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Wednesday, September 20, 2017

King Crimson - Heroes

For me, since 2000, I’ve been a huge admirer of King Crimson after buying their debut album, In the Court of the Crimson King from Soundwaves that changed my life on real good music. Robert Fripp described King Crimson as “A Way of Doing Things”. Despite various line-up changes from 1969 and onwards, they’ve never done me wrong. Starting in late November, the band will start their Fall tour in the States this year on October 19th at the Bass Concert Hall in Austin, Texas.

And they’ve unleashed a 5-track EP entitled, Heroes which the band recorded at live performances in Berlin, Paris, and Vienna last year in their European Tour in the fall of 2016. It was also a heavier year after the loss of the late great David Bowie on January 11th, so it was quite an honor for Fripp who worked with Bowie from the Heroes album in 1977 to Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps) in 1980, to show that he hasn’t forgotten him and knowing to keep his spirit alive.

Originally known as the “Seven-Headed Beast” line-up, Fripp takes it up a notch with now known as the “Double Quartet Foundation”. Which considers alongside Robert Fripp on Guitar & Keyboards, but Mel Collins on Sax and Flute, Tony Levin on Bass and Chapman Stick, Gavin Harrison, Pat Mastelotto, and Jeremy Stacey on Drums. Not to mention Stacey also plays Keyboards. And Jakko Jakszyk on Guitar and Lead Vocals.

When you listen to the Heroes EP, you can close your eyes and imagine yourself being at those concerts and just being in awe of seeing Crimson for the first time or a dozen times and being in awe of seeing Mel Collins back into the fold. The echoing reverb effects kick into an emotional vibe from Robert as he takes his guitar creating the sustained sound that was in the original album to create the pitched feedback as Jakko nails the song down as a celebration for the Thin White Duke and the original sessions at the Hansa Tonstudio overlooking the Berlin Wall 40 years ago on the opening title-track.

The three drummers (Gavin, Pat, and Jeremy) come into the center stage in the performance in Vienna with The Hell Hounds of Krim. Listening to this track, you can close your eyes and imagine the sounds of Taiko drumming in Japan, but adding an intense and thunderous beats and tempos throughout their kit and cymbals. It’s almost as if they are taking you through a journey of world music on their instruments, creating the scenarios and making you believe that the beasts is right inside the caves and is ready for their feast to be served with a vicious roaring voice.

Easy Money is a classic live during those live recordings. It’s a fabulous take of the song performed live. Jakko is not trying to hurt the song, but to honor and stay true to the piece and honor the late great John Wetton in his arrangement which he almost sounds like him to give the stamp of approval. Mel’s snarling sax comes at you in various moments in the piece.

Almost looking and peeking through the keyhole and seeing what the corruption of the government has become all of a sudden, Easy Money creates the tension of the dark side of what they’ve never told you behind those curtains in that midsection. Collins does some free-jazz scenario momentum on his sax and it’s the tension that creates the mysterious atmosphere between himself, Fripp, and Levin’s dooming bass and the clattering drum sections.

The only criticism I have is with Starless. While it’s an edited version of the laid-back emotional pieces from the Red album, I wish it could have been 11 or 15-minutes longer as it goes through the jazzier and mellotron-sque sections of a dream-like landscape of the lyrics, it would have been interesting to hear a full-length version of this song as the band into uncharted waters to give the audience a mind-blowing performance.

For me, this is not a bad EP. Yes it’s short with five pieces, but it’s quite a small journey to see what questions and answers lay ahead for Crimson to delve into the waters for. But this is a small peek of what is about to happen when they hit the road again this October in the States. So be prepare to see King Crimson live when they hit the States again. And enjoy the Heroes EP

Monday, September 18, 2017

Machine Mass - Machine Mass Plays Hendrix

It’s been 47 years since Hendrix passed into the afterlife on September 18th. It’s a risk to cover Jimi’s masterpieces. Not only he was perhaps one of the most mind-blowing guitarist to come out of the late ‘60s after his breakthrough performance in America at the Monterey Pop Festival 50 years ago, but he opened the doors to carry his torch from the realms of Yngwie Malmsteen, Ritchie Blackmore, Steve Vai, and Lenny Kravitz to name a few. But this year, which marks the 50th anniversary of his landmark debut of Are You Experienced? It’s time for Machine Mass to honor Hendrix’s legacy.

