Folllow Me on Twitter

Friday, September 21, 2018

Magma - AKT XVIII – Marquee – Londres 17 mars 1974

This 2-CD set contains of Magma going into overdrive at the Marquee Club in London on March 17, 1974. The band were promoting their third studio release, Mekanik Destrutkiw Kommandoh and were two months to go back into the studio to record their fourth album, Kohntarkosz.

This is a very interesting rare archival recording. It’s not just you can close your eyes and being at the Marquee while watching Magma bringing the styles of Stravinsky, Opera, Jazz, Classical, and Progressive Rock to life with the Kobaian language, but having the power and the glory to witness something special with this that will make your jaws drop from start to finish.

The scream of “HAMATAI!” kicks everything off with the work-in-progress version of Kohntarkosz. The band begins with this intensive crescendo that erupts like a cannon blast for the audience to embark on going into the Egyptian tombs of the god himself, Emehntehtt-Re. You can imagine the crowd is stunned and in awe of hearing the strange language being brought to life for them and knowing this is a concert they will never forget.

Claude Olmos comes center stage as Klaus Blasquiz’s vocals reaches the higher arrangements with his vocals as Claude’s guitar goes into some harder double-edge swords on a bluesy sound and removing those spider-webs inside those darker tombs. Graillier and Bikalo share this alarming yet ominous Rhodes-like tunnel to make you be on the look-out for some of the traps that the gods might have done.

Christian himself follows in hot pursuit to create more danger as he puts you on this tightrope as pounds those drums like Elvin Jones, Buddy Rich, and Billy Cobham combined into one. The last six minutes become even more dooming and intensive as Vander’s screeching vocals make your skin crawl while Claude does this Fripp-like movements for a brief second. But all of a sudden, it becomes a climatic frenzy as they come together to bring the club down to a thunderous cheering and applause.

Sowiloi is a mellowing ballad that has this feeling of Soft Machine’s Slighty All the Time that Magma tip their hats to. It then switches into a sudden change at the last two minutes as they go into a frenzy attack to go full throttle on yo’ ass! Sons et Chorus de batterie (Ptah) which translates to Sounds and Chorus of Drums, this gives Christian Vander a chance to sweat his heart and soul out on those drums.

It is tribal, pounding, swing, and some crazy improvisations that Vander himself brings to the audience. He is the mad scientist on the kit, but also a conductor. The last five minutes and fifty seconds in where he scats and sings in his operatic form, there are moments where he would go into this scale format as the rhythm goes really fast. There is another sequence where when he would hit the snare drum by the time he scats he would sound like a computer going haywire.

And after the explosive 25 minute improvisations, the audience went nuts and applauding for more of them to do another set. Jannick Top’s composition, KMX BXII Opus 7, is one of the rarest live recordings for him and his bass to fit the biggest pieces of the puzzle. Now you can hear some of the bits of the Kohntarkosz suite in there, but when Top plays, the band gives him free-rein. He uses the fuzz-tone sound and go into some heavy jazz-rocking lines that makes it sound like a rapid firing machine gun.

He plays through the spiraling staircases between Pekka Pohjola, Stanley Clarke, Geezer Butler, and Jaco Pastorius. As Jannick raises up the heat from the temperature, it goes up and up. I just wished in that moment that the crowd would have clapped along to the rhythm and tell him to keep going.

Also on here is another work-in-progress composition that was performed at the Marquee was the first movement of Theusz Hamtaahk. There were some parts of what Vander had also written for the trilogy and some aspects for the bizarre 1972 French Film, Tristan et Iseult, and a part of the album, Wurdah Itah. While the first movement wasn’t in its final shape, you could tell that this was where Vander wanted to go with the piece.

While the first movement was performed on a BBC Sessions they did for John Peel, prior to the Marquee. And then later in 1981 for the live album, Retrospektiw (Parts I + II), and recorded 18 years ago at the Trianon theater in Paris in honor of their 30th anniversary for the three movements including their groundbreaking album which would be the third and final movement, Mekanik Destruktiw Kommandoh.

This is now my tenth time listening Magma’s live performance at the Marquee. And the sound quality is either an A or B quality from the archives, it’s a very interesting release to see what the band or Vander himself will come up with next for the next Archive release in the near future. So repeat after me, “Hortz fur dehn Štëkëhn Wešt/Hortz da felt dos Fünker/Hortz Zëbëhnn dëh Geuštaah/Hortz Wlasïk Kobaïa!”

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Xavi Reija - The Sound of the Earth

It’s been two years since I’ve listened to Xavi Reija’s music. From his 2014 fifth album of Resolution which was my introduction to his work, and his collaboration with Dusan Jevtovic on XaDu’s Random Abstract, Xavi has brought together another release on the MoonJune label this year entitled, The Sound of the Earth. With Dusan on the album, Xavi has brought along Markus Reuter and Tony Levin from Stick Men to lend Xavi a helping hand on his new release.

