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Monday, March 2, 2015

Lizards Exist - Lizards Exist

This up-and-coming quartet from Croatia have a touch of the Psychedelic, Krautrock, and Space Rock influences that makes it a sonic adventure into space and time. The name of the band is called Lizards Exist and this is their sole self-titled debut album that was released last year on their Bandcamp website. It is a combination between Ash Ra Tempel, Pink Floyd, Gong, Hansson & Karlsson, and Steven Wilson.

Recorded in March 2014 at Kramasonik Studio in Zagreb, these four compositions including one that clocks in at 17 minutes and 10 seconds, are filled with an adventure into the outer limits that will make you get ready for a session you will never forget to the end of time. The band considers; Boris Brozovic on Drums and Percussions, Sinisa Mraovic on Guitar, Roko Margeta on Keyboards and Synths, and Tihomir Zdjelarevic on Bass.

It is ambient, exhilarating, thrilling, swirling, jazzy, and mysterious at the same time that is in Lizards Exist’s music. It feels as if it was recorded in 1972 and the instruments that they use are analog vintage equipment that is pre-1976. You could tell that the moment you listen to Lizards Exist, its jaw dropping and trippy thanks to Margeta’s keyboard going into the infinite universes that carries the essence of the Atom Heart Mother and Meddle-era. Not to mention the two highlights from the album.

Ljenti hit begins with something straight out of a Steven Wilson solo album for an introduction from the Insurgentes sessions before it kicks into high gear and then going into minor chords in the style of David Gilmour and space rockers, Eloy combined into one. And then in comes Brozovic on the drums going in the styles of Ginger Baker creating some intense drum solo before setting into the cosmos for an organ and guitar climax at the end.

But it’s the 17-minute closer, Anunnaki Dance, that will make you get ready for an adventure back home to Earth. It has this late ‘60s psychedelic score for a sci-fi mystery film set in outer space to search for the missing clue and in the first half of the piece it captures the essence and the surrealism of the rhythm.

And then it goes into the touches again back to Eloy and Floyd as if they did a jam session together before going straight into the darker voyages of the milky way to give Margeta a chance to pay tribute to Richard Wright’s ambient/atmospheric spooky surroundings and it fits the vibe during the midsection. And then the rhythm section goes into a beat of almost 193 that is a shattering and increasing finale before everything calms down as the echoing guitar along with Tihomir’s Bass, and Margeta’s tribute to Hansson and Dave Stewart, (Egg/Arzachel) gives it a chilling ending.

I have listened to their sole self-titled debut album about twice now. And I have to say they are one of the most mind-blowing bands I’ve ever listened to. Lizards Exist are soon hopefully going to get the rocketship for a thrilling and mysterious ride you will never forget in the genre of Space and Progressive Rock by proving to pay tribute to the golden age of the era. So if you love the bands along with Eloy, Bo Hansson, Gong, Pink Floyd, and Arzachel to name a few, Lizards Exist is worth checking out.   

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Kestrel - Kestrel

There had been bands that were short-lived and due to bad business in the music industry, lack of promotion and support, or not getting any recognition and it is very hard for them to make into the music scene, but advices are necessary to let them know what is out for them. And one of the bands is a quintet named Kestrel. Kestrel was formed in Newcastle and they released their only sole self-titled debut album forty years ago.

It’s been considered a collector’s item as an overlooked gem in the history of Progressive Rock along with bands like; Cressida, Czar, Fruupp, and Second Hand. The album is hard to find in a vinyl format and not to mention a huge sum for an expensive price including one in Japan. Well this year, it is reissued in a 2-CD set from the good people of Esoteric Recordings that features liner notes done by Metal Hammer/Classic Rock magazine writer, Malcolm Dome that discusses the history of the band and where it went wrong.

The band considers Tom Knowles on Lead Vocals, Dave Black on Guitar and Vocals, John Cook on Keyboards, Fewnick Moir on Bass Guitar, and Dave Whitaker on Drums who was in a previous band from Newcastle trio called Ginhouse. Originally released on the Cube label in 1975, it is a melodic adventure and with a touch of Progressive Pop thrown in that gives it a warm and at times, a symphonic flavor.