With two albums in the can, they’ve released their third release on the MoonJune label this year and follow up to 2014’s Inti release, Machine Mass carrying Hendrix’s torch is a leap forward for both Michel Delville and Tony Blanco. And Antoine Guenet (The Wrong Object, SH.TG.N, and Univers Zero) as an additional member on keyboards and acoustic piano, would make the master himself very proud. Machine Mass takes it to a new level. And the six centerpieces on here, you might want to take note.

On You Got Me Floatin’ Michel delves into the stylophones whilst going into some electronic synthesized mind-control by sending Morse Code into a mad take of the piece as he takes his guitar near the end with a echoing reverb to delve into a hay-wiring effect. You can also hear Hendrix doing interviews which are evidential in the spiritual atmospheres of Little Wing and the closing laid-back textures of The Wind Cries Mary.

It’s almost as if he’s right in front of you almost describing life and what lies ahead for him. On The Wind Cries Mary, there’s this wah-wah groove on the clean tone of the guitar and Antoine’s acoustic piano sets the control for the ship to embark into the milky- way and towards the stars near the end. Purple Haze starts with a drum/piano improvisation both Tony and Antoine reminisces of McCoy Tyner and Elvin Jones before Antoine uses the piano for the tritone opening of the song.

And then Michel delves into the late ‘60s psychedelic hard-rock vibe of bringing Hendrix’s classic, not only a task, but showing true honor and spirit that would give his appreciation of Machine Mass’ touch of the song. The synths on Voodoo Chile represent the wah-wah intro that oddly reminds of a record DJ doing some scratches before it transforms into the guitar and the bass drum following suit and into the stratosphere while Antoine delves into a funeral/mourning ominous take intro on Burning of the Midnight Lamp.

You can feels the candles burning as it goes into the clouds. And then all of a sudden, it changes into this Funk-Rock mood with the Organ swirling in a psychedelia background of colors to shine light through a kaleidoscope to see its textures of a dazzling light show. This was my third time listening to this tribute to a master that Machine Mass has done.

And believe me, they’ve achieved it well and spot-on right. Some people may like it, some may not. But it shows that after a few listens of Machine Mass Plays Hendrix it’s quite obvious to get the three classic Hendrix albums (Are You Experienced?,Axis: Bold as Love, and Electric Ladyland) out of the closet and put your old headphones on and let the record needle hit the first track on those albums and close your eyes and imagine it is the late ‘60s all over again on your old school Califone record player. 

Patto - Roll 'em, Smoke 'em, Put Another Line Out

By 1971, after the release of their second album, Hold Your Fire, Patto were in dire straits. Both of their first two albums, didn’t do well and soon they decided to move to another label which was Chris Blackwell’s label, Island Records after support from their producer Muff Winwood. With the release of their third album released in 1972 entitled, Roll ‘em, Smoke ‘em, Put Another Line Out, this shows the band with a laid-back sound and having their sense of humor in their music.

Now with a reissue done by Esoteric Recordings, listening to their third album, is showing not just their sense of humor, but knowing they are having a blast and grand time between the four members. And the four centerpieces on the album that you might want to take note. Loud Green Song shows Patto going into a proto-punk mode while Ollie lays down some hard riffs and heavy lead sections as it’s this cross between Iggy & the Stooges Raw Power-era and The Groundhogs Split album.

When you listen to Mummy not only is it a weird and surreal piece, but there are at times the spoken dialog is going through at times a Dalek-sque moment. Just listen to the piece to the end and you get to find out what happens next and believe me, it’s bizarre, but funny at the same time. Turn Turtle is their nod to B. Bumble and the Stingers’ Bumble Boogie on the rockin’ thump with the piano.