When I was listening to The Sound of the Earth, Xavi, Tony, Markus, and Dusan aren’t just band members, but more like a family working together and getting stronger and stronger. There are these structures that go beyond the post-rock sound and some of the bluesy sound thanks to Dusan’s guitar that makes it a very interesting combination.

It’s not only that, but Xavi might have told the band members to go beyond several surroundings and take it as far as they can. From the fourth movement of the title-track you can hear some of the similarities between Ash Ra Tempel’s first debut album as Reuter’s touch guitar sets up this vast, spacious ordeal to go beyond those twisted paths before Levin’s upright bass opens up the creaking floorboards that are getting ready to crack at any second.

Tony’s bass, Dusan’s guitar, and Xavi’s pulsive drum patterns on From Darkness, go into a parallel twilight zone universe that is filled with paranoia and hell like you’ve never seen. Reuter follows suit to increase the temperature level up a notch while the second movement makes you want to close your eyes and experience the beautiful landscapes of Bahia in the heart of Brazil. It then transforms into a twisted electronic avant-garde switch as they have these hay-wiring effects that come into place.

Like a beautiful painting done by Jackson Pollock, Serenity’s echoing effects that Dusan and Markus do, are very haunting towards the Norwegian mountains in the dark. It’s this cross between Terje Rypdal’s Odyssey and Frank Zappa’s Watermelon in Easter Hay, it is bluesy, experimental, and the waves come crashing down at the exact moment at the right time.

There is this aggressive side on the piece, Deep Ocean. It’s between the riffing intros that Dusan and Xavi do by making the waves crash down more on the city. It has this Sabbath-sque intro they walk into before Levin and Reuter come in by making the staircases like a rubik’s cube that becomes more challenging. The Sound of the Earth is Xavi Reija’s vision to create a film score.

Listening to this, I had this vision of him using the music for Nicolas Winding Refn’s Valhalla Rising. But it is one of the most daring releases to come out of the MoonJune label this year and Xavi Reija’s challenge is really getting me hooked into more of what he will come up with next.

Not a Good Sign - Icebound

For a band like Not a Good Sign who are still carrying the flames of the Italian Progressive Rock scene, the first two albums are so damn good, I always wanted to hear what they would come up next. And from the release of their new album this year entitled, Icebound, it has this darker and ominous atmosphere. With their third album being self-released, Icebound gives Not a Good Sign to go beyond the temperature that is a freezing snow storm below zero.

And being in the middle of that weather, it is cold, chilly, and uncomfortable temperature. Finding someplace warm, that is a big challenge. From the moment I heard, Uomo Neve, it gives Paolo "Ske" Botta of creating a vision for him to make a score to a video game franchise for the BioShock series. He creates these moody visions from the piano before switching to the keyboards as to show the player of the high-tech cities that were once beautiful, has gone horribly wrong.

Van Der Graaf’s David Jackson makes a guest appearance on the album with Trapped In. He captures the spirit of his sax and flute to a terrifying yet calming composition. With Cassani’s thumping pick-bass before going into the chaotic textures between the Pawn Hearts-era and King Crimson’s Lizard, it transforms into a swirling psych-pop twists featuring some crazy organ work.

You have the moody violins setting up the change of scenery from Eloisa Manera to some Knifeworld-sque sax and heading back down the spiral staircase for some crazy time changes. The search for happiness on Hidden Smile, is not an easy subject. Being in this lonely forgotten area in the middle of the snowstorm, is survival of the fittest.

And throughout the instrumental, Trevisan and Botta send signals between each other to give some of the characterizations for a sign of hope that the clouds would pass through by hopefully seeing a ray of sunshine, but it becomes too late, as it disappears again for some more dangerous weather to come. Botta opens the doors again for the Truth.

He gives the listener to open them up to see through these collateral universes. Calandrielllo’s vocals tugs your heart as if he’s describing the real situations of getting out of the storm while Trevisan makes his instrument to climb up the staircase before the blaring sounds of Botta’s organ erupting and ending with some surreal momentum.

Not a Good Sign’s music for me, is always a challenge. But Icebound has perked my ears up. I’ll admit it this, this might take a few listens, but it shows that while they’ve come a long way, Icebound is not just a grand slam, but a raw and essential snowstorm from start to finish.

Phideaux - Infernal

It’s been seven years since Phideaux Xavier has released a new album since 2011’s Snowtorch. I’ve already have a huge admiration of this band along with Xavier’s work since discovering their music back in the first of the series of Romantic Warriors: A Progressive Music Saga released in 2010 by filmmakers Jose Zegarra Holder and Adele Schmidt.