Songs like the opening track, The Acrobat, has this wonderful improvisation that has a circus-like midsection that Cook does in the styles of Kerry Minnear through the clavinet and Rhodes through a different time signature as it becomes a Jazz rhythm section between Black’s guitar and Moir’s walking bass line. Then, it becomes a moody and ballad-like structure on an ascending groove that almost resembles The Doors Riders on the Storm and Steely Dan that has a beat per minute of 110 on Wind Cloud.

But with a waltz structure for a moody and emotional touch, is evidential on Last Request. It shows Tom Knowles can really sing through his heart and to pay homage to Kevin Godley as the band goes into the style of 10cc not to mention Cook’s organ and the Mellotron by giving it a powerful and ascending sound. John does shine through his keyboards.

In which he does some amazing improvisation on In The War that he goes into some beautiful passages that are Fusion and Orchestral with a funk and soul groove before he sends into the sky again with some angelic touches into the mix. On the closing track, August Carol, this is where the band comes into a full circle. It reminded me of Cressida with an increasing beat and Black’s guitar solo just nails each part as through rhythm and lead on his guitar and Cook gives him a perfect workout.

And then Whitaker’s percussion drum roll comes in before it heads off into the heavens with a Mellotron solo to close the album off for the final curtain to rise with background vocalizations and Black’s solo coming in as it fades into the sunset. The second disc features alternate versions and single versions including outtakes featuring a ballad turned adventurous narrative on The Searcher and Part of the Machine which deals with even though we are being used as a tool, but understanding to be tied up through the work and finding another way to find your heart, but living in a dream.

I have listened to Kestrel’s only sole self-titled debut album about five times now and even though the band broke up after the release to pursue other projects, it would have been interesting to see where the band would go into next. And this is a must have album to listen to. So if you admire Cressida, Moody Blues, Spring, and Fruupp, then Kestrel is the band to check out.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Disharmonic - Magiche Arti e Oscuri Deliri

There’s always a darker side of the Black and Doom Metal genre and the two of them are mixed well together to go into a colder much haunting beat inside the cavernous place. And from the moment I listened to Disharmonic’s Magiche Arti E Oscuri Deliri, in which the title translates to Magical Arts and Dark Delusions, it is for me, one of the scariest albums I’ve listened to from start to finish.

The band formed eighteen years ago in Italy by drummer Lord Daniel Omungus and guitarist Sir Robert Baal. The concept for Disharmonic is to bring in something that was really sulphurous. Disharmonic released two albums, two demos, and one EP. And their new album released this year, is a combination and reminiscent of Paul Chain, Goblin, Devil Doll, and Jacula.

It is almost as if it’s a score for a horror film that both Dario Argento and Alejandro Jodorowsky worked together and almost wished they used a score like this that is off the wall, sinister, and avant-garde. It features some snarling spoken-word dialogue along with operatic, and calming vocals on the album that is almost speaking through at times through an echoplex by giving it a terrifying view of what is to come in a darker way.

Effects filling the halls as if you as a listener are inside an insane asylum filled with the nightmares and terrors that realizing that there’s no hope of turning back to getting out alive. The music itself fits the concept very well. The Guitars give it the heavy, dark, psych and doomy atmosphere that resembles Tony Iommi and Mercyful Fate coming at you like a terrifying beast ready to rein terror.

You could imagine the essence of Black Sabbath’s first sole self-titled debut album along with Antonius Rex music flowing in parts of the compositions that almost could have been a part of the sessions of Tardo Pede in Magiam Versus and Disharmonic are capturing those vibes to show the touches of Rex’s sound as a tribute and homage. While this was my introduction to the music of Disharmonic, this wasn’t an easy album to listen to from beginning, middle, and end.

However, this is a very interesting and yet terrifying album I’ve listened to. And Disharmonic have really shown a lot of the ideas in their sound, that they really gave me a chill and shiver down my spine. And since listening to the album around my third or fourth time, I have to admit this will really give you goose bumps from the moment you put it on and knowing they have done something ominous, raw, and powerful to give you a nightmare for the rest of eternity.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Dewa Budjana - Hasta Karma

There’s a lot of a spirituality coming into the surroundings of finding the inner self. And music is an excellent and important way to find calm, patience, and the language of Jazz, easily fits into those perfect elements to find peace. You need an atmosphere where it is very relaxing and have tranquility on searching for your own true identity of who you are. Indonesian guitarist Dewa Budjana is back again this year with the release and follow up to Surya Namaskar with Hasta Karma from the MoonJune label and he has brought a superb line-up to help him out on the album.