Mike himself brings the soulful blues in his arrangement on the vocals, followed by a mysterious chorus section that is something straight out the shorts between Tom & Jerry and Tex Avery’s 1941 animated Bugs Bunny short, Tortoise Beats Hare. When you listen to, I Got Rhythm, it has this swamp rock intro in the styles of CCR and Clive’s dooming/fuzz tone Bass, Mike’s Electric Piano, 

Ollie’s sliding guitars taking you the Louisiana River’s in the hottest part of the summer.
It’s almost as if they’ve taken us down to both the Mississippi and Louisiana swamps by steamboat as Mike takes you to those areas as the band follow his lead as he both sings and speaks in the section on digging James Brown’s music and his roots between the Jazz and Blues while John Halsey’s drumming on the snare takes you to the circus. The three bonus tracks are BBC Radio One sessions recorded on January 24th, 1973 in which Patto did for the late great John Peel.

When you listen to General Custer, Ollie does this medieval riff, but lays down the blues rhythmic vibe followed by Dave Brooks’ sax following along. Halsall is often overlooked in the history of guitar players. He never gets the recognition he deserves, and he deserves a gigantic stamp of approval. Flat Footed Woman is much better than the studio version, this session is everything recorded live and it’s quite a nod to Steve Winwood and Traffic as the band honors their sound.

Clive’s bass on Singing the Blues on Reds comes to the forefront as he plays like a real bass player doing this incredible riff in the styles of Bootsy Collins and Herbie Hancock bassist Paul Jackson as Ollie follows his riff to capture the heavier blues rockin’ sound. Mike is nailing it down as I can imagine he goes back and forth between Ollie and Clive to know they’re an amazing collaboration together.

The 16-page booklet contains liner notes and an interview with John Halsey by Sid Smith. It contains photos, reviews, and concert promotions including one in which they opened for Ten Years After, Joe Cocker and the Chris Stainton Band, and one of Bill Graham’s posters at the San Francisco Civic Auditorium. Listening to Roll ‘em, Smoke ‘em, Put Another Line Out, is quite an overlooked gem that had been lost for centuries, but shows how much Patto were way ahead of the ball game.

Friday, September 15, 2017

The Aaron Clift Experiment's IndieGoGo campaign

The Aaron Clift Experiment for me are one of my favorite bands to come out of Austin since listening to their second album in 2015, Outer Light, Inner Darkness. They are going back into the studio this year in November to record their new album entitled, If All Goes Wrong. Their using IndieGoGo raising funds up to reach their goal of $10,000 for studio time.

They were nominated for the 2016 Progressive Music Awards (not to mention being selected as the best unsigned artists for Prog Magazine in 2013) and this Spring of this year they performed at ROSFest (Rite Of Spring Festival) with sharing the bill with Unified Past, The Neal Morse Band, Anglagard, and their first time in America, The Fierce and the Dead. What Aaron and bassist Devin North wants to do in the third album is to be songs to perform and interest of what the Progressive Rock sound of giving the vintage of authenticity which is something is not as common in the history of the genre.

And with Grammy-Award winner Randy Miller in the production side who worked with Eric Johnson, Burt Bacharach, and Christopher Cross. Not to mention top sessions, string section, and recorded at Antimatter Studios in Austin. Please show your support by clicking the link and support independent artists and bands while keeping real good music alive. 

Monday, September 11, 2017

Dialeto - Bartok In Rock

The late great Hunter S. Thompson of Gonzo Journalism, who wrote Hell’s Angels, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail ’72, once said about music is “Music has always been a matter of energy to me, a question of fuel. Sentimental people call it inspiration, but what they really mean is fuel. I am a serious consumer. On some nights I still believe that a care with the gas needle on empty can run about 50 more miles if you have the right music very loud on the radio.

It’s the same thing with me, music has been with me from day one from the day I was born and I always know when the time is right to hear it. One of those bands since discovering them whilst I was at Houston Community College back in 2013 as a student, was a band called, Dialeto. It’s been 30 years since their formation and with three albums in the can, they’ve released their fourth album this year on the Chromatic Music label entitled, Bartok In Rock.

This shows Dialeto honoring the legacy of composer Bela Bartok’s music in ten compositions of his music. And with special guest King Crimson’s violinist David Cross on here, it’s a very interesting combination to bring him in to lend a helping hand. Opener, Mikrokosmos 113 (Bulgarian Rhythm I) gives David Cross in the forefront with some of the most intensive work on his violin with some of the shrieking midsections.

