Left-era thrown in to give it a mourning acid folk resemblance in there with a Renaissance-Symphonic waltz figure thrown in there by doing the step 1-2-3 dance along with the clapping rhythm section not to mention Colin’s guitar roaring on the different lead section and the harmonica blaring thanks to the intense drumming to give it a vibration. And then it goes into a soothing Brazilian bossa-nova with a jazz-classical twist to it before it segues in an ambient/atmospheric move as Petri comes in with his bass touch as the band go into the dancing waltz again to close off the last 2 minutes of the piece.

For 80 minutes, this is a wonderful follow up that Corvus Stone have brought here for 2014. So far, I have listened to this about three times now and I’m completely blown away of the improvisation, humor, story-telling pieces, and it is a great adventure for them to bring something special by creating magic and not to mention the artwork that Sonia Mota has done. I’ve always wanted to hear what the band have coming up next. And their second album is a great continuation of the music and still, the road still lies ahead on what is next for Corvus Stone.   

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Pink Fairies - Never Never Land

Formed out of the ashes of The Deviants, The Pink Fairies are one of the most overlooked proto-punk rock bands to came out of the Ladbroke Grove scene that was a part of the underground movement from the realms of; Hawkwind, Edgar Broughton Band, Quintessence, The Pretty Things, and The Action to name a few. Pink Fairies had this combination between the Stooges, MC5, Groundhogs, and adding a bit of spacey melodies to the mix by giving it a real cosmic hard rock adventure on their debut album released on the Polydor label in 1971 called, Never Never Land.

In the Pink Fairies; the band considered Paul Rudolph on Guitar and Lead Vocals, Duncan Sanderson on Bass, Russell Hunter on Drums, and Tomorrow and Pretty Things’ drummer, Twink adding to the mix and it is one of the albums that is a knock-out yet psychedelic momentum that they brought on to their first album. The album starts the engines off with Do It in which it is a tribute to social activist, Jerry Rubin and his book of the same name released in 1970. Beginning with a folk-like tempo on the acoustic guitar for an introduction for a minute and five seconds, then it changes the mood into heavier call-and-response as Paul Rudolph screams out and the band go into town with him as his solo is a psych-wah wah and punk rhythm chords to keep the tempo going up a notch.

Then it’s straight into the mellowing compositions that have a touch of the political backgrounds of 
the Blues with a galactic vibe on War Girl along with the trippy and dreamy voyages on Heavenly Man and it shows their fantasy side and their laid-back moments that the Pink Fairies bring their softer side in there along with the far-out psychedelic adventure on the 6-minute title track as Rudolph just improvises with his guitar at the very end as he takes it to a world that is beautiful and being free from the chaos.

But it’s Track One, Side Two that does something very special for the first two minutes and forty seconds it starts with piano and drums as a ballad, but then they go into a freak-out session for the last few minute with a lot of rhythm and lead just going into different areas and I can tell the band are having a blast going into outer space with this piece. Then, after the mellowing pieces on here, the Pink Fairies get down to business.

With Thor, it’s very much a droning experimentation with a haywire vibe as it segues into pure attitude of three chord roar like a motorcycle ready to rev up and go into rebellion on Teenage Rebel. This reminded me of something straight out of The Groundhogs Split-era as to pay tribute to them and Paul’s voice reminded me of Lemmy and Tony McPhee as he is having a grand time along with the band going to unbelievable results as Twink closes it off going in the styles of Buddy Rich on his drumming like a tidal wave coming at you.

Say You Love Me is a foot-stomping, head-banging and fist-pumping attitude while the 10-minute jam session Uncle Harry’s Freakout Session, sees them going into the early reminiscent of Hawkwind. Rudolph is doing a lot of spacey voyages into the outer limits on his guitar as Sanderson and Twink improvise as he is increasing the voltage to a maximum level. You can tell that its heavy, psychedelia, shuffling blues and ending with a homage to Pink Floyd’s Interstellar Overdrive as to pay tribute to Syd Barrett-era as it ends with an echoing vocal effect with a sliding effect and haunting acoustic guitar chords on The Dream is Just Beginning. 

The bonus tracks feature the rumbling driven force with an attitude of the single, The Snake along with a single version of Do It without the acoustic introduction followed by unreleased material of War Girl and Uncle Harry’s Last Freak Out. In the 12-page booklet, it features rare promo, photos of the group and liner notes done by founder of Esoteric Recordings, Mark Powell as he gives amazing insight about the history of the band.