This year, they’ve released their ninth studio on the Bloodfish label entitled, Infernal. Now for me, I nearly had forgotten about Phideaux’s music, but when I heard he was releasing a new album this year, I knew that the door was always opened to see and hear what he was cooking throughout those years.

This is a conclusion of his trilogy which began with 2006’s The Great Leap and 2007’s Doomsday Afternoon. So when I was listening to Infernal, I can imagine Phideaux is finally relieved completed the three stories and it is him finally reaching the light at the end of the tunnel. Back in 2011 when I compared Snowtorch as an alternate soundtrack to the 1976 cult classic Logan’s Run, I now compare Infernal as a score to Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World.

The artwork done by Phideaux member Molly Rutten, captures the similarities of Alphataurus sole self-titled 1973 debut, Le Orme’s Uomo Di Pezza, and King Crimson’s In the Court of the Crimson King. The subject throughout the entire album tackles the situations of Fear, Terror, and Hope. From the pounding sections between guitar and piano on The Error Lives On, gives us a greeting for more bad news of giving the descriptions for bigger problems and it isn’t looking too good.

The rhythm tips its hat to Jethro Tull’s A Passion Play as Phideaux and Valerie take the listener to task on the danger and asking the questions on if they had given the news to them or not. On Crumble, Valerie Gracious sings this beautiful piece as if her character is getting close to dying in the streets as the war rages on as she gives us the last rite before she closes her eyes and going into the afterlife.

The door opens more to the dystopian atmospheric landscape on the opening track, Cast Out and Cold as the vocals and organ sets up the nightmare. The guitars and vocals come rising up as if opening up more of where we have left off in Huxley’s sci-fi classic. There are some elements between Fleetwood Mac’s The Chain, King Crimson’s first two albums, and Alice Cooper’s Welcome to my Nightmare. And not only that they work well, but it gives you some details that the pieces of the puzzle begin to come as one.

We Only Have Eyes For You runs us through the disaster through the rubble. With the watery effects of the vocal arrangements of “You Better, You Better Run.”, you have these medieval keyboard sections, acoustic and electric guitars racing through the doors to escape the chaos, but big brother himself will always keep an eye on them, no matter what if they don’t want to be controlled or owned by the city that is near the brink of collapse.

Pino Rucher’s spacey structures on Wake the Sleeper becomes a deep, dark, and lonely space as Phideaux’s vocals gives us the situation that there’s no sign of escape. Now I don’t want to go into spoiler detail, but with Tumbleweed, which is sung in the melody of Doomsday Afternoon’s version of Crumble, the puzzle suddenly matches each of the pieces one by one.

The 14-minute composition of From Hydrogen to Love has this militant rhythm in the style of Gustav Holst’s Mars: The Bringer of War, throws in some aspects of The Beatles, Muse, Morgan’s Nova Solis, and Banco’s Darwin-era. It is a roller-coaster ride to some unexpected moments that shows Phideaux has done his homework going from hard, Italian Prog, Baroque Pop, to a teensy-bit of some cookie-monster vocals which I might think it happens near the midsection for a couple of seconds.

But here's my take on Phideaux's new album. This is now my 14th time listening to Infernal. And it’s a welcoming return for Phideaux. This album has grown on me even more. While the trilogy has come full circle, I hope one of these days Phideaux turns the trilogy into either a graphic novel or a video game to bring the images to life. Is it too late to say that Infernal is going to be the album of the year so far? Let’s just wait and see.

Monday, August 20, 2018

Soft Machine - Hidden Details

It’s been 50 years since the Soft Machine released their sole self-titled debut album. From their Canterbury Psychedelic sounds to Jazz Fusion in the 1970s. The Soft Machine went through various line-up changes. Daevid Allen, Allan Holdsworth, Robert Wyatt, Hugh Hopper, Elton Dean, Mike Ratledge, Kevin Ayers, and Karl Jenkins to name a few, they were ahead of their time.

Now for me with the Soft Machine, I’ve always prefer their first three albums. But when I heard they were going to release a new album this year, my first thought was, “Well, this should be interesting. Let’s see what it’s like.” I have been familiar back in 2013 when it was known as Soft Machine Legacy when they released one of my favorite albums Burden of Proof which was issued on MoonJune Records and Esoteric Antenna. But let’s get straight to Hidden Details which is released on the same label, and find out what kind of ingredients they have cooked inside the kitchen.

I will admit, I’m not a gigantic Soft Machine fan, but I was completely taken aback from what I was listening to from start to finish with Hidden Details. And it showed how much in awe I have with this album. This is the first album they’ve released since their last and final album Land of Cockayne in 1981. And this is a big surprise they’ve unleashed this year.