Then you have guitarist Nelson Coelho blaring the riffs and lead sections in his instrument near the end as he and David share a duel between each other. It’s almost as if they were looking at each other smiling creating the vibrations before getting back into the races by reaching the finish line. But on Mikrokosmos 143 (Six Dances in Bulgarian Rhythm II), Gabriel Costa’s bass does a walking intro as it dances to the groove with Fred Barley’s drumming.

Coelho delves into the thunder and lightning rhythm and lead sections to create this climatic-climax scenario that is bluesy reverb with a soaring arranging. An Evening in the Village (10 Easy Piano Pieces No. 5) sees Dialeto walk into this ambient/atmospheric nod to Yes’ Close to the Edge-era introduction for the first minute and seven seconds.

Nelson then honors the essence of Steve Howe’s mesmerizing spiritual textures and channeling the infinite worlds that is something straight out of the poem by Samuel Taylor Coldridge’s Rime of the Ancient Mariner as if Dialeto made a score for one of his poetry set to music recorded in a deep dark cave. You can feel the vibrations and the dynamics that Barley brings the heavy military weapons with his drums going into an intense speeding motion on Roumanian Folk Dances 2 (Peasant Costume).

But on Roumanian Folk Dances 4 (Mountain Horn Song), Gabriel’s bass is in reminiscent of Pink Floyd’s instrumental Careful with that Axe, Eugene. It does have this early Floyd resemblance to their underground period in 1969 as if it was recorded during the Ummagumma period with its waltz ballad in 3/4 time. But the last fifth and sixth movement is where in comes into full circle.

Roumanian Folk Dances 5 (Roumanian Garden Gate) and Roumanian Folk Dances 6 (Little One), it is the calm after the storm for a new day. The fifth movement gets this Tears For Fears vibe that Nelson does on his instrument for the first minute and fifty-six seconds before seguing into the sixth movement as they move from that into the styles of Rush’s 1980-81 period from the Permanent Waves and Moving Pictures period to honor by tipping their hats to the Canadian trio.

Dialeto channeling Bartok’s music is like walking on a dangerous tightrope. And you never know if the rope is going to be loose or about to be cut, but Dialeto do something that is making the doors to erupt open with a gigantic yet big sound that will make you say “How in the hell did they do that?” And believe me, Dialeto opens more doors to see what will lie ahead for their next journey to embark on.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Anil Prasad - Innerviews: Music Without Borders

Since the website launched back in 1994, Music Journalist Anil Prasad and does his homework very well and going beyond the spirit and the artists to go beyond the music business and the industry to seek their path in their spiritual guidance, philosophies, storytelling, and creative processes they go through to move forward. For me, Innerviews: Music Without Borders is my go-to website whenever something new happens when he interviews some of the musicians I admire and the ones I watch out for that might peak my interest.

In an interview back in April of 2011 on Echoes (NPR) by John Diliberto, at the time people were listening to Def Leppard and Van Halen, Anil delved into bands and artists like Brand X and Kate Bush to name a few from the record stores to show there was more than just the big names in hard rock when he was a young man. From 2000 to 2014 he was a contributor to magazines such as Guitar Player, Bass Player, and Frets. The book was released back in 2010 and it’s done in alphabetical order and it delves with amazing conversations with 24 artists in alphabetical order from Jon Anderson of Yes to the late great Joe Zawinul.

Whilst I enjoy his interviews, his book offers the interest of their perspective of bringing them close to the edge. There are some favorable moments in the book that opened my eyes. Japan’s David Sylvian talking about people opening up the context of creative music to work it out for themselves in whatever they want to decide which direction they want to delve into, McCoy Tyner’s key philosophies as a band leader provides enough room for the person to be comfortable to do whatever they want and both listening and responding are very important.

Bjork’s channeling brainstorming ideas into songwriting and listening and making the music can be a spiritual experience for her, and Stanley Clarke’s story on why he turned down to be in a group with Miles Davis along with his experience with Return to Forever in the 1970s as he looked back in his time with the band as a university. Prasad shows no sign of stopping from his journalism and research.