He brought along Vibraphonist Joe Locke, Ben Williams (Pat Methney) on Upright Bass, and Antonio Sanchez on Drums, who received a Golden Globe nomination and won the Austin Film Critics Award, and the 19th Annual Satellite Awards to name a few for Best Score with Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance). And guest musician Indra Lesmana on Keybaords to help along on the three tracks and Dewa's grandmother, Jro Ktut Sidemen  on vocals.

There are six compositions on the album to go deep into and Dewa endures the spiritual minds in the pieces. And for me, it’s hard to pick a favorite track on here, not just because it’s a great album, but it’s also a touching, pure, innovative work he has brought into. Not to mention three highlights on here. The 11-minute piece, Ruang Dialisis, is a memorial composition that Dewa wrote it as a dedication to his father.

It has a soundscape/ambient introduction that he does along with a crying solo on his guitar on the whammy bar as Joe Locke’s vibraphone’s an amazing improvisation and he and Sanchez give Budjana a helping hand. As Dewa’s grandmother, Jro Ktut Sidemen does the chanting in the styles of Mamuit as it is a traditional funeral song that she sings and originally appeared on Dewa’s debut album eighteen years ago.

It gives the composition a beautiful and mourning arrangement that gives it a moving surrounding. Desember is a transformation of a melodic turned hard rock piece. It resembles a reminiscent of Deep Purple’s Machine Head-era as he challenges the styles of both Ritchie Blackmore and Frank Zappa with a screeching solo before Locke comes in with some laid-back beauty as it ends in an ascending finale in a different minor key.

But it’s Just Kidung that is a real treat. It has this ‘80s Smooth Jazz introduction with the Eastern tone in the pentatonic scale with a beat per minute of 86. It’s a slowed down groove in the B section as Lesmana gets in those synths on his keyboard to create those funky sounds. But in the midsection, it’s very ambient and laid-back as Ben Williams takes his upright bass to a style of Avishai Cohen, Jimmy Garrison, and Charles Mingus.

Improvisation is a chance to give Williams, Lesmana, and Sanchez to go into free rein as Dewa lets them go into the area of creating different ideas in their instruments. But Lesmana, he is really playing the piano like a conductor. Almost as if he is doing a classical jazz touch of Keith Tippett and Thelonious Monk before the ending is like the rain is coming down as Dewa is in full circle with them to close off the piece with a warmth sunrise.

This is my third time listening to Hasta Karma. And MoonJune Records have knocked it out again in the ballpark for a home run with this. Dewa really has done a superb job along with both Locke, Williams, Sanchez, and Lesmana showed a lot of potential and strength in their ideas to come along for the mystical wonders. Warmth, sincerity, and internal, Hasta Karma is a journey you will embrace the adventures of Dewa Budjana’s music. 

Friday, February 13, 2015

Ecnephias - Ecnephias

This is an introduction for me of one of the most intense and surprising Metal bands to come out of Italy in Potenza which is located in the Southern region of Basilicata that formed in 1996 and the group is called Ecnephias. And from the moment I’ve listened to their self-titled fifth album, it took me by surprise of the sounds of Melodic, Death, Doom, and Gothic Metal like something that made me jump out of my chair for the first time listening to the album from start to finish.

Again, this is my first time listening to the band’s music and if you are ready to embark on the three genres, it’s going to be a ride you will never forget. The opening track, Here 
Comes the Chaos is an ascending guitar introduction between the riffs and solo to get you going for what’s about to come as it segues into the terrifying The Firewalker.

It is a growling and intense beat as Mancan goes into the vocal area of the roaring and clean touches on who is terrorizing our dreams and the truths it will discover. Field of Flowers has a slowed down rhythm that the beats per minute goes from 109 to 124 as the compositions has a melancholic background thanks to the vocalizations. Sicarius brings in a moody keyboard part in to go into a darker atmosphere.