From the opening composition of the title-track, John Etheridge’s guitar delves into a Dance of the Maya-sque intro as Theo’s sax and Babbington’s dooming bass sets up the crime scene with a futuristic film-noir background. Travis lays down some of the clues through his saxes and noticing a piece of the puzzle is missing before switching gears towards a wah-wah fender Rhodes sound as Roy and Etheridge go into some directory of being on the right track.

Broken Hill sees Etheridge creating these cavernous sounds as Theo goes more into the mysterious travels through his Rhodes while Marshall takes the cymbals on his drums into various areas you do not want to go into when it gets dark. I can imagine this piece as a film-score that Soft Machine do. And they set up these bluesy-psychedelic vibrations to go through these corridors as if to find out which parallel door they want to go into.

John Marshall’s drumming on Flight of the Jett goes through various crescendos capturing the styles of Elvin Jones and Robert Wyatt. I felt a little tug to the Third-era as Marshall hammering those drums like a true jazz musician as he’s going through the drum kit and knowing he’s not going through a stop sign, but making sure the job is done right.

Etheridge channels the riffs between Gentle Giant’s Gary Green during The Power and the Glory and Kansas’ Kerry Livgren’s Leftoverture phase before channeling the Grand Wazoo himself by laying down more of the Blues-like improvisation through his guitar playing on One Glove. But then we get to Ratledge’s composition of the first part of Out Bloody Rageous which originally appeared on the Third album in 1970.

The introduction begins with Theo using his Fender Rhodes to channel Terry Riley’s A Rainbow in Curved Air as he makes the keyboard sounding like an experimental swirling rainbow drop before the band members come into play honoring Ratledge’s arrangement. They honor not only his work, but Travis channeling the late great Elton Dean to keep his legacy alive and it is a great tipping the hat to him.

Fourteen Hour Dream has this combination of a Jazz-Psych-Pop orientated piece. From Babbington’s intro that he plays on his plays like a loop through walking circles, to unbelievable mid-bright mornings near the end by going through a mystifying atmosphere.

The closing track, Breathe features guest musician Nick Utteridge on wind chimes, sees Theo, Nick, and Marshall taking you into these atmospheric landscapes to the land of the rising sun. You can close your eyes and imagine this piece of music as a score to cities of Japan and it fits perfectly to capture the essence of the journey into the heart of Tokyo.

Hidden Details shows that Soft Machine is more than just both a Progressive and Jazz rock band. But going beyond those genres and making it something special with their sound. And this album creates a strangely, beautiful, adventurous, and illustrated that is brought to life.

Dialeto - Live with David Cross

Recorded last year on July 22nd at Sese Belenzinho in Sao Paulo, Brazil, this live album shows Dialeto bringing all of the ammunition at the cultural center. Not only bringing the aspects of Bela Bartok’s music, but the shattering eruptions of King Crimson with violinist David Cross. Released on the Chromatic Music label and distributed my MoonJune Records, Dialeto with David Cross who appears from track 5 to 13, are bringing the spirits of both Bartok and Crimson’s music alive.

And I can imagine the audience that night were really amazed and in awe of what they have seen. When you put on Dialeto’s Live with David Cross in which at the time they promoting Bartok in Rock, you can close your eyes and imagine yourself being at the center and watching the trio along with David Cross performing not just Dialeto’s music, but part of the John Wetton-era of King Crimson.

I can imagine David himself tipping his hat to Wetton as is he is watching down from Heaven to keep his spirit alive. Not only that, but his legacy to grow for many years to come. You have Costa doing this walking bass loop on Mikrokosmos 149 – Six Dances in Bulgarian Rhythm II while he and Codho’s spiral staircase-like guitar structure goes up and down the stairs whilst carrying the beat of the rhythm dancers going into the style of the music.

You can feel the alarming tension on Roumanian Folk Dances 4 – Stick Game with the Bass Guitar going into this homage of Pink Floyd’s Careful with that Axe, Eugene from the live version of Ummagumma. It becomes this walking tight-rope that Costa and Bailey do. It then becomes a very dangerous situation and you never know if the rope is going to be cut or not before reaching the climatic ending to roaring applause.

The morning over the swift sunrise that Cross does to bring the sun over the horizon on Mikrokosmos 78 – Five Tone Scale, brings these vibes to make that sun come out for some haunting textures. The effects in which David himself brings on his violin in the first three minutes are beautiful before Dialeto switches gears for this motorcycling ride down the highway.

Nelson sounds like a creative mad scientist. Listening to this track, I couldn’t even tell if Nelson and David themselves are doing this duel near the end. If they did, it’s an incredible moment on here before coming to an abrupt end. An Evening in the Village – 10 Easy Piano Pieces No. 5 sees Fred doing this clicking-clacking sound on the drums as he’s turned it into a warrior’s cry for a battle of fighting to bring peace in the valley.