So if you admire the sounds of Hawkwind, The Clash, The Groundhogs, Stooges, and the MC5, this is the ultimate Proto-Punk Psychedelic trip to explore the adventures of The Pink Fairies and ultimately it is an album to worth check out!

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Dawn - Darker

When you listen to Dawn’s second album, you can have this amazing experience as if it was recorded in 1972 as if it was released during its golden-era of Progressive Rock.  Dawn has been around since their formation nine years ago in their hometown in Montreux, Switzerland. They capture the vintage sound of the genre and have opened for Kansas and Fish. Alongside as opening act, Dawn also performed in Prog festivals as well including Montreux Prog Nights, Progsol, and Prog’sud Festival in France.

The band released their debut album, Loneliness back in 2007 and now this year with Darker, it shows that it has an eerie, haunting, and touching wonder on their follow up released on The Laser’s Edge label. In Dawn, the band considers; Rene Degoumois on Lead Vocals and Guitar, Nicolas Gerber on Keyboards, Julien Vuataz on Bass, and Manu Linder on Drums.

Opener, Yesterday’s Sorrow, begins with a mourning organ and rises of the cymbals setting the tone before the synth and mellotron come kicking off in with a homage to Premiata Forneria Marconi’s Storia Di Un Minuto-era as it segues into the sinister heavy guitar lines along with the keyboards get buckling up for unbelievable results with Cold. Degoumois and Gerber create these wonderful atmospheric spacey yet symphonic structures between the two of them as their instruments are in the outer limits ready to go into infinite worlds.

The 10-minute title track, goes into the voyages of Space Rock as it heads into the veins of a haunting reminiscent  of Pink Floyd’s Wish You Were Here-era in there for the first three minutes before adding the classical touches flown in with the organ and mellotron bringing the sounds of early Genesis flowing by. Then Julien’s bass comes onto the movement as he, Rene, Nicolas, and Manu do some laid-back improvisations as Nicolas’ guitar, has a crying sound in the passages as Rene’s vocals and Nicolas’s organ sing the melody together, it’s a perfect fit.

Lullabies for Gutterflies, is a whimsical, ominous, and graceful instrumental. It begins with this Merry-Go-Round dystopian carousel that Nicolas does with Rhodes, Mellotron, ‘80s Synths as it first is happily enjoyful, but then turns into a nightmare as if something terrible has happened as he goes through this loop but then changes from major to minor chords before the groove kicks in. The next epic in which is 18-minutes long, 8945, is one of the most mind-blowing pieces I’ve ever heard that has an anti-war filled with emotions, horror, and the aftermath of the bombings that occurred sixty-nine years ago when Hiroshima and Nagasaki were hit by the “Fat Man” nuclear bomb on August 9th, 1945.

This piece sets the atmosphere and tone of the aftermath. It just hits you so hard you can imagine what the survivors had to go through. And Dawn creates the tension and the mood of the composition as it has a lot of emotional touches from the keyboards and guitar that has the touches of Robert Fripp, spoken word dialog by 33rd President Harry S. Truman, and haywire effects that is straight out of Genesis The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway of haywire guitar effects, cluttering drum kits that has Linder off the wall in the style of Jamie Muir, glass breaking, and moog setting the screeching noises before the organ gives it a mourning call and then back into the climatic finale of the instruments coming together as one.

Out of Control is a joyous and embracing composition that gives Gerber himself some free rein. You can imagine him having a great time playing the Organ and Synth that almost as if he had done a score for one of the games of the ‘80s during Nintendo’s heyday and there at times that reminded me of Yes and Triumvirat. However on Lost Anger, its back to the haunting symphonic structures as Gerber, Vuataz, and Linder do an improvisation with a Jazzy vibe before Rene comes in the picture and they are now as one with a stirring effect before they close the curtains on the 10-minute piece, Endless.

The band are now combined into one and set the controls inside the ship to head back home to Earth as they take their instruments to bring the adventure to a stimulating ending that would make you give them a standing ovation and applause of how much they have done an amazing job from start to finish. This is my introduction to the band’s music and I have to say I am blown away from what I’ve listened to after listening about five times and they are the band to really check out.

So if you love bands like; Anglagard, King Crimson, Cressida, and Caravan to name a few, Dawn is highly recommended to enjoy the sounds of the inspiration and influential sounds of what you are about to experience the moment you put your headphones on and embark an amazing journey that you are about to embark on.