Mancan really carries those vocals into those two directions both of the evil and calming moments and when he sings the melody between him and the guitar on Born to Kill and Suffer, it’s almost a perfect harmonization in the midsection. There is also a mourning atmosphere on the Organ sound that something terrible had happened underneath the sewers as if they are ready to attack while the lead guitar comes in with a powerful crunch to close the piece off.

On Chimera, it begins with an ascending guitar solo introduction followed by a pumping drum section in the rhythm as Sicarius goes into a darker cavernous place of living inside of the underground world. His solo gives him a chance to come in front as the band lets him go into a heavier and clean moment while on The Criminal, he shines through the melodic touches with the major and minor feels as Nikko’s solo goes into town.

As I’ve mentioned before in the introduction, Ecenephias have some of the melodic ideas in their compositions, which is alongside the genre of Death, Doom, and Gothic sound in there. The song, Tonight has this melodic section featuring a clean guitar sound between the lead solo and the rhythm helping out between Nikko and Mancan.

Lord of the Stars has this spoken word between both in English and Italian that has an elegiac vibe in a dystopian touch with an immense rhythm from the guitar riffs while Wind of Doom and Nyctophilia has this scenery that this picture of you driving into this ghost town with no one there and you could almost feel this pin drop at any second. But this gives Miguel a chance to come in front also as he and Sicarius share a thumping beat between the Bass and Keyboards for 30 seconds and I just wish there was more for them in about a few minutes.

Nia Nia Nia has this introduction with a gentle acoustic lukewarmth sound and there is this twist of a Metal Waltz of a ballad. Also Sicarius does something wonderful on his keyboard in which he makes it sound like a string quartet in the midsection as the guitar solo helps out before it goes into finale from the Grand Piano and the Guitar that gives it a haunting atmosphere.

Vipra Negra, shows the band going into the darkness of a woman's soul and the left hand path. The piece is hypnotic and also, an alarming sinister composition that features both in English and Italian lyrics.It has this pumping harmonizing sound in the melody that can be alarming in the different sections and ominous in the midsection as well. During those parts of the melody, you could tell that the woman is pulling the final trick up her sleeve for the person to fall into her trap as the last few minutes between Demil’s rapid drumming and Nikko giving it the final trapping. And it’s intense to see what happens next.

The closing track Satiriasi, is very much an ‘80s electronic avant-garde horror-like score of the dystopian future as if they were doing for the movie of The Terminator and not to mention the gothic piano piece for a brief second. I’ll be perfectly honest Ecenephias music is not easy to get into. But after listening about two to three times of their fifth album, its interesting and very good to go into those areas of the Metal genre and I’ve enjoyed it so far. 

Now, if you are ready to embark into the world of Ecenephias music, be prepare to buckle up because the ride is going to be a terrifying and melodic adventure you will be at first hard to listen to, but also, experience the sound as well.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Mark Wingfield - Proof of Light

There are guitarists that take their instruments into higher levels and higher boundaries. Guitarists that go up into different areas and infinite worlds with their instruments into virtuosity and hypnotic sounds from the realms of Frank Zappa, Alex Lifeson, Allan Holdsworth, Jimi Hendrix, and John McLaughlin. And there is one guitar player that is having me on the edge of my seat with his new album, Proof of Light, on his debut on the MoonJune label, the person is Mark Wingfield.

Mark’s music on here, gives it an imaginative, spiritual, beauty, and uplifting quality that is very touching and powerful and his guitar is bringing those ideas to those infinite worlds to see where he would go to next. And also alongside Mark Wingfield, there are; upright bassist Yaron Stavi and drummer Asaf Sirkis to come along the journey for the listener to go into the adventures as if they are helping the person go on this brilliant journey by searching for the inner self and searching for the light at the end of the tunnel.

There are nine compositions on the album that Mark wrote and composed. And right from the start and into the very end, it is almost like a film score for the IMAX films that could have been used in the concepts of the minds of the human body, the Grand Canyon, or climbing the top of Mount Everest and the music itself is a wonderful touch that he has come into the table with. And also, not to mention, embarking on the four highlights on the album to be notice for on what the trio brings.