There’s some touches of Asian music followed by the twists and turns of the Kabuki theatre atmosphere that the band and Cross do on this track. They do this blaring version of Tonk which is from Alive in the Underworld. It has this Hammill-sque arrangement that Gabriel Costa does to channel the mastermind of Van Der Graaf Generator.

It is part Hendrix and part THRAK-era that Dialeto take the piece into. The sinister and snarling arrangements on here, go into interstellar overdrive and damn! It is an eruptive take for the band to perform live. Their takes of the classic Crimson pieces of Larks’ Tongues in Aspic, Part II and Starless which Nelson uses the Mellotron on his guitar. I can imagine he used the Electro-Harmonix MEL 9 to create the closing track to finish the album off.

It is a very interesting pedal to make your guitar sound like one of the most amazing keyboards from the late ‘60s and bringing the composition to life. I have to say that this was a very good live release that Dialeto have unleashed this year. And the collaboration with King Crimson’s David Cross, is like a breath of fresh air. I hope they continue to work together again in the years to come.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Dwiki Dharmawan - Rumah Batu

After the release of Pasar Klewer which was considered on my top 35 albums of 2016 at number 7 here on my blog site, Music from the Other Side of the Room, Dwiki Dharmawan is back at it again with another follow-up from the MoonJune label entitled Rumah Batu (which translates in Indonesian Basha language, The Stone House). Dwiki has come a long way. And throughout his music, he would always come up with the next idea through some brainstorming moments.

In a 2010 interview that drummer Asaf Sirkis did with Anil Prasad for Innerviews: Music Without Borders, at the time he was promoting The Monk, and appearing on Dwiki’s new release this year, he said that “The essence of music is magic and magic does not tell a story, it is timeless.” And that is what Rumah Batu is, a story. A story into these unknown worlds of both spirituality and guidance. Not only that, but some of the most amazing players that are on here.

Alongside Dwiki and Asaf, includes upright bassist Yaron Stavi, electric bassist Carles Benavent, and soundscapist/guitarist Nguyen Le. The opening track Rintak Rebana, starts off with Dwiki creating a Coltrane-sque introduction as the sounds of Sa’at Syah’s flute sets up this morning sunrise for a new day in the capital of Jakarta. It creates this crescendo-like intro between Dwiki, Carles bass improve, Asaf’s drums, and Sa’at’s flute for the first two minutes.

It changes into the swinging section for a time to dance as the percussion instruments gets the parade to start things off with a bang. Carles and Yaron follow suit for a swing bass and upright bass line down the sidewalk. It’s almost like a duel between both bassists and they work well together.

Dwiki goes through the piano as a concert near the last few minutes of the composition. Like a cross between George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue and Dave Brubeck, Dharmawan almost wrote this composition by reminiscing of Gershwin’s masterpiece and dedicating it to the city and his hometown of Indonesia.

With Impenan, you can open the curtains to see the sunset with this atmospheric background of the percussions and suling flute giving you the expertise before Dewi Gita’s vocalizations having this spiritual/meditation guide that is both chilling and breathtaking. The band members go through some of the scenery as if they were film composers of giving the audience of the landscape along with Gita’s vocals as if she’s giving them directions to see where she would take them.

Now we have come to the two-part suite of the title-track which on the MoonJune Bandcamp website is in 2-parts, (but on CD, which is track 5, it clocks in at 26-minutes and 25 seconds) is where everything comes together. The first part is Kaili. It begins with this swift sunrise of more of the meditation that is beyond the atmospheric touch before walking towards a creepy entrance thanks to Dwiki strumming the piano strings and opening the doors to this new world.

But then it suddenly changes as Smit’s arrangements on his vocals followed by the drums and Yaron’s upright bass as he bows through the sound while Asaf and Carles get the engines rolling for a trippy scenario. I can hear some similarities on the first section of Traffic’s The Low Spark of High-Heeled Boys with a fusion-funk twist. Dwiki then comes back to the piano for another walk towards the spiral staircase for a long rest after touring of the big cities.

On the second part of the suite which is Perjalanan. Carles, Asaf, Dwiki, and Nguyen take turns while Le goes through the soundscapes by going through some of the weird vibes and it gives him a chance to shine through some of the wildly introverting styles on his guitar. He takes his instrument by going through some of the reverb and delay effects through the passages of space and time.

And then Carles takes the bass and does these aspects between Stanley Clarke and Jaco Pastorius-sque improve before delving into the tug of King Crimson’s third and final section of The Devil’s Triangle with more crescendo’s and haywiring insanity as Dwiki channels Keith Tippett’s piano exercise. Rumah Batu is a very interesting release that Dharmawan has released this year. I’ll admit, it didn’t grab me as much, but it’s not to say it’s a bad album, but a very good release that he’s done.