And 23 years later, he still is going strong with the web site. Whether it’s an interview with Leonardo Pavkovic of MoonJune Records, Steven Wilson, Richard Barbieri, Tim Bowness, Peter Hammill, Julie Slick and Canadian Music Journalist, Radio, VJ, TV Host, and Author, Laurie Brown, Anil is a busy man. While the book may open people’s eyes to how these artist go through various ideas, the website is worth exploring.

Here's Anil Prasad's website, Innerviews: Music Without Borders

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Re-building after Hurricane Harvey

Hello fellow progsters, I would like to let everybody know that me and my family are doing okay and my House didn’t get flooded and we’re still going strong. As I was sleeping on my bed, hearing the wind, lights almost flickering from the winds of Hurricane Harvey that landed in the lone star state at August 25, 2017. I almost felt something was about to happen between me and my Dad at the house.

Watching the floods on KHOU Channel 11 and KPRC Channel 2 almost made me too emotional of watching the water flooding the houses, debris on the ground, I just almost want to turn it off. It has been ten days after Harvey made landfall here in Houston. Not only in my hometown state, but in Corpus Christi, Rockport, Port Aransas, and Beaumont to name a few.

Some love Texas, some don’t. For me, I’m born a Houstonian. Always a Houstonian, and will be a Houstonian until the day I die. The road to rebuilding is not going to be easy. It is going to take slow gigantic Baby steps to get everything back on track. When Harvey hit, I didn’t know I was going to continue blogging or not for Music from the Other Side of the Room which launched back nine years ago and next year will be it is 10th year.

I started this blog site when I was in Houston Community College after I took a course called Commercial Music Forum where I had to write five concert reviews. And the light bulb lit up in my head and I knew right there that was where I wanted to write about music. I’m still going strong with the blogsite. It went through various names including Progressive Rock Reviews and Progressive Rock &Symphonic Metal reviews. But then the name, Music from the Other Side of the Room suddenly hit.

Now I know I’m off-topic,  but where the name actually came from. The name was inspired by two people; Anil Prasad and Sid Smith. Anil has an amazing website entitled Innerviews: Music Without Borders and Sid Smith’s amazing blog site, Postcards from the Yellow Room. And I knew combining the two would be an homage to these two and it was simply named: Music from the Other Side of the Room.

Re-building Houston as I’ve mentioned before, is going to be a slow process. They came together helping out and doing good of getting people out of their houses that have flooded and surviving through those rough times. And big kudos to both J.J. Watt of the Houston Texans now has raised to his recent goal of $20 million dollars of his relief fund in which we (My family and I) donated to and Jim McIngvale (Mattress Mack) of Gallery Furniture opened his doors to his store to the victims from Harvey have stepped up as a shelter. It can be both as a store and a shelter.

I’ve been to conventions here in Houston including Oni-Con, Anime Matsuri, and Comicpalooza about five times now at the George R. Brown Convention Center and next year will be my sixth time. 

I’m a geek and always will be a Texas geek. Not to mention concerts here in Houston also from the Astrodome with Rodeo Houston, NRG Stadium, Jones Hall, Miller Outdoor Theatre, The Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, Toyota Center, House of Blues, Revention Music Center, and Arena Theater to name a few.

I’ve seen bands and artists including B.B. King, Styx, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Def Leppard, ZZ Top, Buddy Guy, Paul McCartney, The Rolling Stones, Rush, Dream Theater, The Musical Box (PG-era Genesis tribute band), Australian Pink Floyd, Zappa plays Zappa, Ringo Starr and the All Starr Band, Iron Maiden, Radiohead, Roger Waters of Pink Floyd, and the late great David Bowie in which I was in the pit at The Woodlands for his final 2004 tour in which he was promoting his Reality album.

While the hurricane was going on I was playing Steven Wilson’s music which was his fifth album To The Bone and Schooltree’s Heterotopia hoping that the light of hope will happened and it did on late Tuesday afternoon on August 29th. And I almost broke down knowing we went through a lot from Hurricane Harvey. I will never give up on Houston, Texas. I will stay in my hometown state until the day I die.

And I would like to close out a quote from Steven Wilson’s song Pariah, So the day will begin again/Take comfort from me/It's up to you now/You're still here/And you'll dig in again/That's comfort to you/It's up to you now/So pariah you'll begin again/Take comfort from me/It will take time.”