The 8-minute Voltaic starts off as a ‘60s introduction as Mark goes into a ‘60s wavy sound before going into a Frank Zappa movement. Then, it becomes an Avant-Jazz intense workout from the trio as it becomes an ominous, sinister, droning sound that is very nightmarish at times. Featuring crescendo drumming from Sirkis and the Hendrix-sque wah-wah sound, Stavis upright bass creates some of the ideas as he helps Mark out before it goes into a King Crimson-sque finale.

And then before it ends, it goes back the ‘60s mystery mode as an ending. The opener, Mars Saffron, starts off with a Steve Hackett meets Alex Lifeson introduction. It is almost straight out of the sessions for Voyage of the Acolyte as Mark goes into an ascending sound to create mysterious beauty on here to go into those cavernous places and discover what is underneath the tunnels and the wonders of the structures inside.

Then, the trio goes into a relaxing and harmonizing composition on A Conversation We Had. It helps give Mark, Yaron, and Asaf a chance to loosen up on this piece and it has this elevating rhythm while the guitar and upright bass play the melody together. Both Wingfield and Stavi creating the different moods and the altitudes between the two of them and seeing what will happen next. Summer’s Night Story begins with an introduction that is almost out of Roxy Music’s piece, Triptych.

It has a medieval flavor with a jazzy twist to it almost like a ballad before he gives Asaf a chance to shine. Asaf is really powerful going through on his drumkit in the styles of Elvin Jones while Yaron Stavi’s bass goes into the Coltrane-sque ballad on his solo and then back into the closing section of the trio combining as one. The album features liner notes done by Anil Prasad of Innerviews: Music without Borders in which he talks to Mark Wingfield about the making of the album and the concepts behind it.

This is Mark’s vital release this year for his debut on the MoonJune label. And while this is my introduction to his work and listening of the album about four times now, it shows that he could absolutely give the energy and power. And with Proof of Light, it is the album to really sink into those ideas and a supreme touch for Mark, Yaron, and Asaf by giving it a cultivated approach. A journey to the explorations on what is about to come next for him.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Crest of Darkness - Evil Messiah

This year marks the 20th anniversary of Crest of Darkness’ career since their formation in Norway from day one and there is no stop sign for them in the genre of Black and Extreme Metal. Their music is like a flaming fire ready to rein attack and igniting the explosion for the right moment at the right time that shows they really worked hard and with their EP, Evil Messiah, is the trio’s idea with intense lyrics, snarling vocals, guitars, and drums.

The opening title track starts things off with a bang. It is a beat per minute going at 128 as the percussion's go into a throttling mode along with the guitars and vocals by going into a driving, aggressive, and powerful mode that is ready for the attack to happen followed by an organ/synths and a whirling guitar solo as the messiah is giving his sermon and he can take it up a notch.

But it’s Armageddon in where Crest of Darkness going at the fast-driven beats in a ramming speed at 196 and you could tell that there is not a single stop sign for them to be at and you could tell from their instruments, that it is thrashing and throttling for the headbangers to get into the sound. And then they are back into the throttling beat with Abandoned by God.

This time it’s they are back into the feat of strength of thrash and speed like a bullet train and its enthralling yet riveting of the trio along with the keyboards giving it a sinister awakening like an alarming section for something to happen. And the solo from the guitar on the lead and rhythm as the drums themselves go into a double time beat for the last minute.

The closing track is their take of Alice Cooper’s Sick Things. It has this theatrical vibe as you can imagine almost a darker scenery of a thunderstorm and inside the castle, we see the master sitting on the throne singing in a dark and a snarling tone on what this person does as the guitar solo at the last few minutes giving it the electrifying finale as the keyboards come in to give it that last climax on the strings.

Now again, I’m not a huge fan of the Extreme/Black Metal genre, but I do respect the genre and they know the score very well. The Evil Messiah EP is terrifying that will give you goosebumps, but it is an immense and strong EP that Crest of Darkness released this year and for me, again, they have come a long way and their sound is like the raging beast is ready to rein attack on a town to a terrified crowd. 

I have listened to three times now and Crest of Darkness are now one of my favorite Metal bands and they have brought the sounds of the evil, sinister, and darker touches of Black/Extreme Metal that is ready to see what is next for them in the future to see where they would go into.