I hope he'll continue to do more in the years and years to come to understand and finding out what will Dwiki Dharmawan think of next. But Rumah Batu is so far, as I’ve mentioned, an interesting release. And I hope that he explores more adventures and the journey that awaits him.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Crayola Lectern - Happy Endings

Launched in late 2000, Chris Anderson is the brainchild behind Crayola Lectern. What he wanted to was create this extension of his personality instead of artistic compositions. It involved the procurement of a piano. He released his debut album in 2013 on the Bleeding Hearts Recordings label entitled, The Fall and Rise of… with critical acclaim. Among the supporters that included Robert Wyatt and Grandaddy’s Jason Lytle, The music itself had this new sound that is rich and wonder.

The first album dealt with the subject issue on the loss of a loved one, but the subject is filled with humor, irreverence, or a paradox. This year, he released a follow up, this time on a new label with Onomatopoeia Records entitled, Happy Endings. The textures on the new release, details an optimistic look on the issue of death. While we feel that it is approaching, it takes on a whole new role on our lives and what will happen to us when we go into the afterlife.

When I was listening to Happy Endings, I wasn’t thinking of the terms Alternative and Psychedelic Rock, I was thinking to myself “Where is this coming from? This is something special that Anderson himself has brought to the table.” For me, it felt the same way when I was introduced into the world of William D. Drake’s The Rising of the Lights back seven years ago.

Happy Endings is filled with joy, sadness, strong structures, and saying goodbye to the people that you knew and cared about. Opener, Rescue Mission begins with a pounding piano and horn section that opens the door with a swirling farfisa organ that is climbing through the melodic horns to follow suit. The lyrics deal about a superhero who felt that while he’s given up everything, he has one last chance to go out in a blaze of glory.

I can imagine Chris wrote this song for Michael Keaton’s character for the 2014 Black Comedy-Drama classic, Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance). It’s a great way to start the album off as Anderson takes you through the mind of the hero’s struggle to not let go of everything he’s done to make the city safe. While there’s not going to be another mission for him, the people in the city only care about themselves.

Linger On is this cross between The Beatles White Album and Brian Wilson’s lyrical arrangements. It has these catchy dreamy lullaby lyrics with some eerie chipmunk-sque vocal arrangements followed by not just a joyful rhythm section, but some surreal compositions. Barbara’s Persecution Complex has a vaudeville/ragtime intro as the coin goes into the nickelodeon.

It is a surreal madness on the keyboards of being inside the mental institution with some rising chords, fuzz-tone guitars and horn sections. I can see William D. Drake conducting one of Chris’ pieces and giving the band members some ideas on where he wants them to go into. (Don’t) Let Go is a cross between the haunting/mournful piano chords resembling Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon and Robert Wyatt’s Rock Bottom-era.

The loss of Victoria shows how much that either she was struggling through her mental state/depression as she was dying on the inside or it was all just a dream. On Secrets Lectern’s vocals and the usages of the horn and church organ delve into a melodic fanfare arrangement as it sets sail to unknown worlds. There’s a bit of Gruff Rhys in Chris’ vocals and a tipping of the hat towards Super Furry Animals’ Rings Around the World-era.

As I’ve mentioned earlier in my review, Happy Endings is an emotional yet staggering release. Now, this is my 11th time listening to Crayola Lectern’s new album. And while I’m new to his music, there’s going to be some major competition on who is going to be 2018’s album of the year so far. If you love the essence between early Pink Floyd, Super Furry Animals, and Robert Wyatt with a twist of Sunshine/Baroque Pop, Happy Endings is the album you need to check out.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Mark Wingfield - Tales from the Dreaming City

Two years ago, I discovered one of most innovative guitarists thanks to the MoonJune label. His name is Mark Wingfield. After being on his incredible journey with Proof of Light, The Stone House, and Lighthouse, his collaborations with Markus Reuter, Asaf Sirkis, and Yaron Stavi, Wingfield himself has returned again this year with the release of his new album, Tales from the Dreaming City.

Recorded two years ago at La Casa Murade in Banyeres del Penedes, Spain in February, gives Wingfield more creative freedom and essential textures by providing more ideas to the table. He’s more than just a guitar player, but one of those artists to take a leap forward beyond the progressive and jazz genre.

With bassist Yaron Stavi, drummer Asaf Sirkis, and guest keyboardist Dominique Vantomme, Mark is like a painter and gives the listener these background images on what he’s painted through the ten tracks on his new album. It’s like these stories from various timeframes and the music itself is atmospheric, mysterious, and melodic. What Mark Wingfield has done is to bring these ideas to let the flowers grow brighter and brighter.

Listening to Tales from the Dreaming City is like opening a book set through these structures by telling a story and understanding the characteristics and locational background through each of their lives. And Wingfield sets it beautifully by creating this alternate film score. I can hear the inspirations between Allan Holdsworth’s SynthAxe and Terje Rypdal through Mark’s arrangements.

It’s not Mark playing like them, but tipping his hat off to the two masters and carrying their Olympic torches and seeing what will happen next. I can imagine Wingfield took inspirations of the authors between Ernest Hemingway, Kurt Vonnegut Jr, Mark Twain, Phillip K. Dick, and Jack Kerouac.

I loved how he goes into some of the aspects of the ambient and the Canterbury influences from The Way to Hemingford Grey before driving into the dark tunnels to the smooth warm cup of coffee by starting the morning off at the Sunlight Café. Sirkis goes into some drum exercises on the track before they head inside the mind of Dwayne Hoover’s mental breakdown from the 1973 book, Breakfast of Champions.

The spiraling late ‘60s  melodic structures between Wingfield and Stavi going up the spiral staircase up to the views of Heaven’s skyscraper as it reminisces of Seventh Wave’s Star Palace of the Sombre Warrior on the Ten Mile Bank. When I listened to The Green-Faced Timekeepers which features Sirkis’ scatting at the end of the composition, it brought back a memory for me as a kid hearing the Dungeon Theme from the Nintendo classic, The Legend of Zelda.

I can imagine one of these days Mark Wingfield would do a score for a video game and it did reminded me of that. And part of me was thinking to myself listening to the final track, “Is Mark scoring for a game? Because if he is, it would be something.” Now for me, Tales from the Dreaming City as I’ve mentioned earlier, is an opened book. And it’s discovering what Wingfield himself to bring these conceptual textures to the coffee table. It’s quite an interesting experience and I hope he will do more to see what will come up with next.

Phoebe Legere - Heart of Love

In an interview with Julia Mesi on Videowave back in May of 1985, Julia asks Phoebe Legere on how the performance of concept art holds together various talents. Phoebe responds; “When I’m a performance artist, I’m operating in a new genre which I call ‘Total Arts Synthesis.’ Which ignores the demarcations between the individual arts and explores the universal arts spirit which flows through all of them.”

Now Phoebe Legere is a name you probably may or may not recognize. I remember when I was a little kid going with my Dad to Blockbuster Video and renting The Toxic Avenger Part II. Phoebe portrayed as Toxie's blind girlfriend, Claire. Now mind you, I didn’t know who she was and I knew a little bit of Troma films back in the day after Toxic Crusaders was on 20 Vision KTXH Houston. This was in the early ‘90s.

As I grew older, I completely forgot about it and moved on. Cut to last year when I first heard Phoebe’s music. Now I was taken aback at first. It’s this mixture between Cajun music, Americana, country, cabaret, rockabilly, alternative and vaudeville. Her new album released last year, Heart of Love shows that Phoebe is more than just an actress. But she’s also a painter, poet, filmmaker, and a musician.

She also opened for the late great David Bowie 28 years ago for his Sound + Vision tour. Heart of Love is an album of giving Phoebe a drive down the desert highway to show how long the journey she’s been from day one. The guitars set up the delay/reverb introduction on Hello Friday as the rhythm acoustic guitar sets up the car to of revving to get away from the glimmering lights of Las Vegas and see where the highway will take us to.

By punching the clock and ready to walk, Phoebe delivers the scenery as you can imagine the dance floor enjoying the music as it has this Imelda May-sque style of rockabilly rhythm. The cover of Hank Williams’ Jambaylaya, Phoebe and the band takes you down the Louisiana Rivers for a down home/country-cajun adventure as her accordion helps out of giving Legere a chance to have a grand old to both dance and sing.

You can imagine being on the riverboat and smelling the delicious spicy Cajun food with some foot-stomping rhythm, and being in the hottest part of the afternoon to enjoy the culture, food, and the music. Phoebe takes us deeper into this psychedelic futuristic experimental country voyage into the Blue Canoe. Thanks to the electronic drum-loop, Hendrix-sque guitar lines, and wah-wah effect, Legere goes beyond the Cajun structures and delving deeper into the unknown.

Wrong Honky Tonk, you can close your eyes and imagine being in the O.K. Corrall in the early 1870s and being in the old west of Tombstone, Arizona. With its saloon piano, soothing vocals, country, and accordions, it’s a toast to the drunks and you can tell that the enjoyment is in Phoebe’s vocals and having a huge amounts of fun. You can imagine her performing at the bar and stealing the show and giving the cowboys a standing ovation.

Now I will have to admit, while I’m not a big fan of the music, I have to give Phoebe Legere props of what she’s brought to the table. Now does she have the greatest singing voice? No, but Heart of Love is an interesting release. And you might want to be prepare to drive and not just to enjoy the ride, but embark with Phoebe’s stories, fun, and the folky atmosphere.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Molesome - Dial

Mattias Olsson has been a very busy, busy man when it comes to both bands and projects. Whether it’s his work between White Willow, Anglagard, Pixie Ninja, il Tempio Delle Clessidre, Vly, and Necromonkey, Mattias has been around from day one. Now Molesome is another of Mattias’ projects. And it is this journey that would take beyond this deep, dark, eerie, musique-concrete, avant-electronic jazz cavernous sound he brought to the second album, Dial.

What Olsson wanted to do on the follow up to their 2015 release with Songs for Vowels and Mammals, was to create this piece that would emulate the sound of listening to a radio and going through different channels and listening to the static noises with tiny bits of music coming through. Clocking in at 32 minutes and 44 seconds, Molesome’s second album which is recorded at Roth-Handle Studios in Sweden, the music brings at times both of the composers from Philip Glass and Steve Reich, the Jazz sounds in an echoing reverb effect.

The effect has this sound as if it is calling for a fanfare in the cave as Olsson challenges the listener to follow suit and seeing where the danger is heading whether it is clockwork or as a Rubik’s cube. Mattias is like a puzzle master by giving the listener a giant step to see where and how those locations can be both tricky and surreal. Not only that, but Dial is going through inside of the mansion of a Rubik’s cube and walking through these spiral staircases and the traps that are set, they are both tricky and very dangerous.

Molesome’s music is giving Mattias doing an alternate score for David Lynch’s Twin Peaks franchise. You can hear the Trumpets, post-rock guitar loops, King Crimson’s THRAK-era of the Mellotron setting up this ‘50s dystopian future, the echoing effects of Miles Davis’ A Tribute to Jack Johnson, dialogue going back and forth, it is all there. After my listening of Dial around five, seven times, Dial is a very interesting release this year.

It made me try to understand what Olsson is doing by taking me to these parallel doors that go beyond The Twilight Zone. I will admit, this is not an easy album to listen to from start to finish. It is a challenging release and while I’m not crazy about it, Mattias is always moving forwards to see where the next door will take him to. And it shows that he has more tricks underneath his sleeve to see where the next card will take him to.

Monday, May 14, 2018

The Fierce and the Dead - The Euphoric

The Fierce and the Dead have released their third studio album released on the Bad Elephant label this year. The quartet have shown no sign of stopping. It’s almost like a Rubik’s cube to see what mysterious passageways and parallel universes the band would discover to open these doors to see what lies ahead in these infinite worlds and decided where they would go to next. 

And The Euphoric is like that. They’ve created this alternate score with some of the post-punk, ‘80s new-wave sound that has made me come back for more on their adventures since listening to their first instrumental track released eight years ago simply titled as Part 1.

Matt, Kev, Stuart, and Steve have shown that they are new captains of the millennium falcon and being a part of their ride as they make the jump to light-speed into the cosmos. Not to mention the incredible album cover done by comic book artist whose best known for his work with Bill Willingham’s Fables, Mark Buckingham.

The opener, Truck  gives Matt Stevens and Steve Cleaton a chance for their guitars to rev up to get the car ready for the sun to rise. It has these Russian Circles-style of the quartet into the desert highway at dawn. Alongside Steve and Matt doing the driving, they do this midsection that is a stop-and-go sequence before going back into the Falcon for another adventure.

With 1999, Feazey’s synths and bass creates this score as if he was doing the music for John Hughes’ 1985 classic, The Breakfast Club. It has these textures between NEU!, Ultravox, and XTC combined into one for the Fierce and the Dead to carry their torches for them and making sure their legacy will keep going for many generations to come.

Kev pays nod to both Kraftwerk’s Trans-Europe Express and Vangelis’ score to the 1982 cult classic, Blade Runner with Dug Town. It then changes near the end for the rhythm and lead section to create this intensity as Stuart follows suit on the drums on knowing once they leave the city, they can start a new beginning.

Verbose is Gothic and Post-Punk to create this level for some of these ominous surroundings thanks to Feazey’s dooming bass work. It creates this ride that is more and more increased the get the energy levels up. The Fierce and the Dead have always been one of my favorite bands. And it is always wonderful to hear what the quartet will think of next.
I always wonder what Matt Stevens himself will think of next since I was blown away from his solo debut release of the Echo album released back in February of 2010 which I reviewed here on my blog site. He’s come a long way. And for him to be not just part of the label with Bad Elephant Music, but The Fierce and The Dead are in my opinion are a family that works together. And The Euphoric is the growing spark.